My second interview in this series is from another person I had the pleasure of meeting at last year's RetroWorld Expo. Izret101 is well known around here for his Mortal Kombat collection as well as for being fairly short...
Name (First only):
Upper left - Izret101, lower right, myself...
Springfield, MA, USA
Where does your screen name come from?
WAAAAYYYY back when my house got its first computer, either late 98 or early 99, I needed to come up with a login for AOL. Not being super imaginative, I decided on my last name backwards. Thus, the persona of "izret" was born and has gone through many numerical updates to make up for either losing login info or having to make a backup account.
How did you find RFG?
I don't remember why, but on the Fourth of July, my cousin and I were on the phone talking about computers/games/probably building a MAME cabinet. For some reason, I started googling info on RF shielding and RF related stuff, and happened across RF Generation several pages deep in a Google search. The deep stuff, where you know, nothing is relevant anymore...
What made you stay and become part of RFG?
I joined the site very early on. Literally, roughly 1:15 AM on July 5th 2006. Then it was a very small, very tight knit community of seemingly all friends. I felt like an outsider. I was young and still quite new to the forum scene and large scale collecting in general. Despite my many faux pas, I was generally accepted into the community and within a month was put on staff. At the time, it was much more laborious to update the database, but I was highly driven and clearly devoted to the cause.
I stayed with the community for the same reason most of the other people did, it felt like a community. Despite the (at the time) seemingly vast diversity of the site, everyone got along, was here to have fun, and make something great. I was lucky and was able to become part of something great early on.
Have you ever met or personally know anyone at RFG?
Danvx6 is my cousin. I believe my little bro has an account. Likely "terz" or some iteration thereof. Several other people I knew IRL over the years joined. None of them had any real longevity with the site. My cousin still supports, but doesn't visit and my brother passes word along with gamer friends/people he meets. Apparently, he ran into a member at Home Depot a few months ago! Others I have met thru the site:
General Tynstar, MightyMango (AKA S1lence), and I have had a couple of weeklong hangouts in AZ. If all goes well this year, we will be hanging at Mango's place.
At Too Many Games and later RWX2016, I got to meet Bick, Bil, Crabby, Duke, Ericescapade, Fleach, NeoMagicWarrior, Russly, SingleNanner, WaynePe, and likely others... Sorry if I forgot names!
Number of Games Owned(at time of printing):
Last official count was somewhere in the 900-1000 range for physical items. Since my last official count, I decided to abandon my morals and buy a ton of digital stuff and it is more like 1500. My site list is very much out of date, but there is a reason for that I swear. Because i am a bad person, digital items have skyrocketed, and likely meet or exceed those numbers.
Number of Games on Wishlist(at time of printing):
Zero. At one time, I had several hundred. But since I wasn't actively seeking them out and changed focus so many times, I cleared it all out.
Number of Systems:
Unique should be just over 20 including handhelds.
Dupes would probably put me over double that...
When did you start collecting?
Technically, I started collecting as soon as I started getting games. In reality, I didn't get into collecting until I received my second (maybe third) issue of Tips & Tricks in the mail. It had a new section called "The Collector's Closet." That was the first time I realized that there were many other people out there like me who wanted to collect games. It sent me into overdrive.
What was your first system you owned?
Gameboy and 2600 were in the same year I want to say 1994. I honestly can't remember which was first. Gameboy was a birthday present and the 2600 I think was given to us from an uncle later.
What was your first game?
Since I am pretty sure Gameboy was first and I distinctly remember getting Tetris and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Footclan and playing them endlessly I am going to go with those.
What was your first game you bought yourself?
Another one where I am kind of murky on the details... But the first NEW game I bought for myself with money I had earned working a real job was Bust a Move 99
What made you decide to buy that particular game?
I liked puzzles. It supported 4 players and seemed like there could be a lot of replay value. I was half right anyways.... It quickly fell out of our rotation for Goldeneye (Automatics, License to Kill, Complex, Siberian Special Forces) with a few other gems mixed in. Turok 2 (Cerebral Bore!), BattleTanx: Global Assault, Duke Nukem 64, Revolution X, Top Gear 2, Donkey Kong Country series, etc.
First game you ever beat?
My cousin had a decent number of NES games growing up so it was probably one of those. The first game I distinctly remember beating completely on my own was Super Mario Bros 2: Yoshi's Island. I was playing way past my bedtime. My heart was racing, I was profusely sweating, and I had almost no ledges left to stand on. I fired, missed my jump... Heart sank. But, I got the kill shot before Yoshi air kicked into oblivion. Pretty sure I also had a minor heart attack and to top it all off, I couldn't share my intense, physically grueling victory until later since everyone was asleep.
Have you ever broken anything due to frustration from a game? Be honest, we won't tell...
Controllers. I learned pretty quickly not to spike them into the floor or try to snap them in half because we couldn't afford to replace them.
Are you collecting now, if so what anything specific?
Very much so! My focus is almost exclusively sitting on Mortal Kombat and all related memorabilia. Primarily games, not as much the movies and TV series. But pretty much anything Mortal Kombat gets my attention.
Most of us, I'm sure, are aware of your Mortal Kombat collection. Just how large is your collection of just Mortal Kombat games, memorabilia, etc.?
I'm closing in on 150 unique games (major variants). According to the database I need ~45 more to have all of the console and handheld releases from North America (US/Canada/Mexico) I have no doubt in my mind that number is short. Especially if I increase my search for Canadian and Mexican releases.
I also have posters, store displays (ranging from oversized boxes to ~6ft displays), bootlegs, controllers, CDs, shirts, cards, stickers, prepaid phone cards, postcards, books, guides, comics, action figures, etc.
What is your favorite piece in your Mortal Kombat collection?
My favorite piece is probably this guy:
When I was still in Texas, I happened across him on an eBay auction. It was a serious dilemma at the time primarily due to cost. I believe it was $100 for Goro and $50+ for shipping, but in the end, I am glad I took the plunge and had him shipped from Canada as I have not seen another one since.
When did you feel a tipping point from gamer to both gamer and game collector?
For me, it was the aforementioned "Collector's Closet" article. Knowing that there were other people out there who wanted to keep their old games and even find new, old games to play was awesome. Up until this point, I still had most of my old games, but it was after this point that I started to really learn about games and actively hunt certain ones down.
What are your goals as a game collector, how have you developed them, and how do you feel about your progress toward them?
These have changed greatly over the course of my collecting. Initially, it was anything and everything. I was literally saving gaming shipping boxes that I had used to take my spoils home in. Then I was focused a bit more on NES (5 bucks a piece for CIB games!?!?), then demos, then controllers, then lightspan, Game.com, Pico, other oddities, Xbox, 360, through almost all of it Mortal Kombat was a constant. It eventually became the nearly komplete focus. How many games, systems, etc. are "enough?"
"Enough" only happens when you have no space. So "enough" can vary
What's your proudest moment as a game collector?
The Sony Playstation Mortal Kombat II Japanese import at one time was a collecting "holy grail," a R10 game! I saw a copy pop up on eBay shortly after I started collecting. The BIN was exactly the same as the suggested value, so I snapped it up! I had just gotten a paycheck and at the time had no bills!
What's your least proud moment as a game collector?
Continuing from the last answer... Shortly after I purchased my import copy of MKII the "rarity" and "value" both plummeted. I actually ended up buying a better copy a few years later for literally a fraction of the price. I believe average still hovers around the $50-$75 range.
If you had to give part of your collection away for a worthy cause what part would it be, and why?
I have several times before and I likely will again soon. Most instances have been bill related and/or in some way involved family. My collection is essentially my stock market. I buy them for collecting purposes and enjoyment. When I need an influx of cash, I can start parting with things. Sometimes it is easier said than done, but I know they will never be completely worthless, so I view my collection as a (generally losing) investment.
Where/how do you store it all?
I have it mostly hidden away in closets at this time. My apartment is quite small. I had to pull a fair amount of cardboard out of my parents house a month or two ago when they had a flood. That is all still in my vehicle.
What's your favorite part of your collection?
I'm not sure I could place a single item as a favorite piece. Probably my imported items I have. Specifically the C.E. ones from non-English speaking countries.
What about a favorite series?
I'm rather fond of the Mortal Kombat series I'm also big on Halo. In both instances, I enjoy the story. Gameplay I would actually lean more heavily towards Halo. Admittedly, I have Halo: MCC almost completely untouched and Halo 5 still sealed...
What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to gaming?
Achievements. Specifically the Xbox variety. Trophy and Steam Achievements are meh They have driven me to play games I never would have (some excellent, some atrocious), but they have also caused me to miss out on a huge quantity of games.
What is the most valuable part of your collection (Value or sentimental)?
As far as value is concerned, it would definitely have to be an imported item or store display. But I put more value on the items I have received from friends/family. Bickman, Bil, Crabmaster, Oatbob, RazorKnuckles, ShadowK, Slackur, Tynstar, Zagnorch, Duanedust (a friend from TrueAchievements) and likely others whose names escape me at this time, have all hooked me up with some cool MK stuff over the years.
What game do you have the most nostalgia for?
Soloplay Pokemon Red/Blue. I literally put thousands of hours into these games.
Multiplay GoldenEye. Again, literally thousands of hours.
What would you like to improve in your collection?
Organization and display. Due to the severe lack of space, most of my things are haphazardly stacked or buried away. Quite a few things I have literally only seen once in the last several years when I last attempted to take a full inventory. Eventually, it proved impossible since I didn't have enough space to sort things out.
What do you think was your best deal while game buying?
One of the mom and pop shops around here ran buy one get one half off deals for awhile on the popular "classic" systems. I managed to score quite a few CIB NES games in beautiful shape for averages of $5-$7 per game depending on the trip. I got games like Contra, Mario Bros, Metroid, nothing crazy valuable, but definitely well under market price at the time. AVE releases were my favorite pick ups though.
What item in your collection do you feel you overpaid for?
Without a doubt, the previously mentioned Mortal Kombat II. But since I technically sold that one and have a nicer one now, I'd have to say either the Tiger Barcodezz Mortal Kombat (~$75...$50 of it covered as a gift though) or the Mortal Kombat Giga Fighter (also ~$75)
What do you feel is the strangest or weirdest item in your collection?
I have 5 Naki GameSavers for the SNES in the original shipping box. These are another item that when I got it was supposedly extremely scarce, but has grown in popularity/availability since. The strange thing about them is they require a constant power source to maintain the save. So it is more like creating a quickload save state with an emulator/ ROM than an actual save device.
What item(s) do you not have in your collection that people are surprised to hear you don't have?
I am actually missing some pretty common Mortal Kombat items still. MK: Deception on the Cube, MK Trilogy and MK4 GH on the PSX immediately jump to mind. But since they are common, I've held off on them until I find one that appears at what I feel is a fair price and is in excellent condition. I want to have to upgrade condition as little as possible, whenever possible.
Is there any way you'd ever stop collecting?
"Death is the only way out." Bonus points to anyone reading who gets the reference without Google.
Do you have a funny story about your collection?
Well I'm not sure how funny it is after the fact, but it was funny at the time... When I moved to Texas, I had filled my '00 Grand Prix GT with 90% of my collection. The car actually was sagging under the weight. The only empty space was the driver seat. After driving around with it in there for a couple days, I started looking for a game shop. According to a GameCrazy employee, there happened to be ONE. I don't remember the name of it now, but it was in Corpus Christi (and I think owned by a DP member). I looked around the store for a bit to see what kind of selection they had. Eventually the owner started talking to me I asked if he would be interested in buying my collection. He said he would be interested in seeing what I had. Apparently he was not interested enough to walk 10 yards outside and I was not interested enough to continue pressing the issue. Had either of us been more persistent, I would probably would have started narrowing my collecting focus much sooner and he would have been able to pick up 1200ish items for dirt cheap.
Have you ever had to move your collection to another house? What was it like?
From MA to TX to a different place in TX. Then from TX back to MA and from there to a new place in MA. It was a borderline nightmare each time. The worst was actually the move from TX back to MA. We had a moving company for that trip and they damaged / lost several boxes of games among other items.
If your significant other told you no more games, what would you do?
It wouldn't happen. It is a discussion that needs to happen at the start of a relationship. Games are a part of what makes me who I am. Unless your gaming/collecting is actually harming you as a person, there is no reason someone should give it up unless it is their own desire. A relationship built on ultimatums is not one worth being in.
What percentage of your games are still sealed?
I would guess at least 30%. Only very briefly was I a person who would open a game as soon as I bought it. Being that I don't intentionally buy games that I do not plan on playing anymore, that number could drop. In a years time, that could change drastically one way or another depending on how my collecting habit mutates. I am a CIB/SEALED guy at heart.
What percentage of your games have you actually played? Completed?
Sadly, of the games I still own, I have probably only played 30-40% of them. Many of them probably not even long enough to consider it as played, 10 or fewer minutes. As for completion percentage, I went through a stint where I sold a game after I completed it, so I have completed several hundred games I no longer own, which makes me look worse in both of these categories. lol
Do you own any complete collections?
By the standards of some, I guess I own some complete subsets. Unfortunately, I have never been able to complete any collection to my own standards. I came close with Pico and Game.com (excluding hardware variants).
Time to bring out the fanboys! What is your favorite game of all time?
My favorites have actually changed over the course of my life and I expect they will continue to do so. At one time it was Trick Shooting on NES, UMK3 on the Genesis, Revolution-X on SNES, GoldenEye, Super Smash Bros Melee, Halo 2, Red Alert 2 on PC, Stepmania on PC, Burnout 3: Takedown on Xbox, Pokemon: Red/Blue/Gold/Silver all of these for their own reasons and unique circumstances based on where I was at in my life and/or who I was gaming with.
I make for a terrible fanboy...
...I meant MORTAL KOMBAT!
Something on Windows Phone that was likely more microtransactions than game. But gotta get them achievements on the go right?
Do you collect anything else besides games?
Nothing else besides the piles of artwork and notes my son writes for me.
What do you do outside of games?
Since starting my new job, if I am not at work, I am gaming while trying to catch up on some TV or movie series I have fallen behind on. As of now, I work 7 days a week, but I'm trying to cut it back to 6 so I can have at least one day for family time.
What other features would you like to see more of at RFG?
Anything that gets the community involved is always a plus. Trying to hammer out details on a super secret community game night. The last one was thrown together last minute and had less than desirable results.
Floyd, the previous interviewee, would like to ask you: “How did you get into gaming and what made you get hooked on this medium?”
I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was a waitress and generally didn't get home until around dinner time. Initially, PBS was babysitter for my little brother and I. She saved all year to get a Genesis for us for Christmas. This became the new babysitter after Bill Nye and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego ended of course. I became hooked in a way that the Gameboy alone hadn't been able to do.
Thanks for your time!
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I love reading these cant wait until I get the interview
Thanks! These are great!
@Izret: How did you get in to Mortal Kombat? Did you play it at the arcade or receive the Genesis port as a gift?
Also what is Duke/Chris doing in that picture?
I got Mortal Kombat for the Genesis. Eventually we got 2, 3, UMK3(my favorite) Arcades were prohibitively expensive growing up so I missed out on a huge subculture of gaming. Just ask those who have whooped me mercilessly on the arcade versions of this series
Duke is saying "I can't believe how disappointing this pizza is compared to that potato pizza! It is truly much more amazingly delicious than I could have ever anticipated!'
Feel free to keep the follow up questions coming!
@Addicted - Chris is doing his best to not look at the enticingly delicious Potato Pizza!
Great interview guys! That Goro standee is amazing!!!
Another great interview, but I have to say - Revolution-X for SNES was once a favorite? You must have been seriously lacking in great games at that time
Also glad to see I wasn't the only one who preferred License to Kill on Goldeneye. Everyone wants normal these days so they can load up on body armor!! Our go to mode was Proximity Mines, Facility, License to Kill, 2nd Scientist
Ninja'd me with the Pizza comment!
Facility and proxy mines was another favorite.
Temple with walkthru walls on made for good fun too.
Nice to find out about the people behind the names and avatars.
That picture is dying for a caption competition.
@MetalFRO: How could you not possibly love a game where a video throws you a set of car keys?
I have not played the arcade version but I would assume it is the only version truly superior to the SNES one. Because it has a gun to fire with.
@Izret101: Actually, I would say the Sega Saturn version is probably superior, if only for the improved visuals and audio. But yes, the arcade version with the gun, despite it being kind of a crap game, is actually fun
I love when these articles come out. I wish they were even more frequent.
I really like reading these and super glad they continue. I would like to also echo monkees in that I would love to see them in more frequency.
These articles are great! I like hearing about the members of the site and what they do.
It's time for me to set the record straight. No one wants potato pizza. That meat lovers was delicious.
The meat lovers was also quite tasty tho.
@Duke.Togo: @Izret101: The potato one was certainly a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting that taste at all. But, really, I thought all of the pizzas were tasty.
So, time for a quick story regarding the tags. I think I told it in the thread last year, but it's time for a refresher.
I flew in to Bradley International for RWX, which happened to be on the way that Izret was driving in. He picked me up at the airport before we headed to Bil's house. Following Google Maps to Bil's, it was dark and rainy and there were very few lights on any of the roads, even with buildings around. As we were coming in to town, we came VERY close to hitting a guy who was walking on the side of the road. Not the sidewalk that was there, on the road. Dressed in all black. At night. In the rain. Hence, "reflective clothing".
Then we showed up at Bil's house. Rang the doorbell and a man answered the door. While we waited for an answer, Izret called Bil to make sure we were at the right place. We each had a short exchange, Izret with Bil and myself with the man who answered. Bil told Izret that he thought we ended up at his parents' house, so I told the man that we were looking for his son. His response? "I don't have a son."
An hour later, we got to the right Bil's house and RFG@RWX was on!
Ooh... Idea for this year...
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