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Travelling with Video Games – Retro Gamer Meets Digital Nomad

One of the most difficult aspects of video game collecting, is dealing with the massive amounts of space required to house your collection. It starts off small, just a little stack of games neatly arranged beside the TV. But a few carts quickly grows into a shoebox, which grows into a book shelf, which quickly absorbs the entire room, creating the formidable gaming den dreaded by wives worldwide.

My apartment was 600 square feet, and was jointly shared with my wife who is certainly understanding of my hobby, albeit not entirely interested in seeing it strewn about our tiny abode. But I made it work through the clever use of storage solutions and stackable boxes.

We have since packed up that old place and moved onwards, choosing instead to live our lives abroad whilst travelling. I won’t get into the specifics, as they aren’t relevant here, but needless to say the collection was one thing that couldn’t come with. One small suitcase each is all we’ve allowed ourselves; how could I keep up my passion for gaming?

Here is what I’ve brought with me:

Portable Retro Video Games

1. Nintendo 3DS XL – Zelda Gold Edition

Nintendo 3DS Zelda Gold Edition
While I am a retro gamer at heart, I am also most certainly a Nintendo fanboy. Their handheld systems in particular are always best in class, and today’s 3DS XL is no exception. I haven’t had a chance to play it that much since I got it a few months ago, as I typically opt to play my home consoles like the NES or Neo Geo, so this is the opportune time to bring some games on the road I’ve been meaning to beat. Not only that, the cartridges are damn small, and I can even download new releases as they come out.

2. Game Boy Advance SP – AGS-101

Game Boy Advance SP AGS-101
I need something retro to balance the “new-ness” of the 3DS. The GBA SP can play both GBA and Game Boy/Game Boy Color games, so was a perfect fit for retro gaming action. The AGS-101 model’s backlit screen is also undoubtedly the best screen available for playing classic GB games. Add on a rechargeable battery pack, and this thing is good to go.

3. Sony PSP 1001

Sony PSP 1001 NES Emulator
This is where things get fuzzy. I’ve always been opposed to emulators, strongly opposed in fact. However I’ve come to accept the fact that a home console simply wasn’t going to fit in the one carry-on suitcase I am taking with me. The Sony PSP is incredibly easy to hack, allowing me to run multiple emulators for my favourite systems. It just makes sense if I need a quick SNES fix on the go. One rule that I am applying (and strictly enforcing), is only downloading roms for games I actually own. While some say this makes it legal to play (but is still a questionable grey area), I think this will allow me to enjoy some retro gaming action without interfering with my collection that may or may not be resurrected at some point down the road.

4. Macbook Pro – 15” Retina w/ Buffalo Retro USB Game Pad

Retro NES Famicom USB Gamepab
I actually use this computer for my work first, and playing second. Nonetheless, it plays a key role in my retro video game arsenal through the strategic use of a couple different emulators.

One of my biggest qualms about playing emulated games, is the lack of original controllers. Say what you will, high level retro gaming is simply not possible using a keyboard or an unresponsive game pads with poor ergonomics; you simply need the original. The Buffalo Famicom USB Controller renders this issue obsolete. Buffalo actually licensed the controller design from Nintendo themselves, creating something that is true to form and as functional as it is fashionable. It is literally the real deal. They also offered a SNES version, but the Famicom version includes shoulder buttons to make cross platform fully compatible.

Going from a house bursting at the seams to a small package of handhelds was no easy feat. However, it is the fate I have chosen for myself and a challenge that I will graciously accept. Does this mean all collecting is off the table? Absolutely not. My travels will take me through the retro video game mecca of Japan, and even to pirate-cart heavy South East Asia. Stay tuned, The Game Kun is taking this thing on the road!

Check out eBay for the latest prices on the Sony PSP, Famicom Gamepad, Zelda 3DS XL, and Gameboy Advance SP!

If you could only take one handheld system with you, what would you take? Let me know how you’d survive in the comments below!

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