Since I just got back from going to two conventions in the course of a month, it’s about time for me to show that I Bought Stuff. It’s gonna be a double-header this time around: We’re gonna be covering not only the stuff I got from last weekend’s haul at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, but also what I stumbled upon after PAX back in early September. It’s gonna be a fun one, indeed.
– Police Quest 2: The Vengeance (DOS, $3)
– The Colonel’s Bequest (DOS, $3)
– Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters (PC, $3)
I got these three games the day after PAX ended, on Monday. I had some free time to kill before I had to get to the train station to get home, so I had a doughnut at Top Pot Doughnuts — highly recommend you do so if you’re visiting Seattle — and found a Value Village several blocks away from where the main convention center was. After poking around the store that was in an old building complete with freight elevators, I found these three gems.
Police Quest 2: The Vengeance and The Colonel’s Bequest are classic Sierra-published games. This was back in Sierra’s heyday, when they made a whole bunch of adventure game titles. Granted, most of them have not aged well primarily due to their obtuse puzzle mechanics, but finding complete box copies of both games is a treat.
The Colonel’s Bequest was the first game in a mystery series starring Laura Bow, which she returned in another Sierra game a few years later, The Dagger of Amon Ra. I have no idea where this ranks on terms of quality Sierra games, but judging how I didn’t hear of this until I bought it, I assume it’s one of the forgettable ones.
Police Quest 2 continues the same silly stuff that other Police Quest games did where you had to follow every step of police procedure to the absolute letter. I preferred the later spinoff series SWAT, which went from being a bad FMV game to a strategy game to a solid squad FPS that rivaled Rainbow Six in its day. As an unexpected bonus, Police Quest 2 had extra 5 1/4″ copies somebody made presumably to give to a friend. Funny, considering the original disks are also inside. I guess somebody didn’t watch Don’t Copy That Floppy.
Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters, on the other hand, was more of a gimmick purchase. It had never been opened, and one copy there had a dozen GameStop price stickers on it, going from $20, to $10, to $5, to $2 by the end of it. This is the Wheel of Fortune host’s first foray into making video games after having a weird aversion to appearing in Wheel of Fortune games for a solid two decades. At least he eventually got over that.
This casual game is a hybrid of crossword puzzles mixed in with elements from The Joker’s Wild. Put into a sleek casual games package, it’s an interesting little game made around the time of the casual games boom. There was another game under the Pat Sajak Games label named Trivia Gems, but I don’t know if that ever got a retail package. Bet both of those games are worth looking into.
The rest of my PAX swag was a shitload of buttons, energy drinks, cards and promo stuff, followed by Guitar Hero: Van Halen. I mean, when Dan Amrich (then of Activision and One of Swords in 2012, currently at Ubisoft) just hands them out for just showing up at a panel, you can’t resist. Then again, I heard that lots of people got copies of that game, apparently they had excess stock.
Now onto the Portland Retro Gaming Expo stuff.
Oh dear, there’s a lot of stuff here. Let’s go through it from the upper-left forward:
Politicians 2009 trading cards (free)
Aphids on the Lettuce mashup CD (free)
Star Raiders (2600, free)
Pitfall! (2600, $2)
Super C (NES, $8)
Dragon Warrior (NES, $4)
Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge (both NES, $5 each)
Jeopardy! (NES, free)
John Madden Football ’92 (Genesis, $1)
I’ll cover some of the freebies first. The politics 2009 cards and Aphids on the Lettuce were just things given away for free at the convention. Someone handed me the cards as I left on Sunday, the CD was at somebody’s booth I mentioned in the last article. I haven’t listened to it, but I can’t say no to free music.
Pitfall shouldn’t need much of an introduction. One of the games that put Activision on the map in the 80s, it was one of the few 2600 games I didn’t own. I bought it at the con itself for $2 as I heard creator David Crane was gonna be at the con itself. I eventually got a chance to have him sign it, which is probably one of the cooler things I own. I wish I had a more pristine copy, and I probably should’ve had him use something besides a silver Sharpie to sign it, but I still treasure the thing.
I was honestly surprised to find Super C for as cheap as I did. I remember going to noted gaming store and frequent mention of this blog Video Game Wizards and spending $20 on a copy of the original Contra on NES, so I was expecting for it to be just as pricey. I guess I got lucky.
Chris Kohler, noted retro games enthusiast and collector (and then writer at Wired) had a booth alongside other noted collector Steve Lin and I couldn’t resist buying the perennial NES classic Dragon Warrior from his booth. Granted, it’s a game so common that they were giving it away back in the day, but I couldn’t say no at that price.
I remember back in the day when people were rather devisive about the NES Metal Gear games. Saying they ruined Hideo Kojima’s vision, considered “the bastard childs” of the franchise… I figure it’s gotten a slightly better reception these days. Regardless of their reception, I thought finding these classics was a good idea. I ended up finding both games at around the same time, where I found Metal Gear, another random convention goer found Snake’s Revenge at a separate booth, which was nice of them to help even though they didn’t have to.
As I went through this convention, it was surprising how many of the iconic NES games I didn’t own. With the ones I just mentioned, I realized I didn’t have Double Dragon, the classic game with a bomb-ass soundtrack. The one where Jimmy Woods got 50,000 points instantly in The Wizard. I couldn’t resist grabbing that.
I got that on a Sunday, alongside another game. Since a fair share of the booths were far away from Portland, they were doing constant fire sales to get rid of excess stock, which got me the opportunity to correct a mistake by getting Jeopardy! on the NES alongside Double Dragon.
Many years ago, at an (now presumed defunct) “nerd” store, I found Jeopardy! for the NES, complete in box. The box was in poor shape, and was probably missing any box liners to keep the box firm. It wasn’t until I got home did I realized that Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition was inside and not the original. Getting the original here at PRGE righted a wrong, and now I had a proper complete-in-box copy of Jeopardy! for the NES. The only major differences between the original and 25th Anniversary Edition was new clues and recycling graphical content from the previous Junior Edition, including one of the child avatars given a Star Trek-mirror Universe style beard. It’s kinda funny in retrospect.
I may not be super into football games, but I couldn’t resist getting John Madden Football ’92 for the Genesis. It’s the one with the ambulance driving onto the field to get injured players, driving past any player in their way to get there. Back when football games could be silly and not had to be hardcore sims. Since sports games are never in any high demand, getting a buck for this was worth the price.
Finally, Star Raiders was being given away at somebody’s booth on Sunday presumably because they wanted to get rid of anything they could. I can’t vouch if this even plays, but free is free.
That’s it. Honestly, I could’ve gotten more, but what I got is good enough. I would’ve liked to check out some of the NES and SNES reproductions, but I don’t wanna pay $75 just to play Live a Live fan translated on my SNES. Especially since I could probably get those for half that online. These people need to not jack up the price so damn much on those, I bet they’d sell more if they were reasonably priced, like $30 or something.
Now I’m gonna go and dust off my NES and clean all these games and see if they work. or I’ll ignore them and play more Doom mods instead, which is the more likely result.