Saturday, 26 March 2011

Wonder Boy in the Netherlands

Yesterday I returned to England following my magical adventure in the Netherlands. That's right, I've spent the last week away from home, and the last five days staying with my girlfriend's family whom live in Eindhoven, a city most famous for the multinational electronics corporation, Phillips. The reason for my trip was that my girlfriend and I have been thinking of emigrating to the Netherlands as job prospects are better as the state's benefit systems are much fairer.

This trip was my third to Eindhoven and by now I've gotten a good feel of the city and it's surrounding areas, so I'm no longer as much of a tourist. This time I imagined what it would be like for myself living there and decided that it would be a good idea to seek out the gaming shops scattered around. The problem is that within city centres, the only places to buy games are record shops and toys shops, both of which have extremely high prices for all games regardless of their age, or have seemingly priced all games randomly. For example, in one toy shop I found Pok√©mon Heart Gold being sold new for €35, which is about the price it's being sold here in the UK, however in the same toy shop they were selling Devil May Cry 4 for Xbox 360 for a whopping €60.

Another big difference is that in the Netherlands the selling of second hand goods isn't commonplace at all. I mean no charity shops, no junk shops, no car boot sales, nothing. However I did visit an annual flea market in the nearby town of Heeze where I bought a new and sealed copy of Spyro: Season of Ice on the GBA for €1 as well as a promo version of Ape Escape 3 for €4.50, both of which I bought for my brother back home. There was one guy there selling loads and loads of retro games, decent retro games at that, however most of the games were not-priced with the guy pulling numbers out of his arse when asked. The amount of money he wanted for the games was ridiculous and unfortunately, the Dutch do not barter, so I simply didn't buy anything.

The two gaming purchases I made were in fact in a game shop called ForeGames in the next city along from Einhoven, Tilburg. The shop was really quite amazing and not what I expected to find at all. It had an awesome, old-school, independent game shop feel to it, with dim lighting and gaming relics hanging from the ceiling. It had an excellent range of fairly priced modern games, both new and second hand, as well as a fantastic retro gaming section comprised of games from pretty much every mainstream console you can think of; with highlights being a PAL Streets of Rage 3, an Atari Lynx, and two R.O.B.s. I was really pleased with their Mega Drive selection which had a lot of games I'd never seen before in my life, as well as some that jogged some dust-covered memories of mine. I walked out of the shop €18 poorer with two games, Legend of Galahad and Chakan: The Forever Man, both boxed with manuals and in very good condition. These aren't games I'm familiar with, but I thought I'd take a chance like I did when I was a wee lad, and although the games were pricey, I decided that if I came away from the Netherlands with souvenirs at all, they might as well be games.

The only other shop worth mentioning I visited was the fantastic Eppo Strips near Eindhoven's city centre. Eppo Strips is an excellent comic book shop with a very good selection of comics and graphic novels as well as trading cards, board games, statues and the like. Again, the price was an issue, with most graphic novels being between €17-20, but the shop had a good atmosphere and I did actually buy one thing, a Dutch version of The Amazing Spider-Man #242 for €1.50.

Now that I'm back at home in the UK my girlfriend and I will be trying to gather as much information as possible about emigration to the Netherlands and, if all goes to plan, will be moving there this summer. For now I'll have to wait to play my two new Mega Drive games as they had to be left behind due to RyanAir luggage weight restrictions...


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