A little while ago, Standard Life quizzed us about retro game collecting and only used a short extract from our Keith so I thought I’d publish the lot for you all to read. Collecting is how Arcade Attack came about in the first place – whenever something new is added to our collection 8/16-bit-wise a review will magically appear! Many of you will have vastly superior collections (I know this for a fact!) but here is what we’ve learned in the short time we’ve been collectors. If you’ve any thoughts please comment below or hit us up on twitter @arcadeattackUK – Dylan.
Can you tell us a little about how you got into retro game collecting?
Adrian – I have been a gamer all my life and when my mum was clearing out her loft a few years back and offered me the chance to get hold of my old consoles and games I jumped at the chance. Since then I have tried to build up my collection across a number of consoles that had previously bought me such good memories when I was younger. I love collecting SNES, Mega Drive and Master System games, but my favourite console I mainly focus on is the Atari Jaguar! A much maligned console, but one I now love! (watch this space for Jaguar features – Dyl).
Keith – It started for me about 6 years ago. I’ve always been a gamer and at that time I could usually be found playing the latest edition of Pro Evolution Soccer or Call of Duty on my trusty Xbox 360. Then one day I was browsing everyone’s favourite auction website, when I saw a Sega Mega Drive with a whole bundle of games for a REALLY good price. I’d owned a Mega Drive as a kid from around 1991 – 1996 so I couldn’t resist. It was that strong sense of nostalgia which got me started and I think that’s something all retro gamers and collectors share to a certain extent. Like all forms of collecting it’s a little bit of a bug and once you’ve been bitten by it, it’s hard to shake off!
Dylan – I started collecting older games after I graduated back in 2005 – gaming had reached a sort of plateau with me and I became infuriated with how difficult games were to get into – too many cut scenes and not enough gameplay. I couldn’t afford many games when I was growing up so it seemed like a great time to boost my Mega Drive and Master System collections. I got a few job lots and the rest was history!
What is your opinion of the culture, events and communities around both retro game collecting and trading?
A – The retrogaming scene continues to grow every year! I think the love of 8 and 16-bit consoles is in such great demand at the moment because they offer great memories to people who would now be in their 20s and 30s – possibly with a little more disposable income and a hankering for the good old days of gaming.
K – I think it’s fantastic. You only have to search for ‘retro games’ on Google or YouTube and you’ll be met with a mind-boggling array of blogs, forums, videos, reviews and so on. There’s a HUGE community out there, and although there are certain niches and specialities that don’t appeal to everyone, generally it’s a pretty accepting and inclusive community as we’re all united by a shared passion. As a thirty-something who grew up during the 8 and 16-bit era, through the Sega and Nintendo console wars and who witnessed the arrival of Sony to the gaming party, it’s amazing to me that there is so much interest in and so much love for the games and consoles I grew up on. And it’s people of all ages, not just 80’s kids like us here at Arcade Attack!
D – As the guys have said, it seems to be in a real boom right now, probably aided by the state of the games industry now, where gamers are treated nothing more than punters to fleece more and more money from. Events and markets are everywhere but seem to me to be mostly in the north of England which sucks for us (being in London an all). It’s a great time to get into retro gaming and we welcome all who want to share their stories and tales of their collections with us!
What qualities make some games rarer and more valuable than others – mint condition, instructions, boxed etc.?
A – If you can get hold of a game in mint condition with its box and manual you are usually onto a winner. Some of the worst games on a console are now worth the most as only a small amount was ever released to the public. A great example of this is Home Alone on the Master System – a terrible game, and one which was only ever released in Europe – but one that can now fetch over £100 online. Exclusive games only available on one console are often seen as a must for game collectors. Mega-Man: The Wily Wars was an exclusive title for the SEGA Mega Drive (a series of games often 100% associated with Nintendo). A PAL version of this particular game can now fetch over £250 online!
K – It really depends. Obviously complete, boxed games and consoles are more valuable than loose, unboxed ones, and mint condition instruction manuals and paperwork all add to the value. As with most forms of collecting, it tends to be the more obscure games and consoles that are the most valuable, not necessarily the best ones. I mean, everyone loves Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive, but a mint, boxed copy with instructions won’t set you back more than a few quid, whereas a boxed 3DO console will probably cost you several hundred pounds at least, and it’s widely regarded as a complete failure with a largely terrible library of games. Games that were only released in certain territories, which happened quite a lot in the late eighties and early nineties, or games that only had a limited run are also very valuable.
D – I can’t really add much more. Factory sealed retro games are extremely rare and are always worth a punt regardless of what they are (beware second hand sellers who wrap them themselves). If you can find a SNES that hasn’t gone yellow that’s also a good shot!
What is the rarest retro game collectible you own, and how did you come across it?
A – I am the proud owner of Another World on the Atari Jaguar. This remastered version of the game was actually only released on the Jaguar two years ago (the homebrew community on this console is actually surprisingly dedicated). I believe only 400 of these titles was ever released and I managed to grab a copy from the actual developers of the game. I also managed to grab a copy of Home Alone on the Master System (cartridge only unfortunately) on eBay for a low price. The seller was selling a job-lot of Master System games and didn’t even bother to list the games he was selling – he only attached a grainy image which could have easily passed other collectors by. Searching through job lots on eBay is one way of finding that must have rare item at a potentially low price.
K – In all honesty, as separate items, a lot of my collection so far isn’t particularly valuable. As a whole it’s probably worth a fair bit though. If I had to pick I’d say I’m quite proud of my complete, mint copies of Shenmue on the Sega Dreamcast, Thunderforce IV on the Mega Drive and Street Fighter Alpha 2 on the Sega Saturn. As I said, nothing spectacularly rare but they’re games I LOVE playing so are definitely standouts for me. As for how I found them, they all came up on auction sites and online forums.
D – I own a couple of pieces that are pretty rare. A near mint PAL copy of Alien Soldier on the Mega Drive which I purchased a few years ago is now worth three figures – it was one of the last games on the console and many can only play it in ROM form (on an emulator) as it’s that rare. I also have Jungle Book on the NES, boxed, instructions, outstanding condition. It was the last third party game to be made on the console and due to its condition and rarity can only accrue value. My Master System collection also has some gems that are worth a pretty penny. All were found on auction sites – I’ve not had too much luck with car boot sales and retro game stores are clocking onto the value of these games and consoles.
If I wanted to take game collecting seriously, what would be your best advice for seeking out the classics?
A – Buying online is now very expensive – but it is still possible to get a bargain if you have a little luck and focus on game bundles and sellers looking to sell quickly. I try to buy most games for under £10.00 on eBay, but the demand for retro games continues to grow. The days of tracking down a retro game from a car boot sale or charity shop are getting slimmer, but it is still possible to bag a bargain if you have that little luck. Asking work colleagues or friends whether they have any old games or consoles stashed away and would be willing to sell could be a good starting point. I would personally focus on one console and work from there.
D – Deep pockets and luck. What they say about job lots is true and I have heard of folk taking advantage of them. Unfortunately, due to the amount of knowledge there now is about retro gaming it’s becoming harder and harder to find those hidden gems as everyone is wise to it now. Do your research and hit those online auctions. Don’t overbid but be confident that if you pay market price for a rare item its value will only grow.