Creating a Game Room: Part 13 - Adventures in Consolidation
My wife recently asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day. New grilling tools? A trip to the arcade? A nice day with my family? Those all sound nice, but no. After careful consideration, I decided that what I wanted more than anything else was to have a day, an uninterrupted day, to spend in my basement organizing my video game collection. She agreed, and it was as great as I could have possibly imagined.
The thing about my collection being so condensed is that when I get new stuff to add to it, it frequently doesn’t wind up going where it necessarily belongs. For example, a few years ago I came into a fantastic PlayStation 2 collection that a friend of mine was giving away. Trouble was, it made my PS2 collection bigger than the container I had allocated for PS2 games. So they found temporary homes in other bins. Or, say I have some reason to get something weird out of a box, like for our panel at LI Retro last year. I had to get a bunch of weird controllers together. But those were all bundled with their respective consoles. So when LI Retro was over and I came home, I just sort of put them in a box with the other stuff I picked up at the show and left it there. This kind of stuff has been happening for years, and it’s gotten to the point where the whole storage situation needed a dramatic overhaul. It’s the kind of thing that never stops bugging me. But when I came up with the idea for that “essentials” shelf in the last post, it really motivated me. I had Father’s Day as an excuse, so I made the plan, and executed it.
While considering what I was about to embark on, it occurred to me that doing it solo might not be the best strategy. There was some stuff in my attic that I wanted to consolidate into the basement, or at the very least look into. There are some extremely large boxes full of who knows what. This is a 2-person job. So I enlisted my good friend Mike (who used to be on the SAG Podcast with us) to help me out. I’m very thankful he was there because, well, it became quite a mess pretty fast.
As you can see, the first step was to take everything out of the two closets. In case you haven’t been following this process, in my basement I have two closet spaces. One is where I wanted to put my “essentials shelf,” and the other also houses my water heater, heating unit, and other house-related important stuff. It’s a little tougher to access, but there’s more than enough space to actually keep a decent amount of stuff without it being dangerously close to our appliances. There wasn’t always a great rhyme or reason to what stuff went in what closet, but Mike and I decided that since I’ve put together that rack for my retro consoles on my CRT, I should basically divide the two closets up between consoles & accessories and games. So, with a few exceptions, that’s what we did. First up was closet 1: Consoles & accessories.
The exception to that rule was these big boxes. In the picture above this one you can see Mike standing behind one of these guys. I have four of them, and they all fit pretty perfectly behind the “essentials shelf.” I knew that if I wanted to fit all my consoles and accessories in the less accessible closet, I was going to have to consolidate them as much as possible. Fortunately for me, I found a bunch of extra space inside these big boxes. They mostly contain weird big stuff like guitar controllers, Dreamcast keyboards, DK Bongos, and some boxed systems and controllers and the like. These are where my Aura Interactor, U Force, and those weirdo doodads live. It was a real trip digging through these boxes. The whole collection, really, but these boxes have so much weirdness in them. (I forgot I had 3 sealed 3DO controllers!) But as much fun as that was, I still had to make sure I was packing away things I wasn’t going to have any real need to get to anytime soon. Not to get too deep into it, but the position I’m in with my collection is weird, and sometimes upsetting. I love this stuff. Like, I really love it. All of it. Even the garbage. So it kills me to have to have it packed away, but it’s an unfortunate necessity for my life. On the other hand, there are probably collectors out there who have the space and lifestyle to display all this stuff that I’m basically hoarding away in these boxes. I get a ton of joy out of seeing them every few years, but is it wrong of me to keep them when I’m not really using them? Naturally, the idea is for me to eventually have this stuff out and about, but there’s no physical way for me to display all the stuff I have. Not even when the kids are older. I’m going to have to address that one of these days. But Father’s Day was not that day!
The next project was finally getting all my consoles back in order. This is something that’s been driving me bonkers for way too long. When I first bought these bins forever ago, the idea was to keep certain types of consoles grouped together. But as time went on, and I pulled out different units to mess with and then either forgot where they came from or was just too lazy to put them away properly, things got all kinds of out of whack. After going through a massive amount of cardboard boxes with completely random crap in them, I was able to track down all of the consoles I own and get them where they belong. These are just the units that I don’t have connected to my CRT. These are the spares, as well as the things I hope to hook up someday. I have all my Sega stuff in one bin, my PlayStations and Xboxes in another, Atari-era stuff like my Odyssey units, Intellivisions, etc. all in one bin. You get the picture. Above you can see my spare Nintendo console box. There’s an indigo and a platinum GameCube in there, while my black one is hooked up. Those are the four remaining NES consoles I mentioned in my previous post that I disabled the lockout chips in. One of those SNES units is missing a bunch of its shell, but the other one works fine. Then there’s the Nintendo 64s, which I love. I’m not a huge fan of the N64 as a console, but as a physical thing, I think it’s spectacular, especially the Funtastic ones. I have the Jungle Green unit which I bought for Donkey Kong 64 because I was still living with my parents at the time and had more money than I knew what to do with apparently. I have a second plain black unit, the Smoke Gray unit, and the Gold unit which I freaking love. I used to work at a comic book store a long time ago and a really nice family who shopped there gave that to me before I moved away and it’s super awesome. So were they. One of these days I’m going to plug in my gold controller, that gold system, and my gold Ocarina of Time just for the aesthetic.
This bin here, this one I love. And it’s a very impressive piece of Tetris-ing, if I do say so myself. This houses all of my handhelds that aren’t in use, including my Tiger LCD units, and I can’t believe it actually closes. For the past few months I was convinced that I had somehow lost most of this stuff. I was looking for it all over but I couldn’t find the box. I was so relieved when I did because it has some of my favorite toys in it. Besides what you see here, this box also contains my Watara SuperVision, my Target Red and Toys R Us Black GBAs, and my boxed Turbo Express. If I ever get another handheld there’s no way it’s fitting in here, but for now, this box couldn’t be more perfect.
With my consoles and handhelds finally organized and consolidated, it was time to attack the real hard part: Wires…
When all was said and done, we managed to fill up about 5 cardboard boxes that looked like this, just from the random boxes and bags I’ve amassed in the last few years. That’s equal parts awesome and so not cool. I hate having this many tangled messes laying around, but over the past 3-4 years, a lot of people have given me bags and/or boxes with their old systems in them. And most of the time, those systems come with a random assortment of wires that may or may not actually correspond with the systems included. I wish I could say I went through all these cords, wrapped them up neatly, and filed them away. But I did not. I did, however, put a basic strategy in place for me to be able to do that in the future. Basically I have four kinds of bins. I have components (power supplies and RF/AV cables bundled with 1st party controllers) in one bin, spare controllers tucked away in smaller bins organized by generation, light guns (of which I have a shocking number of), and finally, a bin full of random wires and stuff hat I need to go through one of these days. It took some doing, but we finally got all that stuff to fit into some bins, and we had just enough space to fill that closet exactly the way we wanted to.
It doesn’t look like it in this picture, but those bins behind the water heater are a good 6 inches away from it. It’s nice and safe, I promise. So, with one closet down, it was time to move onto the part I was looking forward to the most, and the part that was going to take the most time. The games.
Oh, the games. This was the one that had been killing me the most. Finally organizing these things was such a tremendous relief. Just like the systems and accessories before them, Mike and I just grouped everything together and organized. Some boxes had a few NES games, some had Intellivision and Atari, lots of loose PSX and PS2 stuff popped up all over, it was a real mess, and getting everything together was a blast. Of course, the goal here was two-fold. I wanted to make sure I was consolidating as I went so I could be sure I had enough room to fit everything, and I also had to pull games out as I went to fill up my “essentials shelf.”
Since the shelf wasn’t going to be used for any handhelds, it brought me no small joy to finally get this box together again. A few years ago (in this very series) I wrote about an essentials shelf in my old apartment. That shelf contained a decent selection of my boxed Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games. When we moved out of that apartment, those games wound up being packed in a separate box because the remainder of my collection was living in my parents’ garage. After we moved into our house, I never re-integrated those games, and the remaining space in this box wound up being taken up by other random games. For the past few months, I was convinced this box had mysteriously disappeared. Turns out I foolishly crammed it all the way at the bottom in the back of the closet space, where I was sure I had only put boxes I knew I wasn’t going to need to get to for any reason. Probably because this is where a bunch of those PS2 games I mentioned landed, many of which are shooters and sports games I don’t care about. Putting all my GB, GBC, GBA, and Virtual Boy stuff back in one place was joyous. This is easily one of my very favorite bins in my house. So much great stuff. (That Mega Man V is a repro box. The cart inside it is real though.)
Since I have flash carts for my NES and SNES, I decided I wouldn’t need to put anything from those two platforms on the shelf. Sega, on the other hand, was going to be a big part of it, particularly Genesis and Saturn. I inherited a couple of massive Genesis collections 6 or 7 years ago, and I didn’t have enough bins to fit them all uniformly. Fortunately, I learned that these document boxes fit Genesis stuff really well, so a lot of the collection is in those. I have the one plastic bin and 3 of those document boxes covering my Genesis stuff. However, I also have a 4th document box that was overflowing with empty Genesis and Master System cases. But that’s not all.
I have what can only be described as an absurd amount of spare boxes and manuals. The cardboard stuff I was able to safely flatten out years ago, which I must say is always super fun to flip through. Back in the day, FuncoLand stopped displaying these boxes, and they told all the stores to just throw them away. So I got in my car and hit every store in my district to salvage as many as I could. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. These are all things I hope to fill or sell off one of these days, and they don’t take up very much space. It’s this small box, and a document box full of manuals and inserts. The trouble with Genesis and Master System spare boxes, though, is that they take up just as much space as games. I can’t get rid of them yet because there are definitely empty boxes in there I really want to get carts for, including X-Men and Contra: Hard Corps for Genesis, and Fantasy Zone: The Maze for Master System. But that’s going to be a project for another day. I’ll have to put a list together of what I want to complete and what I want to get rid of. There’s definitely some great stuff in here that could make for some very happy collectors someday.
Anyway, once all my games were consolidated, it was time to Tetris them into the closet while leaving enough room for the “essentials shelf.” The closet space extends under the stairs, so it was pretty fun trying to make that work.
I went in layer by layer, trying to decide which box was the least likely to get used so I wouldn’t have to dig the whole closet apart every time I wanted something. I decided that my boxed Atari stuff was probably where I should start, which turned out to be extremely foolish because a week later I went to TooManyGames and stumbled on a bunch of boxed Atari games I wanted. The upside was that after the organization, this closet is far less of a pain to get through than it was before, so that’s certainly a consolation prize.
By the time it was done, I had this giant gap that wasn’t there before that made accessory storage far more manageable than it used to be. I grabbed some PSX/Saturn light guns to keep handy for a little House of the Dead action, a pair of Dreamcast keyboards for Typing of the Dead, some DK Bongos so I can play DK Jungle Beat, and a bunch more. The end result was far better than I could have hoped. And finally, the shelf.
The shelf itself sits a good inch off the ground, so if there’s ever a situation where my basement floods and it gets to the games, I have bigger problems than those games. Still, I kept some of the less expensive stuff toward the bottom, just in case. Not that Gitaroo Man on PS2 is cheap, but you get the idea. At the top of the shelf I put my video game VHS tapes, which I’ve decided need to be a thing I have regular access to. Not that I’ll be watching them all that often, but I do want to eventually have a VCR hooked up to my CRT so I can watch my old FuncoLand trailers tape or that sweet Donkey Kong Country Nintendo Power video.
In a shocking turn of events, we managed to finish this whole project about 1 hour ahead of schedule. So we decided to pull the trigger on a secondary project, adding more consoles to my CRT setup!
I don’t have enough parts to extend the shelves all the way to the floor, but I did have enough to add 4 more systems to the setup. I decided to go with an Xbox, PlayStation 2, Atari 7800, and Turbo Duo. The reason I didn’t have enough racks to complete it down to the floor is my protection plan. I added the shelves just like I did before, but I also put racks on the front to protect the consoles from being manhandled by my kids, especially the Xbox and PS2 with their fragile disk trays.
The Xbox works, but it’s weird. It has trouble turning off. I usually have to hit and hold the button several times to make the thing actually shut down. Also, I forgot how freaking heavy those things were. That is the most beefy console I’ve ever seen. Even heavier systems like the CD-i, and bulkier systems like the Atari 5200 don’t compare to the sheer beefyness of the Xbox. Also, that original controller is hilariously oversized. I don’t see myself playing a TON of Xbox games, so it’s not exactly an issue. It’s just a piece of gaming history I kind of forgot about.
I also forgot about the very specific anxiety that comes with turning on a PS2. Waiting for it to recognize the disk instead of going to the Browser menu still gives me a touch of stress. Fortunately, this PS2 is one that’s barely been used, and it works like a freaking champ. It was hardly necessary because I have a backward compatible PS3 hooked up to my Other TV, but sometimes you just want some good old fashioned CRT playing for the oldies.
The Atari 7800 is pretty cool because it’s AV modded. So I can play my 2600 games without having to hook up the old RF switch, which makes me happy. It’s super loud though, which is kind of strange. Like, noticeably louder than any other console hooked up to this TV. Not a dealbreaker, just something weird.
Finally we have my Turbo Duo, which actually isn’t hooked up to the TV because I don’t have the wires for it. I don’t even know if the thing works. I bought it off a customer at my FuncoLand probably 20 years ago. I bought the system, which is missing the Hu Card slot cover, with 1 controller, no wires, and six games. I was never able to find the wires to hook it up when I got it, and I kinda just sat on it ever since. I know, pretty awful. I don’t own any games on it that I really need to play, and any games for the CD that are worth the effort to get are way out of my price range anyway. I also have a TG16 and Turbo Express, so I’ve had access to my TG16 library (as small as it is), just not the CD stuff. Well, it’s time to rectify that problem. I went online and found an adapter that turns a Genesis power supply into the right one for this, and apparently it uses the same AV as the Genesis 1, so I’m going to order another one of those from Stone Age Gamer and see how it runs. Hopefully well, but if not, I’m going to look into getting it repaired. It’s such a cool-looking system.
And that was my Father’s Day. Then I went to my parents’ house for dinner afterward, and it was pretty much the best day ever. And I swear I actually sleep better at night now knowing that all my stuff is right where it belongs. Yes, there are more boxes in the attic than I’d like, but there’s an endgame in sight now. When it comes time for me to actually put up shelves and put my library on display, I won’t have to go rooting through everything to get it organized. All I have to do is keep what I have now nice and tidy and I’ll be good to go.
But there’s still plenty of work to do in the meantime, including my adventures with the Turbo Duo, adding consoles to the bottom shelves, and retrobright-ing my SNES. It’s going to be quite an adventure, and hopefully quite spectacular when it’s all done.
The Game Room story so far:
NOTE: These older posts are missing their images. I’m working on getting that fixed as soon as I can!