COLLECTING AND PLAYING VIDEO GAMES

Like Barbie dolls, G.I. G.I. Joe figures, Star Wars toys, and other pop culture playthings that captivated so many children in their youth have made classic video games a very popular commodity on the collector’s marketplace. Conventions like the Classic Gaming Expo have sprouted all over the globe, bringing thousands of fans to marvel at the dealer rooms full of nostalgic goodness. The items for sale usually include older games in their original packaging, rare systems like the Adventure Vision or the RCA Studio II, boxes with common (and therefore inexpensive) Atari 2600 cartridges and new “homebrew” (produced by enthusiasts), vintage handheld electronic gaming, back issues and more.

Ten years ago, you could find classic video games at flea markets and garage sales. But these days, it is almost impossible to find them (at least not for pre-Nintendo games). This is due to the rise of online sellers, the perceived value and scarcity of older games. If you can’t attend a convention but still want to enjoy retro gaming’s simple yet challenging joys, then eBay and other used game sites are the best options. You can use a used game search to compare prices across all these used video game sites (see the resource box below). Several offline resources can give gamers an idea of what to expect when searching online for a particular title. These include Video Game Collector, Fragster and Atari Age.

The best way to enjoy any of the classic video games is to get the originals along with all the cartridges, controllers, and other peripherals. Nothing beats hooking up a ColecoVision to a 19-inch television set and plugging in a Roller Controller trackball, a Centipede, or Slither cartridge. For hours, you can blast away at bugs, mushrooms, snakes, and cacti. You can also boot up an Atari 2600 to play Video Olympics (a collection of Pong variants) with three other players, using Atari’s amazing rotary paddle controllers.

Some gamers find it difficult to buy and install old video games. Casual gamers may also enjoy a nostalgic experience but only want to sample the past. There are many retro collections for modern consoles and computers, including Intellivision Lives! Activision Anthology (containing more than 60 titles), Activision Anthology (48% Atari 2600 games), and Atari Anthology (16% Atari 2600 titles and 18 Atari arcade titles). Unfortunately, most other Golden Age systems (including the Odyssey2 and the Atari 5200) are not available. However, many systems can be downloaded online and played on hundreds of classic console games.

There are many other ways to enjoy classic games. Retro-style joysticks or control pads can be connected directly to modern T.V. sets’ audio/video ports. These handy gadgets, like the Atari Classics 10-in-1 or the Intellivision 25, allow you to enjoy old-school cool without spending a lot of money or taking up too much space in your living room. Atari Flashback 2 and Atari Flashback 2 are great options for being more adventurous with gaming. They both have the original Atari 2600 design, but the games are built into the units. New game systems can play older cartridges, like the F.C. Twin, compatible with NES or Super NES carts.

No matter what route nostalgic gamers choose, it’s a wonderful way to travel down memory lane. Classic video games offer a fascinating look into the past for younger gamers. These games are simple both conceptually and visually, but they have charm and elegance.

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