If you thought we were moving on to 2020, you’ve got another thing coming, and that thing is not 2020. Sure, it may be 2020, but I am incredibly slow at writing these (something I hope to rectify in the coming months), which means it’s time to finally talk about August 2019!
August didn’t feature that many pickups, mostly because I blew a lot of my spending money at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, which visits my home region every year. But you don’t want to hear my musings, do you? You want to hear about the games!
Saturday, August 10th, 2019
Something I look forward to every single year on this island I call home is the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, which takes place every August at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. It’s a rather small convention, so my friends and I have made a habit of attending for only one of the two days the event spans. We see practically everything we want to in a single day, and I get to visit every vendor more than three times apiece because of the small size of the dealer floor, so it’s not worth paying to attend for the extra day.
This year, we had a smaller party than usual: Joe, Dustin, and Jackie were my only companions. But we donned our gaming pants and headed to the event, determined to find some deals.
Some backstory before the forwardstory:
I’m a game collector, so you’d think I’d own a lot of Nintendo 64 controllers. But I just…didn’t? As a kid I had the regular gray one that comes bundled with the console, since I was given a brand new N64 by my parents back in the late ’90s. But after years of misuse, I retired that controller and replaced it with the standard blue one in 2011. The only three other N64 controllers I owned were crappy third-party ones that I’d accumulated over the years by some means or another. I know. It’s something of which I’ve been consistently ashamed.
But they still made for suitable controllers for nights spent with friends playing games.
So, the story. In July, I was playing a heated game of Mario Party 3 with Joe and Dustin, and after the winner was decided (spoiler: it was stupid Joe again), I was still so electrified from the heat of the game that I wasn’t fully paying attention to my movements when I stood up to unplug all the controllers. In slightly more than my usual clumsiness, I tripped over the wire for one of my third-party controllers. The ensuing stress on the wire severed it cleanly, complete with a light puff of smoke, right where it meets the jack to plug into the console.
My friends were horror-stricken, expecting me to throw a self-loathing fit, admonishing myself for not being more careful and lamenting the loss of a fallen friend—but it would not be so.
Instead, I laughed at the way the wire had snapped, wiped my brow, and said, “Well, now I have an excuse to finally buy more first-party N64 controllers.”
Returning to the Expo:
Thus, one of the first purchases I hoped to make this year at the expo was a shiny, new N64 controller. Well, not actually new, but you know what I mean.
Before I had the opportunity to do so, however, my collecting posse and I moseyed on down to the first vendor one of us (in this case, Dustin) happened to stop and look at.
Among this man’s wares were decently priced Nintendo 64 games. I had my eye on Mickey’s Speedway USA and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and so I picked them up. They were priced $10 and $12 respectively, which wasn’t terrible, but I’m me. I wanted to do better. The haggle is real, and its day was today.
I caught the vendor’s attention and held up the games to him, starting, “Hey, would you do $18 on these?”
He looked at the games, then to me, then back at the games. He looked at me again and said nothing for a few seconds, but kept his lips pursed and his expression neutral. Finally, he spoke: “You know we just opened, right?”
I didn’t know what to say. I’ve never come across that as an excuse not to haggle, so I instinctively looked toward my posse for some semblance of sympathy. Jackie looked as confused as me.
Shrugging, I turned back to the vendor and said, “Well, you know, gotta haggle, right?” I tried to act lighthearted about it.
The vendor was not amiable about it in the slightest. He followed up, “Maybe if you buy more, I’ll think about it.”
Here’s another one of my special PSAs. If you’re a seller and you don’t want to haggle with me, I’ll be disappointed, but you have that right and I don’t presume to take it away from you. However, I’d be happier if you were straightforward with me about it. I may still buy from you if I really want the items; I just want to save money. With this being said, there are better ways to say you’d rather not haggle, and this was not one of them. He made a prospective customer feel wrong for asking a simple and common question in his field of work. I don’t stand for business practices like that.
I said, “Uh, yeah, let me look around,” put the games down, and walked fully away from his booth. We never revisited.
As luck would have it, the booth right next door had some N64 controllers, so I dove right in and didn’t look back. Additionally, I noticed something peculiar about the games they were selling, which made me do a few double-takes.
They were selling black-label PlayStation titles for their green-label prices! If you know anything about original PlayStation games, you’ll know that black-label variants are the original prints of games, and they’re typically more sought after and are worth more money because of it.
And so, that’s the story of how I very cheaply purchased black-label Crash Team Racing and Tomb Raider II. After haggling, and with the yellow N64 controller I threw in from their selection, I paid only $35. Their prices were amazing.
As we walked around the Expo, I broke away from the others and came across a vendor selling a slew of Sega Saturn games. Having just recently purchased one myself, I was still on the hunt for more games for the platform, and—no way! This booth had a complete copy of Sonic R!
I walked up to the coveted game, wishing I could justify spending the marked price of $70 on a single game when I knew very well I could get more for my collection for less. But that collecting brain of mine went on an adrenaline rush anyway, trying to find other things at the vendor’s booth to buy so I could bundle them together and get Sonic R for less.
But aside from his Sega Saturn games, his booth boasted nothing special and nothing else I needed. I found a copy of Quake for Nintendo 64 that I wanted, but that was about it.
Begrudgingly, I asked the vendor if he would consider coming down on the Sonic R for a bundle deal with Quake. He said, “I mean, I’d come down on it, but not that much if you’re only getting one other thing.”
“How much would you come down to?”
“Probably just $65,” he said, and I frowned.
“Alright. I’ll just take the Quake, then…but I’ll be back for that R!”
Quake ran me only $10, which wasn’t terrible. But I walked away from his booth wishing I could justify the purchase of that Sonic R. Maybe if I came back later with my group, they could find things to buy and I could throw it in with their purchases. Maybe.
I must have really wanted to get more for my N64 collection, because just a few moments later, I found myself, quickly purchasing The New Tetris and 1080° Snowboarding without a second thought. If I remember correctly, it cost me $18 for the pair. I got into a rather amusing conversation with the seller about Tetris as a whole, and we rambled for a few minutes about our favorite memories of the beloved puzzler.
Swinging around a corner, I met back up with my friends. Jackie and Dustin were interested in checking out the tabletop section of the expo, so they skipped off together while Joe and I visited the booth of my friend Phil, whom you may remember from this very column, since he’s sold me some things over the last few months.
Phil greeted us warmly and entreated us to peruse his wares. As much as I wanted to help him out, most of his things were games I already owned or were rarities I hadn’t the money to afford. Instead I rifled through some incredibly common NES titles just so I could walk away with something I didn’t have. I settled on a single game, Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage, which Phil was kind enough to discount for me. I paid only $3.
Meanwhile, Joe was on the hunt for NES games, since I gave him a spare NES I had back at the beginning of July. Phil’s booth had a lot of good selections, but none that Joe was interested in. “I need triple-A games,” he said, and I understood what he meant. He wants to experience the real gems of the NES—games that constantly make it onto top-ten lists and into nostalgia memes on the Internet. I promised him we’d spend some time toward the end of our day at the Expo looking for games he could add to his collection.
Now, I typically visit the Expo each year with only about $100 or so, since it’s rather small and I want to save money for other conventions in the future and for yard sales. Thus, in the event that I would be able to bundle that Sonic R with purchases made by my friends, I held onto my final wad of cash with ferocity, trying to resist the urge to use it for something else.
For three full hours, I found myself enticed by games but unwilling to buy them. I wanted—nay—needed that Sonic R.
Finally, Jackie and the guys agreed to accompany me to that vendor’s booth, where they…didn’t find anything they wanted.
What was I to do now? I sat down in the cafeteria section with my head in my hands, inordinately despondent about the unlikelihood of Sonic R sitting on my shelf. Jackie comforted me, but reassured me, saying, “Well, now you can grab some other games!”
I nodded and got up, determined to fill the void with other things I needed and to forget about my failure for the time being.
The four of us scoured a large booth near the arcade area. We spent a fairly long time there while everyone picked out their desired wares, but I made my selections rather quickly and waited until everyone else was ready to go before I checked out. For a bundle deal of $20, I grabbed Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls for Super Nintendo, along with Bubsy 2 and a complete copy of Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures for Sega Genesis. Yes, I’m a masochist. We’ve been over this.
I threw some money here and there at raffles (I didn’t win any of them) and at the expensive food they had for sale at the convention. Finally, I joined Joe for his NES collecting spree and spent my last ten bucks on The Karate Kid and Kung-Fu Heroes for NES.
Rummaging through the typical set of NES heavy-hitters with Joe made me feel like I was back in the infancy of my collecting days, something I haven’t felt for so long.
Together, we picked out the necessities: Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3, and a few others that caught his eye. Additionally, he made sure to grab copies of Balloon Fight and Jackal, since he and I have spent many, many nights playing them together in my game room. He was excited to finally own them himself, which made me proud of myself for introducing him to those gems in the first place.
Whenever my friends grab games while I’m around, they make me feel like the resident deal-maker. They’re always asking me what kind of haggle they should go for, how much they should be asking for. In this case, Joe already had an idea of what he wanted to hit the seller with, which was a flat $100. I felt that was safe, but warned him to have a backup just in case, and he ventured forth to do the deal. $100 later, Joe was happy and I was pleasantly surprised.
Satisfied with all of my purchases, we got ready to leave. As I was sifting through my backpack to make it more comfortable to wear, Jackie suddenly got very serious and tugged at my shoulder. I acknowledged her.
“So, I told my mom jokingly that you were upset about the Sonic R,” she began.
“Yeah?” I said, trying to forget.
“She just sent me $60 and told me to make sure you get it.”
“She what?” I shouted. “Why? I’m not even that important!”
“She loves you, I guess!” Jackie said, chuckling. “Let’s go get that game.”
“Dude, your mom is so cool. Like, so cool. Thank her for me, please. No, I’ll thank her myself.”
As we walked toward the game upon which I’d had my sights locked, I had a terrifying realization.
“Jackie,” I started, “even with the extra $60, I don’t have enough to afford it. I spent all my cash thinking I wouldn’t be getting it.”
“Maybe they’ll haggle with you more, now that you’re coming back to their booth for the third time.”
I swallowed hard and truly hoped so. Walking up to the vendor yet again, I pointed at the Holy Grail on the table and said, “Hey, look. I’m really interested in the Sonic R and I want to buy it off you. But I only have $60 left before we head out. Can you do me a big favor and come down to $60 for me?”
The vendor drew a deep breath and then exhaled against pursed lips, signifying deep thought. After some careful thinking on his part, he said, “If you can manage $65, I’ll still do that, even without buying anything else.”
I looked at Jackie in dismay, but to my amazement, she reached into her purse and said, “We’ll do that!”
“Jackie, are you sure?”
“Shhh,” she admonished me. “I love you.”
I love you, too, Jackie.
Finally, we gathered our belongings and headed home. I spent a good chunk of our drive back thanking Jackie and her mother for their immense generosity.
After cleaning and testing everything, I took my usual after-con haul picture.
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
Something else my friends and I do every year is visit Dustin’s girlfriend, Zoey, who, as I’m sure you know well by now, lives up in Buffalo. Earlier in the week, Dustin, Joe, Jackie, and I took the trip up there with Joe at the helm. I was excited to see Zoey again.
Other than that, I would finally be getting some handheld games that Zoey had promised me a few months prior.
On the Saturday we were there, we all took a trip to get dinner. On the way back to our Airbnb (another yearly ritual, since Zoey prefers to be away from home while we visit), Zoey remembered the games and we stopped by her place so she could grab them for me.
When she sat back down in the car, she handed me an incredibly dirty, dusty, crusty fabric box with games and clumps of pet hair inside.
“Zoey, what the hell is this box?” I inquired.
“Sorry, it’s been buried under a ton of other things for months. But you like to dig for buried treasure, right?” She shot me a sly look.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” I mused, and pawed through the games in the backseat of Joe’s car.
Among the titles promised to me were The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Four Swords and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for Game Boy Advance, both of which I already had. Dustin also had Zelda already, so I gave it to Joe, but gave Kingdom Hearts to Dustin, since he would naturally have next dibs after me, as Zoey’s boyfriend. The rest of the games were more GBA titles that I wanted, as well as a litany of loose Nintendo DS games. I don’t collect loose for the DS, so I let Joe and Dustin sift through the remainder when we arrived back at the Airbnb. I claimed only one of them for myself, Nintendogs: Dachshund & Friends. Searching on eBay quickly, I found and ordered the case and manual for only $4, which to me was worth it.
The Game Boy Advance titles were what I was more interested in, though. Altogether, I received Finding Nemo: The Continuing Adventures, Dragon Ball Z: Collectible Card Game, Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, Disney’s Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, and Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. That last one was a relief to finally add to my collection, as I’d been looking for it for a while.
I hugged and thanked Zoey multiple times, but she waved me off, happy to give her forgotten games a good home.
Sunday, August 18th, 2019
The following day, I convinced everyone to take a trip to a game store in the Buffalo area called Oogie Games. Two years prior, Zoey had taken me there to browse their selection and I found a lot of good things to take back to Long Island with me. This time around, it was the day before we were scheduled to head back home, and my wallet was nearing depletion for the trip.
We went inside and looked anyway, and I was just as impressed with their selection this time as I had been two years before.
Jackie sidled up to me as I looked through their N64 games and said, “Pick out a $10 game, I’ll grab it for you.”
Her generosity shines through at the strangest moments, but I kissed her forehead and accepted the offer. After about forty minutes of looking around at their good prices, Jackie bought me a copy of Command & Conquer for Nintendo 64.
Afterwards, we ran across a busy intersection to check out a Savers nearby. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything good, but their bathroom was really clean, so there’s that.
The month in review:
Even though I bought a ton of games, a month’s worth of purchases can feel short when many of them are bought in a single location. But that’s what conventions are for, and it’s why I visit them. It’s a great opportunity to do a lot of collecting in a short amount of time, and to come across rarities and things I wouldn’t often find at yard sales and thrift stores.
Thanks again for sticking with me through another (heavily delayed) installment of This Yard Has Saled. I’m grateful that there are people out there who like my game collecting drivel!
Next month, I actually, seriously attend another convention, but Tyler joins me from Canada to do so! And a lot of other things happen, too, so I hope you’re prepared to read about it. Until then!