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13 TIPS TO BUILD YOUR RETRO COLLECTION!

by B. JONES  |  © March 1, 2022



With all of the troubles in the world—now more than ever—people have been in search of an escape to happier, less scary times. For many, longing for a nostalgic return to the simpler times of childhood is just the remedy they need. For some, that comes in the form of retrogaming.

Unfortunately, troubling trends of late have caused an artificial bubble of inflated pricing to all, but squeeze those very retrogame seekers out of the market.

With the recent questionable practices of a certain game "grading service" and with what seems like an endless invasion of hoarders and scalpers overrunning online auction sites and ransacking game shops, there seems to be no immediate end to the onslaught on a beloved hobby and its lot of frustrated gamers and collectors alike.

But, all hope is not gone. I believe with a little ingenuity, a bit of luck and a set of alert eyes trained in, ready to pounce on that rare opportunity, retrogamers can still build a fun, respectable library of great titles across a number of consoles without going bankrupt.

With that, let's have a look at 13 helpful tips that can turn back the hands of time on your gaming collection and let you relive the good ol' days!



Getting Started

But, first, before embarking on this mighty quest down memory lane, here is a helpful list of suggested steps that will prepare you for your fruitful journey, keeping you focused and staying on target.

  1. Begin by setting your budget.
  2. Now, let's take stock of what gaming consoles you own.
  3. Next, let's create the list of games that you really want to acquire.
  4. Let's go through each of those titles, one by one, and begin researching and finding the following:
    1. any variations of the title (that is, any versions of the title found on different consoles or compatible versions of the title found in different regions or markets)
      • What console(s) is it found on? (Do you own that console or those consoles?)
      • Are there compatible versions of the game found in different regions or markets?
    2. game compilations, collections or sets that the title may be included in
  5. Prioritize which title you want to get most, second most and so forth, and number and reorganize your list accordingly.
  6. Research the going prices for your title from a few different sources (pricing websites, current bids on online auctions, gaming shops' online inventory, etc.) and attach those estimated prices to your list. (Update this information often, especially each time before going out to shop; this will help make you become more of an educated buyer and will ultimately save you money.)
  7. Make note of and record the different versions of each game (particularly, those versions on the consoles you own) and keep a copy of your wishlist handy when you go game shopping.

These steps will help your search immensely.

Now with list in hand (or stored on your smartphone), let's go shopping!



The 13 Tips!

Below () are each of the tips to build your retro game collection quickly and cheaply. For more in-depth details on each step, please click on each tip:

  1. Shop local.
  2. Backwards-compatibility.
  3. Buy video game compilations!
  4. Join current subscription services.
  5. Collect "mini" consoles.
  6. Seek games from other regions when possible.
  7. Shop everywhere.
  8. Check local listings often.
  9. Online presence.
  10. Start a barter community or community exchange service.
  11. Tell the world! Let it be known!
  12. Refine searches online.
  13. If all else fails, emulate?











1Shop local. Visit your local, mom-and-pop, retrogaming shops. Or plan a short road trip with friends to canvas your region. Get to know the owner(s), workers and/or any regulars who shop there. Befriend them and let them know of any games you are looking for.

Building on these relationships, you may be able to bargain or negotiate prices or if a certain game you are looking for comes in, even get the shop owner(s) to contact you and give you the first shot at it. Sometimes, there are even buyer loyalty discounts. It can be a win/win situation for both sides!

SPECIAL NOTE 1: Remember to shop locally and support small businesses in your home area when you can; there are still a lot of great deals to be had without breaking the bank.

Also, there are several advantages to shopping in person locally. You can have immediate confidence and peace of mind knowing that you can inspect (and usually, test) the game first-hand. And by avoiding long distance purchases, you will save on jacked-up postage, shipping and handling costs, and not have to worry about an item being lost, damaged, stolen or delayed through the mail.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: If there are any fantasy game, table-top gaming, board game, card hobby, comic book, video rental/sales shops or music/record/vinyl shops in your hometown, be sure to investigate them; there may be retrogames for the taking. Think creatively about any other fringe hobby or collector shops that may also carry over into video games and go explore them.

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2Backwards-compatibility. Seek out gaming systems (see the first list following this tip below) and any gaming system peripherals (see the second list below) that allow you to play games from previous generations' consoles.

This may be a cost-effective way to get retrogames at a markdown. Sometimes, the older release of a game may be cheaper than a newer or re-release of the same title. Other times, it may not. If you own that console or peripheral that has backwards-compatibility, you can choose the cheaper alternative.


LIST OF CONSOLES WITH BACKWARDS-COMPATIBILITY
Console Consoles That Can Be Played
Game Boy Color • Game Boy Color
• Game Boy
PlayStation 2 • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation (PS1)
Nintendo 3DS • Nintendo 3DS
• Nintendo DS
• Nintendo DSi
PlayStation 3 • PlayStation 3 (PS3)
• PlayStation 2 (PS2) (limited playability, as it varies with different models of the PlayStation 3)
• PlayStation (PS1) (all PS1 games)
Wii • Wii
• GameCube (if the Wii was bought in 2011 or later or if its Model No. starts with RVK, GameCube games will not be compatible)
Wii U • Wii U
• Wii
Xbox Series X (2020 - present) • Xbox Series X
• Xbox One (all games)
• Xbox 360 (select games)
• Xbox (select games)
Xbox One (2013 - 2021) • Xbox One
• Xbox 360 (select games)
• Xbox (select games)
Xbox 360 (2005 - 2016) • Xbox 360
• Xbox (select games)

LIST OF GAME CONSOLE PERIPHERALS WITH BACKWARDS-COMPATIBILITY
Peripheral Consoles' Games That Can Be Played On This
Super Game Boy (connects to the Super Nintendo (SNES)) • Game Boy Color
• Game Boy
Game Boy Player (connects to the Nintendo GameCube) • Game Boy Advance
• Game Boy Color
• Game Boy

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3Buy video game compilations! If you have later generational gaming consoles, you can pick up compilations of retrogames, oftentimes, at wholesale discounts.

A number of game publishers (from Konami, Capcom, Sega, Nintendo, Rare, Atari, Data East, SNK, Taito, Midway and more) have re-released large collections of some of their finest arcade and classic series (such as Castlevania, Contra, Mega Man, Street Fighter, Metal Slug and more) on single gaming cartridges, cards and discs.

For nearly all older game machines, used, physical copies of video game compilations can be picked up fairly inexpensively. This may be the fastest, most cost-effective and best way to round out your retrogaming collection with both quality and quantity.

And there's even more great news for the current crop of consoles!

If you own any of these, you can shop online via the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store or Nintendo Game Store to stockpile even more classics. Besides purchasing archived collections (oftentimes, as digital downloads, but occasionally as physical media still), many individual retro titles have been digitally-recreated and are now available, making for a great, affordable way to bolster your game playing options.

SPECIAL NOTE 1: If you have a current console that you download games to, take note of how much available free space you have. Invest in a larger or additional hard drive or SD memory card (or whatever storage option your console(s) use(s)) before building your retrogaming collection digitally. Don't forget to calculate the amount of megabytes (MB) and/or gigabytes (GB) that will remain after each new digital purchase, so that you don't run out of storage space unexpectedly.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: If you have a current console that you download games to, you can take advantage of the fact that several retro titles that become available for digital download come in relatively small sizes and typically take up mere megabytes, as opposed to the storage-consuming sizes of modern games that eat up large gigabyte-sized chunks.

BONUS TIP: There are "Wish List" functions built into the online gaming accounts of the current generation of consoles. You can search through the listings of available and soon-to-be-released games and store them in your personal wish list.

One of the biggest advantages of using your wish list is that you can wait for online sales to track down even more retro titles on discount. Black Friday, the Christmas season, game and gaming company anniversaries, new and pre-release dates and other holidays are popular sales dates to keep an eye out for. Classic titles' prices may be reduced on a short notice. Be sure to check your current game console's online store often or, better yet, set up a push notification or alert (usually delivered via e-mail or phone) that informs you of when items on your wish list go on sale.


LIST OF RETROGAME COMPILATIONS
Game Console(s) Game Is Available On No. Of Games In Collection
Super Mario All-Stars • SNES
4 Games
Ninja Gaiden Trilogy • SNES 3 Games
6-Pak • Sega Genesis 6 Games
Activision Anthology • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Game Boy Advance (GBA)
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
??? (total number of games varies per release - different amounts from a pool of 76)
Atari Anthology • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
80 Games (approximately)
Metal Slug Anthology • Wii
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• etc.
7 Games
Taito Legends • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
29 Games
Taito Legends 2 • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
39 Games (different combination of games varies per release from a pool of 43)
Capcom Classics Collection • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
22 Games
Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
20 Games
Midway Arcade Treasures • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
24 Games
Midway Arcade Treasures 2 • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
20 Games
Midway Arcade Treasures 3 • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
8 Games (all racing games)
Mega Man Anniversary Collection • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
10 Games
Mega Man X Collection • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
7 Games
Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Nintendo 3DS
• Switch
10 Games
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
8 Games
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
6 Games
Metroid Prime: Trilogy • Wii (can be played on Wii U, also) 3 Games
Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition • Wii (can be played on Wii U, also) 6 Games
Data East Arcade Classics • Wii (can be played on Wii U, also) 15 Games
Samurai Shodown Anthology • Wii
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
6 Games
The King Of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
• Wii
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
5 Games
Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 1 • PlayStation 2 (PS2) 4 Games
Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 2 • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
3 Games
SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
• Wii
16 Games
Rare Replay • Xbox One 30 Games
The Disney Afternoon Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4); Xbox One 6 Games
Sega Genesis Collection • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• PlayStation Portable (PSP)
28 Games (plus unlockable arcade games)
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection • PlayStation 3 (PS3)
• Xbox 360
40 Games (plus unlockable arcade games)
Sega Genesis Classics • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
Over 50 Games
Sonic Mega Collection • GameCube
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
7 Games (plus between 5 to 7 unlockable games depending upon region)
Sonic Mega Collection Plus • PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
13 Games (plus unlockable games)
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection • Switch
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
12 to 13 Games (depending upon region)
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection • Switch
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
24 or 25 Games (different amount of games varies per release from a pool of 25)
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle • Switch
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
18 Games
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
3 Games
Collection Of Mana • Switch 3 Games
BioShock: The Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
3 Games
Capcom Arcade Stadium • Switch
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
32 Games
Namco Museum 50th Anniversary • Game Boy Advance
• PlayStation 2 (PS2)
• Xbox
• GameCube
16 Games (all consoles listed have 16 Games, except for Game Boy Advance, which has only 5 Games)
Namco Museum • Switch 11 Games
Castlevania Anniversary Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
8 Games
Castlevania Advance Collection • Switch
• PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• PlayStation 5 (PS5)
• Xbox One
• Xbox Series X
• Xbox Series S
4 Games
Contra Anniversary Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
10 Games
Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection - Konami • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Xbox One
• Switch
8 Games
Capcom Fighting Collection • PlayStation 4 (PS4)
• Switch
• Xbox One
10 Games

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4Join current subscription services. If you own a current generation console, join its online subscription service. For an annual fee, membership to Nintendo Switch Online, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) let you download and play a rotating selection of classic titles, among several other perks.

SPECIAL NOTE: Although subscriptions are attractive options, realize that if your membership expires or lapses, you may lose access to your downloaded titles and the accessible rotation of retro games. Subscription services are akin to rentals. Be sure to read and learn about the terms of each console's subscription plan.

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5Collect "mini" consoles. Seek out and purchase some of the miniature versions of retro-inspired consoles that came out a few years ago. Several, high-quality, out-of-print titles—many of which would currently total into the hundreds easily, if not thousands, of dollars—are gathered in one convenient place and can be found on one small unit that utilizes ease-of-use, up-to-date technology (digital output through HDMI cables, etc.) and are officially-produced by the creators of said companies. See the table below for more details.


LIST OF "MINI" CONSOLES
"Mini" Console No. Of Games Included
NES Classic Edition (30 games advertised)
Super NES Classic Edition (21 games advertised)
SEGA Genesis Mini (40 games advertised)
PlayStation Classic (20 PlayStation 1 (PS1) games preloaded)
NEOGEO Mini (40 games advertised)
TurboGrafx-16 Mini/
PC Engine Mini (Japan)/
PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini (Europe)
(approximately 57 games)

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6Seek games from other regions when possible. Seek out consoles that can play imported versions of some of your favorite titles.

Not all gaming regions, or international markets, are treated equally. Some games were/are not released universally across the globe. There are several reasons why—ranging from electronic/voltage incompatibility, language and localization barriers and even licensing issues.

Despite the fact that some games were created with only a specific region in mind, it does not mean that those same games cannot actually play in another area on another market's gaming system. There are a surprising number of previous gaming machines that were, indeed, NOT regionally-locked.

That list includes most, if not all, handhelds (Nintendo's Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and DS; Sega's Game Gear and Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Vita, for starters). The Sega Master System and Neo Geo were full-fledged machines not restricted by region.

Other older consoles can circumvent regional lock-out in other ways.

For instance, with the Sega Saturn, if you purchase a third-party Action Replay Plus Cartridge (which serves several benefits as, not only a 4MB Memory Card, but also a 4MB Expansion RAM Card that can access cheat codes AND play import games from all regions!), the whole Japanese market of games opens up.

In many cases, these games can be bought at lower prices when compared to their North American counterparts. Also, many of these import titles have a minimal amount of Japanese that has to be mastered, so they can be understood enough to be played by western markets.

SPECIAL NOTE 1: Before purchasing any other region's game releases, be sure to investigate and do thorough research on your older gaming machine(s) to make sure that it/they are capable of playing imported titles.

SPECIAL NOTE 2: Before purchasing any other region's game releases, research the title you are interested in to make sure that you don't need an extensive working knowledge of Japanese or any other foreign language to be able to play, understand and enjoy the import.

SPECIAL NOTE 3: This applies to those of you who own a current generational gaming system. Sometimes, if you are diligent enough and if your console allows for it, you can temporarily change or switch your home region to another region to find unique titles, exclusives, special sales and older titles not necessarily available in your home market.

This is not always an easy excursion because of language barriers or payment/money exchange/conversion issues, but if you can research enough about your particular situation, this may be a feasible choice. (Nowadays, many game releases grant the option of several language/translation menu sets, making this an even more attractive alternative.)

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7Shop everywhere. Frequent thrift stores, pawn shops, garage/yard/rummage/estate/tag sales, car boot sales or "car boots" (across the pond, if you are in the United Kingdom), flea markets, swap meets and even antique shops. You never know what big game can be scored and checked off of your list, so be thorough and vigilant when going to these public sales and spots.

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8Check local listings often. Check the classified advertisements section in your local newspaper; you never know what may appear in them. People have been known to even give away valuable items here, so check out this forgotten resource.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are, essentially, online versions of the classifieds. Don't forget to look over your hometown's listings in these resources, as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If meeting in person to buy or pick up something, agree upon a neutral, safe, brightly-lit (preferably, during daylight hours), public space, like a police department parking lot or other designated safe places. (Never complete a purchase at or reveal your home address.) If you don't feel comfortable making a transaction by yourself, take someone (family or friend) along with you and, if you are a minor, always take a trusted adult or adults with you. Remember that it is always better to be safe and to err on the side of caution rather than facing the alternative.

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9Online presence. Become active on social media (Twitter, etc.). Build up relationships with people who share your interests and let trusted and friendly followers know what games you are seeking. You may be able to score some desirable titles. Your reach can go further than you know with the help of your friends on social media.

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10Start a barter community or community exchange service. Network with like-minded friends and do like so many of us did back in grade school and on the playgrounds: trade and lend out games with trusted buddies. Find a group on Meetup.com (for a fee) or start up your own at your college, school, workplace, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Build up a comfortable relationship before meeting up in person and agree upon a neutral, safe, public space. Arrive in your own personal, reliable transportation. (Never complete a transaction at or reveal your home address.) If you don't feel comfortable making a transaction by yourself, take someone (family or friend) along with you and, if you are a minor, always take a trusted adult or adults with you. Remember that it is always better to be safe and to err on the side of caution rather than facing the alternative.

Finally, be mindful, safe and exercise extreme caution in any kind of social outing right now. We are still in a pandemic, so perhaps, this is not the best time to form a Meetup.com group with a party of strangers.

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11Tell the world! Let it be known! Let all of your family, friends, coworkers, classmates, clients, patrons, customers, acquaintances, etc. know of your interests. You never know if and when some of them may have a connection to someone who may be looking to part with a retro collection for cheap. Yell it from the mountaintop and put it out into the universe!

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12Refine searches online. When conducting any online searches—from Craigslist to auction sites to online marketplaces—ALWAYS use a variety of related search terms. Be sure to use an exhaustive and extensive group of phrases and words for your item in different regions and alternate titles.

For instance, if you are searching for a copy of the North American release for the classic, Super Nintendo (SNES) RPG, EarthBound, see the table below:


RETROGAMING SEARCH IDEAS FOR ONLINE AUCTIONS
Search Keywords Reason For Using These Keywords
• EarthBound correct spelling
• EarthBounded
• EarthBoind
incorrect spelling(s), but similar enough to register
• Earth Bound separate words; extra spacing
• EarthBound video game correct search term with "video game" phrase attached
SNES EarthBound correct search term with game console initials included
Super Nintendo EarthBound correct search term with full game console's name included
Super Famicom EarthBound correct search term with incorrect or similar game console's name included
lot of Super Nintendo games EarthBound
lot of SNES games EarthBound
lot of Super Nintendo games
lot of SNES games
sometimes listers vaguely use phrases like "SNES lot", but don't clearly state what exact games are in the lot
• EarthBound Shigesato Itoi
• EarthBound Itoi
correct search term with key creator(s)' name(s) or any other popular or big names associated with the game included (in this instance, Shigesato Itoi, is the game's designer)
• EarthBound HAL Laboratory, Ape, Inc. correct search term with developer(s)' name(s) included (in this instance, HAL Laboratory and Ape, Inc. are the game's developers)
• EarthBound Mother 2
Mother 2
Mother 2 SNES
search term with a different region's alternate name for the game included (in this instance, Mother 2 is the Japanese name for EarthBound); this can open other avenues

Be creative in your searches, a lister's casual mistake (like a silly misspelling or haphazard, typographical error) may bring the cost down considerably, especially if the item is in a timed auction. With few to no other competitive bidders, an inflated or rare title could be won and purchased for unbelievably low prices!

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13If all else fails, emulate? Emulation and ROMs are powerful resources that can preserve past generations of obsolete game consoles and out-of-print libraries of games.

Emulators are programs that are modeled after gaming consoles; ROMs are copies of video games' programmed data or code. Essentially, an emulator lets you play near-identical copies of video games on a computer—without the need of a television set, retro game system or older (oftentimes, rare or prohibitively-expensive), physical game cart or disc.

There are a range of emulators and ROM files that can be downloaded for free from a number of sites across the World Wide Web. But, when visiting a host site and attempting to download and install or use this software, it is imperative to be wary of viruses, malware and other harmful files that can infect or destroy your computer or laptop—it is ideal to have up-to-date, virus protection installed and active.

With all of the freedom and ease that emulation makes available to retro fans, there comes great responsibility. There are legal issues surrounding the downloading and owning of ROMs. But, with the proliferation of faster, inexpensive computers; vast memory and storage capacity (especially for tiny ROM sizes); and the affordability and availability of a large variety of programmable game controllers out on the market now, the reward outweighs the risk for many.

Emulation is now more popular than ever and is an attractive alternative to access, play and archive many unavailable titles—those either lost to obscurity, region-locking, exorbitant prices, scarcity in the wild, expiration on licenses (movies, toys, cartoons, comics, etc.) and/or so many more reasons.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article does not claim to have a working knowledge of the law. There are legal issues beyond the scope of this article that can arise, if you download or possess ROMs—especially if you do not own the original games or if you try to re-package, host or sell ROMS for profit.

Additionally, if you choose to use emulation as a viable vehicle for retrogaming, beware of downloading ROMs from certain websites or hosts. Be sure to have your computer updated with the most current antivirus software and proceed with caution.

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[RETURN TO BEGINNING OF ARTICLE]




With these handful of tips, it should be easier to stock up on a great library of fun, quality titles to share with your family and/or friends or to relive the memories of retrogaming any time you feel that itch.

b. jones © 2022

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© 2022 (mmxxii) b. jones








 

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