Oct 13

For Love Of The Game Episode 3 – The Collector’s Edition

Littered around my room, I have dozens, literally dozens, of collector’s and limited editions of games. Some that even the hardcore crowd are probably unaware of. I’m not the kind of guy who buys a collector’s edition just to have it sit on a mantle and never get touched, oh no. I buy something to enjoy it dammit. Although I have bought and kept collector’s editions of games I don’t really like but I have definitely played them all. Some were picked up because I pre-ordered in advance, some I was lucky to find in a second hand shop and others I had to fork out extra just to get a few related items along with the game. But not all collector’s editions are put together well and recently, a couple of collector’s editions really stood out to me and I thought it’d be interesting to reflect back on some of the great collector’s editions and some that were not limited enough.

The typical limited edition will come with a “making of” dvd and usually packaged in a different case with, maybe an art book. Some companies are renown for going a bit further when they put together their collector’s editions so let’s start with the big guns: Blizzard.

Even though I am a devoted anti-world of Warcraft-er, I can’t help but stand in awe of what they do for their truly devoted fans. Blizzard pack with their highly coveted collector’s edition a CD and DVD version of the game, a mouse mat with a map of whatever new area they’ve added to the game, a starter deck of the trading card game based on WoW, a soundtrack CD, a hardcover art book and a little in-game pet to follow you around and show off to other players that you got your hands on this treasure trove of nerd-gasm goodness. All this comes in a hard cardboard oversize box with awesome art all over it. As much as I hate to admit it, I have even contemplated getting one just because of how cool they are. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that.

Recently, I got to see the Halo Reach collector’s edition. Now Bungie, the game makers, actually made 2 different ones. One that had a diary and was shaped like the black box from a space ship in the game and another that had a statue of the team members you fight along side with and the aforementioned book. The statue one didn’t phase me at all but the black box look and diary just blew me away. The Halo games haven’t pushed my buttons since the first one from back in 2001 and Reach bored me utterly senseless but I must say that I have read that diary about 5 times back to back. The printing has been made to look handwritten and the sketches actually look like they’re done with pencil and the history of these games is so richly fleshed out that it makes quite a compelling read, despite the lacklustre game that came with it.

My personal favourite special editions however, go to both Bioshock games. The first Bioshock limited came with a soundtrack CD and “”making of” DVD as would normally be expected but this also came with a 6 inch figure of a Big Daddy and the game case itself was metal and coloured to look rusted out which is fitting for the game (in case you haven’t played them, it’s set under the sea). Not only was all this awesomeness packed in a cool rust themed box but it cost 10 bucks more than the standard stand alone game. So when Bioshock 2 had a collector’s edition confirmed, I pre-ordered it before they even said what was going to be in it. Unfortunately, I hated the game but my god the extras are damn sweet! It came with a coffee table book full of concept art from both games, posters with the beautiful world war 2 style propaganda artwork, a soundtrack CD which is pressed into vinyl and, as if that wasn’t enough, an actual long-play vinyl record of the in-game orchestral score. This one was 40 dollars more but so worth it and these collector’s editions can still be found in stores quite easily today for pretty dang cheap.

Not all companies have the whole special/collectors/limited edition thing sorted out. In fact, one of my all time favourite game makers are quite crap at it. Sadly, it’s Capcom. In the Street Fighter 4 collectors they boasted 2 figurines, a comic book style moves list and a full length movie. It was an extra 80 bucks but I had faith. My faith was misplaced however. The figurines were 3 cm tall and looked like they were painted by a kindergarten class, the comic style moves book was smaller than the instruction manual and was 4 pages long and only showed moves for 4 of the characters. The thing about the book that is epically dumb is that you can get a full moves list from the games pause menu. The movie wasn’t an award winning bit of cinema but with the PS3 version, it was a Blu-Ray so that wasn’t all disappointing. Unlike their special edition for Lost Planet 2. Not only was the game catastrophically terrible but the collectors came in a paper thin box, the making of DVD is in a separate paper sleeve and a figurine of one of the monsters that honestly resembles something from a sex shop. For 20 bucks more, you had to wonder what you were paying the extra cash for but these are nothing compared to my all time biggest disappointment in a collector’s edition ever.

Resident Evil 5 had a limited edition version. It was 60 dollars more and, on all the photos of it before release, it looked sensational. If only I had a photo of my face when it finally came in. The pics showed the game disc next to a “making of” DVD. Next to them stood a finely painted Chris Redfield figure. Also in the pic was a material patch, a necklace with a metal medallion shaped like Africa and a cool sidebag-like satchel with the Tri-Cell logo from the game. The figurine was about 4 cm, the necklace was so thin that it had been bent in transit and the satchel was just big enough to house a pack of cigarettes and made of a stinky hession-like material. My gripes don’t end there either. The game itself came in the standard PS3 game case but the “making of” DVD came in a separate normal sized metal DVD case which had a spindle for another disc which I thought was a tad queer so I checked out the 360 version. Same disappointing quality of extras but the DVD was in a PS3 sized case. Baffling!

There are a couple of collector’s editions that most people don’t know about. I have a collector’s edition of Resident Evil 4 on both Gamecube and PS2 that leave whoever I show them to gawk breathlessly. Everyone has said the same thing too “if I knew that existed, I so would have gotten that!”. I also have a limited edition for Killzone 1 on PS2. Very pretty tin case with a “making of” DVD inside. I have seen a collector’s edition Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on DS that comes in a Bible with a detailed timeline of all the Castlevania games and where they sit in history. I truly wish I had that one! Apparently only available overseas though. No one can forget the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 prestige edition which came with actual working night vision goggles and the new Black Ops prestige will come packed with a remote control car modelled on one of the new kill streak rewards. Dead Rising 2: Zombrex Edition had a pen shaped like a syringe and came in a tin box looking like a medication housing. You would be surprised how many games have a special edition of some sort.

The collectors edition is a very touch-and-go affair. Some will help you appreciate the game a bit more while others will leave you feeling very empty. The best thing to do is to order it at a store where you can return the item if you aren’t happy with the purchase and then swap it over for the standard edition of the same title if it blows. Luckily, these places are usually specialist game stores that you probably already go to anyway. The major thing is to ask these stores if there’s a confirmed special edition of a game you want coming out and pre-order it. Because we live on a rock that’s miles from all the major game makers, we don’t get large amounts of stock out here which means if these stores don’t order it whilst it’s available, they won’t get it and they aren’t going to order something that expensive if it won’t sell. But it is a rewarding feeling, when you do get one of those glowing gem collector’s editions home and you know that the makers of the game really care about what they have created enough to enhance that experience for the player. For those not keeping track, that’s you and me people, the gamers. Oo-rah!

– Stubby