The Video Game Critic's
Video Game Museum Volume 1
Strange and Wonderful Artifacts from Gaming History
I was lucky enough to begin my retro game collection at just the right time. During the mid-to-late 90's classic gaming wasn't even a thing yet. Most people just wanted the latest consoles (Playstation and Nintendo 64) and were anxious to get rid of their old machines. Needless to say you could acquire old systems for very cheap, often for free!
This triggered a thriving industry of video game trading stores which typically had shelves and shelves lined with old cartridges. Most were under $5 and many were even complete-in-box. I remember the cheapest cartridge was Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt for just 25 cents.
The internet was still young but there were "clearing house" sites selling unopened games for systems like the Atari 7800, Genesis, 32X, Turbografx-16, and Super Nintendo among. Many also sold cheap accessories - typically third-party items that never caught on. There were strange controllers, memory cards, attachments, and other odd items.
I raked in as much of this stuff as I could. Some items proved very useful, such as 3DO controllers from various companies. Other items were just oddities that have sat in my collection over the years with little attention. That's part of the reason I decided to create this page: to shed some light on rare and not-so-rare items that are hard to categorize (or use) but still fascinating in some way.
There are also a number of newer items mixed in that I have acquired more recently, many given to me by friends.
To address this issue NAKI released this "Multi Gaming System Cooling System". Place a console on top of this box and it will circulate air through the bottom, keeping your system cool so you could play all night long.
I never really used it as designed, as the fan makes an annyoing fluttering sound. I have however used it on occasion to keep certain consoles (like my Dreamcast) elevated off the carpet, as carpet has a tendency to block the vents and "choke" the system.
This cooling system has a few other features as well. You can use it as a three-system switchbox for composite (red/white/yellow) cables, with convenient select buttons on the front. In addition, the system has two speakers that can play the audio of the attached systems. I've never tried this. I can't imagine those cheap little speakers would be an improvement over the TV.
Anyway, this is truly a relic, but it can come in handy when you need to keep your old systems off the floor. And it's a neat reminder of how things used to be.
These came in handy one time when my buddy Sudz cut his finger. When he arrived home later that night his wife remarked "Well, with that bright yellow Pac-Man bandage on your finger, at least I know you were over at Dave's and not lounging around some seedy strip club!"
Wico's track record for other consoles was less successful. I didn't even realize this particular controller was a Wico until I looked at the bottom. It looks like one of those cheap third-party controllers - and it feels like one too!
The stick is situated on the lower part of the controller and feels very stiff. So stiff you need to grip the base like a vice! That's a problem because the buttons on the side are so damn tight and unresponsive! Trying to mash those in while keeping the controller stable is a miserable experience.
The white button on top of the joystick is nice and soft, but most Colecovision games require more than one button. The keypad buttons feel good too - like an old telephone. It's a real shame about those pesky side buttons. They ruin what would have been a decent alternative to the standard Colecovision controller.
Each of these LED lights has a little button on the side that turns them on. If you hit the button a second time, it places it in an "animation" mode, with the icons turning on in some sequence. The third mode is noise-sensitive, lighting up when things get raucous. I need to try that setting on my next game night!
One thing I love about these are how they are lightweight and easy to display. I don't have a heck of a lot of room left on my shelves, but I managed to squeeze these in with no problem. They actually look great on top of my two TVs.
In the late 90's a lot of the clearing-house sites were trying to unload cheap third-party joysticks, the Ultimate Superstick could have been their poster-child. I have the Atari 2600 and Turbografx-16 versions. They must have been dirt cheap because I can't think of any other possible reason I would buy these.
The two look nearly identical but feel different. The Atari stick is soft, and the Turbografx version is clicky. The Atari version has a left/right hand switch, but since all the buttons do the same thing, what is the purpose? Little red lights illuminate when you click each button. The Turbografx version has turbo switches with speed dials, which is theory gives you more fine-grained control.
The aestetics of these controllers leaves much to be desired. I once plopped one on my friend's lap and he started laughing hysterically! They are fairly unweildy, with four huge suction cups on the bottom. I never got that. Did the designers envision kids playing their games at the kitchen table or something?
For the sake of this special, I tried using both of these controllers - possibly for the first time ever! The Atari version is no longer functional. The lights flicker and the controls are erratic. I can't believe a quality item like this wouldn't last! The Turbografx-16 controller how still works perfectly fine, surprising enough. I don't know if any other joysticks were ever made available for that system, so if you're hard up for one, this may be an option.
I picked this up ages ago thinking it might help "future-proof" my collection. It allows you to save the progress of any SNES game. Well, in 25 years I have used this thing exactly zero times. In reality, games like RPGs that require "saving" already contain batteries, and these can be replaced (with some difficulty) when they die.
Game Saver works by serving as an intermediary between the cartridge and the cartridge slot. The SNES power plugs directly to it, and it then directs power back to the system via a short cable. When playing a game, pressing select + R will instantly save its state. Select + L will resume it.
The device is designed to remain plugged in via the SNES power supply indefinitely. So... how is this any different from just keeping the system on for weeks at a time? Well, if you pack the Game Saver with six AA batteries it will retain its state outside of the system. But here's the catch: it only good for 8-10 hours! I can't think of many situations when this would come in handy. But it makes for a good conversation piece. I guess.
I tried it with another game, Power Strike, and while it felt slightly more responsive it was still not what I would call playable. Finally, I tried it with Gangster Town, a light gun game, and it didn't work one iota. Needless to say, this may be the most worthless controller in my entire collection.
Designed like a classic NES controller, this compact controller has rounded edges that you can cradle in your hands. Using it however is surprisingly uncomfortable. You really need to squinch your thumbs to manipulate those twin little sticks. The buttons on the front feel good, but the shoulder buttons are another story. The R1/L1 buttons are toward the outer part of the edge, and the R2/L2 are a little closer in. Pressing R1/L1 with your fingertips requires you to bow out your fingers in a very unnatural manner. 007 games require heavy use of both the thumbsticks and R1 (to shoot). In retrospect Chris was one hell of a good sport.
The only thing I imagine this controller might be good for would be simple fighting games or old-school arcade compilations. The D-pad feels good but even so, I don't think this controller would provide much of an advantage. Probably the coolest thing is how the buttons light up in various day-glo colors.