Gamealism: Treasure Hunting – The Inaugural Edition

There is something to be said for collecting old videogames. It can be as rewarding as it is fun and can surprise you in ways that you never thought. I have been collecting videogames for some years now and although I’m not a diehard collector, I do enjoy “the thrill of the hunt” as it were. Searching online for deals on old games never ceases to get tiring, nor does going to pawn shops to see what treasures can be unearthed in the swamp of 80s televisions, VCR’s, and cracked car stereos.

While pawn shops are a good place to find old games, too many of them try to use the “this is what eBay sells it for” mentality when pricing, and therefore shoot themselves in the foot. That’s not to say that all places do this, nor do they find the right “eBay price” for all items (I bought a copy of Ico for $12 at one such place), but the majority of them do since they are there to make money, being a business and all. Still it’s fun to take a trip to them every once in a while just to see what they have. It’s an odd place to find that one rare game you have been wanting, but it happens.

Other places I find myself on the search for older games are garage sales and sites like craigslist and Kijiji to see what people are selling and what they think they’ll get for them. Unlike eBay-which is as we all know an auction site- these advertising sites have local sellers and can be both exorbitantly over-priced, as well as incredibly underpriced. Recently, I was cruising through the For Sale section of Toronto’s Kijiji site and came across a fellow who was selling a SEGA Game Gear for $20.

It came with 4 games as well and the AC adapter. The ad made note that the AC adapter slot on the unit itself was sometimes loose and therefore would lose your game progress if using it. Fair enough. The seller was upfront about it and I had no issues with it, assuming it would still work fine with batteries. By the way, the SEGA Game Gear is a notorious battery killer and requires 6 AA’s to operate without the AC plug.

So I contacted the seller to see if it was still available. It was. I asked if he was available to meet the next day. He was. Having never bought anything off kijiji before, I expected the worst (or maybe that’s just me in every situation), but I headed to the train station where we had agreed to meet. When I arrived, I walked to the exit and saw the gentleman with a Game Gear carrying case slung over his shoulder, and I had a sneaking suspicion this is who I was to meet.

We talked (a very nice guy in all honesty), and he went over the issue with the power cord, making sure I had known about it, and we made the exchange. I actually had to ask him if I was mistaken in his asking price and if the $20 I had recalled was correct. He assured me it was, so after a brief conversation, I headed home.

Along the way I inspected the hard case the Game Gear was in and popped it open; surprised to find inside that there were not only the 4 games he had mentioned, but also 5 more, each in their plastic “Game Gear” cases. From about 30 minutes of searching Kijiji for nothing in particular, I found a retro gaming handheld console (that is in perfect condition, mind you. The AC plug issue has never once happened in the times I have played it), 9 games–good ones too, such as Aladdin, The Lion King, Sonic the Hedgehog, Power Rangers, and a hard shell carrying case; all for $20 and about 30 minutes of travel. This post isn’t supposed to be a “HEY LOOK AT THE DEAL I GOT!” throw it in your face kind of thing, but rather a “you’ll never know what you’ll find” kind of post.

There are some great game stores in Toronto, like A & C Games at Spadina and Bloor, where if you are looking for a particular game, there’s a pretty good chance they are going to have it. But keep in mind; you are also paying for the convenience of being able to get the particular item that day, without the hassle of looking through countless ads or waiting for some shipper in Des Moines, Iowa to get around to finally sending you an item you paid for days previously and then waiting another 2 weeks for it to show up.

Sometimes games on sites such as craigslist, kijiji, and eBay are what you want, but either due to the tenacity people have, or just the ignorance of what they are selling, make the prices ridiculously inflated. No sir, the copy of Shinobi for the SEGA Master System you are selling is not “RARE”, it is actually quite common and the mark up of $160 on an otherwise $12 game is ludicrous.

For the future finds I come across, I’m going to make these posts and share them with you guys and gals; letting you know where I found the items and for how much, as well as share some tips that I have learned over the years of buying older and used games. I just wanted to kick off this feature showing how fun and interesting game collecting and searching can be. I’m sure they won’t all be great deals and painless experiences like the Game Gear was, but that’s alright. It’s all part of the process. You win some, and you lose some, but it’s all about the passion and the fun you have hunting down the games that you love to play.