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. 



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. 



Boss Battle: The N64 turns 20.


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:


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.



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Level 13: The Gameboy


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.


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.



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.



    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.



You can find me on Facebook @ The Retro Redneck.

Level 12: Nostalgia blinders.


We all have a certain way we remember our beloved childhood treasures…of course things were awesome back in our day, how could kids today even fathom the awesomeness of the console wars, Saturday morning cartoons, and the toys and pop culture items that tied into them?

Well today we’re going to take a more harsh look at just how awesome some of this stuff really was. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve been a Nintendo fan boy since that christmas I first got my action set but I’m also objective enough to know that a large number of the hundreds of NES cartridges I have proudly displayed on my shelves are not the gold I remembered them to be.

I’m going to stray a little from just talking about video games…as any kid from the 80s knows, the pop culture was tied into everything: the shows, movies, toys and obviously video games so it’s hard to talk about 80s nostalgia without taking it all into consideration. So let’s get started!

First up: Saturday morning cartoons(commercials)


I remember having this conversation with a few friends in regards to today’s kids shows being more focused on “edutainment” where in our day in the 80s cartoons were just half hour commercials for action figures.

Looking back I remember watching G.I Joe, He-Man, Transformers, TMNT, M.A.S.K, etc and I sure had a lot of action figures from these shows, not really a coincidence though, these shows knew exactly what they were doing. They would get you hyped about the show and every commercial break usually had at least one for the figures from the show and as kids are want to do…you drive your parents nuts until they bought them for you.

Parents definitely had their wallets reached into as there was always multiple figures, vehicles, buildings, accessories, mail in’s, etc. Transformers even had a war to kill off characters just in time to release a new series just in time for Christmas…well played Mattel.

There’s still toys made to go along with popular kids shows today but aren’t marketed as hard as they were in the 80s, back then there seemed to be an attitude amongst toy companies that these cartoons were a license to print money, and they were right. Many of these toys from yesteryear are so well remembered they continue to be highly collectable today…now I wish I hadn’t sold all my ninja turtles for that NES game I just had to have.

Action figures:


Wait what’s that? I hear you thinking “Drew…you’re crazy brother…action figures were awesome..give your head a shake”. But were they really that awesome? The kid in the picture seems to be having a blast because he has a mad set of figures there and both castles, I see a battle cat in there, etc but that was the problem unless you had all of them you couldn’t always play out you favourite show, who is He-Man going to fight if you don’t have Skeletor? Cobra Commander? Mumm Ra?

No, you needed to collect them all and that meant you needed money. Now when I was an 8 year old kid I didn’t have a job so there went just buying them myself so the only other viable route was to clearly hit up my parents. Now at 8 I knew nothing about how money worked either so you’d ask for a laundry list of figures but as parents understood money would buy you what they could afford so you’d slowly build up a collection.

Next problem was you needed the vehicles, G.I Joe looks a lot less tough using Jem’s roadster to launch an armored attack on Cobra headquarters. So you would have to wait until things like your birthday or Christmas to scoop up the good vehicles because again parents were all like “these ain’t free”.

Plus you couldn’t just have one, Hasbro  made sure there were plenty of vehicles and bases to collect. So as awesome as action figures are unless you were rich you probably didn’t have a full set of any of your favourite figures. There were also the send away items that required points and money and the only way to get points was to buy figures and vehicles so the cycle begins again and of course the mail in figures were always the coolest so you had to have them so if you were not able to get them it was a huge dissapointment.

So really action figures were just designed to make you drive your parents insane so you could collect them all…and they succeeded…mostly I never did get this under the Christmas tree:


Damn you Santa..

Collectible cards:


Oh yeah…remember these? You’d go down to the store with your allowance and grab a few packs of cards, you take them home and open them up, take out your checklist card and discover you got 8 more doubles and 2 cards you could use.


Anyone need a 5th Steve the Tramp?

You tried to trade them with friends but they were missing the same cards you were and if someone had it they weren’t about to trade it so back to the store to try again and again and again until you eventually gave up because you were always a few cards short of a set.

They made these cards for everything too: TV shows, movies, music, cartoons and the various comedic things like Garbage pail kids. So if you wanted to collect more than one kind you had to spend a ton to buy packs for everything and now you have piles of doubles nobody wants.

These cards have remained somewhat collectable but are usually only sought after in complete sets, sealed packs or boxes so even today nobody wants my Steve the Tramp doubles.

And because this is a video game blog…let’s get to our final contestant!!



The thing so many of us look back on with the most fondness…our old video games, they sure were awesome! It was like having your own arcade at home! I remember spending countless hours playing nintendo…so awesome, or was it?

We all know there’s some incredible games that came out in the 80s and 90s but let’s be real you know there’s more than a few stinkers in there that somehow slipped past Nintendo’s rigorous seal of approval system because you know…money and stuff. So a lot of what we got are games that were not always complete, buggy, glitchy, frustrating pieces of shit stuck inside a grey plastic cartridge.

As a kid you usually had to ask for games for birthdays, etc as games were expensive and nothing would ruin a kids birthday faster than cracking open a copy of Friday the 13th, Fester’s quest or Kid Kool, popping it in the NES only to find out it was a steaming pile of 8 bit shit.

Maybe you had the local video store where you could test out games before you bought them but sometimes parents just got suckered in because the sales guy at sears said everyone is buying Jaws for NES not Mario 3 this Christmas so you got a mediocre game that you had to occupy yourself with until your next birthday or holiday unless you could trick a friend into a trade, but then you’d be short a friend once they realized how much it sucks and that they just got screwed and depending on what they traded you, you may have exchanged one lemon for another.

A lot of times too your only reference for deciding to buy if it wasn’t for rent at your local store was the 3 screen shots on the box, the box art and the biased reviews in Nintendo Power. Sometimes you just had to wing it because it wasn’t like you could just pull out your smartphone and look up reviews so sometimes even if everything looked cool you could still get a dud.

I remember doing it with Renegade, it looked awesome from the box art and screen shots, I remembered it being fun in the arcade…and all I can say is I was lucky enough to be able to return it and fortunately my 2nd attempt at winging it did pay off as I ended up with a game I had never seen before but turned out to be awesome: River City Ransom.

So the collectability of old games is clearly going strong but we all know we have maybe 30-40 games we actually like and the others get checked to see if they work, go on a shelf and stay there because we know they stink but still need them for the collection.

Well this is all just my opinion, I still love all things retro but it’s good once and a while to take the rose colored glasses of nostalgia off and step back to actually take a hard look at how actually awesome these things are versus the way I remembered them as a kid. Not everything is as awesome as it once was but that hasn’t stopped me from collecting them anyway ha ha! At the very least it’s something cool to show the kids one day so they can see all the weird stuff the old man was into back in his day.

But seriously anyone need a Steve the Tramp card?



1 Up!: Going old school


I usually talk about the NES but for this installment I’m going further back into my childhood to those good old days when you really had to use your imagination to have some fun, as you’ve probably guessed by the obvious picture, we’re talking Atari today.

Long before I ever set foot in an arcade I remember going to a family friends house and their dad had an atari 2600 hooked up in the rec room. Their son John and I used to pour hours into games like Pole Position, Demon Attack, Joust and Galaga and we had a ton of fun…until I first laid eyes on the graphics available in the arcade and once the NES came out I never gave another thought to that old atari….that is until I picked one up again about a year ago.

I had posted an ad to look for retro games and got a reply from an older guy asking if I’d be interested in buying his atari collection, he said it had been sitting in a closet for years and had a few games with it. After finding out that he was only looking for $30 for the whole lot I decided to go for it as I knew they were selling for a lot more and that had deterred me from buying one previously.

When the atari arrived it was in mint condition, it was a 2600 vader jr and as I looked through the games there was a pile of classics like Mario Bros, Yars Revenge, Space Invaders and Defender…all of a sudden those memories of all the fun  we had with these games as kids came back and I suddenly had the game bug bite me and it was time to go atari cart hunting.

One of the beautiful things about the atari is that it’s an easy system to get into collecting for, the games are generally affordable, usually under $5 so I was quickly able to start building up a collection of great games like Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong jr, Frogger, Brezerk, Missle Command and my person favourite, Pole Position.

So now with a pile of games it was time to hook it up…get everything plugged in,   pop in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, power it up….the first thing I hear is that sweet old school sound as it plays the intro Star Wars music, I hit reset and start playing…obviously being in the days of Playstation 4 and Xbox One the graphics are primitive, my fiance commented on this and my first response was that you had to use some imagination back then.

I then thought about it and remembering that she was too young for the days of atari said that when the atari came out this hardware was huge, before atari if you wanted to play Pac Man you had to go to an arcade, but the atari brought the arcade home in the same way the NES did in 85. It reminded me that at the time people were blown away by these graphics, how much like the arcade some games Iike Space Invaders looked at the time and IN COLOR! providing you had the luxury of a color TV at the time, you had these games in bright, cool colors and anyone who has ever played an atari WI remember….NOBODY DID EXPLOSIONS LIKE ATARI!  Oh ya…that screen would flash crazy colors and you knew something just got blown to hell. Sure it’s not as fancy as today’s fully rendered, 60fps, digitized graphics but the satisfaction was there…you still blew something up.

Another great thing is that the atari 2600 has a gigantic game library, now because of the lack of regulations and quality control at the time, not all that glistens is gold but there’s still tons of gems in there. I’ve come across many games that I never even knew of as kid as I was born in 1980 just as the game market was reaching that breaking point from the glut of cheap, shoddy games that plagued the system at the time so many of these games were passed over have been rediscovered.

It’s actually fun to run across a lot of the games that I’ve seen various you tubers talk about in their “worst 2600 games ever” lists and actually be able to try them for myself, yeah Plaque Attack definitely deserved to be on those lists but sometimes there’s still some fun to be had but I could see how you’d feel burned as a gamer in the 70s paying full price for some of these bombs but it’s not like the NES didn’t have some real stinkers despite the Nintendo seal of quality on every box.

Of course you can’t talk about atari without touching on one thing, yes that one thing every reviewer online has beat to death….E.T the extra terrestrial!
Always reviewed as “the game that broke the game industry” and “the game that toppled the atari juggernaut”…sure it was made on a few week time line, was rushed out to stores, yes atari foolishly made more copies than there were atari’s in homes because they thought it was going to be a system seller, and yes we all know now that they did have to dump tons of them into a landfill, but despite it’s notorious reputation…it’s not really that bad of a game in my opinion.

I have the game and yes it can be frustrating if you look at it from the perspective of “you plug in the game and just play” that most atari games were known for. With E.T if you actually read the manual the game was a whole lot easier to navigate and *GASP* …it was even beatable, something that many other atari games didn’t offer as they were usually score centric games that you competed against other people in, so at least E.T tried to do something big but due to the time constraints with programming and testing you get a pretty rough game, but one that is still workable if you put in some effort.

I always find it amusing that people are amazed that things like Nintendo games are still around 30 years later and still work, but you really have to give it up to atari, they created a workhorse of a system, the way the cartridges were designed for the most part were made in a way that moisture, etc hasn’t caused them to corrode, I spend a lot more time having to clean NES games before being able to play them than I ever have with atari games which are easily a decade or more older than their NES counterparts.

So it’s been really fun to experience a system that in my day wasn’t much of big deal as I showed up a little too late for it to have an impact and with the NES showing up when I was five became an fossil in comparison. So being able to finally sit down and actually enjoy the 2600 has really given me an appreciation for where these games came from as many of the NES titles had original releases on the 2600 like Pac Man, Dig Dug, and even Ikari Warriors.

What the 2600 did in the 70s for gamers was the same revolution that I felt happen when Nintendo revived the game market in the 80s, it brought the arcade into your bedroom…you could play these arcade games at any time, no quarters required, play with your friends at birthday parties (or adult parties depending on how old or cool you were then ha ha) and the bottom line was…it was cool and it was fun.

These games continue to hang around for a reason, they might not be graphically advanced, don’t have intricate stories and gameplay but they have one major thing going for them: their still fun. I know guys who have introduced their children to their retro systems and it’s cool to see pictures of the new generation enjoying a system that debuted 40 years before they were born….but still having fun and experiencing the same wonder we had as kids playing these games for the first time.

So as promised I did a more lighthearted topic compared to my usual retro market analysis and rants and I hope you enjoyed a trip down memory lane. If you haven’t had the chance to experience the 2600…get one or get an emulator if the price is a deterrent and experience some real classic retro gaming fun.

As always you can find me on Facebook @ The Retro Redneck

So get out there, get some games and have some fun!….also the way things are going with stadium events popping up everywhere…who knows you might strike gold ha ha!


Level 11: Are retro games an investment?


Investment and speculation are common themes in the retro community,  but how much of an investment are these games actually?

Anyone who’s been around the retro collecting scene for a while has probably read more than a few forum threads, etc about buying games as an investment, but how viable are retro games as commodity that will give a solid return for what you’ve initially invested in them?

The main thing about investments is to remember is: is this something that will grow enough in value to be something that someone in the future will buy for a higher price? People play the stock market because stocks and portfolios can grow and create wealth, but is this something that translates to the retro game market? 

What exactly are you investing in? These are old games who’s sole value is determined by supply and demand, being a finite resource because there’s a limited remaining amount of these games this creates value by scarcity.
Some games are known to be less available than others and thus command higher prices but does that always mean this will continue to
A: hold it’s current value?
B: continue to grow in value in the future?

With regular stocks, the company affects the price by showing positive profit margins and returns each quarter and year which entices investors to put more money into company x in order to cash in when the stock goes higher in price again. With retro games the only real determining factor is whether collectors are willing to pay the price being asked.

Currently speculators, profiteers and resellers have built up a market where the prices have hit all time highs due to the resurgence in interest in retro games. This is in part because there’s a whole generation who grew up on the tail end of the Atari, moved into the Nintendo Era and eventually the Super NES, Sega Genesis, Turbo grafx, and Nintendo 64 and on…this cohort also happen to be in their early 30’s, have careers and the expendable income to purchase these products.

This demand paired with the fact that the target market has available cash to relive their childhood memories is a recipe for printing money…but for how long? Nostalgia is a strange beast, some people just dip their toe in the water and buy an NES and Mario 3 for some laughs and never bother collecting, but some go in full bore and want to get their hands on the games they had as kids or always wanted as a kid.

I know for myself, at times I’ve had to pay a pretty big premium for a little nostalgia, the first thing I did as a collector was try to round up the games I had as a kid for a starting point. Fortunately I was able to grab a large majority before the prices really went up but there were a few that I wasn’t able to find right away and ended up having to pay higher prices to get them.

With some of the higher priced games being in the $40+CAD, how do I know these are a solid investment? Their not is the simple answer. Just because I wanted to own say…Contra doesn’t mean the demand for it say 10 years down the road will be the same, what if they find a pallet of boxes of contra’s somewhere and the price plummets and my $40 game becomes a $5 game? This is possible as I talked about last time in regards to the sealed shipping box of stadium events.

Also how can I be sure that by the time I’d want to relinquish my collection that there will be any interest in it? What if the retro game trend stays around but shifts? As collectors like me get older and possibly start losing interest in the hobby will new NES collectors be there or in 10 years will things like the Playstation 1 and 2 be the popular retro system thus rendering my games worthless unless I can find someone to pay me what I feel it was worth.

Which brings me to my next point: these games are only worth money to collectors…things like stocks are valuable to anyone because they can always be converted into cash, not always true with retro games. If I have a “rare” title like say Bubble Bobble 2, I buy it for $800 now so it’s worth $800 to me, will it be worth $800, $1000, $2000 later just because it’s rare? Maybe if the demand for NES games is still there, not so much if the market has moved on to the next big thing. I’ve made the connection between retro game collecting and sports cards several times but it’s the best example of what we as collectors have to look  forward to when they hype around retro games dies off.

What happens when the kids of today becoming adults and get bit by the nostalgia bug? Their first thought isn’t going to be “Man I wish I had an NES!”, their going to look back fondly on that GameCube or Playstation they had as a child and the cycle will start anew. So what happens then? What happens when the new “investors” don’t want my Bubble Bobble 2? Just like in the real stock market when people are not longer interested in your stock, the price can plummet.

Thinking of game collecting as an investment is a short game for profit as the window of opportunity is limited unless you can see into the future to know when the retro bubble (pun intended) will burst or interest will shift. This hurts the guys who are hoarding  boxed systems and have their Stadium events, Bonk’s adventures and Little Samson’s locked away in safety deposit boxes hoping that in the future their going to be able to retire off selling these items again.

Collectables are super fun, they add value to your life by being awesome and are mostly priceless to you because they have intrinsic sentimental value…they should stay that way. It’s hard to transfer the excitement you had from playing Metroid to the person you’re selling it to, so they don’t see beyond what it’s worth monitarily. So unless the price of the game has risen in value and there’s a demand it will only be worth what the market will bear at the time. So if you’re planning your retirement around your game collection it might be time to better invest your money in something that won’t possibly leave you with less than your original investment and just enjoy your game collection for what it is, a hobby.

Ok rant over…thanks for hearing out my rants, I promise the next one will be about something more fun and upbeat.