Who doesn't love a good gaming bargain? Whether it's a hugely-discounted system, or a great game that cost peanuts, nabbing a cool item for a low, low price is always something to be savored. However, what we want to know is - what's your greatest ever gaming bargain?
While you think about your answer, here are the USgamer team's best hauls.
I have bought so many games over the years and scored so many bargains (balanced out by paying way too much from time to time) that I couldn't possibly single out the best. But I'll tell you about my most recent!
I bought a Famicom Disk System while I was at Tokyo Game Show last fall — hard to say no when the yen is so soft versus the dollar — and immediately went game hunting to find software for the thing. It turns out the games are actually fairly expensive at Japanese retailers, and much more affordable on eBay… you don't see that very often. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon an eBay lot for almost a dozen FDS games, and mostly quite good games at that, so I put in a bid and won the lot for about $80. When I received the package in the mail, I was surprised to open it up and discover that amidst a bunch of games in various states of partial packaging (FDS games came in wax paper sleeves inside a hard plastic case, which was packed alongside a manual inside an acetate outer sleeve, and you rarely get the full array of packaging without paying quite a lot for it) was a pristine, never-opened copy of Metroid.
Metroid for FDS is a fairly common find, even complete and sealed; I think someone stumbled across some unsold cases of the game a few years and released those minty copies onto the market. A sealed U.S. version of Metroid would go for obnoxiously huge amounts of money, but on FDS it goes for about $60. Still! I scored that lot of games for about $7-8 per piece, and many of them would have sold individually for $20 or so on their own. Metroid alone nearly paid for the entire lot.
I bought the games to play, record, and create videos about, so obviously I ended up opening it. An open copy of Metroid for FDS sells for barely any less than the sealed one, and given the fragility of Disk System games, there's something reassuring about knowing this one's never been manhandled or misused. Posting its unsealing on Twitter has also helped me to identify horrible people who think video games should be sealed away and never touched rather than enjoyed… so, double bonus.
I snagged my best deal thanks to the fallout from the Great US Video Game Crash of 1983. It dates back to very early 1985, a time when I'd just got my first job as a reviewer at newly-launched ZZAP! 64 magazine over in the UK. One lunchtime, shortly after I'd joined the company, I wandered over to the local Woolworths to see what new games they had in stock, and noticed that they were selling off older video game systems at bargain prices. I wasn't particularly interested in an Atari 2600 or an Intellivision - both were very long in the tooth at that point - but I was very taken by the prospect of a brand new Colecovision console for just $25. At that point, the machine was barely a few years old, and to me was still very desirable.
I grabbed a system, and then noticed that there were baskets of cartridges that were being sold off for just $5 apiece. I raked through the selection, most of which were fairly crappy old games for the 2600 and Intellivision, but did unearth copies of Zaxxon, Antarctic Adventure, Donkey Kong Jr., Pepper II, and Burgertime - all of which were pretty good. I remember taking my haul back to the office and showing it off to my workmates, and a couple of them left immediately to pick up consoles and games for themselves. We had a fun afternoon playing through our bargain buys!
Over the following weeks, I ended up finding a few more heavily discounted games at different stores. It seemed that because of the decline of the market in America, many video game hardware companies were pulling out of the UK, and retailers were dumping their stock. Their loss was my gain, and I soon had a nice collection of games for my Coleco, which I ended up spending a lot of time playing.
I was a college student when the PlayStation 2 launched and while I had every other console, getting a PlayStation 2 was out of the question with my budget. I had funded the previous system with my job at a local used gaming store and filled out my library of games by picking up things others brought in for trade. Unfortunately, that store was in my hometown and I didn't have a job at college.
But lo and behold, a friend of a friend had a PlayStation 2 they were looking to sell, because they didn't have time to play games anymore. The PS2 had launched at a hefty $299 - which seems rather cheap these days - but I certainly couldn't afford it. The seller was willing to give me the console at $200, a price the system wouldn't carry until 2002.
I ate ramen, I scrounged, and I saved enough to buy the system. I unfortunately only had SSX and Fantavision, but luckily, SSX turned out to be amazing, making me a long-time fan of the series. But man, $100 off a PS2? That's still super amazing and I still have that original system.
I was a nearly broke college student in 2003 - not the greatest place to be if you like gaming (and this was way before free-to-play games like League of Legends made it big). I had a Dreamcast and a PlayStation; but of course, it was all about the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube at that point.
That Christmas, Nintendo slashed the GameCube's price and bundled it with several classic The Legend of Zelda games in a bid to revive sales. My friend wanted the Zelda Collection, but he already owned a GameCube. We made a deal: I would pay $60 for the GameCube, and he would keep the game. I was the proud owner of a shiny new GameCube.
Maybe this isn't the equivalent of finding a Nintendo World Championship cartridge at a garage sale; but as a college student, being able to afford a then-modern console was a big deal. I was suddenly able to play games like Metroid Prime, Wind Waker, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pokemon Colosseum. And let me tell you (puts on old lady hat): When I was sitting in a sweltering apartment with no cable and no Internet the following summer, having a console was a godsend. What was I going to do - read?
After that, I had more disposable income, and bargains became less of a priority. But my GameCube acquisition still stands out in my memory for being, well, affordable.