Hey, this your biweekly host, Ben Buyer. Today we’re doing something a bit different, as my mother wrote this piece. So just sit forward, get kind of comfortable, and read.
I’m Ben Buyer’s financial backer, also known as his mom. Yes, I know, you’re thinking “his mother? Really?” If you think about it, however, every reader here has their own financial support system, so it’s no surprise that we, as the source of funding, have our own opinions on how our resources are allocated and are often party to the purchase of random items.
Some parents buy sports equipment. Some lessons. Some cars. Some, like me, research and find retro games and gaming systems. Why? Because, as my son frequently points out, “I have no life.” Actually, I do have a life, but the things that most mothers are interested in I find, well, not interesting. I have no purse collection, nor do I find jewelry shopping fun. What’s left? Finding thirty-year-old NES cartridges and the newest Steam box online.
Shopping for retro games and gaming systems can become something of an online pastime if it’s done correctly. I’ve noticed more and more people with their faces stuck in a phone or screen of sorts, and I often wonder what you do with all that time? Why is that interesting? As a teacher, I’ve polled my students, and they’ve admitted that even they run out of things to stare at online. And so, I suggest retro game shopping – the fun activity parents and teens can do together that doesn’t lead to bankruptcy, JUG, or some other horrendous fate. Retro gaming is safe, cheap, and nostalgic, especially for a lot of your parents. They were kids when these systems came out, by and large, and seeing these games brings back a sense of wonder. I often reflect on my hours at putt-putt mini-golf and games, glued to Galaga and Pac-Man (the Swillburger has it, and if you haven’t gone, I suggest you go). I also look back at the number of hours I spent flipping the Asteroids game on my Atari. It was an easier, happier time for all of us, and often makes parents more enthusiastic about requests for funding.
The question becomes, however, “How do I get retro games and play them without getting ripped off?”
There are many, many methods to do this, with the most notable of late being the sought after, but rarely found NES classic. It is, however, to me, an epic fail, as well as a source of frustration. However, all is not lost – if you like Japanese. The Japanese Famicom is identical to the NES classic with the exception of being entirely in Japanese. You can watch YouTube videos to figure it out, or maybe McQuaid will finally break down and add Japanese as an elective, and make playing the system some kind of messed up Rosetta Stone course, like learning Spanish from telenovelas.
There are similar plug-and-plays, ranging from the Atari Flashback to the Sega Plug ‘N Play. They all have pros and cons. We have the Sega, and it even plays cartridges. (I’m apparently slated to purchase Toejam and Earl for my husband because it was a favorite when he was a kid. Love, you’ll find when you get old, is a strange, strange thing. )
If you want to go to the cartridge route, you do have some current console options, too.
The Hyperkin RetroN 1- 5 are 5 different machines that allow you to play various cartridges, ranging from the NES to the Sega. We have the RetroN 3, and it does work well. However, there is also the Cyber Gadget Retro Freak. There are pros and cons to both. Just read the reviews. I’m not putting them in. This article is long enough as it is, and I promised the real author of this column chocolate chip cookies.
To buy games, there is really only one tried and true method: GameStop, but not the brick-and-mortar stores. They are not allowed to keep the old games. All pre-owned and vintage games end up online. There are games on Amazon, eBay and even Etsy, but they have to be checked for overpricing, condition, etc. Only GameStop is relatively cheap, and has a guarantee, along with free shipping. You can’t go wrong. The only failing they have, as far as I can see, is the lack of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker for Sega. In that game, Michael Jackson fights the zombies from Thriller, making it a much better game than the Wii’s Michael Jackson Experience. Anyone can dance, but not everyone can dance and fight zombies at the same time.
On that note, most moms can make cookies, but not all of them can write random articles for an online newspaper for high school students of the opposite gender. I got it out of my system, or systems, though. If the Morales wants me to move on to movies, books, musings about the evils of Nintendo, or alternative music from the 80s, or Blue Bloods (the best show on TV – ask anyone over 60) I’m in, but as for retro games, I’m out. Two weeks from now, you’ll probably be treated to a review of Mortal Kombat for the Game Boy. I just bought it. And if you’re a movie lover, watch Mortal Kombat, but not Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. That was just bad. Hopefully this article is slightly better.