Wow, it’s hard to believe we’re now in the year 2020, and even harder for me to fathom that RVGFanatic turned 13 years old earlier this month on January 7, 2020. My baby is now a teenager! But in all seriousness, with well over 200 SNES reviews and a slew of random articles written over the past 13 years, it’s been quite the ride. Usually, I would probably roll out some kind of retrospective, but there’s been plenty enough of those over the years! Instead, I’m going to repost (and slightly retweak) one of my earliest articles from my original site: Craigslist Memoirs. There will be a small update at the very end, because just earlier today, January 30, 2020… I had my first Craigslist transaction for the first time in over 12 years! Enjoy this trip down memory lane…
1. OLD FRIENDS AND OLD GAMES
Saturday, March 25, 2006 @ 12:27 PM
In January 2006 I was struck hard by an overwhelming desire to revisit my childhood in the form of one, the Super Nintendo. There were so many great games from my youth I wanted to play again and even more that I always wanted to play back in the ’90s but never did. Early 2006 was a special time. Most SNES games sold for a measly $5. There was a paucity of nostalgic collectors back then; the market had yet to explode. It was a classic case of right place, right time. I acquired most of my SNES games on the internet, but I also bought more than my fair share in real life. And there’s something special about that. It’s kind of like playing a video game with your buddies in the same room rather than online play. There’s a purity to the real life exchange that simply can’t be beat. I’ve had some great deals and met some interesting cats in those early days of 2006. One of my favorite memories was the day I ran into an old college acquaintance while out hunting.
March 25, 2006. 12:27 PM. Two months into my SNES resurrection, I left my house that Saturday afternoon full of hope and optimism. Burnt out on Saturn gaming, it was during a long University winter break that the urge to play my childhood favorites, and discover the gems that I missed back in the day, hit me like a ton of bricks. But I digress. Back to March 25. The night before I made my local rounds on Craigslist and found an ad of some guy liquidating all his old 16-bit games. I emailed him and he promptly replied, asking me to come visit his store (a good 45 minute drive both ways) on Saturday to browse his selection. He promised to give me a good deal.
And so the next morning I was off on yet another trek. I fondly recall those early hunting days. There was sort of a magic to it all… like the possibility that anything could happen and any game on my want list was lying out in the open. Having a want list of literally hundreds meant a good chance I was always going to find something. It was a peaceful spring Saturday morning. Listening to my blaring music, windows rolled down, driving all over town to reclaim bits and pieces of my childhood… there was something very ‘romantic’ about those early days.
Upon my arrival I met Aaron, the guy whom I had been in contact with. He looked oddly familiar… I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d seen this fool somewhere before. As I browsed his SNES offerings it suddenly hit me. I had a college class with him back in the spring of 2002! In fact, we were groupmates for the final! How’s that for a weird little story? It had to be destiny.
He was looking at me sort of funny too. It had been four years since we seen each other. As we looked at each other my memory started flowing back to me. For our Final we had to share with the class something we were passionate about (it was a rec class). I talked about my love for playing basketball. At that time my love with the game was at its peak (thanks largely to Coach Butler and 9/11). Meanwhile, Aaron shared with the class his passion for video games, which included Nintendo, Sega and even the Atari Jaguar.
As I stood there recalling to myself exactly who this guy was, as if on cue, he came over to break my train of introspective thought.
“Finding everything good?”
I answered his question with a question of my own. “Hey man, didn’t we take a rec class together in college like four years back?”
“Man, I knew you looked familiar! … Steve, right? Yeah I totally remember that class… easiest A+ of my life! How the hell ya been?”
We chewed the fat for a while. So random and crazy! Turns out Aaron’s dream has always been to own his very own game store. And at just 22 years young, he was the manager of this little gaming store. I was happy for him. We were never best buddies in college but we were cool, and just seeing him randomly on this day and finding out that he achieved his dream at just 22 years old, that was sweet. It’s always nice to run into an old face and find them doing well in the game of life.
I eventually brought these four games to the counter. I was so excited to dig up Knights of the Round; it was my first time in two months spotting a copy in the wild. Such good childhood memories spent playing it and Super Baseball 2020, which I also bought and ironically it’s now actually the year 2020 — hey where are my robot baseball players?! Never got to play the SNES port of Power Instinct but I always wanted to. Aaron gave me a good deal. Knights of the Round was priced at $8 but he sold it for $6. Power Instinct was $8 but he took $4. Super Baseball 2020 went for just a measly $1 (!) and Super Soccer Champ ran $2.
What a wild trip, all courtesy of my checking Craigslist the night before. Little did I know I would run into an old face from my early college days, see that he was doing well and that life had been good to him, and get a nice little deal in the process. Driving home that Saturday afternoon, I rolled down the windows with the radio blaring. There was such a feeling of excitement in the air back in those early days of retro game hunting. It was a fascinating time in my life; I was getting ready to wrap up college and look to the future, yet at the same time I was also looking to the past. Glancing over at the four games sitting on my passenger seat, a big fat smile crossed my face as old fond memories of playing them began surfacing. It was the perfect drive home. Those early hunting days… man, I’ll never forget those exuberant days. The feeling of excitement in the air… reclaiming my childhood… running into old faces… crossing want after want off the list. Good times indeed they were.
2. MY NEXT (SHADOW)RUN
Sunday, March 26, 2006 @ 4:45 PM
No rest for the nostalgic! The very next day I drove out 45 minutes to meet a guy for Shadowrun. At the time it was going for about $15-$20 and the guy was offering it for $10. It wasn’t the greatest deal factoring in gas, so why did I do it? It was a lazy Sunday late afternoon and I felt like going for a drive, hitting up the local Game Crazy stores in that region and looking for more SNES games to add to the ever growing library. At that time, I was just a couple months into my Super Nintendo resurrection. There were two Game Crazy locations near his place, and I knew even if I found nothing, I still had Shadowrun to come home with. Good stuff, I figured. At the second Game Crazy I bought Inspector Gadget for $5.39, which was a harder to find game and a decent deal at the time. It wasn’t mint but that was alright by me. I was just happy to cross off yet another want.
Then I drove to his place to pick up Shadowrun. His house was on this lone stretch of road, kind of isolated and in the middle of nowhere. I was a bit paranoid at first naturally, but at no point did my “alarm in my gut” go off. Thus, I kept proceeding… of course, maybe I was just young and (game) crazy. Just normal slight paranoia, I told myself. But it was getting dark…
As I pulled up this long stretch of road, I saw him walking out of the driveway. He looked nothing like what I imagined, based on our phone calls. Scruffy looking fella in his mid 20s. I handed him a $10 bill, he handed me Shadowrun (which was in great condition), we thanked each other and I drove away, happy to be heading home at long last. It was a scenic drive and I had no idea that first weekend of Craigslist dealings would lead to a spring and summer full of them…
3. RAINING GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS
Friday March 31, 2006 @ 3 PM
Less than one week removed from my first Craigslist dealing, I was back at it again. This time it was a 20 minute drive. I was going to meet Kevin to buy some Genesis games for $20. Based on the titles he had, it was a hell of a deal. In February 2006, I bought a Genesis to complete my 16-bit journey. I felt it was only natural. However, no sooner than 7 months later, I sold my Genesis and all 130 games. I just couldn’t get back into it like I hoped — not like how I did with the SNES. The last Genesis game I sold? Ghouls ‘N Ghosts — one of the games Kevin sold me. I suppose it was only fitting. But I digress.
Kevin and I met up at a local grocery store. I remember it well. It was 3 PM on a Friday afternoon, and it was raining cats and dogs (or ghouls and ghosts, if you will). I met Kevin in the parking lot. He waved over to me as he sat in his red Toyota pick-up. I suppose he could tell who I was based on my nostalgic (and searching) eyes. Standing outside his truck, umbrella in hand, I watched as he spoke fondly of the games he was selling to me, mentioning how they had been sitting up in his attic for years and years now, and how they were all purchased brand new back in the day. A small cute beagle stood on the passenger seat, its head tilted as it looked at me quizzically. I bought all five games for $20.
Kevin told me these games were bought back when they first came out. He told me how much he loved them but alas it was time to move on. He picked up Ghouls ‘N Ghosts specifically and said, “This is one of the best games I’ve ever played.”
It was this experience that really tuned me into what Craigslist was all about. There are a ton of older guys out there, who still have their old games lying around in the attic somewhere. They just don’t have the time or energy to list them on eBay, so instead dump them on Craigslist in hopes of selling them off quick and easy. Usually looking for the first suitor. And not really looking for equal value either.
So there I was, holding an umbrella as the rain was cascading like crazy. As I handed him a twenty, he told me how happy he felt knowing that no longer would these games collect dust and someone was finally going to play these masterpieces once again.
I’ll always remember this because it was a great deal, sure, but it was nice to meet the people behind the games as well. It’s the human element — something you can’t get through eBay.
Two days later… I had my fourth Craigslist experience, and boy… was that one something else…
4. THE PAUL GIAMATTI EXPERIENCE
Sunday, April 2, 2006 @ 2:25 PM
Around this time I was going through the final stages of getting rid of some excess Saturn games. 23 American games in their bulky cases to be precise. Saturn fans KNOW what a big pain in the butt such an ordeal would be. 1). These largely common and unwanted games have a value of very little 2). Their bulky fragile cases make it a bitch to ship and not break.
So after my three successful Craigslist romps, on Saturday April the first I posted an ad of said undesirable games. Chris called me Sunday morning around 10. He and I agreed on the price of $125. I was pretty shocked, because that was WAY better than I was hoping for! That meant I would get about $5.43 per title. Factoring in 1). he’s coming here 2). I don’t have to spend time packaging the games 3). or spend money on shipping — I was over the moon with his offer. I don’t know why he wanted such bad games, but he was clearly a Saturn fanatic who wanted to round out his collection with the more fringe titles of its library. AKA exactly who I was back in the early to mid 2000’s.
I was waiting outside my house talking to a friend on the phone. At 2:25 he pulled up with his girlfriend. She stayed in the car while he walked up to my porch to greet me. Wow. He looked EXACTLY like the actor Paul Giamatti. In fact, I was almost expecting Thomas Haden Church to come popping out of the backseat going, “C’MON MILES! LET’S GO FIND SOME CHICKS!”
I had the box of 23 Saturn titles lined out for him. As he sat down to further examine the box, he and I chatted about the Sega Saturn. He asked if I had Panzer Dragoon Saga — assuming I might be one of those ex-gamers with “gold in the attic.” I told him I had it but it wasn’t for sale At the time it was going for around $150 for a complete mint copy. I just did a quick eBay check and in 2020 it goes for around $850!
Halfway through the process he told me, “Wow you’ve kept these in great shape.” He looked like a kid in a candy store as he was opening each case, removing the disc and examining them up to the light.
I just love when everything fits perfectly, like those games did in that box. I threw in some extras for him. He asked if I had any blank cases for sale with no cracks. I had five, sold him each for a buck. So in all, I walked away with $130, a lot less clutter off my mind and another memorable experience courtesy of Craigslist.
Before he left, I asked him if the lady waiting in his car was his wife. He looked at me and said with a smile “I’m hoping so.” I wished him the very best and watched as he carried the box to his trunk. His girlfriend waved at me and I waved back. What nice people.
Another awesome Craigslist deal in the books. It’s more than simply exchanging goods, although that is the main goal. The rest is a mere bonus if you meet a guy as nice as Paul, er, Chris!
5. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW
Sunday, July 23, 2006 @ High Noon
Looking back on it all, I definitely wouldn’t do that today. I think it had a lot to do with being young and dumb. I was a lot bolder then, willing to drive long distances and meet God knows who in the name of immortalizing my childhood. It was just the excitement of getting back in the fandom, getting out there and reclaiming bits and pieces of my childhood. Safety was not a priority — getting the goods was. Like I said, there was an energy and buzz to those early hunting days that will never be replicated, and I’m glad those days are over with. I’m so happy to be retired from collecting video games. I got back at a good time too, when things were still cheap and affordable. Prices these days are outrageous!
Here are some of the magazines and guides the guy sold me:
Back in the late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, Suncoast was a staple of my childhood. It was always the first store I visited whenever my mom or dad took me to the local mall. It was en route to other classics such as SOFTWARE ETC., Walden Books, B. Dalton, Sam Goody, and of course, the awesome CYBERSTATION arcade hall on the upstairs wing.
Upon hitting Suncoast, I would raid their vast horror and Sci-Fi section, drooling over the mesmerizing horror movie boxes and reading the back of every Godzilla VHS box I could find. There was a definite sense of idyllic innocence to those olden days that a small part of me still misses to this day. Jeff Rovin’s Monsters book was one that my friends and I devoured each time they visited my house. Fun times
The seller and I flipped through each guide as we reminisced about the good old days. We exchanged shared memories and the like. It was an incredible stroll down memory lane. The final guide at the bottom of the box was Chrono Trigger. He flipped his lid when he saw it, admiring it for what felt like an eternity.
“A whole decade ago,” he started. “A whole summer bro. Summer of ’96… was totally devoted to this game. This guide helped me like you wouldn’t believe. Have you played Chrono Trigger before?”
“WHAT?! Oh man, are you in for a treat. Damn. I’m jealous. I wish I could play this again for the very first time. You’re gonna have a blast with it.”
We stood there further recollecting past gaming memories, and how fast the years go on by. Finally, the discussion of price came up.
“I tell you what, you can have everything for twenty five bucks.”
Twenty five dollars?! Nice.
“Wow, that’s a great deal. Thank you bro.”
“Ah don’t worry about that. I know they’re going to a good home, and that’s all I could ever ask for them,” he smiled. “Someone who will love ‘em as much as I once did. That’s what it’s all about.”
Hell! The Chrono Trigger guide, which I was looking for at the time, one ended at $40 on eBay a few weeks earlier! He helped me carry the two boxes to my trunk, which included the crapload of Nintendo Power magazines from their glory 16-Bit days (not shown).
We chatted for another minute before I told him to enjoy the surprise birthday party later tonight which he had mentioned during our conversation earlier. He told me to take care of the guides. It was another great Craigslist story.
I cannot begin to describe what it was like driving home that day. It wasn’t just the incredible deal he gave me… it was the sheer experience itself. You definitely can’t get that human connection through online purchasing. Oh, and I finally did play Chrono Trigger not that long after. What a game indeed…
6. THE GREAT EGM SCORE
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 @ 4 PM
This was it. The final Craigslist transaction of my career (or so it was for 12+ years). I owned all the EGM issues from 1992-1994 but was missing much of 1995. Randomly one night I decided to browse Craigslist. As luck would have it, I found a guy selling off his old EGM issues, all of which were mint and even still had the wrapper. He sold me 16 issues for $29. I was happy and at this point in mid 2007, I was pretty much done with my collection. It was a good way to go out.
EGM’s quality started to decline in 1995, but they were still a decent read. I actually thought they were decent up through 2003. But I digress. I bought this lot mainly for the ’95 issues, but I didn’t mind the mint ’94 doubles.
7. THE REUNION
Thursday, January 30, 2020 @ 4:30 PM
As readers may know, I’ve been on a major book binge as of late. I’ve always loved books as a kid and last year, I rekindled that love. So one night I decided to hit Craigslist randomly to see what books I might find. I found someone selling the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs. It’s a popular series for middle grade readers. We agreed to meet outside a local post office.
She was a nice lady and the transaction took all of 15 seconds. We greeted briefly, I handed her a 20 and we thanked each other. It was a crazy day because my girlfriend JUST moved in last night. I wanted to get home to make sure she was adjusting OK but she told me to take my sweet time and do what I need to do. There was a local bookstore nearby that I hadn’t visited yet, and it advertised used books for cheap. I spent about an hour there and by the time I drove back in town it was dark already. I decided to buy pizza for me and my girlfriend. Getting out of the car, I saw a lady in her mid 30s disciplining her son, who looked to be 7 or 8 years old. She was laying into him pretty harshly, and I remember thinking to myself, “DAMN. I wonder what that kid did to deserve that!”
I head into the store and the cashier tells me my pizza is about 5 minutes away. Then the door opens and in walks the same lady who was yelling at her son just half a minute ago. She looked oddly familiar, and the pizza place has a screen where their patrons’ names are listed. She was listed as “Judy.” Oh my gosh, could it be? Judy from high school?! My biggest crush senior year!?
I looked at her. “Judy??”
She looked back. “Yeah… hey! Oh my God, Steve!?”
What followed was a lot of life updates and reminiscing for the next 5 minutes that we both waited for our pizzas. It was our first time seeing each other in damn near 20 years! She married her high school sweetheart, has two kids and the whole nine. I was so happy for her, and she was so happy for me that my girlfriend just moved in last night. What a random and crazy experience! What a way to close out my Craigslist career. You really can’t top that one!
Thanks for the memories, Craigslist.
And glad you didn’t kill me