I think that we in Illinois and Missouri are blessed with a chain of stores that is unique in its focus on classic games. Slackers is not like GameStop or Electronics Boutique, where you might find just a few lonely Genesis games jammed in a corner among rows of used PSX titles. To the folks at Slacker’s, the Sega Genesis is not a system for backwater geeks. In fact, I have found that they make a concerted effort to provide their retro gaming customers with the best selection of games possible.
Upon entering a Slackers store for the first time, I was shocked at the number of games and the variety of consoles that they carried. Genesis, 32X, Sega CD, Saturn, Neo Geo, Intellivision, Lynx, Jaguar, NES, Super Nintendo, and even Virtual Boy – it seemed that every console in existence had a least a few titles on the shelves. The game selection varied from a dozen for the Virtual Boy to over a hundred for, you guessed it, the Sega Genesis.
I wandered the aisles as one in a dream during that initial visit, hardly believing my eyes. How could a store have so many different titles for such an old system? And it wasn’t just the common games, either. Rarer games like Aerobiz Supersonic, MUSHA, and Traysia were lined up next to the legendary titles like Shining Force II and Landstalker. Filling the gaps were all the other staples of a Genesis library. Almost the entire 32X lineup was represented, as were a healthy percentage of Sega CD games. Had I found gaming heaven? Let’s take a closer look.
How They Stack Up
Locations: Slackers is a quasi-local chain with only a few branches, all of which are in Illinois and Missouri. I frequent the one in Jefferson City the most, but there are other stores in Columbia, St. Joseph, St. Louis, and the like. The chain is growing fast, however, so if you live in the Midwest you should check out their website every once in a while to see if one is coming to a town near you.
Prices: Ah, the important question. How fair are the prices? Well, at the risk of giving away the ending, this is where I found out there are a few potholes on the road to retro heaven. Although most games are priced fairly, there are a few that sell for outrageous sums. And the prices are all fixed for the entire chain, by the way, so don’t bother shopping around the different locations. The rule is basically this: if the game is famous or an RPG, then it’s going to cost you. Shining Force II moves for upwards of $50, as do Phantasy Star IV, Warsong, and all the rest. Crusader of Centy and Landstalker are more reasonably priced at $30 and $15 respectively, but odds are that you could get a better deal elsewhere. So no, Slackers is not the place to get RPGs.
Fortunately, it’s the unsung heroes of the Genesis that you can really get the good deals on. Ranger X, Alisia Dragoon, Trouble Shooter, and the like are all $5 games. 32X games are stupidly cheap for obvious reasons, with Shadow Squadron and Doom 32X going for a laughable dollar, while Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing Deluxe, and Afterburner can be in your hands for only a little more. The bottom line is that Slackers won’t help you if you’re trying to score legends for a pittance, but it will let you snatch up all those glorious little hidden gems without breaking your wallet. This makes a difference for those trying to build up their library quickly.
Condition: This is where you need to watch out. Yes, it is indeed possible to score MUSHA complete for $8 dollars. But not always. You see, the selection at Slackers is purely dependent on what gets traded in. Although they try hard to have as many games on hand as they can, they do not require trade-ins on old systems to be complete. They might have a box, a manual, or both, or just one chewed up and faded cartridge. It’ll cost you the same either way. Don’t despair if they don’t have a manual or box for the game you’re after, though. Enough people trade in that if you wait and continue checking periodically, odds are that you’ll get it in great condition eventually. Another one of the cool things is that you can ask them to order a game from another branch, further increasing your odds of getting what you’re after.
Trade: You can trade games for store credit. How much you get is somewhat dependent on the condition of the game, but in general it’s about 45% of the sticker price for that game. You can’t get quotes over the phone due to store policy, so you’ll have to take stuff in to the counter to see how exactly much it’s worth. Slackers will not give you cash for trade-ins, and for newer consoles (Saturn and later), they require the original packaging and inserts.
Return Policy: You can return any game within 90 days as long as you have the receipt and the game is faulty. At that point, they’ll exchange your broken game for another copy or give you store credit if they don’t have another one on hand.
Tips: There are little coupons circulating in local magazines and ad sheets that allow you to get $5 dollars off a game that originally costs $15 or more. Also, if you buy three games you get a fourth – of equal or lesser value, of course – for free. Note that neither of these offers activate if you use credit from trade-ins to get the games. And like I said, don’t be afraid to ask them to get a game from another branch. They’re usually more than willing to make the call and get it for you. You can also get games off the shelf and reserved for you behind the counter for up to a week. Lastly, they have the most popular consoles set up on televisions so you can try out games before you buy.
Worth the Trip?
In the final analysis, Slackers is definitely a place to check out if you have the chance. Nowhere outside of eBay can you find the same range of titles, and there’s nothing quite like being able to take a game home without having to worry about — or pay for — shipping. It’s a real-life place where you can trade and buy games, CDs, DVDs, game guides, collectibles, accessories, and all the other miscellaneous junk that we gamers like to have all over our house. Although there are a few drawbacks, like unspecified condition, occasional price gouging, and a lack of imports, there’s still a lot to be thankful for. The people at Slackers genuinely respect the gaming community (or at least our money), and for once it’s nice to go to a place where you can ask about Knuckles Chaotix and not get blank stares.