PREVIOUSLY I covered the local arcade scene. This week, another subject dear to the nostalgia- (or curiosity-) driven gamer: the retro video-game store.
Gamestop, eBay and other online venders have made life difficult for mom ’n’ pop retro stores (like arcades, retro-game stores are almost always mom ’n’ pop affairs). Not only do online sources wreak havoc on pricing, lowering and raising game and hardware values based on national collecting trends, they drain potential inventory, as savvy sellers can now offload their used wares directly online rather exchange them at a local store.
While store owners combat this by building up local communities, buying in bulk and offering repair services and other goods (such as ever popular collectible card games), a retro video-game shop is not one of the more lucrative ventures you can get into. In many cities, having just one quality shop can be considered a lucky break. Las Vegas is blessed with three.
Each offers merchandise from the entire range of gaming history, from classic consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Genesis to modern Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo systems, and each has its own specialties and charm. My suggestion? Make a day of it and visit all three.
A GAMER’S PARADISE
Originally known as Sean’s Game Repair, this retro/repair shop has undergone a rebranding and a mid-2011 expansion, with a second (and larger) storefront located immediately west of the Pinball Hall of Fame. A longtime arcade and console collector, owner Sean LaBrecque is font of classic video-game history, knows what to keep an eye out for and often seeds his store’s selection with odds and ends from his own collection, resulting in the occasional obscure gem you wouldn’t typically find in another shop. Both locations feel as much like a museum as a retail space, with boxed titles and rare hardware surrounding shelves full of cartridges, discs and arcade cabinets set to free play. I give the edge to the Tropicana space due to its greater selection and proximity to the Pinball Hall. 1550 E. Tropicana Ave. No. 4; 1000 N. Nellis Blvd., Suite C; www.agpvegas.com
WII PLAY GAMES
Tucked into a Nellis Boulevard strip mall and owned by Mickey Tenney (who recently returned to the scene after opening Gameworld and Gameland Arcade a decade ago), Wii Play Games caters to geek culture, featuring a large assortment of video games, card games, anime and collectible figures. The used video-game selection is outstanding, and there’s always a crowd in the evenings, with frequent Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Uh tournaments. Additionally, the store posts buy and sell price lists online, making it easy for the collector to plan a trade or purchase. 3310 S. Nellis Blvd., Suite 10, www.wiiplaygameslv.com
Another retro store with a heavy emphasis on card gaming, Gameworld is split into two distinct sections: video games and DVDs in the front, collectible card games in the back. For card-gamers, Gameworld is heaven, with a large room filled wall-to-wall with Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Uh and other collectible cards. The shop has either an extremely gracious clientele or a fastidious team, as its selection tends to be the best organized. Card-game tournaments are held in the evenings and on weekends, and plenty of space has been allotted for both casual and tournament play. 5620 W. Charleston Blvd.; www.gameworldvegas.com
CHRIS AINSWORTH is a native Las Vegan and a tech dilettante. Find him on Twitter (@driph)or at driph.com.