GSQ5: Turning a blind eye

This little piece from GameSpite Quarterly 5 should resonate with anyone who remembers the NES days before the advent of widespread rentals. You see, kids, once upon a time, the Internet was mostly unknown to the average person, and very few people used it for the exchange of information about video games. Certainly no kids (or so few as to make no difference) did. Instead, we relied on things called “magazines” to clue us in to good purchases, or possibly a thing called word-of-mouth, which was different then than it is now in that it actually spread by mouth rather than by Twitter. The problem with that particular chain of information is that magazines usually only wrote about the big games, or the ones that they were nudged to covering by generous publisher ad buys. That left many, many NES games a mystery. You’d see them on shelves and wonder about them, and they’d look enticing, but who knew if they were any good! EGM and Nintendo Power never wrote about them. Your friends had never played them. So there was nothing for it but to brace yourself and hope the game hit the clearance racks… and once you’d spent your hard-earned cash, to hope it was worth it. This article is about the forgotten art of taking the plunge on the video gaming unknown.

6 thoughts on “GSQ5: Turning a blind eye

  1. I was remarkably well-informed as a youngster about a lot of games, mainly through Nintendo Power. One could dismiss them as a biased source of information, but for the most part, the games they gave a lot of coverage to were actually quite good. Most of the “lesser” releases just didn’t get much coverage, and there was often enough information there to ferret out whether a purchase was possibly worth it or not.

    That being said, I’ve made a few blind purchases. What on Earth was I thinking when I bought Treasure Master? (Well, it was cheap-ish.) That yard sale purchase of Trojan? NES Play Action Football? Yeesh.

    • I might as well go ahead and say that there were probably some games that Nintendo Power passed over, but to be honest, I don’t think they were quite as bad as many make them out to be.

  2. In the NES era, I asked my parents to buy several games sight unseen. Shingen the Ruler was one of them — a difficult, serious military strategy game. I liked it quite a bit, and eventually reached the end of the game. However, I recall asking for Bases Loaded 3 the same year… and didn’t like it as much as the first Bases Loaded game.

    Didn’t make many blind purchases during the SNES era and beyond. I made the mistake of purchasing the 16-bit version of Wing Commander, but overall I had a better idea of what I wanted.

  3. I still do the blind buy thing sometimes. When I am at Gamestop looking at the used DS and PS2 games, I basically look for the ones that have anime covers. Sometimes I get them. Paid off with Luminous Arc 2 (I could have gotten 1, but the back of 2 said it had an improved battle system! whatever that means); didn’t quite pan out with Soul Nomad.

  4. Talk about blind purchases…. My first one was Wizards & Warriors for the GameBoy! I hate that game.

  5. I remember the days of blind purchases. I guess it’s a little different now; I still make them, but usually if it’s a franchise I have faith in. Not exactly the same…

    I’m not sure if Wizards & Warriors was a blind purchase for us; I had never heard of it, but apparently my parents had, and I remember going with my dad as he sought it out.

    Frankly, I wound up loving it. I wish Rare would do something with it again already– preferably without the involvement of buckets of blood.

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