Collecting, a really cool hobby!
Wow, you got an internet connection! After months and months of hearing about the internet, you canīt resist anymore and now youīre about to experience all this WWW world. You start searching the web for lyrics, photos, MP3s, and general info about your favourite bands, movies and music. Then you discover emulation and you quickly fill your little hard drive with lots of roms for your favourite (and not so favourite) systems. In a couple of hours, you have all the released roms for the Sega Master System, your all time favourite system, the one you loved so much when you were a kid. Following a link from one of these rom sites (a real link, not one of these typical "Britney Spears nude!" pop-up ads you happen to see every five seconds). And you reach a different kind of web site as the usual rom sites. "Whatīs this?" you think, because youīre not seeing any roms anywhere...itīs just an SMS fan site. You start reading all those reviews, articles, trade lists...and you think "oh, so there is still people that actually are collecting the SMS? This is crazy!". You keep on reading and looking at these nice little pages, and quickly a bunch of memories hit your head. You remember all those happy times when a single SMS game could bring you enough fun for months, everyday running from school in order to try to beat your brand new game, the comfortable SMS control pad, the RF switch that was always hidden behind the TV set, those cool boxes, cover art, and the typical funny translation errors on the manuals. You advance an step and you say to yourself "Oh! I always wanted this game but I never found it! Ah! This one was cool, too bad I sold it...I wonder if I could get them now". So, your first thought about collecting SMS games changes, and youīre really considering doing that. You have a weird feeling about coming back to the eighties, to you childhood, via the SMS, one of the things from back then that you remember clearlier. You start unearthing your old SMS games, the ones that have been collecting dust in the depths of your wardrobe, you look at them, clean them, and thatīs how your adventure begins!
Here begins probably the most funny and easy part of your adventure. What do you have right now? About thirty boxed games, a control pad, and nothing else. Well, itīs time to get a new SMS unit, first of all, because you canīt play and test all the new games to come without it, right? The first step is to check every place in your city that might have still some SMS games for sale, and maybe even SMS consoles. My suggestion is to try to find an SMS 1 instead of the SMS 2. Remember that the first model has a card slot (you never know when youīre going to find a set of 3D glasses, donīt you?), that nice SMS startup logo, the Maze game built in, and in my humble opinion it looks a lot better than the second model. We were talking about checking every store in your city to see if they have any SMS stuff for sale, right? Well, try videogame stores, used stuff stores (like Cash Converters), video-clubs, and of course flea markets. Iīm sure in one of these places youīll find something. Also, never, never forget asking everybody (friends, school mates or relatives) if they have SMS stuff that they donīt want anymore. Thatīs how I got my first SMS 1 console back in 1998, when I started re-collecting (my actual first system was broken and long lost) for a really cheap price, including some games, because a friend of a friend sold me his. In this adventure, youīll face lots and lots of kinds of sellers, from the stupid rotten seller that thinks he knows everything and tries to cheat you, to the nice seller that knows what heīs talking about and tries to offer the best price. Back in 1998, when I started re-collecting, I went through some hard times to find an SMS 1 unit. I remember walking into a certain store, and asked the girl who was behind the counter if they could get me an SMS 1. She looked at me as if I was talking Chinese, and since I looked serious, she called the manager. He was the stupid rotten kind of seller I mentioned above, and when I told him about what I was looking for, he laughed and told me: "What?! Hahaha, what do you want it for? A museum? Hehe, no, you canīt get that anywhere in the world, they are not being made anymore". I told him: "Yeah, I know they are not being made anymore, but as I told you before, I donīt mind it being used. Oh, and I want it for my children, I grew up with this console and I want them to experience the same". Of course I donīt have any children, but I only wanted to annoy him. And it worked! He looked at me really surprised and confused (I was 18 back then, I could look like I was older, but not so old to have several children!), and told me "oh...ah..er...I see. Well, let me tell you you wonīt find it anywhere. But you can get your children a N64 or a Playstation, they are better than the SMS". Since I saw this guy was a cretin, I took a look at the SMS games, they were expensive as hell and not really interesting, except a complete and mint Golvellius. I bought it, I left the annoyed manager there and I never came back to his "better systems" store.
Well, now, with a bit of luck, you have your SMS unit and some games. Letīs move on to the second stage!
You have spotted every place in your area, and now you know where to get games...and the prices. You have your second hand stores, your videogame stores, and your flea market on Sunday mornings...I had again a lot of trouble going to these morning events, after an intense drinking/partying Saturday night, itīs very hard to wake up the next morning and go game hunting, believe me! :) My friends are often amazed about this.
You want to build your collection quickly, and reach a considerable amount of material, but you donīt have a lot of money to spend, and youīre often thinking about giving up. Donīt!!! Everything needs time, and of course patience. I started in 1998 with about 35 games, and by November 2000 I had about 150 or more. Amazing, but it has been the result of two long years, and itīs worth it.
Youīd better start by looking for the titles you really want, there will be enough time for the rest. Since your amount of games is quite low, Iīm sure youīll find new 'really wanted' games every day. Spend your money wisely, think before acting, and learn to spot the good deals. Thatīs how youīll get the best of your collecting experience, and believe me, thereīs nothing better than coming home with a couple of games you had been searching for years. Those games you used to see at the game catalogs when you were a kid and never had the chance to play, only to find they are really great games youīve been missing for years. Thatīs what happened to me with titles like Space Harrier and Phantasy Star.
As said, with a bit of patience and time, youīll see your collection grow and grow, and eventually youīll have to find a new place to store them (thatīs cool when it happens!).
Should you get only complete games? Thatīs your decision, but I would limite myself to 'box and cart' or more. I never pick up a loose cart, they look pretty bad in your collection, unless itīs a really rare item that I will probably never find complete. Of course, having the original manual is better than having only the box and the cart, but if you limite yourself exclusively to that, youīll have to avoid a lot (and I mean a lot) of interesting games, and your collection will grow at a really slow pace.
Of course, there will always be those two or three (more if you have a bad run of luck) games that you want so bad and canīt find. I had really a lot of trouble in finding Miracle Warriors, one of my all-time SMS faves, and I spent the happy amount of six years looking for it! Donīt give up about these elusive ones, youīll find them sooner or later, there were times when I thought I would never find Miracle Warriors, and now I have two copies of it, a complete one (with map!) and a "box only" one.
Let me tell you some advice...
1-If you see a really rare game, get it no matter the price, if you return again in a few days, it will be gone.
2-Never pay a lot of money for a common/uncommon game. There are several chances that you will find it again at a lower price (happened to me with Ghost House...sigh).
3-Always try to haggle with the seller about your SMS games. Try to make him ridiculously low offers, act like if you were a 'videogame god' with stuff like this: "this, according to the SMS rarity list of Akira Sakatomo, the famous videogame collector, is the most common game ever, you should give it away for free" or "this game doesnīt come with the manual, the price should be lower" or "this game was included for free with the 1987 SMS packaging, I canīt pay for it". Lie as much as you can, sometimes it works, and anyway, most sellers lie as well (sometimes it works, they think) :)
4-Clean your games when you buy them, and try to keep an updated and detailed list of your stuff, itīs nicer and it would be useful sometime in the future.
5-If you see games at a really really low price, get them, even if you already have them.
Well, time has passed, youīre becoming more and more excited about collecting SMS, and you spend more time searching for games than actually playing them (it happens, donīt be afraid). You start talking everyone about your hobby, and while they look at you as if you were crazy, youīre happy. You have a serious amount of common games, some uncommon ones and maybe a 'pseudo-rare' one. Itīs time to move on again, and find some really cool items. Since itīs hard to find them in your city, thereīs a good chance to find some stuff with the help of.....
Yes, the same thing that introduced you into the SMS world is now able to help you find games. The internet SMS community is full of nice people who will be willing to help you and trade with you. Since there is less people than, say, Nintendo fans, there are less possibilities of getting ripped on a trade and, in the end, everybody ends knowing everybody. Try looking at SMS pages, most of them will have a trade list, probably they will have something interesting. Make them an offer, and there you go! Also, some games are hard to find in some countries, but are common in others. So, lots of people will be able to help you find a certain item...and you will be able to help them too. Try online auctions, like eBay. These are great places to find a certain game...or maybe even something you werenīt searching for, but you just canīt resist. Youīll have to learn to bid properly, and not pay too much for a game, but youīll learn fast. The internet is one of the best oportunities, right now, to build a strong collection of SMS games, without spending too much money!
Well, well, what can you do now apart from collecting? Lots of things, most of them related to the internet. What about making a web site about the SMS? Itīs a nice idea, and you can put your creativity there. If you canīt dump and release new roms, donīt make an emulation and rom site. Most of the people have their personal sources for roms, and they wonīt bother by looking at your site. Make an original site instead, with your personal and original contents. People will enjoy the most this way, and youīll get more visits and e-mails. Join the SMS ring, and the SMS mailing list (havenīt you done it yet?!!), meet people that share your hobby and discuss, talk about the SMS. That will be a lot cooler than only buying and playing games. Donīt push your friends too much about playing the SMS with you...most of them wonīt enjoy it. Donīt ever tell about the SMS to the girls...that doesnīt work!!! :) And, the most important of all, keep on playing your SMS and enjoying your hobby, now there are no limits!
This article is focused on collecting SMS. Iīve writen a few tips, hints and suggestions for all of you who are new to the SMS world. I really hope youīll find it useful. Please remember that this is only my personal points of view, and you are free to do whatever you want (except playing Playstation, hehehe). No, really, please read on and enjoy!
Building your collection