Posted on August 13, 2014
Fight, Samus! For everlasting peace!
Thankfully, my lack of updates for the past week hasn’t been due to anything but me taking a nice trip down south. No, I didn’t travel to a sunny white beach or tropical island paradise or anything of the sort, but it certainly was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever taken.
And there were games… ohhh there were some nice games.
The whole purpose of the trip was our annual pilgrimage to northern Pennsylvania for a NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway, a tradition our family has looked forward to every year since 1995. While the race itself is undoubtedly the main attraction on these trips, there are many places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. where one can find a good deal on video games. Much better than here in New Brunswick, that’s for sure.
The top-loading “NES 2”
This wasn’t on my list of things to look for, but when I saw this thing on the shelf at Game-X-Change in Waterbury, CT (a chain of stores featured in The Game Chasers show on YouTube), I couldn’t pass it up. I’ll probably only use it seldomly, but it’s such an interesting piece of gaming history, and that dogbone controller is just so cool… that, and it works way better than the original NES did.
No blinking blue\red\green\garbled screen when you power it on!! Wow!
Blades of Steel (NES)
I got this game on the Wii’s Virtual Console, but the fact that it’s one of my favourite sports games on the NES meant that I couldn’t pass it up when I found it for $4. My friend Katie next door owned it (well, her father did) and I quite vividly remember LOVING not only the hockey itself, but also the little Gradius mini-game in-between periods.
Time for some 8-bit hockey tournaments with friends!
Pokémon Blue Version (Game Boy)
This is the only Pokémon game I’ve ever played, and I must say that I enjoyed it quite a bit back in the fall of 1998. It also served as my introduction to a new phenomenon called “emulation”.
Early in Grade 10, I asked my friend Tyler what this Pokémon craze was all about, and he showed up the next day with a floppy disk; “Put this in your computer, double-click on what’s in there, then have some fun.”
I couldn’t get over the fact that I was playing a Game Boy game so easily on a big screen. This was quite clearly not legal at all, but it was amazing!
I can completely understand how people of all ages get addicted to this series. By the end of that first night in front of my PC, I HAD to catch ’em all. I never did, since my obsession with all things Star Wars would take over a few weeks later with the release of the first trailer for The Phantom Menace.
Still, catching ’em all in Blue Version is on my bucket list.
Metroid Prime Hunters (DS)
I don’t know much about this game, other than the fact it was released pretty early in the DS’ lifespan. If the frustrating and cramp-inducing controls of Phantom Hourglass are any indication, I might not get on board with this one… still, it won’t hurt to give it a shot.
F-Zero GX (GameCube)
I”ve only ever played this briefly, but if it’s anything like F-Zero X on N64, I absolutely can’t wait to play it. Apparently, it’s quite a difficult game, but racing games are my thing.
Bring it on!!
Activision Anthology (PS2)
As I may have mentioned before, I love these compilation discs with all the old school titles on them. Capcom, Taito, Midway, Sega and Data East (to name a few) have all released at least one of these, and there are only a couple more of them on my wishlist…
I’m lookin’ at you, Tecmo Arcade Classics. You’re next!!!
Medal of Honor: Vanguard (PS2)
I had somewhat grown tired of the WWII shooter genre by the time this one came out. Still, I’ve always preferred the Medal of Honor series to Call of Duty, and when I found this one for cheap, I couldn’t help myself.
Medal of Honor: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox 360)
Speaking of cheap, this game is only a year old and was actually half the price of Vanguard‘s. I’ve heard it’s somewhat bad, but I’m sure it’s not *that* bad… is it????
Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition (Xbox 360)
I actually already owned this for PS3, but I decided a little while ago that owning a shooter on Sony’s console when it was also available on the Xbox 360 was a disgrace. The PS3 controller’s triggers are cushiony and feel incredibly cheap, so any action or driving game that makes heavy use of them can be quite frustrating because of it.
I haven’t even played Fallout 3 yet (like Mass Effect, I know I’ll enjoy it), but when I found this in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart, I couldn’t pass it up!
Surprisingly, I’d never really owned the NES version of this game. I mean, yeah, I have the Classic NES Series version on Game Boy Advance, and I was able to unlock the original on GameCube by beating both Prime and Fusion (I even bought the GBA-to-GC link cable especially for it, and haven’t used it since)… but that’s not really owning it the way it was meant to be owned.
At least, I don’t think it is. Metroid is an absolute classic, so when I saw it at Game-X-Change, I went for it.
The Hyperkin Retron 5
Here it is – the main reason (besides the race) that I was looking forward to my trip to the US.
It’s not like I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to buy this somewhere nearby. Moncton’s Spin-It! and Fredericton’s Geek Chic stores usually sell this sort of console, but usually at some crazy marked-up price to make a profit. The Retron 5 site and even ThinkGeek sell it as well, but then I’d have to pay for shipping.
Ugh, and having to make sure I was home – and wearing pants – when the package would be delivered was just too much. Finding one on store shelves – preferably at the $140 price tag they were selling it for online – was my goal.
At the Game-X-Change in Waterbury, I walked in and immediately zoned in on a Retron 5 box on the shelf. My excitement quickly turned to dismay as I read the sticker in the top-left corner of the box that said “DISPLAY ONLY”. I decided to just look around to see what I could find, and as you can see above, I did find a few good deals.
After I brought my games to the cashier, I saw that there was a Retron 5 hooked up to a TV behind the counter. Staff had apparently only set it up a day or two earlier to test games and give customers reassurance that the cartridges they were buying actually worked.
I didn’t push my luck, but I did start talking about being from Canada, how I was in the (general) area because of a NASCAR race, and that one of my goals was to find a Retron 5 of my own.
To my surprise, the clerk behind the counter said “I can sell you the demo unit I have, if you want it really badly. My boss said we should use it to test, but that if someone really wanted it, I could sell it to them.”
That had my attention, but what were they selling it at? After a quick price lookup, he nodded at me and said those magic numbers… $140.
I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe my luck! I ended up seeing the console twice more in other stores at $200, so to walk out of that place with a $140 Retron 5 is quite something.
The thing has its quirks, but it really is an amazing little console. I’ll let Pat the NES Punk lay it all on the line – his review was actually the one that sold me on it in the first place!
To top it all off, the race went off without a hitch. The forecast had called for rain pretty much every day there was something going on at the track, and since that happens pretty much every year, I decided not to let it get me down. I always worry that we’ll travel that far, spend an insane amount of money and time only to have it rain on race day. They usually just run it the next day, but that’s no fun – it also cuts into some serious game-chasing time!
Alas, it didn’t rain a drop on race day.
In any case, the race itself was quite entertaining, and I took video from the grandstands as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag. I also caught my reaction (which was just me being ridiculous) and then uploaded it to YouTube, thinking it’d get a couple views… to my great surprise, I got a Twitter message from a guy that worked at ESPN saying they were making a compilation video of people reacting to Dale Jr.’s win, and that they wanted my video!
So that’s about it! What an epic and unbelievable trip. I needed that, for sure.
Up next, I talk about one of the most polarizing games in Nintendo history!