Sunday, November 5, 2017

Retro Game Treasure Mystery Subscription Box #1

          I've been tempted to give subscription boxes a try for a while. The idea of receiving mystery items in the mail each month seems fun, but after watching my friends brief experiences with Loot Crate and its derivatives, I have always decided not to give in to that temptation. The boxes all seemed to be packed with far too many useless trinkets that would just end up as clutter and, believe me, I have enough of that already. Further, many of the items that I’ve seen come out of the more mainstream subscription boxes are tied to properties that I have little to no interest in. All of this prologue is to set up that I have found a box that has convinced me to finally pull the trigger. The box in question, the astute readers of this post's title will already know, is Retro Game Treasure. As its name would suggest, every month they send you 4-5 video games for a number of retro systems with a purported value of $35 or more. When you sign up you get to fill out a profile so that they know what systems you have or are interested in receiving games for. You also get to go through the more arduous process of listing out the games that you already own so that you can avoid duplicates. I’m going to give them at least three months before I decide whether to keep them around or not. The first box from Retro Game Treasures showed up at my door a  little while ago so let’s see how they do at making a first impression.


In a post CTE age, this game would never be NFL sanctioned.


NFL Blitz 2002 (2001, Playstation 2)
eBay value: ~$8 Complete

          I purposely left my preferences as open as possible to see what games they would send. Every system I own is fair game. That being said I'm not sure that this is the strongest start. Blitz 2002 is a fun game and great for couch co-op, so I am actually excited to bust this one out the next time that I have friends over for some gaming. Hell, it stands a fair chance of making an appearance on my friend’s YouTube channel at some point. However, I feel like this is putting a lot of pressure on the rest of the box to deliver on the value proposition. As listed above, a cursory eBay search reveals that you can snag this game for about $8 complete and shipped. The copy sent to me is not complete; it is missing the instruction manual. Not a deal breaker for me personally and not something I’m going to bother to hunt down, but given that, I’m going to value the copy sent to me at around $6. From a playability standpoint an arcade sports game is a fairly good start; monetarily it leaves something to be desired. Hopefully, the rest of the box can make up the remaining $29.

I can't help but feel that there is a better, Macross version of this game that Harmony Gold is blocking those of us in the United States from playing.


Robotech: Battlecry (2002, Xbox)
eBay value: $10 - $15

          This one makes things a bit more interesting. Robotech: Battlecry is an enjoyable game that does a good job of capturing the look and feel of its source material. Further, compared with other licensed titles it seems to have held on to its value better than most. The copy sent to me is indeed complete and in acceptable condition. My issue with this being in my box is revealing something that may prove problematic with allowing them to send me games of this generation in particular. Namely, I already own this game for a different system. I actually preordered the collector’s edition for the Gamecube back when it was originally released. While it might be fun to see if there are any dramatically noticeable differences between versions, that was less frequently the case by this era of gaming and I would have preferred something totally new to me in the box. This one is a miss on the gameplay front simply because I've already played it, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt on the monetary value and go with the high end. That puts us $21. Is there $14 more to be found?


I'm relieved that this is the official Carnival and not one of those fly-by-night counterfeit ones.


Carnival (1982?, Atari VCS)
eBay value: $7 - $8 loose

          This is more the kind of game that excited me about this subscription box. The 2600 is the system that I will buy anything and everything for. I try to curate my other systems games to a greater or lesser extent but the 2600 escapes this scrutiny. Therefore, I am always excited to add another missing game to my collection. The label is in pretty rough shape, all there but extremely water damaged. Still, loose copies of 35 year old games are more likely to show wear than they are not to so this is not too discouraging. This is the game in here that I am most happy with thus far. I would have been delighted had the entire box been like this. Monetarily this one is something of a conundrum. Given the water damage to the label I’m going to value this on the low end at $7 and, even then, I feel like I am being overly generous. A greater oddity and testament to the severity of the Video Game Crash of 1983 is that, while researching the eBay value, I found you can get a sealed new old stock copy of this game for ~$12. Makes me consider a label upgrade at some point. Overall, Retro Game Treasure gets a big thumbs up from me for this one, though depending on your personal video game tastes your mileage may vary. Valuing at $7 means that there is only $7 left to find in the box to make good on Retro Game Treasures claims. Is there truth in advertising?


The Original Trilogy: all the Lando and Ackbar you can handle, 100% Jar Jar free.


Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006, Nintendo DS)
eBay value: Trending at $6.95

          This is the final game I received and my feelings on it are somewhat mixed. I’ve always been skeptical of the DS ports of the Lego games. The graphics on the DS just don’t seem quite up to the task and, while I can handle downgraded specs for the sake of portability, this seems to go too far away from its console cousins in terms of presentation. Also, the Lego games are not ones I’ve ever felt the need to play so much as to necessitate a portable version. I’m also sad that it is the game card only. Any time a system provided hard plastic cases for their games I feel wrong when I end up with loose games in my collection. This holds true even for the Genesis and games for that console are over a decade older than what we are dealing with here. I’m not thrilled to find this in my box, but I don’t hate it either. Some stuff like this is to be expected given the random nature of the service. Value is trickier to unpack. This is the first game with a high enough volume of sales that eBay has a trending value for it. Digging through the listings complicates things as, while there are loose cards coming in both above and below the trending price, there are also complete copies available for less than the trending price. All of this makes me feel as though the trending price may not be the most reliable. However, absent overwhelmingly contradictory evidence, I’m still going to go with it. That $6.95 puts us $0.05 away from the stated value of $35. To be fair, I may have been overly harsh with Blitz 2002 and, even if I wasn’t, the sweet pixelated treasure chest box is easily worth more than the missing $0.05.

This is easily one of the coolest looking boxes you could find in your mailbox.


          In the end, what are my thoughts of Retro Game Treasure so far? To be honest, they have changed somewhat during the writing of this article. The game selection was somewhat hit and miss. I’m happy with Blitz and Carnival and would be happy with Robotech as well, if not for the fact that I already own the Gamecube version. Lego Star Wars is the only true miss for me but, again, that comes down mostly to taste and my desire for complete copies. Another slight knock would be that, with 3 games from the 2000’s in the mix, the retro label seems to be a slight stretch at least in the case of this particular box. In spite of these gripes, I am still feeling pretty good about this service. The fact is that they came in very close to the stated value which, honestly, surprises me quite a bit. At first glance, I didn’t think this box would be so close. It took the eBay research I did for this article to prove to me that they were on target. This wasn’t the grand slam subscription box that I hoped it would be, but it was fun nonetheless and I will actually use what they sent to me. I am encouraged to see where it goes in the coming months. If Retro Game Treasures service sounds interesting to you, subscriptions can be purchased here.

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