There was a time that retro gaming took the form of running to the yard or garage sales. Dropping by the local pawn shop or flea market. Even the local mom & pop media type stores carried the game carts. We were after that game we missed and if we found it complete with box and manual, we were elated. Gradually people were dumping their childhood by cleaning out their closets, attics, basements only to find a desire to return years later trying to catch a glimpse of those memories. There is that generation of gamers that understand. But there have been other generations, since then, that have entered the world of gaming which did not experience that era. They have found bits and pieces only in the virtual console services. Over the years many have found satisfaction in emulation, either home PC, phone, or some hacked portable. In those early years you had to find the original cart to experience the fun on the original hardware, the way it was meant to be. But we have entered a period that it has become harder and harder to find those gems of the past. Many have found the value of those games in the market place. As a result they have priced many games out of the reach of the average gamer. It has become a collectors market.
China, who don't mind the business of pirating, has found that market profitable. It started as a trickle and has become a flood. Clone systems of the real thing like the NES was just the beginning. The NES clones, at the beginning, were very limited in their compatibility with the real games. But over the years that has changed, with only a hand full you would find unplayable. Graphics and audio quality is still problematic. Not only will you find clone systems plentiful, but you will see reproduction game carts, boxes, and pamphlets, or included manual. Much looking like the genuine article.
There are the multi carts which may include anywhere from 4 to over 600 games. They can include original NES games and also hacked games. They may be, for example, all of the Mega man games on one cart.
The recent release of the Nintendo Mini in a limited run left many gamers angered. But China saw the opportunity and responded to fill the gap to Nintendo's bumbling and dropping the ball. The China market released their own Minis with not just 30, but, we're talking, 500 to over 800 games in the same size package, or foot print. And you can pick one of the China clone minis up for as low as $16.95 free shipping.
Many of the consoles, or systems, have their nuances, but they still sell to a niche market hungry for those retro delights. With the advent of built in games or multi carts, it has become very easy for someone with an appetite for the old NES magic to acquire possibly the complete library of games requiring almost no space for storage. In the newer generation of gamers there is no desire to own those older consoles of the past. There is no nostalgia in it for them. They were not there. It is easier to just walk in and purchase the clone. For others that remember, and was there, they may find the convenience of the China stuff welcomed. They are wanting their kids to experience what they did at that age. (Or the clone is one of those things that your Grandparents purchase for you, not knowing it is not the genuine article.) Whatever the case may be, it sells. And it has effected the whole gaming scene. It has clouded and made it a field of deception in the collectors market when looking for the "real thing." One now has to collect with much caution when purchasing. There are those positive and negative aspects of the flood. And it keeps pouring.
My own experience is that, I enjoy playing with this sort of stuff. Right now I am hyped for a Final Fantasy 7 cart that I am eagerly waiting for at my mailbox.
It is a fan made hack and contains the whole story of that RPG that was made for the PS1 long ago. And it looks great, like the other Final Fantasy games on the NES. I have even ordered a box designed for this game.