Welcome to Retro Game On!

Everything retro - big and small! Live from Perth, Australia!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Another Retro Gaming Store Opens In Perth: Retro Collect

I emerged from the bushes and went inside...
It really doesn't feel like it was roughly 10 months ago that I was last down Armadale way checking out Retro Levels at the Gosnells Railway Markets. I'm actually in doubt if that still exists since their website and Facebook page has seemingly disappeared (although an Ebay account is still around) but until I confirm that, I know for sure that there is a brand-spanking new retro outlet in the heart of Armadale.
As of writing, Retro Collect has only been open one single week - but I went and visited this Saturday and I can assure you that it's fully stocked and ready for trade. Rather than operating out of a permanent market stall like Retro Levels or a few others around Perth, Retro Collect is in an actual high-street store much like Player [1]. Walking in off the street you're greeted to clean wooden floors, freshly painted walls with shelves and bins full of consoles, games and accessories. This is an actual proper store, and to have a few of these now kicking around Perth makes me a super happy retro gamer.
The question everyone will no doubt have though, is "how are the prices?", so I'll get straight into it. Obviously, they're not going to be anywhere near as cheap as op-shop prices which are my main way of sourcing games usually, but I can't always win with those. It's always super refreshing knowing that I'll be out and about to buy new games, and actually come home with something. This is quite worth the premium if you're not having much luck out in the wild (like I am at the moment).

The prices are more aligned with what you'd expect from eBay and the Facebook buy/sell groups which are gaining a lot of prominence at the moment, but a bit cheaper. I went in setting myself a budget of $50, but of course spent $55 because I have the self-control of a three-year-old. What you see above is what I purchased on Saturday, with all the price tags still attached. All titles were cheaper than what's the current going rate online by about $5-10, which is great when you consider the extra advantages buying from Retro Collect offers. For one, all games come with a 40-day warranty, which is absolutely above and beyond what's expected. Not like it's needed, however, because all games worked first try. It's obvious they had been cleaned and tested beforehand.

So when you compare to buying on eBay, it's a win-win all around. It's cheaper, there's a warranty and you get it that exact same day. Postage in Australia has come a long way, yes (I remember the dark days of a fortnight minimum wait across the Nullarbor) but nothing beats paying on the spot and owning it immediately.

The second question everyone might be wondering: do they sell for my *insert favourite system?* The answer: probably. All the major systems were represented (which you can see for yourself in the photos) and a lot in-box too. There wasn't anything too obscure though, so I wouldn't visit expecting to increase your Game.com or Apple Pippin collections, but I did find some Atari Jaguar cartridges so that was nice.
Otherwise, they sell a nice selection of accessories (with quite a few fighting sticks) as well as a handful of consoles. No doubt the console selection will grow as time goes on, but it was definitely the section that had the least.
Otherwise, there are a few other odds and ends about. One bin was full of strategy guides while another with Tiger Electronics-type handhelds (I can't quite recall what brand they were). There was also a selection of Nintendo plush toys scattered around.

That PlayStation sign is awesome. I want it above my retro setup.

Another feature of the store which resonated highly with me was the Nintendo upright cabinet with an N64 hooked up to play. I'm assuming the game inserted is probably on rotation, but the day I visited Donkey Kong 64 was playable. This is one of those store features that is completely unnecessary, but totally welcome at the same time. The store would be no different without it, but it certainly adds a nice touch. I have no idea why Mario is giving the evils on it, though.
Pictured: Mario at breaking point.

All the hand-helds and higher priced items were safely locked away under the counter from sticky fingers.
The two guys running it were super polite and easy to talk to, and it's obvious they are proud of their store. I don't really have anything negative to say about Retro Collect at all since I had a very good experience. The only slight knot in the rope is a lack of EFTPOS, however, I was told that this was coming, so no worries there.

Can I recommend Retro Collect? Absolutely. The prices and service was fantastic, and I can't wait to return. They're located in a prime location too, being just across the road from Armadale Shopping City (the suburbs mall) and just down the street from the local train station. Unfortunately, I don't live close enough to be able to visit as much I would like to in the future, but its location ensures that it's quite accessible for a large portion of the Perth metropolitan area.

Retro Collect can be found at 52 Fourth Road, Armadale, WA.
Ph: 0434 182 310
Website: www.retrocollect.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/perthretrocollect

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Is Cash Converters Finally Redeeming its Self?

I've been having a really hard time with op-shops lately - they're full of The Sims expansions and Bali copies of PSone games (pirated copies for clarification) but there's been nothing of worth to pick-up. It's almost getting frustrating; the last time I had any real luck was way back in February. I do realise this is what op-shopping is all about - lots of leg work equals cheap rewards but damn it, this is getting ridiculous. In the five years I've been operating Retro Game On (April 6th was the big day, I should add) I've never had a bout of nothingness this long. It's because of this, I was forced into a Cash Converters. Oh, the horror.

Way back in the February of last year, I went on a mild rant about Cash Converters and how they're trying to be the go-to place for retro games. I won't go into too much detail here but basically, they went from being a super cheap and convenient place to buy games (a chain I'd been shopping at for years I should add) to overly expensive and not worth my time and thus Dollarydoos.
With myself experiencing the drought I am however, I puckered up my butt for high prices and gave it a shot.

Everything you see in the photo above except for The Saboteur was bought from Cashies, with the shop visit going something like this: I entered, and spied the three games I was interested in noting that Shadowgate for the NES was a bit too pricey for my tastes. The price for The Flintstones on Mega Drive was also hidden (it was on the bottom of the cartridge, which was facing front-up in the locked cabinet). I promptly asked an employee for help, first asking about The Flinstones price. Surprisingly, his answer was "How much do you think it's worth?". Myself being very much a fan of $5 games of course, answered $5. The guy flipped it over, and what do you know, it was priced at $5. I wished I had said something lower at that point, but as you'll soon know this won't matter.
We then moved to another cabinet where Shadowgate and Lode Runner 3D for N64 were being held, and I immediately requested Lode Runner. This had a $15 price tag on it, which I guess isn't too bad, but my plan was to pay full price for that and The Flintstones in the hope of getting a discount on Shadowgate. I asked for a better price, he let me offer, and I said $12. Reasonable, I would think. Still too much really, but hey, I'm not ignorant to the prices of NES games and a stupid low-ball would likely get me nowhere.
To the offer, the employee actually didn't say anything. He simply took the games out of the cabinet and took them to the counter. I thought this was a bit weird, but even with my terrible math skills, I knew if he excepted the offer the grand total would be $32. This was not the case however, as he asked for $24. In a totally un-Cashies way, he ended up giving me Lode Runner 3D for free.
I don't know why, and I didn't really want to question it but I know it wasn't a mistake because he added it wouldn't have a warranty. I made a lame joke about cleaning it until it worked and high-tailed out of there before he changed his mind.
I'm not sure if this is the kind act of one sole employee, or if the company as a whole has changed their policy - but regardless, I sure as heck ain't complaining. And on that note, they'll likely see my business again soon.
Hopefully, this is the start of rekindled relationship between us, Cash Converters.

I guess I should also add The Saboteur to this post too since I included it in the photo. That cost $10 from a competitor. Yep, PS3 games have hit the $10 threshold. What a time to be alive.
I also bought Red Dead Redemption on the Xbox 360 for $5, which is even more amazing (considering it included the instruction manual as well as the map) but not as surprising since the 360 officially got the can from Microsoft this week.
I don't own a 360, at least not yet, but I do own this on PS3 and bought it when it first came out. I have played it twice since then and love the game to bits. The reason I bought it on 360 though, was because after the possible leak of a sequel or prequel to Red Dead I got really excited and wouldn't shut-up about it to my girlfriend. She's never played it, so hence now has her own copy :)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Video: Codename: Tenka for PSone Review

Also know as Lifeforce Tenka in PAL regions, this Psygnosis release has you playing a chap fleeing the future terribleness of Earth to an off-world colony called Extruvius 328-B. Upon arriving, however, he finds that it's the manufacturing plant for a bio-army for the evil corporation, Trojan Incorporated.
I don't think I've ever reviewed a FPS on the PSone, let alone one released before the DualShock controller with thumbsticks - so playing this was an interesting experience for sure.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Remembering my Childhood Game Store: Ultimate Games

The only image I could find of Ultimate Games on the net - from a Google Street View capture dated May, 2008
A little while ago I was watching a YouTube video by Michael's Retro Game Reviews, where he was reminiscing about his local game store growing up. This got me thinking about the place where I spent all my pocket money as a kid: Ultimate Games.
After a Google search, I was disappointed to find that there is bar a mention of Ultimate Games on the interwebs - except for Yellow Page like website listings as well as a Google listing sadly proclaiming it's "permanently closed" in a bright red box. Such a bummer.
I thought I would change this since there is no information about it around, but the place is also important to me personally since it helped a lot with my game collection in the early days - especially on the PSone.

A selection of Ultimate Games purchases - all with their iconic yellow price stickers still attached.
Growing up, I lived and breathed an original PlayStation when it was ideally the starting prime time of the PS2. I did buy it brand-new, I should add (splitting the price with my Dad) but by the time I had it, it was somewhere in the region of 2002-2003. New games were starting to appear less and less as time went on unless you liked FIFA or kids games, so instead I buried myself in classics from the previous years in the form of second-hand purchases. There were a few places I liked to visit (the Game Traders in Morley Galleria is one place that springs to mind) but Ultimate Games was easily the closest, cheapest and had the best range for PSone.
Plenty of classic games and long time favorites of mine were purchased from this store including (but definitely not limited to) Ape Escape, Driver 1 and 2, Sheep, Dog 'N' Wolf and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Hell, I even bought my original Nintendo DS from there second-hand.

Being independently owned, it was always run by the same bloke but I do remember two American guys in there at one point. They all seemed quite friendly, though - and never use to mind when I would come in and pay with a bundle of silver coins scavenged from pocket money. I guess it was money after all, but I always felt bad regardless.
Ultimate Games didn't just sell games either, as towards the end of its existence there was a section where you could rent anime videos. I never used the service as I've never really been into anime, but from what I remember, there were a lot of imported titles. Since this was long before the time of anime streaming services like Crunchy Roll, I could see the appeal of this idea. It's not like there was anything else like it in a suburb such as Midland (which isn't exactly famous for its culture).

So then, what did eventually happen to Ultimate Games? I don't have an exact answer, but I can give an opinion on what I observed. It's a pretty simple answer to, but a sad one. Like a lot of stories to do with the closure of independently owned stores, I'd say it was pushed out by big business. Ultimate Games had the advantage of being on the highway, but this was across the road from a shopping mall called Midland Gate. Within Midland Gate, is an EB Games (owned by GameStop for the Americans reading). I can't remember how long it's been there, but I think it would be fair to say that Ultimate Games was in the area first. After a while, a GAME opened in Midland Gate too which no doubt did nothing to help (even though it kinda sucked). So even though (in my opinion) Ultimate Games had the superior second-hand availability, there were another two dedicated stores just across the road selling games as well as department stores like Kmart, Big-W and Target. The last time I remember seeing Ultimate Games open would have been between 2008 and 2009.

Too much competition in a one block radius and the little guy gets pushed out - how sad. I wish it was still there and I miss it, but I guess the business world is just too different these days to support such stores.