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

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 

Find me on Facebook @theretroredneck

Level 15: The collecting bug.

If you have it you understand what I’m going to talk about, the collecting bug. 

It started when I first started watching the game chasers on YouTube, I had my NES and a decent collection of favourites already like Mike Tyson’s Punchout and River City Ransom, etc but watching them scavenge for games and deals got a fire inside me restoked and suddenly I found myself at the local flea market and the second hand stores again chasing my own treasures. 

My fiance who up until this point hadn’t heard me talk much about games until she mentioned that there were a few at her mom’s house that she grabbed for me and that’s how I ended up with a Ms Pac man and a Bart vs the world. Getting these newfound beauties only made me want to hunt for more much to her chagrin. 

We went on a camping trip and stopped in a little town nearby one day for lunch, of course I spot someone having a yard sale and decided to ask if they had any old games. The guy vanishes for a moment then returns with an original Gameboy in a hardshell case with a few games, well $20 later I walked away a happy guy who was now determined to also get a Gameboy collection going again much to the chagrin of my girlfriend. 

At first she said things like “who ever kept these things?” And I told her a lot of people had and as I quickly found out it was going to be relatively easy to get a good collection going as most places have the more common games and usually at a fair price. Fortunately for me I had purchased a lot of the more expensive games long before the prices went way up. 

So I suddenly find myself having to bring a list with me when I go game hunting as I’ve previously bought the same game multiple times by accident. As this list has grown I find myself getting excited about little milestone’s like hitting 100 games and then 200 and I’m looking at my next one as I’m only 8 games away from the 300 mark. 

I’ve started to get to the point where I no longer have available shelf space as the bug has not just bitten me in the Nintendo game area but also in collectables, I mostly collect Nintendo memoribilia, figures, amibos, puzzles, stuffed figures, well you get the idea, I really like Nintendo stuff. The shelves have found themselves equally stuffed full of Star Wars action figures and just about anything else that I decide I just can’t live without. 

Therein lies the problem, I keep finding things that I just can’t live without whether a need it or not again much to the dismay of my very beautiful, understanding and patient wife to be. I just can’t turn down a good deal on something whether it’s something for my own collection or something I know I can sell to further my own collecting addiction. You get that nagging feeling inside you that you know you can’t pass the item up, ironically even most of the items I pick up for resale often just find their way onto a shelf and thus crowds up even more of my prime shelf real estate. 

There’s a lot of times I’ll try to pair down my collection and I’ll convince myself I’ll get rid of a few things to make room for some other things I really want but frequently find myself not being able to part with even games for systems I never use just because it’s a memorable or rare game. Strangely enough some of these items are often for systems that I don’t have any prticular nostalgia for, but are systems I’ve found a few favourite or uncommon games for. 

It’s a funny thing that only collectors can understand as its a peculiar hording habit, I’m in no way a pack rat in any other area of my life aside from video games and collectables. I can look at the stacks of NES cartridges laying around including the ones you play once and never play again and still not see a reason to sell them, and it’s in no way about the monetary value but I just can’t seem to separate myself from them. 

As collectors we form bonds with our hobby, it’s about the hunting, searching, negotiating for and digging up those rare treasures that keeps you looking for the next one. Everytime I feel like I’ve reached a good spot with my my collection, something comes up, a sale, a crazy deal at a yard sale or second hand store or a friend mentions they have something up for sale, and the whole process starts again. 

I enjoy being able to look at my collection and take great joy and pride from what I’ve built up and that keeps me looking for the next addition because I know I can always just buy more shelving anyway ha ha! I guess it’s just a collector thing, no matter what you collect you understand how hard it is to pass up another piece for the collection. 

As soon as I’m finished writing this I can’t lie, I’ll be going for a rip to my local second hand store because stuff comes in all the time and I’d hate to miss out on something I can’t live without ha ha! That’s just how it goes once the bug gets you. 

#retroredneck 

Level 14: Has the gravy train rolled out of town? 

Remember when this was the scene at a flea market or yard sale? Boxes of games usually set at an arbitrary price of a few bucks each, now most markets have a dealer there with individually priced games and the yard sale scene has got rough as well with more and more sellers knowing that games are worth money. 

Nothing is more frustrating than over priced games at yard sales, the guys at the flea markets usually have reasonable market prices give or take, but the regular Joe looking to sell their gameboy advance at his yard sale, not so much. People are starting to go to ebay before pricing things at their yard sales and it leads to some astronomical price differences. Everyone wants their old Mario 3 or Blades of Steel to be worth $50 but they just aren’t and it can be frustrating when trying to haggle said item down from that price. 

There was a time in the 90s where getting was definitely good, people were selling off a system and a box of games for maybe $20-30 and most games could be found in second hand stores for under $5. Those days are gone for sure as most of that old stock found its way into the hands of collectors and resellers who had the foresight to sit on them until they would be worth selling. 

Even today there are a lot of stores like Value Village, Talize, Goodwill, Vinnie,  etc depending on where you’re from but they all operate on the same business model, the public donates their items and the store sells them for profit and  donates part to a charity they’re affiliated with. They were also once a place to get amazing steals on games because they just priced them generically and that would sometimes allow you to score big. However these stores are now turning to ebay too, but only really on retro and gaming items. As a guy who frequently scouts his local stores and has found many a good find, I’ve also watched the prices jump…a lot over the last few months even. At one time I could walk in and get a Nintendo 64, Playstation 2 or GameCube controller for $2-3 which is awesome, however in the last few months that price has jumped to around $20. Yes I know $20 isn’t a rip off for a controller in good condition but the guy selling the controller at the game store still had to pay to get the merchandise.  I inquired one day why a gamecube the store was selling was $12 but the separately priced controller was $20 the answer I received was “We compare with ebay and local game stores”….WTF? I had to ask “but isn’t your stuff donated to you for free?” The answer back was a simple “that’s what everyone else sells them for..”. 

I have no problem with people making a few bucks, I sell games myself in my spare time to support my own habit but I also have to pay to get those games, nobody just donates a pile of them to me. If I received them for free I couldn’t really in good conscience sell them at a major profit because in that case it’s all profit. This is an issue I’ve touched on before as every collector/seller has to go through this and decide how they choose to handle it. 

So even the last places that were once the caboose of the gravy train are starting to catch up to the retro game engine’s speed as it plows ahead into the market. This creates an extremely vicious community as everyone now wants top dollar because they have to pay the next guys top dollar on items they want. I’ve found in my area anyway that this has really slowed down the market a lot, items posted on various buy and sell sites that used to get a lot of responses get none as even the lowballers have become tired of trying to squeeze blood from a stone. 

Maybe this is the catalyst the market needs to start changing, now that everyone wants top price I feel a lot of casual collectors will start to wander away from the hobby again as will some serious collectors as things continue to climb and put full collections out of reach. I had a conversation recently with a guy who had been in the hobby for about 2o years now and it was interesting to hear his take on how the hobby is cannibalizing itself. 

He deals a lot in the States and in doing so sees a lot better prices because there’s still a lot of swap meets and flea markets there that haven’t jumped the rails yet into the ebay pricing world. So it’s interesting to me as a Canadian to hear him talk about $2-3 common games when here in the great white north the same game starts at $5 and some even dead common titles find their way to the $15-20 mark. A lot of the pricing has to do with greed rather than the market, in Canada we bought millions of Nintendo and Sega Genesis carts when they rolled out in North America and I don’t find it that hard to come across games here in comparison to the States, but somehow the prices here reflect a scarcity  that doesn’t really exist. 

That’s where things like the second hand stores, the goodwill’s and the yard sales  used to come in handy, it was an opportunity to round up games without the insane price tag. But unfortunately it looks as though the train has left the station on those deals which is sad as it will discourage new collectors from wanting to get into what many of us consider a fun and rewarding hobby. Like I said though, maybe this will be the straw that finally starts to break the camels back and we’ll start to see the much needed correction in the market but until then myself like many others will be waving goodbye to the gravy train from the station waiting for the good times to come back around and unfortunately wading through our now ebay infused market while trying to carve out a deal here and there. 

Hopefully wherever you find yourself you’re able to still wheel some deals. 

I’d be interested to hear how things are for you in your area in the comments. 

#8bitliving

#retroredneck 

Boss Battle: The N64 turns 20.

image

Originally developed under the names “Project Reality” and “Ultra 64”, it’s final name by launch was the Nintendo 64 and this June it hits it’s 20th birthday.

Nintendo had been riding high off the success of the original NES and Super Nintendo but things were brewing on the gaming scene, Sony was coming out with their gaming system the Playstation and it was promising big things. Nintendo is never one to be left out or sweat too much when it comes to console development as through the NES and SNES generation Nintendo proved itself to be the quality platform for gaming that was accessible and family friendly.

Any kid who had a subscription will remember seeing the sneak previews of  this new Nintendo system that was talking about true 3-D graphics and it almost seemed too good to be true. As development continued screenshots would make their way into the magazine and with each one you would be more tantalized with the prospect of this new gaming development.

When September of 1996 rolled around everyone and their grandma were wanting to be first in line to scoop up what was now known as the Nintendo 64, it had a sleek design, a strange looking controller and wait for it ….2 launch games…that’s right Pilotwings 64 and Mario 64. Ok so that wasn’t that awesome or was it?

Both of the launch titles were fun and definitely showed off what the Nintendo 64 was capable of, but Mario 64 blew the roof off of anything you knew about games until that point. Mario 64 had everything you had dreamed of since hearing about “Project reality”, slick graphics, cool 3-D design and great controls that allowed you to quickly grasp the new gameplay concept and get right to the fun.

Mario 64 wasn’t the only titles to really light people up, games like wave race 64 showed some really great water physics, Mario Kart 64 brought the SNES classic to the next level, Zelda gave Link a huge world to explore, pokemon stadium was like nothing Pokémon fans had seen previously on the Gameboy but there’s one game nobody can deny blew the rest away if only for being such a time hog:

image

That’s right, GOLDENEYE!!! When Goldeneye came out everyone dropped what they were doing to play it. You had a main story which allowed you to unlock levels and cheats for the game which also came in handy for the best part of all…the multiplayer.

I remember spending countless nights with friends playing the multiplayer, a friend’s church would often let us use their projection screen which was like everyone having their own 32″ tv to play on for your section of the screen. Much like Mario Kart this was a game that could damage friendships but everyone lined up to play. Everyone had a favourite character or weapons set up and one jerk would always be odd job but you just went out of your way to beat on them first.

The Nintendo 64 sold over 20 million units in North America had a library of around 388 games, much less than the NES, SNES, Playstation and Sega Saturn but the library had many impressive games in it and to its credit many are best selling and highly acclaimed games for that game generation such as Mario 64 being the best selling game even against Gran Turismo and Final Fantasy 7.

The N64 Also came out with some interesting accessories and add ons just as it had for previous consoles. They released a memory card that fit into the controller to allow saving data from games, the rumble pak that although required batteries gave you some interaction with various games, the failed 64DD disk drive that only saw 9 games released it for it and the expansion pak that allowed certain games to access extra ram for bigger games like Donkey Kong 64.

The 64 was also released in a myriad of colors and designs aside from the original charcoal grey system, the most common ones people know are the colored units that were orange, blue, smoke, grape, red, jungle green and the Pokémon themed unit. The controllers came out with several colors as well but in the later units the 2nd controller would be atomic purple instead of the standard grey.

The N64 is a system that has stood up well over time provided you have a CRT tv or an upscaler as on new tvs the graphics tend to look washed out or fuzzy. As far as the games go many people still look back on Goldeneye as one of the best first person shooters of the time even if now the graphics look a little rough and Ocarina of time consistently makes it on to the top lists of all time best Zelda games. Some games have been left in the dust for not holding up well but the ones that do are still fun and still look great today.

It was a different looking system with a strange shaped controller with an odd button layout but it provided a ton of fun and outlived it’s competitors in the collectors market. Playstation and the Saturn were good but not often looked back upon as fondly as the Nintendo 64 and the prices of 64 games reflects this is comparison to the other 2 major systems of the time with the exceptions of some great games on the other 2 platforms. Once again Nintendo knocked one out of the park and continued to keep themselves on part with their competitors as the console market kept moving forward into the next generation of systems.

So if you have a Nintendo 64 sitting in a closet somewhere, bust it out and toss in some Mario 64, Goldeneye, Crusin’ USA or any of the other great games you loved and take a trip down memory lane with what was one of the best systems of that console generation.

I’ve got mine set up and I think I hear some Goldeneye calling name.

image

#retroredneck
#8bitliving

You can also find The Retro Redneck on Facebook. Drop in and say hey y’all.

Cheers!

Level 13: The Gameboy

image

July 31, 1989 Everything you knew about handheld games changed forever, up until that point handheld units were usually subpar LCD games, often sports like football or baseball. These games were fun being what they were but didn’t compare to systems like the Nintendo or even the Atari consoles available during that time.

When the Gameboy launched you could finally take familiar games on the go with you and people snatched them up to the tune of 44+ million units sold in North America. The Gameboy came with Tetris as a pack in game as well as a few early titles like Baseball, Alleyway, Tennis and an all new Mario game called Super Mario Land.

The Gameboy was designed to be the successor to the popular Game and watch series of handheld games which only gave you one built in LCD game per unit. When the idea was pitched at Nintendo the initial response was surprisingly not one of excitement, internally there was a lot of scepticsm as to whether this new “dot matrix game” would find success.

Due to Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo research and development 1’s previous success with the Game and watch and several NES titles the system was given the green light to continue. The Gameboy brought together aspects of the NES and the Game and watch to create a new system. When the Gameboy was initially released in Japan the first 300,000 test units sold out almost immediately and Nintendo realized they had something big and turned their sights to the North American and European markets.

As stated earlier the North American reception was huge, the Nintendo entertainment system had created a huge splash and North America’s love affair with video games was back on, so there couldn’t have been a better time to release a handheld system. NES was great but had one downside, you could only play it at home. Every kid dreamed of being able to bring Mario on the go and Nintendo was about to make that dream come true.

image

Super Mario Land was the next installment of the Brothers Mario after the hugely successful Mario Bros 3, most kids who opened up a Gameboy for their birthday or christmas most likely had Super Mario Land with it.

Although straying away from Mario 3 in the same way Mario 2 was a completely different experience from Super Mario Bros, it was however an interesting game and I know I definitely put some time into it as a kid until I beat it. It brought in elements never seen in a Mario game before like Mario’s sub and airplane? Princess Peach was not to be found in any castle this time around as you’re out to rescue princess Daisy instead. The game also featured all new enemies and bosses with Bowser and the Koopa family nowhere to be seen.

image

     

Even Koopa kings need a holiday

It was popular enough though to see the release of a sequel Super Mario Land 2: 6 golden coins which was far better received, brought back a familiar look to the Mario games and introduced us to a new boss: the gold hungry Wario.

The Gameboy had entrenched itself well into the gaming scene in North America through its advertising campaigns, hype and price point. The Gameboy debuted at the $90 mark, Nintendo had done it’s best to keep prices down most notably by sacraficing color for a green/black dot matrix display instead of a color LCD.

At the time nobody thought much of it until then main competitor Sega launched their Game Gear handheld featuring a color screen but at the cost of price and battery life (6 for GG vs 4 for GB). Sega was not the only competition to try to take a slice of this new game market, there were also the Atari Lynx and the TurboExpress which also offered color screens and in many cases better hardware, visuals and games.

Although these systems were often superior to the Gameboy, pricing helped to keep Nintendo the choice of most parents who were looking at having to buy systems for multiple kids. Nintendo continued to roll out games for the Gameboy creating both new titles and ports of popular NES games, because of the agreements with developers Nintendo had they were able to constantly keep 3rd party software limited to the Gameboy.

image

                  

    Sorry buddy

The Gameboy has gone on to have an interesting legacy, not just as the first portable gaming system but as f Nintendo research found out: it was the first system that was incredibly popular with women with 46% of users at the time compared to only 29% on NES and 14% on Super Nintendo.

Nintendo also kickstarted worldwide phenomenon when they released Pokémon on the Gameboy, it allowed players to battle/trade other players via the link cord and had a huge marketing boom with the simple tag line: “Gotta collect em all!” and man did people take that seriously making Pokémon the most successful franchise on their handheld systems with multiple versions available and creating the ability to have them interact across platforms in games like Pokémon stadium for N64.

The original Gameboy was one of Nintendo’s longest supported systems and had several interations such as the Gameboy pocket and Mini before the Gameboy color was finally rolled out. Since then Nintendo has continued to dominate the handheld market with the introduction of the Gameboy Advance, Advance Sp, the DS, 2 DS and currently the 3DS.

Nintendo has consistently dominated thanks mostly to its strong stable of 1st party franchises like Mario, Zelda, Starfox, Metroid and Pokémon. These beloved franchises have kept buyers consistently keeping the Nintendo systems at the top of the marketplace, over the decades since it was first unleashed the Gameboy has seen many handheld systems come and go while Nintendo systems continued to push forward to take it’s place as the best portable gaming systems of all time.

After thinking about all this kinda makes me want to fire up the ol Gameboy and play one of my favourite games: Super Pro AM.

#dotmatrixliving
#8bitliving
#retroredneck

image

You can find me on Facebook @ The Retro Redneck.