It doesn’t matter the year; we humans always fall prey to nostalgia by reminiscing sweet moments from our past. Almost every gamer nowadays, both casual and hardcore could tell you which particular retro game console started everything for them.
But for most of us, as we become adults, responsibilities with work and family made us stray away from our beloved consoles, at least for a while.
But the joy of grabbing our controller or our favorite old handheld game system and reliving past (and highly pixelated) adventures will be engraved in our memories forever.
I will honor your feelings with this guide intended to make sure you are making the proper purchases. After all, we are not in the ’90s anymore, and some of the techs we want are really old.
Best Old Game Systems To Buy
Here are the five best old game systems money can buy in 2021.
1. Nintendo GameCube
Sorry to break it to you, but this bad boy already surpassed the twenty-year-old mark. They have been discontinued for more than then years, so chances are the average cube is older than most of your kids!
The good old cube had a rough time initially, having to face the best console of all time on one hand and a console that surpassed it in online capabilities on the other. But here, I believe the cube won the long game, as its titles stood the test of time way better than its competitors.
Exclusive games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Metroid Prime, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker left their mark on us, but also some third-party companies took advantage of the surprisingly versatile capabilities of the cube's engine and gave us gems like Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil.
2. Sega Genesis
Back in the ‘90s, when everyone thought the big N was invincible, Sega stood up with a new and exciting console that little by little became an excellent alternative. The jump to the 16 bits was an exciting time, but I was among the few that actually ignored the debate about which console was better.
I loved my Genesis as much as I loved my SNES. I would have my favorite games of each console, and I believe I pretty much played them in equal measure.
It doesn't matter if you were a Nintendo fan; I am sure you will find it worthwhile to get your hands on one of these black beauties.
The game catalog is gigantic, and in some games like Gunstar Heroes, the humble Genesis definitely stood at the same level as the best SNES games, at least when it comes to graphics.
3. Nintendo Entertainment System
It is incredible to think that there are still things to be said about the legendary NES, a console that represented a before and after in a somewhat cryptic gaming scene.
Do not forget that it was the NES, the one who made "playing video games at home" a mainstream theme in almost every household in the world.
Nowadays, this beloved console stands among the favorites of collectors and players due to its extensive game library and the nostalgia that they bring.
However, do not let the simplicity of the games fool you. The constraints of that time forced developers to become more creative, with some NES games being absolute masterpieces, with complex storytelling and even convoluted gameplay that in some aspects is better than many things I see nowadays.
Luckily for us, Nintendo built the NES to last. You can still get your hands on one in excellent condition for a considerably low price.
4. PlayStation 1
The PS1 is among the best sellers of the gaming industry, and for a good reason. Sony's groundbreaking console was another pivotal element that changed the gaming world forever.
From a design standpoint, the PS1 has been acclaimed for its compact build and its controllers that had the classic projections we see on the sides to handle them better.
Also, with the PS1, we became used to memory cards for the first time. Things like saving our progress and then playing it on any console with the game indeed made things easier for many of us.
The jump to the 3D world was challenging, but Sony kept its cool and focused on making alliances with as many third-party game developers as possible. This move was probably the main reason why this console was so successful. By its launch, the game catalog was already enormous, beating its competitors by a large margin.
5. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Every person has a thing with the SNES that captivated them at the beginning. For some, it was the superior graphics and sound effects, others praised its ability to create synthesized voices, and some favored its varied game catalog.
And then it was me. I was probably the only one who was freaking out over... shoulder buttons! Hear me out. Do not disregard the ergonomics of the SNES controller and all the possibilities unleashed from having those L and R buttons in game design.
Think about it. From pointing diagonally in Super Metroid to enabling some crazy combos in fighting games, the level of complexity derived from an extra pair of triggers was astounding.
I am so grateful that the big N built these things to resist heavy usage, so we are still on time to put one into our special place reserved from the most incredible gaming consoles of all time.
Buyer’s Guide For Old Game Systems
The factors below will help you get as much value out of your purchase as possible.
You may want to pick those gaming systems that have a vast catalog of games to choose from. Irrespective of you being a collector or just a gamer that wants to taste past glories, having more variety usually correlates with more fun.
Thankfully, most old gaming systems are way above the 500 games mark, so that is a good starting point.
You can go through the game library and see if the games available seem attractive to you, although I do not advise judging old games for their covers (some are pretty terrible), so reading a few reviews should suffice.
Of course, this is assuming you want to make an efficient purchase where you get something that actually reflects the amount of money you are paying. Some old consoles in mint condition (they exist) can be pricey, so this may be something you would like to keep in mind.
That said, the average retro gaming console should be affordable and be in excellent condition, ready to work for many more years. Please also note that while the console may be cheap, it is likely that some of the games are on the expensive side like happens with the SNES and games like Earthbound.
Be mindful that there are many bad people out there who will not think twice to scam you. It is paramount that you get your beloved retro gaming consoles from reputable stores that actually test every piece of hardware they sell.
Every store owner who respects themselves will save you the trouble of having to return a malfunctioning console or game.
A nice warranty period of at least two months and the provision of technical assistance are good signs that you are dealing with honest sellers. A close inspection of the console will also offer signs of abuse, making sure no cracks or pieces are missing.
FAQs About Old Game Systems
Here are some frequently asked questions about old game systems.
What are old game systems worth?
The price of an old game system may vary according to its condition and use. Regular condition used consoles may be under the $100 mark, but sometimes they are sold in bundles, including some games and other peripherals. In these cases, you can find good deals between the $150 and $250 mark.
Games are a different animal. Things like the rarity of a title and how conserved they are can make the prices of some games skyrocket. However, you can get most games for under $50, so it is not that hard to get a nice collection of titles little by little.
Where can I buy old game systems?
You have a lot of options when it comes to buying your retro game console. However, in many, you have a significant risk of being scammed. So, our personal advice is to refrain from using sites like eBay and Craigslist. Seriously, we have read and heard enough horror stories of people being sent a log instead of the consoles. Truly heartbreaking.
Here I will advise you to go with the little guy. Find a suitable store dedicated to sell games and take a look a the reviews. Ask yourself: Do they offer full refunds? Do they offer warranties? What about technical support?
Triple yes? Then go for it.
Do they still manufacture old game systems?
Not exactly. While it is true that retro game consoles were discontinued decades ago, there is some trend of releasing “mini” versions of the consoles with prepackaged games inside.
I personally don't count these new lite consoles as new manufactures of their respective systems. I prefer investing in a classic console, as they are not limited in the number of games and hold value much better.
The fact they don't make them anymore is usually an incentive for people to get them and store them as relics. So make sure to get some before it is too late!
How do I get rid of old game consoles?
Believe it or not, I get this question often. I get it, retro gaming is not for everyone. There are plenty of people that think video games are childish or too time-consuming.
If you are one of these fellows, then your options are highly diverse, as your ways of getting rid of your console range from a simple garage sale to post it on a website like eBay or Craigslist.
For the sake of honesty and integrity, make sure the consoles and games you want to sell are thoroughly tested and functioning.
ConclusionEven in this era of technological advances and realistic graphics, there will always be some old-school gamer interested in getting old game systems. Maybe because of curiosity, for collecting purposes, or just simple nostalgia, retro game consoles are being bought in high numbers every year.
We hope this article served as a starting point in deciding what to buy and as a guide of what you need to look at while making your purchase.
Following these simple rules of thumb will surely make you land a great deal that will translate into hours of joy for you and your loved ones.