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Shenzhen Safari Ⅱ

Games. Cheaper by the Half-Dozen #

Forty pounds, Forty dollars; Forty years ago,
Forty pounds, Forty dollars; Thirty years ago,
Forty pounds, Forty dollars; Twenty years ago,
Forty pounds, Forty dollars; Ten years ago,

Forty pounds.

Forty dollars;





Hold your horses there, pilgrim. Disarm and dismiss your “well, actually”, your “in my experience”, your pathethetic, snivelling, nasal whine. Because the above poem about game prices isn’t factual. It isn’t fact-checked. It is in fact, an anecdote. A commentary. A feeling. That price has deflated. What effect has this dilution had? Just you strap in. Let’s just enjoy some spike-free time together here. No tricks. I promise. Honest. Just treats.

Supply and Supply and Supply and Supple and Subverted #

Video games came on cassette tapes, floppy disks, hard disks, shiny discs, and for a good chunk of the ’80s and ’90s, monolithic, gravestone ratio cartridges. These physical yearns, with binary ones and zeroes (bits) chiselled or magnetically polarised into place, would slot firmly into the earth of the machine.

Gorgeous, lying art, enrobing a creamy grey Commodore 64 cassette tape, for example. Printed pink or blue, entombed in clear plastic. A colourful, titled spine. Up front, a hand-painted artist’s impression. An enticing blurb with minute screenshots on the rear. A glorified vision from a better world; a superior version of the game, one generation newer at least.

Why is it so pricey? #

A complete package in 1993, and by that I mean wood, stone, plastic, and bone, was only £3–5 (£6–10 in 2023 money). Cartridge games though, were much dearer. Round about, a-ha, oh, I’d say, a-ha-ha, forty quid. Ahem…

This meant, to enjoy the latest SEGA or Nintendo title, you had to either be rich, have a birthday/Christmas on the way, or save up from your child labour work, in my case, a short-lived career as a paperboy for £13 a week (until my bike was stolen, and I got into washing dishes at a hotel instead.)

Games were a rare treasure indeed then. And like it or lump it, if you got a rotten pile of garbage and faeces, you would still explore it all inside-out, forensically rooting around all it’s ugly design failures, bugs, warts, terrible graphics, abysmal gameplay, laggy, dropped inputs and ear-bleedingly discortant sound-effects and music.

Because, even as a noxious pile of toxic waste, lethal rust and metals, it had great value. It was forty pounds for god’s sake. Suffer the monophonic blocks of stimulation, however jagged, samey, painful, and repetitive. The alternative was nature. Was chaos. Was lack of structure. Lack of control. Lack of certainty. Lack of rules. Lack of constraints and limitations. Unbearable. And it had great value. It was forty pounds.

As you got to know your forty pound game like the backs of your unwashed hands, something strange would happen. You would grow an attachment to it. And your interactions with it would be distorted. Somewhere between the projected reality and your processing of reality, your perception would be re-folded.

The broken melodies and predictable movements would shift from repellant to attractive. You, yourself were being re-programmed, by the game. The forty…pound…game.

Warty Forty #

Consider, not-your-toddler-quality art was sold for the same price as the finest masterpieces, worked on by a team of creative geniuses. Forty pounds, please.

And yes, physical piracy plagued all formats, as it does today. But this all changed with the rise of the internet. Even earlier than 1999, games old and new could be copied and captured in minutes.

One could sneak around virtual museums and shops, dodging AOL chatroom creeps: “A/S/L? A/S/L?”, pop-up adverts, invisible viruses, trojan horses, and worse, to magically duplicate and run off with a perfect duplicate of a game, to then imperfectly emulate through a layer of software, hacks, and latency.

Anything TESticle, NESticle better #

Nesticle Menu Screen

Nineties Ninties emulation bore fruit in 1997. NESticle was a popular (and completely free, paperboy) NES emulator, which featured a severed hand’s pointing index finger as a mouse cursor. It’s name came from the smashing together of testicles with Nintendo Entertainment System. A witty portmanteau. Bloodlust Software also developed a Mega Drive / Genesis emulator named Genecyst, and many other outrageously titled games. Software with personality and quirks. Human software. Better times…

Physical, Digital, Forty Pounds, Free #

“When something is free, how much value can it really have?
When something is forty pounds, how little value can it really have?”
Iain Plays, 2023

Spoiled for choice.
Spoiled by choice.
Paralysed by selection [choice].

So what if instead of the infinite jest, your chest of games only had one-hundred, and three, and forty?

143 games. Well, forty years ago, that would be a giant collection. More than a lifetime of enjoyment. Today, with our smoother and faster brains, that’s at least an afternoon’s delight.

A curation of welcome and obvious heavy-weights, interspersed with diamonds in the rough and quiet, curious fancies. Well, such an artefact exists and for around £10, you can purchase an AliExpress 143 NES games in 1 cartridge. (Note: not an affiliate link.)

NES 143 in 1

Shenzhen Safari : NES 143 in 1 #

The NES is a fickle creature with a 72-pin connector. Its mating with a cartridge is so fragile and so prone to failure, that contacts must be cleaned regularly. Dust cannot within a mile of it. The amount of friction, the position, the alignment, the weather, cosmic rays, and levels of torpor
must all be perfectly attuned, or else; tough. No happy beginning—or ending— for you.

You may find also that you have to remove and boil the connector for forty minutes. Or order a new one. Or do both. And/Or cut the fourth leg of a specific processing chip underneath the belly of the machine.

But once you’re in, you can enjoy such sweet meats and rare treats as Sweet Home, which I would never have known of or cared about, had I not received for review The 143 in 1 Best Video Games of All Time NES Cartridge.

Really, prior to this, I thought the NES was just another shitty 8-bit pretender. A pale imitation of the arcades. How wrong I was. Robbed of the opportunity due to my birth-year and birthright, deceived by emulation, I am elated to now bask in the variety and richness of the games from this fine console. It really does make my Sega Master System look like crap. (I think. I’ll have to procure one again, since I carelessly donated mine during the PlayStation era. a story for anothe time.)

So, O Hearken Ye, and see for yourself. This fine example is the 1989 precursor to Resident Evil, Sweet Home, being played via RF connection to a Panasonic TX-G10 (10” CRT). Further, under, the full listing of this exquisite mausoleum. I’ll leave it there. Until we meet again.

The 143 in 1 Best Video Games of All Time NES Cartridge Game List #

Title ID Title Name
1 Adventure Island 1
2 Adventure Island 2
3 Adventure Island 3
4 Adventure Island 4
5 Adventures of Lolo
6 Adventures of Lolo 2
7 Astyanax
8 Balloon Fight
9 Baseball Stars
10 Batman
11 Batman Returns
12 Bionic Commando
13 Blades of Steel
14 Blaster Master
15 Bomberman 1
16 Bomberman 2
17 Bubble Bobble
18 Bubble Bobble 2
19 Castlevania 1
20 Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest
21 Chip n Dale 2
22 Clu Clu Land
23 Contra
24 Contra Force
25 Super Contra
26 Crystalis
27 Deja vu
28 Devil World
29 Donkey Kong
30 Donkey Kong Jr
31 Double Dragon 1
32 Double Dragon 2
33 Double Dragon 3
34 Double Dragon 4
35 Dr Mario
36 Ducktales 1
37 Ducktales 2
38 Earthbound
39 Excitebike
40 Faxanadu
41 Final Fantasy 1
42 Final Fantasy 2
43 Final Fantasy 3
44 Flintstones 1
45 Flintstones 2
46 Friday the 13th
47 Galaga
48 Gargoyles Quest 2
49 Ghost n Goblins
50 Goonies 1
51 Goonies 2
52 Gradius
53 Guardian Legend, The
54 Ice Climber
55 Ice Hockey
56 Ikari 1
57 Ikari 2
58 Ikari 3
59 Jackal
60 Kickle Cubicle
61 Kid Icarus
62 Kings of the Beach
63 Kirby’s Adventure
64 Kung Fu
65 Legendary Wings
66 Life Force
67 Little Nemo: The Dream Master
68 Little Samson
69 Lode Runner
70 Magician
71 Maniac Mansion
72 Mega Man 1
73 Mega Man 2
74 Mega Man 3
75 Mega Man 4
76 Mega Man 5
77 Mega Man 6
78 Metal Gear
79 Metal Storm
80 Metroid
81 Mickey Mousecapade
82 Might and Magic
83 Mighty Final Fight
84 Millipede
85 Moon Crystal
86 Ninja Gaiden 1
87 Ninja Gaiden 2
88 Ninja Gaiden 3
89 Over Horizon
90 Pac-Man
91 Paperboy
92 Parodius
93 Power Blade 1
94 Power Blade 2
95 Rad Racer
96 Rainbow Islands
97 Rampage
98 Ring King
99 River City Ransom
100 Rush n Attack
101 Rygar
102 Samurai Pizza Cats
103 Sansara Naga
104 Section-Z
105 Shadowgate
106 Silver Surfer
107 Skate or Die
108 Smash T.V.
109 Spider-Man
110 Spy Hunter
111 Super Spy Hunter
112 Star Wars
113 Star Wars Empire Strikes Back
114 Startropics 1
115 Startropics 2
116 Stinger
117 Mario Bros.
118 Super Mario Bros. 1
119 Super Mario Bros. 2
120 Super Mario Bros. 3
121 Sweet Home
122 Tecmo Super Bowl
123 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 (Japanese Version)
124 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game
125 Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project
126 Turtles Tournament Fighters
127 Terminator 1
128 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
129 Tetris 1
130 Tetris 2
131 Time Diver Eon Man
132 Tiny Toon Adventures 1
133 Tiny Toon Adventures 2
134 Totally Rad
135 Uninvited
136 Vice Project Doom
137 Willow
138 Willy & Right’s Rockboard
139 Zanac
140 Zelda, The Legend of
141 Zelda 2
142 Zen Intergalactic Ninja
143 Zombie Nation
Thanks for reading Shenzhen Safari .

Every second month throughout 2023, I reviewed a choice piece of AliExpress’ gaming hardware, carefully appraising each gift horse’s mouth, teeth, mane, and muscles.

  1. Shenzhen Safari : Pocket Multi Game (PMG) 99 in 1
  2. Shenzhen Safari : NES 143 in 1 Cart
  3. Shenzhen Safari : Data Frog SF2000
  4. Shenzhen Safari : Wireless PS2 Controller (2.4Ghz | Translucent)
  5. Shenzhen Safari : 3D Neon Sign Lamp Headphone Stand
  6. Shenzhen Safari : Non-tendo 168-in-1 iPhone 12 mini Phone Case