Game Hunter

Trophy Room 2009

2009 was another good year. I didn't find a ton at garage sales but made out like a bandit at Half Price Books on a regular basis.

Overlord, Swords & Serpents, and Ninja Gaiden for NES ($3 Each)

Overlord, Swords & Serpents, and Ninja Gaiden for NES ($3 Each)

I spent a good portion of New Years weekend hitting all the after-Christmas sales. One of my stops of course was the nearest Half Price Books store. All their retro video games have a fixed-price based on the system. In the case of the NES, all games are $3. That's a decent enough deal for Overlord, Swords & Serpents, and even Ninja Gaiden (which I'll probably find for $1 at a garage sale now). However, that copy of Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt they have will be sitting there for quite a while.


Three Atari 2600 Games and Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Three Atari 2600 Games (50¢ Each) and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 ($3)

The first thrift store visit of the year worked out. They had a stack of Atari 2600 games for 50¢ apiece. I grabbed the only three I didn't already own. Yeah, I could have bought the rest and ebayed them for a tiny profit but it didn't seem worth the effort.

They also had a Sonic 3 cartridge lying around for $3. I vaguely remember working the launch for it. It wasn't hyped as much as Sonic 2, or at least customers weren't as hyped about it. I want to say it was released on Valentine's Day which is bad timing. All the promotional material for it would have started going up in January when the malls are empty. It would have gained from being one of the few major releases of the season, but overall it lacked the excitement of the previous Sonic launch.


Sonic Spinball for Game Gear, Big Hurt Baseball for Saturn, and Burnout for Xbox ($10)

Sonic Spinball for Game Gear, Big Hurt Baseball for Saturn, and Burnout for Xbox ($10)

Toward the end of 2008, Half Price Books gave out free 2009 calendars with monthly coupons. It had the desired effect because I used the "15% off your total purchase in January" one to pick-up a few games I might have passed on otherwise. Sonic Spinball ($5) and Burnout ($3) I primarily bought so I'd have something to play on the Game Gear and Xbox I got last year. I enjoyed the other Burnout games so I figured the original was worth a try.

Big Hurt Baseball ($4) is one I think I passed on last year for the same price, don't know why I felt a change of heart. Much like hockey, I can't stand watching baseball but enjoy many baseball video games. Seriously, is there a more painfully dull sport than baseball? The video game format makes up for many of the shortcomings. For example, pitches can be a few seconds apart instead of watching the pitcher throw to first base 85 times between each.

I'll save my full "baseball is boring" rant for another time. After the discount, these three games came out to a cool $10.


Mega Man 6, Slalom, and Ice Climber for NES ($3 each), Battle Royale for TurboGrafx-16 ($2)

Mega Man 6, Slalom, and Ice Climber for NES ($3 each), Battle Royale for TurboGrafx-16 ($2)

Yes, I really do visit the nearest Half Price Books once a week. Let's face it, I'm addicted to old video games and Doctor Who books.

On my last trip I saw a stack of newly arrived NES games, I grabbed the ones I didn't own. Interestingly, they include two of the very first NES games and one of the very last. Ice Climber was a launch title and Slalom arrived shortly thereafter. Mega Man 6 was one of the final releases in the US, possibly the second to last. The cartridge had clearly been played in a heavily corroded NES, the inside needed a thorough cleaning to remove all the copper colored gunk.

It struck me that these games likely came from the same seller. They bought the NES early on, or maybe it was a Christmas present, and held onto it until it was unusable. They tossed the broken system and boxed-up the games. Years passed, they moved out of their parents' house, probably got married, stumbled across their old NES collection, and decided to get a few bucks for it.

Battle Royale was a very welcome surprise. I'm glad neither they, nor the original seller of the game, knew TurboGrafx-16 games go for ~$10 apiece on ebay. It was produced by Incredible Technologies who I didn't know made TurboGrafx-16 games. After 5 seconds of research, sure enough, this is the only one.


Seven NES games, Spider-Man for Atari 2600, and Sonic & Knuckles ($19)

Seven NES games, Spider-Man for Atari 2600, and Sonic & Knuckles ($19)

Ah, the thrift store. Where prices are decided on a whim by whoever happens to be working there that day. On this visit I found an impressive selection of games. They had ~20 NES games so I picked-out everything I didn't own. They were all either $2.12 or $2.62, neither of which is a rational price. I found a few gems in the lot - Ghosts and Goblins was one I sorely regretted trading in over a decade ago, Bionic Commando is one of the better NES games produced.

Spider-Man for Atari 2600 was 88¢ and Sonic & Knuckles was only $1.12. The latter sported a "not for resale" sticker so it was from a late Genesis bundle.


Three SNES games, Rampage for SMS, and Power Rangers for Game Gear ($18)

Three SNES games, Rampage for SMS, and Power Rangers for Game Gear ($18)

Unlike the thrift store, the games at Half Price Books are usually a fixed price. SNES games are typically $4.98. I've passed on a lot of games, like Madden 95, for that price. When I saw Wizardry V I couldn't resist though. The SNES is probably the best console for RPGs, except maybe the DS, and I hope to collect as many as I can find. They had a couple SNES games marked down to $2.98 so I grabbed them as well.

Rampage for Sega Master System was an unusual find. I didn't even know it existed, otherwise it would have been on my NES vs. SMS Grudge Match. I think I'll go ahead and add it.

Finally, back in the clearance section they had Power Rangers: The Movie for Game Gear marked down to $1. I'm no Power Rangers fan but I'm not about to pass-up a $1 Game Gear game either.


10-Yard Fight for NES and PGA Tour Golf for Game Gear ($2 each)

10-Yard Fight for NES and PGA Tour Golf for Game Gear ($2 each)

Another trip to the thrift store another pair of games. Somehow I didn't already own a copy of 10-Yard Fight so I snatched that up. PGA Tour Golf is the third Game Gear game I've bought this year. I must have passed on dozens of Game Gear games prior to getting the system last year. I didn't really expect to start collecting these but they don't take up much shelf space and are largely still worth playing.


Tecmo Super Bowl III for SNES ($3.13)

Tecmo Super Bowl III for SNES ($3.13)

Spotted this one at the thrift store for the unusual price of $3.13. Not a great price but not bad either, it's still a fun game 15+ years later.


Major League Baseball for NES and Primal Rage for Sega Genesis ($1 each)

Major League Baseball for NES and Primal Rage for Sega Genesis ($1 each)

On this trip to Half Price Books I saw a few NES and Genesis games on clearance for $1 and bought the only two I didn't have. OK, I did buy a sealed copy of Primal Rage last year but never opened it so now I have a copy I can actually play. Although I don't know why I would ever want to play Primal Rage with so many superior fighting games of that era to choose from. Maybe I'll get drunk one night and decide I just have to watch dinosaurs urinating on each other.


12 Atari 2600 games ($10)

12 Atari 2600 games ($10)

So here it is - the first garage sale of the year. Just like last year, at the very first one I found a few games. In this case it was a dozen Atari 2600 games, in a nifty modular storage rack, for $10. Yeah, 8 of them were duplicates but I'll break even on ebay.


Rainy Saturday

Rainy Saturday

One Saturday morning in May I was all set to head out and do some hunting but the weather didn't agree. Instead I made a trip to Half Price Books and the thrift store and picked-up a few games.

At Half Price Books I got Quake II for Nintendo 64 for $6 and TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan for Game Boy for $4. I had just read a retrospective on TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan and remembered that I really did like it back in the day (even if it's not that great of a game). When I saw it on the shelf I couldn't resist buying it.

The thrift store had a few NES games again but Spelunker and Baseball were the only two I didn't have. They were both the odd price of $3.13 like the last game I bought there. Spelunker is one of my least favorite games ever. The difficulty level is so bad that it's not even remotely fun to play, somehow that didn't prevent me from buying it.


Random Stuff ($5)

Random Stuff ($5)

We finally had another nice Saturday so I made the rounds at a couple neighborhood garage sales. Didn't have much luck though, the only game I bought was Baldur's Gate II for $1. Yeah, it's not a classic game but I really got into the first one so I'll (eventually) give this a go too. A couple houses later I found some nifty video game accessories - a Nintendo 64 game case for $2, a NES game rack for $1, and a cool Sonic the Hedgehog Trapper Keeper for $1. It appears to have been made in 1995 based on the Sonic & Knuckles folders inside. Whoever owned this wasn't a very good student as the folders were all in pristine condition.


2 Genesis Games ($1 each)

2 Genesis Games ($1 each)

On my next visit to Half Price Books I found a few Genesis games on clearance for $1. I ended-up buying a loose Madden '96 (which somehow I didn't have) and Jammit in box. OK, it's not a video game but I included the 1 on 1 Adventure book I got there too. I used to love this series as a kid and recently starting looking for them on ebay. I practically leaped when I saw this on the shelf.


5 NES games ($2 each) and R.B.I. Baseball 3 for Sega Genesis ($1)

5 NES games ($2 each) and R.B.I. Baseball 3 for Sega Genesis ($1)

Another rainy weekend, another trip to Half Price Books. This was a fruitful trip as I scored 5 NES games - Goonies 2, Milon's Secret Castle, Paperboy, Burgertime, and Tetris. They were all $2 which is a buck less than usual. They also had R.B.I. Baseball 3 on clearance for $1. It's one of those games that I saw on the shelf the last few visits there for $4 or $5 but wasn't interested in. $1 is about the right price for old sports games.


Game Boy Color case, Lufia, and Illusion of Gaia

Game Boy Color case (50¢); Lufia and Illusion of Gaia ($15)

Finally had a nice weekend so I hit a nearby neighborhood garage sale. At the first one I visited I found a bright pink Game Boy Color case for 50¢. The inside looked like it had never been used. After visiting about a dozen without any luck I found someone selling Lufia ($8) and Illusion of Gaia ($10) for SNES, I offered $15 for both. Yeah, $15 bucks is little high for a garage but it really is a great deal for those two titles.


16 Atari 2600 games and NHL All-Star Hockey for Game Gear ($6.50)

16 Atari 2600 games and NHL All-Star Hockey for Game Gear ($6.50)

I hadn't been to the Salvation Army store in a while so I decided to drop-in to see what they had. I immediately spotted NHL All-Star Hockey for Game Gear behind the counter for $3. I almost didn't buy it until I also saw a plastic bag filled with Atari 2600 games there too. There was no price on the bag so I asked and they said "I don't know, how about $3.50?" - I took them up on it in a second.

About half the games were duplicates but I did land a couple that are semi-difficult to find. Even some of the duplicates weren't really duplicates.. let's take "Homerun" for example. I already had a game called "Home Run" made in 1978 with the same artwork. This one is "Homerun" made in 1988. They're identical games though. I believe there's also a variant with no artwork on the label, just text. What a mess.


Playstation games, Game Boy games, books

Three Playstation games ($1 each), two Game Boy games (25¢ each), and two books (50¢ each)

Another nice weekend - another neighborhood garage sale..

One sale had a box of Playstation games for $1 each, most were of the Tony Hawk variety. I should have just offered $10 for all of them but instead bought three classic game collections. I'm such a sucker for those collections.

Later on I found a pair of Game Boy games for 25¢ each - Double Dragon and Bases Loaded. Later still, I found a couple books for 50¢ each. One is a giant books of cheats and passwords, I don't see the point of these with GameFAQs around but whatever. The other is a Nintendo Adventure book, a choose your own adventure with some puzzles. The cover said it came free with the purchase of two cans of Pringles... so no chance I would have found this when it was new.


PSOne with 12 games ($15)

PSOne with 12 games ($15)

I'm not sure why I bought this other than it was a great deal. I don't plan to collect Playstation games so I'll keep the few that I'll actually play and ebay the rest (and probably break even in the process). I guess it doesn't hurt to have an extra PSOne around, next time I have to travel to a boring city for work maybe I'll throw it in the suitcase.


Hard Drivin' for Sega Genesis ($1)

Hard Drivin' for Sega Genesis ($1)

This was one of those days where I went to a ton of garage sales and ended-up with one measly game. I think Hard Drivin' is a hugely overrated game - it's extremely short, the control is dreadful, and the graphics are bad even considering the era it was made in. Yet it wasn't in my collection so I just had to have it, can't argue with a buck for any Genesis game either.


More Random Stuff ($13)

More Random Stuff ($13)

The next weekend I went to another dozen garage sales and bought a few totally random items. The first thing I bought was one of those direct-to-tv Sega Genesis systems with 6 games for $5. It looked like it had barely been played so the price was OK. Later in the day I found an AC adaptor that works with it, and other direct-to-tv systems, for $2 brand new.

Later on I stopped at a garage sale where everything was 50¢ and bought the 7th Guest for PC and Ford Racing for PlayStation. The racing game I'll probably ebay but I'll hang onto the 7th Guest not because I plan to play it but because the box art goes well with my small PC game collection. Well, maybe I'll play it someday, I enjoyed the 11th Hour enough to give it a try.

The last sale I went to had a few DS games in great condition for $5 each. Sega Casino was the only one I bought though, all the others either had "brain" or "M&Ms" in the title. I wonder how long before we see "M&Ms Brain University" for the DS? Speaking of things I passed on... over the course of the day I also passed on several duplicate Atari 2600 games and an N64 system.


Rippin' Riders for Dreamcast and GTA: London ($1 each)

Rippin' Riders for Dreamcast and GTA: London ($1 each)

I stopped by the ol' Half Price Books store on the way home and spotted a few games in their clearance section for $1 each. Most were old sports titles but mixed-in was a lone Dreamcast game (first time I've seen one there) and GTA: London for the PlayStation. GTA London is an expansion pack for the original which I don't own, but it was a good deal and I'll run across a copy of GTA sooner or later.


Earthworm Jim, Mutant League Football, and Mutant League Hockey ($2 each)

Earthworm Jim, Mutant League Football, and Mutant League Hockey ($2 each)

Since I had good luck at the last visit to the Salvation Army store I went back a few weeks later. This time they had a few Genesis games for $2 each. I didn't have Earthworm Jim in a box so I grabbed that. They also had two Mutant League Football boxes but when I looked inside one of them actually contained the rarer Mutant League Hockey. It had a rental store label on it so that explains why it was missing the original box.

Why the Mutant League Football box though? While looking at it a long-buried memory flew into vision. Back when I was working at Electronics Boutique we received dozens of empty Mutant League Football boxes before it was released. We were supposed to put them out in some kind of "Coming Soon" display. We had a sign and probably other promo items. At the time this was an uncommon practice but now you see it at GameStop regularly. Anyway, I have to imagine that one of the those boxes somehow ended-up in the hands of whomever owned this copy of Mutant League Hockey.

I can't recall what we did with all our Mutant League Football boxes when the promotion ended, probably had fun listening to them crunch in the trash compactor.


Jack Nicklaus Golf, Rygar, R.B.I. Baseball, and NBA Showdown ($11)

Jack Nicklaus Golf, Rygar, R.B.I. Baseball, and NBA Showdown ($11)

The thrift store's been decent to me this year. On this visit I found a few NES games I didn't own for their (un)usual price of $3.13. They also had an NBA Showdown for SNES for $1.81. Whoever comes up with their prices has some irrational fear of round numbers.


Al Unser Jr. Racing for NES ($1)

Al Unser Jr. Racing for NES ($1)

Spent another Saturday not finding much at garage sales, just a lone copy of Al Unser Jr. Racing for a buck. It's not like it was even a sale that had a bunch of games I already had, just a stray NES game mixed-in with other stuff.


52 Games ($50)

52 Games ($50)

So here I am in my mid-30s and my Mom is still buying me NES games.

OK, it's not exactly like that. One Saturday morning I got a phone call:

Mom: Hi, are you still buying old games?

Me: Yup.

Mom: Well I'm at this yard sale and they have some games for $1 each or $10 for a box. I think they're Nintendo games but I'm not sure. Do you want to hear what they have?

Me: Nah, just buy whatever they have and I'll pay you back next time I see you.

I was expecting a couple games, a dozen at the most. Instead I was blown away when I saw several boxes filled with games.

All the duplicates went here.


Thunder Force III, Shining in the Darkness, Pilotwings, Mario Paint, Trojan, Mega Man 2, and TMNT III ($22)

Thunder Force III, Shining in the Darkness, Pilotwings, Mario Paint, Trojan, Mega Man 2, and TMNT III ($22)

Half Price Books just keeps on delivering. Stopped by again and they had a stack of Genesis and SNES games in boxes. Their prices are higher than garage sales ($4-$10) of course so only I bought a few missing favorites. I'll probably end-up going back to buy a couple more though. They also had a Mario Paint with mouse for just $5 and some NES games for $2 each.


Ecco the Dolphin for Sega CD ($2)

Ecco the Dolphin for Sega CD ($2)

On my weekly visit to Half Price Books I found a copy of Ecco the Dolphin for Sega CD back in the clearance section for $2. The game was in perfect condition, even included the little piece of foam. I think if they don't know anything about a system they just stick it in the clearance section by default (like the Dreamcast game I found there).

While checking-out they mentioned that over Labor Day weekend they were having a 20% everything in the store sale. Since the last two Labor Day weekends were great I just had to come back a couple days later...


Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend

I stopped in on the first day of the sale and walked away with seven games.

Kirby's Adventure, 720, and Mickey's Adventure in Numberland for the NES were all $2 (minus 20%).

Waialae golf and Ms. Pac-Man for the SNES were $3 (also minus 20%). I don't think that copy of Waialae had even been played. The cartridge was still wrapped in the plastic bag that 99% of people threw away.

Sherlock Holmes and Sega Classics for the Sega CD was mixed-in with their jewel case PC games for $2. This was the pack-in for the original Sega CD model any isn't all that easy to find in such great condition.

Castle of Illusion for the Genesis was the priciest at $5 ($4 after discount). I couldn't pass on a boxed copy of it though.


Super Nintendo - Killer Instinct Package

Super Nintendo - Killer Instinct Package

Labor Day weekend also marks the end of "garage sale season" in this area. There are still a few here and there until it starts snowing but it's basically done. Like the previous two, this weekend didn't disappoint. The first sale I went to had a boxed SNES and N64. After a minute of haggling I got them both for $20.

I needed a backup SNES because mine is starting to flake out, doesn't always work on the first try anymore. This even included three games I didn't own - Pac-Man 2, Kirby's Avalanche, and Star Wars. Great deal on this one..


Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64

I didn't really need a third N64 system, but this came with Mario Kart 64 and two nearly new controllers. I use one of those N64->USB adaptors on my PC because I think the N64 controller is perfect for emulators and 3D games. I've been using the same one for years and it's starting to wear out so I'm always in the market for good replacements. Both of these controllers looked like they were barely used. It also came with two Pokemon games, I still don't really know what Pokemon is. One is a duplicate so I'll be ebaying that.


How to Draw Nintendo Heroes and Villains ($2) and Quake II ($1)

How to Draw Nintendo Heroes and Villains ($2) and Quake II ($1)

On another weekly visit to Half Price Books I picked-up a couple neat items. They had a How to Draw Nintendo Heroes and Villains book for $2. The year on it is 2000 and sure enough it's focused on DK64 and Ocarina of Time characters. In the clearance section they had a factory sealed copy of Quake II for $1.


Junk in the trunk

Junk in the trunk

While cleaning out my trunk I found a few items I bought over the summer and forgot to list...

The Sony PlayStation I got at a garage sale for $1. I didn't really need another PlayStation but I'll buy any game system for $1. Whenever I write comments like "I'll buy a PlayStation 3 when I find one at a yard sale so $5" I inevitably receive hate mail. If I wrote the same thing about the original PlayStation in 1996 would the responses have been any different? No matter how much you love your current-gen system you have to be realistic that one day someone will be buying it for $1-$5. Ironically, only the failed systems seem to have any resale value later in life.

Sony did one really great thing with this model - you didn't need to buy proprietary AV cables, any set will do. Nintendo and Sega were both nickel and diming customers by using custom AV connectors. Sony decided to actually do something consumer-friendly with their first system, they later reversed this position of course.

RoboCop vs. Terminator I bought at a thrift store for $3. I'd play it if you could play as the Terminator because I freakin' hate RoboCop. I watched the original movie when it was new and thought it was one of the worst I'd ever seen. Despite that, I watched the sequel which I thought was even worse. Seriously, that movie was awful. Yet, that wasn't enough to prevent me from watching RoboCop 3 which was also really bad but I consider it the "best" in the series.

The Intellivision direct-to-TV system was $5 new at a garage sale. I'm a sucker for any Intellivision products. It was my first game system and I'm very nostalgic about it. This particular one has a couple original sequels to Intellivision classics.

And for the record, I'll probably buy a PlayStation 3 when they go down to $99.


Land of Illusion and Shinobi II for Game Gear ($3 each), Lego Star Wars for GBA ($5), and Space Ace LaserDisc ($3)

Land of Illusion and Shinobi II for Game Gear ($3 each), Lego Star Wars for GBA ($5), and Space Ace LaserDisc ($3)

Yes, this is something like my 20th trip to Half Price Books this year. It's been a steady source of gaming goodness all year and was this time too. I bought a couple Game Gear games for $3 each. I also bought Lego Star Wars for GBA because I'm hooked on that silly series.


Space Ace

Space Ace

While there I accidentally found one of the coolest items in my collection. Up near the checkout counter they have a stack of LaserDiscs for $3 each. There was a line so I leafed through them to look at the wacky 80s & 90s cover art. It was the one with no cover art that caught my eye. There among so many forgettable films was a Space Ace LaserDisc for the arcade. I don't own a machine to play it on, but there was no way I was going to pass on it.

This inspired me to start a new section for rare finds.


Lotus II for Sega Genesis ($3.13)

Lotus II for Sega Genesis ($3.13)

Ducked in the thrift store for a minute and found a few Genesis games in box for $3.13 each. I only bought Lotus II, the others were either duplicates or sports games that I wouldn't pay more than a buck for. I remember this being one of the better racing games for the system.


13 Games ($20)

13 Games ($20)

I don't expect to see another garage sale for about six months. There's still the occasional estate sale from time to time, I rarely find games at them though. I happened to drive by one on a Saturday so I figured I'd give it a look. They had a box of mixed NES and Super Nintendo games with no price, we worked out $20 for all of them. There were a lot of duplicates but I added Ghostbusters, Athena, Axelay, and Tetris Attack to my collection. I should recoup the $20 selling the duplicates on ebay.


Madden 95 for Super Nintendo ($1), WrestleMania 2000 for N64 ($2), and Tennis for Game Boy ($2)

Madden 95 for Super Nintendo ($1), WrestleMania 2000 for N64 ($2), and Tennis for Game Boy ($2)

A few more decent finds at Half Price Books. Sure, Madden 95 isn't exactly rare but one in box for $1 is at least uncommon. Same for WrestleMania 2000 for $2. The "Monday Night War" was my favorite era of pro-wrestling. 2000 was when the tide started turning in favor of the WWF, after losing for a while they started developing some strong angles while WCW was getting stale. It's been over 9 years now and 3/5 of the guys on the front of this box are still top stars in the league. I don't know if that speaks to their longevity, or that maybe the WWF has gotten stale without any real competition.

Tennis was an early Game Boy game that I couldn't pass up. They had a few Game Boy Color games for the same price but nothing I really cared for.


Box of Atari 2600 and 5200 games ($15)

Box of Atari 2600 and 5200 games ($15)

There's an outdoor swap meet up in Bristol Wisconsin that runs every weekend spring through fall. I usually don't go but decided to give it a try the last weekend they were open in early November. Not a whole lot of games there, just tons of Christmas stuff and VHS tapes. The only good find was a box filled with Atari 2600 and 5200 games (and 1 Intellivision game). Most of the Atari 2600 games were duplicates but I had exactly zero 5200 games before this. After sorting through all of them I netted 16 new games in my collection.


Seven Sega Genesis games ($2 each)

Seven Sega Genesis games ($2 each)

So this is it for 2009, heck the entire decade. I stopped off at Half Price Books to do a little Christmas shopping and also found something for myself - a stack of Genesis games for $2 each. A couple were duplicates that I was missing a box for but most were new. What a nice way to cap off a fruitful year of hunting.

Here's to 2010, may it bring some rare trophies to my collection.


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