The retro game market is booming right now. As you might have seen, a copy of the original Legend of Zelda game on the NES sold for $870,000 USD recently - making it the most expensive video game auction purchase of all time.
The trend of paying top dollar for classic games, unfortunately, extends to the second-hand games market as well - with older (and rarer) games now going for a lot more coin than a number of years ago. We've even seen a lot of Metroid games go up in price over the past month, due to the announcement of Metroid Dread. As a result, it's becoming increasingly expensive to collect past games that once might not have cost so much.
So, how can you get around this? Well, apart from certain other methods, there are quite a few ways to play more official versions of older games. Our American-based video producer, Zion Grassl, has shared his own insights about how to play these rare and expensive Nintendo games on a budget - if you are willing to part with your money. It means you won't have to fork out $300 USD for an original copy of EarthBound, but can still feel have that feeling of owning the game and playing it on a Nintendo system.
Check out the video above and tell us if you've resorted to any of these tactics to get your retro gaming fix.
You could play them for free on PC!
Yeah….don’t tell me what it is…emulation?
Q : How to play Rare and Expensive Nintendo games on a budget ?
Dirty answer : Emulator + modded machine + pirated games
Clean answer : Watching the gameplay videos from YouTube, pretend we were "playing" the games. Nothing is harmed.
inb4 crybabies whining about how emulation is bad when it's almost always the best way to enjoy retro games.
Yeah yeah emulation, but actually HAVING the cartridge in front of you with the hardware and everything, with your other games, it's like building a personal museum of Nintendo history. Emulation can never, ever replicate the feeling of holding an authentic collection
EDIT: I'm not saying emulation is bad, I'm saying I prefer physical if I can reasonably manage to get my hands on it
NES + SNES Classic
@Anti-Matter Just hold a controller and push buttons as the video plays. It really does feel like you are the player!
Yeah I'm just emulating them, whether it's through official means when Nintendo drip feeds them to us or the vast collection I've already got
Armed robbery has always been my method of choice
@WavedasherX Seems like you were too late 😂
@Steel76 @carlos82 I'd think if there was no actual legal way to pay the developers / publishers for a copy of the title, then it's really their fault and not us if we play a rom of it. It's similar to piracy in general, make it simple for the end user to pay for your product and they will.
It's not like anyone is stupid enough to actually profit off of these ROMs outside of the developers.
@PBandSmelly While you have a point, at today's prices, it's a very expensive feeling...
@PBandSmelly More power to ya if you have the income to allow such purchases. It is always nice to have something physically tangible in your hands, especially if it's something you treasure.
Be old enough to purchase things when they came out and always stay one generation behind. I mean look at Wii U game prices compared to their Switch counterparts!
True, I miss the days of Chibi Robo and Rhythm Heaven being $60 at most on the second hand market. My collection is growing slower and slower. If Ninty actually re-released older titles with virtual console again, then I'm sure the prices will go down at least a little tiny bit. My sealed Path of Radiance I got like 10 years ago for $50, what happened?
I use either flash carts or ODEs with ROMs or ISOs for my retro consoles, usually a generation or 2 behind. Cost the same as a single game now and days and I get the authentic console experience.
I like buying games to support the developers so they can use that money to make more games I want. So current gen stuff, I buy in stores all the time. But on the second hand market, exorbitant amounts of money goes to some random person or GameStop.
So technically it is pirating. But if a publisher rereleases a classic game, I’ll tend to buy it in support if I played it (like Collection of Mana, Shantae on the VC, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light on Switch, etc.). I like to think of it as paying for the experience I had already even if I never play the newer version.
Plus with 20+ year old games and drives, starting to rot and break, I don’t see a point on buying old retro games (especially disc based one) for hundreds of dollars each.
@XenoShaun So because a company doesn't want to sell you something that gives you the right to steal it from them?
@sanderev I'd say it's quite the tricky quandary. On the one hand of course not. On the other, if you can never experience it, or go into the whole preservation debate, what else can you do? We all just have one life, seems trivial in some ways to just 'not experience it'.
Personally I only play ROMs of things I actually own. Generally has been PSP games as my PSP is broken but all my games are still around doing nothing. My phone upgrade had been fairly useful for that.
"Here's a neat video about how to play a bunch of great games affordably without resorting to pirating!"
Comments: A WAR ABOUT THE ETHICS OF PIRATING BREAKS OUT
@Pak-Man These comments would be pretty boring if they didn't.
@PBandSmelly I'm well past the stage of fetishizing "the physical" now.
It's got to the point where unless you've got the space for CRTs and physical game storage and the like it's far more hassle to have the "authentic experience" than just to have a well curated library which run 99% accurate installed on something like a modded Snes Classic or Megadrive Mini that can play on a modern display.
It's simply not worth the expense.
@XenoShaun I'm all for game preservation. And I think there should be some form of museum that preserves modern history (gaming, etc) for future generations.
There is actually a gaming history museum close to where I live. Or you have websites like archive.org that actually collected thousands of old games (and most playable on the website as well)
But piracy isn't game preservation. It's also not stealing (@ElStormo0), but it's not allowed or allowable either.
@sanderev Genuine question as I haven't really delved too deep into it. But do games (like movies and other such things) have a time period before they enter public domain? It sounds like if they do they then should be moved to a form of archive (or museum etc).
I agree piracy is a general no no.
@XenoShaun Copyright is 80 years after the copyright holder dies. (Most likely to protect the orginal Mickey Mouse shorts to fall into public domain) However many copyright laws have exemptions for preservation. So the museums are allowed and that generally also applies to archive.org (and others like them).
@sanderev That's interesting to know. When I get some time I'll look a lot more deeply into it all.
Buy the game rom from any official source (mini console, eshop etc.), flash/burn it to your own personal cartridge/disc and make your own labels and covers and have something that's in pristine quality, no 20+ year old components or discs, and no paying huge amounts to someone who's not increasing the chances of the game getting a modern day sequel, remaster or remake. That is in my opinion the best of both worlds.
@Steel76 Wow, really you think that all the people selling their old games for the highest price is wrong, why? I question anybody on here who has a sealed copy of zelda and then wouldn't sell it for $878,000!
The same applies for anything else, they will look for the best price they can get for it.
Also cannot believe the website that spends too much time talking about emulation didn't promote it more here. Weird!
I agree there. I' own for instance a modded Wii U with a pretty sizeable Retroarch build on there. However, Arcade Archives Vendetta releases today/tomorrow and I'll be all-over that like a rash. I'll support official releases where I can, but if a dev/publisher has long since gone bust, I've no qualms emulating.
What when that Company literally doesn't exist anymore? What if they do exist, but show no interest in making that title available again? Rainbow Islands is one of my favourite games of all time, last time Taito bothered to make that available was on PS2. I'm not going to stop playing it on MAME because of that. I will, however, pick it up should it appear on Arcade Archives.
That’s why Mickey Mouse has his famous catchphrase - ‘Eat my shorts!’
@sanderev I wouldn't call emulation stealing, it's more like it falling off the back of a lorry.
I get the questions of legality and stuff but the obvious answer is emulation until Nintendo offer a service themselves (if ever).
Yep, it can't.
I also experienced that i play Games more that i have actually payed for.
But! I will also not pay hundreds of Moneys for some Games as Hagane or Mother.
In that Case i emulate them or just throw them onto my Everdrive Kind of Device to have it more original.
You are not harming anybody for taking ROMs of Games that aren't saled any longer.
It would be much easier for us all if they would sell the Roms directly.
Super Noahs Ark 3D, Micro Mages and the whole Sega Megadrive / Genesis Collection come with the Roms on the PC!
Regarding the mortality of piracy...
Generally with old games I ask myself the question: "is there a way I can purchase this legitimately, in which my money will go to the publishers/developers of the game?"
If the answer is yes, I'll use the best purchase option available to me - usually some form of digital store e.g. virtual console.
If the answer is no...my first option would be the seek out the game in the second hand market. If it's unaffordable...I honestly don't see much of an issue in someone pirating the game, as the publisher/developer won't be getting any money regardless.
In practice this isn't something I resort to. There are too many current games that interest me for me to go back digging through games that I can't easily access. That said, I am a bit of a collector and for some consoles that I absolutely adore or have a sentimental attachment to (e.g. Gamecube) I own a few rare specimens.
Emulation has more good things, one of them is the pixel-sharp image, that you wont get out of these old consoles and cartridges.
maybe some fidelity is lost, but my eyes hurt from watching a game on CRT TV or CRT monitor...
Emulators have many options:
There are a few retro games that I would like to play that are prohibitively expensive. My morals prevent me from emulating, as I see emulating as theft and most of what people say about emulating typically is just used as a justification about why they should be able to do it. I understand that other people have a different moral take on that, and we will just have to agree to disagree. In the end, even if there are some games I never get to play that I would like to I just remember I have a huge backlog I can’t even get through right now, I don’t need to play every game that has ever looked interesting if I can’t get through what I already have. I try to focus on what I have been able to get and remind myself I’m blessed to have all of what I have already purchased. I have a clean conscience with this method so it works for me.
My first thought: Raspberry Pi (despite still owning many. Convenience!)
My second thought: Does Chrono Trigger REALLY sell for $200+ dollars (I have a copy of that, Secret of Mana and many many others) I might sell it if that's actually the case.
Goes on Ebay. More like £15 - £35. More clickbait then
The best way to play DS games is to get a sponge Bob Square pants cart with 208 games on it for your 3DS. You don’t even have to turn on your computer. You don’t even have to find your old ROMs. There’s also these really cool handheld for under $100 that let you play PS one on down. There is google people. I really do not condone Piracy of games it is so “bad“.
@Steel76 if you had a copy of earthbound would you sell it for $5 so someone else could play it? What does that make you if you don’t? My point being they aren’t scumbags, sometimes items go up in value because they are rare.
@LiamDoolan, I swear I recognize that background, is that Johnny Cee's games in Wausau, WI?
Anybody know if there's a way to tag or directly contact Nintendo Life contributors?
Oh that is 100% Johnny Cee's, how cool! I don't live in Wausau now but I grew up there and I get back a few times a year and usually go to FNM. Those are the tables they use, they have boxes of loose comics over on the right and posters of the MTG dual lands up on the right by the windows.
I’ve purchased a lot over the years, sometimes multiple ways so I don’t feel overly guilty for downloading those ROMs. I purchase legit when I can (hence a Wii U, SNES Classic, Steam ROMs and even some games on Switch) but I want the version I grew up with, not some mobile port of it.
I really liked the vid and it really highlights how much easier it was on previous gens to pick up older games. However, as game collecting has become more popular and copies become rarer (or get inflated prices) AND many publishers are not interested in their legacy archive what other choices are there? For example, when Wii U and 3DS store support is fully gone, how do we play some of those titles?
The piracy argument is that every Rom represents a purchase someone would have made, hence robbery. If they aren't available to buy in any official capacity, why wouldn't people emulate?
I recently sold a pile of my old games to a store/website here, then bought a Wii U from them and got eshop versions of all the games I sold (plus some PS1 replacements on my old PS3), and still had a grand left over. The collection or physical copy fetish doesn’t appeal to me. It was a little painful to sell off some games I’ve had for over 20 years, some of which were gifts, but truth is they were just sitting in a box in my closet.
If I had any idea how to use a computer I’d probably emulate or use steam, as it stands the only game I’ve ever pirated was Shadowrun for Sega Genesis, which I already owned, but I’m not storing a CRT tv in my closet.
Pirating. Don't waste money.
I am always baffled at people wanting to own old video games primarily because the games and hardware will fail at some point and paying large sums of money for something you can just emulate without the risk and cost seems like a better route. I do get collecting old games for the look or box art not caring if the games work etc., but collecting for big money seems crazy for something that WILL stop working in a reasonable amount of time.
Who cares about "official" methods. Original hardware is great if you're into that but otherwise emulation is the way to go. Bugger Nintendo. They've sold us all the same games half a dozen times and their support for retro games has been abysmal this gen.
Id recomend getting Disney Afternoon Collection, before capcom's disney liscence expires and its taken down permanantly
Get an original -working- hardware (nes, snes, etc) et look for some linker on Ali...
Not as bad as playing roms on your mining rig, not as expensive as building up a perfect collection....
His voice is awful IMO.
Even before this sealed and graded craziness I was priced out of the higher prices games. Now thanks to the elite speculators I'm priced out of many CIB titles I wanted as well.
Thankfully there are official classic / mini consoles. I also like Everdrives on the original systems.
About Chrono Trigger on PS1/3, in Europe, we cannot play the original PS1 disc on a PAL PS3 as the discs are still region-locked but it is easy to create a US PSN account and buy the game from the US store as there is no lock on downloaded games.
I did that quite a lot when I wanted to get some games to run at 60Hz instead of the slow PAL versions sold on the european store or to get games not available in my region.
With an HDMI scanline generator and once the smoothing is turned off, the games are just perfect.
Didn't Nintendo miss the boat on the their big retro online experience. The Switch is 4 years old. Why not release new platforms each year. Handhelds, N64 etc. Maybe they don't need to because it is worth £18 for their amazing cloud save and online gaming experience.
Nintendo made about 10 games worth getting a Switch for the rest of it is mediocrity.
It seems to be an overpriced Wii HD machine right now.
@B238ben I respect that and I have similar feelings about emulation.
Shame there's no type of console of the virtual kind that could make playing three lrgacy games, cheap, accessible, and legal.
That's okay, I have my own ways of playing the games that Nintendo won't make easily accessible.
@Markiemania95 but it doesn't feel the same....😑
YES THE F*** IT DOES! 🤣🤟🏻💯
Thanks so much @Ziondood (& to @Liam_Doolan for posting the article), I somehow never knew about the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, for some reason I thought there was only the Ultra Street Fighter 2 game. No matter the 30th has since been purchased
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