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Published on July 23rd, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor

5 Tips for the Broke Gamer Collecting Retro

What do you consider retro? Is it that stack of old SNES games sitting on your entertainment center? That batch of key PlayStation games stacked as trophies alongside your bookshelf? Whatever your treasure trove of gaming might hold, one thing that many appreciate is the thrill of the hunt or sinking your teeth into a great deal.

It’s always great telling your friends how you ended up with a killer deal from a rummage sale, or how that pawn shop by your house was practically giving away those Genesis games. It never ceases to amaze that older titles still surface in the most honest to goodness randomized locations, and I’m glad to have been in some of those spots.

While we can definitely understand your struggles in today’s economy, not everyone has a pocket full of gamer money waiting to be thrown at the next deal that comes about. We’ve got some hints that should aid in your ability to find-you-a-find, or bring in that eBay deal you’ve been hunting for.

Our first stop: online bidding sites.

1. Things to Know Before You Blow Your Online Dough

The first thing to know about eBay, or sites like these, is that—the seller is only going to get as much as someone is willing to pay for the item. It may sound silly, or even a bit derp-derp-derpington, but many peole think that they can throw any old item online and pull a breezy $5,000 for it.

Some easy tips for landing a good deal can be as simple as the following:

  • Seller Info: You may learn the hard way, but find out your seller’s information. Even though they may have positive feedback, read into them. Ensure they aren’t just spam nods that have been filling their ego with good faith.
  • Read the full description: If you don’t want to get duped by a dope, then make sure you don’t end up buying like one. Read full descriptions and watch out for things that sound too good to be true. Watch out for misspellings of console or game names as these can be implications of a fraud.
  • Scope the terrain: Even though an item might come up the first on your search list, you can often find a similar one that no one has bid on. Buy It Now’s can be great if you find an item dirt cheap, but they aren’t always the best deal.

2. Yard, Garage and Block Sales Are Your Friends

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? This couldn’t be any truer for those in the hunt for a good pick up. Garage sales often host the same stuff. Clothes here, plates/table ware there, and oh—what’s this—a random pile of electronics? This is usually one of my first go to places. Then it’s off to the CD’s/DVD/VHS movies/books. Just like any thrift store, people who don’t game retro won’t know the difference between a Genesis box and an old VHS box. The same goes for PlayStation/Dreamcast/etc. games that get mixed into the CD bins. Which leads me to the next tip. . . .

Check the cases: You never know what you are going to find. Is it the actually copy of the game? If it is, is it tore to all hell? Who knows what journey this game has been on or what unforsaken things that it might’ve seen. It might have been sliding around the truck bed of cousin Buford for months before reaching its final destination. Doing so can save you time, but even the possibility of dodging heartache from a purchase of an empty box.

Pawn shops aren’t the best places for retro, but they can offer deals. Most of the time you can locate more current games, usually at lower prices, but you won’t always find a good selection of retro. Just like big retailers out there, they’re in business for what makes them money.

3. Mom & Pop Shops, Toy & Record Stores Galore

These two places vary in style, but they share one thing: being home grown. You often find classic games hanging around your local gaming store, or crowding the back shelves of your local record store. Games here can run higher prices, but sometimes you can locate a good deal depending on the culture of the store. This also goes the same for Mom and Pop places.

These types of stores can range from inventory. More than likely, if they are surviving in our current economy, they are doing something right. They can be hidden in corners of town, but they usually have older titles laying around. If you can, find one that may house hard to find games and also dabbles in other such things to help your collection, such as this store here which sells booklets online. Not only do they have a huge selection of games, they can ship you instructions or cases to fix your current blemish.

4. It’s Not You, It’s Your Face…I Mean Case

Game cases can be a hassle. The outside may look like someone curb stomped the hell out of it, but the game is in great condition—you might find someone who deals in replacing these cosmetics as mentioned above. Even though you’ve been taught for years “not to judge a book by its cover,” it may be useful when browsing images online. Even so, replacing these can be a piece of cake and can upgrade the appearance of your collection. Heck, you might even increase the value of one you’ve been holding on for years.

If you currently own some titles in which you were looking to replace the cases/inserts for then check out this site here. They are a great stop for retro gaming, include a mailing list which promotes artwork and insert deals, and can get you what you are looking for without forking over some major funds.

5. Flea Markets/Swap Meets and Craigslist—A Love Triangle

Flea Markets, Swap Meets and Rummage sales are a retro hunters dream. One thing is for certain here, you’ll be doing a lot of surveying. What I mean by this is—you’ll probably end up sweeping the mounds of old sport games, piles of junk, or bin of movies to finally locate what you didn’t know you were looking for. This has often led me to find things like a Famicom console in working condition, or games like Parasite Eve for $4.00.

You get what you pay for, Save for a Gem

There is no doubt that you can find some retro game s for cheap. Although you might sweep up a dozen Nintendo 64 games off craigslist for mere pennies, were the games actually worth it? Don’t know what a games worth? If you’ve got a smart phone then I recommend quick references to apps like Shop Savvy, eBay, Amazon, and even theFind.com for cross-referencing gaming prices.

If you can’t find that certain something you were looking for in an inexpensive pricing slot, then it might be time to save. New condition older titles will run you some Benjamin’s, but they are most definitely worth it. It might take time to save, but you won’t be disappointed in finally bagging that trilogy or hard to find title you have been always wanting.

PSA: Do Your Loved Ones and Wallet a Favor….Don’t Drink and Buy

This last one is has a bit of honesty mixed with a bit of humor. Now, I’m not going to point any fingers or name any particular human beings, but numerous writers at GAMINGtruth who have retro collections have fallen victim to this obsessiveness. It’s easy to stagger online and immediately start clicking away at bargains galore. I mean, why not, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, the Kraken has been released and that copy of Double Dragon II for NES is complete in box for only $35.

That’s almost a full tank of gas, beer for a week, or enough for groceries. Don’t leave yourself open for those mishaps, unless you want to be surprised by a random package in the mail arriving three days later filled with a lot you purchased while inebriated.

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About the Author

I am Greg, aka LaWiiG. Thanks for coming to take a look around! Retro is the way to go! Do yourself a favor and show love by playing retro games.

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