Being able to customize your things is really cool. Putting your own personal stamp or improving something you love can be a good thing, however it can also devalue the item if you want to sell it later down the line. What may seem priceless and worth hundreds of dollars to you may be worth pennies to others, yet for some reason the retro gaming community doesn’t seem to have this problem, quite the opposite in fact. Our hobby is different for when we see modded consoles on sale the price tends to go up instead of down. Older Game Boy brick models with new shell colors and backlit screens, SNES consoles that can play both SNES and Super Famicom games with no problems, custom console paint jobs, hacking the mini consoles to include more games, the list goes on and on. Now comes the question, should you, as a collector and retro gaming enthusiast, seek out modded (modified) consoles or stay a purist with the original hardware? The answer of course is whatever you feel like, these are YOUR consoles but there are quite a few advantages to having some things modded here and there .
In my own personal collection I have one modded console. A GBA SP-101 model that was refurbished with a Super Famicom shell (pictured above with my original Game Boy Pocket). When I first got my 101 the speaker slider didn’t work very well and the outer shell was scratched to high heaven. Other than the cosmetic damage and the sound issue the system worked just fine. I went to a trusted friend who also was selling modded GBA’s and had him fix/mod it for me. The speaker now works great, the buttons look amazing, and the design on the shell is terrific. Ever since I’ve been in love with it and it was cheaper to get it fixed than buy one of the models that were on sale. Now even though I am thoroughly happy with it there is one tiny issue I have with it. My R button works but sometimes you have to push it with just the right amount of pressure to register in game. This was most noticeable while playing Metroid: Zero Mission when I needed to fire missiles, I was pushing the button all the way down and it wouldn’t register the command in game. I had to press the button just right to activate my missiles. This did cause me to die a few times during harder boss fights, but I was still able to beat the game. Thankfully if I keep having issues with it I can take it to my friend to get it fixed no questions asked.
Modding consoles can also change the way you play your games too, by expanding the library your console can play. I mentioned earlier that you can mod your SNES to play Super Famicom games, my roommate has such a SNES. It’s sad to say but there are so many great games that came out only in Japan and the only way to experience them is either buy and import a whole new console, or just easily mod your current SNES. Luckily that mod isn’t difficult to perform at home and maybe some used game stores will offer to do the mod for cheap or for free. Of course not all mods are easy to do, nor are they the cheapest. Some require serious technical know, deep knowledge of the system, and how to take it apart then put it back together. Some online sellers may say the system is modded but once you get it to your living room, it could be completely broken and a scammer has ran off with your money. If you are interested in getting a modded console, I would highly suggest getting one from a used game store or at a trade show where you can test them out to make sure they work. Home consoles might be a bit tricky to test out and you may have to take some store’s word on them, but most of the time a used game store would only put out a console for sale if it has been rigorously tested. Handhelds on the other hand I’ve never had issues asking to test out a system be it at a store or a trade show.
As time wears on our gaming systems will show the passage of time. My original PlayStation may need repairs soon because sometimes it won’t fully load a game. Some consoles have to be modded in order to keep functioning the way we want them too. Finding sealed or CIB consoles is only going to get harder as the years go on so us retro gaming collectors will have to rely on mods to play our favorite games. Asking some of my retro gaming friends on Twitter, one of the systems people mentioned on having to get modded the most was the SEGA Game Gear. Mods help the system last longer by fixing the screen as well as the capacitors. Others mentioned modding systems to run HDMI and not needing to get a converter or like the SNES, make it so you don’t have to worry about the region lock and being able to enjoy games we never originally got in the US. The general consensus among them was that mods are great when you want/need them, and I agree. Modify the consoles you want, it all depends on you and your tastes. I wanted a modded GBA but am totally fine with keeping my Game Boy Pocket un-modded. If you’re willing to put down some money for an already modded console, go for it. If you have the technical knowledge to change it yourself or a trusted friend willing to do the job, go hog wild. As long as you’re aware of the dangers and have done your research, mods can only improve your gaming experience. Of course if you don’t want to mod anything and want to stay with the original hardware, that’s totally cool too. You have your consoles the way you want them, modded or not, it’s all up to you.