The MoeGamer Awards: Best Retro Systems to Collect For in 2017

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!

Today’s category comes from… well, me, because I wanted to write about it. I’ve really taken to collecting games over the last few years, particularly quirky, interesting or rare Japanese titles that don’t typically get a lot of attention — fodder to write about, in other words — and have spotted a few trends this year that may be of interest to those seeking to expand their own collection.

Specifically, if you’re not particularly attached to the idea of always being totally “current” with your game collection, or if you’re keen to see how far things have come (or not!) over the course of the last 20 years or so, these are the systems you might want to focus your collecting efforts on.

And the winner is… err, winners are…

PS2, PSP and Wii

The Ace Combat games on PS2 still look great and play amazingly well today.

It kind of hurts my heart a bit to refer to these systems as “retro”, but honestly, one can’t really deny it any more; at the time of writing, the PlayStation 2 came out seventeen years ago, the PSP thirteen years ago and even the damn Wii is eleven years old now. Those of us who have fond memories of these systems first time around are not as young as we used to be, that’s for sure.

However, the thing I adore about all three of these systems in particular is that the games remain just as good as they were “back in the day”. The PS2 in particular arguably marked the first generation of games consoles where the technology was good enough to make some truly timeless experiences that still form a recognisable part of what gaming “is” today. Sure, the Super NES and Mega Drive play host to some indisputably classic games, but they’re of a noticeably different era — to put it another way, a younger gamer who grew up with the Xbox 360, PS3 and beyond would still be very comfortable playing anything the PS2 had to offer, while it would likely take a bit of adjustment for them to familiarise themselves with the immaculate 2D gameplay the 16-bit era offered.

Part of my PS2 collection.

The PSP, meanwhile, is a console I had back when it was current, but I feel I underexplored and underappreciated it at that time. I was under the foolish misconception that handheld games were inherently less “good” than big-budget stuff that you played on your telly, so I didn’t actually pick up many games for my first PSP while I had it, and even, to my shame, eventually traded it in. In my defense, this was long before I had the passion for obscure Japanese titles that I do now; had I gotten more deeply into the scene a little sooner I would doubtless have picked up a number of games that are worth a small fortune now.

As for the Wii, well, it’s a much-loved system with good reason, primarily for its emphasis on social, party games, many of which are still a whole lot of fun to play today. But what I find particularly interesting about the Wii is that it also plays host to a wide variety of unique Japanese games that you can’t get on any other platform — games that almost certainly got no attention from the press at the time. Sometimes this is because these games make use of the Wii’s distinctive control scheme and simply wouldn’t work in the same way on other systems; at other times, such as in the case of the three “Operation Rainfall” RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower, it was because the lower development overheads for creating games on the system meant that the games could be more ambitious, creative and experimental — albeit not as technically proficient as the then-new HD consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

Pandora’s Tower: one of the pricier Wii games, but one you’ll want in your collection.

The reason I lump all three of these systems together as being the best systems to collect for in 2017 is pretty simple: they all seem to occupy a pretty similar tier in terms of pricing and rarity. Working systems and games are easy and affordable to get hold of, and much of the physically released software for all three platforms can be picked up for as little as 50p per game if you shop around — often with some of the most interesting, obscure and weird games (say hello, Simple Series) occupying the bottom end of the pricing ladder.

There are exceptions, of course; all three platforms have their rare games that command hefty prices, as you might expect. Taking popular UK second-hand game store CEX as a rough indicator (I’m a Brit, remember, so prices may vary a great deal depending on where you are, and CEX prices probably err a little higher than private sales), the most expensive PS2 game they have listed at present is Rule of Rose at £190, though this is out of stock at the time of writing; if we go purely by titles that are more readily available, you’re looking at Persona 3 FES for £65. PSP’s top end, meanwhile, is Fate/Extra at a much more reasonable £42, and Wii’s priciest game is the aforementioned The Last Story at £65. Relatively expensive, sure, but certainly affordable, Rule of Rose aside — in that case, the high rarity is primarily due to it only getting a release in mainland Europe rather than the UK, so the situation may be somewhat different elsewhere in the world.

If you collect for PS2, definitely don’t sleep on the Shadow Hearts series.

Mostly, though, these three are all satisfying to collect for because they each play host to an incredibly broad, diverse library of games in a variety of different styles and genres. We’ve already seen a lot of weird and wonderful PS2 games here on MoeGamer this year, and there will be more to come — along with plenty of PSP and Wii titles to accompany them — in 2018.

Much as you’ll often have a richer, more interesting and rewarding gaming life if you step off the beaten track and explore some lesser-known releases for current systems, you’ll likely also find you’ll have a more rewarding collecting experience if you don’t immediately gravitate towards the big-name, well-known or high-ticket games for these systems. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to suddenly be ten or twenty games stronger and have spent a quarter of the price of a brand new title… or less! Sometimes those 50p games suck, of course — discovering this can be fun in its own way — but sometimes you may find yourself with a new favourite that no-one’s ever heard of.

The PSP Ridge Racers are some of the best — if not the best — in the series. Make sure to snap up copies while they’re cheap!

I salute you, then, PS2, PSP and Wii — and I look forward to expanding my collection with many more interesting and unusual games over the course of 2018!

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7 thoughts on “The MoeGamer Awards: Best Retro Systems to Collect For in 2017”

  1. Even though I have sold my PS2 a few months ago along with my entire collection of games for it, it is the console that I have the best memories for. It had so many wonderful games that it’s almost impossible to name all of my favorites. But it will always be the console that I cherish the most. It was also a gaming system that pretty much had a game on offer for everyone. But man, God of War, Ratchett and Clank, Metal Gear Solid: Sons of liberty, Resident Evil 4…so many great games. These posts always end up making me feel very nostalgic. But in the best possible ways 😀😀


  2. Reading this really makes me wish my PSP had not broke… and that I had money, but then again EVERYTHING makes me think the latter. By the way, have you ever played Sakura Wars: So Long My Love by any chance? It is among my top 5 favorite games and it was not released in English until 2010, 5 years after its Japanese release. It actually did get a Wii port at the time, and I believe that was the only one released in Europe while us Muricans got the PS2 version as well. I believe it was one of the last games released on the system. Would also recommend Fragile Dreams on the subject of underrated Japanese Wii titles.


      1. Awesome, I do need to replay it myself one day. It would be nice if we saw it get a rerelease in some form since the market for visual novel dating sims is now a lot larger than it was in 2010.


  3. Good call. I’d say the original Xbox could go on that list. Basically that entire generation will in my mind be the peak of 3D/polygonal gaming. Like you say, the balance of capability with cost meant that games could be so much more imaginative and risky than any generation before or since. For PS2, Gitaroo Man and Ghosthunter are some of my favorite little gems. Hoping to pick up Opoona at some point for the Wii and Ogre Battle on PSP remains my favorite iteration of that series. Such a wonderful time, before all the social anxiety and shallow critiques of frame rate issues…


    1. Oh yeah, some good picks — I’d be interested to try Opoona in particular after playing Hyperdevotion Noire and seeing the character directly inspired by Opoona in it. I also have Tactics Ogre for PSP on my shelf but am yet to be brave enough to give it a go as I know it will devour my life!


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