Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Play What You Love, Even If You Have To Bootleg It!

I was originally just going to talk about the wildly inflated prices of retro games in the resell market, but in the process of preparing to write this I had an epiphany. One of the things that many console gamers have complicated feelings about are bootleg games. For many, using emulators shows disrespect for the games that we grew up on. I admit I used to be one of those snobbish gamers who thought I was above such seemingly seedy acts. I would see those plug and play things made to look like a Nintendo 64 controller that contained cheap variations of NES games that often crashed seconds after starting them and would be troubled. It's not that simple, though.

I have a stack of bootleg Dreamcast games because collecting for that console is an expensive nightmare. Have you seen how much a copy of Giga Wing goes for on eBay? The barrier for entry to owning older consoles has become increasingly high if you didn't keep them from years gone by or have been gifted them and it's honestly inexplicable why unless you have observed the manufactured scarcity tactics of some companies or the hoarding antics of collectors looking to flip "rare" games for profit.

While this isn't exclusive to retro games, I know it isn't unique to to just gamers. When things become trendy, the average person typically gets forced out. That's what's happening with retro gaming right now. The price hikes have made it virtually impossible to get certain games. A year or two ago I received two reproduction carts for Christmas, Little Samson and Panic Restaurant. Both were late life NES releases from Taito and because they didn't sell huge numbers, the price was never low. The current prices for those games sit around $1,200 for Panic Restaurant and a whopping $3,000 for Little Samson. There is no earthly way I was going to be able to get a legit copy of either, and while rarity is a valid driver of price, there's nothing happening that tells me that I shouldn't just find a rom site or buy a reproduction.

Nintendo recently went after and was successful in getting a website shut down because they had the audacity to make games that the gaming juggernaut couldn't be bothered to make available through their proprietary devices easily available and accessible. I have a version of Donkey Kong on the NES that added in the missing level that for some reason Nintendo left out of and still refuses to add to their official NES release. Those of us who love gaming and appreciate the older games that could be lost to time should be able to play these titles without having to pay through the nose for titles that one could get for a song a few years ago. We deserve better.

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