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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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Mishmash – My Favourite Kinds of Game Potatoes

The classifieds have been right up my alley lately.  I’ve found more games I was looking for in the last few weeks than I have all summer long and it has been such a welcome thing finding things again!  I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with two people with extras lying around or that were selling off parts of their personal collection, so the quality of the games I’ve been picking up have mainly been good.  No surprise water damage, no bad contacts or broken traces on boards… just good, clean games.

The first person I picked some games up from was a nice man who had lots of doubles.  He had listed a huge pile of common games, most of which I had already.  I did get a few things from him and the first two games were Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos for NES.  These games look to be tough as nails and beyond my skill level and capability at the moment, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to practice and defeat them some day.  I know a few folks that have had luck beating the first game, so there’s hope for me at least!  I honestly thought these games would be more expensive for some reason, but they were both pretty cheap.


I also got two other games from the same person, and they are Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage for SNES, and Donkey Kong for Game Boy.  I honestly picked up the Bugs Bunny game on a whim and haven’t given it too much attention yet, but Donkey Kong was something I had been looking for for ages!  It’s constantly on Top 10 lists of Game Boy games because it’s not just the regular arcade game.  It is for about four levels and then it switches gears to become a platformer/puzzler with a lot of charm.  The cartridge unfortunately has a bit of wear on its label, but it turns on and works just fine.  That’s all I can ask for from a Game Boy game that was clearly well-loved and must’ve been stuck in a Game Boy for a very long time.  I paid $45 for these and the two Ninja Gaidens, so that wasn’t altogether too bad!


Another classifieds ad was practically all about Sega, and you all know how I love my Sega! There were lots of great games in his list, and a very diverse and expansive collection.  By the time I got around to answering his ad a few things were already reserved by others but I did manage to sneak in and get a few things that I was missing for my collection.  The first was a bit of a disappointment: Operation Wolf for the Sega Master System.  Operation Wolf is one of a few known PAL region games that are incompatible with NTSC systems.  I should’ve known better about this one but had my fingers crossed that it might magically work out.  The game turns on just fine but it doesn’t allow you to control anything and you end up dying immediately.  The guy threw it in for free for me since he knew of these issues, so at least it’s nice on the shelf.  If it were heavier, I might turn it into an anchor.


He had another Master System game that I wanted: Zillion II.  I went through a lot of rigmarole to get my hands on the first Zillion game and had been looking for the second.  This one was definitely priced to sell and even though it’s just a short little game, I thought it might be fun to try out.  From what I understand it’s completely different from the first game and is more focused on action.  While testing it out I think I died almost immediately, so that should be fun.


The seller also had games for most of the cartridge-based systems, and he had a really good condition copy of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster’s Hidden Treasure.  I used to rent this game pretty regularly growing up along with things like Toejam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron and Ren & Stimpy, and I remember the game being fun but difficult for some reason.  I was thrown right back to my teenaged years with the title screen and after about an hour of playing, I put it away for another day.  I’m looking forward to finally beating that one sometime.


Lastly from this person, he had some games for handheld systems.  For the Game Gear, I got my hands on Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya.  Now I can cool off my quest to find Shining Force CD and focus on playing this version instead!  The only Nintendo game I got from him was for the Game Boy Advance, and that was Lady Sia.  I had seen this game at a local hock shop countless times for $30, and I’m glad I waited. I got a pretty sweet deal on all these games overall.  I think I paid $75 for everything.


The last bunch of games I picked up I found at a game store I visited.  The prices for NES games were remarkably reasonable, so I picked up Astyanax and 8 Eyes for $10 altogether.  I have a feeling I’m going to want to ear 8 Eyes a new… eye? after playing it for a while but I think it’s well worth trying out. Astyanax had me at the dragon and swordsman  on the cover.


The last two games I found at the store were for the N64.  The first was a game I’d been looking for for a friend of mine for a long while, and that was Starcraft 64.  The game’s label is pretty beat up and I think I’d rather try Starcraft on the PC at some point, but I’m glad that I finally found it for my buddy.  The other game was Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage, one of the very few RPGs for the system.  Though it received mainly mixed reviews online, I’m hopeful that it’ll be a decent game. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a manual online to help orient myself when the time comes!


Well that was certainly a mouthful.  I’m sure since the gaming gods have smiled kindly upon me over the past few weeks that I’m destined to find nothing else until 2019, but thankfully I do have a few other posts in the works.  I’ve been to a swap and am still getting some photos edited for the post I’ve been working on about picking up an arcade machine, so stay tuned for those.

As always, thanks very much for reading.


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Slower than Molasses Going Uphill in January…

That’s what my mom used to call me whenever I’d take too much time getting dressed in the morning, or when I was generally being slow at life.  This is the best way I can describe how game hunting has been for the past few months.  I’m quickly realizing that I have a lot of games that I want already, and what I don’t have yet isn’t likely to show up in the wild in the classifieds or at a thrift store.  People are also selling common games for much higher prices out my way so I haven’t been buying up game lots for a few games and trading away the rest anymore.  The deals just aren’t there.  It’s been quite the crawl, and unless I’ve gone off to a game store or ordered stuff off of eBay, I can’t say I’ve had much luck at all.

Despite being more miss than hit lately, I did track down a small pile of games at a thrift store a few weeks ago.  The first of the bunch were the first two games in the Uncharted series.  I don’t usually go out of my way to buy PS3 games, but these were in beautiful condition and came with their manuals as well.  For $3 each they were a pretty decent deal.  I don’t know much about the series but I’ve heard that it’s well-loved and I’m sure I’ll get around to trying them out sometime in the future.

I was also surprised to find a sealed PS1 game in the bunch.  I stumbled upon Martian Gothic: Unification and chuckled to myself reading through a few reviews of the game after getting home. People generally find this game to be abysmal, and it might stay sealed for a long while since I’m not in any rush to play an abysmal game. I have too many good games to play to start wading through the bad ones just to say I did!


In addition to these, I picked up A Boy and his Blob for Wii. I was patient with this game since it first appeared in the glass case at the thrift store for $16.  I waited a few weeks and since nobody picked it up, it eventually ended up on the shelf with a reduced price tag of $7.  I picked it up because I never had the chance to play the NES version, and I’ve heard this remake is a really big game with lots of levels and less obtuse puzzles than the original.  The graphics look really cute and I really need more reasons to bust out my Wii.  This disc was also in impeccable shape so it was hard to turn it down.  The manual looks like it has never even been touched before.  That’s how I like to find my games: pristine!


Though I’ve ultimately put aside the Sega Master System RPG quest for a little while to play other things, I did pick up an SMS game lately that would fit quite nicely with my other RPGs from that console.  Heroes of the Lance was recommended to me by a YouTube commenter, and though I’m sure he means well, I think he might just like to see people suffer since this game looks pretty hard.  I’m completely unfamiliar with Dungeons and Dragons in any of its many forms so I’ll be going in blind for a game like this. There are aspects that look promising and it’s been a habit of mine to like games that nobody else does, so naturally I rolled the dice when this one.   Anything with a dragon on its cover is more or less going to captivate me whether I want it to or not.  I should also mention that the manual is really, really long.  When I first saw it I was immediately intimidated, but only 12 or so of the pages are in English!  I’m a bit torn because I wish that there was more than 12 pages of information to set me on a path to success, but I’m glad it’s not an 80-pager.


In handheld news I picked up two games.  You might be wondering why on earth I’d ever consider buying the horrendous excuse of a game on the left in the photo below, but there’s a tiny story there.  I thought I owned it already.  I was convinced it was a terrible symptom of the pile of games I got from my friend Joe last year, but it turned out I didn’t have it after all.  I was reminded of the game while browsing Twitter one day: someone had made a thread describing bad games nobody should play, and N*Sync Get to the Show was on the list.  I decided to buy it because it gave me such a laugh, and though it’s probably one of the worst games I own, I’m desperately looking forward to playing it sometime.  Mario Golf Advance Tour is something I’ve been hoping to find for a while.  People have been going on a lot about Golf Story for Switch, and the idea of a golf RPG is pretty appealing to me.  What better place to start than here?  I also want to pick up the Mario Tennis games that have RPG elements as well as Mario Pinball Land.  I need all the Mario games on the GBA.


Last but not least, I did pick up 3 NES games: Bionic Commando, Air Fortress, and Castlequest.  The first two have been recommended to me by a relatively new friend of mine, The ReNesance.  I’m going to link his YouTube channel here because he is an extremely talented painter and skilled retro gamer that I’d highly encourage everyone to check out.  He paints video game landscapes in his series called the GameScape Artist, and I can’t get enough of watching creative people do creative things, so his stuff is right up my alley.  Go and take a peek at him!  You won’t be disappointed!  But yes, he has gone on and on about how excellent Air Fortress and Bionic Commando are (and has done some gameplay of the former here), so I was happy to find those both at a game store nearby and make them my own.  Castlequest came to me from the land of eBay and was relatively cheap as it should be… there certainly aren’t fan mobs clamouring to get their hands on the game, but that doesn’t tell me anything about its funness or goodness.  People also never talk much about Faxanadu, and that’s one of my favourite games of all time.


So a small yet happy post showcasing my scroungings from the last few months.  There are a few game swaps coming up this month that I’m going to try to make it out to.  I have high hopes that I’ll be able to cross some more things off my list and maybe do a bit of shopping for friends there too.  I’ve also been working on some other posts but am waiting for photos from my other half, so whenever he decides to get those over to me I’ll be able to tell you all about our arcade cabinet…

Hope you’re all getting ramped up for the long weekend.  Enjoy it, and thanks for reading!


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Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Has Changed Me

This has truly been the slowest game hunting year I’ve had to date, so my blog has been pretty quiet lately.  Though I have a few things on the go in terms of posts coming your way, in lieu of game collecting and blogging here, I’ve been busy playing through some of my crushing backlog, livestreaming, and putting together Let’s Plays and reviews/retrospectives on my YouTube channel. One game that I played through recently has really changed the way I approach RPGs in general.  Though I put it more succinctly in the video below, I still wanted to share a few thoughts about Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for the Sega Master System.

Now I’ve played enough RPGs in my life to know what makes one good or bad in my mind. The game has to have a good story, likeable characters, and have a good buildup towards vanquishing the ultimate evil that has turned the game’s world upside down. What I had never considered before playing Ultima IV is what happens when there is no evil to conquer.  What happens when you’re just a person on a quest to not fight a malevolent being, but to instead personify all good things about human nature to be a beacon of hope and an example for others?

Ultima IV challenged everything that I knew about RPG tropes and forced me to think about it all in a different way. Normally I rush into battles and kill everything to become more experienced, but the game’s virtue system forced me to think about what I should be killing, if anything. A few questions I kept having to ask myself were do all creatures deserve to die in battle? Is valour more important than compassion towards other living creatures? How is justice served out to beings that are evil?  Am I the one that should choose to inflict death on something that I have no jurisdiction over?  So many questions!  The game’s virtue system not only forces you to think of these things so that you can eventually beat the game (you need to increase your virtues to win), but it also makes you think about these concepts in reference to your own morals and values.  I’m by no means doing the game’s virtue system justice by rambling on about battling, but so many other things in the game’s adventure force you to think about your actions in-game and contemplate how you as a person might handle similar situations in your own real life.  For example, many of the shopkeepers are blind and you can underpay them and get away with it. Your virtue rating for honesty goes down if you do, but you’ll have a pocket full of reagents to use and money left over to buy weapons and armour if you want to. Though I’d never steal from someone in real life, my curiosity would swell once in a while and I’d wonder what would happen if I did steal from those women.  Usually games allow us to live out a life we might never lead ourselves. Ultima IV puts a stop to that pretty quickly and punishes you for becoming the “bad guy”.  Every action you take in-game only affects you and your progress. If you steal treasure that belongs to others, you’re going to have to make up for that by being extra honest in the future to regain those honesty points.  If you don’t donate to beggars or give blood at the healer, your sacrifice rating will never increase.  Even dying in battle rewards you for sacrificing yourself! Ultima IV is upside down and topsy-turvey from every other game I’ve ever played.

The other thing I really loved about the game was that the main character is a completely blank slate. Anyone can step into the shoes of that character and experience the game from a personal perspective rather than have to try to conform to a developed character with a backstory.  I could never really relate to characters that were forced from their homes and were joining a rebellion to regain their destroyed worlds.  I also couldn’t relate much to the protagonist chosen by prophecy to become the hero of the land and strike down negative forces.  The protagonist in Ultima IV, the Avatar, is very much relatable.  All you know about him or her is that they got sucked into a magical world and have been asked to lead a good life and become virtuous to encourage others to do the same. As a regular human living a regular life, you could literally be that random person who was drawn into the world of Britannia to start your quest.  Very few games let you shape the game’s experience from your own perspective rather than seeing it through the eyes of a pre-formed character, and that was a really special thing for me in this experience.

Now how has the game changed me and the way I think about RPGs you might ask? A lot of it stems from how going forward, I will never be able to play other games without feeling incredibly spoiled. A few examples are:

  1. Ultima IV makes you do everything yourself.  You want to heal? You need to make a potion for that.  Got poisoned wandering around in some swamp? You need to make a potion for that. Oh, you want to cast a spell that requires mandrake root or nightshade that can’t be found in stores? Get ready to talk to every single person in the world of Britannia to find a vague hint about where to look for those reagents. Everything is work, but there’s a great degree of satisfaction in that type of gameplay. I also love games like Harvest Moon for that very reason. It’s gratifying to see your work pay off.
  2. Acquiring information and using it isn’t easy in Ultima IV.  Many games I’ve played give some sort of auditory cue or highlight phrases to let you know that they’re important.  Those words are then thrown back in your face when you need them again.  Ultima IV does none of that. As a first-time player, I sat through conversation after conversation with many different people and had no idea what was or wasn’t important in our discussions. I had pages of notes that I never used, diagrams of things that I drew out just in case I needed them, and very little of it turned out to be relevant to my quest. In the Master System version, once keywords are discovered they will appear in conversations with people you’re supposed to talk to about certain things. This isn’t the case in all versions of the game.
  3. Battles can’t be won by smashing the Attack command over and over. You have to avoid physical obstacles and plan ahead in each battle based on what kind of terrain the battle is triggered on (for example, hilly areas have giant rocks in the way of ranged attacks.) You also have to think about your weaker characters and make sure that they’re never exposed to enemy attack. This is similar to front/back row dynamics in other RPGs, but sometimes when you enter a room in a dungeon and your weakest character is facing a bunch of enemies despite the best planning, it can be pretty devastating.
  4. Spells can only be used in battle if you’ve made them in advance. There is so much planning involved in Ultima IV, and you can soon be up the brownest creek of them all if you haven’t bought and mixed reagents to make various spells in advance of battle.  Though there are no bosses to fight, there are still really tough enemy encounters that can wipe out your entire party in an instant if you aren’t prepared. And in Ultima IV, it’s not just a matter of using a magic point restorative and casting away… if you don’t have a spell made up in your inventory, you don’t get to use it. And don’t think you can just run from battle and try it again. You’ll lose valour!
  5. Dying in-game is costly. You might remember me complaining a long while back about needing to pay $30 000 to revive a character in Miracle Warriors. This was the worst thing, right?  Well don’t think that dying in Ultima IV is going to be any easier. If anything, it’s far, far worse. If your whole party is wiped, say if you’ve gotten sunk at sea, the guy who is supposed to be helping you can’t get your stuff back from the void.  Any food, money, and fancy armour or weapons you had are gone. It’s often easier just to reset than to try to revive your party. Other games obviously let you start over from your last save or back where you died with everything intact. There is a huge difference in Ultima IV that again requires thinking ahead and careful planning.

Pretty much, Ultima IV has made me a more gracious and thankful RPG player. I’ve played Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and Illusion of Gaia since finishing up Ultima IV, and I felt like I had a lot more patience for all the little things that used to annoy me in games like those. Compared to the things I had to do in the land of Britannia to make it through, these other RPGs felt like a cake-walk. Mystic Quest and Gaia are both very linear so that might have a lot to do with that feeling, but it’s almost as if the trials and tedium of Ultima IV have increased my expectations of other games and they’re falling a bit short somehow. Though other RPGs produce less worrisome things both in quality and quantity making the game feel easier (easier = more fun), these other games I’ve played lately lack a lot of the micromanaging and head scratching that made the payoff feel so much more deserved and amazing in Ultima IV.  I hope that I can get back to just enjoying games for what they are rather than constantly making comparisons, but in a way, I’m really glad that I stuck it out through to the end of Ultima IV.  I feel like I can call myself a true RPG veteran after becoming the Avatar.

Before I go, I do think it’s important to say that I’d completely recommend Ultima IV to anyone wanting to play a game from a series that established so much of what we consider to be normal in the RPG genre. Just be aware that the learning curve is pretty steep and though it might feel frustrating and unintuitive at first, there’s lots of really thought-provoking gameplay just beyond the clunky interface.  I almost quit several times along the way myself, but some good old fashioned encouragement from people in the know helped me to push through.  If you don’t want to play the game yourself but want to see more of it, I did play through the entire game and recorded it for the internet. Though I’m sure there are only a small handful of people who want to watch this, I really wanted to put it out there so more people might get to experience the game in some form or another. It’s really worthwhile.

Have any of you dabbled in the Ultima series? I’ve recently bought up most of the rest of the games on GOG and am looking forward to dive into Ultima V some day. I also wanted to put it out there that if any of you want to play Ultima IV and ever need an ear or some advice, I’d be happy to help you through it.  There’s nothing like having a friend in your pocket to rely on if you need it.  These are the kinds of games that are meant to be played with company!

Thank you guys so much for reading! I hope you’re all enjoying what’s left of the weekend.


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Hamsters, Penguins, and Sunlight: A Swap

I had the pleasure of going to another swap last weekend, and just for a bit of context, it was about double the size of the one that we went to late last month.  Not only are there more vendors at this event, but the day is more video game-focused rather than having a lot of toy or art vendors that don’t pique my interest as much.  We have also gotten our arrival timing down to an art where we get there just slightly after the event opens. We avoid the line and we also get in on some of the goodies before they all get snatched up!  I was pretty happy at what I was able to find at this one, but sadly my boyfriend came away with only a Pandora’s Box, an arcade emulation box with a Jamma connector that can be played on our home-made arcade cabinet.  He was actually pretty sad about the downgrade in quality for some of the games he loves like Neo Turf Masters, but I think there should still be a few gems hiding amongst some of the junk.  Hopefully.

As many of you know, I’ve been after NES games for a long while now, especially RPGs.  Just when I think I’ve finished my list of games I want to buy for the NES, someone goes and informs me of one I haven’t seen before.  The most recent example of this was a friend’s video review of Destiny of an Emperor.  It actually looks like a really interesting game that is a breath of fresh air from the turn-based games I’ve been playing lately.  I also found Karnov which I could’ve sworn I had already but didn’t.  I’m really bad at it, but hopefully I’ll get better after a few attempts at it.  Other great games I tracked down at this swap included Faria: A World of Mystery and Danger, an uncommon action RPG that I’ve been dying to find but could never find it under $100.  Its label had some snags and was a little beat up, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other labels on games I’ve bought in the past.  Magician was also available for purchase.  I’m a little torn at whether or not I’ll like Magician since it has a miserable food system that can get to be quite onerous from what I’ve read about the game, but the music captivated me from the moment I turned on the system.  The game is really beautiful too.  I need to play more of it!  Last but not least from the NES games was Ultima Exodus, the third game in the Ultima series.  Even though I’ve been playing Ultima IV for a long while now, I think I’m a bit addicted to the difficulty and tedium of that game and want more of it somehow.  I’ve stopped questioning how my brain works by this point, but the Ultima series is quickly becoming one of my favourites.  Altogether, I paid $110 for these five games. A steal!


Another cool game I discovered for the first time recently was Comix Zone for the Sega Genesis.  This game took my breath away when I watched a friend streaming the game one weekend afternoon.  The game unfolds on the pages of a comic book and your character fights bad guys as he moves from panel to panel.  The aesthetic is just indescribable for something of its age and I initially thought the game was from a much more modern system.  The difficulty level is pretty high on this one and I’m not usually very good at beat ’em ups, but this might be a good place to start.  Considering it was only $10, I couldn’t pass it up!


I did also run into a game for the Sega Master System that I had been looking for pretty casually.  Penguin Land is a puzzle game that involves you moving your egg to safety without cracking it.  I’m usually not drawn to puzzle games but this one really made me smile when I saw some gameplay footage of it.  Plus, the penguin looks like Penta who stars in several games I’m a big fan of. I only paid $15 for this one with its case and manual.


I found a few games for the Game Boy Advance as well, the first being Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak.  This one has been on my list for a while, and you may recall me picking up a few other games in the series like Ham-Hams Unite! and Ham-Ham Games.  I’ve been watching a lot of Hamtaro lately and I’ve fallen back in love with the show.  The characters are pretty fleshed out and the writing is pretty good, and Ham-Ham Heartbreak is just an extension of all of that.  I came up empty-handed looking for this game at the last couple of swaps, but I lucked out at this one.  I snatched the cartridge up for $25. Unfortunately toward the end of the day, I saw another copy for $20, but considering the deals I got on other things throughout the day, it didn’t put me too far behind.  I am no longer losing sleep over it.


Some other Game Boy Advance games that I picked up were a little more in line with my regular fare, and the first was Fire Emblem.  I never expected to buy this game complete, but since I don’t really play a ton of strategy RPGs, passing up a decently priced virtually mint copy with the manual was not really an option for me.  I picked it up for $100, and though I probably could’ve found it a bit cheaper if I had waited, I was able to buy it from a friend of mine that I’ve gotten to know over the past few years going out to these things.  He cut me a deal on another game, so I didn’t feel bad not getting a super discount on this one.


Another game for the Game Boy Advance I had been interested in finding for a while was Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand.  The weird cartridge you see in the photo has a light sensor in it that is used as one of the game’s mechanics. By using literal sunlight, your character can vanquish dark enemies that are susceptible to light. It’s a neat thing, and I think you can trick the cartridge into believing it’s daytime by using a full UV spectrum light. We have one of those hanging around, so it’ll be an experimental process seeing if everything is working properly.  I paid $60 for this one.


Lastly, I picked up a copy of Thousand Arms for the Playstation.  I already have a copy of this game, but I wanted to pass another copy along to a friend.  It was there and in beautiful shape, so I couldn’t say no!


And that’s that!  What a fun game swap that was.  I’m looking forward to the others that will be happening over the next few months around these parts.  As usual, here’s a group photo of all the games I found.  Sadly there was nobody with a huge bin of manuals, but hopefully next time!


Thank you all very much for reading, and happy almost-weekend!


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Swippity Swap, Swap-bee-do-ba-do-bop

Swap season has officially begun!  This year I had some time to sit down and make a hefty list of things I should be looking for thanks to a bunch of recommendations from people on Twitter, as well as some personal research.  As usual, my list was populated with mostly retro RPGs, but also a few platformer titles like Karnov for the NES.  Some of the usual games I’ve been hunting for are still on there after several years of searching, like Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom for NES.  I am still kicking myself for not picking it up for $60 a few years ago when I saw it because I haven’t seen it again since!

Anyway, it doesn’t seem to matter how much list-making and planning I do, the results of any swap meet are always going to be dependent on what is there and how free and loose I’m feeling with my cash in a given day.  We also brought along a huge tote of trades with us in anticipation of any big purchases, and thankfully that was a great idea and paid off enormously.

The first game I picked up was Uninvited for NES.  There had been lots of chatter about this game online via discussions about Deja Vu and Shadowgate, two other games in that series that I already own but unsurprisingly haven’t played.  Univited popped onto my radar for the first time when a friend of mine did a playthrough on her YouTube channel.  The first-person point-and-click is certainly something I gravitate towards, and with a mild horror setting, count me in!  I had checked game prices on eBay for this one and decided to hold out until the swap to see if I could find it for cheaper.  My patience paid off and I found what appeared to be the only copy there for around $60.


The rest of the games here I traded for.  I had a bunch of common games for NES, PS1 and Game Boy that I was able to trade for a total asking price of about $750 Canadian for the next four games.  Call me crazy, but turning doubles and triples of common games into some really excellent rarer ones is something I never hesitate to do!  Onwards!

Firstly, I found a copy of Syd of Valis for the Sega Genesis.  I think of all the games I picked up, this one was the most overpriced especially given its condition.  The price tag was $55 and it goes online for cheaper than that, but for trade, I didn’t mind so much.  A lot of the people at the swaps now recognize my boyfriend and I as regulars that make a point to get out to these things, so we’re often getting thrown a deal here and there.  Rapport building is something I do not just for the benefits of nepotism, but because I’m genuinely looking to network out there with like-minded people and maybe make a few friends in the process.  Who knows?

Here’s a photo of the game!  At this size, you can definitely see some of the gouges and scuffs on the label.  The game works like a charm the first time every time, but I don’t really know many Genesis games that don’t.  Either way, it’s a fun RPG-like action game that I’m sure I’ll enjoy playing some day.


Though I keep forgetting to post about it, we did find a Sega Saturn last summer with a bunch of sports games.  I had never managed to find any affordable Saturn games in any genres I like since that time, but thankfully a specific seller had a Saturn RPG and a couple of Sega CD games I wanted.  The game I picked up for the Saturn was Shining Wisdom, an action RPG from Working Designs.  Working Designs has its claws in me.  Every time I pick up an RPG I don’t know much about and think I might want to play it, it turns out to be from Working Designs.  Anyway, the game was in great condition with no visible mars or issues physically, though I’m always terrified to invest in disc media.  It’ll inevitably degrade like the floppy discs of yesteryear, but I hope that it’ll live throughout my lifetime.  For reference, the asking price on this one was $200, but the person I bought from dropped it down to $170 in trade value.


Vay for Sega CD is a pretty cool game with a mature rating, something I’ve rarely seen on older generation console games.  Unsurprisingly it is an RPG from Working Designs that as far as I understand has not been rereleased at any time and is still a Sega CD exclusive.  This disc was a little more beat up than the others, but it seemed to play without too much issue when I tested it out.  Hopefully it won’t stall on me partway through the game though.  The asking price on this game was $100, priced to reflect its condition.


Just as a side note, I did acquire full-sized game posters for Shining Wisdom and Vay from my friend’s game collection last year.

Last but not least was the most expensive game of the bunch with a whopping price tag of $400: Popful Mail for Sega CD.  I’ve heard this game touted as a holy grail of sorts for people collecting Sega CD and it’s consistently making its way to the top of many best game lists for the console.  And guess what? It’s another Working Designs game!  Because I got this one for trades that I acquired in game lots at lower than market prices, I didn’t pay anywhere near $400 for this game.  I love when that happens.  Testing it was a little scary because it seemed to be rubbing inside of my Sega CD console, leading me to believe that the disc was warped.  Thankfully we tried a backup Sega CD (yes, we have a few of those) and it worked flawlessly.


I also need to say just how charming these 3 CD-based games look.  They take everything I love about the 16-bit era and clean it up and polish it to be lovelier than I ever thought possible.  I am aware that Sega CD games can be burned and played and deliver the same experience as the actual discs, but there’s something about owning the game and its manual that still appeals to me.  Other games like Snatcher that run almost double what Popful Mail does I’ll likely never have the opportunity to own unless someone gave it to me as a gift or I found it at a yard sale, but I have no problem burning ludicrously priced games to play them.  In this case, an opportunity to get these games for a discount presented itself, so I jumped all over it.

I have another swap post to make shortly, so hopefully you aren’t sated on these gentle acquisitions.  Stay tuned!

As always, thank you very much for reading.  I hope you’re all having a great start to the week!


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The Super Specific Sunshine Award


I don’t know how this keeps happening, but you kind folks out there continue to recognize my humble little spot on the internet as a fun place to be!  Thank you very much to Matthew at Normal Happenings for nominating me for a special twist on the Sunshine Blogger Award: The Super Specific Sunshine Award.  I am grateful for the nomination and happily accept it!

Normal Happenings covers lots of things around my favourite topic (gaming!) as well as some personal posts tackling some difficult personal topics.  There’s lots there, so you should definitely take a gander out that way if you haven’t already.  Most notably on a personal level, I’m really excited to be taking part in the Hyrule Collaboration Project being run out of this blog. Mixing Zelda with anything is a recipe for fun and a sure way to get me all fired up!

I have been invited to answer some really fun and interesting super specific questions.  I will do my best to be as specific as possible in the spirit of the award!  Here they are:


  1. Text your best friend a potato emoji. What was their reply?

    I have an older phone and there was no potato emoji to be found.  However, my best friend would likely reply with a quote from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, when Will tells Hillary how to get revenge on someone she knows by putting a potato in her car’s exhaust pipe and keying her car.  She later replies:

    “I rubbed that damn potato all over Leeza’s car and it didn’t even make a scratch. At least they didn’t catch me putting my keys in her exhaust pipe.

  2. *RING* *RING*
    YOU: Hello.
    ???: Erm, yeah, this is Beatrix from [your favorite band].
    YOU: Seriously?
    BEATRIX: Seriously! And we need a favor.
    YOU: Uh, okay.
    BEATRIX: We’re trying to appeal to the Millennial crowd, and we need a weird, hipster album title. We’ll use whatever you come up with! Call us back.
    YOU: Hmm… What should I name the album? Also, what is the name of my favorite band?

    The album name would probably be Beard Oil, and the band would be The Offspring. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Dexter Holland with a beard.

  3. You can tame any animal as you would a cat or a dog. They get to live inside your home and become part of your family. Which animal will you tame?

    A kid (baby goat). But it would have to stay little forever, and it would also always have to wear a sweater.

  4. Take one of your favorite quotes, then jumble up the words!
    Example: against be advice The any anybody has actually to has the quality lead of judged they offer life of quality to.
    Actual Quote: The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead. – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    Can anyone in your comments reassemble the quote?

    Really a person you consider until you climb and walk into his point of skin… until things from around in his view of it his you never understand.

  5. What happened in the last dream you can remember? Tell us all about it in excruciating detail.

    I was in my hometown and was invited to a symphony performance.  All my friends from high school that I no longer talk to were going to be there.  The concert was taking place in a townhouse where all my ex-friends were gathered in the living room.  The living room was wallpapered in a yellowish paisley, and all furniture pieces were also yellowed with age, with large orangey-brown flowers adorning their surfaces.  The room was carpeted and was hot and stuffy.  A friend of mine that I haven’t spoken with in two years was also there, dressed head to toe in black and telling a story.  Everyone around her was laughing and they seemed to be getting on just fine without me.  I felt a pit in my stomach and retreated to an upstairs bedroom to pass my time while I waited for my father to come and pick me up.  My friends eventually found me and sat down around me on the bed that suddenly had no sheets or comforter on it, but nobody said anything to me.  They stared at me with anticipation, but I had no idea what to say.  I said nothing.  I remember wanting to leave, but the door was closed and I couldn’t seem to find a way out of the room.

  6. What is a unique dish from your region, country, or culture I should try?

    I have a partial French Canadian heritage, so if you eat meat, you should have some tortiere (meat pie).  Traditionally it can be made with beef but is sometimes a mix of beef and pork.  Some recipes add veggies and other things to make it more diverse, but my family always made it plain with spiced meat in a normal pie crust with a big pile of ketchup on top.  I’m not sure what the spices are… I’d have to ask!  Though it’s not my favourite thing, it’s still a little piece of Canadian culture that I enjoy once a year.

  7. The year: 2024. After a mediocre Summer Olympics, the Committee is trying to breathe to life into the games before interest goes down. Messaging you on LinkedIn, they elect you to the Olympic committee and grant you one thing. You get to incorporate a new Olympic sport – anything you want! What’s your new sport, how will it work, and why?

    Toe-touching for short-armed people.  I’ve recently discovered I have short arms and have not been able to touch my toes.  I want to see some glory brought to others of the short-armed variety.  The event would include ratio-based assessment of toe-touching abilities, comparing leg lengths and arm lengths. The person who could touch their toes and had the most terrible ratio would win.

  8. What is the most dangerous lyric in a pop song, if it is taken literally?
    For example: “Lightning strikes every time she moves” from the song “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris. Just imagine if that were real.

    Slim Pickens by The Offspring says,

    “Slim Pickens, well he does the right thing, and he rides the bomb to hell, yeah he rides the bomb to hell,” and later talks about someone “riding on a missile with a cowboy hat.”  That’s pretty dangerous!

    I think that’s modelled after the actual Slim Pickens, but it’s an excellent song.  I’m not sure if it’s classified as pop, but it’ll have to do!

  9. Oh no! The limited superpower bedbug strikes again!
    Which of the following limited superpowers would choose and why?
    – The ability to, once a week, go back in time exactly one minute.
    – The ability to, once a week, freeze time for exactly one minute.
    – The ability to, once a week, go forward in time exactly one minute.

    I would very likely choose the first option for the days I make a hot breakfast.  On those days, I get into my car and drive away and spend the rest of the day wondering if I turned the stove off.

  10. Self-referential numerical value survey question:
    Are my super specific questions weird?
    1-2: Not weird at all.
    3-4: Kinda weird, but not really.
    5-6: Weird, but not anymore than average.
    7-8: Yeah, you’re getting up there on the weirdness scale.
    9-10: Oh gosh, you’re super weird!

    6! They were definitely a unique set of questions, and I thoroughly enjoyed answering them 😀

Thank you all so much for your continued support in this venture. I hope you all enjoyed my answers.

Happy Monday, and thank you for reading.


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