Viva la 1980s!
by, 25 Jul 2012 at 02:02 PM (708 Views)
Several years ago I had decided that the best gaming decision for me was to have only physical games that came on discs and to buy cartridge based games as they became available on services such as Steam or the Nintendo's Virtual Console. In fact, I even cut off my beloved 16-bit era, despite the existence of the Sega CD and PC Engine CD. This strategy helped me to collect more games without taking up way more space. So I rocked along with a region free Saturn, twin Dreamcasts, twin PlayStation 2s (with their obvious backward compatibility), twin Xboxes, the region free PlayStation 3, twin 360s, and an American Wii. The lone exception to the cartridge rule was always the Neo Geo, which I've had off and on for almost 20 years now, most of which manifested in MVS cartridges.
About a year ago, a lot of contemporary games weren't doing it for me anymore. I sold off my Saturn and Neo Geo first, followed by both the American and Japanese 360s. I rarely regretted these decisions, though I will readily admit that one should never say "never" in these situations. The key was that all of them were worth more in cash than they were worth to me to own. Around this same time, the Virtual Console releases slowed to a drip, and a lot of the games I really wanted digitally started staying in Japan, adding more evidence to obvious fact that Nintendo doesn't understand the internet. No one will convince me that Pulstar and Twinkle Star Sprites, for example, would not have sold enough on the Wii Virtual Console to exceed whatever piddly amount it costs to put them there. My plan simply wasn't working anymore. I couldn't scratch the antique, not retro (look it up, you illiterates), itch the way I needed to.
Fast forward roughly nine months. It was time to clean house. Both Dreamcasts were shipped off, along with piles of games for various consoles and handhelds. The Xboxes would have followed if they were actually worth anything. My initial mitigation plan was to grab relatively modern games with classic gameplay. So I grabbed several PlayStation 1 and 2 games in both physical and digital format, depending on availability. This helped, but it was more to dull the itch than to cure it. There was more to it than the gameplay; there was the evil mistress known as nostalgia.
Nostalgia for me is a decade: the 1980s. It's Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, and Transformers toys... maybe even a little M.A.S.K. and Zoids. It's The Goonies, Gremlins, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Aliens, Predator, and The Terminator. But, perhaps most of all, it's the thing that brought most of those other things together, onto my TV, and under my control: the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Being the hard-to-please, elitist pain the ass that I am, a nice toaster wouldn't cut it. Nope, I needed the precursor to the PC Engine Duo, JVC X'Eye, Sega CDX, etc. I needed a Sharp Twin Famicom. More specifically, I needed the second model that had the double-long controller cords and built-in turbo, the AN-505. So for months off and on, I watched ebay and various forums. Working AN-505s rarely show up. When they do, they are expensive, even before $75+ shipping from Japan. A red AN-505-RD showed up in the spring, but the auction was cancelled on the last day and was switched a Buy It Now with a ridiculous price of over double where the bidding was when the original auction was ended.
At long last, on Friday, July 20, a black AN-505-BK showed up that was in Georgia and was to be shipped free. The Buy It Now price was $199.99 - not good enough. I searched again on Saturday and saw the price had been lowered to $149.99. This was tempting, so I stared and contemplated for an hour or so but did not pull the trigger. On Sunday, I didn't do my usual morning search. I took my wife and daughter to a local used book store (shout out to Nice Price Books!). While browsing the kids section with my daughter, I saw a novelization of Wizard & Warriors, as if it were planted there by fate herself (we all know fate is too temperamental to be male). I whipped out my phone, fired up the ebay app, and keyed in my normal search: "twin famicom -super." The system was still there, and the price has again been dropped, this time to $99.99.
A few rushed virtual button presses and days of anticipation later, my doorbell rang. It was the mail lady holding a Large Flat Rate Box. I was on a conference call at the time, but this was like the Ark of the Covenant, and I was like a Nazi thirsting for power (keep your comments to yourselves), so it was going to be opened. It's immaculate condition melted my face, but not in the 1980s special effects kind of way:
And, thus, a new dilemma has been born, one that was both inevitable and somewhat desirable. I need games, as I already have three cats that could fulfill any need for a black doorstop. To buy complete copies or not to buy complete copies: that is the question.
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