Chapter 1. Playing Retro Games
Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby. While many if not most
retro gaming hackers are getting their classic console fix through
emulation these days, who can resist the allure of a wood
grainpaneled Atari 2600? The
In this chapter, we'll cover the ins and outs of playing
original retro game consoles. You'll learn how to buy many
different classic systems and how to set them up once you've got
them home. There are even hacks on finding retro
There are hacks for every budgetyou'll learn about the expensive
Holy Grails of retro game collecting, but also how to save money
when you go game shopping, whether on online auction sites like
eBay (http://www.ebay.com) or in the thrift store in your
Go shopping for classic
It used to be so easy.
Anyone who's been collecting retro games for some time now
remembers the heyday of the early 1990s. For that glorious half a
Nobody had any clue that people might one day pay big bucks for
But as more and more games and systems entered the possession of collectors (who were far less likely to sell them off on the cheap out of their own garages), as the '80s started to become cool again, and as the advent of online auction sites started to raise the prices of retro games, Atari systems and such started to disappear from the flea market. But it's still possible to get out there and buy some classic gaming goodness, and this hack will explain some general tips.
Throughout this book, you'll see hack authors constantly
referring back to eBay. And how could we not? The
Early eBay sellers
There are plenty of books available that contain all sorts of general-interest eBay tips (e.g., eBay Hacks , published by O'Reilly). But here are some bits of information you may want to consider when buying video games.
Browsing through eBay listings without knowing what games you want to buy isn't very effective. If you're looking for Colecovision games, searching for colecovision on eBay will lead to all sorts of different auctions, but they won't be categorized or alphabetized. Best to first find some information on the system and know what games you want to buy, then search for specific game titles.
If a seller lists a game but doesn't mention whether it includes the original box and instruction manual, then it almost definitely doesn't. This might not make any difference to you, especially considering that the inclusion of a box and manual may drive the price of a game up. But if you do want complete titles, make sure to search for them. One common abbreviation used is "CIB," which stands for "Cartridge, Instructions, Box."
Pictures can show you the condition of the game you're buying,
but they also might just be
In case you'd rather not deal with the
Digital Press' Links section has a list of web retailers that site users can rate. Sites that currently have a five-star rating include www.atariace.com, www.worldofatari.com, and www.goatstore.com. Another well-known site, the Web home of a retail store in New Jersey, is www.videogameconnections.com.
If you really want to save money, or prefer to trade your extra
games straight up for new ones, you might consider visiting some
The disadvantages are obvious: an unscrupulous seller might just
run off with your cash or your end of the trade deal, and even if
the seller is on the up and up, you are entirely at their mercy if
you want to return the items (or if anything gets lost or damaged
in the mail). If you're feeling brave and are familiar with
Some more reputable buy/sell forums, like the ones at Digital Press (http://www.digitpress.com; click the "Forums" link) and Atari Age (http://atariage.com/forums/), will keep forum-goers apprised of good and bad trades that have taken place, as well as keep an eye on the posts. But even the best web sites still cannot take any responsibility if any mishaps occur from trades in their forums.
GameStop stores no longer buy and sell games for systems older than the PSone, but some EB Games (aka Electronics Boutique) outlets do. Still, their selection is limited and they do not buy or sell any games for retro systems other than the NES, SNES, and Genesis.
A better idea is to try searching the Web or your local Yellow
Pages for independently-run game retailers. Since they are not
under the thumb of wide-
If you can take a trip out to one of the many conventions
devoted to classic video games that are held annually across the
country, you'll get the best of both
The most popular West Coast convention is Classic Gaming Expo
(http://www.cgexpo.com), which for many
Other regional shows have included the Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition (http://www.okge.com), CinciClassic (http://www.cinciclassic.com/), Austin Gaming Exposition (http://www.austingamingexpo.com/), MAGFest in Virginia (http://www.magfest.org/), Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee (http://www.midwestgamingclassic.com/), and Northwest Classic Games Enthusiasts Expo in Seattle (http://www.nwcge.org/).
Think thrift stores are just a place to dump your unwanted junk?
Think again. Sure, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores might not be
in the cleanest or most attractive retail locations, but some
people's "unwanted junk" might be in the form of retro games. The
upside to thrift stores is the same as the downsidethe
This can be good if they get in good quality stuff and price it
very lowa box full of loose Sega Master System games for a quarter
apiece, for example. But it can be
Wait, wasn't I just saying that flea markets and the like have
One point of advice is that you can and should bargain with your neighbors. Anyone who's held a garage sale before expects it. So go ahead and aim low. They'll meet you in the middle. Another important point of advice is, if you don't see any video games and you're at someone's residence, ask! Many people just don't imagine that their old video games might actually sell out on their front lawns.