Friday, October 21, 2016

Goodwill Disappointment.

Let me preface this with the fact that I have a Love/Hate relationship with Goodwill. Sometimes I'll find a good deal, sometimes I walk away in disgust at their lazy ebay researching when they slap an extremely insane price on an item and expect it to sell. This is just one shining example of what is wrong with the Goodwill pricing system.

Every so often my local Goodwill stores have a sale day, and the outlet stores drop their prices a little bit as well. The day started out quite interesting as the very first bin I found was a bin filled with media. CDs, DVDs (that were actually in their cases), video games and much more! Needless to say it was crowded, but I managed to nose my way in and I picked up a few PS3 games, a pair of PS1 games and some PC software I thought sounded interesting. It wasn't until the final round that I found something that blew my mind, not only for the fact that everyone else passed it up, but because it had a Goodwill store sticker on it.

Finding items at the outlet store with store stickers isn't an uncommon occurrence, in fact years ago I found a whole roll of store price tags; had I been a less honest person I would have paid the per weight price for the tags and went shopping at the store and got everything for that price. Needless to say, I'm not a prick, well at least not that much of a prick. The outlet store is comprised mostly of items that sat on shelves for months on end and just weren't sold, thus many items do have price tags on them, and most of those prices are also quite laughable.

The item in question is a rather roughed up Nintendo DS Lite. Again, not only was I quite shocked that everyone passed it up, I was also shocked at the $34.99 price tag that adorns the top screen when I opened it up. $34.99 isn't a bad price for a used DS Lite in good shape, perhaps if it came with a few games, the charger, the stylus, and maybe even a case. However, that price is bad for a roughed up DS Lite with the bottom screen being smashed!

Clearly Goodwill didn't bother to check if the item worked and just checked ebay, found one for sale and priced it as such. If the item was broken by a customer they would most likely be forced to buy it, as you would at any retail establishment, or it would have been thrown in the trash, which I've seen them do with countless other broken items. The only thing I can conclude is that the item came in broken, was never tested, was priced lazily off ebay and was put in a glass case for many people to pass by and either not buy it because they don't want one, or because the bottom screen is smashed.

At the outlet store price I knew I was taking this home, in fact I didn't even know the bottom screen was broken until I got out to the car when I was leaving. It doesn't matter to me if the bottom screen is broken, as I'll use it to fix up my broken DS Lite. I have some spare parts from a broken DS Lite I found from the outlet store years ago, so I'm sure I could possibly have two working DS Lites.

The only problem I have with it is that $34.99 price tag that some store employee lazily slapped on their. Goodwill received this item for free and was hoping for glory. It's sadly not the first, nor the last case of Goodwill taking in items for free and wanting a premium price for them. If you're going to charge a premium price for something, Goodwill, make sure the item is worth what you're asking.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I Guess it's the Small Victories.

After watching some videos online of how to make NES homebrews using donor cartridges and PCBs, I decided to try my hand at taking apart an old Gyromite PCB I had laying around. A while back I bought quite a few games with NES to Famicom converters inside to make into actual converters, which left me with quite a few Famicom and NES game PCBs with nothing better to do with. So I figured I would start by trying to remove the chips.

After painstakingly removing the solder from each leg of each chip, I decided to try and pry the chip out. As I was applying moderate force I heard a crack and quickly panicked. Did I just fuck this up? Even though I have a few more I still didn't want to ruin one, because I would still like to use them all, if possible.

After I heard the crack I decided it would probably be best to test my skills at soldering the chip back into place. After a few more minutes of making sure each chip leg was bathed in solder and comfortably seated to the contacts on the PCB I popped the board into a Famiclone and fired it up.

Oh boy! It's glitchy! I'm pretty sure I just fucked this thing up. Again, this isn't a huge deal, but I would like to have used them all and been able to make a few NES homebrew games I could be proud of. If nothing more than just a confidence booster, I needed to check over my work and make sure everything was done right. I had to make this work!

It was only then that I realized I hadn't resoldered the alignment pad. On some NES games there is a vertical and horizontal alignment pad that needs to be soldered. After putting a nice glassy blob of solder on the correct pad I popped the PCB back into the Famiclone and fired it back up. Would it work this time?

Yep. It worked this time, but quickly the realization that I had just set out to remove the chip, panicked and completely resoldered the chip made me feel confused. After the feeling of confusion wore off I decided to chalk this little experiment up as a confidence boosting skill. Hey, I had desoldered most of the legs and once I panicked I proved to myself that I could resolder a chip right back into place. All I need now is a proper solder remover, a chip programmer, chips to program and games to put on the chips.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

100 Action Arcade Games Volume 4: Burned Again?

100 Action Arcade Games Volume 4 is yet another one of those many promises left unfulfilled CDs that I decided to buy at the outlet store. The main thing that caught my attention were the words Grand, Theft, Auto and the number 2. I know the first two GTA games are now freeware from the Rockstar website, but you have to go through some sort of lottery situation, from which I've never been able to obtain the download links. Regardless I figured with all the games packed on to this disc I couldn't go wrong, especially with a full dose of good old GTA 2.

I was wrong, yet again. What the case fails to fully disclose is that most of these games are merely demos. Only once you take the time to unfold the instructions does it tell you that this disc is comprised of demos and trial software. On the back of the case it explains what demoware and trialware are, but doesn't really state as fact that this disc has any on it, just a simple explanation that seems out of place.

Despite my displeasure with their ruse I gave a few of the demos a good old fashion trying. Some of the demos are actually pretty good. Most of the games are junk thrown in to pad the 100 number, but some of the actual games were surprisingly good, in the sense that I'm not sure why I've never heard of them before.

Some of these games, pending their retail version quality, probably should have been bigger names than they are. The disc has its mix of good games, freeware junk and games that are as good or as bad as I would expect them to be. Was this worth picking up from the outlet store? Sure! It's opened my collecting eyes to a handful of games I've never heard of before, and now if I find them at the outlet store I'll know to pick them up too.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oh, so close! Try again!

There always seem to be video games that are highly sought after that I've never heard of before. After missing the boat on many generations before, I started paying particular attention to, and collecting, Xbox games during the end of its generation. I was trying to do my best to keep myself aware of what was rare, hard to find or highly sought after before they became high dollar items. Even so, quite a few games managed to sneak under my radar that I never heard even a peep about and are now considered collector's gold.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually started trying to pickup PS2 games, in much the same way I did with the Xbox games. This only proved that I hit the Xbox games at the right time and completely missed the boat on PS2 games. I've seen some PS2 games that are worth quite a bit now, but, at the time, I wasn't really looking for them. Many .hack games for a few dollars at flea markets slipped through my hands, a chance I may never have again.

More recently I've been trying harder to keep tabs on what games for the Xbox and PS2 era are worth something. Some of the games that were rare or highly sought after years ago have stabilized and just sit idle in their value, while many newcomers have surpassed games that were worth far more than they were only a handful of years ago. All in all I can say that I've managed to pickup some good deals on hard to find games for both the Xbox and PS2, but nothing all that life altering.

So as my outlet store hunting goes, I will say that I picked up Nascar Racing 2003 Season, which is a fairly desired PC game. I found a Nintendo Game & Watch Octopus in really good shape, yet another item that many collectors would love to have. I also came across a copy of  Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for the PS2, but this is where things get weird.

What looks like a normal, genericly bland Gamestop case for a fairly desirable PS2 game is actually hiding a secret within it's clutches. Oh no, it's not another game, it is in fact a 100% real copy of what it claims to be. I finally own a copy of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis! Yet, it's PAL.

What makes me wonder is how this came across the pond in the first place. I mean, it's not unheard of for people to buy imports online these days, with the internet and collection interactions being so easy to do nowadays, but it is odd to get a PAL region version of a game that was released here locally anyway. Secondly I would like to know why it was in a, assumably, US Gamestop. We all know now that Gamestop isn't too keen on making sure the merchandise they take in is really what they're taking in, so I'm pretty sure that this isn't just a bait and switch by somebody trying to play a trick, if so it failed because I paid a nickle for it at the outlet store and I consider myself the winner in that deal.

It's a little bit of an oddity, for sure, but it's also a bit of a sad case, because I don't have a PS2 that will play PAL region games. It's not a huge deal for me, I mean I do love oddities and odd stories, so this is just another one of them that I can write a blog about. I'm not sure whether the PAL version is more or less desirable than the NTSC version, but either way I can say I officially own it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Wii Zapper the Outlet Store Built.

Since the majority of my Nintendo Wii was pieced together from the Goodwill Outlet store I firmly held on to the hope that one day it would also give me the Nintendo Wii Zapper. After holding on to that hope for a few years it finally happened! I think patience and persistence had more to do with it than fate, although I could be wrong, but at last I finally have one.

The reason I wanted a Wii Zapper was because I had found a copy of Link's Crossbow Training at the outlet store many, many years ago. I actually found it floating in the bins before I even had a Wii to test the darn thing with, so I was completely unsure of whether or not it even worked. Once I had the Wii, and tried to test the game, I found that the game had a scratch that prevented it from being read, even though the scratch was nearly invisible to the naked eye. After a short round of buffing the disc with my special method I was able to get the game to load properly.

After playing the game for a little while I realized I was getting tired of holding the controllers the way I had to, just to play the game. A quick Google search brought to my attention that there even was such a thing as the Wii Zapper, and most of the time the Link's Crossbow Training was packed in with the Zapper. Well that could only mean one thing, time to find the Wii Zapper at the outlet store!

All these years later I'm fairly elated to finally have one, but what's even more fantastic is the controllers the outlet store provided for me to put into the Zapper, which is just a shell waiting for the Wii controller and nunchuk. A Nyko Wand (yes, that one) and a rather beat up nunchuk were found at the outlet store before I even found the Zapper, but once I found the Zapper I knew this would become their destiny.

After putting them all together (the Nyko Wand will not fit without removing it's battery cover) the Zapper felt like a well oiled machine. This time I popped in Link's Crossbow Training and after playing with the Wii Zapper the game actually brought nostalgic waves of playing Duck Hunt on the NES. I used to have so much fun, even though Duck Hunt is such a simple game, but back then my little mind was blown away with how it all worked.

The poor, beaten nunchuk I saved from the outlet store. At least it works!

The Wii Zapper is by no means expensive, but I chose to piece mine together from the outlet store. What I didn't expect was to find the Nyko Wand and OEM nunchuk to place inside of it. So far this Nyko Wand is doing well, it still isn't as good as the OEM controllers, but it's been doing well. I already did a review on this one, but I'm not confident on just how long it will last.

I'm not sure how many games Nintendo intended the Zapper to be used with, but it actually made Link's Crossbow Training more fun. Imagine if Nintendo would have done more marketing around the Zapper and brought out games that weren't just an FPS or hunting game, but was actually fun! So many ideas that could have been, but never were. It's just a shell of white plastic that holds the controller and nunchuk in a more comfortable way, but it truly made me feel as if the game I used it with was really more fun than I had felt before.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

55,000 Games? Lies!

As a fan of those Chinese multi-carts and hardware clones that boast trillions of games in one, I figured I would give this disc a try. I found it at the outlet store, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, and reassured myself that among the supposed 55,000 games there had to be at least one worth playing. Not only was there not a single game worth playing, there aren't even 55,000 games on this disc, which is no shock to me.

If I buy a Chinese console clone that has 55,000 games built in, I know there will be at least a handful of classics on the console to help boost the sales. In the case of this disc, it seems, everything is a cheap Facebook app like game that really has no purpose even being on a disc, especially considering this disc was published in 2008.

One of the main issues I have with this game is that on the disc itself there is a racing car. I figured at least one of the games would be a racing game that I could at least try to stomach for a few good laughed. No, not a single racing game to be found, only stupid puzzle and card games. The only good thing about this game is it doesn't require any DRM or codes, although it does have an install that helps you install other games, which seems a bit much.

This is just one of those situations I figured I would try something for a laugh and ended up wasting a few cents. Was it worth it in the end? No. I can safely say I wasted money that I truly wished I hadn't. It's not worth a laugh, it's not worth the plastic it's burned into. It's simply and totally junk. Another lesson learned!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Came From the Outlet!

It's no secret that I find some weird shit at the outlet store. Most of the time I buy them, while in some cases I decide that it's not really worth the novelty factor and I just leave it there. Strangely enough this time I found something so strange that I picked it up and carried it around for a while, before finally deciding I would rather just take photos of it and write a blog entry. Shortly after putting the item down, one of the infamous flea market vendors picked it up and ran off with it, as if they had found a pot of gold.

The item in question is a sealed Cabela's Big Game Hunter II for the PC. Immediately your minds are flooded with questions, so let me get right to the reason why this item is an oddity. Firstly the game seems sealed with a receipt stuck to the box, inside the clear plastic. Secondly the receipt says it came from an Electronics Boutique in Hamilton, ON, Canada; that's a long way from home. Finally, it wasn't a receipt at all, it's a defective slip stating that inside the box was, in fact, two disc 2s, but no disc 1, which makes it pretty difficult to play a game if you don't have the proper discs to install it with.

The person who ended up picking the item up is a local flea market vendor. They're usually rude and dig through the bins like I imagine a child would, if thrown into a bin of M&Ms. In their haste to buy something they thought was sealed, and therefore worth a whole heap of cash in their market booth, they clearly didn't read the defective slip and realize this is completely worthless. Not to mention the fact that I'm pretty sure the game itself is worthless, even if it was a brand new and sealed copy.

For a very short while I told myself that I should bring to their attention that the item was defective and wasn't even worth buying at the outlet store's by the pound pricing structure, but I decided that it would be best if I kept my mouth shut and not seem as if I was trying to nuzzle between someone and their treasure. I didn't want to start any trouble while trying to be a good Samaritan, so I just let them learn on their own. Yes, I do feel bad, but I have to imagine it didn't cost more than 50 cents, so it's not a huge loss.

Perhaps I'll continue chronicling the odd stuff I find at the outlet stores. Throughout the years I've seen some REALLY weird stuff and it may be interesting to do a quick write up on anything yet to come. Regardless, this time was a pretty good tail of something weird and proof of just how greed can make flea market vendors oblivious to how worthless an item truly is.