In what is the coolest jobs I've ever had, I write about toys for a living. All day, nothing but toys. It's amazing. When I'm not writing at work I'm writing at home, either working on my screenplay or my children's novel. When I'm not doing any of that I try to get in some video game time. I'm currently rocking Nintendo only consoles because dammit, I love Nintendo. More than Nintendo, I love platform games. Even though my favorite game isn't a platformer (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker), it is my favorite genre of games.
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/thekillerbees and add me to your 3DS Friends List (1633-4277-3240 and let me know so I can add you to mine.) I'd love to meet some people who want play some Kid Icarus, Resident Evil: Revelations and Mario Kart 7.
It probably all started with Funco Land, the destruction of the video game industry. Thatís the first place I ever remember trading in a game. I canít remember what game it was, but I do remember what I bought with the money: a used copy of Aero the Acrobat. God that game was terrible. Anyway, clearly my actions of trading in a game and buying a used one was the first domino to fall in the inevitable closure of Sunsoft America. I am a monster.
That was almost 20 years ago (holy shit Iím old!!!). Since then, the video game trade-in industry has expanded. Gamestop is the undisputed king of the practice, but its success has attracted competition. RIght now, gamers have a wide variety of avenues to trade-in their games. With my recent drive to shrink my collection of games to ones I actually want/play, Iíve gone out of my way to try each and every service to see which one is better. For years Gamestop got all my business. Now, thanks to the free market, I have options. ToysíRíUs, Best Buy, Target and Amazon.com all have trade-in programs; seeing as most Gamestops are located near at least one of those businesses I donít have to go far to shop around. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but there is one clear winner.
Gamestop has been doing this a while so there is no doubt that they have their shit together. Gamestop is the only retailer where every employee is able to complete a trade-in. Depending on how busy a store is, Gamestop customers can usually get in and out pretty quickly.
Best Buy would be a close second. Only the videogame employees can do the trade ins and they are usually available. If more employees could do a trade in, Best Buy would be an easy choice for the winner in this category (due to the high ratio contrast between Gamestop and Best Buy employees). ToysíRíUs is in the same boat, but its not the videogame employees who do the trade-ins, instead relying on the return center. The process is notably slower at ToysíRíUs compared to Best Buy.
Targetís trade-in system is actually faster than ToysíRíUs, but from my experience the only employees who can do the trade-ins are the cell phone sales people. There isnít always one around, theyíre not scheduled from open to close and everyone else in the videogames department is not only useless, but quite stupid to the entire process.
There is nothing convenient about Amazon.comís process of trading in games. Printing up the form, packing it, going to UPS Store to mail it off and then waiting for the game to process. After arrived at its destination in Kentucky, it took more than two days for the process to finish. Including shipping time, thatís more than a week of waiting for my trade-in to go through. Clearly, itís not a process for anyone in a hurry.
Winners: Best Buy, Target, Amazon.com
These three are the clear winners in this category. Each one will actually tell you how much you will get for your game online. ToysíRíUs used to do this, but it has since ended its partnership with the company that provided its service. This is a breath of fresh air and a far cry from...
Gamestopís ridiculous secrecy regarding its trade-in values. Yes some games are listing on Gamestop.com, but not all of them. Thatís where the other retailers excel.
Winners: Everyone but ToysíRíUs
When it comes to frequency, I donít think any of the other retailers hold as many trade-in deals as Gamestop. It has one nearly every two weeks and theyíre usually worthwhile. However sometimes it requires you to buy a used game with your trade-in instead of a new one. Those deals are unacceptable to me; but I donít wait that long to get another good deal out of Gamestop. Best Buyís deals are few and far inbetween, but they tend to go on a while. Currently, Best Buy is doubling your trade-in value, which it has been doing for the past three weeks. Thatís a long time for this deal to be going on and during this time its had other deals that work well with the trade-in promotion (like last weeks Buy One, Get One 50% off 3DS Game sale). Earlier this year Target had a great deal where every game you traded in, no matter how old or how worthless, nabbed you $20 each...so long as you used the money to buy a game $29.99 or more. I saw a guy trade in old PS2 Madden games and essentially striking it rich. Amazon.com hasnít had the deals the other retailers have had, but Iíve found its given the most money without a trade-in promotion.
Like Amazon.com, I havenít noticed ToysíRíUs putting together any special trade-in promotions. Unlike Amazon.com, ToysíRíUs isnít exactly generous with trade-in values. Roughly about the same as Gamestop, and thanks to a lack of online openness, you don't know how much you're getting until you get there. Also, its games rarely go on sale (with exception to the $20 or less titles) and are rarely marked down compared to other retailers.
So who is the overall winner of the trade-in wars....
Depending on the game, Craigslist is the way to go. Depending on your area, the money can come quite quickly. The best part is you set the price. I recently posted an ad for my Skylanders 3DS set for $30. After a week, I finally got a response from an interested buyer. Unfortunately, I didnít want to wait and ironically sent it off to Amazon.com (who was the only retailer to trade-in the game) before the response came. But think about it...you set your own price. You can check out what the other retailers are selling the used version of your game for and undercut them, while still making more than you would with a trade-in. Plus, itís cash not credit.
Is there a loser?
Yeah, I would pick Target as the loser in the equation. Not because of how it takes the trade-ins, but what it does with them. I actually donít know what it does with the trade-ins, but its certainly not selling them to customers. When trading into Target, I asked the employee what they do with the trade-ins. He said Target doesnít sell used games and they just ďget rid of them.Ē I have the same love affair with games that I do with books in that I never feel there is a justifiable reason to destroy one, which is what I fear Target is doing with those games. I hope not, but until Iím proven wrong I think Iíll avoid trading in any games there.
So what have I learned from all my years of trading in? Patience is a virtue. Wait for a promotion, wait for a buyer or wait for Amazon.com to process your trade-in.
I love video games. I love Nintendo. Always have, probably always will. A year ago I could show my Nintendo love whenever I wanted. I had a good paying job, no credit card debt, time on my hands to actually play the games I bought. I over spent really, buying up games that I only had a passing interest in alongside those games I knew I just had to have. With that mentality, my Wii and DS collection exploded, right now sitting somewhere around 150 games. A majority of those games are back home at my parents house. Last October, I left that good paying job to move to LA to be a writer.
I currently work in grocery.
It sucks, it really sucks; but itís the choice I made to follow my ambitions and dreams. I donít regret it. What I do regret is getting my degree in Political Science, because there a fuck ton of nothing a degree like that translates into down here apparently. I had to leave my education, somthing Iím so proud of, off my resume to get my shitty paying job in grocery.
Oh well, things will change. Things will get better. Iíll find a way to be happy.
But until then, something with me has to change. As much as Iíve tried, Iíve never really been able to be a discount game buyer, i.e. Iíve never bothered to wait until something goes on sale. Paying full price has never been a problem for me when it comes to a hobby I hold so dear to my heart. That changed last year with two titles. Skyward Sword was already paid for, so there was no point in waiting on that one. However, I was also excited to pick up Kirbyís Return to Dreamland and Fortune Street for the Wii. I told myself that I wouldnít buy these games until I found them on sale or the price dropped. Just last week I was finally able to get Fortune Street new for under $20. The Kirby game is still full price. Itís been nearly a year since Return to Dreamland came out and Iím realizing now that this is the longest Iíve ever had to wait to buy a game. I canít believe it, but Iím actually sticking to my guns on this one. And itís harder than I could have imagined.
As a Nintendo only gamer, I realize how easy PS3 and 360 gamers have it. The top titles for their systems see a price drop rather quickly. A year (sometimes less) after the initial release there is a ďGame of the YearĒ edition that comes out at a bargain price. Nintendo gamers donít have it so lucky. Mario Galaxy didnít get a price drop until the Nintendo Selections line was released. During the short period that Metroid Prime Trilogy was available, Metroid Prime 3 stayed at its MSRP. I saw two dozen copies of Metroid: Other M, well after the game had released, at my local Best Buy still at full price. With the reviews that title received, those copies werenít moving at that price.
Itís not just first party games that remain full price. Tales of Abyss 3D is still full price, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is still $40 and Sonic Generations has been $30 for as long as I can remember. Sure, there are 3rd party games that do drop in price, but there is a reason you can pick up Cubic Ninja for $10, or Pet Zombies for $15.
The successes of being a bargains only Nintendo gamer have been few and far inbetween, and Iíve had my ass bitten more than once. I was really excited to play Planet Crashers, but Lord Almighty is that game hard to get into. Iíve also found some great deals on games that I only wanted in passing. The old me would have bought both Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver at full price. But I waited and scored them for $5 each. I waited on Fortune Street and was able to get it for more than 50% off. Today, while checking out Big Lots, I found Shinobi for the 3DS for only $15. Thatís another game I havenít seen drop in price recently.
Iíve also started to get more intelligent with my trade ins. I used to never wait, always just head to Gamestop and trade whatever game I had right then and there. Now I wait for deals. I have more than $70 in Best Buy gift cards from three games thanks to its doubling the trade in value. I have another $16 in Amazon.com credit from trading in Skylanders (as it was the only place that would take that game for trade-in).
As difficult as its been to be a bargain Nintendo shopper, itís made me into a smarter shopper. With game prices going up and a new console being released in two months, I have to get very careful with my purchases. I know it will be tough (especially at launch time), but I know that if I can just wait I can get all the games I want for cheap. Developers and Publishers are probably terrified at that thought, but until I have a decent paying job instead of a terrible no good fucking grocery job, thatís the way it has got to be.
Now...bring on the Wii U Deluxe package and a copy of New Super Mario Bros. U. The Wonderful 101 and TANK! TANK! TANK!
I remember it very clearly. Days before e3 2009, IGN.com had a major exclusive reveal in the new High Voltage Software game ďThe Grinder.Ē Announced even before its first Wii FPS, The Conduit, was released, ďThe GrinderĒ supposedly showed what a developer could do with the Wii if it put in the time and effort. It was an ambitious project, with 4-player online co-op promised. While online gameplay was now common in Wii FPSí at the time of its announcement, co-op was still something reserved for the more powerful systems. The trailer for the game also showcased really detailed, if really brown, graphics that almost equal the best weíve seen from the Wii.
All-in-all, it was a game to get excited about. Then reality happened.
A month after its reveal, ďThe ConduitĒ was released to so-so reviews and so-so sales. I personally did enjoy the game for what it was: an FPS that played well but was not ambitious enough. With that game not meeting the hype, ďThe GrinderĒ would have to exceed its expectations if High Voltage Software wanted to have a hit. Instead, the game missed its target release date and went multi-platform. The Wii versions would remain an FPS, while the PS360 versions would be a top-down shooter. Screenshots were released and a new release date was given: Halloween 2011. That date passed without a single version of the game seeing release. Instead we got ďConduit 2,Ē which reviewed and sold even worse than the original game, despite ďfixingĒ its issues. ďThe GrinderĒ along with ďAnimales de la MuertaĒ are listed as unreleased demos on HVSí website. So, with so much promise and seemingly a helluvah lot of ambition, what happened to ďThe Grinder?Ē
Scratch that. A better question is: Do we even want it? Letís be honest; High Voltage Software has never made a great game. Never. In fact, its made its fair share of poor games. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Tournament of Legends, Iron Man 2, Captain America: Super Soldier; a majority of its games fall between ďgoodĒ and ďshit-tacular.Ē Itís best reviewed game is its port of All-Star Baseball 2001 for the N64. The studio has never had a game rank in the 90%.
So do we want ďThe GrinderĒ when it seems clear that this is just not a good developer? 3DS owners have recently run into this issue with ďHeroes of RuinĒ from N-Space Inc. The developer best known for its Call of Duty DS ports, which are all good, has never had luck with original IPís. Geist for the Gamecube was a massive let down and the developer didnít even attempt another IP until this year, instead focusing on contract work (with exception to the never released "Winter"). Heroes of Ruin is sitting below 69% on Gamerankings.com; Iíve already returned my copy to the store.
In lieu of releasing its own IPís, High Voltage Software has instead done itís own share of contact work recently including a whole bunch of country dancing. The biggest game it was a part of was Kinect Star Wars. Specifically, HVS worked on the landspeeder, spaceflight and space combat segments according to its website. Destructoidís own review of those portions suggest that they are the best part of the game. Although thatís not hard to do when you look at everything else in Kinect Star Wars.
So whatís next for HVS? On its Wikipedia page, itís listed itís working on an unnamed Wii U FPS, an unnamed 3DS FPS (which may or may not have to do with The Conduit franchise) as well as ďZone of the Enders HD CollectionĒ for some reason. I would be surprised by this decision, but then I remembered itís Konami, a company that seems to be going out of its way to destroy all good feelings towards it. After the debacle that was the ďSilent Hill HD CollectionĒ do we really want another sub-par developer working on a series so highly revered?
(Side note: Is it really so hard to get three games on these fucking HD Collections Konami? I think we'd all love an HD port of the GBA game Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars to be included with this game.)
The video games industry loves its side stories. Whereas most gamers just want ďtrueĒ entries into their favorite series, developers and publishers seem content with bombarding gamers with gaiden. Kingdom Hearts is a prime example of this. All people want is Kingdom Hearts 3 (which will never live up to the hype and will probably have to most convoluted story in history), but instead we get games like Dream Drop Distance and Birth By Sleep.
Another series that has fallen into this trend is one of my personal favorites: Metroid. Metroid 1 landed on the NES, 2 on the Gameboy, 3 was on the SNES and 4 hit the GBA. That was nearly a decade ago. Since then, weíve ventured into several side stories of the Metroid mythos, including the excellent Prime series and the debatable Other M. We also got our hands on a reimagining of the first Metroid in Metroid Zero Mission (why God why was this not included in the Ambassador Program instead of Mario Kart: Super Circuit?) as well as some multiplayer action in Metroid Prime Hunters. We also played a game of pinball. To some, the series has had its ups and downs. While I still have to beat a few games in the series (Prime 2, Metroid 2 & Prime Hunters), I can say that Iíve never been more excited to dive back into the Metroid Universe on the Wii U. Not the 3DS, sorry, but I want the next Metroid game to be in full HD glory. Beyond that, there are a few more things Iíd love to see in the next entry of the series. Starting with...
9) Side Scrolling Action... Letís be honest: Samus is at her best when she is running from left to right, right to left. Donít get me wrong, I loved the first person perspective from the Prime series and Other:M had moments of greatness with its 3D perspective; but nothing can compare with the classic Metroid style. Whether it be a planet or a space station, the 2D perspective instantly makes the game both familiar and exciting at the same time. Navigation is easier and you donít have to bottleneck players as much.
8)...But Donít Completely Abandon 3D Itís a hard argument to win when you say that the 3D Metroids are better than the 2D ones, but many people still like to push the point. One situation where they are correct is when it comes to boss battles. Yes, the Mother Brain battle at the end of Super Metroid is timeless, but the 3D games have also carved out a spot at the top with their incredible battles. Who can forget fighting Meta Ridley while falling down a shaft? How about the battle with Phantoon at the very end of Other M? Flaahgra? These types of battles would not be possible on a 2D scale. So while I want a side scrolling epic like the days of yore, donít forget about all the advancements the series has made into the 3D universe. Just know how to implement them intelligently. And if you are going to make only 2D boss battles, make them as interesting as Nightmare in Fusion or Ruins Test in Zero Mission.
7) Continue the Story (But Forget the Monologue) I didnít hate Other Mís characterization of Samus, I just thought it went too far, she showed her weakness for far too long. Iíd rather have a human character than just a silent killer. Link can be silent; there are a dozen of him and I really donít care to know what heís thinking. Samus is different. There is only one of her and all these games have been her journey alone to make. So I do want to know what she is thinking, journey with her through her PTSD etc. etc. I just donít want to listen to her recite her Livejournal for five hours.
As for the story overall, Metroid 4 (aka Metroid Fusion) left us at a great place. We now know the federation is creating their own Metroid, we have the terribly named ďXĒ as a new enemy and dialogue in Metroid Fusion points the idea that there could be more SA-X out there. Plus, with the destruction of the Biological Space Laboratories Space Station, Samus is in trouble with the Federation. I want to see where this story goes. Does Samus have to battle Federation soldiers now? Will Adam come back from the dead, possessed by an ďXĒ parasite? Will Samus become the savior of the Metroid? I want to know what happens next dammit!
6) Explain the Religion of Ridley Okay, so it may not actually be a religion, but the Space Pirates are obsessed with Ridley. With good measure. He can fly through space, heal his wounds by eating the flesh of his enemies, and there are like five versions of the guy. Seriously, throughout the series you fight Ridley, Meta Ridley, Robot Ridley, Omega Ridley and Neo-Ridley. Ridley has been wounded, killed, revived, killed again and copied by the ďXĒ Parasite. In Metroid 5, I want to go to Ridleyís home planet. There has to be more than just one of them. I know that the Metroid series has been about eliminating and/or controlling the Metroid threat, but Ridley is a much bigger threat seeing what he can do. Letís take a visit to his home planet and see what exactly is there.
5) Explore the Metroid Powered Samus At the very beginning of Metroid Fusion, Samus is saved from the ďXĒ Parasite by having Metroid DNA injected into hers. That explains how she was able to soak up the ďXĒ in forms of energy and missiles. With Metroid now a permanent part of her, along with her Power Suit, it would be interesting to see where this goes. What new powers does Samus have? What new powers can she obtain? Which leads me to...
4) Stop Taking Away Our Powers This is easily the most annoying aspect of most Metroid games. It sucks that nearly every time youíre forced to find all your powers all over again. Prime 3 alleviated this issue a bit, but I think for Metroid 5 we need a whole new way of thinking. We also need new powers. We should no longer have to find the Morph Ball or Space Jump. We shouldnít have to start with a wimpy blaster and upgrade it so it can be as powerful as it was at the end of the last title.
Instead, give us new powers. Use the continued story line to give us something interesting. SR-388 is gone, but surely there are other planets that Metroids thrived on. Perhaps another Chozo colony planet where your Metroid powers can be explored. Just please, PLEASE, donít make me wait to the end of the game to get the Screw Attack.
3) Donít Make Metroid 0 We have Zero Mission, but thatís about as early into Samusí career as we want to go. No, we donít not want to see her as a member of the Federation. We do not want to see more of her and Adam. We do not want to see her with short hair again. Go forwards, not backwards.
2) Give Me A Bigger Game World (And Put Me On A Planet) Look, I like the fact that speed runners can complete these games in less than an hour. I myself have knocked out Fusion in just over three without trying to go fast. But I want more. I want a massive game world to explore. I want to venture through dozens of different environments, not just a few. I donít want to be trapped on a space station, I want to be able to freely explore a planet (or multiple planets). After being restricted in Other M and Fusion, I just want to be free.
So my life has reached a wonderful/horrible crossroad. I am in the city I need to be in, meeting people that I need to meet and genuinely being inspired to do the thing I know I am meant to do in life: write. Write screenplays, television scripts, books and more. My head is brimming with ideas and I barely have enough time to write them all down. In fact, I barely have enough time for anything. Between writing my original pilot, writing my episode of Whitney (donít judge) and my episode of Community in a bid to build up a profile that I can send to agents; beginning work on my first novel (inspired by three characters from The Legend of Zelda), as well as getting into shape and working, I have no time to game. And itís kind of hard to write a game blog when you have no time to game. I literally had to put up my Wii and stop playing Xenoblade because I wasnít getting any work done. I had to prioritize my life if I ever want it to go anywhere. So thatís what Iím doing. Iím not saying goodbye to Destructoid or GoNintendo or any of my other favorite sites, but I am putting a pause on actively participating in the threads and blogs.
To everyone Iíve entertained with my writing, thank you. Iíll let you all know how everything turns out.