Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rowan's Home for Wayward Games

A remote acquaintance, now spouse to an old elementary school friend, was attending to some late Spring cleaning, posting a curious note on Facebook -- we're getting rid of some horrible old PlayStation 1 games, anybody want them? obviously the answer will be: of course not! Rowan steps in: not so fast, now! Then I mounted my standard defence of the "interesting failure", which in a nutshell is that I'm interested in unknown "failure" games that try to do new things unsuccessfully, because an interesting failure is of greater appeal to me than a boring success. It took a few reschedules, but eventually I made it over to their den to pick up the trove of "PS1 games", including Spyro - Ripto's Rage, Crash Bash, Resident Evil, Defcon 5, Ridge Racer, Andreetti Racing, GTA 2, Command & Conquer, Diablo, Tomb Raider, and Parasite Eve (as last seen by me while celebrating New Year's in NYC at the start of 2003. 11 years later, I've just managed to get my hands on it again for the first time since. Retro gaming: it was a heck of a lot less retro back then. But the long tail delivers all things in time except for the free time needed to play games.) All that PLUS a PS2 demo disc for Dragon Warrior 8 AND some splendid Dreamcast stuff - Chef's Luv Shack, Toy Commander, a disc magazine and the hilariously unusable Dreamcast web browser, all for the low, low price of: free. That's hard to beat!

You see it the longer you collect: things that were plentiful when you began accumulating your materials dry up over the passage of time: if you average one Nintendo 64 cartridge per person distributed throughout the population, in time those who give up the ghost (or were disinterested to begin with) end up with zero. What happens to their games? Maybe half end up in the dump, half get passed along or resold -- hand-waving back-of-napkin calculations here. When all the chips have fallen, maybe 99 % of the people -- those who choose to leave behind the things of childhood -- will have no games, and the remaining person will have accumulated a collection of 51 of them. In time at garage sales I stop seeing one or two games at two out of every three sales, and instead I visit 9 sales with no games, and then one sale with fifty games. This indicates that the period of generally hoovering up loose unwanted games from the general population is over, and what we're left with is, as illustrated above: collectors inheriting liquidated collections from other collectors whose life circumstances have led them to get out of the hobby of accumulating and, perhaps, occasionally playing old video games. It's a little chilling due to the whole "there but for the grace of God go I" factor -- and it also leads one to pontificate what situation might compel us to throw in the towel and willingly give up our treasures. I choose not to speculate: most answers to that question depict dark places I'd rather not visit.

So on that note, here's what will likely be the last big garage sale haul of the season -- all this outtasite entertainment for $70:

Battles of Prince of Persia for the DS, Tekken 2, Battle Arena Toshinden, Robotron X, and Extreme Pinball for the PS1, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Devil Kings, Seven Samurai 20xx, Kessen, Godzilla: Save the Earth, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Transformers, Spider-Man 3, Defender, Eternal Ring, KOFXI, and Chessmaster for the PS2, Super Bubble Pop, Amazing Island and Zapper for the Gamecube, and Major Malfunction, Silent Hill 4, Pinball Hall of Fame: Gottlieb, X-Men Next Dimension, Tao Feng, Dead Man's Hand, and OutRun 2 for the Xbox.

Oh yes, and for my patient partner, DogZ for the Game Boy Advance.

My price threshold is $5 typically, which has moved me to pass up many games I would as soon own as not under the premise that I must be able to find a cheaper copy elsewhere. Here most of the games were under half that -- the price is somewhere near $2 per game, which while including many titles which undoubtedly are worth just about exactly that, also includes a number of titles I expect to get a great deal more than $2 of enjoyment out of. This fellow claims to hold two sales a year so I will be keeping my eyes open for that address: I took home maybe a tenth of the games he had for sale (plus piles of systems and peripherals -- I could have bought a couple of SNES mice with Mario Paint, or the Donkey Konga bongo drums), and those are all just the surplus. I considered interviewing him for this blog, but he fumbled on the softball question I lobbed him -- what's the gem of your collection (eventually claiming it was a never-opened Dreamcast sold on launch day). We'll see if he's more on top of his game next time around.

And from the free box, the icing on the cake -- an addition to my wretched film adaptations-of-video games collection! Someday I will mount the world's worst film festival. Do you think that Bob Hoskins' death will be enough to move them to re-issue Super Mario Bros. on DVD? But I digress. See you around next time!