All posts by jeff

Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System

One of my more recent additions and I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. Boxed AES systems fetched $650 when they were first released and while that price has dropped over the years, you’re still lucky to find one for less than $150. I got mine through trade, which is just as well, because it’s actually not in the kind of shape I’d look for if I was paying cash money for something. It works, and it’s in what I’d call “above average” condition for a system of its age, but it’s definitely not mint. On the plus side, it does come with the original gigantic AES arcade joystick, not the redesigned model SNK introduced later as a cost-saving measure.

I actually really like the Neo Geo system – a lot of people just don’t get why it’s so expensive or so prized by its fans, but after owning one, I certainly do. (I’ve also been a fan of SNK’s games for a long time.) It feels like a high-end system – it’s very large (almost as big as an Atari 5200) though sleek and well-built, the cartridges are by far the largest and heaviest of any home game system, the included controller is by far the best built and most authentic arcade controller ever packed-in with a home system, and of course the games are bit for bit the exact same games as their arcade counterparts – they are not ports. This is the only system I know of in the history of game consoles that can claim that. These days it is not that expensive to actually buy a used Neo Geo arcade cabinet, but owning an AES is actually pretty much the same thing in a smaller package.

My console is in a little better cosmetic shape than my controller:

It’s really a beautiful system, isn’t it?

It’s almost impossible to comprehend how big and heavy AES carts are. The best I can do is show you a comparison:

This is the only Neo Geo game I own, as even the cheapest used AES games still cost around 20 bucks each. And they just go up from there. There’s a lot of RAM in those carts.

Mattel Intellivision

The Intellivision was the first game console that I ever owned. It was Christmas of either 1979 or 1980 that I got mine (I do believe it was 1979, based on the pictures I remember on the box), and I played the hell out of that thing for the next few years. It’s the system that really got me into video gaming, and except for a brief cynical period I went through in the mid 80’s, I’ve never looked back.

Unfortunately, I scrapped both my original Intellivision and the Intellivision II that my mom bought me as a gift in 1982. Or at least I think I did; I don’t know what actually happened to them. In any case, I no longer have them, and I really regret that fact these days, as it’s a formative piece of my youth that’s now gone. I am happy that I’ve now finally replaced my original system with a worthy unit, though – I now have two Intellivision systems, but the one pictured above is in great shape and as you can see, it comes complete with box and original literature. I also have the unit below, which is decent enough (considering it was free) but is a bit dented here and there and is also missing its power switch cover:

The Intellivoice is, obviously, a separate unit.

My recent purchase came with one of those infamous first-run boxes that heavily promoted the ill-fated keyboard component (for which Mattel was eventually convicted of falsely advertising):

Apologies if you need to squint to read that, but I need to keep these file sizes small.

I have also replaced nearly all of the games I had when I was a kid – which was a lot of them. Fortunately, Intellivision games are very easy to find in their original boxes – people seem to like to keep gatefold game boxes, and they probably thought it’d be too easy to lose the overlays without them.

I do also have the box for my Intellivoice, which was a goofy little peripheral that added a few phrases of poorly-digitized voice to the few games that would support it. It seems ridiculous now, but at the time this was revolutionary – no other console could really do this (I think there may have been one or two games for the Atari 2600 that had one or two words each), and not even computers were powerful enough yet. I still remember the phrases “target in sight!” and “bombs away!” spoken with an extremely fake southern drawl in B-17 Bomber – the only Intellivoice game I had as a kid.

The box is kind of funny for the wildly inaccurate statements it contains:

“NOT A RECORDING.” Ha! The voices were all digitized, so yes, they were recordings. Mattel wanted you to think that the system somehow generated these voices on the fly, which would have required quite a bit more computing power than the Intellivoice or the Intellivision had.

Games and Peripherals

Obviously, I collect more than just systems – I’ve been known to have a game or two to go with them. I’m not even close to a complete collection for any system, though, and my approach is haphazard at best.

I do buy/sell/trade, so if you’re looking to unload anything or if you’re dying to have anything you see here, drop me an email. Maybe we can work something out.

Here’s my entire game collection (give or take a few I may have missed, and accessories not included) in a more-or-less complete Excel spreadsheet, current as of 02/06/06. Be sure to click the tabs at the bottom to switch between systems – there’s a separate worksheet for each system I own.

I wasn’t about to take pics of every game I own individually, but I took some photos of them collectively sitting on shelves and in drawers. I’ve also taken some photos of some of my rarer games separately but I’m debating whether or not to spend my bandwidth on posting them…

I’ll actually start with my accessories drawer, since I haven’t mentioned accessories anywhere else on the site to this point:

Starting more or less from left to right (and up and down), we have:

Three Sega Saturn Virtua/Stunner Guns (two orange, one black Japanese model), a red Sega Dreamcast controller, a Madcatz MicroCon GameCube controller, a stock grey Dreamcast controller, the original (big) MS Xbox controller with a Sega Saturn pad peeking out from underneath, a Nintendo Rumble Pak, a Sega Saturn 3D controller with both versions of the Saturn pack-in controller next to it, a Dreamcast arcade stick (you can see the green ball poking out), an original non-analog PlayStation controller with a grey Dual Shock controller underneath (hard to really see here), a Dreamcast Blaster gun, my two Sears Video Arcade II controllers along with a couple of Atari 2600 joysticks, two Dreamcast “puru puru” packs (vibration packs), some Sega VMU’s, some GameBoy accessories (battery backs, screen covers, etc.) and some boxed and non-boxed games of various kinds.

A few more accessories (and games) sitting on some shelves – some of this stuff is pretty rare and I’m sure I don’t take good enough care of it:

Ok, from left to right again, the Sakura Taisen Limited Box (version “A”) for Sega Saturn, the Zone of the Enders Premium Package for PS2, the Interact Alloy Arcade Stick for Dreamcast, and the Samba De Amigo maracas.

More stuff:

Time Crisis II and Vampire Night for PS2, each with GunCon 2, two sets of Para Para Paradise controllers for PS2 (one behind the other), a RedOctane DDR pad and a Dance Performance II pad for PS/PS2. Unpictured but directly behind the two gun games is Point Blank 3 for PS1 with the original GunCon, and then a Sega Saturn Virtua Stick behind that (unfortunately the crappy US one, not the amazing original Japanese model).

Ok. I’m not gonna bother actually listing any of the stuff in the remaining pics – it’s all there in the Excel spreadsheet (or it should be, anyway). Some of the titles you can see, some maybe you can’t, but this is the biggest I could make these photos given my storage limit.

Mostly classic games (Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, Jaguar & Intellivision):

I used to have all my loose 2600 carts in this drawer too, but they’ve been moved to save space. Here’s most of what’s missing from the above pic:

PS2 and GameCube games:

If you’re wondering why I have so many Rockstar games, it’s because I used to work there. I’ve never even opened my GTA double packs.

Next, Dreamcast (US and Japan), import Saturn and PlayStation 1 games – sorry, I know it’s basically impossible to make out anything in the pic below. I’ll replace this photo at some point. Anyway:

Xbox, N64 and domestic Saturn (plus other miscellaneous bits):

Genesis, a bucket full of handheld games, a pile of Sega Happy Meal toys (despite the quantity I am still missing the Monkey Ball game) and my one Neo Geo AES cart:

Handheld systems used to be in the pic above but now they’re on another shelf:

And as you can see, I am officially out of space for games in my storage units. These games used to be out because I was playing them; now I just have nowhere else to put them:

Coleco Vision

Now that’s an American hot rod of a system, ain’t it? I’ve always loved the look of the CV. It’s one of the only consoles of its era that I think still looks fairly modern, in the same way an old Ford Mustang still looks fairly modern (and anyway, what’s old is new again, right?). It just looks badass; I mean that’s not something that changes with the passage of time. There are no feminine curves, no “futuristic” sloping wedges, just a big, imposing, hard-edged, black rectangular box. The way game consoles were meant to be.

I always wanted a CV when I was a kid. I had an Intellivision system, which was great when it was new, but everybody back in 1982 knew about this system that came with a near-perfect port of Donkey Kong (the hottest arcade game of the day) and I sure wanted one as much as anybody else. A friend of mine (a girl, no less!) across the street from me got one, and I was over at her house practically every day – sometimes until very late at night – playing on that thing with her, and sometimes even as she slept. She even got an Adam eventually (the add-on version – hope she kept it!), which just meant more fun for all. She was nuts about that thing and so was I – it was almost like it was “our” system, though I really still wanted one of my own and unfortunately I never did get one.

So I retrobought this one a couple years ago, got a decent deal because it only came with the pack-in game and nothing else. But it did have the box and all accessories, so it was basically like buying one new! I haven’t bought any games for it since getting the system – CV games are often expensive and for some reason tougher to come by than other systems, even though it seemed like they were everywhere back in 1982. I’ve got a lot of other systems to collect for first.

I do know how much my system cost when it was new:

Obviously this system was purchased a bit later into its production run.

My system’s really not as dusty as it looks in the pic at the top – here’s another view:

Looks pretty nice, eh? About the only issue is that the metal faceplate on the top is peeling back a bit – I just need to glue it back down. The same is happening to the front face plate, although not that bad – this is a common cosmetic problem with old CV’s, but very easy to fix (the glue just goes bad after 20 years). Mine’s not bad at all though, good shape all around and good cosmetics:

Note that the actual name of the system is the Coleco Vision. It is not “Colecovision”. I used to make that mistake myself, until I finally realized “Coleco Colecovision” wouldn’t make any sense, and of course, there it is right on the box and the unit itself. It’s two words, company name first, no different than “Sega Saturn”, “Sony PlayStation” or “Atari Jaguar”. It’s the Vision system from Coleco. (I have never once heard anybody just call it “the Vision” and Coleco themselves were always careful to include the company name in any official documents, but that’s really what it is.)

The 5200 and Coleco Vision were competing systems in the early 1980’s, and they had similar style controllers. Coleco’s were really not much better than the horribly unreliable 5200 controllers, though; they were just awful in a different way. I remember some pretty severe hand cramps and some actual bruising from long sessions with the CV; those infernal discs would kill your fingers and the base of your thumb, and the fire buttons had far too much resistance and would wear out your finger muscles in minutes:

I’m a 6’4″ adult holding that thing, and it still looks big and beefy. Imagine wielding one of those as a 7 year old kid!

On the plus side, the controller storage worked well and actually looked pretty cool. I wish console manufacturers would still build this into their consoles – I’ve got controllers lying all over my apartment.

I’ll leave you with a shot of the back of the box, which has a whole bunch of game screenshots and other goodies on it:

Atari Flashback

As I write this, there’s a little bit of a retro-gaming craze going on, with quite a few all-in-one classic video gaming devices on the market – the Intellivision 10-in-1, the Activision 10-in-1, the C64 30-in-1, and the list goes on. The current owners of the Atari brand name (France-based Infogrames) apparently realized “hey, Atari was like, the #1 game maker in the 1970’s and 80’s, maybe people would want to buy some of our older games too” and they went ahead and released the Flashback. It’s not a real “console” and it’s not even a real “Atari” product (for those that don’t know, the original Atari went belly-up some years ago now), though I put it here because it’s just such an odd little machine, and in many ways such a neat little machine, and at the end of the day it is new Atari-branded hardware.

I realize this thing is controversial among some collectors. I know that the games it plays aren’t always faithful renditions, I know it doesn’t have a cartridge slot, I know that Infogrames “ripped off” certain imagery that’s copyrighted by third parties for their marketing (I’m willing to bet that was an honest mistake – I think the current Atari design teams just have no clue about what is and what isn’t their intellectual property in regard to classic 2600/7800 stuff). But I still think it’s neat, and I’m glad to have it. I got mine for Christmas 2004 – thanks, bro!

Oddly, the rear label specifically calls the Flashback a “Mini 7800”:

This despite the fact that it contains absolutely no 7800 hardware and is not compatible with the 7800 at all! The games the Flashback plays are ported – this is one of the many reverse-engineered NES clones out there, just like most of the other retro-gaming devices on the market.

It is definitely “mini”, though, and it does look quite a bit like the 7800 – both the system and the controllers:

Yes, my hand is right next to the system (it looks some distance in front of it, but that’s an optical illusion). Look at the overlapping shadows. This system is tiny! It easily fits in the palm of my hand. The controllers seem fairly well-designed for an all-in-one unit like this and there are two of them for two player games, which is one more than most manufacturers of this type of retro game machine give you. And they do look a lot like real 7800 controllers. They are quite a bit smaller, though, and not that comfortable for me. I have very large hands.

I used to be a marketing guy so I love a good box design, and Atari really did a good job on this one, I think. Really captured the feel of those old system boxes while updating the look just enough to be modern. Here’s the back of the Flashback box:

To me, the Flashback box looks more like a “real” Atari system box than the Jaguar box did. And that was a real Atari box! (In terms of the original company lineage, that is.) The Flashback box is much more in keeping with Atari’s former house style. All that’s missing is this kid:

Atari 800XL

 There are only a few computer systems I remember well from my youth – the Apple II line, the Commodore Vic-20/C64, the IBM PC (which at the time was far too specialized for home users) and the Atari 400/800. In the very early days of home computing, the Atari 400 and 800 were actually more “gamers'” computers than any of the others (though that would change later).

In any case, all of these computers were too expensive for my family initially, and when we did finally buy one, it was an Apple IIc. But my mom’s office actually had an Atari computer set up (for what purpose I don’t know) and whenever I’d visit her there I remember playing Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One and M.U.L.E. I’d wanted an Atari computer ever since then.

I finally bought one a few years ago for around 10 bucks… I actually somehow ended up with two initially, along with a floppy disk drive. During a move one of the systems and the disk drive got tossed to the curb (literally – I hope someone picked them up and are enjoying them now), as I didn’t need them. Most of the good games are cartridge-based anyway, and the disk drive is almost as big as the system itself. Unlike the Apple II’s disk drives, both Commodore’s and Atari’s drives were really computers unto themselves, with their own CPU’s, power supplies and control circuitry. So they were very large.

The 800XL is probably the ultimate Atari 8-bit computer – it was not the last in the line, but it’ll play pretty much everything and it still looks like a classic (unlike the later XE series, which are in a more “modern” beige/grey casing). It’s also superior to both the 600XL and the 1200XL, which despite its higher model number was actually replaced by the 800XL. The 1200XL had some compatibility issues with older software and was also larger than the 800XL with the same specifications. So I’m happy to have this model.

I actually bought it thinking I’d get M.U.L.E. to go along with it – I know M.U.L.E. is often thought of as a C64 game but it actually came out on both systems more or less simultaneously and it looks significantly better on the Atari system. But I still haven’t picked it up – apparently it’s not really that common of a game, and it goes for an incredible amount of money on Ebay. Oh well. I still have a few other carts and I enjoy the system.

Another view of my unit:

Check out the M.U.L.E. intro and see if you’ll ever be able to get that theme song out of your head:

Atari 7800

 Ah, the last of the classic 8-bit Atari consoles – it looks and feels like a pre-crash system but was not actually released to the mass market until 1987. By that point, Atari’s bad timing and outright market foolishness were already becoming the stuff of legend, and looking back on it, it almost seems ridiculous that anyone could think this thing could compete with the NES. Especially considering Nintendo’s two year head start. I mean, just look at this comparison, consider the technical aspects alone and tell me how Atari thought they had any chance.

It’s pretty common knowledge that Atari had the 7800 ready to go in 1984 (itself a little strange, considering how new the 5200 still was), and they in fact did release a small number of units to stores, but pulled back to re-focus on their PC business. Their gun-shyness continued when Nintendo approached them with an offer to license their Japanese Famicom system for sale in the United States, and Atari declined. The rest, as they say, is history – Nintendo released the NES themselves and took over the market. Atari belatedly re-released the 7800 once it became clear that a console market still existed, but it was a doomed venture from the start. It all seems so obvious and predictable in hindsight.

The 7800 was the last Atari system I bought – I owned an NES like everybody else at the time, and later a Genesis. My 7800 came used from Ebay, $43 for a boxed system with 19 games (mostly 2600). Not bad by today’s standards, though I was a little disappointed that my system is not really “mint, like new, without a scratch on it” as the auction description stated (it’s in decent shape, but it’s definitely got a few scratches and a dent or two). Everything works, though.

I knew the 7800 used basically the same casing as the 2800 and Sears Video Arcade II, but I didn’t realize just how close they really are:

The 7800 even still has the cord storage for the RF cable, despite its RF cable being detachable! It also still has the indentations for the channel switch and whatever that other switch is on the bottom of the 2800 (I forgot to check before putting mine away). There really are just minor modifications, the biggest of which being, obviously, the elimination of two of the four controller ports. Oddly, though, what you’re seeing in these pics is not only because of the reflections – the color of the black plastic is slightly different. Could just be the age difference, but I think the plastic itself is different too. The 7800 has a greenish tint, the 2800/Video Arcade II has a reddish tint. The Video Arcade II feels slightly better built/thicker.

The box is pretty interesting too, because of the way Atari was trying to divide up its game library:

I don’t really know what separates “Super Games” from regular 7800 games. Interestingly enough, all of the games listed here seem to be ports of older computer games (I have about half of these for my Apple IIc). Notice they say “games never before playable on a home video game system” – but given the large penetration of computers like the C64 and Atari’s own 8-bit line, I’m not sure how much of a selling point this was.

Atari was probably the first console manufacturer to rely so heavily on proven “franchises”, and they did it from the release of the 2600 all the way up through the demise of the Jaguar. Ironically, it’s part of what killed them, whereas today it’s almost required for a system to be successful. Gamers in those days wanted originality – playing the same games over and over again but with better graphics and sound just got old after a while. These days, it seems like that’s all anybody asks for in a game console. Maybe Atari was just ahead of its time.

I know some people like to see these things, so here’s my 7800 label with serial number: