The Quest for the Holy Grail (part 1)

An epic tale, filled with sorrow and joy.

Every collector will always have something they aspire to own. That mythical piece of their own personal jigsaw, and it’s usually just out of reach, usually rare, and usually expensive! Us collectors can gaze over our riches, and still feel like there’s something missing.

For yours truly, that something is extra specially painful. Because I used to own it.

It’s Christmas, in 1999. Mum and dad have just bought 16 year old Chris his very first Playstation. And wow is it shiny! The reason it took so long for me to get my hands on one of these bad boys (released all the way back in ’94) was because I was the biggest Sega Saturn supporter that anyone knew!

I liked the Playstation I really did. It had so many amazing titles and it did things that my beloved Saturn simply wasn’t capable of. I had so much to catch up on, too! Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider 2, a little game called Grand Theft Auto! Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Dino Crisis! Theme Hospital, Final Fantasy…. the list went on, and on, and on. I’d started reading the official magazine and every month there was a new game coming out that seemed miles ahead of anything I’d ever played before. How could one AFFORD all these £40 nuggets of Joy?

Word came to me, that there was a way to play copied games. A friend knew a guy. A one-off fee would mean that my console would be “chipped” and the £40 games I craved would now cost a fiver each.

How does a 16 year old say no to that?

I didn’t. I wanted it done yesterday, and I wanted Metal Gear Solid in my hands today. How could I possibly raise the money for this? (I think the cost was around £40) I didn’t have a job, and my pocket money wouldn’t cover half of it. So I turned to the things I DID have: Saturn Games.

(This is the sad part)

Ruefully, I inspected my collection. What would I get some decent money for? And what could I possibly bear to part with? I NEVER sold games, this was awful. Hey, you, STOP LAUGHING!

The only game that fit both these categories was Burning Rangers. A 3rd person futuristic firefighting game made by Sonic Team and released in 1998. I can’t remember where I sold it, or who I sold it to, but the deed was done. My Playstation was chipped (and remains chipped, thanks to a laser replacement it still runs like a champ.) I’ve had more than my money’s worth out of that. However…. there was still a part of me that never forgot that quirky little game and longed to play it again.

Fast forward 14 years, whizzing past the Ps2, Xbox 360 and all the rest. So many new experiences. During that time, gaming becomes an even bigger part of my life. I actively seek out consoles, games I’ve never played, from whatever part of history they’re from. The first “games room” is assembled, followed by the second. Around this time I put a search out on Ebay for the title I lost all those years ago, and I’m greated by a screen similar to the one I’ve just pulled up today:


Damn.

Apparently, the game I chose to sacrifice has become one of the rarer, most sought-after titles in the Saturn’s library. I can only guess at the amount of times I’ve kicked myself for that over the preceeding 2 years. The price of a copy of BR in good condition isn’t astronomical…. but it’s not cheap either. I couldn’t justify spending that kind of cash on a game that’s old enough to buy it’s own beer, not when there are sensible things like a motrgage and bills to pay!

My eureka moment came to me last Monday. To obtain my lost child, and not spend a penny of my wages doing so (therefore appeasing my moral self and the watchful girlfriend) sacrifices would have to be made. To the loft!

What you see here is the backlog of spares, backups and doubles. They weren’t part of my own setup, they were just sat in the loft, occupying space and gathering dust.  I could make some money on these, they’d go to new loving homes and I could buy back Burning Rangers with a clear conscience!

Meticulously I cleaned, connected and tested. Nothing in the games room likes being disturbed (because as you’ve seen, everything has it’s place!) I kept pulling out more items.. another Megadrive pad?! how many of these things do I even own???

It was like Austin Powers “Cleaning Phase….complete. Testing Phase…complete.” Just before warm liquid goo phase had a chance to start, I assembled all and sundry for the photoshoot. The items were posted on three separate Facebook sale groups, along with a detailed description. I didn’t want to mislead anyone! Would anyone snap up these relics of gaming past? Would my grand scheme succeed? Or would my quest stumble and stutter, leading me to *shudder* a grail-shaped beacon???

This concludes part one. Because this is where I’m up to!

Part two will be penned, whether I’m successful or not. It’s been quite enjoyable writing this!

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