Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Garage Sale Report, August

Now that I'm working full time, I have so little free time, I can't even keep you posted about my recent games acquisitions in a timely fashion. (When do you think I get time to play them? The answer is: once every six months, at my retro gaming parties.) But here are three perhaps noteworthy lots now in my custody:
I had a sad little conversation with the seller of the games, about how remarkable it was he was selling for so many platforms -- PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube, Wii -- and he shared a little bit about growing up bouncing between two households. Keep a stiff upper lip, kid! I can tell him, it'll be harder to find these games the second time around, once nostalgia strikes.

Here we've got... Rayman 3 and My Street for the PS2, Resident Evil 4 and Odama for the Gamecube, and DOA 3, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, TMNT Mutant Melee, the Capcom Classics Collection volume 1, and Taito Legends for Xbox.  $20 for 9 games.  He had more, and I nearly came back for more -- priced at about half of my "buy" price threshold -- but these were the games I was most interested in.  I feel bad leaving garage sales with nothing but scorched earth left in my wake, as I am sure there are other dudes cruising around from sale to sale hoping to find a game or two.

I was especially excited to see Resident Evil 4, having experienced it for a brief spell at an old Video In all-night video game orgy party and later acquired a second-hand copy of my own ONLY TO FIND that it only included a single one of the game's two discs. (I do hear that the game goes sharply downhill by disc 2, however.)  Also, discovering things like Odama (the world's best voice-controlled pinball/Japanese military sim from the person who brought us SimTower and the Dreamcast's Seaman) is pretty much the carrot for my random crate-digging.  Is it any good?  Who knows, but they sure weren't afraid to try something new!

The emulated arcade compilations are also taking a higher profile in my collection, with retro appeal and often multiplayer packed in. (Also, it doesn't hurt that if a particular game isn't to your taste, you can switch tracks without having to even swap discs. Just go back to the main menu and pick another selection!) And then, today, my toddler's part-time nanny -- a PhD in children's literature -- was having her garage sale before getting deported. (It's a long story.) And there, among gems of children's literature, was this work sticking out like a sore thumb:
Luigi looks a bit uneasy, legs asplay like he'd just been paddled, holding his Fire Flower awkwardly like a rifle. Toadstool looks hypnotized. And Mario has an edge of the enraged to his jovial smile. Anyhow, that's the cover -- here's a sample of its choice contents:
"Together! That's it!" cried Mario. He ate his last magic Red Mushroom. In an instant he began to grow! Held high by the giant Mario, Luigi carefully aimed the last Fire Flower at the wooden trapdoor. "It's working!" he cried. "I couldn't have reached it without your help." "And I couldn't have opened it without yours," said Mario graciously.
The text gives the impression that the book was written by someone who had perhaps read the Super Mario Bros. manual but had never played the game. (Red Mushroom Proper Noun? Fire Flowers single-shot like Saturday night specials?) At least it has a redeeming message of fraternal teamwork. Mario has a certain King Kong-like demeanour in the second illustration, and it's funny how the artist has to make Toadstool emote with her gestures because the writers keep failing to give her any spoken lines.

It's hard to explain why I buy things like that. There's not even any point in asking "is it any good?" because how good can it possibly be? Speaking of which... I couldn't pass up picking up a $3 copy of the board game adaptation of the 1st-person graphical adventure game that smashed sales records and incidentally abolished my beloved system of 3rd-person graphical adventure games (which we have already just established weren't actually that good.) You saw its comic book adaptation, now play the board game!

The Myst game has two phases, one of which is assembling a puzzle of a map of its mysterious island. Already it's got more interaction than its source material! The Xbox games are overpriced, but Unreal II is as best as I can tell the last game of Legend Entertainment (of Spellcasters 101 fame), marking a real swan song for the Infocom torchbearers, and that hippodrome game has a novel premise -- one player steers the chariot, one attacks the passing competitors. I always envisioned a collaborative two-player version of Deathtrack with a turret that worked similarly. Will players actually encounter minotaurs or is the mythological creature merely being invoked to suggest the flavour of the cultures of antiquity? I'll have to report back after the next retro game party.