One SNES, with a dash of mint.

January 6, 2013

Untitled-1By and large I believe retro game collections should be amassed to be played.  Sure, all this stuff looks good on a shelf, but if you’re not playing those games, if you’re not losing yourself in alien worlds, hunting desperately for one more enchanted crystal or working up a frantic sweat trying to stay in the final round against Sub Zero, then you have to ask yourself if collecting retro video game stuff is really for you.

Perhaps you’d like to start a stamp collection, instead?

Unlike many other forms of collectible, video games offer not only the thrill of the hoard, but the thrill of the interaction too, something I’ve covered in more length here.  There are some rare exceptions though. There are a few items even in my own personal collection which I don’t play, or use. I own them purely for the sake of owning them, for the sake of knowing I rescued them from the world like Indiana Jones nabbing an ancient idol from a long lost temple, but I figure it’s okay to pepper a well played collection of gear with the occasional shelf-only piece. One item I don’t think I’ll ever open and play, is my minty never-been-used SNES console. It’s in absolutely fantastic condition, among the best I’ve ever seen, and I think it’d be a crime to take it all out, set it up, and actually use it.

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There’s a certain gleeful appeal in knowing no cartridge has ever been inserted into the machine, no-one has ever mashed the shit out of the controller in order to trigger E. Honda’s one-hundred-hand-slap.  The device is by and large in the same condition it would have been on on the store shelf. It’s the ultimate in time travel here folks, the whole insect trapped in amber ride.

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IMG_0720I figure it’s okay to have one SNES that I keep in this condition considering I own two others, one of which I’d consider my regular ‘workhorse’ SNES.  I did have two units in this condition, but sold the other one for a princely sum on eBay to fund something or other. Likely another gaming purchase. Jesus, I’ve got issues.

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Mint SNES aside though, I really do feel it appropriate to get on my soapbox and become preachy about playing your collection of games. Don’t let them all sit on a shelf gathering dust! What a waste of talent, imagination and style if you do. Those cartridges, CD’s and disks are the key to hours of entertainment done in a style that’s so rarely matched in these days of photo-realism and big budget titles.  So don’t get into the bad habit of grabbing stuff just to line a shelf.

Make sure you load up that tape, insert that cart, or load that CD. Give as many titles as you can the chance, if only for a moment, to trigger a happy memory of gaming past or – even better – create an entirely new one….

PS – I don’t have anything against stamp collectors, really. I think it’s totally trendy. I’ll try and remember to send you some of the stamps from my next delivery of gob-smackingly amazing gaming merchandise, I promise.


My games room – wide angle style.

December 26, 2012

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Collections by type…

December 23, 2012

In a slightly different strategy to taking random pictures of odds and ends of my collection, I’ve decided to put together some shots which depict an entire section of my current hoard (e.g. all my SNES games or all my Commodore stuff).  Below I’ve got pictures of my entire Sega Saturn games collection, SNES game collection, NES boxed collection (I have a stack more carts sans boxes) and Commodore goodies (including C64, C64C, C128 and C128D). Enjoy!

So many great 2D fighting titles in this bunch

So many great 2D fighting titles in this bunch

Childhood goodness abounds

Childhood goodness abounds

A small but growing NES boxed collection

A small but growing NES boxed collection

Terranigma, Mega Man X, Zelda and many other great boxed games in this lot

Terranigma, Mega Man X, Zelda and many other great boxed games in this lot


Updated collection pictures

November 18, 2012

Just took a fresh round of photos to add to the collection page here, so if you’ve got a few spare minutes, head in and check them out :). As usual, as soon as I looked over the pictures I realised I’d left plenty of things out, but these will have to do. One day I’ll be clever enough to get a comprehensive gallery in here of everything I own.


And I go bomb, bomb, bomb!

September 30, 2012

When you’re a PAL collector like most Australian retro game hoarders are, you tend to have a dim view of NTSC console models and their games.  Machines like the Japanese Super Famicom or USA NES don’t seem to hold their value well in PAL territories, and the games themselves seem like cast-outs to our eyes.  You need only do a quick check on Ebay to compare the same game on a PAL Nintendo Entertainment System versus an NTSC copy to see the difference in perceived value.  So is there an appeal? Of course! I’ve decided to use my NTSC Super Famicom copy of Super Bomberman 3 to make the case that NTSC collecting can be as fun and rewarding as PAL collecting any day of the week.

Behold, my Super Famicom and assorted games…

So, why bother with Super Famicom collecting? Especially when you need a step-down transformer to play the games in Australia without blowing your SFC up? For one thing, check out the box art on the SFC version of Super Bomberman 3 (top). Vastly superior to the PAL release (bottom), the SFC box art is lively, vibrant and covered in the cartoon style that only the Japanese can do well.

You’ll find a lot of the Super Famicom games have similar box art, so already there’s a compelling reason to throw a few SFC games into your collecting mix. Don’t forget that – on average – boxed SFC games fetch a far lower price than their PAL equivalents, so you can rapidly build up a collection of NTSC titles for relative cheap, cheap (it’s also worth noting that SFC games seem to be well taken care of compared to often bashed about PAL SNES titles).  So you get games with great art, in great condition, with exactly the same gameplay but cheaper.

Are you starting to see the appeal?

The insides of Super Bomberman 3 also don’t disappoint, with bright, cheery instructions and instructions that contain a fantastic comic strip the meaning of which I will never, ever know. But that’s a minor quibble when the art is so pretty.

So, what about the gameplay? Well, Super Bomberman 3 is exactly the same in NTSC form as it is in PAL, so there are no surprises. It’s a fantastic puzzle game where you get to clear screen after colorful screen of bad guys using well placed and well timed bomb explosions. Super Bomberman 3 introduces new bad guys, new themed rooms and even a strange Kangaroo type critter that your Bomberman can ride. Nifty and a great time waster, Super Bomberman 3 is just one of many games that – thanks to its relative cheapness and great artwork makes an easy case for why collecting NTSC games can be a great experience and an easy way to beef up your game collecting.

 

 

 


Collector Spotlight #3: Emma from Melbourne, Victoria.

September 24, 2012

In the third installment of my look at fellow retro collectors and their shiny and diverse hoarding (er – I mean collections), I spoke with Emma from Melbourne to find out about her prized possessions, how she got into collecting game related stuff, and where it’s all headed. Enjoy!

First things first; Who are you? And where are you from?

Emma, Melbourne.

 What gaming systems did you grow up with?

When I was 6 my sister got a SNES with Super Mario world and my I loved it. Luckily I was able to play it all the time because I didn’t get my own console until I was 10, which was the Nintendo 64. I also had an original Gameboy.

 Describe your collection? What’s the focus? Where are you aiming to end up with it? When did you get started?

My collection is really focused on what I have played thought out my life and what I missed out on. I have gradually expanded to other systems and games as I have learnt more about collecting and other systems. But I don’t think I will expand beyond what was released in Australia.

 I started collecting 6 years ago when I finally purchased a gamecube and twilight princess. After that I wanted to re-play ocarina of time and an assortment of 64 games which I loved when I was young. I then decided to expand to other consoles I missed growing up but had wanted to play.

Eventually, I want the entire PAL-A 64 collection, every Zelda game on all systems and every post NES system boxed. Mostly I want to end up with an amazing collection, which is special to me.

 Why did you start collecting? A general love of gaming? Re-living youth?

I started 4 years ago. First I just wanted to have a small, modest but varied assortment of game goods. I had this fantasy as a 10 year old of an entire book case of 64 games, I really wanted to achieve that early on. I ended up really getting into gaming culture and history, which I had enjoyed as a child to. I can talk for hours about the Sega vs Nintendo saga; I just find that stuff interesting.  At first re-living my youth was my motivation, but inevitably I ran out material and was kind of disappointed by some games so now it’s a general love that keeps me going.

 Do you actively play / use your collection, or are you happy just to admire the shiny stuff sitting on the shelf?

It really depends on the item.  Some items are just interesting collectors pieces, like my Gameboy collection I have every Gameboy system but I only ever use the SP because it’s better, and play’s all the other systems games. I have a few sealed things too, which are just shiny things never to be opened J

 Would you ever sell your collection, or is it with you for life?

I may eventually sell parts of it that I never use but the stuff I originally collected is with me forever.

 What’s your single most prized piece?

Although it’s not particularly valuable, my Jungle green 64. I use it for all my 64 needs and I have always wanted one. Collection wise, it’s my Nintendo Magazine System collection. I have spent the better part of 4 years trying to get every issue. It’s been a lot of effort.

What’s the most you’ve spent on a single item so far? Go on, be honest – no-one is looking I promise.

Hmm, I usually buy bundled Items; I did spend $850 for a bundle from Adelaide and drove there from Melbourne to get it. Single item, would be a boxed Zelda Gameboy Advance SP for $120.

 What’s something you’re lusting after that you don’t have yet, and why?

A Panasonic Q, I can’t justify spending $500 on one item O_O

 How complete do you consider your collection?

I have a lot of items $0-$100 in value with a few pricey pieces in the mix. It’s those really expensive bits that take a long time to collect. I really don’t think it will ever be ‘complete’ even if I had every 64 title, I would still need to resell some and get boxed copies. After that I’d just move on to SNES.

Got any advice for people wanting to start a retro game collection? Where should they start? How should they start?

I found it easier to start with what I knew. As you go along you learn more about prices and items. Take it slow and really consider if you want complete copies of things or not, otherwise you will have to rebuy stuff. I usually buy in bulk that way I can resell the items I don’t need to buy more stuff that I want. Start with what you want to play the most, ebay is usually the easiest option, that’s where 90% of my stuff comes from.

And of course – no spotlight is complete without the juicy, juicy pictures. Feast your sense upon Emma’s assorted gaming goodies!….


Quick SNES roundup

September 16, 2012

Nothing sees in a Sunday morning like a good cup of coffee and a few random SNES games. I grabbed a handful of carts to try out (Gods, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters and Kirby’s Ghost Trap), and thought I’d give the worlds smallest review – possibly at planck scale – on each. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Gods for the SNES is a game I scrutinized a bit closer than I ordinarily would, mainly because my first (and lengthy) experience with this games was on its original home, the Amiga. I was a little disappointed to tell you the truth, but with an aspect that only a die hard Amiga fan would notice.  The game play of the SNES port is faithful enough, you are cast as an ancient Greek warrior out to prove himself worthy of equal footing with the Gods by thumping a whole host of demons across level after level of platform gaming. You get upgraded weapons, power-ups and come up against a whole variety of timing traps and puzzles on your quest. The bit I felt let down by, was the sound.

The almost legendary Amiga Gods soundtrack by John Foxx has been completely and utterly trampled for the Super Nintendo version of the game, replaced with a tinny, unspectacular soundtrack that persists from the title screen through to the levels themselves. Can changing a sound track ruin a game? For me, sure. To understand the contrast between the SNES and Amiga sound track, check out this comparison.

 

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters was a surprisingly enjoyable game. I’m a big of a fighting game fan, I can wax lyrical for hours about Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, so to find a title that has elements of one or the other but with a fresh coat of paint and a different character roster, is always nice.  TMNTTF (Because there’s no way I’m writing that title out in full, again) features all the instantly recognizable characters from TMNT, such as the four turtles, Shredder as well as some faces from the Comic book series.  The fighting is smooth, with special moves abound and some bright colorful backgrounds complete with Street Fighter-esque scrolling floors. I haven’t had much to do with the Turtles franchise since I was about 13, but this game is heaps of fun whether you’re a fan or not. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

Kirby’s Ghost Trap didn’t really do much for me. Easy to sum up as a Tetris style puzzle game, you rotate and move little coloured blobs (ghosts? I’m not sure) to fit into colour sequence to clear them. Clear enough to cause a chain reaction and rocks will fall from the top of the screen onto the other players blobs. Maybe, just maybe if you’d never played a Tetris-like game in your life, this would be gripping stuff. As it is, it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t, so Kirby’s Ghost Trap is a bit of a yawn.

 


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