Sometimes the denizens of the internet can get things wrong, but it doesn’t always affect the outcome of anything. Sadly, in this case it may very well affect the outcome of a Kickstarter campaign to bring back an infamous video game.
When the campaign first hit the internet, many were surprised to see a collaborative effort on the part of some very well known retro game reviewers to inform their viewers of the project. The Game Chasers, who normally spend their time producing a hilarious and entertaining show, worked together with the likes of James Rolfe (The Angry Video Game Nerd) and Pat the NES Punk to create a promo video for this Kickstarter project. The campaign? To create reproduction cartridges of the infamous NES game Cheetahmen II. Originally an incomplete game, Cheetahmen II had a glitch that would not let you pass one of the mid-level stages. Luckily, a guy by the name of Greg Pabich bought the rights to the game and now he wants to make it available to the masses.
Cue internet trolls who don’t know much about retro game reproduction or its true cost.
After the promo video was released to the public, many commenters were saying that the campaign was a fraud. The common complaint was that the price requested for one of the reproduction cartridges was too high at $60. Nevermind the fact that many of those commenting have probably paid $60 for a brand new game several times in their lives, but I guess the thought was that an old NES game should not cost $60 today. Sadly, the fact is that it does cost quite a bit more than some would have you believe. Pabich recently posted the project costs per material on the Kickstarter campaign page to alleviate any fears or concerns, but there still seems to be a lot of backlash from people who continue to believe this is legitimately a scam.
The backlash began when Mike Matei, friend and co-worker with James Rolfe, posted a few comments on the video stating that he did not believe in the project and couldn’t understand why it would cost $60 for a reproduction cartridge. His comments were taken by many fans as an affirmation of the concept that this truly was a scam, and James Rolfe had somehow been conned into participating. The truth is, while the cartridge doesn’t cost $60 to make, it doesn’t exactly cost pennies either. They don’t make NES cartridges in bulk anymore, you know. It’s not like an independent developer can easily and cheaply find the parts they need to make a game for a system nearly 30 years old.
A quick look at the Kickstarter page will reveal that yes, it does cost quite a bit to recreate an old game. The total cost is anywhere from $44-48 per cartridge, leaving a very small profit margin for the person going to all of the trouble of making it all possible. Compare that to other game companies, who pay around $5-10 to produce a disk based game, including the case and artwork. Of course, that does not include the production costs of a new game, but neither does the Cheetahmen II campaign on Kickstarter. Many would use that as an excuse to call it a ripoff, but again – the difference in price isn’t indicative of a scam, it’s only indicative of how far technology has come since the NES. It literally is harder to produce an older game now than it was then, and the costs of production are obviously going to be higher as a result.Sure, you could run out and get some old NES game that you don’t think anyone would want, carefully remove the sticker, replace it with some different artwork, put the Cheetahmen II game on there and possibly even get it done for less than Pabich is requesting. However, that would eventually make whatever game you chose to decimate all that much harder to find, and thus it would become a more rare title, affecting the over-all market value of that game. This is one of the many reasons that reproduction cartridges exist, so that they will not affect the value of any other game through the abuse of technology. Will it affect the value of Cheetahmen II as it stands? Most definitely. But if you’re the kind of person who wanted this game to remain impossible to find for a reasonable price, I really don’t care what your concerns are about the value of the original game.
Retro games aren’t just a collector’s market, there are still people out there who prefer to actually play these games on their original consoles. It’s not like we’re just buying these games to put them on our shelves; sometimes we actually want to sit down and play them, recapture a bit of our youth. $60 may be a bit much for some people when it comes to an old, crappy NES game. However, that doesn’t make this Cheetahmen II campaign a scam. Billy and Jay from the Game Chasers recently uploaded a video to their channel explaining all of this controversy, so if you want more information, please check it out below. Otherwise, check out the fine work they did on the original promotional video above, and if you’re interested in bringing back Cheetahmen II, support Greg Pabich through his Kickstarter campaign.