|That guy in black was elated to find a CIB Last Starfighter for the NES. Elated.|
Toronto is apparently blessed with four or five good stores. Since I was in their neighborhood, I checked out A&C Games yesterday. It's a small storefront, but has—hands down—the most varied selection of old games I've seen outside of Japan. I found MVS carts, LCD games, Master System carts, a stack of PC Engines, and the most Power Base Converters I expect to ever see in one room. In one box of loose Genesis games, I found HAL's Space Trouble for the MSX. Nobody seemed to know how it got there, such is their embarrassment of riches. Thinking about it now, I wish I'd bought that...
|Bottom left, FDS disks for Super Mario 2 AND Doki Doki Panic. And Falsion.|
Almost got Snake's Revenge LCD for the HG101 Archives, but it cost money.
And then there's the faux-nostalgia buyers. The store's co-owner, Chang, told me he's seeing more and more kids coming in to buy games they're too young to remember. They see these legendarily AWFUL games get reviewed on YouTube, then come in wanting to experience the magic of Bad Dudes for themselves. Chang said it's like a gateway drug that leads youth into that retro gaming quicksand.
Indeed, A&C is engaged in some serious retro evangelism. In a basement area separated from the storefront, they've set up dozens of TVs, consoles, and arcade sticks for anyone to use. They ask a mere $5 a day for this. Weekends are blocked off for tournaments of various kinds, mostly fighting games. Chang said he wants to foster a tournament gaming culture in Toronto, and seems to be having some success. A&C hasn't set up actual arcade cabinets yet, but have an MVS, a Simpsons, and some other machines they hope to plug in soon.
|An impromptu Smash Brothers Melee tournament had congealed just prior to my|
arrival. In another corner, a father was showing his two rugrats Super Mario World.
The whole experience is like rummaging through the basement of a very geeky uncle. It's the video game equivalent to those record stores run out of a dude's house that are nothing but folding tables and milk crates full of old weird vinyl. Except the fellows who work at A&C are a lot friendlier. Anything I wanted to look at was shown to me, no matter how deep in the pile it lay. The staff was happy to answer questions about the condition of this or the rarity of that.
Hospitality is apparently good for business, because I saw a lot of customers milling about—most of them younger than me and therefore less likely to have a copy of Mega Man 3 at home. (Also, I spotted not one, but three women in the store, and nobody leered at them with that Comic Book Guy expression of terror and longing. Hope and change!)
I had a lot of fun just looking around and wish I had more time and money to spend there. I may visit another of Toronto's indie game stores before I leave, but it's awfully tempting to just go back to Spadina and Bloor and score me some Space Trouble.