I’m back home now after my two week holiday. As mentioned two weeks ago, my fiancé and I had been staying with my parents just to have a break and recharge our batteries. Due to a road accident nearly three months ago my fiancé can’t do a lot of walking, so we didn’t even bother hiring a car. Instead we decided that we’d go to the few sightseeing locations that my parents would want to visit too and then the plan was to have a few days with other family members. Things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Over a year ago now, I did a community interview
. In that interview, I revealed that my fiancé and I are both keen gamers and that we were avid collectors. Having missed much of the previous generations of gaming, I wanted to fill in the gaps in my history knowledge. As such, we began a collection of the older consoles. In the interview we already had a Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and Mega Drive. Since then, we’ve also acquired a MegaCD and a NES. I still have pangs of guilt over getting rid of my Master System and I’d made up my mind to get another one to relive my childhood gaming memories. My fiancé also wants an Atari 2600 for his childhood memories. There is still one glaring omission from the above list though: a SNES. Our old setup:
Even though I work in a gaming shop that deals in the retro games and consoles, I have never seen a NES, a SNES, a Master System or an Atari come through the shop in twelve months of employment. I’ve only ever seen one Dreamcast. Our search for the consoles would have to be taken elsewhere. Although the SNES was our primary target, the Atari and the Master System would be happy alternatives. I know of a few places near my parents that could stock all of the three targets, so the search began in earnest. Forget the relaxing holiday, we were after the consoles.
I hadn’t been to Northampton for at least seven years. I had no idea what there was there in the way of gaming shops, but it was worth a look. To cut a long story short we found a few gaming shops, but nothing that sold anything earlier than the Playstation. Things weren’t all that bad though. We did acquire Blackwater
and Hex from Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
at a much cheaper price than anywhere else, including online. Being an Undead Skylander, Hex was the last element that I needed to complete my squad of eight.
Leicester was our main hope for the consoles. I knew of two market stalls that sold retro consoles and further research yielded a shop too. We arrived in the city just after 9AM and headed straight for the nearby market. We were too early; both stalls were still setting up. However, both stallholders informed us that they didn’t have any of the three in stock. They suffered from the same problem that afflicts my employment. Both my shop and the market stalls are set up in university towns. Not only are the students willing buyers, but when they’re short of money or are having to leave accommodation for the holidays, they are the main source of stock too. Two weeks into the long summer break, most of that stock has been sold and there is very little chance of replenishing it until they return towards the end of September. We’d chosen the wrong time to try and find these consoles.
We decided to look around the rest of the market and the surrounding charity shops before returning to stock up on some of the retro games. Unsurprisingly, Mario and Zelda were nowhere to be seen. Instead, I acquired Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
for the Mega Drive and our NES collection increased four-fold with the addition of Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
, The Bugs Bunny Blowout
. The latter is a blast from the past. I remember playing the game on our long-defunct Acorn. When a remake, http://www.trueachievements.com/Boulder-DashXL-xbox-360.htm
, was announced for XBLA back in March 2011 I was fairly excited. When I tried the demo on its release four months later, I was disappointed. Although there was a Retro Mode, the remake just didn’t have the charm of the original. The NES version is definitely different to the Acorn version, but there’s more nostalgia here than I felt from the remake.
We carried on past a retro toy shop (didn’t sell consoles) and several more charity shops until we reached Game World. Unfortunately, he had a Mega Drive and an N-Gage, but that was it for retro consoles. We were extremely disappointed, but I added Another World
to the Mega Drive collection as consolation. I also added three of the four Skylanders
expansion packs for £14.99 each – a price that I wasn’t going to turn down. The last ditch attempt fell at the nearby Cash Generators, who didn’t sell anything earlier than the last generation. I did pick up Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper (EU Ver)
for £5 though.
We weren’t too optimistic about Rugby. I knew that there weren’t really any retro shops there. I did pick up three more Skylanders
for my collection as GameStation were combining pre-owned figures for £15. However, we got chatting with the employee in CEX, who informed us that nearby Nuneaton was good for retro gaming. I hadn’t been to Nuneaton for about ten years. However, a little research located the Entertainment Exchange on the outskirts of the town centre. Our final chance of locating a SNES, Atari and Master System was mapped out for the following day.
The next day, we arrived in Nuneaton. We decided to visit all of the charity shops first on the way towards The Entertainment Exchange. As it was a little way out of town, we asked at the last one to make sure that the shop was still open. After being told that it was still there, we headed up the road, only to be met with one of the most disheartening sights. Even from across the other side of the junction, we could see that the shutters were down and that the building was empty. We crossed over anyway and decided to have a look at the Cash Converters store next door. We noticed their console section, but the oldest one that they seemed to have in stock was a Nintendo 64. My fiancé asked about a SNES, but was told that all of the consoles were in the cabinet. A SNES they definitely didn’t have.
Then, right at the back of the cabinet, I spotted the distinctive red and white lettering of the SEGA Master System II. It was mine, even though it didn’t come with any cartridges. I had a feeling that the console would come preloaded with a game, but which one was a mystery until I got it home. While waiting for the leads for the console, we got some better news. They had a SNES in the back room with two controllers and Super Mario Kart
. Even though it had a Samsung power lead and a SEGA aerial lead, we took that too. As the shop assistant had no idea what an Atari 2600 looked like, we gave up with that one. We’d just had the most successful day in one of the most unlikely places.
We hooked up both consoles to the small TV in my bedroom at my parents’ house. After a bit of TV tuning, the instantly recognisable main menu to Sonic the Hedgehog
popped up. I already have this game on the Mega Drive, but Sonic the Hedgehog
was a completely different game on each console. I’ll be keeping both. My fiancé and I also duked out two rounds on Super Mario Kart
. He won both. I’ll let him gloat for a while and then gently remind him of the mess that he made of his face when he walked into a door five days ago.
Our retro collection is nearly complete. My Skylanders
collection isn’t doing too badly either...