As many of you who regularly peruse our website are aware, I’m known for being a retro video game collector above all else. With that in mind, I wanted to write an article that not only answers questions that I get frequently when I have friends/family stop over and see the ol’ game room, but also gives you, the noob collector, a few tips on building a collection on the cheap.
I guess the most common question I get is “How did you afford all this stuff?”
This is a pretty easy one to answer. I’m not rich. I have bills just like everyone else, so I built a gaming budget that I strictly abide by. I’ve also learned that building a collection is costly if you buy games individually. Always hunt for lots. Craigslist is an invaluable tool for this. For the most part, it will always be the cheapest route to go. eBay is useful for when you can’t find that one game you want in a lot anywhere. Lots are the quickest way to build a collection and if it contains games that you don’t want, then eBay them and put that money back into your gaming budget.
What’s your favorite system?
I don’t even have to think about this one. Playstation 2. It has such an immense library of great games, and I’m always discovering ones that I had never heard of before. Also, the price point is perfect right now, more on that later…Here’s a quick list of hidden gems:
The Red Star, Darkwatch, Castle Shikigami 2, Samurai Western, Klonoa 2, Arcana Heart 2, Blood Will Tell, Snoopy vs the Red Baron (Yes, really.)
Which one [system] do you play the most?
Well this isn’t a static answer so if I had to answer this question today, it would be the Neo Geo X Gold. I was lucky enough to receive it as a Christmas gift from my sister a couple of years ago, and I use it pretty consistently. As with most Neo Geo products the price for it has jumped significantly and it’s currently twice as much as my sister paid for it. Which, ya know, fortunate for her (and me), but unfortunate for anyone who didn’t get one in time. I’ve been on a shoot ‘em up kick lately and this system came with a few really great shoot ‘em up titles.
How did you get so many games?
I partially covered this in my first answer, Craigslist lots, but there is a slightly more to it than that. Game collecting is kind of like playing the stock market, you buy low, always buy low. What this means is that you wait until a console is fading away into the twilight and then collect for it. Right now is the absolute perfect time to collect for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. Even Gamestop is trying to bomb out their preowned inventory for a song, and usually has buy 2 get 1 free sales on last gen’s games. The games are super low because everyone is focused on the Nintendo Switch/Xbox One/PS4. Shawn and I have a running joke that we are always one generation behind everyone else. Well, there’s a good reason for that, it’s cheaper to build up a collection when you are buying games that the average gamer doesn’t want anymore. At this point in time, I’ve started collecting for the Wii, as the prices for the games are at an all-time low.
What’s your favorite game?
Of all time? I’ll have to go with Zelda: A Link to the Past. Currently? As I mentioned before, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing shoot em’ ups on my Neo Geo lately. My favorite kind are of the bullet hell variety, and no one does this better than CAVE games out of Japan. There are two amazing games on the Xbox 360 that I’ve been playing called Akai Katana and Deathsmiles (This game was featured in one of my articles a few years ago), and as of right now, Deathsmiles is my favorite game.
What’s your rarest game?
I’ll say Shining Wisdom for the Sega Saturn. I don’t even have a Saturn anymore, more on that later, but I held onto this game. While it’s not insanely rare, it does command a steep price ($80-$100). I found it at a indy video game store and got a really good deal thanks to a lazy employee and complete lack of price tags on all of their games. Long story short, I paid $15 for it. Don’t be afraid to haggle at your local game store.
How do you have time to play all of these [games]?
I don’t! If you remember I wrote an article a few years ago about the first time I was asked this question and my reaction to it. I’ll save you the time of trying to find that article, I sold most of my collection except for the stuff that I played on a regular basis. Something that I regret to this day. These days, I realize that it’s impossible to play every game from beginning to end. Sometimes it’s all about the hunt. I’m at peace with that fact, and I’m enjoying collecting.
Okay so here are my collecting bullet points for all my noob collectors out there:
-Set a realistic budget. Rome wasn’t built in a week and neither is a great game collection.
-Try not to buy individual games. Look for lots on Craigslist and sell off any games that you don’t want from those lots in order to stretch your budget.
-Obviously sometimes you will be forced to buy a title individually. If that’s the case, check your local goodwill first. You’ll be shocked at what you will find there. It’s hit or miss, but when you get lucky there is nothing better than paying a few dollars for a rare game.
-Narrow your focus. If you try to collect for a handful of systems at once, it’ll get costly very quickly.
When you do choose the system(s) you want to collect for, make sure they’re ones that have just faded out of the spotlight (Wii, PS3, 360) are all prime targets right now.
-Don’t be afraid to haggle at the game store. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the right price for your budget. Trust me, at your indy game store, the prices are not set in stone and if you run into an owner who is unwilling to budge, then turn to Amazon. It hurts the owner a lot more to watch that sale walk out of their store. 9 out of 10 times they will budge on the price.
-Visit your local Gamestop when they are having a preowned sale, that’s when you are getting the best deal that you can get there. Do not make them your first, uh, stop when it comes to finding that title you’ve been hunting for.
As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or thoughts for us, just comment below!