This section’s not really about me, it’s about my history of collecting. Me? I was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga where I live to this day. I co-own and operate an art gallery called Beep Beep as well as a bar and restaurant called Mother. I have similar cultural obsessions about music, film & television, art, graffiti, sports, and some other stuff. For some reason though, the NES collecting has been the dominant one the last few years hence the creation of this site.
My sister and I got our Nintendo when I was five years old and I was psyched. By then all the other kids in the neighborhood had one (although many of my friends actually owned the Sega Master System instead, a system that deserves waaaay more shine than it gets), so I’d already played many of the big games like Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. As I mentioned in my Introduction section, we generally bought games no one else had because we had a lot of friends who also owned the NES so we didn’t want to duplicate games we figured we could just borrow. As such I ended up with some weird games like Solstice, Zen the Intergalactic Ninja, Power Blade, etc and it wasn’t until much later I picked up the more iconic stuff like Metroid or Contra.
As I got older and new systems like the Genesis and the Super Nintendo came along, my sister had lost interest in video games and my folks weren’t too excited to drop more money on all the hot newness of early nineties entertainment. As such I went over to my friend’s houses to play Sonic or Mario Kart and at home I kept playing my old NES. When those friends got tired of playing their new gadgets, they certainly didn’t want to play their now outdated NES games and thanks to their charity I was given a bunch of new (to me) games. Thus my collecting began. My parents had inadvertently cursed me by not giving into the pressure to buy me the new systems and in doing so put me on the path of acquiring tons and tons of retro crap in the future.
By the time I went to college in Boston I had about 50 games, most of which had been given to me for free. I went to school during the dawn of Napster, and within the first week on campus I saw a guy playing Mega Man 2 on his laptop and the world of roms was opened to me. Why bother collecting games when I could download all of them for free and play any game I wanted to? AND without going through the blow, slap, press down lightly ritual of trying to get my NES games to work on a TV?
When I moved home after college, I started to see a ton of NES games show up in thrift stores and I started to pick up games I’d heard of but never played like Ikari Warriors or Heavy Shreddin’. This was pre-Youtube era so there weren’t the bevy of reviews for crappy games like these so I was picking them up out of sheer curiosity (crappy is a little harsh for Heavy Shreddin’. Once you get into it it’s pretty fun and innovative albeit a bit clunky in the control department.) At that time, I wasn’t thinking much of it, I was just casually buying games I thought looked cool at a time when money was tight and I couldn’t just purchase indiscriminately.
Things really changed when I found the first top 100 list: Sydlexia’s Top 100 NES Games. There were a bunch of games on there I’d heard of but never played like Tecmo Super Bowl or Metal Gear and others I’d never heard of that sounded awesome. It’s because of this list that I found games like Crystalis and River City Ransom (which today are considered to be absolute NES classics) and they were way fun! I started picking up every game I hadn’t heard of that sounded cool, moving further and further down the list in search of more hidden gems. When I got up to around 200 games, my friends really started to notice and I would get questions like “Oh man, do you have Dr. Mario?” or “Do you remember Paperboy? I loved that game!” So I’d end up picking up games like Rad Racer and Pro Wrestling so that when we’d have parties everyone could play their favorite childhood game. Also around this time I got a Genesis and a Super Nintendo and started collecting for those systems by seeking out similar top 100 lists. The Genesis was pretty manageable cost-wise as far as acquiring the most popular or well received games for that console, but the Super Nintendo was way more expensive than even the NES. I got a few for that system and then returned to the NES obsession.
Around 300 games or so I figured I’d come this far why turn back now when there’s only 400 more to go? Once that mindset took over my collection became more organized, my time spent on Ebay more frequent. The stories I read online make it sound like people are constantly picking up retro games at stores and flea markets but my experience in Georgia has been pretty limited and probably 80% of my games came from Ebay. If I see games in stores now they’re always super common, in terrible shape, and waaaay overpriced. Ebay used to be pretty decent, but nowadays there are so many bidders. Almost every auction someone bids above the Buy It Now price which I’d never seen before and I’ve been using Ebay since 2000. I get that you really want that game dawg, but there’s another one for sale RIGHT NOW that’s $10 less than what you just paid. Thanks for continuing to drive up the prices homie!
When I created this site, I was determined to own all the games on the final list which led me to pick up all the Dragon Warriors (which unfortunately I cannot suffer through long enough to enjoy playing), Ice Climbers, Bucky O’Hare, Bomberman II, and others. But once I got Little Samson, I crossed the last threshold. Once I shelled out for a game I thought I’d never own because of it’s price and rarity, my resolve for completion was set and the countdown began. Lately I’ve been picking up all the garbage rare games people want but have never heard of and don’t play. Titles like Cowboy Kid, Color a Dinosaur, and Wayne’s World have been begrudgingly purchased and then immediately transferred to the game wall without even one play-through. The drive to play interesting uncommon games has now been replaced with trying to check off another title on the list. My friends who are heavy into vinyl share similar stories of buying rare records based on the artist or the label but only playing them once before adding them to the ever growing stack of music. Why do we do this to ourselves, it’s masochistic!
Is this interesting to anyone? If you’re in the same boat as me, then maybe but otherwise I’m not so sure. I tend to over analyze (WHAT?!?) and have for sure thought about why I’ve been so into this. If I had to breakdown why I collect NES games I’d summarize it thusly:
- I genuinely love playing the old games and have really enjoyed learning about them and the history of this groundbreaking entertainment console. I’ve unintentionally turned into an authority on the subject. Now I know how those hardcore Doctor Who fans feel.
- I’m probably over compensating for a lack of material possessions compared to my childhood friends. They all had tons of games and toys and now I’m the one with all the games…25 years later. Captain Cool Guy right here!
- I’ve always collected things from action figures and comics to records and books. The difference is that unlike those things, there are a finite amount of NES games. As such collecting all of them is something that can be accomplished whereas you could spend your whole life collecting comics and never own them all. It’s so much less abstract and thus so much more desirable.
- I like to share them with my friends. Most people I hang out with played these games growing up and it’s fun to have them over to play well known classics like Bubble Bobble and then throw in some obscure gem like S.C.A.T. Otherwise, I’d just be alone with my towering monolith of NES game shelves, staring at my collection lovingly, wondering if there’s any two-player games I can play by myself. And most of the time, that’s not the case 🙂
Anyway, that’s the general gist of it. Hopefully this won’t discourage anyone from playing or collecting these games. I’m almost at the end of the rainbow so it’s not like y’all buying games is gonna hurt me any. If anything sites like this or Youtube channel game reviews are only increasing the value of my collection. So go nuts why don’t ya! I’m just kidding, money’s definitely not the reason I collect NES games, just the thing I have to give away in order to do so 🙂