Computer games. Everyone knows where to buy computer games from. You just pop into your nearest HMV (if there are any left), GAME or Computer Game Exchange (CEX). It's as simple as that. Within minutes you can own the latest instalment of the biggest gaming franchise.
But what if you're after something a little older? A game or even a system that's no longer available? eBay can only take you so far. If what you're after is available it's likely to be overpriced, and as good a site as it is eBay isn't brilliant for browsing.
Readers can check charity and second hand shops. Beyond CEX, which is predominantly mainstream in its wares, there's nowhere obvious for gamers to go to browse for hidden treasures. Unless you're willing to make a short journey to Streatham in south London, that is.
In Streatham, a five minute walk from the station (turn right as you exit) is Retro Game Base. It's an average sized shop that crams in a surprising amount of stock. Games for the Game Boy, Game Gear, NES, SNES, Mega Drive, Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, PC, PS, and PS2 can all be found here. It's not just the usual suspects you'd get in your local CEX either, there are tonnes of rare games loaded onto the shelves. The highlight for me was seeing a modded copy of Super Mario RPG in a glass cabinet. It never got a British release but the guys have modded a US version so it will run on a British machine.
In amongst the shelves if games are arcade machines, a couch and a TV with various consoles hooked up to it. The guys who run the place are super friendly and seem happy to spend hours shooting the breeze with customers (as long as said customers don't mind them tinkering at the same time). It's also worth noting that one of them has a 3DS, so make sure you take yours, should you have one, for a guaranteed Streetpass hit. The relaxed atmosphere means people can come in, browse around and flick through the stacks of old gaming magazines that are dotted about the shop without worrying about aggressively attentive shop assistants asking if you're okay every two minutes.
What sets Retro Game Base apart from their competitors is that friendly atmosphere. Giveaways and competitions are a regular thing there, creating a sense of community and camaraderie. Gaming tournaments used to be a regular feature too but have been phased out as plans for a gaming bar at another site have advanced.
If you're looking for an old game the chances are that Retro Game Base can help. If they don't have what you want in stock they'll do their best to get it for you through their range of contacts. London, and the world in general, needs more gaming stores like this one.