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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Guide to Nintendo 64 Blockbuster Exclusives

Remember Blockbuster? That movie and game rental store from all of our childhoods that was recently bankrupted by RedBox and Netflix? Yeah, that’s the store I’m talking about.

Blockbuster peaked in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s at around the time that the N64 also peaked. Nintendo worked with Blockbuster to create Blockbuster-only games. This literally meant you could only rent the game, never buy it except when it was thrown in the bargain bin after it had been rented-out a hundred times.

These N64 games are unique, a few of them are rare, and they are all collectible. A game that is any sort of "exclusive" means that there is a special value to it. These games could only be obtained in a limited way and games with an interesting story behind them are always going to be worth more to collectors and emerging "video game historians".

It is very hard to find these games complete with box and manual as they were often put on the shelves as display and absolutely destroyed by kids in the stores. Complete copies can often go for two to three times as much as just the cartridge alone.

Clayfighter 63 1/3: Sculptor's Cut

Blockbuster ExclusivesCart: $65 | Complete: $900 | See Current Prices

Sculptor's Cut is probably the rarest N64 game. It was released early on in the N64 life span. This version was improved from the original by adding 4 extra characters. These extra characters were added at the expense of cutting several of the other characters' special moves. Even though it is an "improvement", Sculptor's Cut was released largely unfinished. Some people estimate that as few as 20,000 copies of this game were released.

Stunt Racer

Cart: $25 | Complete: $150 | See Current Prices

Stunt Racer is different from other Blockbuster exclusives because it is actually a very good game. It is fun, it is fast, it is pretty. It is also hard to get ahold of, especially with the original box and manual.

Transformers: Beast Wars Transmetals

Cart: $20 | Complete: $60 | See Current Prices

Initially Transformers was a only available via rental but due to poor performance in the rental only business it was re-released in standard retail stores. It is a 3D fighting game. The game featured 8 characters and 5 secret characters from the Transformers universe.

NFL Blitz Special Edition

Blockbuster Nintendo 64Cart: $5 | Complete: $70 | See Current Prices

Blitz Special Edition is identical to the normal version but had updated rosters, schedules, and uniforms.

Razor Freestyle Scooter

Blockbuster N64 GamesCart: $5 | Complete: $20 | See Current Prices

Only the N64 edition of Razor is a Blockbuster exclusive. It was extremely mediocre and sold (rented) so poorly you can still buy sealed copies. This is due to Blockbuster's "Guaranteed to Be There" marketing strategy. Blockbuster overestimated the demand for a crappy Tony Hawk knock-off. So it was severely overstocked

International Track & Field 2000

Cart: $3 | Complete: $10 | See Current Prices

This is one of the few games where the rental only aspect was a good choice. Most of the mini-games in this one were short, fun, and brutal. This is the kind of game you rented once to play, then you got sick and tired of the button-mashing and you never wanted to play it again. Hence, a great game for a rental.

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine [Limited Exclusive]

Blockbuster Video GamesCart: $20 | Complete: $40 | See Current Prices

Developed and published by LucasArts originally for Windows 95 and 98 it was ported to the N64 afterwards. Praised for good graphics and great story it was rendered nearly unplayable by awful controls. The idea to make it Blockbuster exclusive was LucasArts and they seemed happy about it. It was also available for sale through LucasArts website.

Daikatana [Limited Exclusive]

N64 DakiatanaCart: $18 | Complete: $25 | See Current Prices

This was a port from PC that fell short. The gameplay was ok and so were the graphics. As a rental only, it didn’t do as well as planned so it was later published and stocked in other retail locations.

Read our guide to the Rarest and Most Expensive N64 Games

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Find Great Video Games Deals

Video game collecting can be an expensive hobby as you add to your collection and find new games you want to buy. But there are ways to save money and find some amazing deals. Each location you might find games has its own secrets for finding fantastic prices. Below are insider tips and secrets to finding great deals on video games no matter where you shop.

eBay

eBay is probably the largest market for video game collectors because there are millions of users, a large number of listings, and lots of unique and rare items for sale on a regular basis.

Use Saved Searches

eBay offers a feature called Saved Search where they allow you to search for something on their site and have eBay notify you whenever items matching that search come up for sale. You can use them to buy games at below market prices before others can snap them up.

For example, you save a search for "Earthbound Super Nintendo". A seller doesn't know exactly what they have so they list it for $50. You get an email from eBay notifying you of the sale and can buy the game, hopefully before anyone else sees it.

Buy Items with "Bad" Listings

Some sellers use "bad" listing techniques when listing their items. You can take advantage of this by bidding on these auctions. In general, you will get a much better price on these listings then "good" listings because fewer people will find them and bid against you.

Things to look for are: short titles, no picture, or mis-categorized listings. The example to the left used the title "Playstation 1 Lot". It didn't mention the number of games, or even use "games" in the title. The listing had about 100 games in it including Tomba and several sealed games. To learn how to find these "bad" listings read below.

Find "Hidden" Gems with Keywords & Images

The "bad" listings can be hidden gems for the people who do find them. To find them use these three tactics:

Search "Games" & "Lot": Use the system you are looking for with "games" or "lot" added on the end, ie "super nintendo games" or "gamecube lot". This will bring up listings with lots of games. If you are just starting a collection this is the fastest and cheapest way to jump into a new console.

Search in Description: Don't search just the titles, search the descriptions too. Rare video games might not be listed in the title if there are multiple games included. The classic example of this is a woman who listed an "NES-001 with 5 games" not realizing one of them was a boxed Stadium Events. Searching by description would have found this auction and other gems.

Look at Images: Some sellers selling large game lots won't go to the trouble of listing every game individually. Instead they just take a picture and buyers have to look at the individual games. These games won't show up on any searches but every now and then you can find a great game that others will never notice.

Goodwill/Thrift Stores

Most people do not know what their video games are worth so they are often given away to Goodwill or other thrift stores. The employees won't always know what they have either. You can use this to your advantage and find some great deals with a bit of effort.

Look in Music Section for Disc Games

Many Goodwill worker think these items are the same thing, a music CD. Because of this you can often find PS1, Dreamcast, and PC games in the music sections of thrift stores. They will usually be priced like music too with $0.50-2.00 price tags.

Look in VHS Section for Cartridges

Just like CD's above, most NES or SNES games with the original case look like VHS cases. You can sometimes find complete, classic games for $1 in the VHS section.

It only takes a minute or two to rummage through the stacks, but could be worth hundreds of dollars depending on which games you find.

Craigslist

Craigslist takes a lot of time hard work on your computer to find the best prices and rare games. You are much more likely to find a rare item at an amazing price on Craigslist then you are on eBay though.

Search by Gaming Keyword

Don't just search Craigslist by generic keywords like "video games". Use "video games" but also search with other terms like "Nintendo", "Playstation", "Game Boy", "Xbox", etc. Sellers will use different terms when referring to their items and often times will have no idea what it is but remember their kids referring to it as "playing Nintendo".

Contact Garage Sale People Before Sale Starts

Craigslist will usually have hundreds of garage sales every weekend in a large city. Most of these garage sales will be listed a day or two prior to the date the garage sale actually starts. If someone says they have video games for sale send them an email asking if they will sell it to you before the sale starts. Most people will be more than happy to start clearing out their closets before the official start date.

Be Willing to Buy Game Lots to Save

The best deals will be from purchases of video game lots with 10+ games. Be willing to buy a whole bundle of games for the one or two that you actually want. Then sell the other stuff on eBay or put it back on craigslist yourself. Sometimes you can even make a bit of money with this method if you are willing to put in the effort required to sell pieces individually.

Flea Markets & Garage Sales

Flea Markets and garage sales will usually have some gaming items thrown in with the other nik-naks. The sellers are less likely to price out their items, especially at garage sales, so good deals can be fairly easy to find.

Bring Pricing Data with You

You never know what games you might find at a flea market or garage sale and unless you've memorized current prices for 26,000 games it is helpful to use a mobile tool to price the items you find. Our website has a mobile version, which lets you price out items on the go. You can even use a barcode scanner to speed up the process.

Negotiate on Price

Like going to some international bizarre, the price quoted is not the price you should pay. Everything should be negotiated down. If you see a game that seems reasonably priced at the list price, negotiate the seller down and you can get a good deal.

Many flea market sellers will knock off 25-30% without much of a fight and most garage sale people just want to get rid of junk. Offer to buy all their game stuff at once and many people will take you up on it.

Pawn Shops

Pawn shops come in all types ranging from huge national chains with online prices for almost every item, to small independent chains with no expertise in games at all.

Try Different Stores

Find a list of pawn shops nearby using Google Maps or similar services. They usually group together in pockets, which makes this easier. Visit as many of the shops as possible and see which ones have the types of games you want, which have decent prices, and which are willing to negotiate.

In my experience, chain pawn shops are less likely to carry older titles and they usually subscribe to services that will tell them how much games are worth. But many independent pawn shops will not. Independents are usually the best bet.

Come Back to the Best Shops Regularly

Once you find the pawn shop that has good deals and decent selection of games , continue to come back on a regular basis. If you found a great deal before, it probably means this shop doesn't know exactly what they are selling and you can find more deals in the future.



Good luck shopping for games! Please let us know in the comments below if you use any of these tips to find a sweet deal.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Zombies at E3 2012

You might remember that a year ago, at E3 2011, Ubisoft showed their unique game Killer Freaks From Outer Space. They showed the multiplayer where one player was playing the level and another one, holding the tablet controller, would spawn enemy freaks around the map. At this year's E3, the game had evolved in something completely new and, at least for me, unexpected : ZombiU! I got the chance to talk to one of the head developer and he shared some interesting info.


Ubisoft wanted to use the new controller as much as possible and in focus groups, people had a hard time looking at both screens effectively because of the fast paced gameplay. They needed to slow the game down to give the players time to check both screens and understand what was happening. With slower enemies and fast action came the idea for zombies and the game became more of a survival horror.

Gameplay

ZombiU is a step in the right direction for the survival horror genre that is leaning more toward action nowadays. In this game, you take it slow, you have to avoid being noisy and you need to conserve ammunition. I found myself shooting the zombies in the knees and then smashing there heads with my boot. The zombies will slash at you and eventually try to bite. Being true to the zombie genre, if you get bit, you die. The interesting part is what follows when you die. You'll come back as a new survivor of this apocalypse and go back to your mission. Once you get back to where you died, you'll come face to face with your old player now turned zombie and, by killing it, you'll be able to get back your stuff.

The game plays well thanks to the WiiU tablet that is thoughtfully used. There's a map of your surrounding that you can quickly check by looking down and spot nearby zombies represented by red dots. Your inventory is always one touch away but beware, the game won't pause and you might get attacked. The tablet is also used to snipe with a crossbow and scan around you to find ammunition and items. You literally scan around you in real life, looking at your controller, no need to face the television for that. There's a small learning curve to get used to the two screens but once you get comfortable, it's great way to play and can also help to convey the sense of horror.

Graphics and Sounds

The graphics were really good, the models interesting and the places we visited were well rendered. Everything was believable. Some people will be happy to know that the game is also pretty gory. You'll squash a lot of zombie heads and your weapons will become covered in blood pretty quickly if you kill those  pesky undead when they're near.


Sound effects were nice and worked at setting the mood and giving tension. The guy from Ubisoft made sure we had the headphones on when we played to catch every details, especially when we scanned a certain zombie that screamed in our ears to make us jump. It's a cheap scare tactic but it still made me smile.

Overall

This is a game that I'm definitely interested to get at launch, the game as a lot of potential so every horror game fan should keep an eye on it. They confirmed me that it's supposed to be a launch title and that they are working close with Nintendo to deliver something great. I can't wait to be a survivor in this apocalypse and play with the tablet again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Updated Rare Game Boy Article

We've updated our rare Game Boy game article with descriptions of all 15 rare games and what makes them so expensive.

See if you can guess which game is the most expensive in used condition.
Which game is the most expensive ever sold in new condition?
And which popular series has two games in the list?

Read the updated Game Boy article and see if you knew the answers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Surprise From the North


Yes, we all want to see the Marios, the Zeldas and the Pikmins but if you look around, you can stumble upon nice little games. I found this little gem courtesy of FrozenByte from Helsinki, Finland. I'd never heard of Trine 2 nor Trine 1 before so I had no idea what I was getting into. Trine 2 : Director's Cut, as it turns out, might be a very solid downloadable game for WiiU when the system is up and running.

Trine 2 was apparently the only downloadable game for WiiU on the show floor. It's a bright and colorful sidescrolling action/platformer in which you play as three completely different characters, altering between them with a single button press. This version is built with the WiiU controller in mind. One of the developer that I got to talk to told me that this is the definitive Trine 2 experience.

Graphics

The colors in the game are beautiful and the lightning makes it all come alive. In the first level that I played, you ran across a luxurious forest filled with growing vines and giant mushrooms. You then went through a cave to end up being ambushed by little trolls. After the bright forest, I played a sunny desert level that led me into a crypt. The graphics were bright, crisp and complimented by great animations. Everything was fluid in my playthrough  and I kept looking at the background and the small details. The art direction makes this game a treat to look at.

Gameplay

The main gameplay twist in Trine 2 is the three main characters, each having their own strength and abilities. The wizard can use telekinesis and draw magical bridge or boxes. The Warrior can charge, block, float with his shield and attack with either a flaming sword or a heavy hammer. Last but not least, the thief uses two kinds of arrows, can grapple with a hookshot and can create a bubble that slows time. Jumping inside this bubble propels you way higher than a normal jump. You can play the game exclusively on the tablet if you want or look at the TV and mostly use the buttons.

These three different characters bring a dynamic like The Lost Vikings with their three bearded heroes. The fun thing was thinking of original ways to get through a puzzle. There always seemed to be more than one way to get pass them. For example, you could use the wizard's telekinesis to move a mirror and reflect a ray of light into a switch or you could use the warior's shield Zelda style!

You'll also be able to play with friends, online or offline. In the regular mode, each players use a different character so the complete team of three is complete but if you feel more creative, the unlimited mode lets you use any player in any combination. Wizard only group? Go for it!


I loved my experience with Trine 2 so much that I came back to it on the last day of E3 to play it one last time.  From what I saw, it seems like a really good downloadable game is already on the way for the WiiU. It looks great, you'll probably want to stop from time to time only to look around but most importantly, the gameplay is fluid and fun. It's a good idea to keep an eye on this one.

Nintendo Land E3 Pin Set

Nintendo Land E3 Pin Set

This was my favorite piece of swag from E3 2012. You had to play all five Nintendo Land demo games on the show floor and find the elusive booth babe with the backing (She wasn't that elusive but she never seemed to be near the game itself which would have been the logical spot to hangout).

The games were fun to play and adding the element of collecting made it a bit more of a reward for playing them all. Crash Course and Ninja Castle were the hardest to get because they were only 1 player demos, which made the lines about 30-40 minutes each.

The pins are for the Nintendo Land mini-games:

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day
Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest
Donkey Kong's Crash Course
Takamuru's Ninja Castle
Luigi's Ghost Mansion

Apparently, I'm not the only one who liked these pins. They are selling for $50-60 as a complete set on eBay.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Back From the Dead

The E3 is passing by and wow, what an overwhelming experience! As we entered the show floor for the first time, we gunned for the Nintendo booth and stayed there for a good portion of the day. I've got the chance to play a whole bunch of WiiU titles and I can tell you right now that I love how the WiiU controller pad feels in your hands. It got a certain weight to it and the handles make it really comfortable. I already look forward to playing with it again.

I also tried a new 3DS game : Castlevania Lord of Shadow - Mirror of Fate. As a fan of the 2D Castlevania games and the "Metroidvania" style, I was more than happy to see a return to this format for Mirror of Fate. I got to play around with the character, explore a bit of the map and test my combat skills against a few skeletons and bosses.

Graphics

The setting was really good and felt like a creepy Castlevania. You entered the castle and navigated through a couple of rooms, not only going from left to right but also up and down across these old walls. Character models looked pretty good with enough details to them and the animations were really fun to watch. Like Donkey Kong Country Returns, the 3D models in a 2D world works perfectly and makes for a very appealing game.


Gameplay and Controls

Mister Belmont is pretty acrobatic this time, he can double jump,grab on to ledges, swing from his whips and roll around to evade enemy attacks. It's all easily done and makes for fluid action when things get moving. It seems that they are aiming for a good mix of the more recent action titles and the old Symphony of the Night type of games.

The control scheme shows how the game is aiming for more action and won't be as slow as the older games of the series you might remember. You have a weak attack and a slow one, you can block/evade and when the enemy is damaged enough, you can grab it for a finishing blow. All those moves are executed pretty quickly and once you get comfortable, you won't think twice about evading, jumping and attacking all at the same time.

Last details

I tried it with the 3D on and it worked well too. I like how they didn't try too hard to throw the 3D at my face. It's just there, it compliments the game while not being forced. Unfortunately, since it's so loud in there, I couldn't really pick up the soundtrack or the sound effect but I'm confident that the sound department will get the same polish as the rest.

For any fan of the Castlevania franchise, this is one worth keeping an eye on!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Project P-100 Preview and Gameplay


Project P-100 is a new game Nintendo announced for the WiiU. It has game elements like Pikmin, style similar to Viewtiful Joe, and giant boss battles like God of War.

A town is invaded by aliens and you must organize them to defeat the invaders and save the town. You play as one main character but control many townsfolk at the same time in a similar fashion to Pikmin. Unlike Pikmin you do not send out the people to do smaller individual tasks, but use all of them in unison to attack the enemies, form giant weapons, and dodge simultaneously.

P-100 Basic Controls

One joystick on the Gamepad controls the main character while the other can move the surrounding townsfolk. The other buttons on the gamepad will release different attacks like a bunch from the main character, lots of punches from all people, or super attacks. On the Gamepad you can draw various shapes to choose the type of super attack to use like a straight line for a sword and an L shape for a gun. You then push a button to release the attack on the enemies.

The controls definitely took a while to get used to though because there is a lot you can do. By the end of the 6 minute demo I felt fairly comfortable but initially it felt like button mashing as I tried to defeat enemies. After the initial learning curve you should be able to elegantly dodge an enemies attack, quickly form a giant sword and destroy a monster in short order. It feels very rewarding when you do master it.

Additional Strategy and Customization

One of the developers on the show floor confirmed that you can change the main character leading the group to utilize their strengths. One character might have a stronger gun attack and another may move faster. After defeating bosses objects that look like coins drop and can be collected. The developers wouldn't confirm, but my guess is you will use this money to buy new attacks and/or upgrade weapons.

As you move around town you encounter additional people asking for help. If you draw a "U" shape on the gamepad all the characters you control will create a "friendship rainbow" (this is what the lady demoing the product called it). The characters will form a U on the TV similar to the shape you drew and you can move all of them around the townsfolk and they will join your ever growing army.

The trailer below shows even more strategic elements that were not shown in the demo. Like different colored townsmen in what appears to be either a multiplayer mode or the ability to control different groups of your army independently.

Puzzles Inside Buildings

In P-100 there are some puzzle segments when you go inside buildings. The gameplay shifts entirely to the gamepad screen and the action changes to 3rd person perspective behind the main character. The demo showed a very rudimentary puzzle with you having to open a locked door by changing a combination of numbers. After solving the puzzle and leaving the room the game shifts back to the TV and control of all the townsmen.

Project P-100 Graphics

The game looks very good in motion. The designers did not attempt a realistic style but more of an animated, comic type of style but the WiiU pulls it off very well. The style reminds me of Viewtiful Joe in some ways with a bit of a comic book appearance to it. The main character in the demo even looked like Viewtiful in the puzzle segment with a big flowing cape and a similar jumping action.

Overall

The Future of Final Fantasy: Final Fantasy Real Time Demo


Square Enix released the above video as a tech demo for what they hope future Final Fantasy games will look like. The graphics are real-time.

The video was made in conjunction with Square Enix's CGI arm, Visual Works, and is made with DirectX-11 and very high end computers.

Square hopes that next generation consoles will have the specs capable of displaying graphics like these for all games. The visuals are very impressive. We will have to wait and see if next-gen game consoles actually have specs capable of this but this could be a glimpse into the future.

You can let Square know what you think of this art style and direction for Final Fantasy by taking their survey.

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