The popularity of retro video games continues to grow – Le Devoir

Don’t be too quick to throw away those old PlayStation 2 games, they could soon be worth a fortune. Because video games never die. Whether in 8-bit, on cassette or on floppy disk. As long as it’s still in good condition… and it’s not the Rock Band drum kit.

“There’s really demand for everything, everything, everything,” asserts Dominic Bourret, co-founder and co-owner of the retro MTL boutique in Montreal’s Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district. “Except for accessories like those from Rock Band. Everyone has this in their basement and it no longer has any real value. But the Atari consoles, ColecoVision, Intellivision, everything that came before the first Nintendo console, we try to always have them in stock, they sell out pretty quickly. »

Retro MTL is an up-and-coming institution in Montreal and has been buying and selling video game items since 2017. It started online and in 2019 the store opened its doors. The expansion continued until last month when Retro MTL inaugurated brand new premises, still on Hochelaga Street. In these 2023-worthy spaces, you can still immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the video clubs of the 1990s. The same smell of popcorn, the same long rows of shelves stacked with game packages.

“I am 44 years old and spent my childhood in video stores. That touched me very much. » Dominic Bourret, a trained graphic designer, designed the store’s interior to give it the slightly vintage style of a pre-internet video club. He even gave birth to two mascots for Retro MTL. Under the moniker Papa Cassette, he also hosts a podcast and YouTube channel about retro games that, like fine wine, have aged well (more or less).

Dominic Bourret is therefore the ideal contact for World Video Game Day, which this year takes place on Saturday, November 18th. This video game day was introduced in France in 2010. If there’s one day of the year when you can dust off your old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or even Atari 2600 or ColecoVision consoles if that’s what you have in the closet, this is it.

Super Mario is back

Because life is sometimes beautiful, Nintendo released Super Mario RPG on November 17th. It is an updated version of the original role-playing game courtesy of Square Enix, released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo console (SNES). This time the game can be downloaded on the Switch console.

The enthusiasm is much greater today than it was three decades ago. Like vinyl records, retro gaming, as it is commonly called, could reach its peak in 2023. In any case, we see this with Google, the parent company of YouTube.

Mario’s enormous commercial success is no stranger to this phenomenon. The world of the famous Italian-Japanese plumber is so emblematic that the content linked to this franchise has more than 100 billion views on the YouTube platform, where the evolution of the fashion for historical video games is easily quantified: the platform video counts 1000 times more Downloads of retro gaming-related videos in 2023 than in 2007.

Super Mario RPG is expected to reinforce this trend. The new game plays the nostalgia card to the fullest. The gaming experience attempts to recreate what captivated a generation of young gamers 27 years ago. This new work arrives barely a month after the equally notable release of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the first traditional 2D Super Mario game since 2012.

The nostalgics are catered for… but still not too much. Younger players will never know the days when you could count the number of Mario lives on one hand, or when you had to practice all night to master the turtle jump at the bottom of a staircase to generate hundreds more lives.

Another era

At least one other element distinguishes us from the 1990s. In 2023, it is impossible to get on the bike and visit the neighborhood video store to rent a copy of the game for the modest sum of 5 or 6 dollars, which we are going to try out within the allotted rental period, that is, depending Case 24 to 48 hours to complete.

At the end of the last millennium, visiting a video store was an experience in itself. It’s impossible to relive that era for one simple reason: there are no more video stores. This fashion is finally over. Console makers Microsoft and Sony have made their own little digital transformation. Their catalogs are offered in the form of a monthly subscription or the games are purchased individually directly on the television.

In any case, the best games currently available in stores are games from another time. Mostly used. “We buy games every day. We have reserved a large space for this: we inspect, check and buy back or give a credit,” says Dominic Bourret. Retro MTL has purchased two reprocessing machines at a high price that restore worn-out DVDs to near-new condition.

The price is worth it: Some games that were purchased 20 years ago for $20 and came in their original packaging with the booklet still in good condition may be worth $200 or even $500 today. Not all of them, of course, but as with anything collectible, there are some overpriced rarities: Little Samson on the NES costs around $3,500 (note to those who have that…). Star Fox Super Weekend on SNES is worth $3,000. The Donkey Kong Country Competition cartridge can be worth up to $5,000 in its box.

“We received some of them. Let’s say customers would like to leave our house with $2,000 in their pocket,” laughs Dominc Bourret.

That’s a sum that could be sensibly invested in… more video games, what else? Like 1996’s 8-bit Mario, the video game still has several lives left in the bank.

To watch in the video