|By Eric Kennedy||Sunday, 14 Aug 2011|
Good-Evil Game Hunts are back from the dead!
A long overdue greetings to all the game collecting addicts out there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I may have stopped writing up the tales of my exploits, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped hunting altogether. I know many of you haven’t either, with warm summer weather providing that extra nudge to climb out of your dark, musty game room and venture forth into the world of thrift stores, pawn shops, and maybe even garage sales (I still don’t bother with those much, though).
Not having enough time to write has been the main reason for the hiatus, but last week, I had such a fortune-bedazzled day of hunting that I was compelled to tell the tale. It began on an unassuming Sunday morning, when I got the itch to make a run at the pawns. I picked up my cousin, and took a trip down a stretch of highway with a dense concentration of pawn shops, plus a few thrift stores and Half Price Books sprinkled in. This particular area has been good to me in the past, but on this fated day, I truly could not miss. I came away with armfuls of great deals at almost every stop, and even at the ones that didn’t yield tons of finds, I still found something worth buyting.
I attribute this perfect luck to one of two things: the distinguished company of my cousin Andrew, who might have unknowingly lent a Midas touch to my hunts, or the Shizz Chiptune compilation CD, which blasted out of the car speakers as we made our way through the city.
Let’s make like Scrooge McDuck, and dive into the loot!
Find: Chicago Syndicate (Game Gear)
Price / Condition: $4 / Very good, came with snap case.
Where at: Value Village
About this game: I wanted to talk about this one first, because the idea behind it kinda makes me laugh. Remember Eternal Champions, Sega’s attempt to get a foothold in the fighting game market by giving us their own dark-and-gritty take on the genre? I didn’t really care for it, but it did well enough on the system, and eventually went on to see a Sega CD sequel. Apparently that wasn’t enough for Sega, who was dead set on making this thing into a full-blown franchise complete with two spin-offs! One such spin-off is Chicago Syndicate, featuring old-time gangster looking Larcen Tyler. It’s a passable enough beat’em-up with interesting story elements (as was the mark of the Eternal Champions brand), but I just kind of chuckle at the contrived nature of this offshoot. Imagine if Capcom had given us a sumo wrestling game with E. Honda, or a bull-fighting game featuring Vega… Actually, that might have been kind of awesome. Good on you for trying to lead the way, Sega. It’s just a shame that none of the competition were, uh, bold enough to follow your lead.
Deal or Not a Deal? Game Gear games tend to have very little value (which I attribute to the extreme uncomfortableness of the handheld), so I wouldn’t say I got a deal on this one.
Find: Command & Conquer (N64)
Price / Condition: $2 / Good, “Gamer Time” store sticker on back.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: Since this was cheap, I was curious to see how they handled the porting of an RTS to the N64. Surprisingly, they did a decent job of it, using the polygonal capabilities of the system to give the terrain a 3D look. It doesn’t require the expansion pak, but if you don’t have it, the resolution will be lower, resulting in a much uglier game. They had to cut the videos, but the voice samples are good quality, and the music holds up as well. The only real knock on this port is the inherent difficulty in controlling an RTS wit the N64 controller. Still, I thought this was noteworthy for being a better port than it should have been (though they only added four bonus levels, and no multiplayer).
Deal or Not a Deal? Doesn’t tend to go for a lot of money, but two bucks is definitely fair for an N64 game.
Find: Sonic Gems Collection (GC)
Price / Condition: $5 / Complete, very good.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: There are a few Sonic compilations out there, but to me, this one is the most interesting. Including some of the more difficult to find games like Sonic CD and Sonic R, it’s also noteworthy for being the only way you can play the excellent Game Gear games on a screen that isn’t small and blurry. The handheld versions of Sonic aren’t just little brothers of the console games; they come with all new levels and music, and are very much worth playing. You also get the Tails spin-off games, both of which add a quirky twist to the standard platforming series, as well as the kart racer Sonic Drift 2. For anybody who didn’t own a Game Gear and never got to check those games out, I highly recommend this collection. Oh, and they threw in both Vectorman games too!
Deal or Not a Deal? Definitely a solid buy, as it’s tough to get on eBay for less than $10.
Find: GrimGrimoire (PS2)
Price / Condition: $3 / Rental store case, no manual, needed buffing.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: I heard mention of this game over at racketboy.com, as being a hidden gem on the Playstation 2. This was only the second time I’ve seen it in the wild since, and the only time it was cheap enough to take a chance on. While it’s hard to stomach the overly cute characters and storyline (I just hit “skip” eventually), the game itself is a rare breed on this system. It plays similar to an RTS game, but the action takes place on a tower with multiple levels, meaning your movement is fairly limited (side to side, and up and down staircases). It felt a little bland at first, and somewhat tricky to control, but after about 15 minutes, I was getting the hang of it. There are a LOT of different creatures you can summon just in the first level alone, which could open the door to different strategic choices. The artwork and animation are stylistic and beautiful, which doesn’t hurt. A fun game that I could see going places, if you’re a strategy game fan.
Deal or Not a Deal? You can still grab a new copy on eBay for around $30, or a complete copy for $20 or less. Considering the fact that it’s basically disc only, and needed buffing, an OK deal.
Find: Obscure (PS2)
Price / Condition: $5 / Complete, good.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: First off, check out the
I know, you’re probably thinking “UGH, Sum 41! And who the hell is Span?” Well, having some pop-punk bands on the soundtrack actually fits the concept of the game: survival horror made to feel like a teen slasher flick, complete with every terrible cliche, and all the bad acting that goes along with the genre. I felt myself cringing as I worked my way through the first half hour of the game, but once I realized that they’re totally nailing the teen movie vibe, I started to appreciate it for what it is. The gameplay doesn’t seem like anything too special so far, but I’m very intrigued by the two-player cooperative mode (which, as far as I know, is the only survival horror game to feature that). Anyway, this was another recommendation from racketboy.com, so I think it might be a worthwhile playthrough with a friend.
Deal or Not a Deal? Tends to go for at least $10 on eBay, so it’s a good deal. More so, since it’s very tough to find in the wild.
Find: Dex Drive (Playstation)
Price / Condition: $0.99 / Good, but no AC adapter.
Where at: Goodwill
About this find: Back when I was a young man in high school, and Playstation was the greatest console to grace the planet, the Dex Drive was one peripheral that I always wanted but never owned. Those small PS1 memory cards filled up quickly, and the ability to back them up (or download other peoples’ saves) seemed very novel. Now that I have one, I’m doubtful that I’ll be able to get it work (need to find an AC adapter first, and then pray that it is somehow compatible with my computer), but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try.
Deal or Not a Deal? They’re not worth much, really, and this one is a fixer-upper. Still, I only paid a dollar. Not a deal, but nothing really wasted either since it’s small and can go in my knick-knack drawer.
Find: Daytona USA (LCD)
Price / Condition: $2 / Screen a bit scratched up, but otherwise good.
Where at: Goodwill
About this game: This is kind of like Tiger LCD games meets Pimp My Ride: sleek black casing, pop-out overhead lighting, and a holographic screen background. This ain’t your daddy’s handheld electronic game! I’ve never seen or heard of this before, so I thought it was too neat to pass up.
Deal or Not a Deal? These LCD games aren’t really that fun in general, so I usually won’t pay more than a couple backs for one. OK deal.
Find: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones “Not For Resale” Cart (GBA)
Price / Condition: $5 / Excellent.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: This is only the second “NFR” cart I’ve found while hunting, and although I already own a copy of this game, I’m curious to see if the label variant increases the value. The previous demo cart I found, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, only let you play a small portion of the game, and sold for about as much a normal version. This cart includes the full game, so it might be worth a bit more. We’ll see how much I can get for it on eBay, and I’ll report back in the comments section.
Deal or Not a Deal? This is a great game at a great price, any way you slice it. Time will tell if it’s worth more than that.
Find: Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
Price / Condition: $4 / Complete, but one disc is cracked.
Where at: St Vincent De Paul Thrift Store
About this game: I’m including this as a lesson to fellow hunters: make sure to give discs a close inspection before you leave the store. My mistake was doing a quick once-over for scratches, not seeing the hairline crack near the center of the disc.
The game is playable with only one disc (Claire only!), but I was still fairly disappointed that I didn’t catch this flaw.
Deal or Not a Deal? Obviously, not a good deal.
Find: Guerrilla War (NES)
Price / Condition: $2 / Good, light scratches and dirt.
Where at: Pawn Shop
About this game: I thought this might play similar to Ikari Warriors or Commando, and I was right. In fact, it’s probably based on the same engine as Ikari Warriors, though it seems to run a bit faster. Fun fact: in the Japanese version, the characters you control are named Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Yeah, I’m just gonna pretend that’s how it is in the US version. How can you NOT root for Fidel Castro?
Deal or Not a Deal? Cheap, and a harder-to-find common. OK deal.
Find: Sid Meier’s Pirates! (Xbox)
Price / Condition: $4 / Complete, very good.
Where at: Local Thrift Store
About this game: Pretty much a straight port of the excellent PC game, which was itself inspired by the earlier Sid Meier’s game. I’d say this is one “reboot” that they got right: lots of variety in the gameplay, and a seamless flow between the different types of action. I like what I see so far, but I do also own the PC version, so I’m not sure which one I’ll keep. Oh, this is backwards compatible with the 360, by the way.
Deal or Not a Deal? Original Xbox games don’t hold their value very well, but at just under five bucks, this was a good deal.
Find: Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Power Player’s Guide
Price / Condition: $4 / Good, still has the stickers that came with it!
Where at: Half Price Books
About this find: Perhaps not the kind of find you’d expect me to end on, but I got giddy when I saw these were still in the back of the book:
I’ve never been the kind of guy to ruin my car with lame bumper stickers, but I guess I never found the right one, because I slapped one of these on without a second thought. The only difficult choice was deciding which one to go with. I can now say my ride is officially pimped.
Deal or Not a Deal? As far as “cool” factor goes, this is a fantastic deal for me!
There were some other finds I left out, not because they weren’t great deals, but because I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say about them (and they’re probably all going to get sold). I had some ridiculous luck with $5 prices on the following games: Smash Bros 64, Wind Waker, Tales of Symphonia, and Paper Mario GC, to name a few. Stuff like that funds my efforts to finish my SNES collection, which makes it easier to justify in my budget. All in all, a good couple weeks of hunting. Hopefully reading this will cause some good fortune to rub off on you guys, too. Happy hunting!