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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Of late, I’ve been bitten by the film-collecting bug, particularly when it comes to the acquisition of Blu-Rays. As such, in times of austerity but where having some retail therapy to help lighten up your day, it’s important to know where to go looking for the best deals.

When it comes to Blu-Rays, an important thing to bear in mind is that as they’re more durable than your standard DVD, buying disks second hand is less of a risk. This opens up a whole range of pawn, charity and second hand shops that you may not have considered before. Major retailers of second hand good like CeX or Cash Converters are a great place to browse for bargains, as more often than not they’re cheaper than online, even than the used section of Amazon or eBay. Plus you don’t have to pay P&P. For instance, I recently picked up the BBC Wonders Special Edition for £8 and the Star Wars saga for £40 from CeX, saving me £31. Moreover, if you’ve got DVDs you’re wanting to upgrade or just get rid of, getting the exchange price as opposed to the cash price can net you a few extra pounds to knock of the total price of your purchases. With CeX, check their website if there’s something you’re wanting in particular. The price on there will be the same as the price in store and you can check to see if they have it in stock. Personally, I wouldn’t buy anything direct from the website though as I’ve heard a few horror stories and I’m not that desperate just yet.

Another useful tip I’ve found is to have an Amazon Wish List full of Blu-Rays you’re interested in buying. If Amazon reduces the price then your wish list will show you the drop in price compared to how it was when you added it. This is particularly useful around Christmas and January during the sales and your patience can really pay off. Also, if like me you’ve a memory like a sieve then having a place online where you can check what you’ve been interested in buying of late is a real help. Especially if you’ve a smart phone and can check it when you’re on the go, it can save you a lot of time and money. Beyond Amazon, you’ve also got the likes of Play and Zavvi. Though with Play shutting down its own retail section and Zavvi’s reputation for poor service I’d use them more as a last resort. You get cheaper prices and in fairness more often than not you’ll be fine, but it’s up to you if you want to take the risk.

Keeping an eye on Internet forums is another good way of staying informed and up to date with the latest promotions and sales. Not only are the vast majority free to join, but also you can engage with a community of like-minded people who may be collectors of special editions or just your average movie fan who likes a bargain like myself. Also consider taking a look at YouTube for channels with folks who search for bargains or are collectors and give tips on where to look and what deals are out there.

Finally, with the news that both Blockbuster and HMV are going into administration it’s a good time to look for any deals they may have as a result. HMV are still running their 3 for £20/5 for £30 deal, as well as their blue cross sale, so as long as they’ve not been picked clean it’s worth a look. Similarly, Blockbuster is a good place to look for pre-owned stuff, especially if it’s one of the stores that will be closing down soon. I’ve picked up some real gems from their pre-owned section before so it’s definitely worth having a browse.

It can definitely be a rewarding hobby and I know I’ve found myself spending far too much time weighing up the pros and cons over whether or not I want to get something or hoping it’ll go down in price. Making the leap up to Blu-Ray and building up that library can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. And at the end of the day, so long as you’re happy with what you got, that’s what matters. Just don’t pay through the nose for it.

The Colossus is dead. The Playstation 2, the titan of home video gaming, has had its plug pulled and been discontinued by Sony after almost 13 years. As the unequivocal winner of the last console war (shipping more units than the XBox, Gamecube and Dreamcast combined), the PS2 has a special place in the hearts of millions around the globe. A monolithic black slab, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the PS2 transformed video game consoles and what we expected from them.

Launching in March 2000, the PS2 blew all its competitors out of the water with a combination of savvy business decisions and excellent games to back them up. Sony’s decision to include a DVD player built into the console gave it a place under people’s television sets that was normally reserved for VCRs and Sky boxes. Its ability to be stored vertically was a significant selling point as well, with space under a television at a premium. But for all these nifty extras, what really made the PS2 such a success was its games.

The Playstation 2 had phenomenal third party support. Franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo gave the console broad appeal. Games such as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Okami, though lacking the popularity of the aforementioned franchises, were critically acclaimed and provided something for the more cerebral and hardcore gamer. Crucially, Sony’s decision to have backwards compatibility built into the device from Day One meant that you weren’t restricted to the launch titles, strong though they were. On release, you had five years worth of games to choose from thanks to the original Playstation. You could even continue that save of a game you’ve invested dozens of hours into on the PS1 on your shiny new PS2 by plugging in your old memory cards. More than anything I think it was this feature that elevated the PS2 above its competitors. Nintendo was transitioning from cartridges to disks, Sega didn’t include it and Microsoft was just starting out in the console business. And there was Sony, with the game library of two consoles. How could they compete?

Certainly the backwards compatibility was what made me choose the PS2. It was the summer of 2002, I was a massive Final Fantasy addict and my PS1 had just broken. Conveniently, Final Fantasy X had been released a few months earlier and so for my birthday I was given a PS2 and taken on a trip to Electronics Boutique to pick out my games. It was a magical time and from that moment on I was hooked. The ability to use all my old games and get new, state of the art games? How could any geeky kid not be head over heels? The fact that console is probably the reason I didn’t do as well in school as I might isn’t something I regret. The PS2 really opened my eyes to the world of video gaming and for that I shall be eternally grateful.

Eventually, in the summer of 2008, my PS2 gave up the ghost and died on me. Well, I say died. Murdered would be a more accurate description. I punched it right in the middle after dying one too many times on a boss fight in Final Fantasy XII and that was that. I never bought a replacement, opting for an XBox 360 instead, which I grew to love but not in the same way. It (and the PS3 now that I have one) lack the character of the PS2. Though inferior in every way, the PS2 has a little place in my heart as a console that none since have matched. Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever feel that again. And so I raise a glass to the Playstation 2 and wish it adieu. The beautiful, magnificent bastard.