The Nostalgia Trip: Getting Started
by Joe Santulli

So you see this video game nostalgia thing going on and you re wondering how to get started, aren t you?  Face it - if you re not already enjoying the classics, then you re thinking about it.  Otherwise, you wouldn t be reading THIS, would you?  HA!  Got you there!  Ok, now that we both know I m smarter than you, here are some tips on getting started on the nostalgia kick.

The venerable Atari VCSLesson 1: You don t need a bundle of cash to get into it.  There are two ways to go: get yourself the real thing or get yourself emulated.  The latter requires a PC, but if you have one already you can go the rest of the way practically for free (more on that later).  I prefer the real thing myself - there s nothing quite like bashing bricks with the original Atari 2600 paddles on a TV set in my living room on the comfy couch.  The good news is that the real thing isn t nearly as expensive as you might think.  Here s an example: you can get yourself an Atari 2600 and twenty of the best games ever made for it for $25... less if you re a haggler.  In fact, most of the classic systems are lying around in pristine condition in the homes of many other collectors, waiting for a new collector to take it with them.   I have at least eight Atari 2600 s that I acquired as part of a "package deal" in order to get some more elusive items.  You can even get started on the internet - check out the usenet group  and you re sure to find a starter package for just about any system.  There are a few consoles that are a real bitch to find and when you do, you ll have to fork over a few Jacksons. The GCE Vectrex springs to mind, and the same situation applies to less popular systems like the Fairchild Channel F, RCA Studio II, Entex Adventurevision and Emerson Arcadia 2001.  Save these for last - with the exception of the Vectrex, they re really just collector s items and not a whole lot of fun to play with.

Lesson 2: Don t pass up any garage sales.   Over the years, this has been the MINT for me.  The beauty of it all is that for once, someone else s junk IS something I m interested in.  In my area, there isn t much competition, and I would imagine it s the same most everywhere.  Very few people are scavenging for video games, I find.  In fact, I find that most yard or garage sale owners rarely even put them out.  All you have to do is ask   "got any old Nintendos?" and quite often the happy neighbor will pop into the house for a moment and emerge with a box of goods.  Recently the real old stuff (pre Nintendo) is hard to come by at these things, but you never know.  It never hurts to ask, and the rewards are often, well... rewarding.

Lesson 3: Make contacts and keep  em happy.   Not all of the finds you come across will be made by you personally.  Get yourself "in" with a few other collectors (which works best by introducing yourself along with a few good games to trade) and stay there.  Being on the east coast I ve found that certain games have been very easy to come by and others very difficult, whereas my buddies in the northwest find it the other way around.  Pool your resources!  You re not going to find those Wisdom Tree Nintendo games like "Exodus" and "Bible Adventures" up here in Jersey, but out in Oklahoma they re within your grasp.

Lesson 4: PC emulation is the rage.  If you have a half-decent PC and a 28.8 modem you can also have practically the entire Atari 2600 collection within two hours.  Emulators are everywhere on the internet.  You can find a bunch of 'em right here at EMULATOR ACTION.  You'll find that soon you've built up an incredible library of classic games.  Remember, however, that gathering ROMs is illegal.  You have to own the game to be able to LEGALLY download and play the PC emulated version.  Just keeping you in touch with the law.  Incidentally, I love emulators but they don t measure up to having the real thing.

Lesson 5: Trust the shameless plugs of Joe Santulli.  Even if I didn t edit the thing, I couldn t live without my "Classic Videogames Collectors Guide".  Painstakingly compiled by our illustrious team, this book is 200 pages of listings, ratings, and inside information no serious collector should be without.  Even if you re a beginner, you ll find that cartridges are rated against each other in terms of scarcity - so you ll always know if you ve found something worth jumping on.

That should be all you need to get started...  Happy hunting!

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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM