Acquisitions – Waterloo Video Game Swap, Fall 2015

A few months back I shared my experiences at past iterations of the Waterloo Video Game Swap, North America’s largest game swap event. That wonderful time of year has come round again and my collection got just a little bit bigger again.

I’ve stated my approach to collecting retro video games before – I like to go to an event or store with a particular focus and go from there. My library is pretty general compared to others; I don’t (yet) hunt for 100% complete packages, or for obscure consoles, so an event such as WVGS is open season for me. Loose cartridges abound, all kinds of rarities and oddities are available, and prices are negotiable, if not already exceptional. I could, funds provided, walk out with a stack of titles as tall as me and still have left things behind, so having a goal keeps me in line. 

I didn’t have much of a goal this time around, however. You could say moderation was my goal. After scouring the room a couple times (which could be compared to salmon swimming upstream), I set my eyes on Mario Kart: Double Dash (GCN), as I found it at three vendors for the best price I’ve seen for it, $40.

  
I missed this one when it first came out, for no real reason, and have been told repeatedly since that it’s the best in the franchise. Since I started filling out my once-embarrassing GameCube library, I’ve had my eye out for it. So, holes in the collection and in my gaming experience filled, two birds with one disc.

I have to admit, however, that there were fewer temptations for me this time. This is my fourth Swap and the first time I made my purchase decision so quickly. Afterwards I continued sweeping the tables for other gems (a couple of which I acted too slowly on), but I could have left after forty minutes.

Another goal I had was to trade a Bowser Jr Amiibo for something I’d prefer. Rosalina was the top of that list, but that was perhaps the only rare Amiibo I didn’t see there. Ultimately no one took me up on it, though I did nearly swap it for Shulk. My only other purchase was a couple stickers to swag out my rather plain-looking New 3DS.

  
It’s important for collectors to be able to show restraint. I could have splurged on some other titles, sure, but opted not to push the budget. If those extras weren’t high-priority gaps in my library or things I want to play in the short future, it’s just gratuitous.

Above and beyond the purchases, the event itself is so fun to attend. The chatter is entertaining, there are so many cool items to look at.

Advertisements

Acquisitions – Waterloo Video Game Swap, Spring 2015

Twice a year, the Video Game Collectors Community (VGCC) hosts the biggest game swap meet in North America in Waterloo, succinctly calling it the Waterloo Video Game Swap. I found out about it last winter and have attended all three shows since then. Each has been a gold mine of great rare gems from some pretty awesome vendors and I’ve had to make my selections very carefully to avoid digging a very big hole.

Last weekend was the first meet of the year. Before I share my acquisitions, I thought I’d show off what I got from the first two I attended.

Spring 2014

This was a tough decision – I missed an opportunity to get Einhänder (PSX), but added this gem instead. I was a bit of a kid in a candy store, finding every game on my wishlist at the time.

Autumn 2014

I went in with the goal of filling in some gaps in my GameCube library, but when one finds an FFIV cartridge for $40, plans change.

Spring 2015

Last week’s show was the biggest yet, with way more vendors and other collectors than ever before. (Unfortunately it was crammed into the same hall and exploring the wares was really difficult in the sea of humanity.) For once I didn’t have a clear set of priorities. I like to approach these things with some sort of ranking to help me narrow my search and limit my spending. Seeing Crystal Chronicles at a couple tables made my mind up – especially for $20, when the only place I’ve found it in my town recently jacked its price to $100. Metroid II, however, has been on my radar for some time, as the last main Metroid game I’m missing (excluding the DS games).

Retro Gaming Review: Retron 3 console

The Retron 3 console appears to be a grand slam – it plays Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, and Sega Genesis games, with RGA and S-Video cables, on two wireless controllers or original gamepads. Sounds pretty awesome, right? It is, but it’s also far from perfect.

The basic functionality is there; if you don’t have the time, space, or money to hunt down three classic systems in a sea of potential scams or ripoffs, the Retron 3 is a solid alternative. One machine does the work of three, and you end up saving a lot of space in your entertainment centre. But it sounds too good to be true for a reason.

I’ve had my eye on this system for a while; when trading in a stack of old strategy guides at the local indie store, I got a heap of credit and decided to put it towards one of these bad boys. I own a particularly odd model of NES and it doesn’t work on my modern flatscreen, and I only want a Genesis at the moment for the Sonic games and Ecco, so this seemed an awesome alternative/solution.

After unboxing and setting it up, however, I realized that the SNES slot didn’t work. Switching it out at the store for a second copy wasn’t a hassle, but it speaks to the quality of the product. This is a somewhat complicated piece of technology from a less than big-name company, so it seems some corners were cut during production and/or design. Fair enough, I figured; once I had a fully functional unit on my hands I was appeased.

Now that I’ve sunk some solid time into the system though, I’ve come to a conclusion: if the wireless controllers are the biggest appeal for you in this package, you will be sorely disappointed should you purchase this system. Imagine Nintendo or Sega made a wireless controller for their system way back in the heydays of these systems – that thing would probably be a bit better than the pair of controllers that come with the Retron. I thought, “hey, I can sit on the couch and play some Genesis,” and found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the TV just like my five-year-old self.

A constant line of sight is required for the controllers to function, and from a relatively close distance too. Everytime my cat walked by, the signal was disrupted; hell, even when I tilted the controller idly I found it unresponsive. You might as well cross “wireless controllers” off the list of features or benefits on this package. I highly recommend using the original corded controllers – at least you don’t need to maintain an awkward hold to keep playing. To boot, swapping batteries is a pain, there’s no way to manually sync controllers to a system, and there’s no way to remap the buttons, which are particularly awkward on SNES games that utilize the shoulder buttons (ie. Super Metroid). 

But again, this is a small-time company we’re dealing with. It’s impressive that they put this system together at all, let alone with two wireless controllers (shoddy though they may be) for a fair price. Swapping between inputs is a breeze, and S-Video is a nice inclusion (for SNES and GEN only; NES games shit their pants when they try to output to that space-age technology).

When it comes down to it, I can overlook or work around the Retron 3’s flaws. Just heed my advice before you take the plunge: it’s worth your time to invest in at least one controller for each system, and to test all three system slots as soon as you get it set up to ensure they work properly. It’s not perfect for today’s completely wireless setups, but the novelty and convenience of having the three original great consoles in one device on one input on your TV truly is worth a little inconvenience.

[EDIT: Since I originally wrote this review, Hyperkin released the Retron 5, which appears to be leaps and bounds beyond the 3 – it plays the same systems’ games, as well as Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, Game Boy Advance, Famicom, and Super Famicom games. Its biggest selling point in my books is its HDMI compatability, which allows you to play original NES carts on modern TVs that don’t support old connections. There’s a new Home menu and improved (Bluetooth!) controllers, among other features. However, this model runs near $200 at many retailers, and the Retron 3 remains an affordable solution for many retro gamers. If you still have some original controllers and only care about 8- and 16-bit games, the Reton 3 may be the better choice.]

[Official page]

RATING: 3/5

Originally posted on Tumblr, 2013/08/04