hi all. so this past summer i've been very into learning about older video games and their respective consoles, and have spent a lot of time in various video game stores in the bay area and thought i'd give my rating of them based on selection, experience, knowledge, etc.
Gameshop Downstairs - San Jose, CA
this was the first store out of this set that i had visited, and it definitely set a high bar for the rest of the stores to follow. gameshop downstairs has quite a literal name, with the shop being located underneath a technology repair shop, and as you enter, you are greeted with shelves of old consoles, a wall of old crt tvs and monitors, and cabinets filled with video games for various setups. from this store, i had decided to buy an old, used ps1 for a fraction of the price online, after testing the system on tekken3 for a bit. the store has an extensive collection, and while some harder-to-find games may not be available here, you certainly can find nearly everything you're looking for in this charming shop. the employees are incredibly nice and are always willing to help out and give suggestions and recommendations, and the store always has fantastic ost's playing overhead. additionally, when i had purchased a controller and found it to not be working, they were quick to find me a new one, free of charge.
haul: ps1, ps1 controller, crash bandicoot 1 [ps1], tomb raider [ps1] 2, bomberman hero [n64], gran turismo [ps1], mortal kombat trilogy [ps1], spyro: year of the dragon [ps1]
The Retro Fix II TURBO - Campbell, CA
this store is fascinating. on the first floor is a lovely arcade bar for guests of all ages and interests, and up a set of stairs is the store itself. half of the store is dedicated to games for sale, as well as rarities, while the other half is another bar area, specifically for playing console games with groups. the store additionally has hundreds of figurines and other merchandise for sale. however, the game selection here is considerably slimmer. and due to the nature of the store, it seems that the employees sometimes get caught up playing the games themselves, and aren't quick to assist awaiting customers at the register. overall, this place thrives off of vibes.
haul: tekken 3 [ps1], gta 2 [ps1]
Retro Rewind - Milpitas, CA
a cute little shop in the east bay, this place had a nice selection of games. it was very well organized and had some display cases with plenty of rarities, as well as more common games. nothing insanely special about the place, but i got what i expected, and i'm happy with that.
haul: super mario 64 [n64], metal gear solid [ps1], gta 2 [ps1]
Planet Mix - Redwood City, CA
this place is pretty cool, although quite small. the store is a bit stuffy and disorganized, making it tough to find games, and when i had visited, the owner was out, and the worker of the store next door was working the register (he had no idea how the store was laid out).
haul: mario kart [n64]
The Experience Share Video Games - Alameda, CA
i like this place a lot! it's a small shop on a street corner near berkeley, but inside, it's a fantastic little place. the workers are incredibly friendly, one wall has arcade games to play in between exploring the shelves, they even had a wall of sonic the hedgehog and other plushies! very nice little shop, was very fun playing some oldies on their arcade machines!
haul: perfect dark [n64]
Space Cat - San Jose, CA
this place is pretty nice and small. definitely more for those who enjoy comics over video games, but a decent sized collection. the employees are a bit more withdrawn, but are willing to give suggestions when prompted. an interestingly large collection of final fantasy games, as well!
haul: final fantasy ix [ps1]
Level Up Video Games - Santa Cruz, CA
level up is a small shop located in santa cruz downtown, and i found that it was a very nice store for what i needed. the place, only run by one very friendly man, has quite a collection, although more so in the sense of "a little bit of everything", making it tough to find some games i was looking for. however, the owner's kindness, knowledge, and assistance made the place very worth it.
haul: tony hawk pro skater 3 [ps1], tony hawk pro skater 2 [n64]
SAVE n CONTINUE - Santa Clara, CA
although tough to find, as this place is located behind another set of shops, this place was fantastic. save n continue seemed small when i first walked in, but it was not long before i realized the place had hidden gems. there were hundreds of ps1 games, including two copies of resident evil 2, driver, both spiderman games, and tens of others that i had been searching for for days. however, the store is small, and the employees sparse, as there is usually only one worker assisting everyone in the store. additionally, i found that many of the games were more expensive than i was hoping for, resulting in me not being able to get everything i had wanted, due to the cost.
haul: resident evil 2 [ps1], driver [ps1]