I didn't really join the ranks of console gaming until the SNES came out and because my close family and relatives were not keen on giving video games as gifts, I usually purchased or rented games at my personal expense with what little allowance and money I could scrap together. As a result I'd say I did pretty well keeping the quality of my early game collection on the high end of my personal tastes.
My second copy, my first copy vanished, I didn't miss after picking up the GBA version, but the collector in me caved and picked it up again.
I knew a bunch of people with this thing. I don't remember what it came with but it was a pretty awesome showcase of NES games out at that time. It was not in fact helpful at all for beating any of those games.
They had some pretty awesome games...
...as well as some stinkers.
This was all I that survived to this day, my mom probably threw away most of my old magazines.
I did buy a few games on impulse without prior knowledge of what to expect, but they were probably on sale for crazy cheap so the risk to reward ratio was acceptable even with my extremely limited budget, and even there I did quite well. Some of those games were: Mega Man X, F-Zero, Super Metroid, and Link to the Past. The only one of those that didn't really "pay off" for me was F-Zero because I found out pretty quickly that I sucked horribly at racing games, however, the music and fairly forgiving controls probably salvaged this buy for me and I think most people would agree at 10 bucks in 1995 for a brand new game, this was a pretty decent pick up even if I wasn't 100% thrilled with the game over time.
So much win, best 10 bucks I ever spent.
Most of the really disappointing stuff I ended up playing was rented from the video store. I lived in a pretty small town, we had 2 mom and pop video stores that had a pretty awful selection of games and since it was just down the street I rented just about everything they had over time. This was good and bad, good because if I bought any of those games I would have been very resentful of the purchase and would have been stuck with it, but bad because I probably train wrecked a weekend of video gaming by renting a dud. VERY rarely we would drive half an hour to the nearest city and rent something from a Blockbuster (RIP), and even there finding something good was difficult, all the better titles were usually rented out before I could get my grubby mitts on them. Some of the notable duds I rented were: Batman Forever, Rise of the Robots, Mario is Missing, Super Pittfall, and True Lies (ouch). On the upside I did rent a few gems: Mega Man X3, Aladdin, Lion King, Metal Warriors, and Axelay, so it wasn't all bad. I rented a lot of games, probably some bad enough that they were blocked from my memory never to be mentioned again, but I knew I could usually let my guard down and be a little more adventurous when renting since it was a buck or two to rent instead of 30-70 bucks to buy it new. The worst case scenario was that I would just have to go play outside or something.
I had buddies with some decent resources like Nintendo Power subscriptions and parents with looser purse strings than my own, and thus I was introduced to some pretty great games. Since I had a somewhat unusual taste in games (compared to most people I knew), we frequently borrowed back and forth and every once in a while might trade games, it was this way that I fell in love with games like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 3 (6), Shadowrun, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and Contra 3. Later when I was old enough to buy games on my own, these games were the first to get added to my collection.
I guess it hit me somewhat recently how lucky I was to have the kind of control over what games I bought. A buddy of mine gave me his entire NES collection a few years back, something along the lines of almost 20 games, and although I wasn't going to turn down free games, most of them were dreadful. Think anything you would see in an AVGN episode, and then some. From a collection standpoint, neat to own, but also glad I didn't pay for them. When I discussed what the deal was with this morbid collection he said they were games he got as gifts, he never bought his own games and his relatives just bought what they assumed a kid would want for their birthday or christmas: Ghostbusters, Top Gun, Predator, Jaws, great movies that due to reckless licensing spawned awful games, and so his experience was just tainted by frustration and misery, so much so that giving them away was a liberating experience as an adult.
With the internet and a game industry that has been refined over a few decades, there's a much safer consumer climate for making informed game purchases. Being informed prior to that age was a chore, and I'm glad I had a pretty good eye for decent stuff otherwise this would be a very different blog. Recently I started collecting again after a pretty significant hiatus (I spent a number of years moving around, finishing college, finding work after college, and most recently getting married), and so I'll wrap this up for now and transition this to the next blog where I will discuss some of the differences I noticed collecting 10 years ago compared to now.