Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Metal Storm (NES, 1991)

North American cover art

Release: 1991
Developer: Tamtax
Publisher: Irem
Genres: platformer, action, run n' gun, mecha, Nintendo

This is the first non-Playstation game I'll be covering! And what a treat we have today. Good old Metal Storm for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1991, it's a side-scroller action platformer where you play as a cute little mech! In the 26th century, humans have built a giant laser gun operated by robots to protect Earth from any alien invaders. However, the gun has malfunctioned and has begun blowing up entire planets! Any attempts to shut down the weapon have failed and now humanity has resorted to sending in a fighter, the M-308 Gunner, to manually activate the system's self destruct switch. That is where the player comes in, as they must travel through 7 challenging stages to save the human race!

The box art show's a mech in white,  however in the game it is actually a pinkish tone instead.
It was changed to white for the Japanese release, though.

As already mentioned, Metal Storm is a platformer action run n' gun. Your mech is equipped with a trusty pea shooter gun, and can shoot in all cardinal directions, as well as jump and crouch to avoid enemies and enemy fire. There's several power-ups that can be found throughout the game, such as items that powerup your weapon, shields, and even bombs that when touched kill all enemies on screen. However, the most interesting thing about Metal Storm's gameplay is the gravity switching mechanic. Essentially, by pressing up on the d-pad and jump at the same time, the M-308 can reverse it's gravity, and essentially walk on the ceiling. The mech still moves and behaves the same way, and can move back and forth at will. Simultaneously though some enemies also switch gravity so you have to be careful. This is the draw of the game, and it's essential to master it in order to get anywhere.

Because of this, the levels are all designed to create new challenges or obstacles to work around this mechanic. Stage 2 for example "loops" indefinitely scrolling up and down, confusing the player, so some serious thinking is required to figure out exactly which way to proceed. Other common obstacles throughout are lasers or switches that can only be deactivated while standing upright or upside down. Because of these, the game is practically a pseudo-puzzle game. Stage 4 is quite interesting; the M-308 is stuck in a small box that scrolls throughout the level, and at the same time, enemies come flying at you, obstacles require you to move quickly, and force fields can severely limit the space you have. It's a tough stage to learn but it's probably the funnest stage in the whole game for this reason. Stage 6 is similar to stage 2, in that the screen infinitely loops up and down, and the gunner can go out one side of the screen and come out the other, all while trying to move forward and not die. It really confuses the player as you never truly know which way is "up". Naturally, each stage finishes with a boss fight. Like the scrolling stages, the bosses are well thought out. Some require to switch gravity back and forth and move across the screen, like the first stage boss, as it's only weak spots are at points that you can only access by reversing gravity. Some bosses are downright insane, such as one that involves destroying platforms while in a room with constantly rotating platforms (the same platforms you are trying to destroy!) with only spikes for a floor that insta-kill you. Another great battle is one that changes form and alters its attack for each formation, causing you to have to change your gravity on the fly. There is also a powerup that turns you invincible and does damage to any enemies whenever you are switching gravity, so that does help. The level design is arguably the highlight of the game, as each level regularly keeps you on your toes and throws a curveball at you everytime. Some games since then have used a similar mechanic, such as VVVVV, but Metal Storm's is so fun to use, especially because something that seems like it could be complicated is actually very easy to control. 

The "box" stage.

It can go without saying, but this game is still very tough. Irem is notorious for games that have brutal, unforgiving difficulties like R-Type or Holy Diver, but Metal Storm isn't quite as hard as those ones. Your gunner dies in only one hit, but you do get unlimited continues, and there's even a password system in case you need to shut off the game. Don't let that fool you though; it's still a bitch to master as most of the difficulty comes from learning the levels and patterns, or figuring out which path is the best to take.

Transforming boss.

As far as looks go, Metal Storm is gorgeous for an Nintendo game. Levels are usually pretty colorful and most even have parallax scrolling, which is very rare to see in a NES game. The M-308's animations are very smooth and advanced, and so are the enemies and bosses. Though due to too many things on screen sometimes, there can still be considerable slowdown and flickering. The music is about average; it sounds fine but nothing super memorable. The first stage music is actually pretty upbeat, for a game that has a rather serious, cold tone.  

There are 6 stages at first, and after beating these you move on to the final one, which is just a boss rush of all the bosses you've already beat. After this, you simply shoot at a gun without much threats while a countdown timer closes to 0. Destroy the core in time and you complete the game. Pretty anti-climatic for saving all of humanity. That's probably one of the downsides of the title, it's rather short and doesn't have a whole lot of replayability. Upon beating it the first time around, you are given a password that restarts the game on a higher difficulty; enemies are stronger and move much faster. Playing on the harder difficulty really makes it feel much more like a typical Irem game. 

Sadly, this gem faded into obscurity. The most coverage it ever got was appearing on the cover of Nintendo Power #22, which included a 12 page guide for the game. Despite this, the game recieved little attention and sold poorly, which is too bad, it's a very good game worth playing. I'm not super into NES anymore, but this is absolutely one of my favourites, definitely in my top 5 NES games. It's one I still go back to every once in a while. It might be best to emulate this one or play it off a flashcart; naturally, because it was a late release on the system and it sold poorly, original copies command a hefty pricetag. Be prepared to spend around $150 for just a loose copy of the game. However, the game does have a small following online and in 2019 Retro-bit officially re-released the game with reproduction copies of the game, coming in a cool white shell. So there is some hope for this little guy.

Nintendo Power #22 cover. 

Cool artwork inside. 

Retro-bit re-release cartridge.

One little thing with this game: Here's a most excellent poster I have of the game from Nintendo Power. I believe it's from the same issue mentioned earlier. It would have been a foldout poster that used to come with every issue of the magazine. It measures about 11" x 23". I found this at AnimeNorth 2019 when I went. I caught a glimpse of the logo from the corner of my eye at a vendors booth, and was immediately tempted. The guy sold it to me half off too. Just like that, it was mine. It was the final day of the convention so I guess by this point he was desperate to sell anything. It's a great find because I was looking to get some sort of poster, anime, games, whatever but this was way too cool to pass up. It now hangs near our games shelf and makes for some nice little artwork. The gunner is in fact a real 3D model that was mocked up for the photo, (I don't think it's the same one as on the magazine cover, so they must have made at least 2) however it's not as detailed as it is in the official game artwork. I wonder if those models still exist somewhere, possibly stowed away in an employee's closet or attic. I would love to have one of those. Metal Storm model kit when???

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Amazing Artwork: Guardian Legend

A new little segment I thought is one that covers any artwork that I think should be recognized for being amazing in a good way or amazing in a bad way. On the first one I'm starting off on an outstanding one. Nowadays, most cover arts look the same or similar because now games already have the real life graphics or stories to be able to sell you on the game. Back than, because they knew games were still limited with what could be displayed for graphics, (and there was also no internet yet so news of good or bad games couldn't spread around nearly as quick as it does today) publishers and developers often would employ artists to create some artwork to promote the game. The artwork often didn't depict exactly how the game worked or played, or how characters might have looked, but it was done to sell people on the game. And in a sort of retrospective side effect, they also made some classic cover arts that to this day still are never topped. Often artists were given screenshots or footage of gameplay, or told how the game plays by the developers. They would base their artworks off these tidbits. Some turned out great, and became classic and even iconic covers such as Doom and Castlevania, and some turned out abysmally like the original Mega Man NES cover. 

Above is the artwork for the 1988 Japanese release of The Guardian Legend, a classic NES/Famicom title by Compile that blended overhead adventure action exploration (similar to the original Zelda) with vertical scrolling shooter stages. In the game, you play as the Guardian, a female cyborg with wings who can transform into a ship for the shooter stages. Your goal of the game is to infiltrate Naju, an alien world headed straight toward Earth and deactivate it's self destruct program before it destroys the planet. The game was ambitious for the time, blending multiple genres together successfully and smoothly. It was a sleeper hit, but over time has attained a cult following and is considering one of the most successful games at combining multiple genres, especially back then. 

The art is short of fantastic. The artist, Naoyuki Kato, took inspiration from H.R. Giger's theme of mixing cold, technological steel with living organisms, an image that goes great with Guardian's title character. I like how detailed everything is and how it slowly morphs down to what might create a whole technological/biological being. 

The game actually got different cover art for each region it was released in. Europe got the 2nd best one, with a similar cyborg women in space. This cover is probably the most accurate because this looks much closer to how the Guardian actually appears in game. Still not bad art by any means.

And finally, the North American version. And wow, we really got the short end of the stick here....

It's pretty much a pair of reptilian looking eyes, with a what look like some sort snake or something in between, looking out over a landscape. That's about it. It would be hard to look at this cover and think that the game inside is about a controlling a cyborg who can turn into a ship. They should have kept the European art and it would have been much better. Again, it's much more representative of what's in the game. 

Friday, 26 April 2019

Guardian's Crusade (Playstation, 1999)

Image result for guardian's crusade
North American cover artwork
Release: 1999
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Activision

Genres: rpg, j-rpg, role playing, turn based combat, virtual pet

Here's yet another Playstation title I've wanted to mention, and now I'm finally getting around to it. Three years later. Better late than never I suppose. 

If there was one (1) genre the Playstation is known for, back in the day and in retrospect, it's definitely rpg's. Specifically Japanese rpg's. With Nintendo and Sega dropping the ball with their respective consoles, pretty much all big developers hopped on board the Playstation train. Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII was a massive success and became many people's first exposure to j-rpg's. It sold millions of copies and naturally, other companies wanted to cash in on this craze. We saw a glut of rpg's get brought over, like Suikoden, Saga Frontier, Front Mission, and King's Field, just to name a few. Basically every big developer under the sun tried their own take on the genre to different levels of success.  

Which brings us to Guardian's Crusade. Published by Activision and developed by Tamsoft, who are pretty much known for just the Battle Arena Toshinden fighters and nowadays Senran Kagura, it was developed with the intention of being a "beginner rpg" for children, but it's adult friendly also. This is a pretty accurate description of the game, but it's got a few twists. 

The story involves the player character, named Knight, who must deliver a letter to another town, shortly after being woken up. Pretty typical stuff so far. Upon venturing out, he runs across a cute, pink, pig looking creature named Baby. An ominous voice tells the hero that Baby must be brought to a faraway landmark called God's Tower, and that begins the main quest of the game. Don't let the God reference get you, this is not a religious game whatsoever. 

Baby, in all his late 90's FMV glory. 

The 2 main members of your party will be Knight, and Baby. You are also joined by a fairy type character named Nehani, who acts as a sort of Na'vi from LoZ, except much less annoying. Battles play in traditional turn-based combat, however there are no random encounters. Like in Chrono Trigger, enemies are seen on the field screen and can be avoided by moving around them. Combat begins when you touch them. You can use items, attack, defend, and run. Again, very typical. There isn't necessarily magic or spells to learn, but in place of this is "Living Toys". These are basically familiars that can be found throughout the game, and each have different effects. They are summoned in battle, and you can usually have up to 3 LT's out during battle. Some act as healers, attackers to provide additional damage, or can play buffs or de-buffs during combat. Some aren't usable in battle, such as a map toy that you find, and as it might sound, provides you with a world map. With around 70 toys to find in the game, a "gotta catch em all" theme is present, so be sure to check every nook and cranny in the game. The toys are a nice little substitution for traditional magic, and it certainly adds to the kid friendly image the game is going for. 

Image result for guardian's crusade
Yes, GC has Comic Sans in it, but only during combat. Long before it ever became a meme.

Likely capitalizing on the Tamagotchi craze of the late 90's, there is another gameplay element to this, and that's taking care of Baby. Yes, there is a virtual pet to take care of. For the most part, this entire portion is really down played. Baby must be fed regularly, and must be given attention and praise for finding items or obeying you. If this is ignored, Baby will not function well during battles; Baby might attack you instead of an enemy, or ignore your commands completely! Sometimes he might even flee from battle! What an asshole! However, this is only if you don't treat him well. As long as you feed him every once and a while and give him some praise, you should be fine. Baby also features a power to morph mid-battle to do extra damage. As he levels up, he can morph into more powerful creatures. The whole virtual pet aspect is neat to see in a game like this, but there isn't much depth to it and it doesn't seem to have much impact on the main game. 

The presentation is actually quite impressive for the time. When travelling along the world map and entering a town and vice versa, it is completely seemless, without any load times at all. Everything stays scaled the same, and without a single loading time to be seen. The only time it loads is when you enter a dungeon or house. Other rpgs at the time would use a miniature version of towns and characters when travelling on a world map, and upon entering a dungeon or town would have to load. The graphics are quite colourful and clean, and the characters, npcs, and enemies all have a cute look to them. The camera is always placed above Knight, and can be rotated 360 degrees with the shoulder buttons. However, it's zoomed in slightly so it leads to the screen feeling cramped, as if there is always something just outside of view. The game has a ton of flavor texts. If you don't know what those are, it's those text boxes that pop up when you search stuff in games. Every little thing can be "searched", and you always get a unique text for each house, item, or thing you check out. Nehani even comments on this at one point, saying something along the lines of "Do you really have to search every corner in this game?" The texts are a small touch, but it's fun to see. The dialogue in general is pretty funny and light-hearted. The game doesn't take itself too seriously.

Image result for guardian's crusade

The music is alright. It's mostly traditional rpg music. Sappy upbeat songs, but with a kiddy feel to them. The final boss music is pretty badass, and some of the town themes are catchy. The soundtrack isn't bad at all but it's nothing that you're going to want to download. 

There isn't much difficulty with the game, which shouldn't be surprising. During my entire playthrough, I think I died only 2 or 3 times, and these were all towards the end of the game. If you're looking for a challenging game you won't find it here. It will be about a 20 hour game, which is short for rpgs on Playstation, but works well in the context of being a introduction to the genre. 

Because of it's simplicity and it's kiddy look, it's a bit hard to recommend this game. If you are an experienced, hardcore rpg player, you'll probably think this game is a giant piece of shit. But if you're a little more open, I think you will get something out of this game. The way you approach this game will probably determine how much you like it.  It feels nice to play an rpg where there is no  "angsty, quiet teenage boy and group must team up to save the world from evil" trope. 

It's unique and a bit quirky, nowhere near as much as something like Earthbound. It's certainly not the best rpg on Playstation, it's certainly not the worst. It's intended goal was achieved, it's very suitable for beginners and kids; it has an easy to follow plot, the combat and mechanics are easy to understand, and it doesn't drag on too long. If you're looking for something different from traditional j-rpgs, it's at least worth a try. 

Guardian's Crusade sold poorly upon release, perhaps because of it's cutesy kid look on the cover, or getting overshadowed by bigger releases at the time. Naturally it entered obscurity soon after. The only recognition it ever got since then was being released on the Japanese PSN store in 2009 (under it's Japanese title, Knight and Baby, an objectively inferior name) The game disc is a hot pink colour which makes it stand out a bit. Because of it's poor sales, it's very uncommon, but can be found anywhere from $20-$40. Check it out if you want a very simple rpg. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Omega Boost (Playstation, 1999)

North American cover art

Release: 1999
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: SCEA
Genres: Rail shooter, Shoot em up, Sci-fi, Mecha

Welcome back, it's time for another review. It's yet another Playstation game we're looking at today. Let's start off with an introduction; Can you think of a time where a developer that typically makes games under a specific genre, but on a rare occasion they go outside that limit and make something completely different? And that new product turns out to be pretty good? Something like Squaresoft's Einhander may come to mind. A company known primarily for making RPG's but did a 180 turn and output a great title in the process. This is the same case with Polyphony Digital's Omega Boost. Known primarily for the Gran Turismo racing simulations, they are regarded for being able to push the limits in physics and graphical capabilities in video games. The first GT amazed gamers and critics back in 1998 and went on to become the best-selling PS1 game (a feat I still find hard to believe, considering my disinterest in racing sims). Though, later on in the system's lifetime, they worked on another game. This is where OB comes in. After doing some research, Polyphony has worked on racing titles such as Motortoon Grandprix, Gran Turismo, and more recently the Tourist Trophy series. All of them are racing games, whether kart racers or simulations. With this data, Omega Boost is in fact, the only non-racing game that the studio has ever worked on. And, surprisingly, it's good. Damn good. What lies in store is another rare case of a developer being able to go outside they're comfort zone and excel with their new idea. Let's take a look...

Omega Boost is a 3d on-rails shooter, released in 1999 by Sony Computer Entertainment America. You control a mech named after the title of the game, the story involving Omega being launched by a space facility to hunt down and destroy an imposing AI, named Alpha Core, who threatens humanity in the distant future. However the story should be the least of your concerns when playing the game. The game opens with a kickass FMV introduction blasting licensed music, and it actually looks really cool. You can fly around in open environments with 360 degree freedom, as enemies attack in waves. Occasionally there are some on-rails segments, ala Vanark. There is only one weapon at your disposal; a massive laser-machine gun sort of weapon. It can be used in two different methods; simply shooting in spurts or by locking on to enemies. You hold the attack button and hover the crosshairs over enemies and release the button to launch them. This will be the most the most effective way to deal damage. At the beginning you can only lock onto a couple of enemies at a time, but this number increases as you progress through out the game. Navigating in the worlds is a thrill as you can spin, rotate and fly around in all directions. It can become a bit disorienting due to this, but the controls work well enough so that you can always re-adjust your position. As you destroy more enemies, a meter builds for the special move, called the Viper Boost. When the meter builds up enough, you can press the L2 button to do a devestating attack on all enemies, and it looks really cool to watch OB annilhate everything. This attack should be reserved for only the toughest bosses, as some have huge health bars and the meter can take quite a while to fully charge. You can also use a boost at any time by pressing O, which is very helpful for dodging enemy projectiles.

Image result for omega boost ps1

With how the game plays in it's lock-on combat, it's time for another quick tidbit. During development, Polyphony called on outside assistance. They ended up calling in Yusi Yasuhara, who had originally been the lead designer and programmer for Sega's Panzer Dragoon Zwei, an on-rails shooter for the Sega Saturn. Hence the reason why OB turned out similar to Panzer Dragoon, but in a good way. This also marks one of the few times Polyphony has worked with external developers.

Oh, and a pretty interesting fact ; Shoji Kawamori, a mecha designer most well known for his Macross, and Eureka Seven work, designed the mechas for this game! Pretty cool to say the least. 

Levels are structured as "zones" and each zone has waves of enemies to fight, as well as a mid-boss and end boss. The zones set in space tend to be a little more disorienting because there is no true "ground" to calibrate to. Though the controls may be funny at first, after about 10 minutes you should have it down. 

There's one thing that has to be stated about the visuals; they look absolutely stunning. All the textures look good, though a little dark, but the game is just a treat to view. I will say it's possibly the best looking game I've ever seen on the Playstation. Seriously, it looks that good. Character and enemy models look great, as well as having particle effects and transparencies that stand out. The levels themselves are a bit lacking though, they usually just take place over basic voids of space or somewhere on a planet high in the sky with not much to look at. This doesn't detract from the game, because you're not going to play this just for backgrounds. A majority of the game also runs at 60 FPS, something rarely seen on the platform. The frame rate only enhances it even more, without slowdown or stuttering to be found anywhere. It's silky smooth in action. 

Image result for omega boost ps1
I really need to start capturing my own footage/screenshots. 

The music is... interesting to say the least. It's a mix of techno, metal music with a bit of tribal thrown in. There's also two licensed tracks featured, from Loudmouth and Static-X respectively, both bands I'm not fond of, but there music sounds okay. It fits the mood of the game, going for a tough, gritty kind of feel. The music is nothing that you'll want to download to your iPod, but it works fine.

Your presented a decent challenge here, as there are 9 stages in total. The game can be beaten rather quickly because of this, and that's the biggest criticism I have. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact it makes for a great title if you're looking for something easy to get into that isn't too long. A perfect pick up and play game. Like the Gran Turismo games, there is a replay feature in the main menu if you wish to watch yourself play through levels. Not really important for this type of game, but it's there. 

Due to poor marketing and under-performing sales, Omega Boost quietly faded away, becoming a sleeper hit. The game must have been somewhat popular enough, though: The official soundtrack was released on CD in limited quantities, which have since become incredibly rare, and even action figures were released by Blue Box Toys. They only released figures of Omega Boost and Beta Boost, and a third one of Herbacher was planned, but never ended up being released. Just like the soundtrack, they too are incredibly rare and incredibly expensive, which is too bad, I would love to have one of these.

As for the game itself, it's uncommon, but can be had for around $20-$30. Or just emulate it, burn an iso, however you play your games. It's certainly the best mecha game on Playstation, and deserves to be tried out if you call yourself a fan of shooters or mecha at all. It would have been cool to see this on the upcoming Playstation Classic Console, but because of the licensed music, it's general obscurity, and on top of the fact Sony is generally stupid and cheap, there's no way this will be on there. One can dream I guess.

Image result for omega boost figureImage result for omega boost figure

I'm back

Look what the cat dragged in. Yeah, I'm back. It's been a while.Working now and doing other stuff when I'm not working basically. Which is good, cause now I'll have more stuff to write about on here. Oh my god, so much I could talk about. New games I've played, systems I've discovered like Saturn and Turbografx. And some more Playstation too, don't you worry. Sit tight and it'll be here soon... eventually.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Starting off 2016 well

This weekend I scored one of the hardest to find Wii games:
Metroid Prime Trilogy Collectors Edition. This is the steelcase version, which includes an artbook and all 3 Prime games on a single Wii disc, with motion controls. I found this for only $42, well below the games normal rate. It was released only through Gamestop and in limited quantities. Now, I have a complete Metroid collection. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

CGCC Swap Meet Pick-ups (A little overdue)

So I'm finally off school for a few weeks, so I took a some time to put together what I bought at the CGCC Swap Meet in Cambridge back in November. So yeah, this is a little overdue, but better late than never I guess...?

This is everything from CGCC. I never thought I'd own Mario Paint; but it had the mouse and was at a very good price. The game itself is extremely common, but worthless if it doesn't include the mouse needed. If you've never played Mario Paint, it's pretty much MS Paint downsized onto SNES with a Mario theme to it. Kirby's Pinball Land isn't bad. Ranger X is a good mech shoot 'em up, with a high learning curve but boasting incredible graphics and special effects. Fun fact: Croc was originally pitched to Nintendo as a 3-d platformer starring Yoshi, but Nintendo turned down the idea and Argonaut released the game on Playstation instead. You can even see some resemblance between the Croc and Yoshi characters. Jokes on Nintendo, the game went on to sell a couple million copies and earn a sequel. Overall not bad, but I was a bit underwhelmed at the swap, not really a lot of stuff that genuinely interested me.

The day before the swap meet, I went to Milton to drop by Toyratt, a well-known video game dealer in the GTA. Tons of stuff there, definitely check it out if you're in the area. I mostly went there just to browse, see what they have, but something caught my eye: a complete copy of Metroid II on Game Boy. This is in fact, the only Metroid game I don't have complete in box, so of course I'm all over it. The owner of the store let me have it for $60, which in retail is an incredible deal when you consider it goes for around $100. I'm proud to say that I now have a complete Metroid collection!!! It pays off to get to know the employees and strike up conversations. Deals can be had, even in retail environments.

After the swap on Sunday (November 15) I figured I had time to check out a flea market, with a vendor I know who has given me deals in the past. He also sells tons of boxes and manuals for older games, as he bought up a lot of video store stock from when they were being liquidated. Here, I picked up the Sonic and Knuckles box and manual, and the Streets of Rage box. I already have both those games so it's nice to have the boxes for them. I also picked up the Ninja Turtles Hyperstone Heist box, though I didn't even have the game. I figured if I buy the box for $10 and find the cart for a reasonable price, I've landed a sweet deal. So in each of the boxes cost me $10 each, I'm fine with that.

A few days after that weekend, I had remembered something. Back on the Saturday, Toyratt had a copy of Hyperstone Heist, loose. I wondered if they still had it. I called them first, asking if they had the game, in case it saves me the hassle of driving up there and realizing they already sold it. So I drove up there after school and the owner even put it on hold for me, how nice. The game kicks ass, it's become one of my favourites on the Genesis; good gameplay, good graphics, great music, and it's 2-player simultaneous! While I was there, I decided to pick something else, an item that had caught my eye but I wasn't losing sleep over. That would be a complete F-Zero on SNES, a game that I've actually never played. And after playing it, it's become one of my favourites on Super Nintendo.

And one last cool find. I had a job interview on Black Friday morning, and afterwards I was in the area and dropped by the Value Village. As I walked to the showcase display, a clerk had just locked up something, a small purple box. I look in and see this: a complete copy of Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages on GB Color.... for $9.99. From that point that was an easy decision to make. At this time, I was incredibly lucky. I happened to walk in to the store just as this was being put on the shelf. I was at the right place at the right time. The condition on this thing is amazing: the box has some dings, but the manual is crisp, and upon cracking it open it was very fresh and felt like it had never been used. The cart is also mint: upon first booting it up, there was only a single save file on there, with no progress made whatsoever. No rupees, no items, no equipment, no weapons, nothing. The file would actually start from the very beginning of the game. So I'm going to believe that this had literally been played once, and then stored away to be forgotten about. I even started my own save file, and the battery still works fine, which is another plus. On average, a complete copy like this is worth around $60. Like I said, this is an example of when I was at the right place at the right time. 

Later days.