Video Game Collecting: Tips and advice

This is going to be a quick article. I am going to write up a list of each game console, retro to modern, with a summary of what is the best approach to take when it comes to collecting for or gaming on these different platforms. I will try to cover as many game systems as possible while mostly sticking to the stuff I am familiar with. Here goes. I am mostly going to focus on the systems I intend to collect and my path I wish to take to get there, or those consoles I already have and an update on my current collection.

First up the Atari

The most common Atari system is the original Atari 2600, also known as the VCS, or Video Computer System. It’s what man of us consider to be our first game console experience. My current interest is in eventually picking up an Atari system and getting games, money and space dictate that I simply focus on getting the right games for the right money. As such I have picked up a few retro compilations that I consider to be key elements to a good Atari collection. The first is the Atari Anthology for PS2. It features over 40 games, maybe more I don’t know the exact number. It includes most of the Atari produced 1st party games and a few arcade games from the period as well. My second compilation is the Activision Anthology. I happen to have both the PS2 and Windows PC versions. There aren’t many differences but I just have them both because I picked one up cheap and got the other also very cheap. I also have the PS1 version of both of these collections but they also don’t offer any thing new.

If you are just starting out and all you want is to relive some of your classic Atari memories then I do recommend checking out these collections. They are available on other systems but PS2 and PC are the two most common and are very cheap.

As far as collecting physical Atari systems, the classic 2600 can be had for a reasonable price and the games are super cheap, even the rarest games aren’t a ton of money. The problem is when you get into later systems. I won’t go into those here just suffice it to say the best solution for getting a good Atari fix right now, aside from emulators of course, is to grab those two compilations. If you want to take it a step further and grab some additional 3rd party games the Namco Museum and Midway Arcade Treasures both feature a lot of games that were ported to the Atari so in a way that almost counts. If you are fine with that as well then I certainly suggest doing that. I currently have Namco Museum for PS2 as well as Midways Arcade Treasures 1 and 2 for PS2. All in all I think this method offers a pretty good entry point for the retro Atari gamer to get their fix without spending too much money.

NES

Currently I do not have any plans to pick up an original NES console. Mainly due to money, the games are just super expensive. But also because of space limitations, I don’t have room to store a ton of physical carts right now. For me, and I would think many collectors and gamers on a tight budget, I am mostly getting my NES games via the Virtual Console. I currently own a Wii, Wii U and Switch so I am able to get all of the Virtual Console games available on those systems. Switch only has Neo Geo at the moment but they are still some good games for a fair price all things considered. I don’t currently own a 3DS so  can’t comment on the Virtual Console on that system, but I can say that it does appear to be pretty robust.

The main reason why I think Virtual Console is the best route right now is because for the most part all the really good, playable games people want are on the service, aside from a few of the licensed games. Additionally they are very reasonably priced. For the most part prices are uniform with exceptions being for import titles. Other than that you can pick up all the best, most iconic NES games right there for just a few dollars each, some of these are significant savings over the physical games. As my budget increases I do eventually plan on getting back into NES gaming, but for now I suggest sticking to Virtual Console as much as possible due to the inflated prices of retro NES games.

SNES

For the most part SNES suffers from the same issues that the NES does, the best games being over priced for what you get. But also the system itself is outrageously over priced even considering all the different clones out there. But there is a little alternative to just Virtual Console that does also work slightly for the NES in some respects, that is the Game Boy line, especially the Game Boy Advance. With a GBA and even GB and Game Boy Color it is possible to pick up many of the same games, usually with just slight graphical downgrades or color compromises, and the best part is they are typically much cheaper than their SNES and NES counterparts with the added bonus of being playable on  the go. Right now I do happen to have a GBA and I am really putting most of the emphasis on my collecting on getting Game Boy games. I also pick up quite a few SNES games on the Virtual Console service and thanks to the Wii I also have Super Mario All Stars and Kirby’s Dream Collection that offers a decent assortment of Mario and Kirby games some from the SNES catalog.

Sega Genesis

Right now there are a ton of ways to get into Sega collecting. Fortunately the system is still fairly cheap compared to SNES. Also the games, even the really good ones, are still pretty decent priced as well. The downside is with many of them on Steam, PSN, and Virtual Console, not to mention the arcade compilations that make so many of the actual Genesis ports obsolete, it’s hard to justify buying a Sega Genesis at the moment. I suppose eventually I will have to get one due to nostalgia but for now I will stick to a handful of collections that I have and the Virtual Console, which really is a life saver when it comes to retro gaming. I currently have the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection on PS3, the Sega Classics Collection on Steam, and a couple dozen Sega Genesis games on Wii Virtual Console. Not to mention classics like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Samurai Shodown, and many other arcade favorites are on their respective compilations. I have the SNK Arcade classics collection, Mortal Kombat Kollection on PSN, Midways Arcade Treasures 1 and 2, all of the different Capcom arcade collections including the various Street Fighter ones, so to be honest that doesn’t really leave much exclusive content on the physical Genesis left. I might have to pick one up for the Sega CD content eventually who knows.

PS1

I don’t currently own a PS1 console but I do have two pieces of compatible hardware. The PS2 is compatible with PS1 games as is the PS3 which I have both. The good news about the PS3 is the PSN store also has a ton of the really rare classics for dirt cheap also. SO despite them being expensive as hell for physical copies, I have most of the really good rare titles on PS3 PS1 Classics including all the Final Fantasy stuff on the store. As I don’t need a physical PS1 system either I will pretty much be sticking to just games. Although I am focusing on getting Greatest Hits versions if I do get physical, I am mostly focused on the digital downloads as they are just so much cheaper.

Sega Saturn

Forget it. I will be blunt I had one of these things years ago, before the gaming collecting bubble took over and prices became inflated. Even back then it was next to impossible to even find Saturn stuff and if you did it was usually sports or if it wasn’t sports it was always over priced. Even my local game store that has MK Trilogy for PS1 for under $15 is asking for $99 for the same game on Saturn. No thank you!

Dreamcast

I am not going to lie, I have never own a Sega Dreamcast. Currently I don’t really see a lot of reasons to either. Many of the good games were also on PS1/PS2 and some were also on the PC or Xbox and for the most part many have also been ported to Steam or even PSN store so seriously I am just not finding much of a reason to pick one up either.

I know this sounds a lot like all the stuff I don’t want to buy but it really will focus on the stuff I want, just keep reading.

N64

This is a console I am torn on. I had one when they are current, not new but still sold in stores. I enjoyed many of the games but the reality is, most of the 3rd party games are also on PS1 and often times they are cheaper, and usually, but not always, better. So for the most part if a game is on N64 and PS1 I will just get it on PS1, that was how I did it back in the day anyways. But then there is the 1st party stuff, most of which is also, no surprise, on the Virtual Console. Not everything is but I have discovered, yet again, that here is another system that due to all of these factors that aside from just wanting to own one, I can’t justify the price for the handful of true exclusives left due to the price they fetch.

PS2-GameCube-Xbox era

I have all three, in one way or another. I have an actual PS2 and an actual Xbox plus I have a Wii which acts as my Game Cube device. The way I tend to collect these games is convoluted but I will try to address it. First priority is price. I look for whichever system version is cheapest. Sometimes the Game Cube one is cheaper, although this is rare it does happen, sometimes the Xbox one is the cheapest and in most cases the PS2 is the cheapest due largely to the massive sales and popularity of the console. Also fortunately many of the high profile PS2-era games have either been re-released on PSN as PS2 Classics, or for PS3 as HD-Remakes. I currently own all but two HD remakes, the two I don’t have are the ICO one and the Silent Hill one. I have all the others. So when it comes to third party multiplatform games I favor whichever one is cheapest, unless that particular game is console defining, for example Resident Evil 4 might be cheaper on PS2 its superior on Game Cube and a defining game for the system. But it doesn’t matter as I have the HD remake anyways so a better example would be Harvest Moon A Wonderful Life. The PS2 is superior in some ways but the Game Cube is the definitive versions, not just because it is the one I played, but also because of the sequel and the GBA connectivity, so I have that game on Game Cube.

As far as 1st party exclusives well duh I get those on their respective systems, except I do tend to favor either HD remakes or digital copies such as Virtual Console and eShop or PSN wherever possible. That means since I have Twilight Princess HD and Wind Waker HD on Wii U, there is no need for me to get either of those on Game Cube, or even Wii for that matter in the case of TP.

Wii

Speaking of Wii this is also complicated. Since I have a Wii and a Wii U I consider my Wii U my true Wii console and my real Wii console is just a Game Cube. For this reason I favor the digital releases on Wii U wherever possible with a few exceptions. Now as far as Wii goes my formula is simple but it can be tricky. A game has to tick all 3 boxes before I get it on Wii. First it has to be a game I am interested in, none of that shovelware crap or motion control stuff. Second, motion controls have to be optional in most cases, so for a game that is on both Wii and PS2 if its motion controls only on Wii and it is a game I want I will just get it on PS2. If it is traditional controls only or optional, motion controls optional in other words, and its in good shape then I pick whichever one is cheaper. If a game is on both Wii and PS3 however I don’t even consider the Wii version as existing so my Wii collecting focuses on these rare true Wii exclusives and a select PS2 ports that are not motion controls only.

Wii U

Needless to say I am what you call basically done with Wii U. My rules are true exclusives only or HD remakes on a few cases. So that means if a game was a 3rd party port to Wii U from PS3 or something else, I don’t bother with Wii U versions at all, period. Now a game like Super Mario Kart 8 which I do not currently own, is coming to Switch so I will likely get it on Switch and ignore the Wii U version. In most cases I favor digital over physical because pricing and because I got my Wii U when they still had that digital promotion going so every game I bought gave me points to trade in for more games so I got a lot of digital games and usually spent the points when games were on sale to get the most out of my money. This is kind of the simplest machine to collect for because it really doesn’t have a lot of true exclusives when it comes to physical games.

Ps4.

Right now I am not exactly collecting for the PS4. It is my second-most current console so I will pick up games as I go along but my focus is really just on getting the games that come out that interest me as I go along. This mostly is a lot of retro stuff as that is where my interest lies.

I don’t have an Xbox 360 or an Xbox 1. I don’t really see the need, I have a PS3, PS4, Wii U, Switch and Windows gaming PC with a Steam Account, that really doesn’t leave much to get on 360 o2 X1. Truth be told I am sort of tempted to get a 360 just to own one and grab a few games like Crackdown and some others, but I am not sure if that will be a priority for me.

PSP

TO be honest this is most likely going to be my next console purchase. I have been looking at the games for a while and I think there are enough to justify it. Also because I already own so many PS1, PS2 and PS3 digital games on the PSN Store I could get a PSP and already have almost a hundred different games to play on it without having to spend any money on games. Also it plays movies and music so there is that as well.

That is pretty much everything I am currently focused on. I am nearly caught up with compilations and I only have a couple dozen Virtual Console games left to buy so once I exhaust those options and build up the libraries on existing hardware then I will consider buying a new system. I also just got a Switch last month that I need to get a few more games for as soon as they come out. I am especially interested in Arms, Sonic Mania, Ultimate SF 2, and Super Mario Odyssey.

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