Ser Flash's Cheapskate Holidays

If you're like me, you're poor. You don't have enough cash to spread around as you'd like, and that often means, unfortunately, that games get the cut in favor of food, shelter or other essential commodities. But that doesn't mean you can't have hours of fun in front of your ten-dollar, 13" TV from the Salvation Army (or Goodwill, if you prefer.)  


Not pictured: a 13" television from either the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

And honestly, who needs expensive, fancy technology and "triple-A" production this holiday, when you can get all sorts of old-timey awesomeness that's just as fun for way cheaper? The classics are often better anyways. Consider the following:

Super Mario Bros. 3 has been a gaming staple for over two decades. Why bother with Ratchet and Clank when you have all the awesome platforming, head-to-head competition and awesome powers (the most in any Mario game) its source material offers for so very little? With over 90 stages, Super Mario 3 takes a good long time to beat, and it's better with a friend. No online required! As an added bonus, it will actually look better on an old-ass tube TV than it will on today's flat panel models.

River City Ransom is a legendary NES brawler from Technos Japan, released all the way back in the late 80's. It introduced password saves and RPG-style levelling to the brawler scene, and maintains its cult status to this very day. All the tiny details are fantasic as well; where else will you find a free smile as something to buy (and get!) in a shop? Even the Game Boy Advance game didn't have that! Don't forget the awesome 2-player co-op! Grab a friend and a beer, then have the best time ever.

Never mind that this game has been delayed for over a year; if you get Otomedius, you're just spending too much when you could be getting the incredible U.N. Squadron for the SNES. Like Otomedius, it features different characters with advantages and disadvantages from each other, a ton of different weapons and amazing shmup action. However, U.N. Squadron has the advantage of being a choose-your-own-adventure kind of game, allowing you to tackle all of the stages in any order you choose, with different planes available for purchase throughout the game. While Otomedius has yet to prove itself, U.N. Squadron is one of the best shmups ever made. Incredible stuff at such a cheap price point.

Multiplayer was meant to be played split-screen. Internet costs are rising, so why pay more for awesome multiplayer action? Goldeneye 007 is still incredible after all these years. Not to mention the single player campaign is far lengthier than any FPS game on the market today. It kicked everything off for FPS on consoles, and remains a fan favorite to this day. For $7.00, how can you argue?

Star Fox 64 3D is a terrible, terrible thing. Star Fox 64 might have been a decent game, but no other game in the Star Fox series is more deserving for a revision than the original SNES version; It has the least complex graphics, the best music and the highest challenge, so it was the most logical choice to be remade. The bad news is, Nintendo didn't think so. But the fact that the lesser game was remade is just fine by me; Star Fox on the Super NES is still incredible after all these years and the good news is, Slippy isn't the annoying little bitch he was in 64... and a remake would have totally made him into one. For just $5.00, it's also the best priced as well.

This may be a bit of an odd comparison, but hear me out. The uncharted series has cemented itself as one of the best-written games of this generation, and millions of people agree that it's one of the best series yet created. There's just one problem: you need a PS3, and you're poor, remember? There is also another great series of games that were quite well-written back in the 8-Bit days as well; Kemco-Seika published a trio of interactive adventures, starting with the incredible Shadowgate. It had witty humor and quite an immersive story, not to mention mind-bending puzzles that took me years to complete as a kid. I'd recommend the NES version, but it's three times as expensive as the Game Boy Color version. Since the Game Boy Color unit is cheaper than the NES to obtain, Shadowgate Classic is the game you want to get... but either is still great; there's a reason I have both!

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the best Zelda game of all time. You can debate it all you want with Ocarina of Time or any other Zelda title, but don't forget, I'm the one writing this article, so you're wrong unless you agree with me. The main thing about Skyward Sword is its dependence on the Wii Motion Plus controller, which is included in the controller bundle of the game at a $70.00 price point. If you can't score one, well, too bad, buy one separate for $44.99, then pay another $49.99 for the game. Link to the Past doesn't need any fancy controllers, just a SNES pad. It offers a lengthy, very challenging quest, with great 16-bit visuals and effects for a fraction of the cost of Nintendo's latest... and it's the best Zelda game ever. Win/win.

Again, this is a bit of a stretch, but when it boils down to it, Tetris is more intuitive than Layton, and it's dirt-freaking cheap. Tetris is easy to grasp, tough to master and will go as far as you can. Believe me when I say, if you reach a high score and say to yourself, "Man, I'll NEVER be able to top that!", just give it a few more tries. You can always get a better score. The game Boy version also has two player head to head action, which is completely boss. Both it and an original game boy are cheaper than air these days, so if you're into saving money, this is a great way to do it.

Forza may have thousands of cars and tons of real-world locales, and it may have the likes of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson commentating throughout, but Mario Kart 64 has Rainbow Road. The best Rainbow Road. Eight characters, four-player support, battle modes and three classes with sixteen different courses are icing on the cake but seriously... Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road. Oh, and an N64 and a copy of this game costs the same or less than a flat of beer.

Skyrim has become a retail success, there's no denying it. But if you're hard up for cash, a SNES is all you need for great RPG action. Secret of Evermore is often overlooked by fans in lieu of Secret of Mana, but it has a better story (with a great twist!) and challenging game play, not to mention memorable characters and fantastic visuals straight out of 1995. It's the priciest "cheap" game at $20.00, but you'll get more than your money's worth as you travel through Evermore's unforgettable world.

Who needs the latest stats, players and fancy graphics when you can play pixelized, streamlined hockey with a skinny dude, a normal dude and a fat dude? Fast, furious and better with a friend (and beer!), a buck fifty never played so damned well!

So you need an Xbox 360, Kinect, and dance Central 2 which will end up costing you like 450 bucks before any taxes. What the hell! You don't have that kind of money! You're poor! Well, here's a great alternative. Get a $20 PS2 and Mad Maestro. It has nifty analog button support which will play notes harder or softer depending how hard or soft you press the buttons (which plays a part in the actual game play). It's also dirt cheap and, oh, right, it features exactly zero shitty pop music from the last like, century. Instead, it has nothing but classical music selections by Beethoven, Mozart and the like. It's pretty sweet and, for many people, it's music that they have yet to hear, making it extra fresh.


So that's about it. You can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars this holiday season simply by going retro. It's a  popular thing these days anyway. Sure, you won't find Halo or Call of Duty or anything on the production scale of say, Uncharted, but all of these games come from a time when creativity and fun were the primary factors of game design. A time when limitations forced developers to come up with creative workarounds and great graphics took a backseat to true innovation. I don't see it as obsolescence, I see it as a bargain: you just can't go wrong with super fun game play for next to nothing.

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Reader Comments (1)

very awesome!!!!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter8bit_mike
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