It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend tackling a major road trip up and down the West Coast as we made our journey to Seattle all the way from Los Angeles. We stopped by several cool locations that really tickled our gamer tastes, whether they feature great retro game collections or kitschy game paraphernalia. Without further ado, here are several of the places we stopped by that you should definitely check out if you’re ever in the area!
The drive up passing through Central and Northern California is long and windy, filled with nature that reminded us that we had really left the big city. On our stop in Castro Valley, we found ourselves at The Game Alley, a real gamer’s store with everything we could possibly want. We met Alex and had him show us around the extremely well-kept store, bright lights and sturdy racks featuring the best of their games. Definitely a notch up from the stereotype of the dim and dusty game shop. What’s cool is that the shop sports a repair service and a rental service for the faithful customers. Truly, this shop was one that was dedicated to doing gamers right.
Games and Electronics was our next stop over in Hayward which definitely had a homey feel, a true mom-and-pop store for the retro lovers out there. We met the charming and extremely friendly Alia and explored the treasure trove of retro heaven. Super-cool features were the original Sega displays and original Nintendo games in pristine condition (stuff like this are worth as much as a car). We found ourselves drooling over all their excellent retro collection, spying all the cartridges we wanted to take back with us to play on the RetroN 2 and the Supaboy.
Planet Mix was our last stop in NorCal over in Redwood City and boy was it hard to find, tucked away in a practically secret location. However, we were so glad to have found this hidden gem and all its nostalgic glory. What strikes you immediately is the store’s cool antique feel, complete with vinyl covers decorated all over the ceiling and the classic fish tank in the back. The store sells an excellent selection of retro games, vinyl LP’s and CD’s, so this is definitely the stop for those of you looking to fill the gaps of your classic collections.
After hours and hours of driving and ingesting a lot of sleep-inducing road food, we were ready to crash.
We woke up ready and raring to make the next leg of our trip through the long drive through Oregon. The day was full of possibilities as we put our adventurer’s cap on determined to find more gaming treasures
Game Star was our first stop over in Newberg where we met fellow gamers Alex, Jeff and Jeremy. Boy, did these guys know their stuff. We felt immediately welcomed walking and taking a gander at their very respectable selection. They’ve got all the retro and current-gen stuff neatly organized so you won’t have to go digging around. What’s best (and rather extraordinary) was the extent of their used games and trade-in prices. While most stores buy games back at around 10-15% of their current retail value, these guys go as far as 50% with several of their trade-in offers. Dang, these guys mean business!
Game Haven over in Tigard was definitely one of the most fun to hang out in. With classic arcades courtesy of Ground Kontrol, we literally could have spent all day there. Along with their normal retail lineup, they featured a strong repair service and a lot of cool kitsch like gaming T-shirts of all varieties. What we loved most was the promotional 4-foot promotional Halo statue we desperately wanted to take home with us (no room in the car).
Game Trader was our last gaming stop of the day at the Beaverton Mall. Not your usual fare that you’d expect to find in a mall, the store had a great welcome vibe that really made us want to look around. Their strongest suit in addition to their respectable collection of games was the sheer amount of promo items we had. Favorite one? Definitely the replica of the Lancer gun from Gears of War. So many things we wanted to take home with us!
Days 3-4: Finally at SRGE
After much driving and energy drink consumption, we finally made it to the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo. The trip was definitely worth it with all the glory dedicated to avid gamers of all ages.
The tournament scene was strong–we know because we took part firsthand! We started out with the 8-players hook up Steel Battalion complete with flight controls. We found ourselves fighting against world players in the Street Fighter Turbo tournament. Of course, the current-gen games featured in the tournament scene like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3–lots of strong play from strong players with fighters employing those ridiculous hundred-hit combos from characters like Dr. Doom and Vergil. We dominated the play at Halo and Counterstrike, even taking 3rd at the Halo tournament!
Aside from the tournament scene, there was the free play room featuring every console imaginable from old to new. What really stuck out was the large number of kids who were playing the retro consoles, often with their parents. These kids weren’t playing around either–they had retro mojo. It really touched us to see retro gaming take on a cross-generational appeal.
The exhibit hall was amazing and we were honored to be able to feature along our goods along with everyone else. The selection of rare items here is definitely the best along the West Coast. We left with a huge box of games we’re definitely going to get to reviewing real soon! By far the most memorable thing in the exhibit hall was Digital Soap, a store that specializes in making soap shaped and colored like actual gaming products like NES controllers. We definitely wanted to take one home but would never use it: we’d just stare at all the soapy goodness all day.
We left the SRGE happily all gamed out, reveling in the memories of games played and victories won. We want to humbly extend our thanks to Gerald and all the SRGE staff for putting on a great show. With that, we took our leave and headed back home.
Day 4: The Last Few Stops
Though we were thoroughly ready to speed back home as quickly as possible back to the comfort of our own beds, we had to make a few stops to the last couple of game shops we heard good hype about.
Gamer’s Edge in Gresham, Oregon is a great store headed by Jeff, a big head brainiac when it comes to games. A pretty new store, the places was squeaky clean with a great collection of retro and current-gen stuff and some pretty cool offerings like E3 merchandise. The best touch for the kids was the one-of-a-kind Pikachu statue. What’s super-special about the place is that it’s got a try-before-you-buy plan that lets you really pick the games you know you WANT to play, not ones you kind of have to guess on.
The Game Shop was our very last stop in the beautiful town of Lakeport, a small town in California. Not a town you’d think of moving to as a gamer, but if you do, you’re definitely covered here. The shelves are huge, stuffed and packed, an amazing inventory that the owner is so proud of that he challenges anyone to find a store with a larger inventory of games that his. It took us forever just to crane our necks around looking at the titles on the shelves (ouch, neck cramp!).
The trip came to a close as we finally reached LA. Tired but inspired, we were glad we met all these gaming folks who really bring out the best in the gaming community, offering great selections, great prices, and friendly service that all of you should check out if you’re ever in their respective areas. Until next time, we’ll be cranking out those new products and reviewing games!
- 2,793 miles traveled
- 27 energy drinks
- 26 games purchased
- 13 wrong turns
- 12 club sandwiches
- 7 omelettes
- 5 steaks
- 1 speeding ticket