In celebration of Dreamcast month, the Friday Five is back! In this installment, I thought I’d share some collecting tips for both budding, and seasoned, Dreamcast collectors. Despite the Dreamcast’s short lifespan, the console has a vast library and a number of accessories. In total, there exist around seven hundred and twenty Dreamcast games, both licensed and unlicensed. Accessories range from various controllers, to keyboards, mice, lightguns, twinsticks, arcade sticks, cameras, and more! Suffice to say, collecting for the Dreamcast is a lot of fun.
Let’s kick off the list with one of the most important things a Dreamcast collector needs to remember…
Focus on quality over quantity
If you’re just starting out, or are supplementing a small collection, it’s important to focus on obtaining the games you want. It’s easy to plunk down $100 for a load of blindly selected Dreamcast games, but you’re likely to be buying a number of bad games. There’s a reason some Dreamcast titles are so cheap, there is no demand for the game because it is awful. It’s important to note that not all inexpensive games are bad. Some are simply incredibly common, or they come from a series that saw yearly revisions, such as the NFL and NBA 2K titles.
Make a short list of the games you really want, and hunt them down. Sure you’re getting less games for your money, but they’ll be games that you’re likely to play for hours, allowing you to truly appreciate the Dreamcast console. A strong small base is the best way to start a collection. Standing back and seeing Power Stone, Shenmue, Sonic Adventure, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia II, MSR, and Chu Chu Rocket on a shelf is far more satisfying than a dozen titles which include the likes of Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 and a half dozen football titles.
Buy in person when you can
The internet has made shopping for classic video games a breeze, but there is nothing like walking into a physical game store and seeing all the games right there in front of you. No waiting for a game to arrive in the mail and no shipping costs. Often, you’ll find a game on eBay that appears to be cheaper than one at your local used game shop. But look again, factors like shipping, taxes, and import fees are likely to bump the price up to an equatable level. Some used game shops may even be open to haggling, so don’t be afraid to tell that owner that his copy of Stupid Invaders is $10 more than the usual asking price online.
Classic gaming conventions are another great source for buying a lot of great games in one place. Given how much time there is between the announcement of a convention and the opening day, simply save your money for the big day and walk in feeling like a millionaire… even if you’re only carrying $80.
Don’t be afraid to pass on a game you want
I’ve been there. It sucks, but you’ll feel better if you just walk away. Say you’re at a used game shop, and in the glass case is that game you’ve always wanted. It’s right there, waiting for you to buy it. The only problem is, the price is almost double what you’ve seen online. Worse still, the owner refuses to budge. At this point, it’s best to save your money and walk away, or spend it one something you deem to be worthy. Take Cannon Spike as an example. It’s a game I’ve always wanted, but I cannot justify spending $80 to $100+ on it. I’ve seen it twice now at a convention and a used game store, and both times it fell within that price range. Instead of biting the bullet, I’ve held off, waiting for a sweet deal. In this case, eBay wins, as there are several auctions selling the game for a more reasonable price of $50.
Japanese versions of games are often cheaper
The ability to play import titles on your Dreamcast not only expands the available library of games, but also you’re likely to save a lot of money buying the Japanese version of the game over the American or European version. The Japanese version of Marvel vs. Capcom, for example, can be found on eBay for around $10 or less. The American version hovers around the $15 to $20 range. Sure it isn’t a huge difference, but another $5-$10 could go towards another low priced game you have your eyes on. It’s also wise to search the eBay seller’s store for other Dreamcast titles before checking out. If something catches your eye, you can combine shipping and save even more money.
There are also several low priced Japanese exclusives out there, such as Tokyo Bus Guide, BOMBER hehhe!, Pro Yakyuu Team de Asobou!, and ROOMMANIA#203. These low prices are either due to the games being common in Japan, or importers simply haven’t figured out that these are fun Japanese exclusives that are easy to play despite being in Japanese. The addition of several quirky Japanese titles make any Dreamcast collection shine.
Don’t forget about the hardware
With all the great Dreamcast games out there to collect, it’s easy to forget about the hardware. If you’ve spent the past fourteen years playing that old Dreamcast console that has yellowed and has the remnants of a “The Offspring” sticker on the lid, why not spend $40 on a nice new looking console and stick the old one in storage as a back up? Better still, seek out a special edition Dreamcast in a different color to really make your console shelf shine. Four controllers are a must, and with all the different colored controllers out there you might as well try and find some red, blue, green, or black controllers. The more games you have, the more VMUs you’ll need. Thankfully, brand new VMUs sell in bulk on eBay. $15 can get you three new VMUs in black, blue, and green colors.
One of the defining aspects of the Dreamcast was the quirky accessories. Any collector should at least have a lightgun and an arcade stick. But for a truly unique collection, seek out some maracas, a fishing controller, twin sticks, a mouse, and a keyboard. Buying something as simple as a fishing controller can lead you down a path of collecting the various fishing titles or even games that surprisingly work with the strange accessory.
Utilizing the Dreamcast’s VGA out is also a must for any modern gamer. Seeing a Dreamcast outputting in VGA is a sight to behold, and it puts the old standard video outputs to shame. Seek out a VGA box, which allows you to switch between S-video and VGA. Not all games are VGA compatible, so this makes it easier to switch between signals.
The number one thing to remember in Dreamcast collecting is to have fun. Don’t waste your life savings, and don’t feel down when you see some guy online boasting about his complete collection of seven hundred and twenty sealed games. Instead, revel in your own finds and enjoy the collection you have.Ad: