Back in April, I finally got out to a fairly sizeable game swap event. I will admit that the idea of going into a large venue packed with people felt a bit daunting considering how isolated we’ve been during the entirety of the pandemic, but we planned well and ended up having an enjoyable day… for the most part.
You see, I had two main hunches coming into a convention post-pandemic. The first was that people selling would be relatively eager to move product that hasn’t had the chance to move for a long time. I hoped they might price things a little less than the going rate to accommodate with the mindset that selling more at slightly less is better than selling nothing at all. The second was that people selling would jack up their prices to compensate for lost time and the lack of product moving. Unfortunately, the latter was the case and that’s why, as you’ll see here, I didn’t end up buying very much. The fun was in the event itself and the idea that I could once again go out game collecting, but the hard-hitting truth about being priced out of game collecting is starting to weigh heavily in my mind.
If I can be blunt here: sellers at this particular swap were unwavering with their prices. Asking for combo deals or even $5 off a sticker price was a total hassle, and if someone wasn’t willing to meet me on price, I wasn’t willing to part with my money. Some of the prices were almost as bad as eBay + shipping, and shipping in Canada is pretty atrocious. Even within Canada sometimes, a Game Boy game ships at around $15, and anything bigger is usually $20 or more. Seeing those prices in person was a big eye-opener, and quite frankly I am not motivated to get out to these events in the future if I can pay the same amount to have things appear at my door, especially with the cost of fuel at the moment.
Compared to previous events, the variety in stock was also…weird for lack of a better word? Lots of sellers had several copies of the same undesirable games, and one in particular that stood out was one table with around 10 copies of Jack Nicklaus Golf for NES all priced at $10 a piece. To me, table real estate is precious so why fill it with things that won’t sell? And sure enough, at the end of the day, not one of them had gone. Anyway, the games I’m looking for these days are a little more on the uncommon side and if I did happen to find one, they were always completely out of my price range. I ended up buy a few things I wasn’t super pressed to find and brought those home instead. So with all this rambling out of the way, here’s what I ended up with.
The first game here is Monkeyshines for the Odyssey2. A few years ago, I picked up the console complete in the box with a bunch of games, and since then I’ve added a few to the collection as I’ve come across them. When possible, I really enjoy having the box and manual with these because while they’re simple, they sometimes have special explanations about the 1 and 2 player modes, or additional artwork. Unfortunately this was a lone cartridge on a table for a few bucks, so I took it home to add to my collection.
You might also recall that I was recently gifted an entire Commodore VIC-20 and some games, and I managed to find two more very cheap game cartridges hanging around on a table deep within the convention. I added Cosmic Cruncher and Avenger to the collection, and with so many cartridges now, I had to move them to a separate box! I was hoping to find some of the cartridges I had in childhood like Radar Rat Race or Gorf, but unfortunately those were nowhere to be found. There were also no tapes for the datasette, which was also a bummer.
I had a couple of NES games on my list to find, but the only one that was reasonably priced was A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. I have been looking for this game for a long while, and even though I have the Wii remake version, the NES game looks like a lot of fun and has a fantastic soundtrack. This was in gorgeous condition with only a little peeling at some of the label corners as you can see, but otherwise it’s a really clean copy to stuff on the shelf.
I’ve looked through a lot of games over the years, and it’s always exciting when I discover a label I’ve never seen before. Heiankyo Alien is a case of this phenomenon, and it was available for $5. I bought it not knowing what to expect, and while in hindsight it doesn’t look like the most exciting gameplay, it was still a neat experience jumping in with no expectations. Way in the back of a box of Game Boy games at a different table, I dug out a copy of Beetlejuice. I’ve never, ever seen this game at a convention and even though it was a little pricey, I bought it. It’s a different game entirely from the NES version and has been praised well in reviews I’ve seen online. Not my proudest thrifting moment, but given that I was up against what felt like an immovable salesperson, I was content with the slight discount I was able to snag.
UN Squadron for the SNES is a game I wouldn’t normally be after since it’s a shooter, but it came highly recommended to me by a dear friend and I can’t say no to recommendations from good people! It was surprisingly a great price too, and even though it has that weird bubbling at the bottom of the label in this photo, it’s barely noticeable in real life.
I desperately looked for new Master System stuff to take home, but there wasn’t a lot of variety to choose from. I went in looking for Aladdin to no avail, but I did manage to track down a copy of Fantasy Zone (finally!) that was in very nice condition. It didn’t come with a cool poster inside or anything, but it’s nice to have this. I’ve owned a copy of Fantasy Zone II for as long as I’ve had a Master System and this addition was a long time coming!
And last but not least, I got a few games for the Sega Genesis. To date I’ve only played Syd of Valis and recently bought Valis III, but I’d been hoping to find the first installment for a while now. It looks a little slower-paced and clunky compared to the later games in the series, but I’m glad to have the three Genesis titles. I actually went in looking for Super Valis IV, but this will do! Beyond Oasis is something I’ve had recommended to me over and over again, and now I finally own it! This was the other game that was not so cheap to pick up, but I went for it since I’ve rarely seen it in the flesh at conventions. I can’t wait to play it! It’s an action RPG, and you know how I love my action RPGs.
Even though the first time back to a game swap in over two years was mainly underwhelming, it was great to have some semblance of normalcy back. I’m not sure if I’ll move any mountains to get out to more of these this year, but I did at least find a few things I’d been hoping to for a long while. I do have some packages coming in the mail, so I should have at least one more post up shortly when everything arrives. And if I feel like pulling myself out of bed at the crack of dawn, I might just try some yard sales on weekends to come. Maybe. Me and mornings don’t really mix.
Thanks for reading!
I LOVED A Boy and His Blob. What a concept…feeding a blob jelly beans that make him change shape.
Yeah…you’d think it would be more of a buyer’s market with games. We thought the same thing with houses due to the pandemic, but it’s weird how it really isn’t. Maybe they figure people are desperate to get out so they’ll be desperate to pay anything?
you just love your beetlejuice games. and don’t smack on jack nicklaus golf, one day each cartridge will be worth a solid $ million
Beyond Oasis was such a good buy! Honestly I’ve played very little of it but it does seem like a really charming little game, and at the very least you came out of that with a few gems. Here in the PNW the retro game scene has been highly irregular since 2020 and seemingly hasn’t changed much since then. It’s not every day when the online market feels less volatile than the local one, where you’ll often see people trying to sell their grungy childhood GBC with rotting stickers plastered over the case for 60$ “or best offer.” You hate to see it but hopefully you’ll have better luck with other functions in the future. Surely sellers will soon realize that most games aren’t worth their weight in gold lol
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One can only hope tides will turn back to a more affordable market. There’s still plenty of things I’d like to pick up, but at this point, I have a lot of what I want and it’s mostly the more expensive stuff that’s left.