Game Boy Advance Month Recap Capcom Month Recap Konami Month Recap Like us on Facebook! Subscribe to us on Twitter!

// article by SoyBomb

Part 2: Empire

As I mentioned before, I built up a small collection of NES games when I was a child. Since then, I've earned a bit more money than I used to have from my small allowance. And, like the majestic drug addict, I have become addicted to collecting video games. I titter at the thought of visiting a used game shop, especially one I've never perused prior, because just the possibility of finding a hidden treasure (or at least another fun game to try) is just too tempting! Unfortunately, it does dig an ever-unpleasant hole in my wallet and back account, but at least I can drown any financial sorrows by booting up any of my over 800 games now. It's not a collection worthy of Google Images revelry, but it definitely ensures that my gaming addiction needs will be sufficiently met for a long time.

When our family moved when I was twelve, we were no longer within close proximity to any major video game retailer, such as Babbages or Electronics Boutique. At that time, there wasn't even a Wal-Mart within an hour's drive. I must have felt as though we had traveled a million miles away from any sentient civilization. So it was difficult for me to get a good collection of video games started when extensive travel was required. I was a youth, a pre-teen, a mop-headed outlander in this two-bit town. I had no long-distance mobility. And, assuredly, I had very little money anyhow, so it's not as though I could afford a swamp of video games.

But there was one store in town where I could visit to get my video game fix. It was called Microplay. The franchise still exists today, though in far fewer numbers than I remember. (They seem to be blossoming everywhere in the province of Québec, but absolutely ailing everywhere else.) I remember the exact layout of the place. There were television sets and consoles set up near the front of the store; players could pay a dollar for 20 minutes of game time. For a quick action game, that's not terrible, but they could easily earn back the cost of one RPG through an in-game player's fees. A glass case filled with some used games, consoles, and accessories fed closer to the back. Newer games and bric-a-brac lined the walls. In the middle of the store and along another wall, games boxes and cases, in preparation for someone to rent them, and game guides for sale. This was a haven for the coming-of-age game enthusiast. I never rented from Microplay; that honour went to the Blockbuster Video across the street (and Bandito Video when I was even younger), and eventually I stopped that practice entirely once my personal collection became sizable. Many notable purchases came from Microplay: our Nintendo 64 system, and some of the more essential games (Mario Kart 64, Super Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) came from there. I also snagged some strange titles: ActRaiser 2 (one of the few games I have ever sold), Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team (another sold game), DOOM for SNES (sold -- there's a pattern here), and Secret of Evermore (I still have it, so I've broken the trend). I picked up a few NES games as well, such as the original StarTropics. I could have picked up Dragon Warrior II for cheap as well, but I passed it over. I regret this. Microplay was a place where I would go on a toasty Saturday summer afternoon, perhaps not necessarily to make a purchase, but to see what was new and exciting. And when I did make a purchase, I would feel very content walking home with a little Microplay bag in my hand. This was the beginning of the development of my collection. My official hobby was no longer simply play games but looking for them.

Another method of building up my empire of games came from entering the line-ups for rental stores going out of business. A very small advertisement in the newspaper one day indicated that one of the rental stores at the end of the street, Backdraft Video, was closing its doors forever and that it was selling off its inventory. Without much thought, I knew I was going to cash in on this opportunity. I lined up over an hour early that brisk Saturday morning, and I ended up being the first one there, though not for a long time. Soon there was a line-up extending nearly to the busy main road nearby. I'm sure most people just wanted to get their hands on as many VHS tapes as they could. (DVDs weren't exactly the prominent format by then, although I'm sure more than a few were sold during this event.) When the doors opened promptly at 8 a.m., it was like Christmas Eve at a huge department store. People flooded the relatively small store space, trying to get their hands on the best movies and games. I, being the thin gazelle, made my way immediately to the video game section, positioned non-strategically right beside those saloon-style doors that lead to the adult movie room. It looked like the games had already been picked over! The selection wasn't that great. I was hoping for something popular, like a Mario or a Zelda. Nothing of the sort could be found. I walked out with Final Fight (SNES, Final Fight 2 (SNES), Mortal Kombat II (SNES), and Star Wars: Episode I Racer (N64). Not a terrible haul by any means, but I had anticipated better fare. Still, purchasing four games in one day was a significant achievement. I doubted I'd ever be able to top that.

An EB Games (the Canadian equivalent of a GameStop) moved into town, not too long after Microplay shuffled its way into oblivion. I knew this was a far more dedicated game store than Microplay ever was. I've heard all of the gossip and complaints about the company and its practices. But for a youthful gamer such as myself, it was nonetheless a marvellous place, stacked to the ceiling with exciting worlds. I had been to EB Games before in other cities; that's where we had picked up such wonders as Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Kong Quest and Super Mario World. But by the time the store came to our town, I was already much older. University had claimed my soul, and I had a bit more "spendin' money" in the bank for such purposes, thanks mostly to a ghastly summer position at a long-term care facility aiding residents in their smoking habits by handing out cigarettes, lighting them, and then supervising to ensure they didn't burn themselves. I was ready to make purchases myself. Often, I'd be conservative and buy just one game at a time. But then came "the bin", that beautiful source of discount gold. There were, at one time, a ton of PlayStation 2 games for low, low prices, many of which were actually decent titles. Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper, for example, were both heavily discounted, and they were popular games that started successful series. And, of course, there were unsung underdogs in there, too, such as Eternal Ring and R-Type Final, proving that bargain bins are not necessarily filled solely with shovelware, the games the general public simply didn't like. I could easily top my previous record of "four" games. Now, I laugh at the concept of "four" games. I can buy four games without breaking a sweat. Granted, they're typically used games, but it still counts.

My collection has continued to grow in part because of the collectability of games from older generations, thanks to used game stores. I have found others that definitely offer products I want and simply must have. Some older game systems are also available, but I am skeptical to buy them, simply because the number of games I could attain is low. For example, in one used game shop I like to visit, they have Sega Saturns, Atari Lynx systems, Turbo-Grafx 16s, and that's great. But considering how few GAMES are available at that store, I can't with good conscience buy a system, even though I am extremely curious about it. I have purchased some games over the Internet as well, and I find that to be a great way to look for deals, as long as you don't expect to play these games until weeks later. Yard sales also help to fill the collection. Sometimes sellers ask for a pretty wild price for simple games, while other situations involve trying to get rid of a surprising amount of Guitar Hero stock. This town isn't particularly solid in yard sale game surprises, but when they do happen, I am always ready to aid my community. But if you have no video games, you get merely a frown and the sight of my back as I leave your property empty-handed.

And, of course, I have given in to temptation and started purchasing titles digitally, either through the PlayStation Network or the Nintendo eShop on my 3DS. There was a time when I was nervous about using such a service; online financial transactions were a hot-button issue for me, plus there wasn't anything I considered as "exceptional" on the PSN. That is, until Mega Man 9 showed up. There was no way I was going to let THAT pass me by. A Mega Man fan since my youth, I, alongside hundreds of thousands of other hungry Blue Bomber zealots, was ecstatic when Capcom finally announced another classic Mega Man game. Surely this must be the work of a higher power, I thought. So I cautiously entered the world of digital downloading, a practice that continues to this day that helps me build my empire even further. And here I am, with more games than I can possibly complete within my lifetime. But I highly doubt I will be stopping anytime soon; there are just too many experiences to be had, too many worlds to visit, too many Goombas to trip over.


Widget is loading comments...
Random.access and its contents are © 2005-2019.