Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Video Games I Sold To Buy A Dyson

Left to right: Dyson Animal, Amanda, Chloe.Being a responsible adult is never easy.

Sometimes you have to sell your video games so you can purchase a decent vacuum cleaner.

We have a dog named Chloe. We had a vacuum that was clearly not up for the job of sucking Chloe’s black hair out of our off-white carpet. My wife and I needed one thing and one thing only: A Dyson Animal.

Dyson Animals are not cheap. Though we ended up getting a good deal on a refurbished Dyson Animal on eBay, Amanda and I considered it a major purchase that would require additional funds.

I have a sizable video game collection – filled with many mint-condition rarities for which some people pay good money and coincidentally I no longer play.

Thus an opportunity presented itself.

Now we have our Dyson Animal. Not only is the amount of plastic employed in its construction impressive, but it also lives up to the hype as an elite vacuum cleaner. These Hoppers do not prefer wall-to-wall carpeting, but unfortunately we rent a home that has it, and our Dyson Animal has cleaned it as no other vacuum has.

What follows is a critical review of the video games that were sacrificed during Operation: Clean Carpet. Would I have sold these games had we lived on lovely hardwood floors as we have in the past? I think I would have. Ultimately, their worth-on-eBay quotient outweighed their importance in my video game collection.

And so …

Chrono Trigger

A scan of my copy of Chrono Trigger.Developer: Squaresoft

Platform: Super NES

Release Date:1995

ebay Price: $81

My underestimation of the value of this Squaresoft classic nearly led to me practically giving the game away. Initially, I listed Chorno Trigger on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $25 – a complete accident.

It must be noted that my copy of the game included the original box, instruction manual AND full-color world map.

Needless to say it sold within minutes, and I nearly lost control of my bowels as I realized my mistake.

My scan of the Chrono Trigger map.

Heroically, I apologized to the Buy It Nower (nothing more than an online game seller who would turn it around for a $150 B.I.N. price on eBay), relisted Chrono Trigger without the Buy It Now price, and ended up getting over $80 for it. I originally bought it used from Greene’s Video Club in Evansville, Indiana for $10.

chrono_trigger_cart

The game itself is one of the more beloved in the role-playing genre from the so-called 16-bit era (Sega Genesis, Super NES). Featuring artwork and character designs from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, it is one of those classic Japanese role-playing games about which its fans do not tolerate negative speak.

Chrono Trigger Lovers will point to the game’s increased emphasis on character development and storytelling that Squaresoft originally explored in the Final Fantasy titles, only with more compelling, action-oriented gameplay.

chrono_trigger_manualThese are legitimate points I would not dispute. When I first played Chrono Trigger, I was impressed at how successful the game was in driving the story through its unique characters. And it was more fun to play than the Final Fantasy games. Wandering through the game is more interesting, and the combat is fun and requires more of your attention.

And though I have never been a Dragon Ball fan, I do appreciate the artistry Toriyama bought to Chrono Trigger. I love games that showcase the work of a singular artistic vision, and it is not often when an established artist from another medium makes such a contribution to a video game.

And yet, I had not played it for a long while, and as much as I love my Super NES, I had no desire to play it anytime soon. I have concluded that I have out-grown the old-school role-playing game, though I still consider them classics that thoroughly entertained me in my younger years.

Just as I no longer feel like playing Dragon Warrior and do not thrill at the prospect of playing Phantasy Star III, I felt comfortable in giving someone else the chance to have Chrono Trigger in their game collection.

Dungeons & Dragons Collection

case_01

Developer: Capcom

Platform: Sega Saturn

Release Date: 1997

eBay Price: $78

As a devotee of the Sega Saturn, I understood the claims my former brethren made regarding Dungeons & Dragons Collection, I just do not agree with them. They have mistakenly placed it on the same hallowed mantle as Radiant Silvergun and Grandia as a quality Saturn exclusive that inexplicably was never given a North American release.

discs_01In short, Saturn owners were so starved of quality games that they were forced to buy illegally imported titles from Japan. Some games were so good it seemed a crime not to give Americans the chance to play them. Unfortunately, D&D Collection has too much of that unpolished feeling for it to fall into that category.

Dungeons & Dragons Collection features two arcade releases on two discs: Tower Of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. Think: Final Fight In The D&D Universe. Although I suppose that could be Sega’s Golden Axe – which came well before Final Fight – but never mind.

What I mean is Dungeons & Dragons Collection is just like Golden Axe, only with different dungeons and different dragons.

D&D Collection also promised to be a Saturn Showcase of the same stylized art and animation for which Capcom’s games have become known, but none of that matters, because there are load times on Saturn.

My time with D&D Collection involved an ordinate amount of time spent staring at a “NOW LOADING …” screen with a looping fairy animation while the games loaded from the disc. My brother and I once tried the two-player cooperative mode, which in theory would be a blast, but we eventually had to stop playing after 20 minutes because we had simply seen too much of that little fairy and her loading bullshit.

Dungeons_&_Dragons_Collection_02

Apart from that, the actual games themselves seem unfinished. The graphics are muddy. The animation is limited, even when using the an expanded RAM cartridge that several Japanese games utilized to deliver better visuals without hitting the frame rate. The implementation of the D&D license is well-done, but the gameplay is only competent. Certainly not good enough to warrant such unbearably long and frequent loading screens.

Dungeons_&_Dragons_Collection_04

Overall, Capcom’s final product lacked the quality gamers have come to expect from them, and perhaps they even realized it themselves by choosing not to release it state side. Definitely it would have benefitted greatly from just a couple more months of development polish, but what was released ultimately only demonstrates the potential this title had.

If nothing else, it fetches a decent price on eBay.

Lunar: The Silver Star

lunar_cover

Developer: Game Arts

Platform: Sega CD

Release Date:1993

ebay Price: $41

Lunar: The Silver Star was one of the few Sega CD games that inspired hope. Hope that more games of such quality would continue to be released for the Sega CD – a game console that only die-hard Sega fans (me) owned.

Lunar was the first Sega title from indie publisher Working Designs, which carved out a temporary niche for itself in the ‘90s by consistently plunking gems from Japan and giving them the A-plus treatment in translating and packaging them for the North American market.

lunar_disc

Not only was there no Engrish in a Working Designs release, but all in-game acting was well performed by professional voice talent, and every release included beautifully embossed covers, full-color manuals often filled with original artwork (or stickers!), and other assorted nerdy treats.

In short, Working Designs made every one of its releases feel like a hidden treasure. Treasure in that it was a good game for the Sega CD, and hidden like no one but you knew about it since no one else had a Sega CD.

Lunar_title_screen

Even though Lunar is little more than a clone of Square’s Super NES classic Final Fantasy II, it’s a high-quality clone. At the time of its release, the Sega CD badly needed a game like Lunar: A good genre game that used the advantages of the CD-ROM format to push the overall experience.

Truth be told, Lunar’s visuals lack the richness of Final Fantasy II, but the fully orchestrated soundtrack and anime-style cinematic cut scenes would not have been possible on the cartridge-based 16-bit consoles.

Of course, the Blu-Ray and DVD players of today handle such features with ease, and most games overflow with overly produced cinematics. To see it done well, if at all, was a treat in 1993.

lunar_screenshot_01

Credit has to go to Working Designs for the superb English translation of the story and dialogue. It was rare to see such care given to story matters in Japan-to-America releases in the early ‘90s, but with Lunar, Working Designs started something that is now commonplace.

Would a publisher nowadays dare to bring a Japanese release over to North America without giving special care to the English translation? Capcom might.

Lunar became a franchise for Working Designs. I never got the chance to play the sequel Lunar: Eternal Blue, though I did read good things. Same with the high-priced special-edition PlayStation releases of both Lunar games.

Lunar turned me into a fan of Working Designs – in business no longer sadly. I went on to buy many more of their games, several of which ended up being a major part of all this eBay selling.

Keep going.

Vay

vay_cover

Developer: SIMS

Platform: Sega cd

Release Date:1994

ebay Price: $28

The second Sega CD release from Working Designs is Vay, a mediocre RPG from the old school.

I never finished this game. As good as the fully animated story sequences are, the gameplay is only slightly more interesting than Dragon Warrior, and I grew bored with it.

vay_disc

And I freely admit to many sleepless nights playing Dragon Warrior back in the day. If I am called a dweeb, I will not object. It came free with my subscription to Nintendo Power.

vay_screenshot

As far as Vay goes, I may not have made it even halfway through the game, and I don’t care. Apparently neither does anyone else despite how rare the game is. Even in the pristine state in which I managed to keep it (a fully intact Sega CD jewel case – no small feat), it sold for less than $30 on eBay.

Popful Mail

popful_mail_cover

Developer: SEGA Falcom/SIMS

Platform: Sega cd

Release Date:1994

ebay Price: $88

The idea of selling this game caused me to fret originally.

Popful Mail is an enjoyable “Magical Fantasy Adventure.” I finished it a couple of times many years ago and always considered it the game Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link wanted to be.

popful_mail_disc

A solid fantasy-action game with a surprisingly entertaining and well-told story might be standard fare on some game consoles, but for Sega CD, such criteria easily puts Popful Mail into one of those All-Time Best-Ever Top 10 Lists that gamers love to make.

popful_mail_screenshot_01

So as I sorted the games to sell from the games not to sell, Popful Mail gave me pause. And then I thought of how much money it might make me (almost $90!) and how I never feel like playing that kind of videogame anymore, and it became a game to sell.

Magic Knight Rayearth

mkre_cover_art

Developer: SEGA

Platform: Sega SATURN

Release Date:1998

ebay Price: $74

There were a couple of facts I knew about Magic Knight Rayearth when it was released in the late ‘90s:

1. It would be the last Saturn game released in North America.

2. It would be the last game Working Designs would publish on a Sega console due to a behind-the-scenes spat between the presidents of both companies.

mkre_disc

That was all I knew.

Honestly, I was sort of hoping for something other than a game based on a Japanese anime series for girls.

I would think a Magic Knight Rayearth fan would love this game, but this Zelda-style action-adventure-rpg hybrid just isn’t my thing, despite being more than competently done. The whole thing was just too magic knight rayearthy for me.

Because I rarely played it and had bought it new, my copy was in truly stunning condition. Even the attached bonus page of stickers (stickers!) was practically untouched by human hands. As such, it did well for me on eBay, and I do not miss it one bit.

I do hope the person who now has it gets that special kind of enjoyment from it. I really do.

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus

salamander_cover

Developer: konami

Platform: Sega SATURN

Release Date:1997

ebay Price: $37

You are not a hardcore gamer unless you are well acquainted with Konami’s flagship shooter franchise, Gradius. Then there are the hardest of the hardcore, like me, who are familiar with the spin-off of that series, Salamander (Life Force in the USA) – basically the same game only with a two-player cooperative feature.

salamander_discSalamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a compilation of the arcade versions of Salamander, Life Force and Salamander 2, none of which, amazingly, feature a single lizard. Rather they are action games of the side-scrolling shooting variety – a genre for which I have a soft spot.

Someone out there might be able to make an argument as to why the Salamander games are better than the Gradius games. Someone else might be able to explain why the Salamander games even exist in the first place.

For instance, when you already own Gradius V for the PlayStation2, which is the definitive Gradius game, there is very little reason to play older versions of this type of game, which the games on Salamander DPP are. Since Gradius V is in every way superior to anything in the Salamander series, including the entirety of the contents on Salamander DPP, I was happy to sell it.

It's obvious.

Incidentally, Gradius V was developed by Treasure (my favorite) which was founded by members of Konami’s original Gradius team. See how it all comes back around?

In Closing (Why eBay Sucks)

It had been many years since I had last used eBay to sell things.

Last time I bought and sold on eBay, in the year 2002, payments were made primarily with money orders. That’s not allowed anymore.

PayPal and eBay are now very intimate with each other and very open about it – almost disgustingly so. Both now delight in taking nice little chunks out of every transaction. And as convenient as I find PayPal, I don’t like being forced to use it, and I don’t like how PayPal now holds onto eBay money for two weeks before it is made available for withdrawal.

So I have lived, and I have learned. Maybe I’ll do this again. Maybe I won’t. Maybe eBay and PayPal can kiss my ass.

And there you have it. Video games for vacuum cleaners.

It all worked out beautifully.

 


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