Feature: DREAMCAST.. THE LEGEND

Dreamcast, truly a cult system crawling up that hallowed path only traversed before it by the equally superb Neo Geo AES.

Developers really untapped the system's true potential through an elite range of games, some of which even surfaced after the industry had driven the final nail into the cross. There really are just too many great titles on this system to list them all, whether it be playing a bus driver in 'Tokyo Bus Guide' or playing arcade perfect ports from the Capcom and SNK universe.

It's highly advised that you invest in the official Dreamcast Arcade Stick for fighting games, not surprisingly becoming difficult to acquire.

The Dreamcast can only truly be appreciated in it's native Japanese guise as some great fighting classics, unique genres like Lack of Love and the final 4 shooters Border Down, Ikaruga, Under Defeat and Trigger Heart Exelica were Japan only.

Even though mainstream software support was officially dropped in 2002 the entry of the above four AAA shmups reinforced the faith that DC games will live on longer than even Under Defeat's back cover suggested. Trigger Heart Exelica came along later and was officially commisioned by Sega as yet again the final Dreamcast game.

The trend being followed by Sega seems to mimick SNK with their Neo Geo AES that was one of the longest supported formats in history. Games would appear after a long hiatus and fans would get hyped up right until the final AES cart 'Samurai Shodown 5 Special' rolled off the production line. Sega seem to be following this unorthodox approach and Dreamcast is fast gaining a hardcore reputation.

The homebrew scene has really become active too with shmups 'Last Hope' and 'Dux' making their way onto the system in 2008 and 2009 respectively. These were not officially endorsed titles, as such the view shared among collectors is that they hold no real long-term value and the final officially commisioned game remaining Trigger Heart Exelica.

As the years click by expect to see Zero Gunner 2, Jet Set Radio, the Matching Service range, Radilgy, Sega-Gaga, Rez etc rising in value as collectors become increasingly reluctant in parting with their copies for the simple fact these are some of the greatest games ever made!

Feature: AVOIDING THE BLACK MARKET

Take a look at Fu'un Super Tag Battle, better known as Kizuna Encounter as the perfect example of how a mediocre game can create synthetic demand to raise prices sky high on the weight of a limited production run. So are we to understand that buying a lame game that will naturally have low production naturally be a sound investment? - in a word.. No!

I have been studying the market for many years and have to agree with other collectors that the internet has definately ruined the hobby for the rest of us. Problem is that you get gamers who decide to become collectors over night read up on an apparently sought after game, jump on eBay and stop at nothing to secure a copy. Final Fight Revenge for the Saturn is on record one of the worst 3D fighters you could possibly play, yet the self proclaimed gaming cognoscenti identified it as a collectable gem as it was the last game for the system, incidentally produced by Capcom. Behold, prices soared to triple what was being initially asked on the weight of a few unscrupulous types screaming "fire" and the rest of us getting burnt. An example of rare, collectable and sound investments come in the shape of programming marvels like Metal Slug AES, Radiant Silvergun on Saturn and Border Down on Dreamcast... Rendering Ranger R2 for the Super Famicom is worth a mention too.

The major greviance among collectors seems to be with AES carts that are essentially all rare if you consider the home system was a niche market product. Take a look at Fatal Fury Special and compare it to the aforementioned Kizuna Encounter and the price difference is substancial. KE's alleged super limited european release last sold for somewhere around $12.000, this has ensured that the price of the Japanese version has shot up in line although most would agree that Fatal Fury Special is a better game.

Once again the internet and some secret wiseman commitee seem to decide these prices by creating panic among collectors, hording stock and bumping up the asking price!

Best advice is to hold on paying out like a broken fruit machine for a particular game unless it's one of those gaming grails that is openly hailed by the elite.