Number four in the series and time for a change of venue. We are off to North Carolina in the US this time to meet a collector who wished to remain anonymous with an unusually large collection of mainly unboxed cartridges and other games (over 3300 in total). Why unboxed cartridges? Well, read on and find out…
Click on an image to enlarge:
From top to bottom:
NES games / GameCube games
MegaDrive games / MegaDrive games
Wii, XBox, PS2 games / Playstation games
GameCube, MegaDrive games / GameCube games
XBox 360, PS2 games / NES games
SNES games / Various controllers
Q and A with Anon. from N. Carolina
When did you become interested in video games and what was the first video game you played?
Anon: I’ve been interested in video games since age 5. I used to hang around with my cousins in the summer and they introduced me to the NES when it was just starting (I think my first game was Donkey Kong for NES). I accidentally found level 5 on Zelda for my cousins and they thought I was a genius at the time. My parents weren’t very keen on buying systems/games because we didn’t have a lot of money in those days. It was fine because I visited friends who had games when I wasn’t in school, so I still got to play the Contras, Mario’s, etc.
What was the first games console or computer you owned and how old were you?
Anon: I got a NES around ’87 (I was 7) and until I was a teenager and only had Tetris, SMB 1/2/3, MM2, Zelda 1/2 and a few others (although I got to rent one every weekend for a long time). I remember my mom thought Zelda’s music was bad for my mental state or something (I think the words ‘devil’ and ‘music’ were mentioned). I remember that every time I played the dungeons she made me turn off the sound. My dad really didn’t like SMB1 music at night either, so I played the games on my little 10-inch TV without sound a lot actually.
What got you into collecting videogames, computers and consoles?
Anon: There wasn’t really a used game market in my town.. just $2.50 rentals at the movie rental places to get games for the weekend. When I was in high school I started getting into PC and card game collecting and my parents pressured me into selling my video games. This seemed reasonable at the time because I was doing a lot more PC gaming than button-mashing. I missed playing the NES titles for years however, but couldn’t afford to get back into it until right before I finished college (about 12 years later – I went to college for 6.5 years to get a MS in Computer Science). I had a friend who worked at a pawn shop at the time and was gracious enough to sell me NES games for $1 each (SNES and Genesis too). I used that opportunity to build back up and get back into it and started collecting. Around the same time I started hanging around with friends also into video games and were much more knowledgeable than I was. It was especially valuable to learn how to haggle and where to dig around at.
Where do you source most of your retro purchases from?
Anon: My goal is to find games for the best prices so I honestly take advantage of all sources. So I go to yard sales and second-hand stores to find the best priced games. I also frequent flea markets and have good relations with dealers and resellers there – probably second-best and you get to haggle as a bonus if you like doing that. Friends who run comic shops notify me of incoming collections (third-best). And I occasionally check out gaming stores and ebay when I have to (usually the last place to find deals). Believe it or not, when fleshing out a collection with sports games or dollar games, the best places are online retailers who give you free shipping in bulk. Even at a yard sale, people won’t sell you games for $0.35. So I recommend people load up on the filler games there so that you won’t be tempted to overpay elsewhere. And I’ve only recently started trading online. It’s been great for getting games in bulk, but traders can also be annoying at times – like the guys who keep trying to trade you a N64 wrestling title for a PS2 RPG.
What is your most prized retrogaming possession and how much did it cost you?
Anon: I’ve always been more into quantity than quality when collecting. My favorite games are common really. I have a lot of $40+ games (FF3, Chronotrigger, etc), but nothing that stands out as a bit-item. I’ve never had room for kiosks or arcade machines and those sorts of items are where the money usually goes in on one item. I’m at the point in my NES collection where I have to pay $25+ for games, but I haven’t committed to games over $100 for now. I guess I could say my NES top-loader is my most prized possession, but I only paid $45 for it.
What is your favourite hardware manufacturer?
Anon: Nintendo by far. It’s not even close. Sorry Sega fans.
What is your favourite console or computer?
Anon: It’s kind of a tie between NES and SNES. The best games for the NES are really really fun (like SMB3, MM3, and Contra). But the SNES games look better and have better sound. The NES edges out slightly on the nostalgia factor. But overall the SNES presents a better product and the games are generally better quality (although not always).
Where do you want to go now with the collection?
Anon: I want to finish out the collections I have going now as far as I can (at least on the cart games). After N64 I’m only collecting non-sports titles (except for GC, because I might try for a set). I think I’m going to end modern console gaming with 360 and focus on retro-gaming more. I tend to spend more time on the older systems these days anyways.
If anyone’s interested, these are my current consoles and the number of games I have for them at the moment: NES (675), SNES (488), N64 (243), GC (365), WII (46), GB/GBC/GBA (220), GEN (328), PS1 (115), PSP(126), PS2 (574), XBOX (83), XB360 (96). I collect loose games only and I’m really more interested in playing the games than in looking at them. If I get a game in a box, I make sure the box finds a good home. Most of my PS2 games are discs only – which is great because a) they’re very cheap and b) I live in an apartment and binders are compact. For any disc-based RPG or Fighter I will be looking for the case and manual – because these do offer more of a collectible factor. Eventually I will have all of my games up on shelves (probably when I own a house). I will have to send updated pictures at that time.
Have you any tips for budding retro games collectors?
Anon: Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. Make it a goal to never pay the first price you’re asked to pay. Research rarity and prices on the games your missing if you can. It really helps to be able to come up with a price in negotiations. Pulling out your phone in the middle of a conversation is something you really don’t want to do unless the amount is high. Don’t be afraid to think big and buy in bulk – especially at the beginning (at which time everything you buy will go in your collection – a huge bonus). Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one system if you enjoy the hunt. And always think of other avenues to move extra stock – like trading or selling. This frees you up to grab deals where you see them. And absolutely do not ever buy a game when it’s new. You’ll get to the point where you have so many games that you can afford to wait. And in a year or so that $60 game will go down to $20 new. I think I pay about $10 on average for 360 games – and I only get what I want to play at this point. There are some outstanding games at great deals. If you buy them early and pay the new price you’re depriving yourself.