RB Retro Collecting Interview 005
Those that have known me for a while know I grew up as a die-hard Sega fan and that company’s legacy still holds a special place in my heart. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that one of my favorite online buddies shares (and even exceeds) this enthusiasm to Nintendo’s former nemesis. G from G to the Next Level produces one of my favorite gaming Youtube channels with a personal touch and has also helped as a contributor to Racketboy pieces such as the Rarest and Most Valuable Genesis Games (plus the Sega CD and Saturn installments).
Just a couple years ago, G finished off his US Retail Sega Genesis Collection, but he also has an impressive 32X, Sega CD, Playstation Vita and Sonic memorabilia collection as well. With me being a more minimalist collector personally, I had a great conversation with G about what its like to build a more thorough, but focused collection while keeping things reasonable and under control.
Of course, we dig into some other random tangents along the way, but I hope you enjoy this new interview installment. Be sure to check out G’s Youtube channel when you get the chance too! If you happen to be working on an ambitious Sega (or Nintendo for that matter) collection, I’m curious to hear your take on these collecting topic and how you approach things as well! Feel free to share in the comments below. Anyway, lets get to the discussion with G!…
- Name: George
- Age: 30-something
- Current Location: Houston, Texas
- Collecting For: About 20 years
Building a Complete Retail Sega Genesis Collection + Related Libraries
What have been your “official” guidelines for you to feel content in your complete collection journey?
First, when collecting I have to determine if I care enough about the consoles to want to collect for. Sega consoles have higher priority in any of my collections, so I tend to focus more on their systems. I do try to play as many games in my collection as I can so I try not to fill my shelves with games that I have lower or no emotional attachment to.
Second, if I love a system enough I determine if it’s feasible to attain a full set. Some systems may be fun to hunt for but if there are certain titles that aren’t realistically attainable (looking at you, Master System, with its “sticker” games), I don’t worry about it. My most recent system I’ve fallen in love with enough to go for a full set is the PlayStation Vita.
Third, I’ll only part with games that I know I won’t have any sort of use for later and/or if the game I’m aiming to trade for is rare enough. I ask myself these questions normally before I let go of a game:
- Will I want to play this game again in the future?
- Will it be harder and/or more expensive to replace later on if I want to?
- Do I have plans to cover it on my YouTube channel or to livestream someday?
- Is it a Sega game? (Then, the answer is an immediate no) *winks*
For example, I parted with a large chunk of my PlayStation and Gameboy Advance collections to trade for a complete copy of Keio Flying Squadron on Sega CD a few years ago. Looking back at it, there were a few games I regret letting go to make that trade happen, but sometimes you have to look at the ability of finding the game in question again. It was the right call and sometimes you have to sacrifice for a “holy grail” such as that, Snatcher, Panzer Dragoon Saga, etc..
There are times I want to own every game in a series that I love. As of today, I’m on a quest to complete my Klonoa and Animal Crossing collections and aren’t far from completing either of them. It may be to film, write a retrospective on a series, or for other reasons.
And finally, just have fun. If it stops being fun to collect for it, then it isn’t worth doing.
What pieces are you missing from the non-standard US retail releases?
On the Genesis, I’m really only missing the Heartbeat Monitor titles (Outback Joey & NHLPA Hockey) and a few of the elusive collector’s sets that came out such as the Maximum Carnage QVC set (which has been a white whale of mine for years), the Woolworth’s Batman Forever set, or the Ecco the Dolphin Aquarium set. But I suppose that depends on if you count Collector’s Editions as part of a set. The other non-Sega system I am a heavy collector for is the PlayStation Vita, in which I have all of the US releases so far, including all the physical releases from Limited Run Games, VBlank Entertainment, and FanGamer.
Any other additions you’re looking for to round things out?
I have all of the US retail-released Genesis cartridges, but not all of them are complete in box. Some are missing manuals, some don’t have the original art, some have box art inserts that I would love to replace, but that’s further down the priority. The most daunting task of the cart collecting is done, the rest is a bonus for me.
However, there are a few of the bigger titles in my collection that sorely need new box art (like Skeleton Krew, Trouble Shooter, and the most painful of them all, Crusader of Centy) that I know will cost me so a time will come that I will want to make that happen.
Beyond the standard cartridges, I also keep on the lookout for boxes of accessories for the Genesis that I may not have as well. I stick the first-party releases for this, so items like the Activator, Menacer, the official Sega Wireless 6-button controller, or even off-beat officially licensed 3rd-party items like the Batter Up and Pro TeeVee Golf club controllers are definitely in my sights.
Do you ever deal in variants?
Not unlike comic books, my thoughts on collecting variants can alter wildly because it can be a slippery slope. I guess it really depends on the game and the art, and if a variant release of a previous title may have additional content on it.
In all my collections I tend to avoid “Greatest Hits” variants because while they can be cheaper in many cases, the art tends to stick out like a sore thumb on the wall amidst the other games. This goes double for PlayStation 1 games because to me, that green label spine is an eyesore. However, sometimes I will get a Greatest Hits variant if there is a sizable difference in exclusive content, such as Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution on PS2, which is only available as a Greatest Hits release, or the GH variations of Jet Moto 2 & Twisted Metal 2 on PSOne, as they are updated versions of the game.
As for Genesis, aside from the Sonic Mega Drive games as I’d love to get all the region variants of the original (quad)trilogy, I tend to stick to the original releases when I can. The Majesco paper box releases of previous games are a perfect example of what I try to avoid, but sometimes you gotta take the deal when you can. It does irk me a bit that my Konami Genesis release of Castlevania Bloodlines is the original clamshell case, but my Contra Hard Corps is the paper re-release. But I’ve learned to live with it. (laughs)
Any plans to hunt down a Contra Hard Corps plastic case?
Absolutely. However, both versions are missing the game’s name from the cart label so at least I don’t have to worry about that (but still check the back of the cart though). I know I have a few more Ballistic/Majesco re-releases in my collection and I’ll get to them someday, but it’s not a super high priority either.
How often did you deal with eBay for acquisitions?
During my quest to complete my US Genesis retail set, I used eBay very little as I tried to get as much of it locally as I could and still do today. However, as time has moved on, turning to eBay and other online sources have now become more frequent for me.
Since I have most of the more common titles that I want in my collection, the more uncommon and off-beat games that I’m looking for don’t show up locally very often. In my area, just finding Sega games in general in the wild or in retail stores are becoming much more sporadic so eBay has become more of an option for me now than ever.
Did you deal with multi-game lots often in the beginning?
Unfortunately during my early days of collecting, I didn’t have the extra funds to go for multi-game lots, and even today I don’t really go for them. I realize that sometimes it may be the only way to get one particular game or the thought of using the other games as trade fodder or ways to sell my way up to a heavy hitter game I want, but it hasn’t been a viable option. I can say at least locally that getting those kind of deals are becoming scarcer as people are a lot more alert of trends in the hobby.
As much as garage sales, swap meets, and dealing with multi-game lots can be fun to sift through, between my career and YouTube, I just don’t have the bonus time to go that route anymore.
Have you ever bought a sealed game just to make sure all the pieces are mint and it has all the inserts? I’ve personally been considering it on some cheaper classics that have the cardboard boxes and/or have a lot of inserts.
I don’t really mess with sealed games unless the price is right. I understand there is something to breaking the seal for the first time, but it’s not a factor for me cause sealed games tend to be more than I’d like to spend. Normally, if the game has the case and manual, it’s alright with me. Although, I know there are some Genesis releases that came with posters that I do not have and would love to get my hands on, but it’s not a super high priority.
What has been your goal on collecting manuals, inserts, etc?
Aside from Game Gear, anything Sega my point of entry has to be case and game for cartridges (manual preferred but if the price is right, manuals can be added later), but all CD-based Sega games need all three for me. I don’t bother with loose CD games on any console. As for inserts (like warranty cards or magazine ads), it’s not a necessity for me.
However, I am now paying more attention to posters that are included. Perfect example is the infamous Home Improvement on Super Nintendo, where the manual is a “fake” manual that just has a 2-page insert that says “Real Men Don’t Need Instructions” (which has not aged well, by the way), but the poster that came with the game has the real instructions on the back of it. I just recently picked this up and made sure that the poster was included. Also, any more ways I can cover my walls with game posters is alright with me.
How picky are you on the condition of the packaging (especially on the cardboard) and do you ever swap out “upgraded” pieces?
I’m not a super stickler on condition, as long as it’s in good shape and doesn’t have super visible tears and warping, but it also depends on price. Water damage and sun fading is an absolute no-go for me though. Some of my Genesis games I have swapped out the sleeves for, but not too much other than that.
In my CD-based games collection though, I will easily get a pack of empty CD jewel cases and swap out the broken and cracked cases in my collection.
What are some details about Genesis collecting that the average retro gamer might not think about?
I believe many Genesis fans are still not really aware of Majesco’s and Ballistic’s re-releases of many titles near the end of the console’s lifespan. Several Konami games like Castlevania Bloodlines and Contra Hard Corps, Tengen games such as Paperboy 2, random games like Beavis & Butt-head, and even some of Sega’s own games such as Sonic 1 and 2 got re-released, many times with black and white manuals instead of their original color counterparts.
Also, when collecting for Genesis titles, be sure to check the actual cart labels for many of Sega’s later released titles for the system, as they could possibly be part of the “Mega Hit Series,” their own Greatest Hits series of releases. These games are discernible by a yellow strip on the box and the cart label, so be sure to check the cart if you see a “black label” box.
One other unique detail I could mention are on the back of some of the manuals of Genesis games that advertise games that were in the works but unfortunately cancelled, such as the ones for Absolute’s Goofy’s Hysterical History Tour and Core Design’s Skeleton Krew, which have ads for the cancelled Genesis versions of Home Improvement and Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures on the back. That’s a real shame because I would have loved to see the Indiana Jones game make it to the Genesis.
G’s Setup for Actually Playing that Sega Collection
What’s your favorite hardware configurations for playing Genesis/32X/SCD games? What are other possible configurations you consider for different circumstances (emulation can be included)
I love all of Sega’s iterations of the Genesis & Sega CD hardware (well, maybe not the Genesis 3), but my favorite ever has to be the JVC X’Eye / Wondermega. Their sleek combination of the Genesis and Sega CD combined with a Karaoke machine was my configuration of choice up until I got my HDRetrovision Genesis Component Cables & RetroTink 2X. Now I can play all three on original hardware in 480p, although when I am recording video footage for my YouTube channel I use the Retro Freak for Genesis capture in 720p until I get my hands on an Analogue Mega SG (with a TerraOnion Mega SD for good measure!). [since this interview started, he has since got his hands on one]
Game Collecting Tactics, Philosophy & Lessons
What has been some of your personal tactics to get the pieces you want while keeping your costs under control?
For me, it’s not so much tactics as much as it is budgeting. Sometimes I can trade my way to larger priced items with other items in my collection (mainly Nintendo/Sony for Sega stuff) but I just try to stay within a budget and know when to wait it out to get a game that I want if the current value is too high.
I recently traded many Amiibo figures in my collection to get a complete copy of Action 52 on the Genesis. Shows where my priorities are. 😉
What do you wish you would have known near the beginning of your completion quest that you knew now?
Like most retro game collectors, I guess the hindsight of knowing to collect sooner than later would have been beneficial. The Genesis is the one game system that I hardly ever sold any games for even when I was younger so that isn’t really a factor, but had I known to go a bit harder in collecting years before it became more mainstream, I would have completed my quest sooner.
What advice would you give to somebody that is considering a similar endeavor? Which could include criteria to either scale back or go forward.
Sega collecting is tough to read right now. It feels like it is at its highest currently so I would be tempted to say wait it out until the majority collectors move on to the next hot console to hunt for, but with Sega CD and Saturn holding their high values for years, it would be tempting to say get what you can now.
The best advice I could probably say is to stay focused in your collection. It might be tempting to try to go after multiple consoles at once, and it might take a bit longer but once you complete it, it just feels so much more satisfying. Trust me, it took me well over a decade to finish my retail US Genesis collection. Don’t get discouraged, be patient for good deals, and get what you really want out of your collection.
What advice would you give to those that want a modest collection other than just games they personally enjoy? What type of details on the physical items give you the most satisfaction or minimize regret?
It can be tempting to just grab as many games for a system when collecting, especially when you’re first starting out. I’ve been a culprit of that in the past, but it really comes down to seeking what kind of games you like on the system that you haven’t played yet. I.E., if you’re a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, maybe try High Seas Havoc. If you enjoy Truxton, perhaps try Fire Shark (which I LOVE, by the way).
For me, the most satisfaction while collecting comes in the journey to get there. If there is a story that happens in the quest, new friends that I meet, or find people that I can help in collecting, that’s the most I could ever ask for. That’s why I love making YouTube videos so much. If I can help someone learn more about games, collecting, and to be able to share fun stories about our hobby, I’m more than satisfied.
What games do you like the physical printed materials the most?
This is a tough one because there are so many great examples!
I think some of my favorites have to be X-Men 2’s Clone Wars with its flashy card art (the original release, not the Mega Hit Series version), El Viento (especially the Japanese version art), Mega Turrican, Shinobi III, Atomic Runner, MUSHA, Thunder Force III, Ranger X, and so many others.
Do you store cardboard boxes differently to help preserve?
Though I have not encased all of my cardboard boxes in them, I am in the process of placing my cardboard boxes for all systems in acid-free plastic box protectors. The only issue with that is that unlike my Nintendo collections, my Genesis collection is mixed with hardshell and cardboard cases, so that might make them look a bit awkward on the shelf in alphabetical order.
Even the best of us collectors have a bit of OCD in them so I’ll keep you all posted on that!
What online resources were most helpful for you in collecting?
Multiple websites have been super helpful, such as SegaRetro.org (currently down), Sega-16.com, SegaNerds, Sega Collectors, and other Retro Facebook pages. YouTube channels such as My Life in Gaming, MetalJesusRocks, and Game Sack have been great as well. GameValueNow.com and of course checking sold listings on eBay have helped me with values.
And of course… racketboy.com for helping me learn the vast details in collecting that I wasn’t even aware of. 😉
In addition to these resources, were there any particular checklists or resources you used in your journey in making sure you had your collection goals met? Or to educate yourself on things like re-releases and manual variations? Or is it mostly like reading up on forums, watching videos, etc?
As far as for the Genesis goes, I still have yet to find any fully accurate checklists but I just kept up with what was being released on the console to know what games I still needed for my collection. For the PlayStation Vita, The PSO Archive has been a fantastic source as they constantly update their checklist for when any new games are coming out for the Vita (which its time is drawing near, unfortunately). Any other knowledge I tend to consume from watching fellow YouTubers’ videos and various message boards and sources like Sega-16. So I had to somewhat manually check to ensure my retail Genesis set was complete.
As for re-releases and manual variations, in the past I wasn’t super familiar with how they can be different, which makes things especially tricky now that I’m trying to fill the manual holes in my collections. Some are super fascinating such as the Canadian variant of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis (which uses the PAL box art, but is branded Genesis instead of Mega Drive), so my ears always tend to perk up when a variant is spotted that I had never seen before.
I applaud you for making an effort to playing the games you buy to avoid simply stockpiling. What’s your process, routine, or goals for experiencing a full library? Any kind of mental notes you make? (like how it utilized the the hardware, etc)
To be honest, I hadn’t really thought of any sort of routine or process for playing through a full collection too deeply, but now I definitely need to!
I’m normally of the school of thought that you should play what interests you the most, but if I had to say a process of playing an entire library of games would be to start with what people would consider the “essentials” or “fundamentals” of that console. For example, a Sega Genesis library I’d say play your key games first: Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, OutRun, etc, before digging into some of the more obscure stuff.
Then, I’d say pick out certain titles that really drew you to the system that may not be in the eyes of many as essentials. Going back to Genesis, I’d say games like El Viento, Alisia Dragoon, E-Swat, Warsong, Mega Turrican, Mutant League Hockey…whatever are the obscure ones that really piqued your interest.
Next, experience the games that have historical precedence. Games that really show off what the console can do is a good first step, such as Virtua Racing, Ristar, Phantasy Star IV, Zero Tolerance, etc.
Finally, don’t sweat it if you can’t play all of them. There are going to be filler titles that you won’t have much interest in (for me it’s the glut of sports games on the Genesis, or the Lego titles on the PlayStation Vita), so I would reserve that time digging deeper into the catalog, especially on the ones that you’ve never played that you want to.
It’s all about the games you want to play the most.
So what is your procedure for “upgrading” some of your pieces that need better case artwork or manuals? Do you search for separate items (like cases/manuals) or fully complete and sell the extra pieces? Do you use any tools like eBay alerts, etc?
It vastly depends on the game. Some games it is easier to search for the case, manual or inserts separately, while others it’s just easier to buy a CIB set and sell your loose components after. A good example of this is Crusader of Centy on the Genesis. I see more Box Only listings on eBay (which is all I need to complete my copy) for that game than CIB listings, which is better because that is a heavy money sink to buy a CIB and then try to resell the loose bits.
Meanwhile, my Spider-Man Web of Fire on 32X was cart only and it was much easier to buy it CIB and then sell my loose copy because it wasn’t as big of a hit in the pocketbook (plus I was able to trade some games to offset the cost).
I have a list in my Google Keep that I update for the missing box art I need and the ones that I feel need an upgrade that once I’m ready to find it, I set eBay alerts for the saved search on the separate items I need for that game.
I may not be a super stickler for pristine condition on games but I do have my limits and there are a few games that I feel I will replace for condition. However, it’s not a high priority for me right now.