Starting A Retro Collection….

As gaming descends ever closer to the cloud based world of the current generation, I have embarked on the dream of gathering a retro collection. This article is a brief overview of the considerations and thought process I went through when trying to work out what the hell it was that I wanted to collect.

Since I started gaming with my dad’s new Amstrad CPC6128 back in ’87, it has been my dream to build a games library that I could be proud of and play in reflection later in life. Obviously, at the age of 4 the simple task of buying a game was almost out of reach on £2 a month pocket money, but I persevered and managed to muster a fair range of titles that included; Shogun, Asteroid, Back to the Future, Moon Buggy, Dizzy, Red Arrows, Robocop, Winter Olympics (The bobsleigh on this is still the most fun I have had playing video games with my dad) and many others.

Unfortunately, where I fell fowl, and have done every generation from SNES to Playstation, to Dreamcast, to PS2 and so on, is to have traded my wonderful collections for a few quid off the latest and greatest toys and must have accessories with each upgrade, until now…..

Since starting this blog, and having been inspired by Ed, I have decided that now is the time to build my collection. Having moved to a small one bed apartment, space is at a premium, but if I don’t begin now, I may never decide to embark on this again. Unbeknown to my fiancee, I am about to try and cram more accessories, plastic cases and spaghetti cabling into our wonderfully neat little corner of Oxfordshire than we could possibly imagine. Having already amassed many games for the 360, PS3, DS and PSP, I have gone through what is probably the hardest part of the entire process of starting a retro collection, deciding upon the right platform.

Following much deliberation, Ed and I created the following list of points to be considered by anyone wanting to embark on this journey:

  1. Space – Retro console collections almost certainly = big
  2. Will I actually play the games?
  3. How many games shall I go for; all, some, the ones I like?
  4. Do I want to find imported games?
  5. How much do I want to spend to get going?
  6. Cardboard/No-Cardboard?

Once you have decided on these answers you will be left with a relatively straight forward decision.

Space: If this is tight or in short supply you may wish to pluck for a handheld. With the Gameboy, NeoGeo, Atari Lynx or GameGear available to name a few, you will be able to collect to your hearts content with relatively little bulk. The consoles carry slightly more weight.

Will you play the games: A relatively simple question that ultimately affects the two major considerations.If the answer is yes than you can afford to be less picky in terms of the state of the games purchased, hunting for that pristine and still sealed Mario Bros is not going to benefit you one bit, if the first thing you do is break the seal on receipt. If not then you may end up spending slightly more than expected to get the full set. Another key factor is that whilst retro collecting may possess a great nostalgia, for those of the Playstation Generation many 8-Bit games will destroy you with frustration of poor controls, uncomfortable controllers, and buggy ports that may prove intolerable.

To Collect or Not to Collect: To give you an idea, if you decide to try to collect the entire back catalogue of games it is probably best you know how many there are first.

  • NES = 799 US & PAL Releases alone
  • SNES = 784 US & PAL
  • Dreamcast = 688 Total Official
  • Atari Jaguar = 81 CD & Cartridge
  • Playstation 1 = 2,418 Total
  • Gameboy Colour = There were 10 different colours, but about 8 games ;)

The list goes on, but this gives you some idea of what you may be up against. Its better to make a decision on a platform knowing how many to look for, rather than wander into the PS1 back catalogue and begin the process of re-mortgaging your house to afford battle ponies 1,2 &3.

Imported Games: Perhaps the only exception to this rule would be the Atari Jaguar, but nearly all other consoles ever released will have a significant number of un-released Japanese/American games that were not deemed suitable for UK/European audiences. As such, you will either have to chip, hack, or purchase another system to play the games, but also in the case of the Saturn and Playstation, learn Japanese to even play half of them.

Start-up Costs: Aside from the PC-Engine, and obscurely the Amiga CD32, many retro consoles can be found in second hand stores or Ebay relatively cheaply. Obviously if you are looking for the unopened, mint, Biohazard Edition of the Japanese Dreamcast in Barbie Pink you are going to be spending several hundred if not thousand pounds rather than the typical £20-£30, but on the whole you will find something that suits.

Cardboard: NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy, Saturn and many of the systems of the 80’s all came packaged in lovely high gloss cardboard containers, with studio artwork that had absolutely no resemblance to the actual games contained within. These, whilst looking amazing at the time, struggled with the rigours of small children and trade-ins, making mint copies extremely rare, and once found, potentially very expensive. Although not as aesthetically pleasing, plastic cased games have better stood the test of time, and are much easier to find, costing considerably less on the whole.  However,  you will still have those hard to find gems on every platform.

Summary

After considering all of these points, I finally made my decision. I wanted a console that had easily accessible and hard to find games. A modest library that would not take too long to fill, but would last a few years to truly master. Some all time classic experiences that I would like to enjoy again, and some true turds that are as bad now as they were back then.

I went with the Dreamcast. Although only living a short life, this machine has many happy memories for me, producing some of my favourite multiplayer moments that would top a fag tag session on COD any day of the week. Although recently publishing a classics collection for the current gen, Sega have a brilliant collection of games that I am yet to play, and will be looking to re-live that nostalgic experience once more.

The following links may prove useful to those in a similar position:

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