At my first post, I had collected 127 games. I’m up to 152 games at this very minute, and have another 21 on the way. I’ve managed to net several $15 – $20 games for the average price of $5 to $6, but I’m not sure if that means anything. It’s like making imaginary money in your head.
The main thing that happened during week 2 is I got the itch. I got the Nintendo Rabies. No longer content with just collecting them, I wanted to play them. Okay, time to hook up the Ouya (the what? Remember that cool time that Kickstarter-consoles were going to lead the next revolution in gaming?) Anyway, I have the emulated complete history of video games on that thing.
But no. I want to play these carts. These Carts. I wanted my perfectly-made, never-wrong, plastic controller from the 1980s. I want to hear the warm squeaking on the NES lid when I lift it up to put the game in. I want me. Does that make sense? The emulation, bluetooth, 4k TV is someone else. The NES, carts, and controllers are part of my DNA.
Cool, I got a Nintendo. Except it’s all wrapped up in its box, in the styrofoam with the original instructions/posters. Everytime I take that thing out of the box, it loses a percentile of its condition, which is already a little rough. I needed a new Nintendo.
The weird thing about Nintendo is how wildly the prices have fluctuated. My dad bought one back in the day at the peak of the feverish 1989 Christmas rush for around $300. Five years later, the thing was collecting dust and in the yard sale pile where it was probably sold for $25. Then I remember the late 1990s/early 2000s, when my dad bought another refurb Nintendo to relive “the old days” for probably $50-75. He got it for my mom for Christmas. That sort of blows my mind — that even my non-gamer mom loved that Nintendo so much that she wanted one a second time for Christmas. The Nintendo is so much a part of me, I have family history with it. DNA.
Anyhow, ten years ago, Nintendo values crashed again, and I bought my Complete in Box one on craigslist for $30. Prices are up again in the $75+ range for a loose one. I got lucky on a eBay auction last week for $100 that included a couple carts — and oh, uh, a barely-advertised MIKE TYSON’S PUNCH OUT IN THE BOX. I have no idea how that went so under the radar, but Mike Tyson in the box is worth $75 alone.
I swore I’d sell the Mike Tyson. I don’t have the budget to be dropping $100 on a spare NES. But if I resold the Tyson, I’d come out with a $25 Nintendo. (Clean it clean! Now let’s come out boxing!)
Then the package arrived and I held a Perfect Copy of My All Time Favorite Game in my hands. Welp. It’s mine now. It looks great on my shelf.
I haven’t played on an OG Nintendo in about eight years. I’ve been spoiled by the Wii Virtual Console, the Ouya, the basic convenience of putting a game in the machine and having it work right away.
I hooked up my Nintendo with pride. I even ventured into our terrifying “back bedroom” — the room filled with towering piles of infant gear, obsolete DVD collections, etc. to pull out my old CRT TV. This is how you play Nintendo, on the proper system, on the proper TV without modern lag.
I was ready.
I put the game in. Then I came crashing down off the pink cloud I was riding. Blinking screen. Blinking screen. Blinking screen.
I took it out, put it back in. Blinking screen.
I smacked the cart. I smacked the Nintendo. I put it back in and pressed the button this time while channeling all of my psychic energy up through my body, out through the fingertips, and into the machine. Have you ever tried the psychic energy method? I swear it helps.
Blinking screen. Oh $^$%&^T^$%@ this.
I blew. They tell you not do to that. I do not care. It works.
At this point in the narrative, I absolutely hate myself. I hate myself, I hate my childhood, I’ve made a huge mistake. I just dropped a hundred bucks on a broke ass Nintendo and a cardboard box with a picture of Mike Tyson on it.
Remember my friend Dave who is also going along on the Nintendo Quest? He’s at 240 carts and brokering all sorts of sketchy deals off Facebook yard sale groups. He meets up with a guy in a back alley, a guy who texts Dave a picture of him personally hand-cleaning all the carts he’s about to sell:
It seems like something out of a horror movie. But whatever, Dave lived, and I got a copy of Crystalis and Tiny Toons 2 out of the deal. If I got that picture texted to me in the middle of the night, I’d nope the hell out. But Dave’s nuts. Dave is the one who tells me to boil the pin connector in my broke-ass Nintendo.
Right. I’m not boiling Nintendo parts, Dave.
But twenty minutes later of blinking screen, I’m desperate.
You know what? It works. It works, and there’s a slight chemically burning plastic smell afterwards. The Nintendo plays every game I put in (mind you, I still have to blow first), the Mike Tyson game is so damn pretty even my wife likes it, and the Nintendo Quest ventures on.