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Retro Video Gaming’s Heidi discusses her massive video game collection

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The world of retro video game collecting is extraordinarily vast and becoming more and more popular every year. Collecting video games is hard work and it sure is expensive. Tens of thousands of collectible gaming-related products are released every year, and so it can certainly be overwhelming for anyone brave enough and/or passionate enough to take on the hobby.

Collectors usually narrow their search to games holding characteristics they enjoy, such as being published for a specific video game console, being of a certain genre, or featuring a specific character. I’ve sat down with one collector who’s recently been making the rounds on several podcasts and blogs. Her real name is Heidi, but some of you may know her by her gaming name, Stopxwhispering. She’s been collecting since she was 18 years old and her collection is one of the most impressive in all of Europe.

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Retro Gaming HeidiRick: Welcome and thank you for taking the time to sit down and speak to me. So, Heidi, you have one of the most impressive video game collections I’ve ever seen. At what age did you start playing video games?

Heidi: The first game I ever played was Game & Watch when I was around five years old, but I didn’t actually own any video games when I was a kid. I played games when I was visiting my friends or my cousins, and they usually had the NES or the Sega Mega Drive or the Sega Master System. So that is what I grew up playing occasionally when I was visiting my friends. I didn’t start collecting until I was around 18 or 19 years old and started earning money of my own. And since then, I just never really stopped.

Rick: What would you say is the game that really turned it around for you? In other words, the game that just won you over and helped transition you from being a casual game to an obsessive collector?

Heidi: I don’t think I can name one game. I love a lot of games equally. When I was a kid I played the original Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Metroid and Tetris and I loved all these games equally as a kid. I just love video games in general.  It didn’t matter if you put me in front a bad game. I even loved playing Alex Kidd, you know, the one built into the Sega Master System along with Sonic and Castle of Illusion. All these Sega games that I played as a kid won me over, and so I can’t pinpoint just one.

Rick: You said you started your collection at around age 18. What was your first purchase?

Heidi: I was given a Playstation 2 for Christmas. I fooled my dad into buying me the system by convincing him it was a very “particular” DVD player. Not long after he bought it he realized he actually gave me a video game system, and I think he regrets the decision deeply. After that, I started buying every game for that system. I bought Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Final Fantasy 10 and many of the other great games released on that system. After I bought the Xbox as well and added games like Halo and Wolfenstein to my collection. And not long after I figured out that you can buy all these older systems online that I never had a chance to own as a kid such as the NES and Super NES. So that is what I started doing. I started buying everything that I didn’t have a kid but always wanted, including portable systems like the Game Boy. In fact, I never really considered myself a collector until I found the Virtual Boy. I really fell in love with that system because it was never released here in Sweden and was so obscure. That’s when it all changed I guess.

Rick: What would you say is the best game you have for the Virtual Boy?

Heidi: Vertical Force is my favourite. It has an awesome soundtrack and it’s just a fun shooter with layers that you allow you to move up and down in various directions because of the 3D.

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Rick: Now, I’ve been to Sweeden and I stayed mostly in Gothenburg, but I couldn’t find any cool retro video game shops while I was there. You mentioned you buy a lot of games online but are there any places in Sweden that you could recommend in case any of our readers travel there in the near future?

Heidi: In Gothenburg they actually have a retro gaming convention that has been running for about six years now. It is actually one of the conventions that really kicked off the big movement of retro gaming here in Sweden. Right now we have so many collectors trading games on social media, and several more conventions have popped up since, including one in Västerås. It isn’t far from Stockholm, and has been going on for over ten years, I think. It’s called Retro Gathering and has become so popular they now do it twice a year.

Rick: What would you say is your favourite Nintendo game of all time, and your favourite Nintendo console?

Heidi: I hate these questions because I can never pick just one. I have over 5300 games and it is impossible to pick just one game that is the absolute best. There is no such thing. There are so many great games that are great in different ways. I, for example, love many different genres. You cannot compare a platformer with a shooter or a puzzle game because they are so different and good to play on different occasions. Sometimes you want to play a shooter and sometimes you want to play a puzzler. So I can’t pick just one game. I started collecting NES games, but my biggest collection right now is actually games for the Famicom. I have over 900 unique cartridges for that system.

Rick: We have an ongoing debate here at Goomba Stomp as to what is the best console. Half of our writers think it is the Super NES and half of our writers think it is the N64. Where do you stand when it comes to Nintendo consoles?

Heidi: Definitely not the N64. That’s the worst console in my opinion. That is way down on my list. I would pick any console over the N64. I know a lot of people love the Ocarina of Time, but I never really played many of the Zelda games. In fact, I don’t really like the Zelda series. I’ve only tried to beat the original game, and that was when I was older, so I don’t have any nostalgic value for the series since I didn’t play it as a kid growing up. It is just not the type of game my friends would put on when I was visiting because it isn’t the type of game you could play together with friends. So I tried to beat the original Zelda when I was older but I couldn’t figure it out and it frustrated me. I really don’t like RPG’s, so after that I sort of boycotted the Zelda series. I just never played the other games. As for the N64, I just don’t like the look of the games. There’s only one game on the N64 that I actually still play and that is Pokémon Puzzle League because it’s a 2D puzzle game. Apart from that, I can’t stand the graphics of the N64 and I really hate the controller. I’ve always preferred the NES to the Sega Master System but I always preferred the Sega Mega Drive to the Super NES. I’m basing this on game experiences, and I guess I’ve played more games I love on the Mega Drive.

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Rick: What is the most valuable game you own?

Heidi: The most valuable game I own is actually a Zelda game, but that was given to me by a friend. It’s A Link to the Past for the Super NES and it is still factory sealed.

Rick: What was the hardest thing for you to track down? Is there a game or console that you really wanted but it took you a very long time to find?

Heidi: I don’t really track things down. I buy whatever I come across if I think it looks interesting. For example, if someone tells me that Magical Chase for PC is an amazing game, I’ll look it up on EBay and wait for an auction to pop up with a decent asking price. Recently I actually did buy Magical Chase and was lucky enough to buy it at a lower-than-normal asking price.

When I do hear about a game that sounds interesting or when I see a game that looks interesting, I don’t do any research on the game. That would spoil the surprise for me. I approach it the same way gamers did before the Internet. I buy a game, pop it in and hope for the best. If it turns out to be a bad game, well that’s a shame, but the next one might be above your expectations, and when it is, you appreciate it more.

Rick: Do you own any current Gen consoles?

Heidi: Yes I have the Wii U, the Xbox One, the Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and the 3DS, so I keep up to date with those things as well.

Rick: So what game are you currently playing?

Heidi: I’m actually playing Minecraft on Xbox One. It’s just so relaxing. I love it!

Rick: Can you offer any advice to someone who wants to start collecting and/or is collecting?

Heidi: Personally I started collecting 13 years ago when everything was pretty cheap. As soon as prices start escalating on European games, I turned to American games and started buying NES games from there. And when those turned expensive years back, I started collecting Japanese games. But now everyone’s buying Japanese games so everything is expensive except for vintage computers like the Commodore 64 and Amiga 500. But if you want to buy games at decent and affordable prices, I would suggest hanging out in forums and making deals with other collectors. There are a lot of groups on Facebook that sell games. Otherwise, you can try sites like Craigslist. And of course, you can find games on EBay but it will always be more expensive on eBay. But I still buy games on EBay simply because it is so convenient.

Rick: As you are aware, Nintendo is getting ready to release their next system codenamed NX. What would you want from this console?

Heidi: I would make it a beefed up NES with just 2d, 8-bit and 16-bit games. I just love those games. There are a lot of games made today that take inspiration from those classics and I love them. I really don’t enjoy how the Wii and the Wii U have so many child-friendly games. I know children need their own systems as well, and a console that won’t expose them to violence but I feel the games are a bit condescending, as if they think kids are dumber than they actually are. Instead of teaching kids how to play the game by actually playing the game like they did back in the day (like in a game like Mega Man), nowadays you get these long and boring tutorials that I find ridiculous and tedious. I just don’t have the patience to button smash through these tutorials. It annoys me. Take for instance Nintendo Land. That game is mostly a tutorial and I can’t stand it.

Rick: I’m a huge cinephile. If you could produce and direct a movie adaptation of a video game, what would you want to adapt?

Heidi: Halo would, of course, work. I think Borderlands would work. I think that would be interesting and really fun, but I think Metroid would be the most interesting to see on the big screen. I would make it a mix between Tomb Raider and Alien. I think that would be awesome!

Rick: Thank you again for speaking to me. Can you tell our readers where they can find you online?

Heidi: You can visit my blog, my Instagram, my Twitter and my YouTube channel. Thank you.

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Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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