Swap Pickings

The birds are singing and the grass is finally growing here, so naturally it’s swap season!  I found out about an impromptu swap event a week or so ago and scuttled on over there to check out the wares.  Because I had just picked up an enormous lot of games at the last one, I went in a little more conservatively this time around but still feel I made out with some great finds!

The first seller I stumbled upon had an enormous table of Famicom and Super Famicom games, some boxed and some loose.  I’ve been casually picking up lots of Super Famicom RPGs that I hope to feature in a future post, but I’ve been getting those mostly loose.  This guy had a bunch of what I’ve bought recently from eBay, but his prices were more than what I’d paid shipped in most cases.  One thing that caught my eye was a boxed copy of Final Fantasy V.  The only other version I own is on Final Fantasy Anthology for PS1 and if the loading times on Anthology are anything like they were on Chronicles when I played Chrono Trigger, I want nothing to do with that and will gladly settle for the original played with a translation patch.  I do appreciate that it came with a fold-out manual with lots of stats, map info and I’m sure what are a lot of other awesome things.  I enjoy the art inside, but not knowing Japanese even a little bit obviously makes the rest of the pretty information quite useless to me.

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A second Super Famicom game that was glinting at me among the many was Kirby’s Dreamland 3.  I had actually tried to order this game from eBay ages ago for a screamin’ deal, and it never came.  One small dispute later and I was refunded my money, but I went on yearning for a copy of the only early Kirby game I didn’t own.  The North American version of Dreamland 3 is very expensive, so I was happy to go for the Japanese version since I don’t think much language is required to play.  This game was in absolute perfect condition other than the sticker on the box, which I don’t mind so much.  I especially love the lithographic cartridge label and the overall adorable cuteness of this thing!  Soon the humping hamster will have his way with Kirby again… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, the in-game hamster has a horrible animation with Kirby when they’re paired… you’ll see.

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Last from this seller was a copy of one of my most nostalgic games from childhood, Antarctic Adventure for Famicom.  I’ve only ever seen this game on bootleg multicarts, and as a kid I had no idea that most of these games were just pirated Famicom games piled into one place.  Antarctic Adventure and its rendition of Skater’s Waltz has always held a special place in my heart, and now I finally own my own physical copy of the game.  The label’s peeling in a few spots, but for a couple of dollars, I couldn’t pass it up.  The penguin looks much cuter and much less sweaty in-game, though.

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The rest of the games came from one of my favourite sellers that I always make a point to buy from when I see them at these shows.  They always give us a great deal, and this time was no different.  First up are two NES games: McKids and Beetlejuice.  McKids always intrigued me after seeing it covered in various places on the internet, but Beetlejuice is something a little nearer to me.  I know some folks on Twitch that speedrun it, and watching them love this game has made me want to love it too.  That first level music pops into my head often and I just really need an opportunity to try it out for myself.  Despite both of my speedrunner friends being great at explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing when they run it, I still actually have no idea how to play this game.  It should be an adventure, and thankfully it came with the manual.

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A Game Boy game reared its ugly head at me: Bart Simpson’s Escape from Camp Deadly.  I don’t know if I’m a sucker for punishment or what, but I own pretty much every other Simpsons game from this generation and couldn’t say no for $2.  I’ll stuff it into my box of Game Boy games and try to forget about it for a while.  It’ll be a nice surprise when I discover it again!

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Last but not least, there were two Sega Master System games that I wanted to add to my collection.  The first was Spy vs. Spy.  Up until the moment I laid eyes on it, I had no idea that this game had even been released for the Master System.  Also of interest is that it’s a card game, and it was in impeccable shape apart from a broken box hanger, which I couldn’t care less about.  The seller only wanted $10 so I took it home with me.

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And finally, I found a copy of King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown!  At the last swap, I hummed and hawed about a complete copy that was more than I wanted to spend.  When I finally decided to go for it, by the time I got back to the table, it was gone.  For $90, it was a mixed sense of grumpiness and relief.  I was hesitant to spend so much in one place, but I love King’s Quest and the Master System version is a rarer variant I would’ve loved to have in my collection.  Fast forward to this swap, and my favourite seller had it for $60!  It ended up being less than that all said and done since we bought everything together with quite a big discount.  The only bummer is that the manual is missing its front cover, but that’s just the crappy purple-and-white King’s Quest logo.  Nothing too exciting there except that and maybe some warranty info on the back end. I can’t wait to play this game again on a system I’ve fallen head over heels for.  Hooray!

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And that was swap #2 of the summer so far.  I’m not sure what else will pop up for big swap meets over the next while, but I’ve been scouring yard and garage sales without too much luck so far.  Hopefully I’ll have more to report back on soon enough!

Thank you for reading, as always!

-GG

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Odds & Ends

Things have been pretty busy gaming-wise for me the past little while.  Spending time playing through my games rather than collecting them has been an interesting shift in my life, but I’ve been happy doing it.  Thankfully I’ve still been finding a few things here and there on the collecting front, and on an even brighter note swap/yard sale season is just around the corner!

Some highlights of things in my recent gaming life are:

1) Putting out some video reviews.  I’ve really been shifting my focus to video-based reviews on my YouTube channel, and I feel like I’m starting to hit a stride with that.

2) Helping out a local event with a retro video game expo.  We lent them a bunch of monitors and consoles to round out their abysmal selection, and it felt pretty good to get kids and parents together to play some old games.

3) Streaming so many  great games. I’ve been really active on Twitch over the past year and a half just enjoying the games I’ve been collecting.

Now to the collection additions!  Our local thrift stores have been a thorn in my side over the past year or so with their changes in policy around how you can get discounts, but very recently one of them has rescinded its evil ways and you can now get a 20% discount coupon when you bring a grocery bag of items in to donate.  Please bear in mind that these are big box chain thrift stores and not non-profit stores like the Salvation Army… I have absolutely no problem paying more to directly support charity, but I’m talking about for-profit stores like Goodwill and Value Village.

When I popped in the other day to look for something entirely different, they had a few Game Boy games in their case that I was instantly interested in.  The first was a good copy of Final Fantasy Legend III that I wanted to replace my current absolutely horrendous version with a its torn-to-shreds label.  Alongside that one was Captain America and the Avengers with a price tag of $40.  There aren’t too many Game Boy games that fetch such a price, but after comparing to the internet’s going rate I decided to jump in on that one.  When trying it out I died pretty much instantly since beat-em-ups aren’t my strength by any means, but my boyfriend fiddled around with it for a bit, and he was excited about the purchase. Both these games were in absolutely gorgeous condition and it was a no-brainer to pick them up.

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In a local online auction, I was lucky enough to win a few more Game Boy games, including a second copy of James Bond 007 and Tetris DX.  I had to double and triple check my collection before bidding on the Tetris game because I already own at least two or three other versions of Tetris for it.  It’s amazing how many variations they’ve put on that old formula, some better than others of course.

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For NES and Famicom, I picked up a few games online and via local auction including Pinball Quest: The World’s First Fantasy Pinball, Bad Dudes, and The Wing of Madoola.  Pinball Quest looks really cool and mixes up Pinball with RPG elements, two things I never thought I’d see in the same game.  It looks tough but fun, and hopefully it’ll also play that way.  Bad Dudes with its reputation obviously speaks for itself, but I was lucky to find it with its manual.  The manual felt greasy and dusty all at the same time and I really hate touching it, but I’m not really sure how to tidy it up very well.  I want to put it in a plastic bag and observe it rather than ever physically interacting with it again.  All I know about The Wing of Madoola is that it’s supposed to be a difficult platformer/adventure game that is English-friendly, so I jumped all over that.

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I was also told of another English-friendly Famicom game called Dragon Buster that I should consider looking into.  I watched someone’s gameplay video on YouTube and was laughing awfully hard in the first few seconds at how the main character swings his sword around, if you can even call it swinging.  It’s more like flailing!  I went to eBay to purchase it but accidentally bought the second game instead.  I didn’t actually realize my mistake until it arrived in the mail, but I remedied the issue and purchased the first game as well. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the second game is playable with no Japanese knowledge, but I will look into it.  Either way, the two of them are together in my collection now!

I also enjoy the screenshot from Dragon Buster on the front label. That yellow monster with the grossest-ever bellybutton is the stuff of nightmares.

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Staying in the 8-bit generation a little longer, I also snagged three more NES games from that local online auction I’ve been mentioning.  MTV Remote Control was a game I’d never heard of before and still don’t know too much about, but with auctions starting pretty cheap, I figured it’d be worth picking up.  Nobody else bid on it, so I was an instant winner (not sure if that’s good or bad…).  I had to fight a little bit to get my hands on Quattro Adventure, a game that’s comprised of four games in one.  I’ve had the pleasure of watching games like Boomerang Kid and Super Robin Hood streamed by friends of mine, and I couldn’t help wanting to try them out myself.  I had actually been eyeballing a copy of this game at a flea market over the past year or so, but it was priced at $40 and there was no way I was going to pay that.  This one came to me for a smooth $7, so it was quite the deal!  Deadly Towers was not a game I was actively looking for, but nobody dared place a bid on it.  I felt bad and brought it home too.

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Although I don’t usually make too many purchases for PC, I recently played through King’s Quest V on NES and had King’s Quest fever for a bit.  I stumbled into some copies of three of the games at the thrift store and scooped them right up.  One was the PC version of KQV which I’ve never had the pleasure of owning, and the others were King’s Quest 7 and 8.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the latter two but it doesn’t hurt to have them and try them out for myself.

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On the recommendation of a few different people, I also picked up Castle of Illusion for the Sega Master System.  I’ve been wanting to expand my Master System collection beyond RPGs for a while now but really never know where to start.  This version of the game has often been touted as its best version, and I got a great copy from overseas that was significantly cheaper than the North American version and will play just the same in my console.  If there’s one thing I love about the Master System, it’s its lack of region locking for the most part.

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It’s rare that I have two Master System-related thing to share at once, but I did buy another game off of eBay recently called Asterix.  I had tried waiting out the game swap to see if I could find a copy there, but my luck ran short with this one since it’s a PAL region-exclusive.  There are usually so few Master System games at swaps to begin with that it was highly unlikely to find this one anway, but I figured I’d try.  I’m pretty excited to give this one a whirl since it appears on many different Top Master System Games lists.  It’s missing its manual, but I hope I’ll be okay without it.

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I also picked up Wheel of Fortune for PS1 and Barbie and the Three Musketeers for Wii.  Most of you are probably familiar with the former, but the latter looks like a genuinely interesting RPG-ish adventure game that I was instantly into when I saw some folks playing it.  I really hope my copy works well since it’s a bit scratched up, but I really couldn’t say no for $3.

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Switching back to a bit of Sega, I recently bought a copy of Gadget Twins for the Genesis.  This one looks pretty cute.  It’s a shooter with little submarines that are fighting other submarines that are sometimes in larger, angrier-looking submarines… if it sounds too cute to be true, you’re probably right!  This isn’t a genre I normally saunter too far into, but it was the right price!

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Last but not least, I bought a Virtual Boy game called V Tetris.  This was a Japan-exclusive game that is very different from the Tetris game that was released in North America, 3D Tetris.  I’m also in love with the fact that the Virtual Boy is region free and hope to continue to take advantage of that as I round out my collection for this console.

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And there it is!  Lots of new games to add to the pile and a few more blog posts coming.  There was an impromptu game and antique swap this weekend and I was pretty successful at those as well.  I’d also like to share lots of the Super Famicom games I’ve been slowly hoarding, so expect a post about that soon as well.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and enjoy Monday tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!

-GG

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The Smell of Swaps is in the Air

Swap season has officially begun now that the snow is melting and the highways are safe to travel again!  The first swap of the year is always long awaited and this year was no different from the rest.  This particular event yielded the greatest amount of games purchased yet for me, and I’m happy I saved up some money throughout the winter months to splurge here.  It almost made the months without any collecting excitement feel worthwhile.

I suppose I can start with a few Japanese Virtual Boy games.  We recently modded our Virtual Boy with A/V out so that I can play it on a television and also capture gameplay for videos and streaming.  Although the output is not in true 3D since the mod only takes video from one eyepiece, it still makes the games much more playable given that the chances of me taking out Big Red to play some games the intended way was fairly slim before.  I bought two games in absolutely mint condition.  The first is Vertical Force, a game I never even knew existed for the system.  It’s a shooter that looks quite promising based on what I’ve seen so far.  The second game is Panic Bomber, a puzzle game that may or may not be up my alley.  I can’t see how a game like this without any type of colour differentiation might be playable, but I hope to try it out soon and see how I like it.  Both games came complete with their manuals in nice, near-perfect boxes.

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Although I went in hoping to find a few games for the Master System, I only came away with one: a PAL exclusive game called Cheese Cat-Astrophe Starring Speedy Gonzales.  I hadn’t heard of it before but the description on the back of the box talking of the dastardly Dr. Cheesefinger and assurance from the seller of its good quality sold me.  Unfortunately it didn’t come with its manual, but I don’t think this kind of game would need too much explanation to pick up and play.  I might happen to stumble upon a manual someday, but in the meantime, this was a nice game to add to my humble Master System collection.

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I found a few games for the Sega Genesis, and the first two were loose with one coming along with its manual.  The first was Herzog Zwei, a strategy/shooter hybrid I’ve heard highly praised by many for being one of the best and greatest games on the system.  This game has always been far too expensive for me to pick up in the past, but the price was right for the cartridge alone and I jumped on it. The second game I picked up unboxed was Atomic Runner.  It’s a sidescrolling platformer/shooter game that I was pretty entranced by after watching a friend’s review. I was instantly sold on wanting to try it out myself.  Although neither of these games are the typical genre I’m attracted to, I think they’ll be good at testing my boundaries and challenging me to step outside my comfort zone.

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The third Genesis game we bought at the end of the day when things were starting to wrap up and people were looking to move some stock so they didn’t have to take it home with them again.  There were a few copies to choose from at different vendor tables, but two didn’t come with a manual which was something I really wanted to make sure I got with it.  The game is Haunting: Starring Polterguy, and the premise is scaring a family in their home by doing ghostly things.  I’m hoping this one is as fun as it sounds, but it’s a rare MA-13 rating, making it automatically intriguing.  The box art was a little rough along one edge and the manual is permanently bent from being stored on its side, but that’s just fine by me!

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Onto some Nintendo stuff.  I did happen to find a couple of manuals I was missing.  I’d hoped to find more for my Manual Gaming YouTube series, but unfortunately the pickings were quite boring.  I’ve never seen more Rad Racer or Tetris manuals in my life, and when people individually price them and want something like $15/manual for more “popular” games, I have no interest in dealing with them.  I did find the Mario Tennis (Game Boy Colour) and Super Mario Advance (Gamy Boy Advance) manuals, which now means my SMA is complete!

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I also purchased two Super Nintendo games.  The first is Inindo, a turn-based RPG that was recently brought to my attention that I didn’t have yet.  I don’t know too much about it to be honest, but it was in good shape despite some nasty goo on the surface I haven’t had a chance to clean up yet.  The second game was Sunset Riders, a run-and-gun game that I’ve heard plenty of great things about.  Sunset Riders is usually fairly pricey but the seller parting with it was selling off his personal collection and was very negotiable on price.  He too was dealing with the end of the day blues and was looking to part with it for a great deal, so I scooped it up.

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The bulk of what we picked up at the swap was for the NES.  Two of the games were ones I’ve been looking for over several years now: Spiritual Warfare and King of Kings from Wisdom Tree.  I did pick up the Wisdom Tree kickstarter NES compilation cartridge a few years ago, but I’ve also always wanted the original cartridges to add to my only other Christian game from them: Bible Adventures.  The cartridges were both absolutely filthy and even though they still need a good exterior cleaning, the games fired up without much issue when I was testing them.

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The last seven games were also all for the NES and vary in their genre and style.  Most of them are once again games I wouldn’t normally buy for myself, but I’ve either seen them played or heard good things about them from others.  I more or less took suggestions from friends since I was short on ideas for other good NES games to look for, and my list became quite long quite quickly.  Most of the games here I bought in bulk from different sellers and was able to haggle a better-than-sticker price, so I ended up saving some cash after all was said and done.

The first game was Clash at Demonhead.  I hadn’t heard of this game until the night before the swap and when I looked up a bit of gameplay online, I knew I had to give it a whirl if I coud find it.  The style of this game is so unique and cute that I couldn’t say no when I saw it.  The seller I bought it from was trying to push a complete in box copy on me for an extra $25, and I didn’t go for that.  Next up is Xexyz, a really interesting genre hybrid game that marries shooter mechanics and some platforming elements.  I’m so familiar with the soundtrack by this point that it isn’t even funny, but I’ve never had the chance to play this one myself.  Mendel’s Palace was a total gamble.  I looked at the label art and decided to take the plunge knowing nothing else about it.  Thankfully, it turns out that it’s a pretty promising puzzle/action game where you have to murder enemies using a floor made of cards.  It sounds weird and probably is weird, and it’ll be a fun foray when I finally get around to playing it.  Last but not least from this bunch is Tombs & Treasure, a point-and-click adventure game that I’m pretty excited to try.  I think it’s in the same vein as games like Shadowgate, Deja Vu and Uninvited where you’re playing from that first person perspective.  I recently played through King’s Quest V on NES again, and even though this game isn’t like that at all, I’m pumped at the prospect of having more PC-like NES experiences.

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The last bunch of NES games were also very exciting finds for me.  Vice Project Doom is something that has been hyped up to me by many different people for two reasons.  Firstly, the game is apparently a joy to play, and secondly, it has meatstick powerups in it.  I do a stream night on Mondays called Meatstick Mondays where I play games with bone-in meatsticks in them (sounds weird, but it gets me playing games that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself.)  It’s a two-fold win!  Darkwing Duck is one I’ve always wanted to own and play but have never wanted to play the going rate, but this one I bought from the same seller as Sunset Riders so it came to me for a deal.  And finally, Kabuki Quantum Fighter had me hooked when I first saw hair being used as a weapon.  What else could you possibly want in a side-scrolling action game?
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This was the first swap in a long while where I didn’t have any trades to bring along, and this was again due in part to having such a miserable collecting winter.  There were so few games to buy locally that I just didn’t have anything lying around to trade, which was a little sad for me.  As much as I’m not used to parting with actual cash at these things, this was a nice opportunity to get back on the collecting scene and diversify my interests a little bit.  As always, here’s a little group photo of the new additions!

More swaps are coming up in the next few weeks and months, and I’ve also got a few other casual collecting posts to update you all on as well.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading!

-GG

p.s. Even though I’m not doing any kind of written reviews here, I have been doing video reviews and retrospectives over on YouTube.  I wanted to share this one I put out yesterday on my experiences playing The Legend of Zelda’s second quest on NES.

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2018 – A Year of Change!

There is a very wonderful person who shares a love for games that you should all see here! I’m honoured to have gotten to know him over the past year and am excited to see where his blog will go in the future. He’s also a great streamer!

sirhcman's game blog

So 2018 is winding down and I have procrastinated on making my first blog post for nearly six months now. I would like to blame it on being productive in other areas of my life and having so many others things to do but in the end it just comes down to sheer laziness. When I setup this account I didn’t know what I wanted to write about (and quite frankly I still don’t!) so I will just give you some highlights of my 2018.

My 2018 started out on a roll, I was living in my parents basement! Now that might be a surprise to some but I had a good reason for living there as a mid-30 year old. I had just sold my house and was in the process of finding a new one! I was really excited because I had been trying to move for over…

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A Look Back at 2018

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone in its entirely, but somehow here we are with the sun soon to be setting on one of the busiest gaming years I think I’ve ever had.

A few really important things have happened this year for me in terms of collecting and gaming.  Collecting has more or less slowed to a crawl.  If you’ve been following here for a while, you’ll likely notice that my posts have become more infrequent since I’ve found a lot of the games I set out to find by this point.  I’m still looking for games, but not nearly as carefully or as often as before.  It sent me spiralling a little earlier in the year, but I’ve been busy refocusing.

What I mean by that is that I’ve had a really firm shift in my hobby from collecting to actually playing through games.  As weird as it’ll sound, as much as I’ve always intended to play through my collection, I was often paralyzed by choice and kept gravitating towards the same few games I had played my entire life.  I’ve finally taken a wide step around that issue and started diving into the backlog head first after implementing a bit of organization into my life recently, and I’m really happy with how things have been going.  Most of this momentum has grown out of streaming and developing more as a let’s player and a video reviewer over the past year.

The list of games that I’ve worked through in 2018 have been a mixture of RPGs and other games I’ve been playing on a stream night designated Meatstick Mondays, a title established by a viewer that has forced me to pick up games I’d never normally prioritize.  The catch: the games have to have meatsticks in them as a power-up item. Brilliant!  You’d be surprised how long my Meatstick Monday list is!

I’m going to run through the 26 games I’ve completed and say a little bit about each.  Playing through the games has resulted in me spending some time reviewing a few in video form and also doing a second playthrough for a let’s play series.  I’ll likely link here to some of those things as well to have the full scope of 2018 all in one place.  Here we go!

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

This was one of the first games I purchased off of eBay when I got a credit card but never finished until this year.  The completionist in me saw me struggling to make it through the game to a certain standard, but playing it casually turned out to be much more fun and relaxing.  I was actually pretty sick at the beginning of the year with a bad cough making streaming a bit cumbersome, but I stuck it out and finished it.  I’ve tried to adopt the casual playthrough attitude with all games I’ve been picking up.  Completionism is a huge roadblock for me.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)

This game is one I’ve had since childhood and finish pretty regularly. Not much to say here.

The Lion King (Sega Genesis)

See above!

Jesus and the Temple (NES)

This game is part of the King of Kings compilation by Wisdom Tree.  I supported a Wisdom Tree Kickstarter a few years ago and got my hands on a multicart with all their games on it.  I finally had my chance to take a kick at the can but only managed to make my way through one of the three games.

David and Goliath (NES)

I must’ve been on a Wisdom Tree kick in early 2018 because this is part of another 3-game called Bible Adventures by them.  My skill level at this game is very touch-and-go, so I was thankful to have made it through.  I think I played it a few other times and didn’t end up finishing it, but it still counts if I only beat it once, right?

Super Mario Advance (GBA)

I was initially thrilled to see a game that might take a bit of a different approach on a tale as old as time: Super Mario Bros. 2 for NES.  SMB2 is one of my very favourite games, but I was pretty disappointed in the remake, mostly because of the voice acting. I articulated more thoughts in a comparison video here.  Toad can burn in a fiery death in Hell where he belongs.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) 

Naturally, to capture some footage of the original SMB2 game for the video above, I had to play through the game again.  Because it’s my favourite Mario game, I played through it quite a few times this year both for fun and also for some practice for a stream race I did against a nice fellow, The ReNesance.  There will definitely be an eventual rematch, but you can see our three races with Toad, Luigi and Princess Toadstool.  I also put in the Walk Backwards code and put it to some classic Michael Jackson for fun as well.  SMB2 will never get old for me!

Faxanadu (NES)

Faxanadu is pretty much my favourite game for the NES, and I was lucky enough to get to play it through a few times this year.  I never seem to get sick of ascending the World Tree and no matter how many times I play through it, I’m still never sure how many keys I need to bring along with me.  One playthrough of this game was also done over the month of November with The Renesance, and we did a tag-team playthrough of the game.  We’d each play for an hour and pass the password off to the other person to continue the playthrough.  We did this until we finished the game, and it was one of my favourite set of streams to date.  This is a long one, but I assembled all our legs of the game into one 4 hour-ish video.

Pokemon Blue (Game Boy)

I’ve been vying for a long while to actually finish a Pokemon game.  Earlier in life I had dabbled in a little bit of Pokemon Sapphire but I never completed it.  Some kind of Pokemon anniversary date had me pull Blue out of the pile and I decided to see it through to the end over a few weeks.  I enjoyed my playthrough overall, and it was surprisingly more difficult than I had been expecting!  The limited inventory got on my nerves pretty quickly, but I loved my little team (especially Butterfree!) and enjoyed pushing through to finish this one.

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (Sega Master System)

This game changed how I’ve felt about games I’ve played before and every game I’ve played since.  I wrote a post about it, but the long story short is that I am constantly humbled by how many quality of life changes RPGs now integrate to make the gamer’s life easier.  Ultima IV also made me think quite a bit about who I am as a person, and I would love to play more games in the series.  There’s so much hype about Ultima V out there, but I have such a long list of other things to play that it might be a while before I get there.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)

Mystic Quest was a nice break from the hardcore RPG-ness of Ultima IV.  It took a lot of the thinking out of the equation, but with a truly exceptional soundtrack and some tricky puzzles, I really loved it!  A lot of people rip on the game because of its “easiness”, but if you didn’t have the option to retry battles you died in immediately after death, this game would be significantly more difficult.  That boss music will be popping into my head for the rest of my life.

Kirby’s Adventure (NES)

I played this game on a stream viewer’s recommendation and had a way harder time than I ever could’ve imagined.  When I think of Kirby, I think of easier games that anyone can pick up and play.  This was definitely the case, but despite playing through the entire game in one sitting, I still didn’t feel like I had a handle on the game by the end of it all.  I think it’s the up-to-float that kept getting to me, as well as a bit of a delay when jumping and attacking.  I don’t think I’ll play it again for a long while.

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (SNES)

The Lost Levels is a game I’ve played a handful of times in my life.  I remember first playing it seriously in my late teens and having a standoff with 8-3 for several days before finally making my way through it.  I somehow made it through the entire game back then but ended up playing through it again twice this year: once for a let’s play and once on stream. I find this game so tricky that I can’t help but laugh at myself whenever I don’t make a jump or get killed over and over again by the same hammer brother. It’s honestly one of my favourite ways to just relax and get my smile on while enjoying some Mario.  Here’s a link to the stream archive which includes the full game.

Illusion of Gaia (SNES)

I’m going to be blunt here and say that this was probably my least favourite game of 2018.  I loved aspects of it like the action and the RPG mechanics of how your character levels, but the story was absolutely deplorable.  I have very little love for any of the characters, and I played it through twice: once for stream and once for a let’s play. I did a review of it here and there’s a let’s play up on my channel if anyone is interested in checking it out.

Conan (GameCube)

Playing Conan (a PAL exclusive) was one of the biggest steps I’ve taken out of my comfort zone this year. It’s a rather interesting 3D adventure game with platforming and RPG elements that had me laughing away.  There are a lot of problems with this game that I won’t really get into here, but in a nutshell it was just about as frustrating as it was funny at times.  I assembled some of what were my own favourite parts of the game in several clips videos that can be found in this playlist.  The playlist also includes a clips video from my N64 007 playthrough, which I did not complete this year but still had a thoroughly good laugh while playing.

Space Quest II (PC)

I’ve played a few of the King’s Quest games over the years and loved them, so when a viewer requested I take a stab at SQII, I couldn’t help myself.  It was so much fun getting back to basics with this adventure, and playing it through blind with a bunch of people biting their nails as you struggle through puzzles was one of my favourite experiences of 2018.  I desperately need to get back into PC point-and-click/text adventures.

Super Bonk (SNES)

One of the Meatstick Monday games, Super Bonk was surprisingly fun albeit a bit on the easy side.  I finished it in one sitting, but it definitely made me want to play more games in the series.  It doesn’t look like I’ll be picking up a Turbografx-16 any time soon since collecting for that system right now is like throwing fistfuls of money into the wind, but perhaps someday I’ll chance upon the NES Bonk game at a yard sale for $2. A girl can dream!  I put some thoughts together on Super Bonk in the review below.

Joe & Mac (NES)

You’d be surprised at how many caveman games easily sneak into Meatstick Mondays. Unlike the way cooler SNES Joe & Mac game, this one fell a little flat for me overall.  Despite being ridiculously clunky to the point of crying laughing occasionally, I don’t know that I’ll be wanting to play through this one again any time soon.  Meatstick Mondays giveth, and Meatstick Mondays taketh away.

Wizards & Warriors (NES)

This was a game I tried out after buying and had no idea what to do. I put it away for a long while and only ended up playing it when it popped up for Meatstick Mondays.  I actually really, really enjoyed the game overall.  After getting through some of the stumbling blocks with respect to which items did what and finally figured out where I needed to go, it all came together really nicely.  The soundtrack was definitely one of the highlights for me, and I can certainly see myself playing it again sometime.

Final Fantasy III (SNES)

You might be wondering why it has taken me so long to play this game, and I wouldn’t blame you.  I couldn’t really tell you why I put it off, but I’m certainly glad I played this masterpiece this year.  I actually met a lot of new folks streaming this game blind.  There were many folks that just dropped in to let me know that FFIII was their favourite and that they hoped I was enjoying the game.  I think I cried at least 4 or 5 times throughout the game (probably more) but especially at one specific part where it felt like I had the wind knocked out of me.  I still haven’t been able to get all my words down on paper to assemble some thoughts on the subject, but it’s a work in progress.

Metroid (NES)

This game was requested by a viewer and had been sitting on my shelf for a long while.  I decided to make my own map for the game and go in blind, and it was a real grind for me for a little while.  At times I feared that I wouldn’t be able to finish the game, but that’s one of the benefits of streaming: there’s always someone there to encourage you and give you advice if you need and want it.  I didn’t review this game, but I did bust out a bit of science to put together a video on the plants of Brinstar if anyone wants to take a gander.

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (SNES)

As a lover of Faxanadu, it should come as no surprise that I would gravitate towards the side-scrolling, platforming, RPG-element-filled Ys III.  I liked this game so much I played it through twice within a few days.  Despite some grindy bits, the game comes highly recommended.  If you do nothing else, take a listen to the soundtrack!  I did a full playthrough of the game here, too.  I still need to play Ys II and IV.

Golden Axe Warrior (Sega Master System)

I loved this game.  It’s everything that the original Zelda for NES was and then some, and I can’t recommend this game enough to anyone that loved the original Hyrule.  I put some thoughts into a review and am still uploading parts of the playthrough I did, and I could easily pick up the game and play it through again already even though I just finished it.  I don’t want to spoil too much about the game, but not only is it more beautiful than Zelda, but it’s also better in virtually every way (except maybe the soundtrack).  I also love the meatstick work my boyfriend did for my thumbnail.  It makes me chuckle every time!

E.V.O. Search for Eden (SNES)

If you can recall some of my collecting blogs from the early days, you’ll know that this game was on my “to buy” list for a while and it took me some time to find for a good price.  I played through it this year in its entirety, and it was… strange.  Good, but strange.  I’m still not really sure how I feel about it but I’d recommend playing it just to experience it.  It’s definitely something you need to experience yourself to even begin to formulate an opinion about.  I will always treasure the moments I had playing as a horsecat and eating scared dinosaurs.

Aladdin (Sega Genesis)

I used to rent this game all the time as a little one and bought it sometime over this past year or two.  I laid it to rest as recently as last night, and I’m glad to turn the page on it (finally!)

Forgotten Worlds (Sega Genesis)

I played this through with my boyfriend just last night as well.  There was much air spooning and decimating of enlarged body parts.  I’m glad to say we were victorious!

That just about ends my year in review, and looking back on it all, I’ve been awfully busy in 2018 pursuing a new extension of my collecting hobby.  I can honestly say I’ve been loving every bit of it, and I’ve certainly adored getting to know everyone I’ve met over the past few years since starting up this blog and getting more into video-making and playing through my collection.  I keep hoping that this blogging world and the streaming/video-making worlds collide. We all loves games so much and there are so many wonderful, wonderful people to connect with.

I truly hope 2018 has been great for you all.  Though I’m not posting as much here as I used to, I’m still keeping an eye on all the goings-on here.  I wish you all the very best in 2019, in both your gaming endeavours and everything else in between.  Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading!

-GG

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Two Months Worth of Game Hunting

It’s always quite shocking to me when I come back to write up a post and realize it has been several months since the last one.  I knew things had slowed down but I didn’t realize quite how much they had slowed!  Anyway, I’ve finally managed to amass enough games to put a post together.  I had been hopeful toward the end of summer that I’d be able to make it out to a few swaps in the fall, but one of the ones that we normally go to didn’t run this year.  That left me mostly at the mercy of classifieds and the occasional eBay purchase or thrift store perusal, but nonetheless, here are some things I tracked down over the past couple of months.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll already know that I’m an enormous fan of the Master System.  Even though I only discovered the platform a few years ago, it has quickly become very near and dear to me and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to buy a boxed system, especially not for $100.  Before buying this, I wasn’t really aware that there were many, many iterations of this console released in the US and Canada, and this particular model was one of the first released in Canada, specifically.  It comes with controllers where the cord comes out of the side rather than the top, but nonetheless, I’m glad to have it.  The box itself is a little beat up at the enclosure, but overall, everything else was pretty well maintained.  The only problems I ran into so far were needing to clean some of the “melted”(?) styrofoam off of some of the wires. The rest of the items cleaned up quite nicely.  I’m pretty sure that the weird backwards joystick shown in the photo didn’t come with this system, and I’m not sure what the missing item might be.  The space does look pretty perfect for a game box.

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Next up is a handheld console: a Game Gear! I’ve never had one of my own before, and although this one looks just fine from the front, there are some issues with the battery door and a bit of cracking in one of the corners.  Though it’s not in the greatest shape, I got it for $10 with the hopes of maybe sending it away to be modified at some point for A/V out so I can stream with it.  There are a few people online that can do the mod, but I’m secretly hoping my boyfriend might be able to try it out himself.  I’ve heard it’s a tough procedure, so I’ll start shopping around soon to see who is performing such duties out in the world just in case a home job doesn’t work out.

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Onto some games! I did track down a few Game Boy / Game Boy Colour games in the last little while, and one of those is Cosmo Tank.  I first heard about this game from a YouTube video and decided to explore it a bit further.  Even though the ad listed an English copy of the game unfortunately the seller sent me a copy of the Japanese version instead.  I’ve heard that it’s still very playable regardless, so I didn’t bother trying to send it back.  Mario Tennis was also something I had been wanting to find given that some of the Mario Golf or Tennis games sometimes come along with an RPG-inspired single player mode.  I tried it out for a few minutes and had my ass handed to me, so I definitely think I need some practice!  Last but certainly not least here is Mega Man V!  In a previous post, I was complaining about an overpriced copy of the game for $119 + 13% sales tax at a local thrift store. I amazingly bought this one for $70. It’s still more than I wanted to spend, but this is only the second time I’ve seen this game ever and decided to strike while the iron was hot.

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Getsu Fuuma Den is a Famicom game that is filled with a play style along the lines of something like SpellCaster’s action sequences: a sidescrolling platformer.  Though this game was touted to be English-friendly from a friend online, I’m not so sure that I’ll be able to play it without using some sort of guide.  It was extremely cheap at around $5 shipped from eBay, and low prices tend to be the trend for Japanese games for the most part.  At the very least, the label art rocks!  Am I allowed to still say “rocks” or does that make me sound too much like a 90s kid?  All I know is that I get a ThunderCats vibe from it, and that makes me happy.

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Tucked away on a thrift shop shelf among many, many sports games, I happened to find Wario Ware: Smooth Moves for the Wii.  This game was an absolute steal at $2, and it’s in near perfect condition.  There is no sign of a single scratch on the disc, and the manual and registration card are crisp and minty.  I’ve been assured that Wario games are a lot of fun, and if it’s anything like the other Wario games, I’m sure it’ll be a good time.  I’m still feeling traumatized from one of the mini games in Wario Ware for the GBA where you spray a tiny, smiling brown star with what can only be a portable bidet…

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I’ve always been a fan of Mickey Mouse games, with my first love being Word of Illusion on the Sega Genesis.  Since I didn’t grow up with an SNES, I missed out on all the Mickey Mouse games for the system.  I’m happy I stumbled upon an ad for The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, a game that has received relatively positive reviews as far as I can tell.  I love fantasy worlds and when a world is revolving around some of my favourite cartoon characters, things only get better and better.  I’m looking forward to this one!

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Speaking of the Genesis, I found some games for that system at a pretty good deal as well.  The first is X-Men, which came with its case and manual.  The manual seems to have gotten wet at some point and the game also seems to smell a little bit like laundry detergent.  This seems to be a common theme for games I’ve picked up.  They’re either filthy and damp-smelling, or they smell like laundry.  Where do you guys store your games?  I’m genuinely curious!  Either way, X-Men is supposed to be pretty decent and the rest of the game was in fairly good shape.  Sadly, there was no poster inside. No maps or hints for me!

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A second set of games we picked up for the Genesis were The Ooze and Mutant League Hockey.  I had never heard of The Ooze previous to purchase, but a friend of mine did a brief review of Mutant League Hockey that sold me on the game.  I don’t normally tend toward sports games, but this one looks like too much fun to pass up.  You can likely tell from the photo below that the game’s art has been sun bleached, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I got this game for $15!  The guy who sold these things to me also sold me Mega Man V and he decided to let me have first pick of some of his collection he was parting ways with.  Mutant League Hockey usually goes for much more money, but he knew it was going to a good home and didn’t mind selling it to me for much less than regular asking price.  I’m pretty grateful for this!

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And last but not least are some NES games!  I’ve expanded my NES library quite a bit in the last little while because of a certain streamer I’ve been watching, The ReNesance. He has a penchant for puzzle platformers, and Milon’s Secret Castle is a game I think I might be able to manage after watching him play through it.  He also played NES Open Tournament Golf lately, and that was a game I had never really looked at seriously before.  Both of those games were $10 each.  And I’m sure you’re not truly believing your eyes, but I finally, finally managed to track down Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom!  I used some eBay bucks and a promotional code to snag this one, and though it’s still more than I wanted to spend on the game at $100, the game is in really, really nice shape.  I’m happy to finally put the search for Princess Tomato to rest.

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So given that winter is pretty much in full swing out this way and highway conditions have quickly deteriorated for travel, I’m going to continue to rely heavily on classifieds ads for most of my game hunting.  Wish me luck!  I hope your game-hunting and game-playing adventures are going smoothly.

As always, thank you for reading.

-GG

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Last Summer Game Swap/Exchange

Somehow several weeks have managed to fly by since I went to a game swap event.  I think I mentioned previously how hard it has been to find things locally over the last many months save for a few exceptions, but game swaps are normally a different story.  You know that there are going to be some good games there, and it’s just a question of whether or not the price is right.  I found some really great games and spent more than I was thinking I would, but after such a slow summer, I didn’t mind spending money I had already put aside for collecting anyway.

The first thing that I picked up was Oracle of Ages for Game Boy Colour.  You might be remembering somewhere deep inside the corners of your brains that I had fixed up a non-working copy in a post in the distant past.  Well, although we fixed it at the time, I tried starting it up again and discovered that it was completely dead again despite not having touched it since.  How it died or what it means for a cartridge like that to die completely is puzzling, but it is truly dead despite having no physical signs of damage. No amount of reflowing solder or other fixes revived it. Rest in peace, little cartridge.

Either way, I was lucky enough to find a new copy complete in box and with a much nicer label than my old copy.  The box is in nice condition, and given that I have Oracle of Seasons in near mint condition in box as well, it’s great to have both games at a similar level of completeness.  You may or may not know that my favourite Zelda game is Link’s Awakening, and Ages and Seasons were made in the same engine.  I really, really want to play these ones.  I also have another game hanging around called For Whom the Frog Tolls also made in Awakening’s engine, and it’s a translation of a Japan-only game with RPG flavours.  I digress! There is more to talk about!

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The second thing I picked up was a copy of a game I’ve been looking for for ages on the Game Boy: Gargoyle’s Quest.  I remember seeing gameplay of this one a long time ago and wanted to know more about the series.  I also only recently discovered that there was a Gargoyle’s Quest II on NES between this game and Demon’s Crest for SNES.  I love games that are a mixture of platforming with RPG elements (Faxanadu, anyone?) so something like this is right up my alley. I have no idea if I’ll ever own the other games in this series since they’re less common and more expensive, but this is a great place to start in the meantime.

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I’ve been catching a lot of streams lately from friends on both Twitch and YouTube, and one of my friends streamed Gun.Smoke for NES.  Though that kind of game is not my usual fare, I saw it at the swap for a decent price and scooped it up.  It turns out that it was one of the first games my boyfriend ever played on NES as a youngster and was thrilled that I had brought it home.  It was a happy coincidence!  I think I heard somewhere that there are several label variants for this game.  If any of you own this game do you have this one or the other label?  I don’t know what the difference is in terms of timing of release or anything, but I’m just curious to know.

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Someone that watches my Twitch streams recommended that I pick up the game Shadowrun on SNES.  For a little while I kept thinking that I already had it, but I was thinking about Shadowgate for NES instead.  Apparently the SNES version has more action to it compared to the Genesis version which sticks to more of the tedious RPG elements, and on good advice I snatched this version up instead.  I had taken several walks around the convention hall looking for other copies of the game, and I’m pretty sure this was the only one. Lucky me!

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Now I think we all know by now just how much I love the Sega Master System.  I was tickled pink when a nice man sold me two games, Psycho Fox and Montezuma’s Revenge.  You could tell immediately that this person took great care of these games over the course of the time he owned them.  The boxes were in custom plastic cases to accommodate the case tabs, and the manual and game cartridges inside the cases were also wrapped up in plastic bags.  He had some pretty high prices on the games but after talking for a while and him seeing that I wasn’t just going to flip and resell his stuff, he came down to almost half of what he had been asking for both.  I think Montezuma’s revenge was originally a C64 game while Psycho Fox was an SMS exclusive (I could be wrong though.)  They were both games I had been wanting to find for a while, and buying them up means that my Master System collection is even closer to being complete.  I don’t know that there are too many more Master System games out there that I’m desperate to get my hands on.  But take a look at how beautiful these games are! They honestly look like they’ve never been played.

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Psycho Fox also came with a neat poster that I had never seen before.  In many of the other Master System games I own the included poster is the same generic one with all of the new releases on the back.  This one is special and is conveniently in absolutely pristine condition. I might have to stick this one in a frame or something.  There are a lot of great box art clips on it, including Psychic World.  It’s one of my favourite games for the system.

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The last game I got was a highly sought after RPG for the Sega Saturn for me: Albert Odyssey.  I never dreamed that I would actually get to own this game because of how expensive it is, but then suddenly there it was with a person that was willing to negotiate quite a bit on price.  Working Designs can really do no wrong, and I’ve heard that Albert Odyssey is an absolute gem to play.  I now have two good Saturn games, and that’s this one along with Shining Wisdom.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a few other games in the future, but collecting for the Saturn is a financial nightmare.  If I never find another Saturn game, I could be happy with the two of these.

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So that brings us to the end of another swap post.  There is supposed to be another event coming up at the end of this month, and weather permitting, I might just have to go to it and see if I can finally find Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom for NES.  That game is still evading me and I’d really like to add it to my collection sometime!  This swap was highly successful at least, and as usual, here’s a little family photo of all the games I picked up here.

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I hope your collecting endeavours (if you collect) have been productive.  In many ways, I’m looking forward to the quiet of winter when I’ll finally be able to stop thinking so much about collecting and start enjoying my games.

Thanks so much for reading!

-GG

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