Thursday, July 26, 2012

4 High Resolution PowerFest Images

Here are the high resolution images we took of the PowerFest 94 cartridge. These images are just thumbnails. Click through to see the full image. Each image is about 3000px wide so lots of detail should be visible.

PowerFest 94 Cartridge Circuits

PowerFest 94 Cartridge Sideview

PowerFest 94 Cartridge Frontside

PowerFest 94 Cartridge Backside

Club Nintendo Exclusive Game Guide

Club Nintendo is Nintendo’s official loyalty program that offers incentives for voluntarily registering your games and reporting on how many games you buy, what you buy, and what you think of your purchases. The rewards for selling your information varies from a downloadable screensaver to an extremely limited edition Nintendo 3DS depending on just how much of your consumer information you are willing to part with and how much you buy. Filling out the registration forms are tedious and I often find myself rapidly clicking and smashing buttons to just get through the prying questions just to get at the coins in the end. You can then take these coins to the “Rewards Shop” and redeem them.

Club Nintendo is notorious in North America because it was only first introduced on October 2, 2008. This came a staggering six years after Nintendo’s first loyalty program launched in Europe, Nintendo VIP 24/7. Nintendo executives claimed that this delayed launch was due to the logistics of trying to launch such a huge program over a vast region. Eventually they did launch the program.

There is a reason why I spend hours registering my games with this program, the freebies are pretty amazing. Like I stated earlier, the Club Nintendo reward freebies range from a screensaver to an awesome 3DS. I tend to save my points and buy the expensive things that are released in limited quantities. This article is a guide to the games that have been released exclusively through the rewards system. They are naturally hard to come by because they are “mail-in” rewards and you have to register a lot of your games with Club Nintendo to even come close to obtaining them.

Not many games have been released but the ones that have been have not gotten a lot of press or notice. This means that the market hasn’t caught on and prices aren’t that high. I think it is safe to say thanks to their exclusive nature that they will hold their value well. Heck, even if you sell them for a penny, you still made a profit since you did not pay anything for them, just reward points.

Game & Watch Collection

This release was a compilation of original Game & Watch games Donkey Kong, Oil Panic, and Green House on the Nintendo DS. Nothing was changed and this isn’t a hard title to come by.
New: $20
Used: $15

Game & Watch Collection 2

A 2010 title that rereleases the classic Game & Watch titles Parachute and Octopus. What is interesting is there is a third game on this cartridge, Parachute x Octopus. This game combines the two previous titles in an amusing crossover. It is less common then the first Collection title but is still easy to find.
New: $30
Used: $22

Tingle’s Balloon Fight

The first two games on this list are available from Club Nintendo of North America, Japan, Australia, and Europe but this one is a Japanese Club Nintendo Exclusive. This game is fun, it is just a revamp of the original NES game, Balloon Fight, but with updated graphics and replaces the Balloon Fighter with Tingle from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I am not sure who decided to create this game but it is an interesting piece of Japanese gaming memorabilia.
New: $50
Used: $25


This handheld is an interesting exclusive. Club Nintendo of Japan and North America actually gives away reproductions of the very first Game & Watch handheld system for 1200 “coins”, the rewards system’s currency. You have to register about 24 new Wii titles to even accumulate that many coins. Remarkably, this game resells for cheap on eBay, at least the used copies.
New: $50
Used: $15

Zekkyō Senshi Sakeburein (Exclamation Warriors Sakeburein)

This is one of the most interesting Nintendo titles to ever be released and it was released in a staggeringly limited capacity. It was only available in Japan for a short time, in a limited amount, only through Club Nintendo. The game is a 3 person multiplayer game where characters run around and beat up enemies by shouting at their DS microphones, making for a fun, loud adventure. Copies of it do show up on eBay a lot though, so try to pick up a few and play it with your friends.
New: $50
Used: $25

There have been other titles that have been released exclusively through Club Nintendo but they have been downloadable only. I would be hard-pressed to find data on the prices for these codes but if you do, please post a comment below.
Most of the games in this article are DS games. The DS is going by the wayside with the emergence of the 3DS meaning that many of these games will most likely no longer be available through Club Nintendo. These games will probably never get re-released. So get 'em while they are cheap!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Further Improvements to Completed Auctions

We recently started showing more sales data about completed eBay auctions on our product pages.  We've continued iterating on that feature and have just released a few more enhancements.

As soon as you visit a product page, we now start to load sales data in the background.  If you never visit the completed auctions tab, you'll see no difference.  If you do click the tab, the data appears faster than it did before.  In many cases, the data appears instantly.

We've also made auction titles appear more rapidly.  For most products, we now show auction titles at the same time as we show auction prices.  You used to have to wait for a second loading phase before titles appeared.  That second phase is gone, but the important title data remains.

Because of these changes to titles, we can also show auction titles even if eBay has deleted the auction page from its site (see the last two auctions in the screenshot above).  For rare games this can make a big difference.  You now have more information to understand price differences between these older auctions.

One last note.  If eBay has deleted an auction page from its website (usually 90 days after the auction ends), that auction's title won't link to eBay.  This saves you the hassle of clicking a dead link.  We still label such auctions as "(expired from eBay)" to remind you why they're not links.  Even though you can't see the data on eBay, we hope the historical context is valuable.

Friday, July 20, 2012

12 Rare & Expensive Video Games

Video game collecting is becoming big business with record prices paid for video games on a regular basis. What are the rarest and most expensive video games of all time? Read below and see if any of the games you own are worth a small fortune?

Rare & Valuable Video Games

Nintendo PowerFest 94 [Super Nintendo]

Most Expensive Video GamesHighest Price: $23,100 | See Current Prices

Nintendo held a fourth video game competition in 1994 called "PowerFest 94". For this event they produced roughly 30 special Super Nintendo cartridges containing Super Mario: Lost Levels, Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey Jr Baseball. Again, each player had 6 minutes to get a high score and the top scores were invited to San Diego for the finals.

There are only two of these cartridges known to exist today. But both have a different scoring system (one from the finals and the other from the preliminaries). The most recent sale for PowerFest was for $23,100.

Nintendo Campus Challenge 91 [Nintendo NES]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $20,100 | See Current Prices

Nintendo held a video game competition in 1991 that traveled to college campuses through-out the USA. Players competed on a special game cartridge that allowed 6 minutes to play Super Mario 3, Pin-Bot, and Dr. Mario. After 6 minutes you received a high score and winners in each location were invited to a final event to crown the champion.

After this competition was done Nintendo destroyed all the cartridges, but one was found at a garage sale in New York. It has been sold to several different collector's and the highest recorded price was $20,100. If all of these were supposed to be destroyed but one survived, maybe more of the original 30+ cartridges are out there too.

Nintendo World Championships Gold [Nintendo NES]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $18,000 | See Current Prices

In 1990 Nintendo held the first of their video game competitions in the early 90's. It was similar to the Wizard movie with a grand champion Nintendo player named after preliminaries and a final tournament. The cartridge consists of Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, and Tetris and allows only 6 minutes of gameplay before awarding a total score.

After the competition was finished Nintendo made 26 gold colored cartridges to give away as part of a promotion in their Nintendo Power magazine. There are only 13 known cartridges so there are 13 more of them that were thrown away or are sitting in an attic somewhere just waiting to be found.

Stadium Events [Nintendo NES]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $14,890 | See Current Prices

The Track and Field game with the power pad that everyone remembers when they were kids was not originally made by Nintendo. It was developed by Bandai and released to the public for a very short time before Nintendo decided to buy the rights and released it themselves. The games that were sold to stores were supposed to be sent back, but not all of them were.

The cartridge itself sells for thousands of dollars but is much more valuable when it includes the original box and manual. Another, less rare version, exists that was sold in Europe. Make sure you know which version you have if you find it.

Nintendo World Championships Gray

Rare GamesHighest Price: $11,500 | See Current Prices

This is the gray version of the same game seen previously on this list. The gray version is much more common but still sells for a premium price.

During the competition Nintendo gave away Gray versions of the game to winners at each of the preliminary locations and in each of the three age groups. That would account for 90 of these cartridges. Each cartridge has a number on it and the numbers go much higher than 90 so collectors think there might be more than 90 in existance.

Ultimate 11

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $10,000 | See Current Prices

Super Sidekicks 4: Ultimate 11 is one of the few sports video games to become very rare. It was developed by SNK in 1996 and was the fourth title in the Super Sidekicks series. You play as one of 80 different national soccer teams and try to win the tournament.

It is unknown exactly why, but very few copies of this game were ever made for the home Neo Geo console (AES as it is known). The game very rarely comes up for sales but the last time it did the game sold for $10K.

Kizuna Encounter [Neo Geo]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $10,000 | See Current Prices

Kizuna Encounter is a fighting game similar to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. The game was sold on the home Neo Geo and the arcade version (MVS) as well. The MVS version is fairly easy to find, but the home version from Europe is extremely rare. There are estimated to be about a dozen copies.

With such a small number of cartridges people question if the game was even commercially released in Europe or just a prototype. This is another game that you need to be careful which version you have. The Japanese version looks identical in every way except for the packaging. The game only sells for big bucks when the full packaing is included.

Blockbuster World Championship II

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $8,000 | See Current Prices

In 1995 Blockbuster Video held video game competitions all over the country featuring two games, Donkey Kong Country Competition from Nintendo and Blockbuster Video Game Championship II from Sega. Competitors had to choose between Super Nintendo or Genesis. The Genesis cartridge contained versions of NBA Jam Tournament Edition and Judge Dredd.

Competitors could win the Donkey Kong game for Super Nintendo, but each store was told to destroy their copy of Blockbuster World Championship. Not every store manager did as they were told and a handful of these cartridges have found their way into collector's hands.

Turf Masters [Neo Geo]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $8,000 | See Current Prices

A golf game for the Neo Geo. Neo Turf Masters was released in arcades, in CD form, and for the home Neo Geo console. The home console version is extremely rare.

The game has since been released on the Wii Virtual Console and in SNK Classic discs for PS2, Wii, and PSP so only collectors are willing to pay the big bucks for the original cartridge.

Mr. Boston [Vectrex]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $7,200 | See Current Prices

The Vectrex was a video game system released in the early 80's. A game called "Clean Sweep" was developed for the Vectrex and the Mr. Boston liquor company decided to give away a limited number of Clean Sweep games that were branded as Mr. Boston Clean Sweep. The gameplay was the exact same but had a different cover.

There are only five known copies of this game but the exact number made by Mr. Boston is unknown. Even though the game is available in very small quantities it isn't as expensive as other games because the Vectrex was never as popular with gamers.

Atlantis II [Atari 2600]

Expensive Video GamesHighest Price: $5,000 | See Current Prices

The original Atlantis was a popular game for the Atari 2600. The developer held a competition asking people to take a picture of their TV screen showing their high score and mail it in. Multiple people maxed out the high score so the publisher made a limited number of Atlantis II cartridges which had faster enemies and mailed those to the high scores in order to determine the best player.

The game was never commercially sold so the developer decided to save money and reuse the artwork and cartridge from the original game. Because of this the game looks identical to the original. The only way to tell the difference is to start playing and look at the font on the scoring screen.

Uncharted 2: Fortune Hunter Edition [Playstation 3]

Rare Video GamesHighest Price: $4,990 | See Current Prices

The newest game to make the list, Uncharted 2 Fortune Hunter Edition is a special version of Uncharted 2 given away in a promotional contest. To enter you needed to play the demo of Uncharted 2 during one weekend in October 2009. Sony randomly selected 200 people who played as the winners and mailed them the game.

The game includes a limited edition replica dagger from the game, an artbook, guide book, and the game itself. The highest recorded price for the game is $4,990.

See What Your Games Are Worth

The list is ranked by the highest recorded used price.

Buy and sell games in our Free Game Marketplace

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Game Collecting: A Hobby, A Sport, An Obsession

Author: Evan Butler
To collect something is to obtain something for the sake of obtaining it. The want behind it is purely superficial. To buy a new car is different from collecting, because there is the innate desire to get something that is improved from what you already own. That is the fundamental difference between collecting and other forms of obtaining things. Most collectors start with a passion, usually driven by childhood memory, a friend’s suggestion, or just pure serendipity. They pick up something for a bargain, maybe even free, and they just let things get out of hand. When you think about it, there’s just not a lot of sense behind collecting things. If a collector just buys things to sell them at a later point they are not a collector, but an investor or a reseller, and are driven by profit.

Budding stages of collecting are often categorized as a hobby, something in the background that doesn’t take up a lot of a person’s time but something they engage in in their leisure time. It is usually for a sense of personal gratification. Most hobby collectors have a theme, such as collecting solely bad NES games, or only Mario titles. The collection grows, and so do their tastes, as they become more involved in their hobby. More often than not, they meet other collectors.

It is as easy to make friends in the collecting game as it is to make enemies. The very nature of collecting is seemingly sport-like. One collector may go to another and compare the quantity, the size of the collection, its contents, or the price at which they acquired them. These comparisons lend themselves to the nature of a competition. People will strive to have complete collections and the personal satisfaction of their hobby will be replaced with competitor’s spirit and the ideology of having a “complete” collection.

It is so easy to like collecting. It fills a little niche in our hearts and is promoted by our commercialist culture and society. Having things is a sign of wealth, and being wealthy is a sign of being happy. And we have been told since our birth to be happy, to have a good day, to enjoy ourselves, and so on and so forth.

Collecting can become an obsession, and what denotes it as one are the unhealthy aspects. It is easy to spend too much money, to lose out big on what you thought was a bargain, and to spend way too much time on a wild goose chase. But I feel as though one of the most unhealthy aspects of collecting is the unhappiness this obsession can cause you, when you truly do have a “complete” collection. What have you really achieved when you have reached this goal? All you have is a pile of junk, and you realize that the admiration of all those collecting buddies of yours is in actuality the misplaced envy of rivals. Other people that haven’t dabbled in collecting will look at you and most likely pity you. You spend so much time, money, and effort on something and all you have to show for it are objects.

Collecting is dangerous. And it’s also fun. It’s easy to dabble. It is similar to gambling in nature, as you constantly check eBay and flea markets looking for that wild goose. Very recently, an eBay auction for 22 different complete licensed sets showed up. The Buy It Now price is a little over 1 million dollars. That is not what in actuality he is looking for, as he is actually looking for the highest offer but a Canadian buyer ponied up the entire $1.22 million for the collection. I’ve asked around and done a little snooping and found out that this is only part of the seller’s collection. Why is he selling these things? Is he unhappy? Or is he in it just for the money? And will that money, when he gets it, make him happy?

In recent interviews with the seller he revealed that he felt like he had completed a goal. That is why he is selling them. He feels as though he has won but what, what did he win? His own self-respect? I hope he is happy. He now has to deal with nightmare of moving all 7,000 titles in to collection as well as how to handle the payment. The buyer, unnamed for privacy reasons, has yet to begin to pay.

What can make a collecting hobby better for you is to keep it simple, or rather to make it personal. Go ahead and research and dive head first into the subject, but find what you really want. Make lists, and look for bargains and enjoy yourself, but the second you find yourself spending way too much money on something you really didn’t need or even want, take a step back. Look at yourself and look at what you’re doing. Look at how much money you have spent already and look at what you have. Ask yourself if you’re happy. And then ask yourself if this next purchase will move you towards happiness or if it’s just an obsession. I think this is something that this recent eBay seller has done. He is selling part of his collection because he realized that he didn’t really want it, or need it. But he’s keeping the parts of his collection that really do bring him happiness. You learn something new every day in the world of collecting. I’ll tell you right now, the hardest lesson to learn is, when to stop. So learn it now before it’s too late.

Our Plans for PowerFest

Many people have contacted me through the site or on message boards asking what the plans are for the cartridge, if we will dump the ROM, if we will make a reproduction, etc. Here is what we plan to do with the cartridge:

1) Take some very high quality photos of the cartridge from all angles and the circuit board as well and release these into the public domain.

2) Make a high quality video of the gameplay and release it on YouTube.

3) Make a reproduction of the game so other gamers can enjoy it. Instead of just two people being able to play the game more people should have the chance to enjoy it. The owner of the other cartridge, who has owned it longer than me, has already started the ball rolling on this. If this falls through we are ready to jump in and make it happen.

4) Bring it to some retro game conventions to let people play and or see the real thing. We want to make sure the game is secure though so we have to work out the details on how this would work. We would love to let other collectors and gamers play the original if possible.

5) Dump the ROM from the high score screen. Because the two versions of PowerFest use a different scoring system. The ROM with the scoring on it is one-of-a-kind. If something were to happen to that data on that ROM it would be lost forever.

People have asked if we plan on dumping the ROM so the game can be played on an emulator. There are no plans for this because the game would not work on any standard emulators. It has 4 ROM chips that contain the data for game and a standard emulator wouldn't be able to combine them into the single game correctly.

When it is not being used for one of the above plans it will be kept in a safe deposit box at a local bank. I have a two sons, 3 and 11 months, I don't want the cartridge lying around the house. I've seen what kind of mischief they can get into.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Data on Completed Auctions

In our previous feature request survey many users asked for more listings in the "Completed Auctions" section of our site. Previously we showed data for the last 6 months and had a 15 sale maximum. Now we show 20 sales as far back as we have data so you can see a more complete sales history.

We used to show 0 completed auctions for Nintendo World Championships Gray because the last sale on eBay was almost two years ago. We now show 9 eBay sales going all the way back to 2008.

More Nintendo World Championships Sales Records
Peek-A-Boo Poker went from 3 listings to 18 listings. DKC Competition increased to 20 listings from 5. Every rare video game will show a much more complete sales history so you can better price your purchases and sales.

This change really improves the New Completed Auctions because they are so much more rare than used games. Contra improved to 20 listings, Earthbound shows 10 times more new listings, and Chrono Trigger shows 20 new sales.

For rare games we show a much longer time span than eBay or any other sources.

We have plans to add features which allow you to click a "Show more" link that will add another 20 sales. You can keep clicking this link to see a history as far back as you want.

Listings that are no longer showing on eBay have the message "Expired from eBay" instead of showing the listing's title. In our next update we will change this to use the title stored in our database instead of grabbing the data from eBay. This way you can read the titles of listings that are years old.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How I Got Nintendo Powerfest 94

Nintendo PowerFest with Cover
Nintendo PowerFest 94 Cartridge
Two days ago I purchase one of only two Nintendo PowerFest 94 cartridges known to exist. The purchase took 74 emails, 27 months, 6 phone calls, 5 failed meeting attempts, 1 sack of cash, and some additional twists and turns to finally complete. At the final meeting the two PowerFest cartridges were reunited and played in the first competition since 1994. Fellow game collectors might find it interesting to read how it all went down.

On April 8th, 2010 I received an email from a person in Canada saying they were reading our article about rare SNES video games and noticed that the #1 game on the list, Nintendo PowerFest 94, was a game he owned. He wanted to know if I would be interested in buying it.

Nintendo PowerFest was a video game competition Nintendo held in 1994 at locations all over the US and Canada. Nintendo setup competitions at 130 different locations, mainly department stores and Wal-Marts, and let people compete over three days. Nintendo created a special cartridge for the competition that allowed 6 minutes to play Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels, Super Mario Kart, Ken Griffey Jr Baseball. After six minutes you received a total score for all three games. The high score at each location was invited to San Diego to compete in the finals.

Nintendo made 32 of these cartridges for the competition and was supposed to destroy all of them afterwards to reuse for spare parts. Before this email was received there was only 1 known copy that survived and it was found at a garage sale in New York and later sold to another collector. (You can read about this purchase here).

The Negotiations

I quickly responded to the email saying "yes" and asked for pictures to verify it was authentic. I wanted to see the game playing on a TV, I wanted to see the circuit board itself, and I wanted to see a picture of the cartridge with a piece of paper with his name written next to it to make sure he wasn't just sending me pictures available online.

The Seller quickly responded back with the requested photos and I made an offer.

My initial offer was rejected very quickly because the seller was hoping to receive $50,000. I told him I couldn't go that high but please keep me in mind if anything changed.

I year and a half went by before I heard from the Seller again in December 2011. He simply asked: "Are you still interested?"

I offered him a bit less than I did originally because he emailed at a time when I didn't have as much money to spend on game collecting. Again, he said he couldn't accept my offer but said he was only asking $25,000 now. We ended the negotiations again.

Instead of waiting another year and a half, I decided to pursue the purchase a bit more and try to pull some more funds together. We were much closer to a deal this time than in 2010 and I didn't want to let this rare game get away. I emailed a week later asking if he would sell PowerFest for a higher price than both my original offers.

Again, he rejected the offer saying he had some interest from another collector at $20,000. He was going to wait and see if he could finalize a deal with them first.

While I waited to hear about the other deal, I asked where he got the cartridge. In 1994 he worked for a marketing company that had Nintendo as one of its clients. He helped them run the competitions and kept one of the cartridges after they were completed.

Because this cartridge was from the opening rounds of the competition home runs on Ken Griffey Baseball are worth 10,000 points. The other PowerFest cartridge was from the finals where Nintendo changed the scoring to 1,000,000 points for home runs. Because of this, both cartridges are unique even though they play the same game.

On January 25, 2012 the Seller told me the other deal would not be happening and wanted to know what I could pay now. I offered $12,000 on January 27th and my offer was accepted on the 29th. We had a deal on paper but little did I know that this was just the beginning and completing the transaction would be much harder.

The Location

I offered to pay all fees for escrow, paypal, or dwolla and pay for overnight mail (the usual way I have completed high value transactions of this kind) but the Seller was uncomfortable shipping anything or accepting online payment.

He wanted to meet in person to make the sale. I had some frequent flier miles available and said I would look into flying to Montreal to pickup the cartridge. Unfortunately my miles didn't work on any airlines flying to Montreal or anywhere in Canada - cross that off the list.

Paying for a flight to Montreal would cost about $800 plus staying in a hotel for a night, which was another $100-150. I didn't want to pay almost $1,000 in "transaction fees" - cross that off.

The Seller traveled in the US and Canada on business and over the next few months he emailed occasionally asking if I could meet him in various cities to finish the transaction.

Seller: "What about Vancouver, BC on March 7th?"
Me: "Sorry, my miles don't work in Canada."

A few weeks later
Seller: "How about April 18th in Boston?"
Me: "That is my son's birthday party. Can't do that one."

Seller: "Omaha at the beginning of July?"
Me: "Sorry, I'm traveling somewhere else already."

It was starting to look like we wouldn't find a way to meet to finalize the deal.

My brother was getting married in Vermont in July and I would be flying out there for the wedding. I would be 3 hours away from Montreal and wanted to know if he could drive down and meet me (I couldn't drive up because of various obligations as part of the wedding). The Seller thought this was a great idea. We finally had a location and date settled.

While all of this scheduling was taking place I had exchanged some emails with Rick Bruns, a fellow collector who owned the other PowerFest 94 cartridge. We talked about authenticity and the history of the cartridge. When I mentioned where we would be meeting he said he lived in Upstate New York, only about two hours from our meeting spot and wanted to know if he could meet us and bring his cartridge so we could compete head-to-head on the cartridges for the first time in 18 years. If we could work out the final detail - Payment - it was going to be a really fun sale.

The Payment

The last big hang-up was the payment. The Seller wouldn't accept paypal, cashier's check, or even wire transfer at my bank with him watching the banker transfer the funds. He only wanted cash. My bank didn't have branches in Vermont and I definitely didn't want to fly with that much money. I can only imagine the questions and orifice probing I would receive at security with that much money on me.

The plan we worked out was this: I would open a bank account locally at a bank that had a branch in Rutland, VT. We would meet in my hotel room to test the cartridge. I would have no money on me at all. After testing we would drive to the bank, I would withdraw the cash, and with all the security camera's rolling I would hand over the cash. I felt this would be safe for everyone.

A month before the purchase I opened a bank account at KeyBank in Denver and transferred the money into the account. The five days before the purchase I called the KeyBank in Rutland, VT to ask if there would be any problem withdrawing $12,000 in cash. They said they would be sure to have the money on hand but when I told them when I would be coming they informed me they are closed on Saturday - the day we had planned for the sale. It hadn't even crossed my mind that a small town bank would be closed on Saturday.

The Seller couldn't come down Friday to complete the sale so instead of canceling the transaction when we were so close I decided to go to plan B (or was it plan L at this point). I withdraw the cash on Friday, put it all in a purple grocery bag, and kept it in a hotel security deposit box at the front desk until Saturday. I didn't like this option but this was the only way to complete the deal.

Closing the Deal

On Saturday July 14th at 11:30am the Seller and his mom and dad (brought for security), Rick Bruns and his girlfriend, and me and my brother (brought for security too) met in the hotel lobby. We walked to my hotel room and all seven of us crammed inside to test the cartridge.

I put the cartridge into my Super Nintendo, which was hooked to the hotel TV and turned on the power. Nothing happened. I panicked. The system worked yesterday. Was the game a dud? Was it all going to fall apart because it didn't work? Turns out I was an idiot and had unplugged the Super Nintendo to plug in my laptop. I was so nervous I couldn't think straight.

I played the game all the way through and embarrassed myself with a number of deaths in Mario, driving off course in Mario Kart, and what looked like sacrifice bunts in Griffey. It all added up to a horrible score.

After testing was complete we all left the room, locked it up, and went do to the hotel lobby. I asked the front desk to access my security box and they handed me the purple sack with 120 $100 bills inside. The Seller and I walked into a private meeting room alone and shut the door. My brother was outside and would later tell me as soon as the doors shut the Seller's parents drew a little closer to the door to make sure no funny business went down.

I felt like some mobster in a movie handing over a wad of cash. Part of me wanted to complete the role and toss the cash on the table so some of it slid out of the bag in dramatic fashion, but instead I just handed the Seller the money and he started counting.

30 seconds later we opened the door. We all shook hands and the Seller left with his security detail on both sides. All the worst case scenario's that had wracked my mind for days were wasted anxiety - the sale was complete without a single hiccup.

Rick, his girlfriend, my brother and I walked back to the room and hooked the two PowerFest cartridges to two TV's and played a couple rounds head-to-head. Rick won both times we played. We took a few pictures of the cartridges and even played Nintendo Campus Challenge 92, which Rick also owns. Then we parted ways.

I put the SNES cartridge in the hotel safe and wrapped up the transaction with an hour to spare before the wedding.

See the other Rare & Expensive Video Games

Pictures of PowerFest 94 and The Transaction

PowerFest No Cover
PowerFest 94 with No Cover
Two PowerFest Carts 2 TVs
Two PowerFest Cartridges on Two TV's
Two PowerFest Carts
Rick & I Holding PowerFest Carts
5 Competition Carts
Five Nintendo Competition Cartridges

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top 5 Sega Failures of All Time

Author: Daniel AndersonSega is a name near and dear to most gamers. Many of us remember the first time we were blown away by the blazing speed of Sonic the Hedgehog, or lured in by the seemingly impressive idea of “blast processing.” Undoubtedly, Sega’s rapid rise and fall is one of the great tragedies of the video game industry.
It’s a tale of corporate excess and managerial incompetence. It underlines the importance of direction, of knowing what you want to achieve and doing what it takes to get it. After the heady success of the Genesis, Sega didn’t know what it wanted. Unsure of where to go, Sega tried everything. As a result, its ultimate failure in the high-risk, high-reward hardware industry became inevitable.

Before I start, Iet me tell you a few things you won’t find on this list. Both the Sega Saturn and the Dreamcast were excellent systems with plenty of great games. Their failure in the marketplace don’t reflect their own value. Similarly, Shenmue’s ultimately disappointing sales aren’t indicative of its quality. With that said, here are a few of Sega’s most devastating failures.

5.) Sega CD

Just to be clear, the Sega CD just barely makes this list. Compared to the other hardware failures on this list, this add-on’s game library contained some true gems. Sonic CD is arguably the best game in the storied Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. The famed Lunar role-playing game series got its start on the Sega CD.  And who can forget Snatcher, the legendary (and legendarily rare) cyberpunk thriller designed by Hideo Koijma himself?

Still, the Sega CD is symbolic of the aimless vision of the Sega Corporation following the Genesis. Knowing that they struck gold once, they were desperate to maintain the Genesis’s success for as long as possible while working on its successor. As a result, they kept pushing out add-ons and accessories for the Genesis in order to extend its lifespan. The Sega CD may have been the best of the add-ons, but it still only experienced a modicrum of success.

Ultimately, the add-on disappointed Sega loyalists with its library dominated by shovelware, awful full-motion video games, and mediocre technical capabilities. It’s also possible that its mild sales success convinced the Sega brass that they were on the right course, thereby leading to the greater failures that comprise the rest of the list.

4.) Sonic the Hedgehog (2006, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)

The Sega faithful are perhaps the most diehard fans in the video game industry. The 2006 game Sonic the Hedgehog represents one final, lasting insult to those fans. Battered over the years by Sega’s humiliating downfall and eventual exit from the hardware industry, loyal fans clung on for dear life.

After more than a decade of trying to fit Sonic’s famed speed and game mechanics into a 3D world, Sega promised that this would be the game to restore the series’ reputation. Even after game trailers revealed that the game would introduce even more new characters to the bloated series supporting cast, including the human “Princess Elise,” fans still believed in Sega’s promise. They believed that Sonic Team could deliver one more magical entry into the storied franchise.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Working on a rushed development schedule and attempting to develop for two very different platforms simultaneously, Sonic Team developed an unfinished, poorly designed game loaded down with glitches and an inane, melodramatic story. Burdened with the same control issues and unnecessary new characters that have ruined the Sonic the Hedgehog series since its two-dimensional days, this game crushed long-time Sega loyalists like no other.

3.) Sega 32X

Whereas the Sega CD at least had respectable sales, the Sega 32X was a retail disaster. Not that long after its release, Sega was selling the add-on for just $19.99 in an effort just to get rid of the things. Barely selling more than half a million units, the 32X admittedly had a lot working against it. With the next generation of consoles right around the corner, including Sega’s very own Saturn, there was little reason for gamers to purchase this stop-gap system.

Overpriced, overhyped, and marred with low-end technical specifications, the add-on was billed as a significant upgrade on the Genesis, but it simply didn’t deliver. The 32X’s abysmal game library didn’t help, either. Only 40 games were released for it, and a half-dozen of those required both the 32X and the Sega CD, which severely limited their audience. Most of the remaining games were shovelware, slightly upgraded Genesis ports, or old arcade offerings such as Space Harrier and Star Wars Arcade.

Perhaps the best-remembered game for the 32X is Knuckles’ Chaotix, a Sonic spinoff featuring Knuckles the Echidna. Similar to the Genesis offerings in the series, the game introduced a few new controversial game mechanics such as “rubber band” physics. Despite being merely above-average, it’s still one of the add-on’s best games. The failure of the 32X would ultimately damage the Sega Saturn, as the flurry of failed add-ons for the Genesis cluttered the marketplace, confused consumers, and damaged the trust of Sega’s fanbase.

2.) Sega Nomad

The little-remembered Sega Nomad may be a controversial choice, especially placing it above the infamous 32X, but bear with me. Launched in 1991, the Sega Game Gear sold more than ten million units. It didn’t fare as well as Nintendo’s Game Boy, but it did represent a moderate success and a foothold for Sega in the lucrative handheld gaming industry.

If Sega had managed to follow-up the Game Gear with another well-received handheld offering, they would have likely established themselves as a long-term player in handheld gaming. When Nintendo’s Gamecube was trounced by Sony’s PlayStation 2 in the early-to-mid-2000s, it was Nintendo’s highly-profitable handheld division that kept it afloat and thriving.

When the PS2 crushed Sega’s Dreamcast in the marketplace, Sega didn’t have a fallback revenue source like Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. As a result, Sega ignominiously left the hardware industry simply in order to stay alive, becoming solely a software developer. The Sega Nomad, a portable Genesis, was Sega’s follow-up to the Game Gear.

Despite an excellent software library and impressive technical capabilities, the handheld still sold a mere one million units. Slight overpricing, poor marketing, and worse timing (everyone was eager for 32-bit gaming to begin) played big parts in the Nomad’s failure. Still, I would argue that Sega’s greatest mistake with the Nomad was committing the cardinal sin of handheld gaming: extremely limited battery life. Like other ‘90s-era Game Boy rivals, the Nomad just couldn’t compete, and its failure pushed Sega out of the handheld gaming industry for good.

1.) Sonic 3D Blast

The failure of glorified add-ons such as the Sega CD and 32X can be forgiven. Even the failure of your handheld division can be forgiven, since nearly all of Nintendo’s rivals in the handheld industry ultimately failed until Sony’s PlayStation Portable. However, the failure to deliver a solid entry in your flagship gaming franchise to your new console is unforgivable.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened with Sonic 3D Blast and the Sega Saturn. Originally, Sega developed a game called Sonic X-treme as a follow-up to other Sonic titles on the Genesis. With dwindling gamer interest in the 16-bit generation, Sega changed the game’s platform to the 32X, but that add-on’s quick death doomed those plans. Finally, Sega decided that Sonic X-treme would be the killer app for their new system, the Saturn. However, a bizarre and convoluted development plan, corporate interference, and technical problems eventually killed the project.

Desperate to provide clamoring fans with a Sonic gaming experience for the Saturn, Sega took the easy way out and ported Sonic 3D Blast from the Genesis to the Saturn. Even this laziness could have ultimately been forgiven if it were an incredible game, worthy of the franchise, and one that took full advantage of the Saturn’s capabilities.

It didn’t. Ugly graphics, a strange isometric camera angle, awkward controls, and painfully slow, Sonic 3D Blast barely resembled a Sonic game at all. Sega fans lost faith in Sega and the Saturn. Without a Super Mario 64-equivalent to drive hardware sales, the console soon failed, and set Sega firmly on the path toward its eventual demise as a hardware developer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Game Collection Listed for Sale at $1.2 Million

A collector/store owner in France is selling their collection of Japanese video games for the asking price of $1.2 million. What do you get for that much money? Complete collections of games with boxes, manuals for every Japanese system ever made from Famicom to Gamecube, including:

Famicom Disks
Super Famicom
Virtual Boy
Nintendo 64
Nintendo 64DD
Gamecube (all factory sealed)
Sega Master System (Japanese and European collections)
Mega Drive
Mega CD
Sega 32X
Sega Saturn
Dreamcast (all factory sealed)
PC Engine Card (all factory sealed)
PC Engine Cartridge (Turbo Grafx 16)
Pioneer Laseractive

Each collection includes all the rare games including games from contests, mail ins, and limited editions.

The listing should win awards for the most thorough listing of all time. They have roughly 250 pictures in the listing of every single item. And each and every item is listed individually as well. Close to 7,000 games!

Below are some sample images including in the auction.

TooMany Games Convention Review

Author: Evan Butler

First off I wanna warn everybody that traffic on I-95 anywhere on the East Coast is awful. It will eat up your time and after that it will eat your patience. Getting to the Too Many Games Convention, located in Phoenixville, PA, was one of the most emotionally taxing and physically draining experiences in my life. Partially because my girlfriend was driving and all she did was complain about the traffic and make horrible navigational decisions. Also, partially because there is no preparing for a 4 hour drive that suddenly turns into an 8 hour trail of tears directed mainly by America’s undisciplined drivers.

A few months prior, I had applied for press passes to cover the con, and also requested a room reservation so that I could give a panel presentation on buying, selling, and collecting video games. The convention owners were rather prompt and courteous in responding to my panel request, except for they said that a projector would most likely not be supplied to me.

Hearing back about the press passes was another debacle. I wasn’t sure whether or not I had to buy my own pass, but eventually I did hear back from them and they confirmed that two press passes had been granted so I could bring a friend to help. This was going to be the first time I had truly covered an event as “media” and I was absolutely giddy!

It took 8 hours but I eventually reached the convention hall on Friday, June 15th and I was excited as I walked in through the doors of the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center. I proudly walked up to the check-in desk with a stupid grin on my face and my faithful cameraman in tow. I think the excitement of the moment got the better of me when she asked me what my name was and all I could respond with was “I am Media.” After a few seconds of blank stares from the receptionist, I followed up with, “I’m Evan Butler, and I’m here representing to cover the even as media.” She looked at her list, checked my name off, and handed me my media pass. Then, with our newfound media privileges, we walked into the convention center and started taking pictures of everything, not excluding ourselves.

I have to commend the vendors at this year’s convention because the selection, variety, and prices of their wares were the best I’ve ever seen. I saw things at this convention that I’ve never seen anywhere else, even on the internet. They had the rarest, most eclectic pieces of video game history for sale at affordable prices. I was in heaven.

Since we got there so late the first day, I didn’t really have much time to look around and see what the other booths held, so me and my group trundled back to our car and headed to our hotel for the night. We woke up the next day, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and ready for con adventures, but we were sidetracked - Bob Evans and delicious breakfast. We eventually headed over to the convention center to check out what the day had in store.

The first order of business was setting up my panel. I had been exchanging emails with the people who ran the convention and I had gotten myself a time slot, and everything seemed set. I headed to the exhibition room where my panel was to be held to hopefully set up and see if anyone was waiting. To my great surprise the panel before me was running long and I had to sit out in the hall for about 30 minutes. But eventually they cleared out and by that time there was a large group of people gathering to see my panel. It was amazing. I gave a presentation on buying, selling, and collecting video games. I titled it “Bargain Bin Business,” which is ironic because most of the video game trade is rather expensive and is conducted online. But I had a great time and my audience was thoroughly amused with what I had to say. During my presentation I gave everyone a crash course in game collecting and a huge shout out to and how useful they are when trying to find the best deals around.

After my panel finished, I had some free time until the next panel I wanted to see so I walked around the expo floor and got a closer look at what Too Many Games was all about. I have to say, at Too Many Games there really are too many games. They had Stadium Events. They had Nintendo World Championship grey cartridges. They had N64 DD’s. They had things I’d never even heard of. It was awesome.

But not all the booths there were just vendors. A lot of them were artists and independent game developers showing off their latest creations and trying to publicize them, while also looking for feedback on where to go with their games. I talked to a lot of them, exchanged emails, phone numbers, and business cards.

Cute Girl at Too Many Games

Nintendo World Championship at TooMany Games
I eventually got around to the second panel I was going to see that day, which was the Angry Video Game Nerd panel. It was really interesting to learn about what James Rolfe has gone through and what he has done to produce his show. But what I found most interesting was the stark contrast between his personality and the character he portrays on the AVGN series. He’s rather quiet and reserved. Rather shy for someone with so much fandom. After that panel, me and my crew went out to get some food and see the surrounding area. After some Chinese food we came back to the convention center for the after party.

The after party was an exclusive event that only those who had either paid extra for VIP passes, or had press passes could attend. Thanks to my press pass, I was able to attend. I got to jam out with Brental Floss, the Underbelly Crew, and Cinemassacre’s Stephanie Yuhas. We had a great time.
TooMany Games Convention

Sunday was the last day of the convention and by then the adrenaline and excitement had worn down. I had seen most everything that was to be seen and talked to most everyone I could talk to. I bought a few games, that I found for really good deals, but ultimately decided to call it quits after the Angry Video Game Nerd let me take his picture while I was holding him in my arms.

Angry Video Game Nerd Held Aloft

All in all, Too Many Games convention  is a great experience. The smaller conventions are great for meeting people, making friends, and exchanging stories. I really learned a lot about video games and gaming culture. I highly encourage anyone in the northern half of the east coast attend next year’s convention. You won’t regret it and keep an eye out for me and make sure to say "hi", and maybe we can talk a little bit about buying, selling, and collecting video games.



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