Collecting for the Super Nintendo is a long and pricey road. It is the road that I have been traveling on for quite some time. It’s hard to imagine a time when I did not have access to a SNES at this point. When I began this endeavor, I had nothing to go on except a 25 game wish list and a will to complete it. At that moment I was simply trying to reconnect with my childhood by finding my favorites from that magical era, and had no idea that it would turn into my primary source of entertainment!
Looking back, I should have known better! With a library of over 700 games in the United States alone, many of them high quality, 25 was just not enough! So I kept going. I collected games, manuals, strategy guides and accessories along the way. And stories as well…
You cannot study and collect for a system for four years and not come away with some amazing experiences. Some are good, some are bad, and all of them taught me a little something. Life experiences and a good video game are similar in that it is not the end that makes it all worthwhile, but the journey getting there! Looking back on these five stories really takes me back to when my collection numbered in the tens instead of in the hundreds. I hope you enjoy these Tales From The Hunt as much as I did. I hope they are as informative to you as they were to me! Here We Go!!!
The Perfect Christmas
There is something just magical about this time of year. About a year ago I was thinking about the perfect Christmas gift for my Dad. I was initially going to go with the usual: An addition to his horror movie collection! (My Dad collects horror movies like I collect SNES games!). That was before he mentioned how much fun he was having playing games together like we used to…
It was at that moment that I hatched my plan: I would find three games from my youth that my Dad and I enjoyed. One for the NES, one for the SNES, and one for the N64. It would be my turn to do some Christmas game shopping! Now by this point I was a pro at finding retro games for good deals. Right away I was able to secure a copy of both Super C for the NES and Goldeneye for the N64 for good prices at my local Game Xchange. I had but one more game to find. Bassin’s Black Bass for the SNES.
This game in particular has special significance. My Dad would always rent it, but never got around to buying it, as it was 70 dollars. It was one of his favorite games of all time, and I had very fond memories of watching him play it in our living room. Good times…
Anyway, unless you have tried to find this game, you have NO idea how obscure it is. It NEVER appears in the wild, and it NEVER has any internet listings. No Ebay, no Amazon, nothing. The game is almost a ghost…
Of course I knew none of this when I began my search. I mean how hard could a FISHING game be to find? The answer turned out to be pretty damn hard! I started with the usual. Ebay, Amazon, Half.com, Craigslist. NADA!! I also made the rounds in the flea markets, game stores, and pawn shops. By this point, these guys knew me by name, a fact that really helps when you are searching for the rare stuff. I put out the word; I REALLY needed a copy of this game, and would pay a finders fee on top of the asking price to get it!!! This is usually as far as I have to go, as they all had my number and usually came through. About five days later I get a call from Andy, one of the owners of these businesses:
“Are you sure you don’t mean Super Black Bass?”
I told him I was positive.
“No one I talked to has ever even heard of the game. I don’t think there’s a single copy in the area. If there was, I would have found it. I’m sorry.”
My heart sunk, but I was as determined as ever. I contacted my big city finder and asked him to see what he could come up with. He told me he would call back in a few days. By this point it was the 14th of December and I was getting worried. I never leave anything to chance. So I kept checking back online and in the local stores while waiting for the call. And on the 17th of December, I struck gold!!
Listing: SNES Bassin’s Black Bass with Hank Parker Rare
Opening Bid: $2.00
Time Left: 2 Days, 3 hours
I thought I had it, but the next day when I checked it, the bidding price was up to $14.00!! I quickly put in my maximum, hoping it would hold them off.
My Bid: $25.00!!! That is a LOT of money for a fishing game. I went to bed confident. Surely no one would outbid that, right?
The next morning, I checked the auction, and my heart sunk. The bid was up to $26.50 with 7 hours remaining, and I had to go to work. I put in my final attempt of $28.00. Knowing I was going to lose, I went to get ready for work. But when I returned to the computer, I found a message in my Ebay inbox. It was from my rival bidder, and read as follows:
From Flagtoflag18: WHY DO U WANT THIS GAME SO BAD? R U A COLLECTOR?
My response: No, this is for a Christmas present for my Dad this year. We used to play it together all the time when I was a kid. Why do you ask?
His response: JUST CURIOUS
I remember going to work hoping my big city contact would come through for me, and cursing my rotten luck for having to work that day. But nothing could prepare me for what happened that night!
The first thing I did upon arriving home was check the auction. Imagine my surprise when it showed that I had won with a bid of 28 dollars plus the cost of expedited shipping!!! I logged into my account and paid immediately. I was ecstatic!!! It was only then that I noticed a message in my inbox:
From Flagtoflag18: MERRY CHRISTMAS
It was the perfect Christmas. We spent that whole afternoon playing the games we used to play all those years ago. I felt like I was ten years old again watching him play that fishing game. It is a memory I will never forget! I have since gotten my own copy of the game-how could I not? Every Christmas I think about the kindness of that one stranger who backed off a sure auction win so that a son could get his father the perfect Christmas present. Flagtoflag18, if you are reading this, THANK YOU…And MERRY CHRISTMAS
The Original 25
I still remember how I became re-acquainted with the SNES as if it were yesterday. It was a cool February day, and I was out looking for a good price on a Playstation 3. My Xbox 360 had just melted for the third time in a row, and I was determined to find a new alternative that would be more reliable. So on a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try Sony out. There was only one problem: They were $400.00!! Even though I still lived at home at this time, 400 dollars was just too much money! That was how I ended up at Recycled Records, a pawnshop specializing in old music, movies and games.
I walked in and noticed a refurbished PS3 behind the counter…$320.00. Still way too much for a full-time college student with a part-time job. The owner approached:
“Looking for a PS3?”, he asked.
I responded that I was not sure what I was looking for, and told him my long battle with Microsoft and their products. After telling him my story he laughed and said that he gets that a lot, and that Sony was not much better.
“What you need is a Super Nintendo!”, he exclaimed.
That shocked me! I had actually been thinking about buying one for a long time, but any time I had the urge to look for one they were sold out. At least at my local used game store.
Recycled Records had one…for thirty dollars. On top of that, It came with a copy of Super Mario World. It was like getting my old bundle again-16 years later!
I asked him if I could bring it back if it didn’t’ work.
“Don’t worry, it will. It will still be working in twenty years! They just don’t make em like they used to anymore”, he reassured.
Excited, I thanked him and hurried home to hook up my new treasure. The man did not lie; As soon as I popped in Super Mario World I heard the distinctive coin sound, and the game began. It was the moment I was reborn as a SNES fanatic. Yet Super Mario World would not be enough.
So I researched, pondered, and remembered all the games that I loved, as well as the games that I wanted, yet never played.
My first top 25 list was born, and I still have it to this day.
Now I just had to complete it.
Looking back, it strikes me as funny at how BAD I was at this collecting thing at first. The following list epitomizes that fact, as many of the cross-offs are a memory of a mistake, or an over-pay. Or both. My not-so-favorites include the following:
- Donkey Kong Country 2. This was the third game I crossed off the list, and it was an Amazon.com order. This experience made me learn that even a great tool like Amazon could become a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives us access to many games that would be hard to find in the wild. On the other hand, you cannot see the product, and have no clue who you are dealing with. Such was the case with this game. I paid $16.00 plus shipping for a product that came ten days AFTER the next game I ordered arrived. When it finally got here, the label was torn, and the save battery was loose and refused to record the game’s progress. I ended up re-buying it. Live and learn. (NOTE: To this day, this is my ONLY unsatisfactory experience with the sellers on Amazon)
- Super Punchout!!. This one came from a pawn shop. At this point I only had a few games left, and like in anything else, you get more desperate to finish the closer you get. I called the pawn shop for my usual (and looking back, annoying) weekly ritual of reading off my remaining list to the owner as he looked through the games. He had Super Punch Out for 18 bucks!! I was there in a flash, only to discover that the game was in HORRIFIC condition! There was even a cigarette burn on the label! He must have noticed my sudden apprehension. “You want it or not” came the snarl on the other side of the counter. I told him I did, and though I loved the game, it also would not save my progress. This was another one I would eventually re-buy.
That is not to say that these experiences were not without their good side. These stories taught me patience, caution, and forced me to establish standards for what I bought. And I am happy to say that aside from these boo-boos, the rest of the list filled up without a hitch! The best part off all was that I had more good memories than bad. Things like:
Finding Earthbound for $40.00 at a time when it was going for $80.00!!!
Ordering Chrono trigger as a cart-only for $35.00, and having it come with a manual!!
Getting Contra 3 as a surprise gift from my girlfriend!!
All of these and more made my first year returning to SNES gaming one of the best gaming memories of my life. Collecting these titles one by one was a blast. It was almost as if this first hunt enhanced the games themselves, and looking back, I find it pretty interesting that every game on my original top 25 will eventually find it’s way onto my 100 great games feature. I guess I had great taste even then.
The Terranigma Nail-Biter
2009 was the year that I discovered reproduction cartridges.
By that time, I had just about all of the North American Super Nintendo games on my list. So I began to turn my attention to the games that were only released overseas. The first game I committed to experiencing was Terranigma, which was released in every market but North America. That meant that I had two options: Either I could learn to speak Japanese, or I could spend the 400 or so dollars to get the means to play it in PAL format (200+ dollar cartridge, 50 dollar PAL SNES, and a converter: Ouch!).
Little did I know I was about to make a discovery that would open up a whole new sector of SNES gaming to me!!
While looking up games on Ebay I stumbled across something that made me doubt my sanity. It was a copy of Terranigma that played on a North American SNES! After messaging the seller to confirm my disbelief, and getting the answer I hoped for (that yes, it WOULD work on a North American SNES and in English) I promptly gave him the $80.00 asking price and the shipping. It was a glorious day!!!
That is, until five days later when there was still no word from the post office that the package had been processed.
I messaged the seller (who has asked to remain nameless) what gives? He calmly reassured me that Canadian post takes a little longer than the American post. He also mentioned he waited five days after payment to ship the game.
Perhaps I was just nervous, having spent more money on a single game than ever before, but I was on edge until I finally received confirmation of my packages shipment!
Over the next couple of days I watched as the package moved from Toronto to New Jersey with great anticipation, finally landing stateside on October 2, 2011. I happily assumed I would receive my package by week’s end.
One week later, and STILL no package.
I decided to check the tracking number again. It still had not left the New Jersey shipping center!
After contacting my seller to let him know what had happened, I called the Post Office to try and get a hold of the shipping center. They told me that it was a customs center, and that they had no way to contact them! I began to read internet comments on it, and became more and more distressed. And when the seller finally got back to me, the news was not good…
“Many people have a lot of problems with this operation, and it seems to function as a black hole that items never come out of. If you don’t receive item by the 27th, let me know and I’ll refund your money. Sorry about your troubles, and best of luck!”
So that was it. I would not be playing Terranigma on my SNES. With sadness in my heart, I waited for the 27th day since the order to request a refund. It was the 26th, and I would not be getting mail on the 27th, as it was a Sunday. Shaking off my depression, I went down to my Post Office to see if the package had arrived. Unfortunately, I would have to wait for the mail to arrive at my home, as I had come too late. (The mail had already been sorted for delivery.)
Knowing it was not going to arrive, I filled out my refund request and sent it to the seller.
IT CAME THAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everything about it oozed professionalism. The label was perfect, as was the Nintendo seal. It was like Terranigma had come stateside at long last! I popped the game into my system…
It worked perfectly. All that was left to do was inform the seller that I received the item! As much trouble and stress as this game caused me, I would do it again in a heartbeat! To this day it remains my favorite RPG on the system, and I would highly recommend it to anyone shooting for those harder to find games. You will not be disappointed! Luckily I have found a much closer (and cheaper) source for Repro games these days, so I have yet to buy from this particular seller again. But eventually I will have to. You see, he is the only man I know willing to do Star Ocean in English!!!! I only have one request when I finally come up with the cash to do that game…
DON’T SHIP IT THROUGH NEW JERSEY!!!!
Into The Vault
Have you ever seen the show Storage Wars? If you have, you should know that they really might be onto something.
About two years ago, I was doing my usual shtick: Checking the various SNES-related deals online. Sometimes you get nothing. And sometimes you get a whole lot. Sometimes you get what you expected and are able to cross yet another game off your list, and sometimes you get a surprise. This was one of the latter. A Craigslist posting for the contents of a storage lockup. The post was as follows:
“For sale: Contents of off-site storage. I can no longer afford the monthly fee and cannot bring contents back home. Need to sell ASAP! Storage contains various game magazines, newspapers from 1989-1998 along with many books. Asking for 65 dollars but negotiable.”
Reading between the lines, I immediately decided that there was a very good chance that there was some SNES-related reading in there, I made the call, hoping he had not already gotten a bite. He hadn’t.
I met him across the street from the lockup at a local Dairy Queen and he told me the details of the sale. Basically he had grown out of gaming and viewed the contents as junk, but he figured that there might be something of value to someone in there. I asked my first question:
“About how many game magazines are in there? I don’t really care about the rest of the stuff.”
He responded that about a third of the collection was gaming-related. Not a good start. Nevertheless, I pressed on.
“Would you be willing to open it up and let me take a look?”
No sell. At that point I was ready to cancel the deal, as it just seemed too dicey to me. What if there was only a few Super Nintendo items in there? What if there was nothing? Then it came to me; A stroke of genius that saved the deal. I reached into my wallet, pulled out fifty dollars and said:
“Here is my offer: If there’s anything I want in there, I’ve got fifty dollars that is yours to keep, along with ALL the newspapers, books, and VHS tapes. That means you can turn right around and sell it all again without the magazines. But I have to get a look in there, or the deal is off.”
We sat there for what seemed like forever.
“I need sixty”, he said.
I apologized and wished him a good day, but before I left he made me one more offer:
$55 if you keep anything, and you can look through it all.”
He had a deal! I waited with great anticipation as he unlocked the storage-and then I stepped into the SNES collector’s equivalent of King Tut’s Tomb!!! To this day I cannot believe that I almost passed this deal up!, I would have parted with 80 dollars for the treasures within! Among them include:
-A full set of Nintendo Power from 1993-1996, with not one issue missing in-between!
-The original Donkey Kong Country promotional VHS!
-Various Electronic Gaming Monthly issues (about 20)
-Nintendo Players Guides for Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country 1, 2, and 3, The Legend of Zelda: ALTTP, Super Mario World, and All-Stars!
-Various Hints and Tips Books!
-An Old Lawn Mower!
Needless to say, he got his 55 dollars, and I walked away from one of the most fulfilling transactions I was ever a part of! Proof positive that sometimes when you take a leap, you CAN land in a heap of gold!
Evo and Honesty
When I began collecting for the Super Nintendo, one of the games that intrigued me most was a little gem known as E.V.O: Search For Eden. Its unique premise and evolving game play made this a must have for me. Yet despite my interest there was a snag. The game’s price started at 70 dollars, way too much money for a cash-strapped college student! So even though I was dying to give this one a spin, it failed to make my initial SNES bucket list. Barring a great deal, ala my Earthbound find, it would have to wait.
I didn’t have to wait long for an opportunity to appear!
It was a warm spring afternoon, and finals were over for the day. It would only be one more day before I took my last test and ushered in another great summer of friends, family, and SNES! I did what I usually do whenever I got a free moment outside of school and work: I went over to Recycled Records to look for more SNES finds! After greeting the owner and being told that no, there were no new SNES games, I moseyed over to the SNES shelf.
It was the usual mix of disappointment. Sports games, copies of Mario All-Stars, E.V.O: Search For Eden…
Yup. There it was, not even priced or wrapped in plastic! Knowing that I didn’t possess the funds to purchase it, I decided to ask about it anyway. So I stood in line until the owner was finished with the guy ahead of me. He looked at the cart in my hand.
“You gonna pawn that?”, he said.
I froze as my confusion suddenly ended. HE THOUGHT IT WAS MINE!
At that point I could have played it cool, handed him the game, let him quote me a price-And then turn around and walk out the door!!!
……………………………………..But I didn’t.
“Actually, I found this on the shelf with no price. I was wondering how much you want for it”, I replied.
He took it and called his game guy, who told the shocked owner that they had put this game on Ebay three months ago, only to lose track of it in the store.
They had to call the guy who bought it and give him his money back!
No one knows how it got there. And now that they had the game, no one cared! The man who originally bought it was contacted, and they were able to make the sale 3 months later!
And as for me? Well, I walked out of there with a copy of Tecmo Super Bowl 3: Final Edition for my honesty. I know, I know, it’s a long way off from E.V.O.
As an addendum, I did finally get to play E.V.O. And I am happy to say that it is every bit as fun and interesting as I thought it would be. And now every time I break it out, I have a fond memory of a time when I could have done something to benefit myself, yet turned and instead benefited someone else. And that is worth more than any game.
A clear conscience is priceless
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