So last weekend, my wife and I took our newborn son to a flea-market in a pretty posh part of town. She asked me if I minded getting up at half past silly(yes, that is a real-time) in order to go to get there before everybody else, and I eagerly agreed, knowing full well that there was a Sega Genesis or a ColecoVision with my name on it that some rich widow was gonna sell to me for under 20 bucks.
That’s right, I refuse to pay more than 20 bucks for any console. That’s part of the challenge! (See rules below).
Well, we got there early, but of course everyone else got there early too, so ‘early’ became a relative term. At first glance, I had high hopes for this particular flea-market, there were loads of toys and kids clothes, so I naturally assumed a lonely console or two would be in dire need of liberation. However, after 4 walks around the market, and sniffing around every stand, my wife found a really sad ‘computer‘ which was a glorified calculator, but nothing remotely resembling a gaming console.
A buddy of mine called me up and told me about yet another flea market across town, but I was too depressed and figured that today just wasn’t a Retro Salvation day.
We went home and made lunch, and put our son down for a nap. My wife left to go shopping at the local health food store down the street from our apartment. A few minutes after she left, she gives me a call “Hey, there’s actually a little mini flea market here in front of the health food store, wanna come and check it out?” I thought it was some cruel joke that fate was playing with me, “You can’t have a retro gaming console, but you can buy some used Birkenstocks from some hippy instead!” (That was fate talking, not my wife).
I chuckled, and told my wife that I’d pass, knowing full well that hippies had nothing that interested me.
She came back home with the groceries and with a heavy laden an unassuming cloth Honeywell bag (see a picture of the infamous bag below in the gallery). She plopped it on the table, and grinned at me. Inside the bag was an Atari 2600 with the peripherals and a bunch of games… I couldn’t believe it. I had been searching for hours, and hours and to no avail. I’m the experienced retro hunter, I figured if anything, she would come back from the mini-flea market with a dead Tamagotchi. I was wrong, and now have a renewed faith in my wife’s keen flea market haggling skills, and technical knowledge.
For an all time low price of 5 euros, my wife got the following:
-Real Sports Tennis
-UFI und sein gefährlicher Einsatz (UFI and his dangerous mission)
-Power Cable & converter
Here’s a word of warning to any and all that are thinking of cracking open the cartridges of yore to bask in 8 bit beauty…watch out! Prepare yourself for possible disappointment. Prepare for the eventuality of having your childhood games ruined. This may hurt you. I actually figured at least ONE of the games that I got would be fun, but regretfully they weren’t. My wife and I tried out every single game. With each failed attempt, my wife kept on looking at me with that look…that look that says, “THIS is what you’ve been so excited about? This is why I haggled my ass off? These games suck!
In all fairness, I did get a bunch of crappy games, I mean E.T. Go Home? Not exactly BAFTA material there. I NEED to play some of the classics that I had as a kid in order to renew my faith in retro gaming! Classics such as Pitfall, and Missile Command, which you can play here!
You’re probably asking yourself “Why is he collecting retro consoles if he doesn’t want to play them?!” Well, I have of course asked myself the same question. First of all, just because it’s retro, doesn’t make it good. There is enough crap out there from time gone past, just as there’s enough crap these days that would be equally unimpressive. It all comes down to ‘dat feel’.
I of course have contemplated retrofitting an old arcade game, and installing MAME, or something equally as cool, but honestly, that takes a lot of fiddling around, sawing, soldering, hammering and paining: basically way too much work. Maybe when my son is older it’ll be a cool project for us to work on together, but for moment, the thrill of the hunt is where it’s at for me.
1. LOCATION: You have to buy the console at a flea-market or a second hand/good will. You cannot buy it online at amazon or ebay etc.
2. PRICE: You cannot spend more than 20 on said console, or 3 on one particular game.
3. CONDITION. The console must be a working console.
4. PERIPHERALS: You get extra bonus points if said console comes with appropriate games and original controller/ power supply.