Hello again! It’s been awhile since I last posted and I see that I’m near the bottom of the frog barrel according to the points system, so let’s about retro gaming.
**Disclaimer: Please bear with me (should I say please frog with me?) as I state the obvious in my column. Even though it’s probably common knowledge to most of those who visit here I want to lay down some foundation for my topic. Also, I’m not an expert in either gaming or collection. Please simply enjoy the following article**
Retro gaming, and collecting in particular, has become quite popular over the recent years. I guess “retro gaming” started for me when I found myself going back to the NES & SNES while the N64 and PlayStation were out during my middle school and high school days and in college my house parties were much more likely to have a round of drunken Mario Kart on the SNES instead of something on the PS2. While still in “Uni” I added a few games to my collection, but never got into collecting seriously until had moved to and lived in Japan for a few years. With help from my soon-to-be- wife, I discovered some great places to buy very inexpensive games around 2010; which by this time the US retro game market had already seen drastic price increases. The well-known, often visited by tourists shops in “gaijin” (foreigner) friendly areas were always expensive or at least had acceptable prices in regards to how games were being priced in the US, but off the beaten path was where the retro gaming gold was.
I was fortunate to make it to some stores that were liquidating their retro games (anything older than PS1) – for example I picked up my first boxed copy of Jaki Crush for 50 yen (I believe that was like US$0.60 at the time) . There was also an abundance of Famicoms, the original Pokemon games, and everything in between. In the 5 years since I’ve been collecting and selling, a few things have changed. First off, the amount of ebay sellers from Japan has increased drastically due to the increased demand for Japanese retro games (or perhaps it was due to me bragging about how well my little ebay store was doing – I’ll talk about that more another time). This eventually led to an increase in the prices and made quality games and console more difficult to find “in the wild”. It’s my view that things are becoming more difficult to find and more expensive, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the situation the US market has become.
With that out of the way let’s talk about the actual collecting. Why collect retro games that take up space (see attached picture of my console rack for an example) when you can emulate it? Why have all of the old clunky consoles when you can play your favorite games (in HD!) on a Retron 5 or some other similar device? My answer to that is simple: “It’s not the same, man”. It is my belief that retro games should be played in the original versions (meaning both the games and consoles) unless they are too rare or expensive; in which case use whatever means possible to play those games until you can get the real thing (if its possible). A good example was my search for S.W.A.T. Kats. I was lucky enough to find Pirates of Dark Water while in college but could never find S.W.A.T. Kats. This was the first and only game I emulated on my PC as I was already living in Japan when I wanted to have the game and didn’t seem to have any luck through any of my social media connections. I finally did find a copy so I can swear off emulation until I think of something else I want.
I am also fortunate to have money, a wife who is supportive of my hobby (or a least tolerant ^_^), and a room dedicated to my video game collection & also hold my stock and other items that I’ll (eventually) put up on ebay. To those of you who are able to do something similar be thankful, as its not easy to have all 3 of those necessities (money, support, space) to really get into collecting. I definitely understand if you, the reader, cannot amass a huge collection overnight. I’ve been at it for 5 years and I’m only halfway through my Famicom & Super Famicom collection so I feel your pain. I do hope, however, that I am able to make a small difference in being able to make games from Japan more accessible to retro game enthusiasts worldwide. I’m not running a charity but in a majority of cases the Japanese version is usually cheaper than the US or PAL one (Chrono Trigger, anyone???) so customers can get a good deal fairly easily.
Simply put, I enjoy retro gaming and collecting. I hope everyone reading this does too. Thanks for reading this ridiculously long article, and see you again soon!