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Rental Recollections Vol. 1: 7-7-7


This will be the first in a series of articles that look back at my experiences renting video games, which used to be the main way I was able to play games, other than the biannual birthday and Christmas gifts. I have many memories to sort through, but I'll begin with this (long) story...

The halcyon days of the mom an' pop (well, more like weird uncle and cousin) video game rental stores are long gone. Although some still survive in strip malls across North America, they are a dying breed: squeezed out on the used games side by Gamestop/EB and on the rental side by big chains like Blockbuster. However, most of my best video game rental memories have come from the local stores and chains. They usually offered a decent selection, some rarer titles, and often some pretty good prices.

One of my favourite stores growing up was Video Time, located a good 15 minute walk from my house. It was in a mini mall that also contained a hair salon, and a convenience store that sold Blizzard-type treats made with chocolate ice cream! That made it an ideal destination to get a haircut, rent some games, and pick up an ice cream treat for the walk home. A pretty good combination, wouldn't you agree?

But the best part about video time was that it offered what I feel is the best deal for renting games during the summer: 7 games, 7 days, 7 dollars! Considering that at the time rentals at the big chains would be $5 per game for seven days (nowadays it seems to be $7 or $8), it was an incredible deal. It wasn't even an occasional special deal, it was available every day!

Being a small store, the selection was limited to the older systems (meaning the SNES and Genesis), but it did have a fairly big library and, despite the deal, the games weren't too picked over whenever I was there. I could also mix and match from different systems (even throw in a few VHS videos if I felt like it), which guaranteed I'd have more than enough gaming possibilities for a full week.

Normally, renting a single game could be a risky proposition. If the game was bad, the rental was wasted. The same was true if I got stuck somewhere, and didn't have quick access to the Internet and its FAQs (which was usually the case). But with seven games, there was little chance I would run out of games to play. If I would get stuck/bored with one, all I had to choose another of the remaining six and come back to the other game later. I could also afford to pick a few "safe" games, like s Sonic game or a Square RPG, in case my riskier selections turned out to be disappointing. This let me try out games I otherwise wouldn't have rented, let alone buy. For example, I never would have discovered the excellent Genesis "Zelda-clone" Crusader of Centy, or tried Mutant League Hockey and Football if I had to pick these games up by themselves.

On the other hand, renting so many games at once had its disadvantages. If I became too engrossed in playing one game (e.g., Chrono Trigger) there would be less time to enjoy the others. In fact, sometimes a few of the rented games would never even be touched in the seven days. Then, after having returned them, I would feel somehow that I had "wasted" my money on games that I didn't play. Other times it would seem like I forced myself to play a crummy game just to somehow get my money's worth. Of course, in retrospect the relative value of playing 1 game completely or 7 games lightly over seven days is pretty much the same. But I was a kid then, and didn't always look at the big picture.

I haven't been to that video game store in years, since I moved away from the neighbourhood it's in. I've never found a better deal than 7-7-7 anywhere else. I doubt that deals like that are very profitable, but that's what was (and still is) great about independent video game stores: they aren't stuck to a big company's directives and financial goals, and can stock and price their games however they wish. With the bigger scale of modern games (some can barely be beaten in seven days unless you have marathon sessions), multiplayer, and the fact that I doubt I will ever have a continuous block of seven days with little to do, being able to rent seven games at a time is pretty much guaranteed to be wasteful (either for myself or for taking up games that other people want).

Still, I hope the younger generation of gamers will get to experience the joy of coming home, laying out seven games on the floor, and simply having to say "Where to begin..."
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About Guncannonone of us since 2:54 AM on 01.31.2009

Previous posts:

May Community Monthly Musing Recap
My expertise: Memorization, obsession and Star Fox 64 (Monthly Musing)
I suck at games: Confessions of an Item Hoarder (Monthly Musing)

Regular Articles:
Why Kinect Will Fail: The Name.
My own Listblog, but with some interesting categories.
(Relatively) Short Blog: Environment in Red Dead Redemption
Dr. Samit, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love SPORTS! (Monthly Musing)
The Airport: Last Refuge of the Arcade?
Ranking the Zelda series from my own memories
An Essay/Review of a Canadian History video game
8-bit remixes of Gundam music!
Rental Recollections: 7-7-7
Maniac Mansion: The TV Show

One Song...Many Remixes:
Volume 1: Mega Man X, Intro Stage

Video Game Mind Teasers (on hiatus until site upgrade)
Volume 15: Missing Edition
Volume 14: Touch Fuzzy Edition
Volume 13: SONIC EDITION!!!
Volume 12: Continuing Edition
Volume 11: Back to the Beginning Edition
Volume 10: Prizes Edition!
9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

My videos:
Bit Transmission!
Guile's Theme + They Live!

Community Activities:
Destructoid: A YouTube Search Story

History in Video Games: Roundtable Podcast

Personal Stuff:
Getting some classic SNES games!
Getting Mega Man Complete Works!

Deliberate Failtoid:
Why Battlefield 1943 is the worst game EVER!

Age: 23
Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada.

Profile: I'm a longtime gamer, and started playing video games during the transition from the NES to the SNES. Although I like retro games, I play mostly newer games on the 360. Still, my favourite gaming memories are from all-nighters filled with Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Smash Bros. in the late 90s.

I'm looking for a career in public service, politics or other fields where research and writing are critical. Though, the closer it's related to games, the better.

I make videos, animated gifs, podcasts and all kinds of random stuff in my spare time. I'm also trying to develop my own gaming website (details coming eventually).

Systems: NES, Super NES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo 64, Wii, Sega Genesis, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC, Colecovision (my dad's). Also, many other systems (including arcade) that I not emulate.

Some Favourite Games:
Retro (NES-SNES eta): Megaman 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, Sonic 3, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Robotrek, Illusion of Gaia, Megaman X, Lufia 1 and 2, Strider, Metal Slug, Twilight Zone pinball.

Retro Limbo (N64 era): Ogre Battle 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon, Goemon's Great Adventure, Descent: Freespace.

Modern: Halo: Reach, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2, Bayonetta, Tales of Vesperia, Fallout 3, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Prime 1-3, Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam, Hearts of Iron II, Europa Universalis III, Civilization IV.

Xbox LIVE:GuncannonD
Steam ID:Guncannon
Mii code:Guncannon


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