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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.


  1. Aww man, Driver! This game absolutely rocked, I could spend hours on police pursuits!

    1. Yup yup, and then having your mind blown in Driver 2 because you can GET OUT of the car. Fun times, I really need to replay both :D