Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yard Sale roundup, April 2014 edition PLUS celebrating 25k views!

Congratulations, readers! (Or, far more likely, Google Image-searchers who never see any of this text content! Google, do your bloggers a favour and endow them with special powers to force their image-scummers to read their posts!) We just surpassed a total of 25 thousand hits to the blog! This has been a good month here, also its most-viewed month ever despite deviating from the script (hello, video game comic book ads? That's what the URL said, at least!) and serving up some atypical content on niche topics (the demo of my vintage computer, the TINK!TONK! book, the two obituaries, that Lotus 1-2-3 VHS tape, and of course "realia" ... and somewhere along the line we actually did accidentally air a couple of video game ads, hitherto unseen here since mid-February. Essentially, this blog has no theme anymore beyond "Stuff I feel like writing about".) Some specific posts saw some mild promo on FaceBook and Google+, which led to big traffic spikes to those specific posts. Will I ever see regular commentors again? Does this blog have subscribers? Maybe it will somehow find its community. (Occasionally I despair of the time and effort needed to enrich these ads with transcriptions, context and analysis and wonder if I might be doing myself a favour if I turned it into a Tumblr imageblog. It hasn't quite happened yet!)

Anyhow, today was Port Coquitlam's city wide garage sale. As you may recall from past posts, my partner comes from a line of inveterate deal-seekers, spending more weekends than not logging visits to garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores. I didn't even really collect games (at least, not physical media 8) before meeting her and having to come up with some category of goods of interest to me to seek out on these expeditions. It's been chilling to see the onward march of time throttling what I'm likely to find secondhand -- I remember finding NES carts cheap and in great abundance, while now they are the sole province of collectors who hit up ebay to maximise the return on their investment. My family hit these sales during the golden age of PS2 / Xbox / Gamecube game turnover, and now in town when we find games at sales at all, they are more typically of the following generation -- PS3, Xbox 360, Wii -- none of whose machines I own or can easily emulate (and whose games, consequently, I fail to collect, for that way madness lies.) Anyhow, we are now quite distant from the opening sentence of this paragraph, but if you will hold my hand and nostalgically visit back to it, you can note that I invoked it for two reasons: the first advantage of a city-wide garage sale is a sheer density of sites -- you don't have to look for sales, you can just drive down a single street and stop when you find one that you like: they come geographically pre-optimised, and I think we hit up some 15 of them this morning... the second item of note is that Port Coquitlam is of that species of municipality considered a suburb, and hence its propensity for being hoovered clean by hungry urban dealers and hipsters is lesser. Thus, I ended up with a pretty good haul for my kingly $20 budget:

Starting at 1 o' clock, we've got two cheapie Nintendo DS games: Petz Dogz Pack and Monster High - Ghoul Spirit; then there is the PlayStation 1 game of Jurassic Park - the Lost World (which I was delighted to see reviewed at MobyGames under the hilarious headline "The worst game in history!" ... GameSpot's blurb is summarized as "The Lost World video game is an action-packed 3D platform game that has a perfect blend of frustration and frustration.") with its special lenticular case for cover art animation; there it is, the PS2 release of the most reviled game in the Fallout franchise (but how does it measure up to Fountain of Dreams?), Brotherhood of Steel; a big Game Gear haul of Mortal Kombat, Desert Speedtrap, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and Shinobi (whose GG incarnation is a wholly autonomous game independent of its arcade and Master System predecessor); and a little trove of Game Boy Advance cartridges, including The Incredibles, The Polar Express, underdocumented Polly Pocket and Cabbage Patch Kids games, and the GBA port of Super Mario 3, which is what made my eyes light up at the baggie and pull my wallet out. Also you'll note there is a pink GBA unit itself -- basically thrown in for free under my budgetary terms -- which I can report is working! I don't need it to play the carts, which fit in my DS, so I would likely try to pass it along... but my toddler took an immediate liking to it, so we'll see if she doesn't end up inheriting it. (Over her mother's dead body, I imagine.) Then also a handful of games I already own but was unable to confirm redundant as my phone inconveniently died as soon as we arrived at the sales -- the desirable Metal Gear Solid for PS1 and MGS 3 for the PS2. (Also the Strawberry Shortcake GBA cart, which is embarrassing enough to own once let alone twice.) Alas, fuel for next year's family garage sale. I found other materials I could have bought -- one sale had a dozen PlayStation 2 joysticks but puzzlingly no games, and another one had several desirable games (FF7, Kingdom Hearts) I'm sure I could have picked up for a song and flipped for profit, were I so inclined -- but down that path (join in with me if you've heard this one before) madness lies. I am not a speculator in retro video game futures. (I just feel bad when I imagine the games going unsold at the end of the day and just being thrown out. But as the Ikea ad says, they don't feel bad: they are inanimate objects, they don't have feelings, am I crazy?)

And then there's the Xbox joystick. Why? Setting up my machine after the move, I found I couldn't get a strong enough signal from any of my existing joysticks to set the date and time on the machine after plugging it back in. This raises a worrying question regarding the health of the unit (and if so, the ultimate fate of my hundreds of Xbox games.) I figure either the joysticks are worn out or the joystick port is, and hopefully a "new" used joystick in good shape can help me get to the bottom of the conundrum.

Why do I care if my Xbox is working? Because I'm having another retro video game party! This time we've unhitched it from my birthday and are getting down to business in May. Retro Video Game Party III: The Legend of Joystickia (pretty terrible name, isn't it?) unfolds Saturday May 10th, from 2 to 11 pm. If you can figure out how to reach me and inquire, you are welcome to attend and play some of my hundreds of old games! I'll probably hit this point another couple of times before the date.

Then again, maybe not! Things might be slow around here for the rest of the month... I've entered several of these contests in the past and have never been able to actually deliver a working finished product by deadline, but I have full intentions of submitting a complete and working game to the ShuffleComp IF competition and I need to come up with more time in order to bring my little prototype to fruition, hence something has to go. (Let's not get too drastic, however!) Time spent designing incomplete games for past competitions still takes time and you get nothing out the other end (except, arguably, practice) and I am sufficiently confident in this one's fit of subject and concept that I want to bring it to the finish line. So if it gets quiet here, don't worry too much. Cheers and play on!