Lately I’ve been trying to get back into playing and collecting video games, like I use to when I was younger, but it has been difficult finding decent prices due to the inflation associated with nostalgia. So I’ve been shopping around the city looking for good deals and stores that I can always rely on for good service and good games. To help out any other gamers out there in the Toronto area, I’ve decided to put together a review of several stores I’ve frequented in the last few months that focus on used games. I will state pros and cons to each store and in the end state my pick for the best used game store in the city of Toronto.
To start off I’ll mention the first used game store I ever went to as a young kid about 10 years ago and that is Game Centre at 805 Danforth Avenue. They do have 3 more locations that I am aware of, two near Yonge and Bloor and another on St. Clair, but I have had the most experience with the Danforth location. Over time the prices on older games at this store have increased and the choice of older cartridge based games has really decreased. At my last visit there were only a few NES games and not much else. They do have a few playstation one games and a few dreamcast imports but the main focus of the store seems to be on new games and used games for the current and last generation of game systems. They have a pretty sizable collection of Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, GameCube, and Wii games at this location but not much else. They have a few used consoles but nothing really special. You won’t find any super rare games here but you might find a decent new game for about 20-30$. If you are close by and can’t travel too far, this store is still a decent option for more recent games.
Next comes the used game store that every Toronto gamer knows about and that’s A & C Games just south of Spadina and Bloor. They have a massive collection in a tiny store, with multiple copies of just about everything you’d want but the biggest issue is the price. Not to say that this store is robbing customers with its high prices, but instead that they know their central location and large supply warrants whatever prices they set. Customer service can be pretty bad at moments but only because its usually packed with customers and there isn’t usually enough people working to effectively service them all. If you know what you want though you can easily drop in and pick up exactly what you want but if you are looking to browse it’ll be a little difficult in there. These are all minor and understandable faults with this store but one that I just can’t deal with is their pricing for trade-ins. They are almost as bad as EB games for trade in value. 7$ for a game they sell for 30$ and 110$ for a brand new PS vita, only to then be sold for over 200$, not exactly fair. I understand that they have to make money off of these purchases but selling a game for 30$ when you only paid 7$ for it is just horrible. At least max it out at 50% of its fair value. But again, if price is not an issue and you already know what you are looking for, A & C Games is the store for you.
Next is a store I’ve only been to twice, and this sort of starts a trend because I have only recently been shopping around for new stores. This store is called Game Shack and it’s inside the basement of the Bay Atrium. It is more of an overflowing kiosk than an actual store, considering that all their shelves poor out past the front of the store. Because of this kiosk feel, creating a solid customer base doesn’t seem to be what they are looking for and instead they really focus on video game impulse buys, attracting customers and then sending them on their way. They have decent deals on their PS2 games, but everything else is pretty regular. Again like Game Centre, they just don’t have that many older games, and when I asked if they had any N64 games it turned out that they were all behind the counter in a plastic tub, out of site. Another thing is also that they offered preorders just like larger stores which I found interesting. But for the most part I just think this store can be equated to a grocery store magazine rack, just an impulse buy setting without much thought put into the purchases.
Yet another store that I have only recently visited is a store that I believe is called Hi Tech Video Games that is just East of Dufferin Station, across the street from a Popeyes. This store was just not worth visiting. I gave them a second chance but even then I just could not buy anything. They store itself was dirty and smelled of piss, both times I entered the store. They had a good deal going on where if you purchase 4 games for 14.99 or less you could also pick up 3 games for free. The selection was pretty big but the quality was really lacking. The only games they had under 10$ were sports titles and we all know those are pretty worthless. I took a look at their Dreamcast selection and again the condition was just horrible. If you have a high tolerance for bad smells I suggest you take a look, otherwise you can just pass up this store.
If you live further north then this next store might be the choice for you, Gamerama Video Games at 2370 Yonge street just north of Eglinton station. This store was facing some serious sports games overload as it seemed they were really trying to clear out these games at any cost. Overall it just seemed like a dusty and broken store, lined with countless dead consoles. Although there were many games at this store, the focus of their business seemed to be more towards repairs of consoles, phones, and tablets. The prices were ok, but the condition of many of the disc games were pretty low. I took a look at their Dreamcast games and out of the six they had, one was a sports title and the other was in dire need of resurfacing. The remaining games were ok, except Sonic Adventures 2 which was also scratched and missing the manual. From my visits to Gamerama I noticed the majority of the customers were either just looking or came to the store to drop off or pick up something in need of repair. Afterwards I looked at some online reviews of this store and most of them seemed to mention that the repair work at this store just wasn’t that good. In the end the only redeeming quality was that it was beneath an EB Games and my trip to that location wasn’t a total bust.
Lastly I thought I should mention my new found go to store for all my gaming needs which is Game Mania just at the corner of Bloor and Keele, outside Keele station. To start off I should mention the atmosphere and customer service. The people that own and operate the store are pretty cool and always knowledgable of everything from gaming history up to new releases. They are always buying more merchandise so you will definitely find something good. Although some games are still expensive, they are understandable at least, being well known and popular titles like Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time. I like that at this store you could end up dropping 50$ and leave with a pretty sizable amount of games. They even had completely random stuff like Ngage games. If you are impatient you might not like the relaxed feel of the store, but I personally don’t mind. It is definitely a browsers paradise. No uptight vendors at this store. Even on my last trip for 30$ I got a Wii zapper with the original box and link’s crossbow training, 3 Dreamcast games, and the dreamcast web browser. I even found a section of Original Playstation imports for pretty reasonable prices. They have a variety of classic and obscure consoles, as well as a decent collection of current and last generation console games. By far my best and most memorable experience of buying used games had been at this store. I will mention 2 things I didn’t quite like, but they are minor things, such as the fact that they open shop at 11:30am and that if you are in the market for an N64 controller you better look somewhere else. But one final factor that I just like is the impeccable quality to price ratio. For example condition of complete in box games seems to also affect the price instead of being fixed with condition not being a factor. Also I purchased a Model 2 Genesis from them and when I opened it up to clean the console I was very happy to find next to no dust, dirt, or unmentionable filth inside such an old console.
In the end my breakdown is as such, best overall experience goes to Game Mania, largest game selection goes to A & C Games, and best recent game selection and price goes to Game Centre. The rest of the stores are only worth looking into for the off chance you find something you’ve been looking for.