You hear it in the news all the time – a big company goes after some modding service or a company that’s selling “changed” consoles because it infringes on their copyrighted games. And you see them all the time at flea markets, modded consoles that can run a number of games – even if some, like those cheap-looking NES Classic-type models, have hundreds of titles that you probably wouldn’t even touch on a dare. I mean, Robocop 4? That’s just the original Robocop with really bad coding. Come on.
That said, we’re starting to see a rise in modded consoles on the market. Kinhank, for example, is notorious for selling systems that contain thousands of modded games – you can even find them on Amazon. Others, like the RetroStation PC, offer a similar level of quality for a fraction of the price of a console that you can find on eBay. There’s a reason it sells out so quickly every time it’s on sale.
What’s the appeal of a modded console, anyway? Why would some people take this route in comparison to, oh, collecting games as a hobby? Well, you’d be surprised. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key reasons why some people believe it’s worth the investment – as somewhat illegal as it may be.
Let’s Be Honest, Some Games You Just Can’t Get Anymore
One big draw to modded consoles of this type is being able to rediscover games that aren’t available to purchase. Case in point – on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the arcade port of Konami’s X-Men remains a huge draw. So are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ arcade counterpart, as well as its middling Turtles In Time Re-Shelled follow-up from Ubisoft.
The thing is, you can’t find these games anymore. Due to expired licenses, Konami had them fully removed from game stores. As a result, there’s no way to access them if you didn’t buy the license already. That makes it really tough for some players to enjoy. And some truly awesome gems have been lost for quite a while as a result. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was nothing but a memory for several years (until its successful return last year).
So, to some, the idea of a modded console lets them re-find games that they couldn’t get. Hell, that’s the case as it stands with some of today’s titles too, like Bandai Namco’s hard-to-find Godzilla. For that matter, The Pinball Arcade and its many licensed tables aren’t available anymore. To some, the modded way is the only way to enjoy these again. I mean, why the hell isn’t there a re-release of Mega Man: Powered Up, anyway?
As great as it is to build a classic game library, there are also quirks to consider. You have to make sure the games are in great shape. And you have to watch out for stuff that’s outside your control, like kids and dogs damaging the games. Then there’s theft, whether it’s someone you know or, worse yet, someone you don’t.
A modded console makes it more convenient to have all your games in one place. Granted, not everything is recreated perfectly, as some mods really depend on the type of software being used. But it seems a lot easier for some to load up a game than it is from a disc. Especially if it has “disc rot,” which some PlayStation 3 and other Blu-Ray-themed games have seen.
It makes things a lot more convenient to download and play, not to mention access. And if anything’s ever stolen, you can order a replacement for just a few hundred bucks. That puts you back in business in about a week or so. You just can’t do that with a full game library. (Keep in mind, however, that does provide more nostalgia.) It does allow you to check out the games, though.
Cost? Modded Consoles Fix That
Finally, there’s the big factor when it comes to a modded console compared to actually building up a legitimate collection. That comes down to cost.
A lot of retro games have skyrocketed in price as of late. This includes many PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast games. This is due to people wanting to get back to the classic style of play. This beats putting up with games that require a 50GB download to be back at operational capacity. Just grab the game, turn it on and play – old-school!
But the thing is, a lot of the better games on the market fetch an incredibly high price. Panzer Dragoon Saga goes into the thousands for a merely average copy on Saturn; Klonoa: Door To Phantomile fetches almost $500 (!) on PlayStation. (We can see why people want that Klonoa Collection we’ve seen trademarks for.) And Marvel vs. Capcom 2 doesn’t exactly go for cheap on the Sega Dreamcast.
With today’s economy, people just can’t afford a good game collection anymore. Not to mention having to buy new titles like Rainbow Six Extraction and Halo Infinite to keep things modern. Hence, having to get a modded console that has a lot of these available. It’s not the best method of owning the retro favorites out on the market. For many, however, it’s the most affordable.
Let the Buyer Beware With Modded Consoles
We talked about the advantages of having a modded console. In addition, we talked about how convenient and helpful it is to play the games of yesteryear with ease. However, we cannot emphasize this enough – it’s also illegal and, to some, morally wrong.
Big-time game companies go after those that make these consoles pretty much all the time. It’s still weird how Kinhank can get away with selling theirs on eBay without Sony or Nintendo noticing. While consumers likely won’t get in trouble for just playing the games, if they attempt to resell them or get people to buy other consoles, there could be a legal problem lying in wait.
Though some don’t see it as a big issue morally, it does take money out of developers’ pockets. (Yes, even with older games.) Granted, it also cuts back on those that resell retro titles for top dollar (and pocket the majority of it), but it also doesn’t reward those that put food on the table by making games.
So while we can’t fully recommend getting a modded console, we totally get why people do it. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can always look around Etsy or maybe even eBay. We get that it’s not the retro collection you’re looking for. But depending on your circumstance, it might just get the job done for you.
In the meantime, don’t forget all-in-one plug-and-play systems like the awesome Turbo Grafx 16 Mini and the SNES Classic. They might be a little bit tougher to come by, but you can enjoy old-school favorites without having to sweat the legal details. And, hey, you might even be able to tune them up to add more games. Ah, here we go again with the mods…
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast