August 25, 2009

Bargain Bin Goldmine

DrewMG Says One of the best things about trading games is the ability to check out pieces of gaming history for dirt cheap. If the newest AAA title from Infinity Ward or Harmonix isn’t up your alley, why not look into one of these hidden gems? Sometimes, the best games have the lowest price tag. All of the games in the Bargain Bin Goldmine are only 100 points.

Metroid Prime (Gamecube, playable on Wii) – 2002, developed by Retro Studios
Few games have the kind of hype that came alongside Metroid Prime. Nintendo is a publisher known for milking their key franchises year after year, but eight years passed between installments in the critically acclaimed Metroid series. Even more unusual was the story behind the development of “Prime” – Nintendo handed the series off to an unproven western publisher. Could they handle the expectations of bringing one of the most treasured franchises in all of gaming into 3D? As it turns out, yes. Metroid Prime was a phenomenonal success, and went on to revive the series for Nintendo, leading to four more Metroid titles in the next five years.

Why you might have missed it: It seems hard to remember a time when Nintendo wasn’t wildly successful, but in 2002 it was starting to look bleak for the former champion of the industry. Of the major consoles available at the time, the Gamecube was by far the most overlooked by most video game fans and developers. If your Gamecube was hidden under a layer of dust because you couldn’t put down Halo or Final Fantasy X, you might have missed out on this gem.

Why you should trade for it: Although Nintendo just rereleased this title as part of Metroid Prime Trilogy last month, it will cost you almost nothing to relive this modern classic in its original format. If you’re new to the Metroid series, or looking for a deep adventuring experience on your Wii or Gamecube, this is a can’t-miss title.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 (PC) – 2000, developed by Westwood Studios
While Starcraft was tearing up the charts as a critical and commercial success for Blizzard (the King Midas of PC developers), another well known real-time-strategy series was updated in the form of Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. Set in an alternate universe where Einstein invented time travel and eliminated Hitler before WW2, the Red Alert universe paints a picture of Soviet might threatening the world at large. Set largely in the United States, Red Alert 2 has memorable settings, great controls, and entertaining cut scenes.

Why you might have missed it: You were probably waist-deep in Starcraft tournaments and couldn’t physically make your way to the door. Either that, or you stopped playing PC games because you were afraid of computers in a scary, post Y2K world.

Why you should trade for it: There aren’t that many great classic RTS games that still hold up, but C&C: RA2 is one of them. It will still run well on a modern machine, and while it doesn’t have the sparkle of the modern 3D RTS games, the art design in the Red Alert series has always been top notch. Plus, there’s Tanya. Ah, sweet Tanya.

Gun (PC, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox) – 2005, developed by Neversoft Entertainment
Gaming genres and movie genres don’t tend to overlap cleanly most of the time, but every once in awhile you get something unique like Gun, which is a classic western in the vein of the old Clint Eastwood movies featuring one of the best shots in all of gaming. You play the role of Colton White, a cowboy in a nondescript American setting. The game captures all of the best parts of western movies, while still retaining the feel of a competent open world shooter. A better-than-decent storyline drives the action forward, but you’ll want to venture off the open path early and often, as you track down criminals and seek out your fortune.

Why you might have missed it: The game came out right at the same time as the launch of the Xbox 360, which might have made for a slight distraction. It slipped through the cracks as a graphically subpar 360 title, and a very late-gen title on the PS2, Gamecube, and original Xbox.

Why you should trade for it: This game seemed destined for the bargain bin almost immediately; an original IP in a niche genre. It’s from the developers of the well loved Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero games, so it’s interesting to see something they developed from the ground up as an individual story. It’s available for almost nothing on virtually every platform. Don’t let this one keep away from you forever.