North of the border to Edinburgh in Scotland, is where we head for our next retro gaming collection-fest. Stewart Lange is co-founder of Retro Collective Europe, an avid Sega fan and a big collector of Master System titles. He is gunning for a complete Sega Master System collection and is (at the time of writing) 44 short of the full set. He can often be found sharing his passion the SMS and for gaming in general on Instagram (@outafterdark216) and on his Twitter account.
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Q and A with Stewart Lange
When did you become interested in video games and what was the first video game you played?
Stewart: I’ve always been interested in video games, as long as I can remember. When I was really young the only console in the house was a Sinclair Spectrum ZX so I have fond memories of putting in a cassette, going to eat my dinner and coming back to find the game hadn’t actually loaded. It’s pretty hard to pin down what the very first game I played would have been, but I do mainly remember Atic Atac as an early favourite, followed by Beach Head, Rocco (Rocky, much?) and the Dizzy games.
What was the first games console or computer you owned and how old were you?
Stewart: If I exclude my Dad’s Spectrum, the first console I had was my Sega Master System that I got for my 6th birthday. I’m fairly certain I got my first Gameboy that Christmas too. If we’re talking about bought and paid for with your own hard earned cash, then the first console I bought with money I saved up and made the decision to buy was the Sega Saturn. No, I’m not sure I know how I was able to afford it, either.
What got you into collecting videogames, computers and consoles?
Stewart: I think this is a pretty cliche answer, but it started as me just buying up games I knew and remembered loving as a kid. I actually started picking up Gameboy stuff first of all, but quickly moved on to the Sega consoles, then on to things I didn’t have. Once I realised this was my opportunity to buy and play all the games that I longed after when looking through gaming magazines and browsing shops. From there, it snowballed awfully quickly.
Where do you source most of your retro purchases from (eBay, flea markets etc.)?
Stewart: I’m lucky enough to manage a pawn shop, so a lot of what I pick up comes from there. After that, I do a huge amount of trading within the Retro Collective Europe community. There are so many great guys (and girls!) in the group that really look out for each other and are more than willing to work on agreeable trades. I go through spells on eBay, especially as picking up any remaining Master System games is becoming so tough to do now in the wild or through trades, but I really don’t spend much money online as I know some others do.
What is your most prized retro gaming possession and how much did it cost you?
Stewart: Does my entire Master System collection count as a single possession? I’m about 40 games short of a complete PAL set so it’s definitely cost me a lot at this point. As far as individual items go, it’s pretty hard to say. I have a Panasonic 3DO, an Atari Jaguar, a couple of limited edition Gameboys and a really minty copy of Conkers Bad Fur Day. I definitely have a quantity over quality collection in that there isn’t a huge number of stand out items.
What is your favourite game and console manufacturer?
Stewart: Sega by a country mile. I prefer the consoles, I prefer the pads. I prefer the mascots, I prefer the packaging. Seriously- SMS and Mega Drive boxes are so far ahead of NES/SNES and even N64 packaging it’s not even funny. If there ever comes a time to sell it all, the Sega stuff will be the last to go.
What is your favourite console?
Stewart: I could cop out and say the Sega Master System here, but I’m actually going to put it out there that my favourite console of all time is the Dreamcast, followed by the Xbox 360. I’d say the 360 is more practical NOW, due to how many other uses it has being plugged into my TV, but the Dreamcast did so much RIGHT. The pads were great, VMU’s were ahead of their time as a concept, the graphics were fantastic and still hold up today.
What console have you least enjoyed playing?
Stewart: As much as I’m a total Sega guy, the Game Gear is one console I can honestly say I have never enjoyed playing. Having to take a suitcase full of batteries on holiday with you was no use and using a power supply isn’t always practical either. It’s hardly the WORST console ever and I bet nobody would ever see me slight a Sega console but come on. The Game Gear wasn’t much fun when used for it’s intended purposes and no surprise Nintendo dominates the handheld market.
The burning house scenario: which part of your collection would you save first?
Stewart: What a tough question!!! I’m thinking I’d grab whatever looked easiest to carry, which at a glance would be my N64 games as I keep them in a big metal suitcase, followed by my box full of Gameboys. Realistically, I have a window and I’d throw what I could out of it, fingers crossed most of it survived, and then jump out after it all since it’s not really that high a fall. Is that a cheat answer?
The Desert Island scenario: which one console and game would you take?
Stewart: There’s only really one answer for this and unfortunately for this site, it’s not retro. I would have to take Fallout 3 with an Xbox 360. It’s unquestionably my favourite game of all time and one I could easily pump another 300 hours into quite easily. As much as I enjoyed New Vegas, this is my video gaming perfection. If that is just an unacceptable answer, then I’m inclined to say Final Fantasy 7 and if you really consider retro to be anything before disc based games, then I’ll go with Golden Axe Warrior on the Master System.
Where do you want to go now with the collection?
Stewart: My main goal is finishing my Master System set. In my current circumstances, I don’t see me greatly expanding my collection just for the sake of doing it as I have nowhere to expand it to right now. I’ll focus only on games I’ll actually play, rather than just stuff that will fill the shelves. If I see anything at good prices I’ll not ever be able to pass, but maybe my trading buddies will benefit from that more than I will!
Have you any tips for budding retro games collectors?
Stewart: As far as tips go, I have a couple I can share. Set yourself goals. Even if it isn’t “I want a complete NES set,” then at least if it’s “I want to have my 5 favourite N64 games by Christmas” then it gives you something realistic and a timescale to do it in. My other tip would be to never pass on anything for a good price. It might seem contradictory to my original first tip, but trading is a huge part of this hobby now and while you may not want “Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix” on the SNES, chances are someone else will be willing to swap it for that Goldeneye cart you wanted, or (I hate myself for this) put it on eBay to raise funds for something you really want.