A few months ago my wife and I welcomed our second child. Having two little mouths to feed has been quite the life changing event for us. Before the arrival of these little critters in our home, I had the privilege to spend any extra income on anything I wanted. This disposable income was usually allocated to fueling my obsession of Nintendo Entertainment System games.
My obsession started several years ago when I moved to Florida. A mom and pop retro video game store opened near my home. Everyday I would drive by this store on my way to and from work. Being newly married and trying to appease my new bride, I would always rush home and never had time to stop in. After a few months of passing the new store, I finally gave in and entered. Big mistake! This store was wall to wall retro video games. At the time I wasn't looking to start any sort of collecting, but that would soon change. I immediately gravitated over to the NES section. All sorts of classics were on the shelves. My eyes didn't know where to focus. Right out of the gate I noticed the classics; Mario, Zelda, and Castlevania. After a few minutes of salivating I took note of some unfamiliar games. I had no clue how many titles were released on the original NES. After looking at the remarkably low prices of these games, I knew I had to buy a few. That day I went home with ten games. Super Mario Bros 1 and 2, Zelda, Castlevania, and Mega Man 1-6 all found their way into my life that afternoon for less than thirty dollars. I said THIRTY DOLLARS!!!!
There was one huge problem though. I didn't own a system to play these on. I had only one option. eBAY!!! In a few short days, I had my very own top loading NES system.
Soon I tired of playing these gems and I turned my attention to acquiring some new games. After a few more trips to my new favorite store, I had reloaded my armory of NES games and was ready to roll. After a few months of making trips to my bargain basement NES store, I realized that I had purchased nearly every one of their games. All that was left were doubles of games that I already owned.
My collection had now grown exponentially. After some quick inventory, I realized that I owned well over fifty games. My obsession had started without me knowing it. My quest continued over the next year or so. Every thrift store, flea market, and pawn shop was visited. Even when I traveled back home to Pennsylvania, I made it my mission to come home with new games. After the first two years, my collection reached well over three hundred games. A custom shelf had to be constructed in order to hold them all. Eventually all of my sources dried up and I was forced to continue my obsession via eBay.
This is where my dream turned into a nightmare. The shear amount of games was staggering and I soon realized how expensive this was going to be. Fortunately I got into the NES game collecting business way before the prices got out of control. Before long, I was the proud owner of some really rare games such as Panic Restaurant, Bonk's, Little Samson, and Flintstone's Surprise at Dinosaur's Peak. However, there were a few titles that were just out of my reach. A Nintendo World Championship would need to be obtained in order for anyone to take my collection serious.
I knew that my dream could not be achieved alone. I needed to recruit a partner in order to obtain the ever elusive Nintendo World Championship. At the time my older brother was a general manager for Gamestop. He had started with the company close to a decade ago when it was known as Funcoland. Funcoland dealt with NES games. During his time there, he had made several connections with dealers that were in the retro gaming business. I knew that he could help me out. In a few weeks he got me in touch with a gentleman in Maryland that claimed to own a gray Nintendo World Championship. The man wanted over sixty thousand dollars for it. To most people this sounds like a lot of money. In my case this amount was way too much. In addition to the sixty grand, I would also need to retain a divorce attorney. My wife would leave me in a New York minute if I spent that much money on a video game. I knew that this was going to be harder than originally thought.
Several weeks later we had another lead. This one was much closer to home. A gentleman in Savannah, Georgia had my "Holy Grail". He showed me much more mercy when he named his price. He wanted six thousand for it. I didn't even blink. We headed to Savannah the next day with a cashier's check in hand. In less than twenty-four hours my dream would be fulfilled.
That was more than four years ago now. My collection is not complete yet, but I'm satisfied with what I have accomplished. A few titles still exceed my grasp, but I can proudly say that I own every licensed NES game ever made. One afternoon in a retro gaming store changed my life forever.
Not a Stock Photo. This is my collection!