Pick Date: 8/16/08    Crystal Castles was on my list of must have games, and I've been waiting and searching high and low for this one. The gameplay is relatively simple. Use a trackball to move Bentley Bear around the paths of the various "castles" and pick up gems while being chased by various enemies.

Let's see the reasons I wanted this one:
    1. Made by Atari. Can't go wrong with that.
    2. Conceived in 1983. Golden age of video games.
    3. Wanted a trackball game.
    4. Artwork was way cool.
    5. Fun gameplay.
    6. The trackball lights up.

I have had a couple of people offer to sell me their Crystal Castles game. These people wanted anywhere from $400 ~ $600 for the game and lived about 5 hours away each. Now I'm not against road trips, but you add $100 in gas to the already high price tag and that put it out of my reach for awhile.

Enter Craiglist on a late Friday evening. Out of the thousands of games that could have ever been posted on Craiglist, someone posted a non-working Crystal Castles within 50 minutes of my house. What are the odds of that happening? Furthermore, this thing was cheap, and I mean REAL cheap. A single fuzzy picture barely outlined the condition of the game. It was late, and it was email reply only for the Craigslist add. I thought to myself why not give it a try. Even in bad condition this game is worth more than what he wants. I sent off an email and went to bed.

Good thing I didn't sleep in that morning. I got up early, checked my email and the gentleman had replied to my email giving me his phone number. I called him and he said that 7 other people were interested in the game so the first person to show up with cash gets it. Being 50 minutes away didn't give me much hope, but I got directions and headed out. The game was located at an automotive and tire repair shop. I walk in and ask for Bob. Bob walks me through all the mechanic bays, and way in the back sat the game. It was still there. I must say she was beautiful. The artwork was in great condtion. The gentleman said it just makes a popping noise when plugged in. "I'll take it", I said, and handed him cash. I loaded up the game and brought it home. The whole car ride I had a grin on my face not only because I finally got this expensive, elusive game, but also because I was wondering how many people were on their way to the automotive shop and had to go home empty handed. Yes, that made me chuckle.

I get the game home and open it up and it was pretty clean inside. First thing I notice was that all serial numbers matched inside, so it was all original. I pull all the fuses and noticed 2 of them are blown. No problem, I replace the fuses and turn the machine back on. Still nothing. Now I throw my voltmeter on the ARII board (power supply) and it was reading low voltages. I happen to have a spare ARII board lying around so I throw it in and turn on the game.

It's alive! It's alive! The trackball lit up, sounds came on and everything. The game was now working. First thing I notice is the trackball was kind of sticky. No problem I thought, this has been sitting unused for awhile. I take the trackball apart to get it oiled up and notice all the rollers are rusted and the metal idler was extremely worn. I order new rollers and idler from Happ Controls and get them replaced. Shazam! Trackball is working like a dream and Bentley Bear (the game's main character) is running around all over the place.

So now I finally have a Crystal Castles game. The artwork is in amazing condition for its age. It was bought cheap and repaired by myself which is probably the best part. In the end I had to replaced 2 blown fuses, replace the ARII power supply and rebuilt the trackball assembly. Welcome to the Vintage Vault Arcade Bentley Bear!

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