You can find numerous pages on the net
that deal with collecting classic video games. But to my knowledge, I
don't remember anywhere that had tips on collecting. So I decided to
compile a reference guide for the novice collector. This may help your
enjoyment of the hobby and let you get the most out of it.
1. WHERE TO GET GAMES?
There are many places you can get classic
games. Among the most obvious are garage sales and flea markets. There
are also rummage sales, thrift stores, and resale shops. Other ways to
get classic games are on the internet (like this web page), or you can
run an ad in the local paper. You can also let friends and family know
you are interested and you will be surprised how often they come up with
some. You could also make friends with the employees at a store that
sells used video games. These stores may not buy or sell classic games,
but I'm sure people call or stop in trying to sell them. If you give
them a finder's fee, they will gladly send these people your way. You
could also put up flyers at the post office and grocery stores.
2. HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY?
When you are buying individual games,
that number can be higher depending on how hard it is to find the game
and how bad you want it. But if you are buying a large collection, you
should try to pay a dollar a game or less. Whenever you buy a huge
collection, you usually end up with a bunch of common games and may only
want or need a few of the games. So try to judge a collection on what
you actually need instead of what is there. Try not to pay much for
untested systems as there is a decent chance they don't work. Unlike
cartridges, systems and add-ons aren't as reliable.
3. WHAT TO COLLECT?
This is one area that gets a lot of new
collectors in trouble. They want so bad to collect everything that they
get in way over their head. I suggest that you key in a one or a few
systems. This way you have a reasonable chance of reaching your goals.
Also keep in mind that trying to get all the 2600 games will be near
impossible task. Maybe you should start with a certain software company,
like Activision and go from there. Or you could try to get back all the
games you owned as a youth. Keep in mind that even if you don't collect
a certain system, be on the lookout for a great deal on games for the
system that you can trade for the harder to find games for the system
you do collect.
4. WHICH SYSTEM IS THE BEST TO
This is a matter of taste, but the most
heavily collected system and the one that is easiest to sell games for
is easily the Atari 2600. This is the one that most people had as a
youth. I personally don't collect the 2600, but I also never had one as
a youth. Here is a list in order of what systems are the most collected.
This is based on my personal observations:
5. WHAT ARE THE
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES TO COLLECTING EACH SYSTEM?
Each system has its pluses
and minuses. Some are more glaring than others. So I made a list of the
good and the bad of each system. Hope this helps a little in your
Has the most games available.
Most of the best games in
playability are affordable.
Easiest to find.
Plenty of different joysticks
available, with one that will fit you.
Easiest to trade with other
Most variety of games.
More bad games than good.
Many tougher games get quite
Greatest challenge in getting all
Great versions of many arcade
Some arcade classics only
available on this or 2600.
Only a handful of real expensive
Multicart with all games
Joysticks are terrible and
Not a lot of games available
(slightly over 80 with demos)
Some of the games are inferior to
other equal systems.
Tougher to trade.
Best versions of many arcade
Many good multi-player games.
You can get most of the games
cheap and complete.
Good, reliable joysticks
Can play all 2600 games.
Very few original games
Many classic games missing.
Many genres lacking or barely
Many great games.
Many arcade classics only found
Many good add-ons.
Lots of variety of games.
Has all genres covered.
Systems are easy to find and
Regular joysticks aren't the
Some of the better games are
Many arcade classics not
available except with 2600 adapter.
Few games take advantage of the
Has many great original games
that are available nowhere else
Best roleplaying games
Best sports games
The later INTV games are
Disc is terrible for maze games.
Most arcade classics do not
No multicart available.
A lot of the best games (INTV)
are very rare and expensive.
Has its own screen
Great games still being produced
Has multicart with all the games
Great vector graphics
Best asteroids and missile
command versions anywhere
Easy to trade
New games still being made for it
Very few games available
Only two sports games, neither
Most arcade classics missing
3D Imager is ultra rare and ultra
Finding a second joystick is
tough and costly
Three games with boards are great
(Quest for the Rings, Conquest of the World, Great Wall
Voice system is cool
Box art is quite nice
Almost no third party support
Limited number of worthwhile
Graphics are quite bad
Many early systems had the
Limited number of collectors
Handful of great games
Can convert into a computer
Unique and quite responsive
Handful of dedicated collectors
Easy to sell
Not many games, even less good
Joysticks break easy
Tough to find stuff for it
I decided not to cover every system due to space
constraints and due to my limited exposure to them.
MISC COLLECTING TIPS
1. Unlike most collecting genres, the older a
game is usually the cheaper it is. This is the opposite of baseball
cards, comics and most genres. The main reason is that most games
were kept in production throughout the life of the system, so the
earlier it came out the more plentiful it is. Most of the valuable
games are ones that came out at the end of the system's life when
fewer people owned the system. There are exceptions to this rule.
2. The better the game is, the less chance it
has much value. Most of the valuable games are the ones that were so
bad no one wanted them. Again, there are exceptions to this rule.
3. Rare cartridges vary in value from system
to system. A rare game on the Atari 2600 is generally more valuable
than one on the Intellivision, mainly due to the increased amount of
4. Rulebooks and boxes are usually tougher to
find than the actual carts. While they are usually not worth as much
as the cart, that is quickly changing.
5. Cleaning a cart will make it work again 95%
of the time. Since they have no moving parts, they are quite tough
to destroy. Out of over 3,500 games I have owned, I only came across
three that wouldn't work.
To clean a cart, get some rubbing alcohol (the
higher the purity the better, try to get 90% or higher) and some
q-tips. Take the q-tip and dip it into the alcohol. Then take the
moistened q-tip and rub along both sides of the chip sticking out of
the bottom of the cart. Then take the dry side of the q-tip and rub
it over the same area, drying the cart. Now try and play game
6. While there are many variations of labels,
especially for the Atari 2600 games (with some having up to 20
different variations), they generally don't vary much in price. Once
again, there are exceptions.
7. A general rule for value of carts is:
Extremely rare game=$10.00-$50.00
Unbelievably rare game=$40.00-????
Once again, there are exceptions to the rule. Some things that will
make one game worth more than another game of the same rarity is if
1. A great playing game (aka: Pitfall II)
2. Based on a popular arcade game (Tapper)
3. Only found on one particular system (Diner)
4. Has a story behind it (Chase the Chuckwagon).
8. Some common terms used to describe cart
1. Actiplaqued-A term for the spotting of labels that tends to
happen especially with Activision carts.
2. Screw holes-This is where the screws that hold the cart
together are exposed and the label is missing.
3. End Label Missing-This is the top label on the cart that
usually has the name of the cart. This is occasionally missing or
4. Rolled Label-This is where the label has been rolled back. A
part of it is not sticking to the casing.
9. If your Atari paddles don't work, pull the
top off and spray some WD40 into it. Wait a few seconds and then
wipe clean. Put top back on and it should work. Electrical
cleaning spray can also be used.
10. If you are going to set up a classic
system, it is best to get an old television for this. Look for one
that has the screws on the back, where you set up the antenna. You
can find them cheap at garage sale (I have found them as low as a
few dollars). While you can set them up on a newer television,
there are some televisions that they will not work on. Which ones
or why this is, I cannot tell you, but I have had people who could
not get an Atari to work on their new television, but it would work
perfectly on my old television.
The best place to find classic games is ebay. Click below to begin