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Amazon: Decent shopping for the retro gamer

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As you can imagine, I am always on the look out for old school games, hardware and accessories...no matter the location; sadly, there really aren't that many stores out there that cater to the old school gamer. What does one do when one has exhausted every single known gaming establishment in the area? One hits the net...

Though unfortunately, the largest collection of old school games, hardware and peripherals is at a little site known as "ebay"(you may have heard of it, unless you’ve been trapped under a stack of heavy 3DO units since ‘93). A lot of people simply don't like dealing with ebay, and with good reason…it can be a real nightmare. From shading sellers offering less than honest descriptions of their products, to others who charge outrageous shipping rates(despite the rules has put in place against them, you know, the ones that *no one* follows), ebay can drive even a good man to drink.

Fear not, my retro-loving rapscallions, for I am here to shed light on a site you know may already know very well, but never realized it dealt with our preferred method entertainment: Amazon.

Just recently figuring this out for myself, I have just been floored by some of the deals offered by the always-wonderful Amazon.com. Sifting through their list of titles for the Sega Genesis, my system of choice, I have come across stuff like the highly sought after Shadowrun, complete, for just $18; Sonic 3D Blast, one of the last Genesis games ever published, for a mere $0.80 and the classic Data East caveman title, Joe and Mac(complete) for just $3.05(sorry about this one, suckers, but it’s mine, bought it as soon as I came across it)!

All mine, suckers!Simply typing in “Sega Genesis games” bring ups a whopping 813 results, most being actual Genesis games(imagine that) but with a few oddities like 32X, Saturn and Sega CD games showing up from time to time. Hardware also pops in every now and then, stuff like controllers, actual Genesis units, replacement AC adapters, AV cables, etc.

Of course, you’re more then welcome to try out any system you want, it seems like they’ve got a little bit of everything: Neo Geo, Super/Nintendo, 3DO, Jaguar, Lynx, GameBoy, the Atari series, hell, even the elusive Virtual Boy!

So what’s the catch, there’s gotta be one, right? Indeed there is…though it might not be anything as serious as you may be assuming. Here’s the low-down:

1. Nothing is actually sold by Amazon, themselves. As you well know, none of this stuff is being regularly manufactured anymore, thus Amazon has no real access to it and can’t actually sell or “fulfill” it as they do with other products. This leaves you dealing with Amazon Merchants, a group of individuals or even companies that sell products under the Amazon shield. Unlike ebay, these guys have to follow a certain set of guidelines, set forth by Amazon. This generally ensures you a smooth transaction, though reading of some of their product descriptions may leave you with a feeling that some are a bit less than professional. The nice thing about Amazon is that they are the ones who ultimately back you up, were a transaction to go horribly wrong. This isn’t ebay, where a seller receives a light slap on the wrist for blatantly lying to you in their product description then refuses to accept a return, with Amazon you get results. Now, this is all assuming anything were to even happen…most dealers seem to be on the ball, and Amazon even offers a rating system to help you decide who you’d like to go with on a certain purchase.

2. Shipping. As far as I can tell, Amazon sets the shipping rates that the merchants must abide by and *all* videogames are slapped with a rate of $3.99 per game. To makes things worse, you buy another game from the same merchant, it’s *another* $3.99 shipping charge. Now you’re up to $8 in shipping charges for two games that were, let’s say $1 a piece. It’s ridiculous to say the least. Is it a deal breaker though? Depends on the game, I suppose. I sure didn’t mind paying $4 shipping for the $3.05 complete copy of Joe and Mac I mentioned earlier, as even at $7 that’s still just a third of what the game typically goes for on ebay. Thing is, for a common game like Sonic the Hedgehog, who’s going to want to pay $4 to have a $1.21 game shipped to them that they could go out and get at virtually any retro store they run across? This is something Amazon seriously needs to consider revising…allowing First Class, Parcel Post and combined shipping discounts to enter the fray would make all the difference here.

So there you have it: Amazon sells retro games and hardware, you’ve got some pros and cons, all that’s left is for you to hit the site and decide for yourself. After all, the thrill of the hunt is half the fun…

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