These days, retro gaming is huge as can be seen by the success of various min consoles including the Mega Drive Mini, SNES Classic, and the NES. However, for people who want to try to collect the original software and hardware from the old days, the various options that are available can seem overwhelming. We are here to help you, with our guide on hold to get started with retro game collecting.
Select Your Focus
For most people who have the retro bug, the main motivator is nostalgia. If you belong to this camp, think about what you enjoyed playing when you were a child. Was your jam Super Mario Bros 3? Maybe you like blazing through Sonic the Hedgehog’s Green Hill Zone instead, or taking enemies down in Turrican? For most would-be collectors, this will give you a good starting point to work from since it establishes what hardware you are going to need, and the genre of games you should watch out for.
However, there are some people who prefer exploring various consoles and games from the past, maybe picking a Nintendo 64 or Saturn up to find out what they may have missed out on the first time around.
Establish Your Budget
This is really important. In terms of hardware, it becomes more difficult to obtain as time goes on, and the prices continue to increase. Websites like Game Value Now or Price Charting are mainly US-focused but provide a valuable gauge of what a reasonable price is to pay. Take a look at Surplus Net for great deals on retro gaming consoles and games. Watch out for regional variations. For example, the SEGA 32X is fairly common in the US, but in Europe and the UK, it is quite rare, so prices will vary.
If collecting is something you are interested in, but you still don’t know where to begin, the following are some console suggestions that are a great place to start.
SEGA Master System
If you live in Europe or the UK, these are quite common and it is easy to find one, especially the Master System ii. It comes with an Alex Kidd in Miracle World built-in copy. A Master System II with one controller at least will cost around £35/€40.
The Master System is much rarer across the Atlantic Ocean unless you live in Brazil where there is an alternative mysterious timelines where the console wars were won by SEGA and the Master System console is being produced still.
Watch Out For The Following: The actual console is sturdy. However, the controllers are often fragile. Watch out for broken controllers.
Great Games To Start With: OutRun Europa, Sonic the Hedgehog, Hang On, Fantasy Zone.
Although the PlayStation trounced Nintendo 64, many people still love it, and its library includes some outstanding games. One of the most interesting aspects of collecting the Nintendo 64, the number of different color variants. The standard edition is a dark gray. However, there are also versions available in practically every color of the rainbow. One of the other benefits to the Nintendo 64 is that this console was built like a tank, so it isn’t prone to a lot of hardware failures. Usually, you can buy a Nintendo 64 for around $55 or £40/€47.
Watch Out For The Following: Make sure there is free movement on the controller’s analog stick and that there is no dirt in the joint.
Great Games To Start With: GoldenEye, Rogue Squadron, Star Wars, StarFox 64, Mario 64
For collecting beginners, the Game Boy is an excellent choice, One of the main reasons is there is an abundance of them. The original version is a very solid piece of hardware. It famously could literally survive being blown up and then still turn on. Games for the Original Game Boy are compatible with the successor consoles like Game Boy Color and Game Boy Pocket, which provides access to a huge games library. It will cost you about $80 in the US or £45/€53 in Europe for an original Game Boy.
Watch Out For The Following: The original Game Boy tends to have a screen degradation problem, which makes the screen unusable. Before buying one, make sure to turn on the screen first. Another major problem that the Game Boy has is fake cartridges. One of the most common targets are the Pokemon games, so if something seems too good to be true, then it most likely is.
Great Games To Start With: Bionic Commando, Kirby’s Dream Land, Super Mario Land
It may have been the last hurrah for SEGA within the console market. However, many people consider the Dreamcast as a console that was ahead of the times. It comes with features like a memory card that is also a portable mini-console and online connectivity. There is not only the existing game library for collectors to explore, but in addition, there is a thriving and massive homebrew scene, which keeps churning out games. Dreamcast prices range from about £60–80 (€70–83), and in the US the price is usually around $65, but for a full bundle or boxed version can go higher.
Watch Out For The Following:
Later models of the Dreamcast have a build-quality problem that may cause laser or motor failure. Check the console’s underside for a number inside of a circle. Units that are labeled 0 or 1 have a tendency to offer better reliability compared to those with a 2 or a 3.