Holiday Gifts For A Retro Gamer

If you’re shopping for a retro gamer this holiday season you’re in luck. Although there are many classic video games that yield very high prices, there are still many available for a steal. We’ve selected just a few of our favorites for a few key interest groups.

If 8-bit & 16-bit is a way of life for your gamer then there are an abundant selection of games and systems to get him or her. NES, SNES, Genesis: these systems are from the greatest generation of gaming. Mega Man, Street Fighter, Castlevania, Mortal Kombat and more all got their start here. The consoles can be purchased complete with wires and controls usually for between $30 to $75. The game cartridges average between $1 to $10 dollars with only a select few games higher than that. Nintendo created games do tend to yield higher prices but usually still under 30 dollars.

NES Games to Get:
Castlevania 3, Super Mario Bros, Shatterhand, Bionic Commando, Mega Man series, The Legend of Zelda, Contra, River City Ransom, Lifeforce, Metal Gear

SNES Games to Get:
Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda III, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III, Super Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong Country, Gradius III, F-Zero, Final Fight, Chrono Trigger

Sega Genesis Games to Get:
Sonic the Hedgehog series, Gunstar Heroes, Golden Axe, Space Harrier II, Super Hang On, Ecco the Dolphin, Shinobi III, Strider, X-Men 2, Mortal Kombat

Protip: If you buy a game cartridge that doesn’t work, cleaning the cartridge contacts with a q-tip and a tiny amount of rubbing alcohol will fix most problems. Make sure you let it dry before you test it again.

Pictured from left to right: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo (SNES), Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)


If your gamer is all about a joystick and and quarter circles then you’ll probably make them happy with an early 2000s era console. For fighting game fans the Sony Playstation 2 and Sega Dreamcast are where it’s at. The Dreamcast is home to many high quality versions of both popular and obscure fighters. Another great thing about the Dreamcast is that playing Japanese games is easy with a simple boot disk (requiring no hardware modification). Also with a great library of 2D fighters is the Playstation 2. Between regular releases and collections, the PS2 is packed with options. Further enhancing it’s selection thanks to backwards compatibility is the massive selection of fighters on the original Playstation/PSOne (although for the most part these are inferior to their arcade counter parts).

Sega Dreamcast Games to Get:
Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, Virtua Fighter 3 tb, Soul Calibur, Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves, King of Fighters 99 Evolution, Last Blade 2, Marvel vs Capcom, Project Justice, Street Fighter Alpha 3King of Fighters Dream Match ’99

Sony Playstation 2 Games to Get:
Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Capcom Vs SNK 2, Tekken Tag Tournament, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (includes arcade-ish versions of Mortal Kombat II & Primal Rage), Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (also includes Street Fighter III 3rd Strike), Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, Samurai Shodown Anthology, King of Fighters Collection- The Orochi Saga, Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore

Pictured from left to right: Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation 2


Maybe your gamer likes his or her games old… I mean really old. Atari and Commodore are the names to get familiar with here. Atari makes things a bit easy since they sell units loaded with games called Atari Flashback. Each Flashback unit comes with a console, a set of controllers, and several games preloaded onto the units memory. Since this is not a real Atari console, you can’t use any Atari carts. The alternative to this is of course to buy a used Atari, the most classic of all being the Atari 2600. Games can be picked up on the cheap. You can usually find a complete Atari 2600 with a few games for under $100. If your retro gamer is more hardcore, you can get them a Commodore 64. C64‘s can be picked up on Ebay with wires and controller for about $70 and the games/software can be purchased for a couple dollars each. While the Commodore 64 was popularized by gamers, it is also home to many softwares for various things including music, business and art. Both consoles are beloved by people who owned them. Be careful with Commodore 64 games as some of them might be on floppy disk, because then you need to make sure you buy a floppy drive if the one you buy doesn’t include it.

Atari 2600 Games to Get:
WarlordsPitfall!Missile CommandDemon Attack, Adventure, Mario Bros, Kaboom!, Solaris, Space InvadersNight Driver.

Commodore 64 Games to Get:
Last Ninja series, Enforcer, Turrican seriesSalamander, KatakisStunt Car RacerUltima seriesShoot-Em-Up Construction KitWasteland, Creatures.

Pictured from left to right: Atari 2600, Commodore 64


While this list is not definitive, these are solid choices with some good games to get. The go to site for retro gaming is eBay, but sometimes you can find deals on Amazon too. If you are fortunate in your town, there may be a used video game store that sells this stuff at reasonable prices. Goodwill can also lead to some good finds, but rarely, and even more rarely are they working.

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