advice for buying a NES

#1 Posted by laxbro19 (52 posts) -

As a 19 year old I have no frame of reference for the NES or SNES for that matter. However, I hope to fix that. If anyone has any advice to buying a retro system or where to start my journey I would love to hear that.

#2 Posted by Camoufrage (84 posts) -

Don't buy new, obviously. They are way too expensive.

Honestly I'd check eBay and amazon and look for the best one you can find for the price. This is a good deal I found just by searching "nes" on eBay.

#3 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1556 posts) -

Garage sales and craigslist would be cheapest and if you live in or near a very large city, it should be pretty easy.

#4 Posted by HarlequinRiot (1098 posts) -

Just go to your local Woolworth's, they should have plenty on the shelves.

#5 Edited by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

Ah, then you have come to the right place young grasshopper. Allow me to direct the beginning of your journey in the ways of retro game console ownership.

The NES is a great starting point. It is cheap, has a great selection of games, and also marks a point where a lot of familiar game design tropes first found a foothold. The SNES, on the other hand, has a game selection that is roughly on par with 15 dollar downloadable titles of today...if those games were made by today's master craftsmen. If you want maximum fun/price ratio, the SNES is the better option.

As far as actually buying one, look in the usual places. Those would be thrift stores, Kijiji, pawn shops and eBay...in that order. eBay is usually considerably more expensive than the other options, unless you are willing to buy a large lot.

The NES is tricky to buy, because they vary so wildly in reliability. The "72 pin" connector that you plug the game cartridge into degrades severely, especially if the owner put alot of force on the cartridged when inserting them. If you buy it from Kijiji, ask the seller to insert and run at least 2 different cartridges. It's ok if they have to jiggle the cartridge and reset the system once or twice to get things going, but if it takes more than 4 or 5 tries I would pass (or at least ask them to try another couple games). Also note that the video cables are just regular RCA cables, so if those are missing you can get them anywhere.

The SNES is infinitely more reliable, and hence much easier to buy. The only thing to note is that it is normal for them to be slightly or even severely off-colour, thanks to poor plastic mixing. You could hold out for a really nice once, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Oh, and remember: it has an eject button.

There are many more exciting details to discuss, so if you have any more questions about anything classic-game related fire away!

#6 Posted by ciscoidiot (35 posts) -

Prepare to clean every used cart you purchase. Also, look into replacement pins if you're going to bother with an actual front loader console. I've heard good things about the top load NES, however I've yet to purchase one. When I got back into collecting I purchased a Retrobit NES because I was beyond annoyed with the original console not playing the games. Even after replacing the pins, it just got worse over time. Instead of turning to roms to play what was on my shelf I grabbed the Retrobit NES and have had much better luck. HOWEVER, the Retrobit isn't perfect. On a handful of games the audio is total shit, and the console itself feels a little chincy. Yes you can use original NES controllers with it as well. Good luck on this journey...

#7 Posted by bobafettjm (1488 posts) -

I would definitely look out for garage sales/craigslist/thrift stores for the cheapest prices. Just make sure you look at some that have recently sold on Ebay and how much they average and try to pay less than that. I found a Super Nintendo this past weekend at a Salvation Army with a couple of games for only $4.50, that's not too unusual, so those types of places can be great.

Also if you have any in your area I know that some flea markets can be great places too, just go early and watch out for re-sellers.

#8 Edited by Snail (8606 posts) -

@nintendoeats said:

Ah, then you have come to the right place young grasshopper. Allow me to direct the beginning of your journey in the ways of retro game console ownership.

The NES is a great starting point. It is cheap, has a great selection of games, and also marks a point where a lot of familiar game design tropes first found a foothold. The SNES, on the other hand, has a game selection that is roughly on par with 15 dollar downloadable titles of today...if those games were made by today's master craftsmen. If you want maximum fun/price ratio, the SNES is the better option.

As far as actually buying one, look in the usual places. Those would be thrift stores, Kijiji, pawn shops and eBay...in that order. eBay is usually considerably more expensive than the other options, unless you are willing to buy a large lot.

The NES is tricky to buy, because they vary so wildly in reliability. The "72 pin" connector that you plug the game cartridge into degrades severely, especially if the owner put alot of force on the cartridged when inserting them. If you buy it from Kijiji, ask the seller to insert and run at least 2 different cartridges. It's ok if they have to jiggle the cartridge and reset the system once or twice to get things going, but if it takes more than 4 or 5 tries I would pass (or at least ask them to try another couple games). Also note that the video cables are just regular RCA cables, so if those are missing you can get them anywhere.

The SNES is infinitely more reliable, and hence much easier to buy. The only thing to note is that it is normal for them to be slightly or even severely off-colour, thanks to poor plastic mixing. You could hold out for a really nice once, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Oh, and remember: it has an eject button.

There are many more exciting details to discuss, so if you have any more questions about anything classic-game related fire away!

I've looked around ebay for a Sega Mega Drive, and I think I found many that were refurbished. I also found some that claimed to be new but weren't really that expensive, which led me to believe that they were refurbished ones being passed as vintage, mint condition, Mega Drives with factory hardware. What's the best place to look into to get the real deal, and is there any objective way of telling if I have an authentic console in my hands?

#9 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

I would completely skip the NES, the SNES still has some legitimately great games, like Super Mario 3, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger and Donkey Kong Country

#10 Posted by PandaBear (1373 posts) -

Not to be a pirate or anything ... but why don't people just emulate this stuff? It's not the developers still get the money from shit you get off eBay and I'd rather not deal with dead batteries and rusted cartridge pins. I mean I get the appeal for myself and people like me who owned this stuff at the time, but if you're experimenting I'd just emulate it and see what you like first. Who knows, you may find you don't like old Castlevania games or that Super Mario Bros. 2 is overrated. Just saying.

#11 Posted by jjm494 (84 posts) -

As someone who got the NES when it first came out (god I feel old writing that), I recommend you just save your money and use an emulator. The NES has great games, but none of them warrant you having the original system to get the full experience. Put your money toward the SNES which has games that you can only truly experience using it such as Yoshi's Island, one of the best games on that system in my opinion.

#12 Posted by ciscoidiot (35 posts) -

People here are making some solid points about not spending money, however if you feel like you should be paying someone why not check out games via the Wii shop or via 3DS shop? Assuming you have either of those... Emulation is probably your best bet, 90% of those games are throwaways and not worth the frustration.

#13 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Snail: Ah, that's a tricky situation. The thing about the Mega Drive is that it is actually still manufactured...in Brazil. I happen to have a modern one, and it is pretty easy to tell the difference once you have it in your hands. The newer ones don't contain the original hardware, they actually emulate it. as a result, they use much smaller and lighter boards. The Mega Drive was never a really heavy machine, but the new ones are practically weightless. Same goes for the controllers. I would also note that in mine the plastics felt a bit cheaper, and of course it had a bunch of games built in. That's a pretty sure sign. Then there is the engrish and badly edited box art...basically, fake game consoles are really easy to spot. I do have some very good (looking) fake Dreamcast controllers, but they are the exception.

If you want to be absolutely certain that you are getting original hardware, buy the original Mega Drive (the big one with a volume knob). That said, I took a look on eBay and there were only one or two consoles listed as new that appear to be rereleases. Consider the country that the system is coming from and how "legit" the box really looks. Also, keep in mind that boxed game consoles are still not worth as much as most people think they are.

Was that helpful?

#14 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Snail: Rereading your question, I feel that went off track a bit. I do not know of any way that you could tell the difference between consoles that have been "restored" and ones that have simply never been used, but it's also not something I've heard of people doing before. In 30 years it is something I would worry about. Right now, it isn't.

On a side note, I just looked up how much an NES in the box runs on eBay. It has doubled in the last year. I'm thinking I really should have bought one when I had the chance >_>

#15 Posted by Snail (8606 posts) -

@nintendoeats said:

@Snail: Rereading your question, I feel that went off track a bit. I do not know of any way that you could tell the difference between consoles that have been "restored" and ones that have simply never been used, but it's also not something I've heard of people doing before. In 30 years it is something I would worry about. Right now, it isn't.

On a side note, I just looked up how much an NES in the box runs on eBay. It has doubled in the last year. I'm thinking I really should have bought one when I had the chance >_>

I guess I make a point of getting an authentic console, with hardware from its time, running a game like it was meant to as opposed to emulating it. So what do you make of the link I sent you via PM? Does it sound too good to be true? I mean that isn't awfully pricy to be honest.

#16 Posted by Counterclockwork87 (671 posts) -

@jjm494 said:

As someone who got the NES when it first came out (god I feel old writing that), I recommend you just save your money and use an emulator. The NES has great games, but none of them warrant you having the original system to get the full experience. Put your money toward the SNES which has games that you can only truly experience using it such as Yoshi's Island, one of the best games on that system in my opinion.

I have to disagree, emulating and using the original systems are not the same experiences. It's like the difference between listening to an MP3 of Led Zeppelin and listening to the album on vinyl. The way the game feels, plays, sounds and (in my opinion) looks are all better on the original console. And I would would not skip a NES for an SNES, I love my SNES but I probably play my NES more often because the games are more pick up and play. If you want a deeper experience then yes, a SNES is for you...but don't discount the NES.

For purchasing advice I say this, buy a top-loading NES. They can be expensive but they are much more reliable and work very well. The "toaster" style will break much quicker and need it's pins changed out...it's a hassle, and I don't recommend emulation systems like the Retron because they never sound or look the same and there's always incompatibilities.

Just my 2 cents, but I play my NES and the rest of my classic systems all the time so I think it's worth it.

#17 Posted by egg (1467 posts) -

does anyone gave advice on getting a VCR? I have a VHS I found in my brother's room that may or may not be adult and I'm very curious

#18 Posted by ciscoidiot (35 posts) -

@egg: Goodwill or Salvation Army if they're in your area. The stores around here are filled with VCR's.

#19 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (1012 posts) -

Just remember to hook that sucker to 4:3 CRT TV...

#20 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Whatever you do, DO not go the emulation route for your (S)NES fix. It's definitely not SUPER EASY and CONVENIENT.

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