Thursday, January 2, 2014

I picked the wrong time to start sniffing glue- er, collecting 16-bit games

Hey, dudes and dudettes! I'd like to apologize for my extended absence... shortly after my last post, I was socked with pancreatitus, a nasty, occasionally fatal disease that wrecks havoc with your lower digestive system. The symptoms of the disease had been there for years, but doctors had dismissed it as acid reflux or gastritus. Luckily, once the pain had reached its apex, I was taken to a better hospital, and they gave me a proper diagnosis. Two months of convalescence, another two months of rehabilitation, and countless pills later, I'm nearly back to normal, albeit with a pancreatic drain hanging from my gut. And, uh, $100,000 in medical bills. America... the best health care ungodly amounts of money can buy! (What, me bitter?)

Anyway, now that I've mostly recovered and my appetite for gaming has returned, it seems like the right time to start blogging again. My comeback was inspired by some of the big names in the business; guys like the anonymous editor of VGJunk and The Gay Gamer's impossibly cordial Bryan Ochalla. Beyond that, I need to sharpen up my writing skills, because lord knows I wasn't getting that practice when I was in the hospital for all those months.

So, let me get those of you who are just joining caught up. Last August, I'd gotten a Sega Genesis in the mail, along with a stack of games... most good, a few less so, and one OH GOD THE HUMANITY. After encasing Heavy Nova in concrete and burying it in a radioactive waste dump where it belongs, I set out to strengthen my rather anemic library of Genesis games. That... has not gone so well. The thrift stores in the Mount Pleasant area, which used to be a rich source of 16-bit software, have all been cleaned out in the five years since I lived there, leaving me with this...

Image courtesy of

...and dozens of cartridges just like it. You'll note the unusual shape and the yellow tab along the side... that's your warning that the game in question is by Electronic Arts, and is likely one of the company's throwaway sports titles. These games aren't bad, exactly, but they're not nearly as exciting as the system's finer moments. Moreover, from a collector's standpoint, they're damned near worthless, engineered to be antiquated the moment a new game in the series is released. You can't even use the cartridges as shells for reproductions, homebrew games, or flash cartridges, because they clash with standard Genesis carts and the yellow tabs get in the way of any modifications you'd want to make.

In short, I don't want these. NOBODY wants these, which is why they're in abundant supply in nearly every pawn shop, thrift shop, and consignment shop you visit. They'd be easy enough to ignore if there were something, anything else to buy, but it's all vanished, apparently looted by "Sumguys" and speculators. The story's the same everywhere you go, and the grass is no greener on the Super Nintendo side of the fence. It's hugely aggravating, especially when you consider that all the good stuff was there just five years ago. In 2009, you could find everything from Target Earth to Alisia Dragoon in the wild. This year, I found a lonely copy of Midway Arcade's Greatest Hits hidden in the detritus of EA's sports games, and I felt damned grateful for the opportunity. Maybe things are different elsewhere, but from what I've heard from other collectors, I kind of doubt it.


  1. Wow, I had no idea you recently went through what you went through! I'm glad to hear you're on the mend, though. Is this something you're going to have to deal with--and medicate, etc.--for the rest of your life, or should you be in the clear now? Regardless, best of luck to you.

    Also, thanks for the kind words about myself and my blog. I'm glad I could be even a smidge of an inspiration to you and I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future :)

    I can't speak to to focus of the second half of this post, by the way, as it's been ages since I've ventured into a used game store--well, aside from the awesome Pink Gorilla stores here in Seattle, which are quite different from your typical GameStop, etc.

    Mainly, that's because I gave up on them long ago in favor of eBay and the like. Sadly, that's probably where you're going to have to go if you want to find copies of Alisia Dragoon, etc., these days.

    1. Well, I won't be needing an iron lung or anything like that. However, since they took out my gall bladder, I will have to make some lifestyle changes. For instance, I can't digest fatty foods very well; if I ignore common sense and eat them anyway, I can expect a lengthy vacation in the bathroom a few hours later. Alcohol is straight out, but that vice has always been more trouble than it's worth anyway. (Besides, if I've lived this long without Zima, I can live without the rest of the stuff.)

      The worst of the illness is over, thankfully. Even after I came home from the hospital, I had an IV in one arm and had to take megadoses of antibiotics for a couple of months to stave off infection, but that's all in the past now. Once the drain is gone, I'll be pretty much back to normal. (One benefit of this ordeal is that I lost a lot of weight, but it's a crash diet I wouldn't recommend to anyone!)

      I've heard of Pink Godzilla/Gorilla, and it sounds like a fun place to visit... but also an expensive place to shop for games! Maybe I'll pop by the web site later today to press my face up against the virtual glass and drool at their inventory.

      I could probably live with eBay or Amazon for all my retro game shopping needs. That approach lacks the thrill of the hunt, but at least you can get exactly what you want and have it delivered straight to you. Plus, there are always garage sales once the weather clears up!

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