Exactly How Hard Is It To Track Down Every Single NES Game?
Last week was March 10 (a.k.a. MAR10 Day) and last month we saw the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. To pay homage to everyone’s favourite platforming plumber and Hylian hero, I switched out the Xbox One for the Nintendo 64 and fired up some old gems. I’m so glad I held onto my original N64 console and games, but sadly my first NES and SNES both somehow disappeared into the ether.
While I was unable to drop everything and track down my retro faves, last year gamer and filmmaker Rob McCallum (along with close friend Jay Bartlett) did just that. The two Nintendo devotees set out on an epic quest to buy every NES game ever made (a meager 678 cartridges) within 30 days. Take two nostalgic nerds, add a passion for video games, a lot of determination, a film crew, and you get Nintendo Quest.
And for those thinking you would just click over to eBay and have all 678 games piled into your e-cart faster than you can load the next screen in Dead Rising 3 (uugghh), think again. Jay and Rob gave themselves the added challenge of acquiring all the cartridges without eBay, Amazon, or the Internet. Taking these purchases out of the equation complicated things and meant Jay had to travel cross country pounding the pavement, checking retail stores (hello, Toronto’s A+C Games), flea markets, and private collections to find leads on the next rare cartridge.
Contrary to what I would’ve thought, it’s not necessarily the most popular or playable titles that ended up being the most sought-after or expensive—less familiar games that had limited releases with a dwindling number of remaining cartridges fetch the big bucks. There’s a massive market both online and in stores for retro games, and common titles can be found for fewer than five bucks, with rarer ones going all the way up to the thousands—notably a $40,000+ mint copy of the illusive Stadium Events listed on eBay.
The film does a great job at showing the importance of the relationship between sellers and collectors. I learned a lot about collecting etiquette and how to barter. In later parts of the doc, Jay leaves shops empty handed abd completely turned off by owners who refuse to come down on overpriced games.
The prices of some games are never revealed, but we can see the effect of each purchase on Jay’s budget courtesy of complementary graphics. As the film rolls along and the collection count grows, Jay’s funds meter shrinks. I won’t spoil the ending by revealing the final tally, but I feel like his quest was an overall huge success.