Number 31 in our amazing collections series and this time it’s Retro Collective Europe member Gary Ptaszek’s turn to show off his awesome collection. Gary is also proof that gaming can be good for your health. Check out his Q and A to find out how…
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Q and A with Gary Ptaszek
When did you become interested in video games and what was the first video game you played?
Gary: I was quite young but I remember it well, the first video game I ever saw was ‘Alex Kidd in Miracle World’ for the Sega Master System. I remember charging along on a motorbike through colourful blocks, I was mesmerised by all the colours and the music was so catchy. I also remember the first time I was ever excited about a ‘new game’, it was Dick Tracy for Master System (how naive). However in my wild anticipation, whilst holding the controller as my older brother popped the game in, I pulled the console off the TV table onto the floor. That was the end of my first console, luckily I never got to play Dick Tracy and sometime later my Dad replaced the broken Master System with a cool new Sega console. My Mum bought a Gameboy and later a SNES which really kickstarted my love of Nintendo.
What got you into collecting videogames, computers and consoles?
Gary: My teenage years were spent skateboarding, playing guitar and gate crashing house parties but I always had time for video games on rainy days. My friend Dann and my older brother introduced me to emulators, so I began downloading NES games. We used to take turns playing ‘Metal Gear’, ‘Skate or Die’ and ‘California Games’.
Years later I got a Gameboy Advance SP and started buying all the ‘Super Mario Advance’ games aswell as older Gameboy titles but it wasn’t until I stumbled across a certain Youtuber by the name of ‘The Angry Nintendo Nerd’ that I really took an interest in collecting games… particularly NES games. My girlfriend bought me a NES for Christmas one year so I decided I’d quit my £70 a week smoking habit and instead spend money collecting games. I haven’t had a cigarette since.
Where do you source most of your retro purchases from (ebay, flea markets etc) ?
Gary: I get most of my stuff online, either through forums, online stores, Ebay and most recently through trades with the ‘Retro Collective Europe’ facebook page. However nothing beats the thrill of finding games out in the wild, either at boot sales, charity shops or local game shops.
What is your most prized retrogaming possession and how much did it cost you?
Gary: Probably my Famicom Disk System, it’s was quite pricey and it’s not the sort of thing you come across everyday. I ordered it from a guy in Japan who refurbishes old Famicom systems. Only downside is it’s a bit of a minefield when it comes to collecting as the games are very fragile and can sometimes be overwritten with other games, I have a ‘Kid Icarus’ disk overwritten with ‘Burger Time’… both great games but not what I was expecting.
What is your favourite hardware manufacturer (Sega, Nintendo, Atari Commodore etc.), and why?
Gary: Theres no denying it, I’m a Nintendo fanboy for sure, although I have a soft spot for the Sega Master System and Megadrive as I spent a lot of my childhood playing them. All my friends had them growing up. Sega had great arcade ports and sports games but Nintendo games just seemed to have more substance, trying to find all the secrets in ‘Super Mario World’ kept me entertained for hours.
What is your favourite console/computer?
Gary: Although I mainly focus on collecting PAL A NES games, my favourite console is actually the Nintendo Famicom. The colourful game cartridges, the vast library of games and the playful ‘cute’ look of the console drew me to it. Games are fairly cheap to import and there are plenty of games that are suitable for non-Japanese speakers.
What console/computer have you least enjoyed playing?
Gary: I tried to like the Dreamcast, there are good fighting games on the system but… the controller… it sucks. I also struggle with the N64 from time to time, something about polygon graphics and 3D platforming just didn’t work for me (with few exceptions).
The burning house scenario: which part of your collection would you save first?
Gary: I’ve been dreading this question… It’s a scenario no-one wants to think about. Should I rescue my favourite system? Or the system that’s library has cost me the most time and money? Or simply the easiest to carry while escaping? I’d most likely chuck as many NES games as possible into the sofa cover throw and make my way out… perhaps grabbing my shoebox of Famicom games on the way.
The Desert Island scenario: which one console and game would you take?
Gary: Probably my ‘New’ 3DS XL as I’ve not had much chance to play it. It would be nice to kick back on the beach, work on my Pokedex in ‘Pokemon Omega Ruby’, play some of my virtual console downloads and take photographs of my daily activities… until the battery dies.
Where do you want to go now with the collection?
Gary: I’m trying to thin the herd at the moment, I think we all go through a phase of buying everything we see and even hoarding ‘spares’ for stuff “just incase” your other one decides to just stop working. I’d like to finish my PAL A UK NES collection which is currently at 190 individual games, however there are some games out there I can’t ever see myself affording. Perhaps after that I’d try and get games from other PAL regions. I’d also quite like a PC Engine… but thats not really gonna help me thin the herd.
Have you any tips for budding retro games collectors?
Gary: Don’t use eBay as a price guide unless looking at games that have actually sold. People will claim anything is ‘rare’ and slap a ridiculous price on it and it’s just dumb. Remember games are for playing first and for collecting second, enjoy them.
Sometimes you just have to let it go, it’s too expensive but don’t worry, one day you will find that elusive game again and who know, you might even get it for a bargain!