Boiling down game collecting to its core leaves you with the essential elements of the hobby. Of course procuring games is one of these said elements. Key to the success of any fruitful collector is knowledge. Knowing about games, the series they belong to, the development staff behind them, and other useful information can turn you on to games you may not otherwise give a second thought to. Here are some tips for discovering your next favorite game in the sea of lesser known titles.
For starters, think of a game, game series, developer, or anything that you personally like. An example might be our old buddy Final Fantasy. I like Final Fantasy quite a bit, so let’s take that to heart and do some research.
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Just from the title, we can assume this is part of a series. But, if you’re not sure, or if you just want to confirm, my best advice is to check the “always accurate” Wikipedia. From there, we can get some useful information to work with about the game, including:
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG (Role-Playing Game)
Publisher: Square Enix (Formally Squaresoft)
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Plus a ton of other information (but this is good enough for our purposes).
Being a part of the Final Fantasy series is definitely a good thing. Despite it being one of, if not the, most well-known RPG series, it also has to be somewhat decent considering this is the seventh game in the series and it was released in 1997. For you as a learning collector, keep an eye out for more games in the Final Fantasy series because you like this one and can safely assume the others will be similar.
FFVII is a traditional RPG, with turn based battles and a dynamic combat system. The RPG genre is massive, with dozens of series’ on multiple consoles, each with unique combat and traditional or action based fighting. While looking for games, try to seek out other RPGs whether on the PS1 or a separate system. Strangely, you can usually identify an RPG by the box art: role-playing games likely have a high fantasy setting which is sometimes depicted on the game’s cover.
Square Enix developed the game in house and published it themselves as well. The Japanese company is known for producing RPGs. With this, you can start looking for any and all games made (either developed or published) by Square Enix. This particular company has been around for decades, so you’ve got a lot of systems and games to hunt down. Also worth noting, Square Enix was formerly two separate companies, Squaresoft and Enix. The two merged some time ago and combined their RPG assets. Coincidentally, Enix is another reputable company to search out for RPGs (they make the Dragon Quest series).
The last few bits of information you can work with are much more specific and challenging to use. A video game is developed by a large group of people with generally a few working as directors in charge for a large portion of the game’s content (like the story, overall gameplay elements, main mechanic, etc.). If you happen to really like a game, look up the developer or team behind it. In the case of Final Fantasy VII, the game was produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who happens to be the brainchild behind the entire series. You might want to seek out more games by this person now, and these games are sometimes not on the console or even the same genre. In the case of Sakaguchi, he left Squaresoft in 2004 and formed Mistwalker Studios, which went on to create the Blue Dragon series of RPGs.
In rarer cases you might fall in love with one specific aspect of the game. Final Fantasy is extremely famous for it’s musical scores, Final Fantasy VII included. A quick reference and we can see the game and many others were composed by famous Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu. If the soundtrack really made the game for you, try to locate other games with this same composer or musical team. If you weren’t sure of the awesomeness of Nobuo Uematsu, just know that there’s an orchestral tour featuring all of his music. Yeah, he’s that good (and I attended one of the shows… it’s pure ear cocaine).
That almost wraps it up for the info you can scour from Wikipedia (or at least the info I’d recommend). But that doesn’t mean we’re stopping on the quest to learn about games! The next few tips require a bit more input on your end to turn results, but the outcome can be incredibly worthwhile. Below are a few websites I like to use to discover new games.
Gamespot has been around for a long time. It was the first video game site I frequented once we got a computer back in the 90’s. The reason I list it here for collecting purposes is because of the nifty little feature they add on each specific game page. Let’s look at Final Fantasy VII’s for visual guidance:
Found towards the middle of each game’s page are the “Games You May Like,” These games are essentially the same games you’d find using the above information we’ve gathered but in a clickable link. Use this! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (more as a child) perusing through these games, finding interesting titles I wouldn’t otherwise know about, and then searching them out for years. You might hit some loops (the similar games listed link back and forth to one another), but this is an incredibly valuable tool if you’re looking for similar games.
I’m listing Screwattack here because I need a specific site, but really any site with a retro section will work. But for all intents and purposes, Screwattack has fit the bill for me for many years now. The site has a “Video Game Vault” feature, which highlights an older game or game series, giving information and/or personal stories about each. These videos are simple, entertaining ways to learn about new games. There are plenty of other video series that do the same thing (just Google or YouTube “top ten video games for XXX system” or “XXX system hidden gems” and you’ll find many), so it’s not a matter of finding them, just discovering a series you enjoy.
Lastly we’re heading back to our friend Wikipedia. This method is more mundane than the rest but can still produce results. The crowdsourced network has compiled a list of all known released games for just about every system. Not only can this be used as a checklist for a collector, but it’s also a straightforward way to shed light on relatively unknown games and game accessories. I personally go through the lists for a random console every now and then, just to brush up on my knowledge when I’m out hunting. This is the most time consuming method and doesn’t always produce as much as other ways discussed, but it’s definitely the most comprehensive way to find games.
The final piece of advice I can give you as a game collector is to remember what you’re looking at while shopping for games. By that I mean to remember names of games, cover art, genres, anything like that. This way if you’re unaware of a game you’re looking at, you can look it up later and perhaps conclude it’s a game you’d like to own. This is one of the best parts of collecting: finding out about new games! So long as you remain aware of the details stated above (or any other criteria I’ve omitted that you personally find helpful) then you’ll be a guru of games in no time!