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Yesterday was one of those days that started on an off note and ended unexpectedly well. I made a small road trip to visit a cousin and some friends in Portland, Oregon and to just escape Idaho for a day or two. What was expected to be a weekend voyage has now stretched into the middle of the week thanks to a clutch that was out for vengeance in the pristine Oregon wilderness. I knew the clutch in my Toyota was slipping a bit and would soon need replacing but I expected to be able to limp back into Idaho without too much trouble and get it fixed later in the week. I was wrong and what had started as a fine morning had turned into a ride in a tow truck by lunchtime.

Fortunately, my friends were cool and let me chill at their place for an extra night or two as long as I was up for going out with them and another couple for Thai food. This is when the night got interesting. Right about now, I hear you grumbling about how this article has nothing to do with video games and has no place on videolamer. Let me justify myself. The couple that my friends and I met for dinner seemed nice at first, nothing overly awesome about them but they seemed like good people and the Thai food kicked ass. As the night went on, I learned that the guy, Mike, was as big of a video game nerd as myself but was slowly easing himself out of games in an effort to grow up. Why he would want to do this, I am not sure, but I digress.

Mike and I were discussing the finer points of Wii channels and I brought up some retro games I would like to see offered up for the SNES. The first game out of my mouth was Earthbound and when Mike heard this he got all excited and said, “I had that!” I was somewhat surprised by this because trying to find a copy of Earthbound is akin to spotting Jack Thompson’s penis on a cold day. Mike also went on to declare that he had pretty much every SNES RPG at one point or another in his childhood and as an aside he mentioned that many of them were tucked away in a bin in his closet. Inside, I was screaming out, “Let me see! Let me see!” but on the surface I kept my James Bond-like demeanor.

Mike is a pretty smart guy. He is an engineer and works for a very well known company. Mike did not know that his old Super Nintendo cartridges were worth anything. Being the veteran geek he was, I expected him to have an inkling that some of the titles may be of value but he did not. I mentioned to him that some of them may be worth something and at that statement, he perked up. Several minutes later Mike ninja’d his way out of the living room and reappeared with a big blue rubber bin in hand. He squished past my other friends who had written Mike and I off as geeking out and dropped the bin at my feet, “Here they are!”

I felt like a little kid being given the keys to the candy store. I pried back the lid and heard a satisfying, “plop” as the lid exhaled a breath of early-90s bliss into the apartment. It turns out Mike was a spoiled kid and the blue container was home to the better part of a hundred or so cartridges, almost all of them SNES. I started sorting through the cartridges and reeled off prices as I went. He was double checking me on the internet. Mike soon learned that I am an ex-video game store employee and that the prices I was quoting him were fairly accurate. Somewhere in the middle of the bin I hit the mother lode of amazingness. Earthbound! Final Fantasy 2 and 3! ChronoTrigger! Breath of Fire 1 and 2! The Secret of Mana! Super Mario RPG!

This guy had practically every valuable game in the SNES catalog. The Earthbound cartridge was a special treat, it was only the second one I had ever seen in real life. When I told this to Mike, he nonchalantly told me I could have it if I wanted it so badly because he didn’t have a working console to play it on. Had I been a lesser, slightly more fiendish person I would have slid the cartridge into my coat and prodded my friends to make a hasty escape before Mike looked up Earthbound on the website I had told him to use to check values. When it comes to SNES games, there are few titles as scarce as Earthbound, and its ghost-like status requires nerds who wish to possess it have thick wallets and tenacious hunting skills.

“Mike, that game is worth about $100 without the box or manual. If you had the complete package this would be worth around $250.”

“Holy shit! You can’t have it anymore…”

“I guessed that.”

By the end of the night, I had all of Mike’s games sorted into three piles, ranging from rare to worthless. The rare pile contained about twenty games, some of which he had doubles of for some mysterious reason. Mike was pretty insistent on putting everything up on Ebay and he actually just sent me the link to his initial offerings. If you care to check it out, they can be found at his eBay store.

I also figured I would show some pics so you would know that I wasn’t spinning a mighty web of lies:

So there you have it, my automotive misfortune turned into another guy’s pay day. It was a pretty fun experience just to see a couple of games I had when I was a kid and a bunch I wish I had now. Oh, if you want to use the price guide I advised Mike use, it’s here.

I used to have a better site that I went to for prices but that one has since gone to a subscription based model so you have to pay to use it. Lame. Anywho, last night was a pretty good night filled with geekery and games. I just wish they were mine.

7 Comments

  1. DeeMer said on March 19, 2009:

    What’s that one in the corner? North of Chrono Trigger and East of FFIII?

  2. christian said on March 19, 2009:

    DeeMer, are you talking about the one on the far right of the top row? Looks like Secret of Mana to me.

  3. GJ said on March 19, 2009:

    Although this may strike you as odd (me being a jew and all), but I’d have given you a game or two if I was Mike, especially if he had doubles, for your services. That stuff could have rotted, or you could have taken a game worth $250, or you could have been less forthcoming. Pretty cool story though, but it’s like finding treasure and then having to give it to Microsoft for free.

  4. DeeMer said on March 20, 2009:

    Ahh, but of course! Maybe if I fiddle with these little buttons on the monitor…

  5. Michelle said on March 21, 2009:

    My god! If I had stumbled upon all of those I think I would have had a heart attack! What a good find.

    I think you did the right thing though… reminds me of the time I found a immaculate Samba de Amigo (boxed and with perfect maracas) cheap in a second hand store – only it was my friends birthday.

    I let him have it, but it still hurts to this day. :(

  6. Tyson said on May 25, 2010:

    It’s funny that this article was the randomly generated one that I spotted today, especially after Christian posted his belated Earthbound wrap-up.

    As a follow up to my story, Mike was able to sell all of his games on Ebay and made several hundred bucks in the process. A few days after I originally posted this article, Mike emailed me asking for my mailing address and I told him very sternly not to send me anything as a reward because he had talked about splitting his profits with me earlier. I sorted that dude’s collection to be nice, not to make money.

    I talked briefly with Mike a couple of days ago and he announced to me that the reason he had asked for my address was because he had planned on sending me Earthbound as a reward for helping him. Did this sting a little, yes, but I still think I did the right thing…despite the fact I could be cradling a copy of that sweet game right now.

    Whether anyone will read this update or not, I don’t know but I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that Mike had been cool about the whole thing too and did offer me something for my services.

  7. jay said on May 26, 2010:

    Pat and I bought (we are married) a copy of Earthbound recently that’s a bit rattley. Should’ve goten in touch with this Mike person…

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