Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Game & Watch: Lifeboat!

So yesterday was a good day, sunburn notwithstanding, I got out to my local park where they had drained the lake and jogged around 5 miles with my friend. But the real prize of the day was that a Game & Watch I'd won from Northern California had gotten to me in just 2 days! Waiting for me on the porch was a familiar Priority Mail box. (not too familiar, since I've been ordering things mainly from Japan for like 4-5 years now)
Now, anyone who knows about G&W collecting knows that you have to be super-wary of pictures. Since most are obtained these days through online auctions, it's sort of impossible to see these things in person and up close before you buy. But I digress. Nearly all Game & Watches, if you have one or are familiar with them, have a universally appealing, yet universally annoying design aspect - metallic elements. Whether it's real metal/metal veneer in the case of the Silver to New Wide Screen series, or metallic stickers on the Multi Screen games, all G&W save for the Tabletop & Panorama series have metallic elements to them. Now, while the Game & Watch wouldn't be the Game & Watch without that special form factor, special details & artistic elements, these metallic elements are super-delicate. They certainly help to "make" the whole package of a G&W, the Wide Screen/New Wide Screen games alone look 1000% better because of their being framed by that metallic sheen. But 25-30 years later, unless someone didn't even touch or play their G&W, chances are you're going to find a scratch here or there on your newly-purchased G&W. The Multi Screen games seem to suffer the hardest from this because the clamshell design basically let kids know that since the game could close & protect the screen that they could just beat the hell out of the outside. The good part of this is that most Multi Screen games have a well-preserved inside - where the screen and some metallic portions are - the bad news is that a lot of them have really screwed up, scratched outsides. And it isn't the solid plastic on the back or around the edges that gets scratched to hell, those parts are tough. No, the metallic sticker with the artwork on the front is almost always beat up.
Pair this up with a camera's flash and metal photographing differently at different angles - and most people's inability to take photos properly - and you have to be exceptionally careful when shopping for a G&W. I haven't really been burned before, but I've definitely had a game or two where, in the auction it was photographed at a "careful" angle (whether deliberate or not), and when I ended up getting it in my hands it was a lot more scratched/dinged than what I saw in the auction. Some people tell you this, but a lot of people just put up pictures and say, "Here's Game & Watch X, it has a battery door and works!" And not being anal, and not having been burned before either, I'm not someone that needs a million additional pictures for something that I'm paying less than $100 for. The good news is that the one I mentioned was a few years ago when digital cameras weren't as wonderful (or wide spread) as they are today. Now, more and more people take 3-4 pics and they're usually really detailed.
What does this have to do with the Game & Watch that I purchased? The inverse of what I just described actually happened in this case. In the photos that the seller took, the G&W he was posting looked in decent shape, but the front looked rather scratched and being that it's a side-by-side Multi Screen, the inside pics were taken from further away to capture the whole G&W properly, so I wasn't entirely sure of the inside, but it looked okay. But Lifeboat is a rare G&W, among G&Ws, so if I could get it for a good price, I wanted it.
A total of three days later, I opened the box and was pleasantly surprised. The front was not nearly as scratched as it had first appeared in the photos, the inside was pristine, the LCD was strong and the back was nearly immaculate. It's nice to be reminded that you can be taken by surprise by something good, too, once in a while when dealing with strangers.

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