Every few months, an eBay auction arises where some poor schlub — racked with debt, pursued by loan sharks with tire irons — is forced to sell the retro-gaming collection he’s amassed over decades. This NES collection currently on eBay is just such: every gray NES cartridge ever released in America (no Zeldas, friends), including two that were held back from production except for reviewer copies: the elusive Final Fantasy II and California Raisins.
Think of what it took to put this together. Think of the millions of feverish prayers mumbled skyward to a Mario God every time a flea market shoebox full of games was rooted through. Think of the grease-stained rivulets of sweat cascading down one lone collector’s pustulent face as he scrimped and saved on a fry cook’s salary for that elusive copy of Final Fantasy II. I am not entirely a monster: my heart yearns to help him, to make his treasure my own. I go for the “Buy It Now” button, only $3,800.
Then the monster in me goes WTF. Every NES game for $3,800 is certainly a sweet deal… until you realize that with a slight somersault of your ethics, you could get them all in one Bittorrent mega-pack for $3,800 less… including Zeldas.
It’s still awesome to see this dedication, of course. It’s sad to see games so lovingly collected sold against the collector’s will. But with emulation being what it is, collectibility is the only value carts still have: monetary worth informed only by redundant nostalgia for an obsolete media format when the games themselves have ascended to fresher technology. Utterly meta collectibility: the future of nostalgia, as media digitally escapes the shackles of its delivery.