Saturday, July 12, 2014

Retro Game Collectors: Why Don`t We Collect Rookie Games?

Something kind of odd I have been noticing about retro video game collectors is the fact that, unlike other types of collectors, we don`t seem to place much importance on the `rookie games` of major characters.

By `rookie game` I basically mean the game in which a major character made his/her/it`s first appearance.

In baseball cards, for example, a player`s rookie card, like this 1951 Bowman Willie Mays, is considered really valuable and everybody wants it.  Willie Mays is of course a popular player so all his cards ae popular, but his rookie card in particular is the one that everyone places the highest value on
In comic book collecting too the first issue that a major character appears in is always sought after and way more valuable than other issues.  Like issue 27 of Detective Comics here featuring Batman`s first appearance
In video game collecting though we don`t really seem to attach a great deal of importance to the question of whether or not a game features the first appearance of a major character or not.  Value seems to be determined solely by how rare a game is and how popular/fun to play it is.  We don`t even  have a word in our collecting vocabulary to describe the concept (`rookie game` is just something I made up and probably doesn`t work too well).

Its a bit odd given that we can easily identify which carts feature the first appearance of a given character.  Like Antarctic Adventure here features the first appearance of that penguin:

 Probably the most impressive `rookie game` would be Donkey Kong, which featured the simultaneous first appearances of both Donkey Kong and Mario, arguably the two most famous video game characters of all time. 

I have pictured the Donkey Kong Famicom cart at the top of this post, but if we are going to be strict, I don`t think that would count as a rookie game.  The Colecovision cart was the first home port of Donkey Kong, so I think the Colecovision Donkey Kong would be considered the true first appearance cart of those two characters (I find it kind of interesting that Nintendo`s two most famous characters didn`t make their home debut on a Nintendo console).  Technically of course the game was featured on Arcade cabinets first, but I don`t think those count (or, more accurately, they do count but would fall into a different category since collecting arcade cabinets is a whole different ballgame from collecting carts).

Anyway, those are just some thoughts I had about that.  I wonder why we don`t collect video games in the same way that comic book or sports card collectors do.  I guess part of it might have to do with the fact that video game carts are tied to specific consoles and most of us collect games for whichever systems we have or like rather than just collecting carts for collecting carts` sake (which is kind of what baseball card collectors do).

It would make for kind of an interesting approach to collecting.  Some systems definitely have a lot of important characters first appearance, like the Famicom (Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters, etc). 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Getting Used to the Top Rider Motorcycle Controller is Something you Need to Devote, like, a whole Weekend to.

I have added another oddball Famicom controller to my collection: the Top Rider inflatable motorcycle!

This is definitely one of the most interesting Famicom controllers ever made.  It is about what you think it is - an inflatable motorcycle that you ride on.  The handlebars, which are removable, are the only actual functional controller, with start/select buttons and the gas/brake control built into the handles themselves.

Its actually a pretty cool controller, hooking it up it reminds me a lot of motorcycle games that I have played in arcades.  The controls work pretty smoothly.

There are, however, two caveats.  One is that it is a massive pain in the ass to actually blow the thing up, especially if you aren`t used to doing so like me.  I thought I was going to pass out by the time I got it fully inflated.  Therefore this is one game that probably isn`t going to be played with very much in my household, neat though it is.

The other thing is that this controller was designed for 7 year old Japanese kids rather than 37 year old, 6 foot tall foreigners.  If you fall into the latter category, this is what you will look like when riding it:

For comparison`s sake please note the similarity:

It is massively uncomfortable for an adult to use the controller as a result, which is too bad. Of course it is possible to use the handlebars without the motorbike so I might stick to that.

Its kind of a must-have item for anyone collecting oddball Famicom stuff.  It was never released outside of Japan, and even in Japan it is a hard one to find (this is the first one I`ve ever seen, I won it on Yahoo Auctions).  This one doesn`t have the box which made it within my price range, with it I don`t think I could have afforded it!