Two of the hottest video-game related gifts this season are, of course, the hardest to find. The NES and Super NES Classic have moms and dads stalking department stores and glued to eBay to get their kids what they want. But a more elegant and possibly more affordable solution is available at one of the area’s many local and independently-owned game stores. Locally-owned gaming stores include Forgotten Freshness in Mechanicville, Pastime Legends in Scotia, Troy, and Albany, Jay St. Games in Colonie Center.
As major video game companies try to push users toward 4K-hi-def gaming and virtual reality headsets many gamers are happy mining the past for their gaming kicks. For some retro gaming represents a connection to childhood experiences, a time free of responsibilities, for others it’s a way to game on the cheap but for more and more, it borders on obsession–the kind of hobby that can set one back thousands of dollars at a time.
Frank D’Aloia owner and proprietor of Forgotten Freshness a retro gaming store in Mechanicville caters to that latter segment of gamers–afficanados looking for that ultra-rare Nintendo cartridge, a TurboGrafix 16 fresh in the box, or an instruction booklet to compliment their hard-to-find game.
D’Aloia notes that the Capital Region is home to quite a few retro game shops. “If you visit most cities comparable in size to this, you usually have one independent game store and another that does games as a side thing. So usually about one and a half. We’ve got about 7 around here and they all have their niche and a side thing to keep people coming in.”
D’Aloia’s “niche” is particularly hard to find games and systems. “We need special things to get people to come all the way out here,” says D’Aloia. “So we have rare things that people can’t get anywhere else.” D’Aloia’s side focus is the card game Magic: The Gathering. He holds tournaments in a back room full of white tables, arcade machines, rare video game demo displays and boxes full of unsorted games, hardware, and promotional material. It’s a treasure trove of video game paraphernalia.
The past two years Nintendo has tapped into the public’s fascination with retro gaming releasing HD versions of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo with a number of preinstalled games. D’Aloia says that the narrow assortment of games and the inability for users add new games to these systems has led customers to his store to buy the original systems and search for some of their favorite games from their childhoods.
D’Aloia says that he expects Nintendo will soon release a “Classic” version of the Nintendo 64. “They are always popular but I expect people will want to explore the back catalog,” says D’Aloia who points to a boxed edition of the N64 Pokemon Battle Arena.
If you’re focused on hard-to-find systems and obscure gaming history D’Aloia has a boxed Atari Jaguar–the company’s failed attempt to compete with the Sony PlayStation. The system’s controller is notoriously large and covered in a keypad.
D’Aloia also has a boxed TurboGrafix 16 a console released in the late eighties during the 8-bit generation that featured some 16-bit components. It was also the first system to incorporate a CD Rom.
Another retro-minded system D’Aloia keeps in stock in the PlayStation Vita–a handheld console released in 2011 that supports SONY’s vast back catalog via digital download and is home to a number of highly-regarded Japanese role-playing games.
D’Aloia also keeps a thorough selection of games for Sega’s more obscure consoles, including Sega CD, Saturn, and Dreamcast.