Rare Games: How to Find Them, How to Fix Them


For the past year I’ve been on the hunt for two of the rarest games of the last console generation. These two Xbox and Gamecube games are also considered to be among the best in their genres even today.

The first, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I had played before with fellow Amish Otaku writer Ed Kidhardt. I’ve also gone a few rounds in competition, getting soundly defeated by the best in the world. The second I had never played, but the concept behind and the reputed difficulty of Ikaruga made it a must-find on my list.

While the games are easy enough to find online for around $60 and up, I didn’t want to pay that kind of money if I could help it. The only other option left was the Largest Repository of Used Games in the Universe: GameStop. Of course finding a quality game among the unwashed hordes of the used rack is no mean feat. It takes time, dedication and patience.

Many GameStops are slow enough this time of year that they have plenty of time to alphabetize and organize their used game collection and you can easily browse through their titles to see if they have what you want. But this method isn’t fool-proof. As a former GameStop employee, I can share a few tips with you: If the section you’re looking in is a complete mess, you can ask an employee directly. Frequently there are titles that haven’t been put on the shelves yet, just sitting behind the counter. They also keep the games under lock and key in alphabetical order so they can tell you authoritatively whether they have it or not.

The trick is to use this technique in more than one store. In the Lancaster area there are at least four GameStop locations, each with different used stock. Call around. GameStop will hold games for you for up to 24 hours. I managed to find Ikaruga locally, but MvC2 I found down in Greensboro, North Carolina!

One of the biggest problems you encounter when buying a used game, especially a rare one, is not having the complete game materials. While I did find unscratched, working copies of the game disks, they were missing both the covers and the manuals – and neither were in the right case. MvC2 was in a PS2 case while Ikaruga was in a generic DVD case. I’m too obsessive to let this kind of thing slide.

The easiest thing to fix in this case is the game case. Most GameStops have tons of these lying around. All you have to do is ask or offer to trade for the right one. In no time I had the proper Xbox and Gamecube cases.

The covers were a little bit harder to manage but not impossible. The first thing to do is download the missing covers online. I found everything I needed between www.CoverGalaxy.com and www.TheCoverProject.net. Both sites are easy to use and feature full-sized, full-color reproductions of the original covers.


Once you’ve got the images, they need to be printed. At this point you could use the old ink-jet printer sitting on your desk, but I opted to go to the local print shop and get a slightly higher quality for about a buck per print. From there I had to use their paper cutter to trim it down to the proper size and I was in business.

The final hurdle to be crossed in your quest for completion is perhaps the highest. Getting a missing game manual can be either a breeze or an even longer trial to endure than actually finding the game to play. I started with MvC2. Capcom’s website gives explicit instructions on how to get replacement game manuals but warns that they only have manuals for games that are still being made. I decided to give them a call anyway to see if I might get lucky. I left a message and when I got the call back it turns out, even if they did have the manuals, they couldn’t sell me one anyway. Capcom is not allowed to release any materials containing proprietary Marvel characters. Bummer. While I have yet to hear back from Atari concerning Ikaruga, I don’t expect any positive news.

There are websites for this problem as well. The website www.ReplacementDocs.com has a large collection of full-color scans of original game manuals. It would be a large undertaking to assemble your own books from the scans but if the information is all you need, it’s available.

Ebay is a viable option for some game manuals, but there isn’t much selection out there. If you can’t get it directly from the publisher, you’re probably out of luck.

Hopefully this article will help a few of you find those games you’ve been looking for without having to pay outrageous prices. And hopefully it’ll make your game collection look much nicer.