1Up!: Finally finding those sought after finds. 

Every collector knows, every collector has that little sub list in the back if their mind every time you go game chasing, that list of must haves that you can’t live without and take priority over other finds. I recently completed the #1 item on my list, I finally got my hands on a Virtual Boy. 

I had only ever had one experience with the Virtual Boy when in grade 10 science class someone brought theirs in for everyone to check out. The teacher let us kick back and mess around with it and I remember the only games they had were Mario Tennis and Teleroboxer but it was something different from anything we had seen before in gaming. Yes, we all know the Virtual Boy was a flop, caused headaches, had a very limited amount of games, and was a horrible set up for a “portable” game, but it was unique, it had cool commercials and I remembered wanting one after seeing it in Nintendo Power magazine. 

Well 20 some odd years later and a lot of hustling later I can finally scratch one of my last sought after systems off my list. Outside of Ebay, I’ve found the Virtual Boy next to impossible to come by in my area, but came across this one in my favourite out of town game store and after begrudgingly trading off a Smash Bros melee for GC and a couple Gameboy Pokemon games I was able to bring this gem home and get it a home on the already stuffed to the brim game room display shelf. 

I’ve always enjoyed putting together mini goals in collecting, I have a thing for accessories and always have my sub list in mind when I go hunting as I never know when I might find that NES Satellite or Four Score I’ve been looking for. I didn’t have any of the accessories really as a kid and outside of Nintendo Power, didn’t even realize many of them existed. One I recently found that I was unaware of was the Nintendo Double Player wireless controllers. 

I came across them on a local buy and sell and had to look them up to see what they were before scooping them up. I find stuff like this unique as there was so many 3rd party controllers available that weren’t sold in all stores. Everyone remembers someone having a NES Advantage or Max, maybe a Power Glove, but I don’t remember any kids in my neighbourhood having wireless controllers so these random controllers have always intrigued me and have become a strange obsession of mine to collect. 

Speaking of the strange, I also like games that even if not fantastic, have a unique place in gaming, maybe it was the first game to use a certain style of graphics, physics or a new feature not seen before. One I recently found had an interesting distinction: 

That’s right, it’s the first actual talking game for NES. Nobody is really hunting around too hard for Big Bird’s hide and speak except for me and the completionist collectors, like I said they’re not always the greatest games but speech was a feature never seen in an NES game before. Games tried to create speech before but it was never truly real speech, just sound effects meant to seem like speech such as the “TKO” Mario says in Mike Tysons punch out. 

My other mini obsession is completing the mini sets within collections, like having a full set of Tengen games, all the game show games and series such as the Ninja Turtles set or the original black box games. I find them to be fun milestones as getting a complete NES collection is realistically out of my financial grasp, but these mini sets make nice goals to complete in the meantime. I’ve also been collecting gameboy equivalents or sequels as some games I had for the gameboy I didn’t have for the NES at the time and some I didn’t know we’re actually part of the same series until much later. 

Fortunately I still have more than enough of these mini collections left to complete to keep me hitting milestones outside of just my main collection for a while, so best of luck to all the collectors who are looking to check off the last items on their lists as well. 

See you in the wild, happy chasing! 

#retroredneck

Level 19: Why stuff isn’t selling anymore. 

If you’re like me you probably frequent your local kijiji, Facebook sale groups, game shops, 2nd hand store, Craigslist,  yard sales, etc, and chances are in the last while you’ve also noticed a trend, things are sitting around much longer than ever before. There was a time when ads for retro items would come and go quickly as people snapped up whatever items came up, but I’m not only seeing items being posted for longer but also the same items being put out there over and over as they haven’t sold. 

I’ll see items bounce from kijiji to facebook to the auction sites and back again as the sellers try to flip their items. I’ve also noticed sellers having to drop prices in order to see the item sell, things like consoles that once went for $100 have started dropping to $80 and below to generate interest. I see the same ads listing the same NES games consistently and with the sellers trying to max out top end prices the stock never seems to change. 

Twice recently I’ve managed to grab up some boxed items that have been posted on Facebook several days after their original post and after contacting the seller I’ve been interested to find out I’m the only person who’s shown interest aside from the local sellers who have offered their usual generous 1/8th of the original value. I remember in the not too distant past where if you missed these posts when they originally came up they would be sold within an hour or two..

So what happened? 

The retro game craze is still going, I still know plenty of collectors who are curating very nice collections, but something has changed. The change is something I saw coming for a while and have touched on before,  the market is saturated with sellers but there’s more stock than buyers are looking for. Like I said I see the same games over and over, and at 400 cartridges they’re ones I’ve already got and fir the most part ones that my collector friends have also, same with systems, most collectors have rounded up the systems they want by this point in time and unless you’re a casual collector you probably also have the accessories you most want. 

The prices are a major deterant as well, in my area sellers for the most part haven’t adjusted their prices on their inventories so the $250 they’ve been asking for that Action 52 has off put casual buyers who don’t care about its status and keeps collectors like myself away as it’s something I know enough about that i’ll wait until the craze is over to find one when the price falls again. Now because most of these buyers have invested hundreds in purchasing these collections they want to profit from them, but when price and selection aren’t changing, the stock sits unpurchased. 

There are some things that always sell well such as 1st party franchises like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Kirby, etc but the stagnation has already set in as far as the common and even uncommon market goes. As people have rounded up many if these common titles it’s become more and more unlikely that people are searching them out, more likely that they’re the games that people are putting back into the market as they get bored of them or leave the hobby and it’s leading to multiple sellers have 4-5 copies of that Seicross or Ice hockey that just isn’t selling for the $10-15 they’re asking for it. 

I’ve noticed even game stores are starting to not only get picky about what they’ll take for retro games but also more wary about offering what they did for them even 6 months to a year ago because once these items come in they’re finding themselves having to sell at a lower price to move them, tend to have them purchased by local sellers who put the price back up and sell it to someone who trades it back in again starting a vicious circle where the same games keep rotating around. 

The odd item pops up that peaks my interest but it’s usually a harder to find boxed accessory or a system box I can use but even then, I find those easier to get than a they were a year ago because sellers will have them sit unsold because they’ve asked what they’ve seen them sell for in the past or just went for the highest ebay price they saw so after a week or two will usually take a reasonable offer because they aren’t seeing any interest in their item. 

Many of the serious collectors I know have the same opinions, and as people are starting to get out of the hobby we’re just going to wait until the market adjusts as it floods with more stock and prices fall to bother rounding up those last sought after bigger name carts. Also it’s worth waiting as the price of those common fillers are already starting to drop to a point where it’s worth buying them agaim as many are only needed to fill in gaps and round out the collection. 

So for the next while there’s going to be a bit of chaos as sellers grasp to squeeze that last but of profit out of their stock but the point of no return has been past in retro gaming and it’s only a matter of time until the gravy train I’ve touched on before will roll back into town but this time in favor of the collectors. 

Keep hunting.

#Retro redneck

Level 18: The game chasing safari. 

It’s been a while since my last post because I took some time off to get married, change jobs, etc but I’ve still been hunting in my limited free time. There’s been some noticible changes in the retro market over the last year, prices seem to have levelled out a bit but I’ve also noticed the surplus of games has decreased. 

For collectors of classic systems like NES and Sega seem to basically have the majority of what they want for their collections ie: boxed consoles, etc and there seems to be less new people getting into the hobby. This in my experience has caused less of a rush on popular games and an increase in common titles turning up as these newer collectors lose interest and trade their stuff back in. 

On the other end of the coin there seems to be more and more copies of rarer games turning up and sitting around on shelves because most collectors have already found copies for their collections and the price tag is more than enough to chase off a new collector who isn’t as concerned about a physical copy when everything can be experienced by simply playing it through emulation. 

At this point in my collection of 390 NES carts I’m finding it a real hunt to find things I don’t have, fortunately I have most of the higher priced titles I need but still have a lot of common titles left to find but in my area everyone seems to have the same 50-100 games that I’ve already got. 

Second hand stores have also seemingly dried up for older games as I mostly find PS2, 3, wii games of no real interest as there’s so many resellers to compete with for the limited stock they do get that’s of any value. A lot of times when these thrift stores do get older games now I also find often they incorrectly price them based on the perceived value for retro games so you run across $50 Mario Bros 3′. However the odd time they don’t realize what they have and I lucked out not too long ago on a Tengen Tetris for $6. 

So my game hunting has evolved into a game safari, instead of just taking a rip around my hometown a chase now requires towns further out, planning, scoping out the place for thrift shops, pawn places and game stores, spending money on gas and travelling in the hopes of finding that Sesame street or Dance Aerobics I need to get checked off my list. 

I’ve also found myself branching out more in what I collect as I usually really just collect for NES but as I’ve been finding less titles I need I’ve found myself collecting Intellivision as there seems to be large amounts of complete in box games and I was able to find a CIB system that was in excellent condition and the cost of collecting Intellivision is far cheaper than Nintendo it’s been easy to really get a decent collection together. 

Having to go so far out to look has changed how I hunt a lot too, I find that sometimes I’ve bought things that I already have but can bring back home to flip in order to get more money together for when I do eventually find NES carts I need but that can make for less of an interesting trip as you feel that you’re just getting things to have them and not really finding anything of value to your own collection.   Fortunately my last few trips out of town have luckily been bonanza’s with finding system boxes, manuals, inserts, Atari and Intellivision catalogs, etc which really helped to complete some of the boxed systems I have that needed a few inserts or posters to really be complete. 

It’s become interesting to start to really have to dig to find treasures where as for the first 390 games it seemed to be relatively easy to round up but every once and a while I manage to unearth something fun and still get to add 5-10 to the list. So as long as there’s still games I need I’ll be out on safari hunting through every game store, yard sale, and flea market until I finally track down those last couple hundred games. 

Enjoy the hunt. 

#retroredneck

Level 17: Peak Retro? 

Has the retro market reached peak saturation? We may be at a tipping point where the demand no longer warrants the price on many items now with some exceptions like Pokémon and some rarer titles. 

Every finite resource has to reach a peak at some time or another before the market will no longer bare the price being asked. It only takes a quick trip onto your local kijiji or Craigs list, etc to see that retro games that used to sell quickly at a high price are either sitting there longer than usual or seeing price drops before it will finally move. 

Many serious collectors have already built up all or the majority of what they need/want and the resellers are really just trying to get the highest price possible off those who have don’t have it or new collectors entering the hobby who want to have some of these prestigious items for their collections. 

Some games will always carry a higher price due to factors like rarity, etc but over the last few years prices on common games continued to rise as more people entered the hobby. With the popularity of YouTube shows like the Game Chasers, Pat the NES punk, Angry video game nerd, etc the interest in retro games caused the market to explode and games that once only fetched a few dollars started to climb to 5, 10, 15…until a wall would be hit as to what people would pay.

A good example of this that I ran into was Atari 2600 cartridges, there was a time  when 2600 games were a dollar or  less even on “premium” titles and as people starting becoming interested in them again the prices began to go up to 3, 5, and beyond despite the fact that there are always boxes and boxes of these carts laying around every game store, junk shop and flea market. 

Even though the demand for Atari games quickly dropped off again after the initial resurgence in interest the prices have remained high as stock starts piling up as people lose interest and start trading them back in. I’m using the Atari as an example because it’s a niche market in retro gaming, the hardcore fans already put complete collections together back in the 80s when stores were blowing the stock out during the crash and even they they were getting factory sealed games for a dollar.

So these games that have been sitting around gathering dust and for the most part are usually in poor condition only saw a price jump because of a renewed interest which was short lived. The dealers seem to be in denial that these games continue to hold a value, I frequently see Atari consoles trotted out on game sale pages with similar listings like: “vintage rare Atari”, “Atari 2600…RARE”, and far too frequently “no hookups not sure if working but it’s a rare game system”. None of these statements are true, Atari 2600 systems are a dime a dozen, finding a working unit can be harder but there’s just not much of a demand for them to claim them as rare. 

The frustrating part is always the price tag ad it’s usually in the $100 range, for a working unit with controllers, paddles, and decent games…maybe, but for your dusty old Atari 2600 jr that’s been in the garage for 30 years with no hookups and some basic games…no chance, but as long as people see these as valuable the prices stay the same. 

One person sees one on ebay for $100 and the assumption is that theirs is worth the same, with no research you may not see that the system has been sitting there for months because:

A: the price is too high

B: there’s just not the demand for a 2600 compared to other retro systems that do sell for $100. Being 40 years old does not a valuable system always make. 

The same is starting to happen in the NES market as well, I recently popped into a local game store and they were telling me that they couldn’t believe that they had been sitting on an NES for weeks now seeing as it was only $45. This doesn’t surprise me as many NES guys like me already have multiple NES consoles for backups and most people who jumped into the hobby during the resurgence have already purchased systems so without new collectors nobody is clamoring to get one even at half the price they were a year ago. 

I see a lot of people watch online auctions go over $100 who later list their system and don’t see it sell. Again they don’t understand why the other item went so high because they are not in the hobby and didn’t realize the auction went nuts because there was a copy of the Tengen Tetris with it, not because people are just willing to spend $100 on an NES. 

I have found recently that more NES titles are wandering into second hand stores, many at lower than previous prices but that also means you have to jump on it because resellers are using the lower prices at the retail level again to corner the market for pricing on games they don’t want to see go down on like Contra but even resellers are finding themselves with more and more copies without customers to buy them. 

Many collectors I know have reached a point where there’s only a certain amount you’re willing to part with for games, I know myself and others that have no problem passing on games that will at a later time show up at a better price. I know a few resellers too who are starting to get out of the NES market for this very reason, the money just isn’t there like it was the last few years and are often looking to just squeeze the last few dollars possible out of them before having to offload them. 

So if we have reached peak saturation and there is a breaking point coming we should start seeing more and more stock coming into stores and being offloaded online and as more stock arrives the balance in price/demand will have to shift as well. Don’t plan on seeing the good old days of dollar games again just yet but at least the days of reasonable prices is dawning again. 

I’m always interested to hear how the market has changed or not in other people’s areas so feel free to drop me your thoughts on the topic. 

May the deals be with you. 

#8bitliving 

Boss battle: “The Ad” 

Everyone has seen these ads, maybe you have one yourself, it’s worded differently but the message remains the same, the age old battle of collectors vs resellers, entitlement vs capitalism and greed vs fair business. 

Any collector who has been on any forum, Facebook group, kijiji, Craigs list, etc is more than familiar with the variants of these ads promising HARD COLD CASH for your unwanted games and systems. All collectors have/do sell items as I’ve talked about it before and you can usually quickly identify whether it’s a collector or a reseller you’re dealing with on the other side of the computer. 

When I’ve gone looking for items, I don’t make lowball offers, I tend to like to see what the seller was hoping to get before either taking it if their price is fair or making  a counteroffer that works for both parties. There’s usually an item or two in that lot I’m interested in and as long as the remainder covers the initial cost and both parties are happy then it’s a good transaction. 

Now we’ve all responded to one of these ads, maybe for a laugh to see what kind of offer you’ll recieve for your complete in box R.O.B or limited edition “fill in the blank”, as a collector we know the value of the item but I know I’m never not surprised by the responses I get sometimes. They can range from lowball to insulting and it often leads me to wonder how much thought they put into their response. 

I had a situation where for fun I offered up a working power glove just to see what kind of top dollar I’d be receiving, I sent my inquiry and a pic of it clearly working, the response came back quickly: “I can go as high as $20”. Now where I live a working power glove seems to sit around the $100 mark, even offering 40-50 still brings a profit but I’m guessing this guy is thinking I either: 

1. Don’t know what I have.

2. I just need the cash and will take anything.

3. Is just greasy and looking to maximize profit. 

I find a lot of the times unfortunately it’s the 3rd option, on the sites where you can look at the sellers profiles many have zero to do with gaming outside of knowing how to look on ebay for prices on them. These are often the guys you quickly recognize by the following catchphrases: 

1. “I’ll do you a favor and take ____ off your hands for (incredibly low offer)” 

2. “I’ll give you (greasy offer) if this doesn’t sell”.

3. “You know you can get this from (insert store) for (fake price) but I’ll take it for (minimally higher than fake price)”.

4. “I’ll give you ($5-10 range) for (insert item you’ve listed for a fair value)”. 

I frequently wonder if any of these tactics ever really work? Does anyone just stop and say to themselves “maybe I should just take $10 for my Nintendo and 20 games because they said they’d do me a favor and pay cash today”. Even if you do want to take their offer there’s always that one last thing and we all know it’s coming……”can you bring it to (town that’s at least a half hour from you)?”…so on top of the lowball price their paying you they want you to drop a few bucks in gas to bring it to them? 

In my city there’s a few of these ads that seem to circulate frequently, if people want to go for it that’s all fine and good but there’s nothing that drives you nuts more than when these guys decide because there isn’t any suckers giving away their stuff that they should start responding to ads by people who know what their selling.

This is where things really get confusing, these guys want your item for cheap and will come at you with not only the above methods but strangely sometimes come in with the attack inquiries: 

1. “I know you got this from (insert store) so where do you get off asking (fair market price) I’d give you (not even what you paid) for it”. 

2. “I can’t believe you’re charging (a good price) for (item they want to profit off) and you should feel bad for (doing exactly what they’re doing)”. 

Somehow the rules of the open market and capitalism only apply to these guys? If I see an ad offering an item for a price I don’t want to pay, I pass it by, I’m not going to get into an argument with someone because I feel their charging too much because only 1 of 2 things will happen: 

1. Seller doesn’t care, blows off my comment, carries on with life and sells item to someone else. 

2. Has stupid argument with me, nobody budges and item eventually gets sold to someone else and all you’ve accomplished was burning a future bridge. 

Both of these options end the same…no item for you. I find its better to just make a reasonable offer and if it’s rejected move on because I’ve learned another one will come along if you can wait and you may be able to get a deal off them at at different time on a different item. 

Same with buying lots, if the sellers amount they’re hoping to get is beyond reasonable and they don’t like my counter offer it’s easier to just walk away from the deal rather than try to bully a seller to take an offer, it’s amazing how often you get a message in a week after they’ve hit up the pawn shops, game stores and online resellers and have discovered your offer wasn’t so bad to begin with. 

So this has been a rant I’ve had on different aspects of the dual edge sword of collecting/selling but I’ve seen so many of these ads lately that I thought I’d just touch on it. I have no issue with collectors who do sell as well as I’ve had many great transactions with them but the people who work behind these ads are the guys who keep the prices high on the hobby and they do it by paying pennies. Although in their defense I guess coins are the hardest of the “hard cold cash”, the fistful of hundreds in their ad is just meant to represent how they make out on their end of the deal ha ha! 

So long story short, if you sell don’t be like the examples I’ve given today…it’s up to collectors to help keep the hobby legit and get it away from the hands of the Wario’s in the marketplace. 

#8bitliving 

1 Up! : The Gameboy Advance SP. 

With all the talk recently about the forthcoming NES mini, I’ve heard people wondering if there’s going to be a mini SNES. There’s been kind of one sitting under our noses this whole time: The Gameboy Advance SP. 

Released in 2003 as the “special” model of the Gameboy Advance, it was a big step up from it’s predecessor because of the vastly improved display, addition of the back light with the model 001 and extra bright function on the model 101, the graphical updates, better physical design and backwards compatability. 

Aside from it’s own advance cartridges the SP will play original Gameboy and Gameboy Color games, adding basic colours to the original non colour games. The shape was redesigned to feel more like the original Gameboys which I definitely preferred over the original Advance’s design and feel. 

In total there were 1074 games released for the Gameboy Advance across Japan, Europe and North America. This is where my comparison to the SNES starts, the SP is technically superior to the SNES and has just as good or better graphics, and some of the SNES game ports actually play better than their counterparts on the SNES. There’s always debate over which system had better games especially when it comes to the RPGs on each system but in my opinion the SP has the advantage on the whole as far as the variety and playability of the games. 

The Advance also saw a lot of great NES/SNES reissues of games like Super Mario World (Mario Advance 2), Mario Bros 3 (Mario Advance 4), Final Fight One, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Mario Bros 2 (Mario Advance), the Donkey Kong Country trilogy as well as some 2 in 1 series like Gauntlet/Rampart, Paperboy/Rampage and Castlevania Harmony of dissonance and Aria of Sorrow. 

Now there’s always one series that blows up on every system……


Pokémon Red/Blue, Fire Red/Leaf Green, Ruby/Sapphire, Emerald, Pinball Ruby/Sapphire and Mystery Dungeon Red/Blue rescue team were all released for the Advance along with the various booleg versions that have popped up for other Pokémon titles.The Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald games were the top 2 selling titles on the system and these games continue to really hold their value despite a lot of the other games on the system being in the $3-10 range.

The Advance SP hung around until 2007 when it was replaced by the Micro and eventually the DS. With the introduction of the DS the system was done but the games lived on with the inclusion of an Advance game slot. 

One advantage to collecting for the Advance is there’s always an abundance of games that you can find at more than reasonable prices and even the pricier titles haven’t skyrocketed like they have in other markets such as NES collecting. All in all it’s probably one of the best interations of the Gameboy and will remain a favourite of mine for road trips, etc when I want some top notch gaming with great portability, and hey it even allows me to have some of my favourite NES titles on top of the great library it has on it’s own. 

I guess I’ll kick back for a bit and catch up on some Fire Emblem the sacred stones. 

#handheldliving

Level 16: The sequels.

What do I got there? Well let me tell you brother…it’s those mini collections that pop up in a collection, you know the sequels that appeared and became series such as Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Double Dragon, Castlevania, Megaman, The Simpsons and two of my personal favourites: 

Any game that tells me I’m required to do something OR DIE! is just alright with me. Also who in the 90s wasn’t a fan of the Ninja Turtles? If you weren’t I probably didn’t know you and presumably you were either not cool, didn’t have a tv or just lived under a rock. 

With the invention of video games on home consoles came sequels, the arcades at the time mostly had one off quarter suckers and seeing a sequel was rare until a little game by Capcom nobody really remembers decided to toss out a sequel for its original street fighter game. 

With home consoles though there was a market for developers to be able to make follow ups to popular games, if a game sold well then it would make sense to see if you could get a second or third out and capitalize on it. 

With Nintendo the first 2 games to create sequels were Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda, both games were wildly successful and both spawned sequels that were very different from their predecessors. Sequels and prequels are commonplace today but at the time nobody knew what direction to take these sequels in and so some took some interesting directions but more on that at a later time, today were just looking at the collection of these series within the umbrella of a NES collection. 
Some games only spawned one sequel on the system such as Zelda only having Adventures of Link and Contra having Super C, but some games had trilogies and whole series and I’ve found as a collector that I sometimes get obsessed about putting some of these mini sets together. 

As a kid I was a big fan of the Ninja Turtles so as soon as TMNT came out I remember going to visit the kids across the street I didn’t really like just to play it because I didn’t have it. Fortunately for Christmas I did get the TMNT arcade game and it was awesome! Not just because it was a great port of the arcade game but it also came with a coupon for a Pizza Hut pizza thanks to the tie in with the movie that was out at the time. 

I didn’t know for a long time that another TMNT game existed, I had by that time rounded up the first one as well and happened to be at a friends house and there was a turtles game I had never heard of, the Manhattan project. Now these games are not a trilogy in the sense that they follow a storyline, as each one is a standalone game (along with tournament fighters but I count this is part of the fighting genre and not a beat em up) but all featured our favourite heroes in a half shell. 

The other series I really enjoyed that much like turtles had recurring characters, but no continuing storyline was as you may have guessed from my comments earlier is the “or die!” trilogy. These are not the best games ever for the NES with the exception of Skate or Die 2 being pretty innovative with its semi open streets to skate around on while you looked for tapes, cds, tacos and pop cans (how totally rad and 90s). 

They were fun especially because they fit the times, as we remember everything in the 90s was EXTREME!!! G.I Joe was extreme, juice boxes were extreme, and obviously skateboarding was extreme! Even skiing…it was SKI or DIE! So these games became a must have trilogy for my collection just on the nostalgia alone. 

There are a few of these mini collections within the NES collection that have become very well known and in some cases the sequels fetch higher prices than the originals. Some of the most well known high value sequels are the Capcom Disney games Chip and Dale rescue rangers 2 and Ducktales 2 both of which were follow ups to extremely popular games and both are just as good or better than the original. 
Many sequels built up the originals into the franchises we know today such as Mario Bros, the first game was mind blowing when it first came out and Mario 2 was a whole new experience which as we all know now was a reskinning of Doki Doki Panic, but at the time nobody was any the wiser and it introduced a new world to the Mario story. With Mario 3 we were transported to even more new areas and introduced to new enemies like the Koopa kids and interesting costumes that changed how Mario and Luigi were able to do things beyond just having a fire flower, mushroom and star. 

Each new Mario Bros game further expanded the universe of the mushroom kingdom to what we know it as today. If not for the simplicity and ability to take chances offered on the NES I’ve often wondered how many franchises would have developed as many started on the NES and some were hits and some flops but having learned through what didn’t work became better on future platforms, for example, Metal Gear/snakes revenge, despite getting off to a rough start was able to eventually become a long running and celebrated series. 

Some franchises were able to find instant success just based on their licensing alone such as The Simpsons games, in the 90s to say there was a Simpsons craze would be an understatement….it was BART MANIA!  The Simpsons were everywhere, t shirts, trading cards, stickers, candy, and on just about anything they could put Bart’s face on so it made perfect sense that kids would want to be able to play as their favourite underachiever in his own games. The Simpsons had several games starting with a crazy fun arcade beat em up game and debuted on the NES with Bart vs the Space Mutants followed by games like Bart vs the world,  Bart meets Radioactive Man and Krustys fun house. 

The other licensed games that started creating franchises at the time were sports games, many sports games on the NES have been mostly forgotten aside from things like Blades of Steel, Baseball Stars 1/2, Little League baseball and Tecmo Super bowl but some created popular franchises at the time like the Bases Loaded series and R.B.I baseball by Jaleco and Tengen respectively. These are the precursors to the yearly outpouring of sports games like Madden, NHL2K, Fifa, etc and for good or bad the NES was the platform that showed developers that sports fans wanted to see yearly sports games with updated rosters etc so they could play out those fantasy seasons. 

On that note there’s one series I can’t pass over without a mention if we’re talking about sports franchises: 

Oh yeah those WWF games!! This was a series that I did enjoy as many a kid in the 80s and 90s I watched WWF on tv and wrestled with my cousins and wanted nothing more than to be able to be the Macho Man Randy Savage laying that flying elbow drop down on a sucker and these games delivered…ok well not really but they did let you play as your wrestling heroes and fortunately over the years and future consoles these games did get better but there was a decent offering of wrestling games on the NES that although not WWF made up for what this series lacked. 

Some other games seemingly died off until possibly rebooting on other systems and so only had one follow up, things like Bubble Bobble, G.I Joe, Rad Racer and R.C Pro AM. There’s many games too that gamers have asked for sequels for over the years and have never received as some games just seemed like they needed one but it never came, I felt that way about a favourite of mine: Code Name Viper, it was a one off run and gun and was a Rolling Thunder knockoff but it was fun and I’d have bought the sequel. Another was River City Ransom, why this amazing gem never received a sequel has always confused me. 
The last type of series I want to touch on are the ones that just kinda ran themselves into the ground a bit. For every series that kept getting better such as Mega Man(which I didn’t really mention only because its just as or more well loved than Mario and Zelda and has been praised or hated on by anyone who has written about games), Mario and Zelda there were franchises that started off strong but somehow went sideways. 

My biggest example for this is: 

Ok, ok hold off on the boos for a minute, I didn’t say Double Dragon isn’t a great series, I’m just saying that on the NES it lost it’s way a bit. The original despite not having 2 player capability was a good arcade port, Revenge brought in the 2 player action and improved on the original but when 3 came out, something went wrong. The third installment went backwards in my opinion, the difficulty was ridiculous, the movement and action were choppy and the characters were hard to manage and worst of all was the one life and that’s it policy. Double Dragon made a huge comeback on the SNES but much like Ninja Gaiden it turned off a lot of its followers on the NES by taking Nintendo hard to the limit. It’s not that these games are unplayable by any means but you need to have more patience than either my 10 year old or for that matter my now 36 year old selfs level of patience for trial and error. 

The NES is famous for having one of the largest game libraries, so not everything can be gold and with a platform where developers were afforded the ability to learn as they released games and saw what worked and didn’t obviously some things are going to be duds. Like I said previously, without the ability to create sequels for games we wouldn’t have many of the timeless franchises we still love today and having gone back and really started going through some of these classic series again it’s been interesting to see how the developments changed the games as each new installment came out. Many of the sequels on the NES did improve on the series by adding features or finding new ways to push the hardware as developers discovered what the NES was really capable of. 

Sequels were not necessarily just a new thing solely on the NES as many Atari and PC games had sequels but aside from PC, nothing else spawned franchises the way the NES did whether it’s Mario, Zelda, Metal Gear, or the yearly sports franchise, many of these would not have become possible without the home console generation that created the popularity of these games and inspired developers to keep creating more of these classic properties to further entertain us as new consoles rolled out.

Now I’m gonna go see Rodney at the old Sk8 shop, get my board and hit the ol half pipe or joust against Lester, put on my bucket hat, slam a new coke and get EXTREME! Remember whatever you do….do it OR DIE! 

#retroredneck

#8bitliving 

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