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I declared earlier in the week that I might visit the swapmeet this weekend to hunt for video games, but I was still on the fence up until the last moment. I did end up going but for another reason. I decided to visit the unconformity at Frenchman’s mountain on the east side of Las Vegas which is near the swapmeet. This is a geographic structure where you can see some of the oldest rocks on earth (something like 1.4 billion years old). The mountain is slanted back and a series of faults have exposed the buried rock. Since there are so many layers of rock you can see alot of earth’s history in one place. There are sea fossils and coral all over the place which is amazing since Las Vegas is usually associated with being a desert. This area of Frenchman’s mountain has endured decades of abuse. Garbage, glass, and other debris litter the area, but walk a few hundred feet up the side of the mountain and you’ll be clear of the refuse. I didn’t find any treasured fossils.
Afterwards I hit up the swapmeet in usual fashion. I don’t like to go on Saturdays because there aren’t as many vendors, and it seems like they take forever to get ready. This Saturday was no exception although the very first booth did have a few NES titles. Vindicators did enticed me. I wanted to visit Mario’s World of Games. A few weeks prior I got a few Nintendo NES games from him for $3 each. The first lap around the swapmeet he wasn’t ready. In an attempt to kill some time I hit up the first booth and obtained the Vindicators for $3. By the second lap Mario finally started putting out his wares, but I was waiting for the vendor who sold me the unlicensed games a few weeks earlier to open. During the first lap she had slopped a crate of Nintendo NES games onto a side table, but it was clear she wasn’t ready to deal. I cut the second lap short to revisit her, but again she wasn’t ready – not only that she put the box of NES games away. By the third-lap I got tired of waiting and flat out asked her if she had any Nintendo games – knowing full well that she did. Sure enough she takes out three crate-fulls.
“How much?” I asked.
“Five to eight dollars,” she replied with extra emphasis on the “dollars”.
I rummaged through the crates. There were no unlicensed games. None. Not even a Tengen title. I settled on a copy of Legends of the Diamond for $5. I may have over paid, but I felt a little guilty asking for games and having her bring out three crates.
I marched back to Mario and verified that his games were $3 each. He explained that they were, unless they had a sticker on them. When I saw these games a few weeks earlier there was a copy of Rescue Rangers. I should have bought it then because at the time Mario’s wife thought all of the games were $3. Now there was a sticker on the game, and the expectation for this title was $15. I don’t need the game, but at $3 it was worth a shot. Anyways I started pulling out the titles I wanted: Swords and Serpents, Super Team Games, Kabuki – Quantum Fighter, IronSword, Bad Street Brawler, and the best of the bunch: Maniac Mansion. There were a few other titles I wanted including Pin*Bot and Abadox, but the labels were in poor shape.
The best thing about the 8 games I got today is that with the exception of IronSword I never played ANY of these before – emulated or otherwise.
What you see here is one of the greatest treasure maps ever. Its a screen grab of the Broad Acre Swapmeet here in Las Vegas. The highlighted lines is a mostly accurate portrayal of the path I took this past Sunday. Below is the key:
1: The starting and ending point of the journey. I followed along the Red
2: Location of where I got the unlicensed games Metal Fighter and Raid 2020. The woman didn’t have her A stock merchandise out yet so I had to return. I actually found the games in her B stock.
3: The approximate location of where I picked up Gauntlet II. There were other games, 4 bucks each. Also the location of an $8 Balloon Kid
4: Location of the lady with the huge rack. Of Nintendo games. I picked up After Burner and Back to the future. She had plenty more but I ran out of money. All games were $3. Even Rescue Rangers, which sadly I paid $5 two weeks prior
A: Didn’t buy anything but the seller had about a dozen NES games at various prices. He said they started at $5. Meh
B: There are atleast 3 vendors in this area selling Game Boy, Nintendo NES, N64, and PS1, PS2, and XBOX games. Labels are mostly faded
C: A booth ran by a bunch of ladies. Bought a Lufia 2 for $8 here once – been dry ever since.
D: Huge booth with hundreds of games – mostly all newer and over priced. This is THE place to pick up a Super Joy.
E: Location of the new free-admission arcade. I posted a video of it that you can view here: swap meet arcade
F: This was the first time I saw games along the southern perimiter – there were actually two booths. One with “bagged” Atari 2600 games that were in excellent shape with their manuals, and the other had a variety of all systems.
G: This seller had a small booth with a PS3 and a Lime Game Boy for sale. He insisted the Game Boy would be worth something some day.
H: A variety of games both old and new. This booth has moved a few times. I once got a Blues Brothers for $5 from here.
I: Seller usually has NES systems and 32X systems available. Weird thing is I’ve never seen a seller in this booth. They set up and then disappear. Weird.
So anyways, this is a general idea of what I see at the swap meet on a typical Sunday. Sometimes there is considerably less stuff, but this past Sunday was the best!
Sundays are always the best day to find video games at the Broad Acres swap meet. Today there were games EVERYWHERE and cheap too. Below is a quick video of some finds including Back to the Future for $3, Gauntlet II for $4, After Burner for $3, and Metal Fighter for $5 and Raid 2020 for $5. I’ve never been interested in unlicensed games outside of the Tengen variety until I stumbled upon Firehawk, and now I’m more curious than ever before.
It’s almost that day of the year again: Super Bowl Sunday. While most Americans are feverishly getting ready for the big game I am getting ready for my 2nd annual Super Bowl Sunday Swapmeet Retro Game Hunt.
Last year I got some good stuff, namely a bunch of SEGA Master System games. I hope this year will yeild treasures as well. Perhaps some TurboGrafx-16 games or a rare(r) Atari 7800 title.
I’ve been so terribly busy lately that I haven’t had much time to continue with my 30 days of SEGA Genesis reviews. Work is rough this time of year but the weather has finally cooled off which means its time to spend some quality time at the Broad Acre’s Swapmeet. Just like the awesome video I took back in February, I expect this one to be great too. Definately something to look forward to. I’m hoping to find NES, Master System, 2600 and ColecoVision games. Until this weekend enjoy my original swap meet collecting video:
Used videogames frequently endure the indignity of being exposed to heavy tobacco use. Not only do cigarettes kill humans they also kill videogames. Ok, maybe not. But smoke is greasy and it stinks, and it makes games greasy and stink. So watch as I remove the stink with some Martha Stewart science. We’ll also check out some rarer Nintendo NES games I picked up from the swapmeet, and Pit Fighter for SEGA Genesis. And lets not forget Omega Race and Wizard of Wor for Atari 2600.
I visit the Broad Acres Swap Meet and find an excellent SEGA Master System find. I hadn’t been to the swap meet for a few weeks so it was worth the trip. The weather was perfect, and there were plenty of games to browse. We also get caught up on a few recent Atari 2600 purchases.
In case you’re wondering this is the info about the song: Chuy Lizarraga y Su Banda Tierra Sinaloense – La Peinada (La Peinadita)
Some excellent swapmeet finds were found today at the Broadacres Swapmeet in Las Vegas. The morning started out slow with some clown selling an Atari with boxed games for $50. He insisted they “were mint” despite the boxes being crushed and the layer of dust on everything. Pass! Wonder Boy for SEGA Master System would you believe SMS games were 3 for $5? Lufia II for $8. Dang! The Dusty Diamond All Star Softball… $3 or two for five, thus the copy of Super Spike Volley Ball.
Don’t buy video games from SwapMeets or FleaMarkets… instead leave all of the goodies for me. Seriously though both SwapMeets and FleaMarkets serve as treasure troves for classic gaming finds. The bigger the SwapMeet or FleaMarket the more likely you won’t leave empty handed. I’ve posted before about finding videogames at thrift stores so this is similar advice, but catered to those wonderful opened air markets.
SwapMeets and FleaMarkets are the same exact thing. Their might be some subtle differences, but the bottom line is that its a collection of vendors selling stuff. Some of the vendors are casual selling items like they would at a yard sale, others are professionals and make their livings at the swapmeet. One thing to note is that FleaMarkets were called FleaMarkets because hundreds of years ago they were infested with fleas!
Anyways there are three types of vendors where you’re going to find classic video games:
- The professional who deals only in video games and usually DVDs
- The casual who is selling a variety of items, but has several gaming options
- The guy who “is just selling junk”.
Each of these three entrepreneurs have advantages and disadvantages. The professional will often have an excellent selection, but many items will be sold at price, or ridiculously over price. They are also less likely to haggle. The casual will have their games grouped together and will have excellent prices or terrible prices. Sometimes their merchandise will be in bad shape. And then you got the guy “selling junk”. I have to put “selling junk” in quotes because at the swapmeet one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Before going to the swapmeet make sure you bring proper supplies. They should include: cash (do not expect vendors to accept cards, or checks), something to carry merchandise in (many vendors, especially casual ones will not have any bags). Beverages (preferably water – depending on how big the swapmeet is you might be walking for hours, and swapmeets have huge markups on refreshments). Something to tell time with. Sunglasses. Sun protection I’d also recommend wearing neutral clothes… what does this mean? Let’s say you wear a fancy Raiders’ Jacket, but the vendor you’re talking to is a Broncos’ fan… this isn’t going to help you in the haggle process.
Optional items should include: Weather report for that morning and afternoon (more on this in a moment). Companion (which could help with the haggle process). But don’t bring a companion who is going to hold you back. Companions also double the number of eyes looking for merchandise, unless your companion is missing an eye.
Do not go to the swapmeet expecting to find exactly what you’re looking for. You’re going to be sorely disappointed. Do not expect your merchandise to always work. You’re going to be sorely disappointed. Do not expect parking to be great, or the vendors to speak English.
This seems like a no brainer but you need to start early. Vendors are usually up and running within two hours of opening. They pay for the day, so they want their money’s worth. Also, you don’t want to miss out on any good deals or finds. On hot days drink plenty of water. On cold days drink even more. More? Yes more. In the summertime you’ll sweat but a gentle breeze will help you keep cool. In the wintertime you’ll start to walk around and you’ll still sweat, but that sweat and heat is trapped in your coat, which makes you sweat more. Want to know if you’re dehydrated? Pause what you’re doing and look straight up to the sky. Really tilt your head back and hold it there. Does the sky seem to move or rotate? You’re dehydrated. Go rest and drink something.
Follow The Path To The Treasures
Most swapmeets look like shanty towns and are normally positioned on a grid. You’re going to want to do two laps minimum around the entire event. You’ll find more items on your second lap. Perhaps its because vendors have set more items out, or perhaps you’re eyes have gotten used to looking at merchandise (more on this later). Always pay attention of what’s coming up behind you. As vendors are setting up many will still be driving up and down the aisles. A hybrid car could be the death of you. If you’re walking on a very warm day take occasional peaks inside “tented” booths to get a break from the sun, even if its something you’re not interested in. The sun will drain all motivation!
How To Find The VideoGames
Now we’ll get into the fun stuff. It doesn’t matter if its a thriftstore or the swapmeet I have an incredibly keen eye for finding games in the midst of junk. Even if said games are several booths down the road. This is something you’ll develop over time if you practice. These are the steps I use:
- Know what you’re looking for! I don’t mean go looking for a specific game – I advised not to do that earlier. Instead you want to look for the shapes and colors of the consoles and videogames that you are interested in. Nintendo, SNES, and Nintendo 64 games are grey. When vendors have a bunch of electronics most are black, including the wires, so when your eye catches the grey do a double take. Wii games are in white cases, so if a vendor has a stack of what might be movies, there is a good chance Wii games are floating around there if there are white cases. XBOX cases are neon green. PS3 cases are clear. Dreamcast systems are white (some are black). Many GameCube systems were purple. If you don’t have a razor sharp picture of systems and cartridges in your head you’re going to miss items. If you have to look at every single item in a booth to spot games you’re going to get a headache fast. You’ll also become blind to seeing items over time if you do it this way. I’ll stress this again… know what the games and consoles look like. If you want for example, Atari Jaguar games, you’ll never find them if you don’t know what they look like. They will not catch your eye!
- Move your eyes in a sweeping motion back and forth across the merchandise. Start from the back of the booth and move forward towards the street. This is to help you develop a good habit. If you look at a vendor’s merchandise and the first few rows are junk that you are not interested in you’re going to look away – missing items in the back! If you start in the back and bring your eyes to the front and you see merchandise that doesn’t catch your eye your vision will still have to pass over the items in the front! If you’re lazy you’re going to miss some good stuff! And this will help keep you from being lazy.
- Ask a vendor. But expect to pay more! You could save a lot of time by just going up and down the row and ask every vendor “Do you have Atari games?”. But what happens when they do? Success? Sure. But they know you are interested, you sound desperate, and you might pay more for it. It also takes the fun out of going to the swapmeet, and you’ll look stupid if they don’t speak your language.
What To Do When You Find The VideoGames – Or How To Haggle
When searching all day for videogames that you actually want to buy you might become overwhelmed by excitement and immediately ask how much a particular stack might be. Practice to never ask that first. When it comes to selling, whether its at a swapmeet, or a car dealership, or where ever, when the potential buyer starts asking questions about price they are generally committed to buy. This is fine, except we want an even lower price. So the first thing we need to do is to convince the seller that there merchandise really isn’t worth much. The way to do this is to ask questions that you know the seller won’t be able to answer positively. Those questions include:
- “Do you have the original box, or manual for these games?” (Most likely the seller does not have either, and you just conveyed that its important to you. The seller might already be thinking they will have to compromise on the price to make you buy.)
- “Do these games actually work?” (Most vendors will usually answer with ”yes.” That’s when you ask “Can you show me?” They will explain that they cannot because most vendors do not have electricity. So then you ask “What happens if I buy these and they do not work?” Most vendors will tell you they will take it back. That’s when you say “I’m in town visiting friends, I don’t think I’d be able to come back.”)
Now throw out your ’- offer. But say it exactly like this: “Would you take $__ for these – is cash ok?” Let’s look at that closely: “Would you take $10 for these – is cash ok?” When you ask multiple yes/no questions with no opportunity to answer it causes some confusion, and oftentimes the person you’re asking will only answer the second part of the question. “Yes” (I accept cash.) Fantastic $10 it is!
Wait a sec! What if the vendor clarifies that yes he accepts cash, but not for $__? Well find out what price he thinks is fair, then you ask him “Why $__?” Now you’re forcing him to explain why he thinks that fat stack of games is worth the price he’s asking for. They are going to have a hard time giving you a valid reason. Oftentimes they will say “they are rare” or “hard to find”. That’s when you ask why they are “rare” or “hard to find”. Finish it up by saying “I’m not sure if that’s a deal; you don’t have the boxes or manuals, I can’t test them, if they don’t work I’m probably out of luck.” Then raise you’re offer “$__ is the best I can do. Do we have a deal?”
It’s possible this will get you nowhere and you’ll eventually have to decide if the price is worth it to you or not. But there are a couple things you can do to tilt the haggle in your favor:
- Remember earlier when I said to bring a companion? Don’t let them stand around and watch you haggle. Have them interrupt you both with a question about something that is clearly more expensive – like a television for example. If the vendor thinks they can make more money with a different transaction they might be more likely to agree to yours just to move you along so they can focus on the other “buyer”. If there is nothing more expensive just have your companion keep asking questions about various merchandise. Vendors that have only one person working the booth will have a difficult time dividing their attention and may accept your offer out of convenience to themselves. This also works well if you do not have a companion. Do everything you can to keep the attention of the vendor while he is losing business by ignoring other people that enter the booth! The companion makes it a little easier.
- Suddenly become short on money. I’d recommend putting each of your bills in seperate pockets, and grouping $1 to a few folded ones in a single pocket. Here is why. Suppose your agreed upon price is $12. You have a $10 in your back pocket. You pull that out, pretend to search your other pockets, and proclaim “I only have $10, would you accept that?” If they say no, then say “Can you break a $100 bill?” Most vendors will say “no”. Professional vendors might, but the casual ones usually won’t. Failing that you can always save face by pulling out the folded $1 bills.
- Some people would recommend telling the vendor “this other guy is selling it cheaper.” I would not recommend saying that. Vendors know you’re lying, and will probably tell you to go buy it from them. Instead if you decide their offer price is to high ask them “Are there any other vendors around here selling games?” It doesn’t matter if there is or isn’t but you’re sending a clear message to the vendor that you might be ready to move on.
There are plenty of other methods you can use to haggle, but those listed above work best for me. Your results might vary. Just remember you have nothing to lose by asking questions. You also won’t win them all. And if the deal just doesn’t work out then be polite. Don’t get rude or sarcastic. Don’t say “Well I guess it’s your loss.” At the end of the day it doesn’t hurt to make one more attempt. If you’ve burned your bridges with that vendor then you just wasted a second chance.
Avoid The Following SwapMeet Finds
- Avoid buying portable game systems when you cannot test the screen. You can’t see cracks on colored ones, and you can’t see missing pixels on a GameBoy unless you can turn the unit on.
- Avoid games and consoles that clearly have food residue on them. There is a chance of a roach infestation.
- Avoid pirated games. You don’t want to get caught up in a sting operations.
- Flip all systems over and look at the screw holes. Is it missing any screws? If so it might be broken. Are the screws rusty? Water damage. You can always use this observation to help haggle a lower price, but buyer beware, it might not work.
- Broken warranty seals. There is a reason why console manufacturers include these. Although true, it voids the warranty, the warranty seal is meant to protect service technicians who may work on a system if its sent into service. If its been opened and someone made a modification that could be potentially lethal it puts their lives (and potentially yours) in danger. Even if you never open and work on the system there is still the potential that an unauthorized modification could burst into flames.
Be Cautious Of The Following SwapMeet Finds
- Any game console that loads from disc. Many modern consoles can be picky with a dirty or faulty disc reader. For example PS2′s are notorious for playing silver discs but not blue ones as they approach the end of their life.
- Cartridges missing labels, or labels that “look weird” – its possible that the game inside the cartridge is not the one you’re buying.
- Games from other regions. Familiarize yourself with NTSC, PAL, and cartridge compatibility. On some systems the cartridges look similar but they are for a different region. PAL games might not work on an NTSC system, and usually the same is true vice-versa.
- New in the box modern consoles at insanely low prices. $150 unopened PS3? There is chance its stolen and the vendor is looking to unload it quick. The same holds true for games. Scratched serial numbers and missing serial number labels are also a good indication of a possibly stolen console.
- PS3s and X-BOX 360s – an extremely cheap PS3 or 360 which is obviously used, and probably not stolen might be banned from the PSN or Live. Use extreme caution when purchasing.
Take Your Treasures Home
Once you take your treasures home you may want or need to clean them. I have instructions on cleaning videogames available on this site. Make sure you gloat to everyone you know, and update your Twitter, and Facebook with your finds.
I hope these instructions were informative, if they were not feel free to berate me in the comments.
Recently I won a fabulous retro gaming lot from eBay. In it contained two Atari 2600′s and a handful of games. It was cheap! This time I of year I’m usually pretty sentimental towards Atari for a variety of reasons that I’ll share in another post, but the point being I’m longing for an Atari, and well, my 7800 just isn’t cutting it. Thats not to suggest that the 7800 doesn’t work. It works great but I had plans for those Ataris… a composite video mod to be exact.
Well, the systems were purchasedon November 5th, and as of this writing its November 20th. The original USPS tracking indicated an estimated delivery on 11/18/10. After being scanned twice in Bell CA it sits dormant with no further updated tracking. Tomorrow is Sunday, and Monday will be the earliest the systems could possibly arrive.
The last couple days have been particularly aggrevating. Sometimes when I receive items from eBay the tracking never updates until days after I receive the item. So on this false hope I’ve checked my P.O. box every single day last week and through the weekend. And still there is no Atari. I mention this because I want to share the experience of obtaining my first Atari Cartridge.
My first console was actually a ColecoVision which many people would describe as being superior, and it certainly was. But you know, the Atari Lynx and SEGA GameGear was superior to the Nintendo Gameboy, but the Gameboy mopped the floor in sales for both of those systems despite them both being technically superior, and with a backlit colored screen. How did it happen? Lack of games. Both the Lynx and the GameGear had few titles. The Lynx never had a killer app, and the GameGear just had rehashes of almost everything Acclaim released. But the Gameboy was churning out titles left and right.
So this was the case with the ColecoVision V.S. the Atari. I could rarely find ColecoVision games at the Swapmeet and when I did there wasn’t many titles and the titles that were available were expensive. But one Saturday at Broadacre’s Swap Meet with my mom and my sister I laid eyes on the ColecoVision Expansion Module. I didn’t know what it was but the vendor explained to me that you can use it to play Atari games on your ColecoVision. Atari games were everywhere. They were cheap. I had to have it. I needed $15 for it. I didn’t have $15 for it. My mom wasn’t a very understanding woman. She would not give me $15. She would assign me extra chores and give me a few extra bucks here and there to help me pay for it but this Saturday afternoon would be the start of the longest three weeks of my life.
Actually four weeks. Every day I dreamed about getting the Expansion Module and when I finally procured the $15 my mom had no interest in going to the Swap Meet that weekend. Crushed. The following week however we went. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that it was coincidental that we went and not pity.
As I walked along the dusty rows I finally stumbled upon the vendor with the ColecoVision and Atari products. Each time we went he was in a new location. But here I was with him and his merchandise infront of me. And $15 burning a hole in my pocket. But guess what? That’s all I had. I could afford the expansion module, but what good would it be with out a game? Crushed! I wasn’t about to let the Expansion Module go on a technicality on my part. I was a dumb 6th grader. How could I possibly be expected to think that far ahead? But in a rare moment of kindness my sister gave me a dollar to purchase a dollar videogame.
Buy what should I get? I didn’t know. By then all of my friends had moved on to Nintendo and I really didn’t know squat about Atari 2600 games. Then my sister pointed this game out to me:
50 games! For $1? How could I refuse. I gladly accepted my sister’s generous offer and made the transaction with the vendor. Who I would soon learn was incredibly arrogant, stupid, or both (I’m speaking of the vendor). So with expansion module and game in hand I was done. It was time to go. Start the car. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go… no dice. We weren’t even at the swap meet an hour when we encountered my treasure. And now we were going to have to walk around the place which suddenly seemed disguisting to me for hours while my sister looked at jelly shoes and my mom… well I have no idea what she would look at. I didn’t care! I wanted to go home!
Several miserable hours later I walked into my Grandparent’s apartment where the ColecoVision rested. I plugged the expansion module in. Check. I plugged the ColecoVision joysticks into the module. Check. I put the Pong Sports game into the expansion module and fired it up. Awesome! It worked. The screen showed the inferior graphics of an Atari 2600 game on the TV! Success!
Remember when I said I didn’t know anything about Atari games? Yeah, I didn’t realize I didn’t know anything about Atari controllers either. These 50 games were all variations of Pong. You need a damn paddle controller to play Pong. Not joysticks which is what I had with the ColecoVision. CRUSHED!
So as I sit here and whine and complain about the Postal Service I should really be reflecting more on this experience. It was an exercise in extreme patience and let down. First, I couldn’t buy the system when I saw it. Second, once I had the money to get said system I had to wait another week to actually get it. Third, upon getting the system I couldn’t get a game. Fourth upon getting the system and a game I had to walk around a Swap Meet all afternoon before getting a chance to hook it up. Fifth, I finally get home with the system and I don’t have the necessary hardware to play it.
Whoever said patience breeds patience is a moron. This single event has probably contributed to why I have a temper and no patience for anything. Its also what made me hate used game stores. That prick at the Swap Meet could have just as easily have said that I’d need paddles for that game but he didn’t. He knew if he said something with the financial situation that it was I might have bought a different game and he’d never have been able to unload this piece of crap on to anyone. And that is precisely what the problem is with used game sales. Dumps like Game Stop and this Swap Meet vendor simply sell games when the should really be selling experiences. That clown didn’t look at me as a little kid looking for entertainment… I was just a quick and desperate $16 to him. This happened to me 25 years ago, and I imagine the vendor was in his 40s. I bet he’s dead now looking up at me type this and having a good old chuckle.