Dreaming is Free, Games are Not

I haven't collected games in a while. I was into it thick and stupid for a few years when I lived in Ohio, because that's how your early twenties usually go. You want everything you didn't have when you were a teenager, and you finally have enough money and free time to enjoy it all. I gave up collecting upon realizing several things: most games weren't worth owning, I was just as content with emulating them, and amassing a huge library would turn me into the sort of person who regularly posts on forums like Digital Press and Atari Age without self-awareness or contempt. Yet I remember what it was like to visit flea markets and mom-and-pop stores, picking over crates of old NES games just in case there was a rare title or, better yet, a prototype of a canceled game.

Well, that's exactly what I dreamed of last night. I was at a flea market, in a game vendor's stall that had inexplicably sprung up in the ruins of a gas station. I was looking over a massive bin of NES cartridges. I was also telling myself that I was over this, that I didn't collect games any longer. But a small part of me still said "What if there's an unreleased game in all this? What if it's something no one's ever heard of before, like that Sunman thing? You can preserve it and put it online so everyone can play it! You'll be famous in a small niche of the Internet." So I kept looking, albeit with a slow, feigned casualness. Me? Oh no, I'm just glancing over these old Nintendo games out of passing interest. I'm not a huge nerd or anything. Not me, never.

Then another shopper, roughly my age, wandered up to a section of the bin I hadn't yet checked. He pulled out a cartridge and yelled in excitement, and I knew he'd found something amazing.

He held it up, and it was indeed rare: an NES game based on Operation Dumbo Drop.

I was left standing there, wondering just what lesson I'd been taught. Had I lost out because I hadn't been a good and devoted game-scavenging nerd? Had I let this previously undiscovered piece of history fall into the hands of someone who might never share it with the world? Did I even care that a game based on Operation Dumbo Drop was possibly lost forever? What if it was actually a good game, some unexpectedly decent piece by Natsume or Compile or Aicom?

But mostly I was left wondering if my dream was somehow rooted in fact. Was an Operation Dumbo Drop game ever announced for the NES?

No, it wasn't, but someone else asked about it. Perhaps this dream isn't mine alone.


  1. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Apparently I am one of those people who post on AtariAge or Digital Press without self-awareness or contempt. May I ask what it is I should be self-aware or contemptuous of?

  2. You can start with the inane and unrewarding pursuit of game collecting.