Sure, the high-tech features and high-definition graphics of the Xbox One and PS4 are great. But sometimes, it's hard not to get nostalgic for running and jumping with Mario and Sonic or crushing your friends in Mortal Combat and Street Fighter. If you want to relive some childhood memories or discover some classics you missed out on the first time around, here are five places in the Phoenix area that will help you get it on like Donkey Kong.
See also: ZapCon 2014's Game List Is Revealed
If you're new to buying vintage video games, there's a few things you should know. First, trade-ins are done on a case-by-case basis, so feel free to shop around or make a counter offer. That said, you can generally expect stores to offer you around 40 percent of the game's current resale value in trade credit or a much smaller percentage in cash.
Second, the values of certain games tends to fluctuate over time and are affected by things such as trends in nostalgia and whether or not the title has been re-released on newer platforms. Generally speaking, most Atari games can be had for a couple of dollars. Games for the later platforms, such as the original Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis start around $5 to $8 for licensed titles (i.e. ones based on movies), with popular first-party titles (Mario, Sonic, etc) starting around $10 to $20. Games in the "greatest games ever" canon (Phantasy Star IV or Shining Force II for the Genesis; Super Metroid and Secret of Manafor the Super Nintendo) fluctuate in price the most and can run anywhere from $25 to $50 on up to almost $200 for the rarest of gems (such as Super Nintendo's Earthbound).
Game Over Games is tucked into the back corner of the nerd haven that is AZ Collector's Marketplace. The limited counter space means they don't have the quantity of other stores, but the quality makes it a must-visit, especially for collectors and old-school die-hards. You'll find a great selection of rare gems like Earthbound (if you're lucky) and popular classics for the "standard" consoles (Nintendo and Sega through current-day), but it's this store's selection of the ancient and the odd-ball that makes it truly special. In addition to the Zaxxon machine shown at the beginning of the post, we saw a TurboGraphix 16x, an Intellivision, a host of rare accessories, and perhaps the best Atari collection in town.
For current games, the owner will pay cash for what Gamestop offers in trade, and if you can beat the owner on the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 machine, you can get a 20 percent discount. Even though it's a smaller store, Game Over Games goes toe-to-toe with Flashback Games and Fallout Games when it comes to price.
Game Zone has a standout collection when it comes to handhelds, and its range of game and anime-related collectibles is impressive. From figurines to plushies, wall scrolls, posters, and even T-shirts, Game Zone has stuff we've never seen anywhere else. Their selection of imported Japanese games isn't huge, but it's easily the biggest we've seen and houses some particularly rare finds. Our last stop in, we saw the Japan-only release Making of Magic Knight for the Game Gear ($4.99) and one of the Japanese releases in the Megaman series for the Game Cube ($49).
Game Zone is also a great place to find uncommon accessories. Want to use a PS2 controller to play your Gamecube? They have an accessory that will let you do that. Need a hand-held system that plays Nintendo and Super Nintendo cartridges? They have that, and many other off-the-wall accessories, too.
Fallout has the biggest selection in town. They stock everything from Atari to current generation (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) systems and games, as well as all the related accessories. And it's all quality stuff -- no bargain-bin filler. They usually have popular classics in stock, and harder-to-find titles come through often (and usually go quickly). Their prices are always competitive - often matching or beating what you'll find online.
For current gen games, they guarantee they'll beat Game Stop's prices (even during sales) and trade-in offers. Their stores get a fair amount of traffic, which means that if there's a rush, you may have to wait patiently for help, but it also means that their inventory turns over quickly, so there's new treasures to look at every time you visit.
Flashback is a newcomer, having only opened 10 months ago (although the store's owners have been buying and selling retro video games online for the past decade). For what it's worth, the newly renovated store is the best looking of the bunch, and the free arcade games are a nice touch. Their selection isn't quite as large as Fallout's, but it's not far behind. (The only exception is their Atari collection, which lags behind that of Fallout and Game Over Games). Prices are competitive with Fallout.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Flashback offers more cash for trade-ins than most, often offering cash that is close to what other stores will offer in trade. Collectors will want to check out their stock of older games (such as Street Fighter II: Alpha for the PS2) that are still in their original shrink wrap. If they don't have what you're looking for, you can put it on their wish list, and they'll call or text you if it comes through the store.
Gone are the days when you could walk into Bookmans and snag a rare classic for below market value. Still, they have a good selection at respectable prices, particularly if you dive into their PS2, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis collections. Trade-ins might not get as much in cash or credit as they would at other places, but at Bookmans you can trade your games in for books, music, or movies.