Beginner’s Guide to Retro Game Collecting

Beginner’s Guide to Retro Game Collecting

The retro gaming scene is huge these days, as evidenced by the popularity of mini consoles such as the NES and SNES Classic and the Mega Drive Mini. The range of options available to those who wish to collect vintage hardware and software can seem intimidating to those who wish to do so. We are going to help with this guide on getting started in retro game collecting.

Choosing Your Focus

 Most people who have been bitten by the retro bug are motivated primarily by nostalgia. Consider what you enjoyed as a child if you are in that camp. Was Super Mario Bros 3 your jam? What about blasting enemies in Turrican or blazing through Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog? It will provide an excellent starting point for would-be collectors, since it indicates what hardware will be required, and what genres of games to look for.

Alternatively, some people prefer to discover games and consoles they might have overlooked, perhaps picking up a Saturn or Nintendo 64 to see what they might have missed.

Establish a Budget

 It is very important to understand this. As hardware ages, it becomes more difficult to obtain, and as a result, prices rise. Websites like Game Value Now or Price Charting can provide a good barometer of what is a reasonable price to pay, but they are primarily geared towards US consumers. However, regional differences can exist. SEGA 32X, for example, is fairly common in the USA, but quite rare in the UK and Europe, so prices will differ.


Here are some suggestions for consoles that are good places to start if you’re interested in collecting, but not sure where to start.

SEGA Master System

The Master System II, which comes with a copy of Alex Kidd in Miracle World built in, is very common and easy to find in the UK and Europe. You can expect to pay around £35/€40 for a Master System II with at least one controller.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Master System is much less common, unless you live in Brazil, which exists in a mysterious alternate timeline where SEGA won the console wars and the Master System is still being manufactured.

Nintendo 64

Despite being trounced by the PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 was still beloved by many and has some outstanding games. 

One of the interesting aspects of collecting the N64 is the number of color variations; although the standard edition is dark gray, other versions exist in virtually every color of the rainbow. Another advantage of the N64 is that the console is basically built like a tank, and is not prone to hardware failures. The Nintendo 64 can usually be purchased for around £40/€47, or US$55.

Things to watch out for: Make sure the analogue stick on the controller moves freely, and that no dirt has gotten into the joint.

Good games to start with: Mario 64, StarFox 64, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, GoldenEye

Game Boy

The Game Boy is a good choice for beginning collectors, in part because there are so many of them. The original Game Boy is a very solid piece of hardware that, as we know, could literally survive being blown up and still turn on. 

Original Game Boy games are compatible with successors such as the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Color, giving you access to an extensive game library. An original Game Boy costs around €45/€53 in Europe and up to US$80 in the US.

Things to look out for: With the original Game Boy, the screen can become damaged, rendering the screen unusable. Ask to see the screen turned on before you buy it. Another big problem with the Game Boy is the counterfeit cartridges. The Pokémon games are a common target, so if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Good games to start with: Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dream Land, Bionic Commando

SEGA Dreamcast

It may have been SEGA’s last hurrah in the console market, but many consider the Dreamcast a console that was ahead of its time, with features like online connectivity and a memory card that could act as a portable mini-console. 

Collectors not only have the existing game library to explore, but also a huge and thriving homebrew scene, which continues to produce games to this day. Prices for the Dreamcast range from around £60-80 (€70-83). In the US, the price usually hovers around US$65, but it can be higher for a boxed version or a full bundle.

By raonuman010

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