There’s a new game in town for players who pine for their childhood Ataris and Sega Genesis systems. Galactic Gamez, which was established in far north Fort Worth in 2012, has opened a second location, at 9649 White Settlement Road, on the west side of the city. The independently owned retail store launched in November and is twice the size of the original shop.
While Galactic Gamez carries titles for such current consoles as the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, it specializes in games for systems of the past, such as the Atari 2600, Nintendo NES, and Sega Genesis.
“Everyone loves playing classic games,” owner Tom Warfield said. “People want to play what they played as a child, on the original console with the original controller. They want to bring back part of their childhood.”
Retro gaming has been popular since the early 1990s, when people began pining for the games they grew up playing during the 1970s. However, it didn’t truly take off and hit the mainstream until a little over a decade ago, when Nintendo introduced the Wii Shop Channel, which let players download old games to their current system.
Another factor (among many) was the rise of James “The Angry Video Game Nerd” Rolfe, a YouTube personality who got popular around the same time the Wii Shop Channel was born. Rolfe makes fun of bad video games for classic consoles. Many people who watch his videos purchase the games he discusses in ironic fashion or to experience first-hand just how bad the games are.
It's not just Gen-Xers buying up titles from their youth. Younger gamers in Fort Worth now are getting in on the retro video craze, Warfield said.
“Recently we had a nine-year-old trade in his Xbox One for a Nintendo 64,” he said. “The child was happy to play some retro games that he said were a lot harder than anything else he had played. It was a win for his mom, as the games are more age appropriate, and she won’t worry as much about what he is doing online.”
The popularity of retro gaming has caused the prices to increase dramatically for older video game cartridges and discs. In the past, such stores as Half-Price Books and Movie Trading Company relegated vintage video games to a small section of the store, pricing them at a buck or two apiece. Common and less desirable games still sell for cheap, but now these stores mark up rare and highly sought-after, older games at collector prices.
Stores that specialize in retro games have popped up all over town to help fill the void. In addition to Galactic Gamez, there’s Found It Electronics in Watauga, Retro Madness in Bedford, and Game Over Videogames in south Arlington and south Fort Worth, among others.
The ’80s arcade scene is also experiencing a revival. In January of 2018, The Craftcade pinball arcade bar will open near Fort Worth's hospital district, joining such similar spots as Barcadia in Fort Worth, Free Play in Arlington, and The Quarter Lounge in Bedford.
With the Fort Worth market hungry for classic video games, and for nerd culture in general, Warfield has big plans for his new store.
“In addition to the retail and repairs area, we are currently building out a tournament center for card games such as Magic, and Pokémon,” he said. “Plans are in place for an interactive console area for games like Halo, Super Smash Bros., and Street Fighter II. We also want to bring in some full-sized retro arcade games.”