A rare commodity
Do you have a jar of my nail clippings? Few people do. They’re a rare commodity, but scarcity is a dumb reason to own anything. It’s hardwired in our brain that if there’s little of something, we want more. We know it as the “fear of missing out,” and it’s one of the most annoying subsets of greed.
The collection of video games is a fairly innocuous incarnation of this. To my knowledge, no war has been fought for a copy of Thief on the Sega CD. However, it is still quite boring. I collect games because they are a tangible representation of the game. I enjoy playing them. Don’t give me a factory sealed game, because I will open it. I don’t want to dismiss anyone else’s reasoning for why they collect games, but I can’t help but find it ridiculous that some dodgy titles retain high value due to rarity. As I said before, scarcity is a pox on the ass of mankind, and here’s a closer look at some of the festering boils.
Family Fun Stadium Events (1987, NES)
Family Fun Stadium Events really grills my goat. He is considered one of the “Holy Grail” from the NES library. Bandai was the original creator of the Power Pad, and they were all set to release the NES version alongside Family Fun Stadium Events when Nintendo stepped in to rename and distribute it instead. All copies of Stadium events that reached the shelves have been removed.
There are a few things I hate about it. First, Nintendo re-released the game under the better-known name World-class athletics meet, and the two games are identical except for the title screen. Second, the number of cartridges in the wild is entirely based on speculation. Some say only a handful of them made it to consumers, but the minimum production run for an NES game is 10,000. Former Nintendo spokesman Howard Phillips said don’t think it’s likely that they were destroyed, so they might still be there. Personally, I’m not going to lose $20,000 on a different title screen in the first place. But the only way that could be worse is if someone discovers a long-forgotten cartridge skid that sends the price skyrocketing.
Barbie Groom and Glam Pups (2013, 3DS)
Dogs are pretty awesome, make no mistake. I’d rather give them scritchins and snuggle up with them than glam them up. I have nothing against Barbie either. She doesn’t come with a proton pack or transform into anything, but I guess some kids have more imaginations. However, I don’t see why I would want to spend over $2000 on something like this. $2,000 could get you a really good dog, but you can also get their boundless affection and gratitude for a lot less if you adopt.
The reason Barbie: Married and Glam Pups is so expensive is that the only NTSC version of it has been released in limited places in some obscure country called Canada. I guess if you really need to complete your 3DS collection, you have no choice, but if you’d rather just play the game, get the Wii or DS versions for less than $10.
Action 52 (1991, NDA)
I’m almost embarrassed to say that I own a copy of Gesture 52 on the NES, but at around $300, these are the cheapest items on this list. Inspired by pirate cartridges, Gesture 52 is a good idea on paper. 52 games, all in one cartridge, for the low(?) $200 entry fee. But while pirated cartridges (usually) only consist of a bunch of previously released games, all 52 games in this cartridge are completely new. Unfortunately, the three (or maybe four) college students enlisted to develop the games had three months to complete all 52 of them.
The result is a collection of games that aren’t even playable at their best and literally unplayable at their worst. There is nothing worth playing in the lot. Its price is held in the air by the fact that there aren’t many in circulation, and it’s known as one of the worst games of all time. You don’t have to play it yourself; I can confirm that it is not good.
Eli’s Ladder (1982, Atari 2600)
Sometimes considered the rarest educational game in existence, Eli’s Ladder is known for its rarity. Now, I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to learn math on an Atari 2600. Video games are a great way to get kids learning something boring. However, Eli’s Ladder is an extremely basic example of this, and because there are so few in circulation, the last time we were sold on eBay, he went for $5000. If someone offered me $5,000, I promise I would learn arithmetic so hard without needing an Atari 2600.
Waterworld (1995, virtual boy)
This is another game I actually own, but that’s only because it wasn’t as expensive at the time, and I needed it to complete my collection of North American Virtual Boy games. water world is based on the 1995 post-apocalyptic film. While there were other games based on the film, water world on Virtual Boy is its own separate thing, which isn’t much. A lot of Virtual Boy games had the issue where they looked more like tech demos or old arcade games rather than full experiences. water world is like that. You sail, blow up other boats and save people. It takes about a minute to see everything water world has to offer, so it just repeats that but harder.
Bronkie the Bronchiasaur (1994, SNES)
I almost didn’t include Bronkie the Bronchiasaur because I absolutely want to play it. However, I’m deliberately playing bad games, so I’m a really bad metric. Bronkie the Bronchiasaur is an edutainment sidescroller from Raya Systems, which also brought us Captain Novolin, Rex Ronan: Experimental Surgeon, and Packy and Marlon. This is the titular Bronciasaurus who has to both rig and deal with his asthma. While I’m a broken enough person to find this an enticing premise, I’m not sure I’m willing to spend over $300 to find out if it achieves its ambitions.
King James Bible (1994, Game Boy)
I’m not trying to say the King James Bible isn’t worth reading. I’m sure it’s…nice. However, the Game Boy looks like the worst eReader imaginable. The system is known for its large library of games and a battery life of over 8 seconds. It’s not known for having a fantastic screen. Really, its screen could best be described as “viewable”, at least as long as there is enough light but not too light. The thought of reading an entire book about it, not to mention the Bible, sounds like a pretty depressing way to spend a road trip. There are two games there, and a word search in case you’re curious how many times the word “rooster” appears in the Bible.
In fact, it’s something that interests me. According to my research, it’s somewhere between 7 and 13 times. King James Bible says no, so what’s even the point?
Neurodancer (1994, 3DO)
I know I said these are games you don’t want to play, but I can conceive of reasons why you would want to play old porn games. Not because they are worth adding to the trash. It’s easier than ever to sample all the possible flavors of porn while you’re on the bus or at your child’s piano recital, and adding play to it is just an unnecessary nipple-annoying hurdle. No, I would play porn games because they are so bad; they are kitsch.
Pornographic FMV games are in their own category of bad, and Neurodancer for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer is the perfect example of a title that stands in the way of its own concept. Not only is it so soft that my extensive research hasn’t revealed the existence of actual boobs, but a high percentage of them are actually videos of people goofing off in front of cameras, spoofing cyberpunk futures like something of Robotcop. That doesn’t do much for me in terms of excitement, but even worse are the mazes you have to navigate to earn credits that you use to get women to take their clothes. Look, I don’t know how much you know about seduction, but mazes are a pretty unconventional approach.
Try match-3 instead.