Monthly Archives: July 2011

Shop finds 7/14: Crash Bandicoot, game collections, and weird Japanese imports.

Right, after I did the last shop finds, I wanted to visit a pawn shop that was in the area. Unfortunately it was closed since it was a Sunday. I decided to come back to that place on Thursday and see if it had anything good. Ooh boy. The shop felt like it overpriced a good chunk of stuff — NES games like Super Mario Bros. 3 were $15 with just the game — so it limited what I could get. I did snag a few good games, then went to another pawn shop several blocks further down and snagged some more games. I had $39 when I started. I now only have a single $1 bill. I probably paid far too much for a few of the things I bought, but I couldn’t help but grab them.

7/14/11 game haul

Right at the top is Crash Bandicoot (PS1). It doesn’t really need an introduction, but I’ll give it one anyway: A 3D mascot platformer developed by Naughty Dog and briefly was considered the face of the PlayStation, even showing up in ads to slam the competition. I had already picked up Crash 2: Cortex Strikes Back a while back, so it made sense naturally to get the first one for $6.

Under that is Die Hard Trilogy (PS1). Considered to be one of those licensed games that didn’t blow ass cheese, it was three game modes in one game: a third-person action game that loosely recreates Die Hard, a rail shooter that recreates Die Hard 2, and a driving stage that mimics the bomb defusal parts from Die Hard with a Vengeance. Heard it was a classic, probably worth playing. There’s apparently a sequel that did a unique story with the same “three separate game modes” gimmick but wasn’t very good. Paid $5 for this one.

Now to last-generation stuff. First, we got Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War, an Xbox port of the pretty awesome PC game. I’ve always been fascinated by console ports of PC games — I own several versions of Doom, for example — and this one was no different. Not only did it add some exclusive single-player missions, it also had two-player co-op and a shotgun weapon that’s not in the PC version. It also had online, which would be kinda cool if Microsoft didn’t shut down the original Xbox Live servers last year. It’s probably still an interesting version to look at for $5.

Next, Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Xbox. I have only played 1-2 Mega Man games in my life, and only own the first NES game, complete with that godawful US cover that people constantly ridicule it for. I had been looking for Anniversary Collection for a while, and I could’ve chose any of the three versions as they all hold the same games — Mega Man 1 through 8, plus the rare “Power Battle” and “Power Fighters” arcade games — but I kinda got shafted on the bonus features. I get a bonus interview video, but I get an episode of the anime MegaMan NT Warrior. PS2 owners got the pilot episode of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon from the 80s instead. Shafted. Oh well, worth it to have the complete collection for $6 without having to hunt down the later Mega Man games, which are probably hard to find.

Spy Fiction needs an explanation. Anyone who’s been around the gaming circles may have heard of Deadly Premonition, a mediocre survival horror game themed loosely after Twin Peaks that became one of those cult hits last year. The designer, Hidetaka “SWERY65” Suehiro, lead designer on Deadly Premonition, worked on Spy Fiction, which was his first project as a director. Apparently it’s an interesting Metal Gear Solid knockoff. This was the most expensive at $10, but the game seems to have barely been used.

So, uh, Mobile Light Force 2. I could try to explain it, but I think MarzGurl of That Guy with the Glasses fame explains it better than I can. Basically it’s a bad American localization of some Japanese shootemup. Bought it more for the kitsch factor than anything else. $4.

Finally, Amplitude. Before there was Rock Band, before there was even Guitar Hero, Harmonix was making music games for Sony, starting with Frequency in 2001 and its followup Amplitude in 2003. Whereas Frequency had a lot of DJ and techno mixes in its soundtrack, Amplitude grabbed more famous rock and pop bands for its soundtrack. It basically worked like Rock Band in which you had to press buttons to the beat of an instrument, but you were playing the notes to more than one instrument, and could swap to any instrument at any time. Rock Band: Unplugged on the PSP is the spiritual successor to Frequency and Amplitude. This was also the cheapest of the lot, being in the clearance aisle at $2.

To wrap up the day, I decided to peruse a Wal-Mart and walked out with this:

EGM Mass Effect 3 cover

I had known Electronic Gaming Monthly was resurrected by original founder Steve Harris about a year or so ago, and the most recent gaming magazine I have, coincidentally, is the last one Ziff-Davis published in 2009 with X-Men Origins: Wolverine on the cover. Since I was shopping for other things, I decided to grab it, not just because of the Mass Effect 3 cover, but because it was the magazine’s 250th issue, and I’m a sucker for any magazine milestone issues. When I got home, I realized the pretty hefty $7 price tag on it. Yeesh. No wonder gaming print magazines are slowly dying.

With that, I have very little cash to work with for a while until August rolls around. This isn’t a bad thing as I’ll be camping for a weekend at the start of the month, and going to PAX in Seattle later in the month, giving me ample time to hold on to some cash and buy some more random shit.

Shop finds 7/10: Of magazine/catalog hybrids, a dozen Madden games, and before they were journalists.

On the 10th, I decided to go out for a walk as it was a sunny day in Portland, Oregon. I also had something else in mind: Cheap ass games in cheap ass places. Or so I thought.

Honestly, most garage sales around here don’t have much to pick from. It’s usually baby clothes and electronics that may or may not work. Once in a blue moon you might find some place with games, but you’ll just find PlayStation copies of Madden NFL 2002 or something. Speaking of Madden, I found the most humorous thing in one of the Goodwill stores:

So many Maddens...

One copy each of Madden NFL from 1997 (Madden NFL 98) to 2003 (Madden NFL 2004) for the original PlayStation. Even when the PS2 was still being the dominant console by this time, EA was still developing and publishing Madden NFL games to the PS1 as late as 2004. But to find one of almost every year it was released on the PS1 in the same store is absolutely hilarious. I almost walked away with a copy of Madden 2001 because of it touting that it had a modified version of John Madden Football ’93 on the disc, but I later realized it wasn’t worth the $3 asking price and put it back. These old sports games should cost 25 cents, not three bucks.

Just when I thought I was out of luck, I perused the magazines section of that same Goodwill. I found 5 issues of Game Informer magazine, but they were only a couple of years old and not worth buying. But then, I found this:

Interaction Spring 1994 cover

It’s an issue of InterAction, a games magazine published by Sierra interactive sporadically during the ’90s. Yes, Sierra published its own magazine. It’s clear that it just doubled as a catalog for their games, complete with “A blatantly biased look at games from the SIERRA family” on the cover.

While it had editorials — this issue featured founder Ken Williams talking about the then-new video game controversy, as well as praised reviews of their games reprinted from other publications — most of them were written by the designers of the game, making it little more than PR speak if it mutated into game previews. Almost like most game previews today.

Battledrome preview

Unfortunately Sierra was a company I never paid much attention to. Adventure games have never been my genre, I was a Nintendo kid up until the late ’90s and my PC was used mostly to dick around with various programs and the upcoming Windows 95, so I never got to play many of the games Sierra were lauded for back in the day. Granted, I realize most of them haven’t aged well, but I still would love to grab a copy of the Leisure Suit Larry or Police Quest games some day. Maybe I’ll just snag them on GoodOldGames.

Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers feature

The cover story is a preview of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, the first game in the series. Like the others, it’s a simple preview that talks about the game’s design and the star-studded cast: Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Michael Dorn and a pre-The King of Queens Leah Remini. I had passed it off as a simple preview until I decided to thumb through a section featuring opinions from users on Compuserve. One of them stuck out to me in particular:

Praise from a certain someone...

Yep, before he was a freelance writer and GameTrailers TV host, Geoff Keighley was praising Gabriel Knight on Compuserve. I always find stuff like this amusing, this is really one of the few reasons I hunt down old game magazines.

There wasn’t much else that was appealing in the games front, hopefully I’ll try again with this in a few days. But for now, InterAction goes in the game magazine pile like the rest of them. Let’s hope I can find older magazines like this, and not issues of Official PlayStation Magazine that are only three months old. I’m still miffed on that one.

Shop finds for 7/1/11.

In my spare time, when not playing video games and arguing with people over the internet, I occasionally peruse thrift stores, pawn shops and various game stores (yes, even GameStop) for random game finds. I do this because it’s something of an old habit I’ve done for years back when I used to collect game show board games about ten years ago. Now I have over 80 of those board games sitting in my garage going unused, so I shifted my hunt from board games to video games and occasional miscellanea. Thrift stores are great for that.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, Chris Kohler of Wired’s GameLife blog occasionally chronicled his thrift store finds on the blog, such as finding Frogger for the Intellivision complete in box, with the original receipt from 1983. It was always intriguing to hear what people found in a random shop for a couple of bucks. Since I love being inspired by other people’s concepts and ideas, I’m going to chronicle my own thrift store and pawn shop finds. Because I find this stuff interesting.

Yesterday, while on my way to hang at a friend’s place, I went to a local pawn shop, Meese’s Pieces. The place I went to had almost all games for $5. That meant NES games were $5, SNES games were $5, even PS1/PS2 games were $5 each. The only ones that weren’t $5 flat were 360 and PS3 games. Unfortunately I didn’t have much cash on me, but I did walk away with these 3 games for $13:

7/1/11 game haul

The one on top is Shaq Fu for the Super NES. Developed by Delphine Software (Flashback, Another World), it is considered to be one of the worst games ever made. It’s so bad that there’s a site for wanting to destroy every copy in existence to saving every copy. I really only bought it for the kitsch factor, and actual proof of how putting a sports star in a game that’s not sports-related isn’t always the best idea.

The second game is No One Can Stop Mr. Domino! for the PS1. I had heard of this game from Giant Bomb‘s Ryan Davis, who is apparently a big fan of this crazy-ass game. It’s basically the most absurd game I’ve seen to come out of Japan, where you play a domino and try to lay a pattern down to cause really strange things happen. It’s a Japanese game alright. Apparently there was a spiritual successor for this on the Wii, but it’s probably impossible to find these days.

The last game is Syphon Filter for the PS1. I’m a slight fan of the Syphon Filter games, and they’re the only games I thoroughly enjoyed on the PSP. I had never played the original trilogy on the PS1 or the PS2 title The Omega Strain, but I had heard they were enjoyable games. With those factors in mind, I decided to snag a copy of it. Well, that and if the other two games I bought were absolutely abysmal, I wanted to at least have a good game to play to wash away the shitty taste of the former two.

My apologies if these aren’t interesting enough finds, but I just wanted to own these more from a collector’s standpoint. The original PlayStation was a system I never had many games for, and I wanted to grab some of the classics as well as some of the obscure favorites and anything else that caught my eye. Problem is that 90% of the time I peruse thrift stores for PS1 games, I end up finding 25 old copies of Madden NFL or FIFA more than anything really interesting. I don’t see a need to buy old sports games unless they’re really valuable, like the first sports game released on a console, or well-known editions of the game or whatever. I have nothing against sports games, I just don’t want to pay $4 for Madden NFL 98 on the PS1.

(And not only have I found old games, I’ve even found old gaming magazines from about 8-9 years ago at thrift stores. Like two unopened Official Xbox Magazine issues from 2003, and a Game Informer issue that revealed the then-new Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. These are infinitely more interesting to me, as I look at gaming magazines from a nostalgic standpoint, so I can see a snapshot of what gaming was back then.)