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Gold in the Carts - Vintage games consoles

It feels strange to have lived and worked through a time in video gaming history which is old enough now to seem vintage and collectable. This does not have to be that long a time in this industry. But to me the N64 is a platform from not so long ago.

Bomberman, 1996

To see N64 consoles behind glass in stores that sell exotic phone cases and strange gaming accessories for hipsters is both amusing and sentimental at the same time.

It makes sense that cartridges should be valuable. I remember at Beam Software in Melbourne working on games and burning them to EPROM chips. Games would have gone through lengthy testing processes; testing, revision, iterative tuning, modification etc for weeks and weeks until finally ready to to be committed to chips that would be then played on tester’s versions of consoles.

The collector is not the same thing as the media archeologist. The collector is concerned with completing a collection, with having something perhaps valuable to accrue in commercial resale, or to simply impress friends with. Core gamers like to show off, and having a copy of Bomberman 2 and a working N64 console to play it on would definitely fit the bill.

To have this alongside an original Atari 2600 console and a good selection of games, and a super rare vector graphics driven Vectrex even better. I bought a Pong console from a yard sale for $5 and use it in my classes.

I also have an admiration for those all-in-one direct-into-the-TV consoles that somehow using batteries and a single chipset fit all the arcade hits of say 1983 onto a single joystick shaped device enable a player to experience something fairly close to a game that would have cost 25c to play 30 years ago.

So next time you are at a yard sale or a thrift store and you see an old video game console, go ahead consider buying it and the games it comes with. Even it if has no resale value, you can consider yourself something of a media historian, preserving something of the legacy of medium that one day will disappear for good.

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