While the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable’s 2004 release seems so recent, that was a skin-wrinkling seventeen years ago. At almost two decades old, soon both handhelds will be considered retro.
If you’re a teenager, those consoles might seem old. But I’m not, and I still vividly remember lining up at Yodobashi Camera in Osaka for both. It wasn’t that long ago. (Face it Brian, you’re old -Ed)
A recent Nikkan Spa article on Livedoor News points out that among ardent enthusiasts there has been a steep price jump in Japan for certain DS and PSP games. As it is with this kind of thing, not all games will go for premium prices, but third party games in particular are currently doing well resale-wise. Nintendo and Sony released large numbers of their first-party hits, which explains why those might not fetch the same premium among collectors.
For example, the adventure game Kouenji Joshi Soccer 2 for the Nintendo DS was going for under 1000 yen ($9) until around last October. Now, the value has increased over ten times that, and is going for north of 10,000 yen ($90). Ivy The Kiwi?, released in 2009 on the DS, and designed by Yuji Naka of Sonic fame, now fetches as much as 15,000 yen ($135).
Retro game collector Taro Nomi tells Nikkan Spa that “gal games”, or games in which players interact with pretty girls, are popular among PSP collectors. The handheld saw a number of these kinds of games, but those that were not hits, Nomi explains, had low print runs, so these titles have become increasingly hard to obtain.
Before Japan’s travel ban, tourists were buying retro games that didn’t require a great depth of Japanese reading ability. Nomi says that during the pandemic, the market recalibrated to collectors in Japan, which is why games with more text and intended for Japanese audiences, like Kouenji Joshi Soccer 2, have started getting more expensive.
As games have become increasingly sold digitally, the tangible quality of both the DS and PSP games will continue to become valuable for collectors. It’s only inevitable.