by Chris O’Neal
2040 E. Main Street, Ventura
Stepping inside Pastime Legends in Ventura is like stepping out of a time machine and back into the late 1990s. Well, if the Xbox 360 and such existed then, alongside the Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and Gamecube.
Pastime Legends is a new player on the scene, an extension of a small chain of stores in upstate New York. Tony and Olivia Lirosi moved to the West Coast from New York to operate the shop, given the opportunity by his close friend. He says that he wanted a career change after spending many years in the restaurant business and so he jumped at the opportunity.
The shop sits across the street from Ventura High School, adjacent to the former Top Hat Burger stand. The space is rather large and seems deceptively sparse upon entrance, but cartridges and discs don’t take up much space, after all.
What does Pastime Legends specialize in? Games. Lots of ’em. From the Atari to the PlayStation 4, mostly all used but in good to great condition.
On the left wall, a slew of Sega Genesis cartridges, including Ecco the Dolphin, an underwater adventure game featuring, well, a dolphin. Just the sight of the game brought back memories of the day my much older cousin put me in front of the television and handed me the controller, asking that I play Ecco rather than watch an infomercial on mammograms, which apparently interested me for some reason.
The center aisles hold bargain cartridges from older systems, including the Atari, and a stack of DVDs sits beside them. The far wall, however, is where I spent most of my time, perusing Super Nintendo cartridges gracing the wall like rectangular trophies.
The best part is that they are all reasonably priced, with rarer, harder-to-find titles for much less than one could possibly find on eBay.
In a display near the front, Legends’ collection of rare titles sits behind glass. A copy of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, in a gold cartridge for the original Nintendo, rests beside Q*bert and Double Dragon. On the other side of the display, a cornucopia of handheld games ranging from the original Gameboy to the Nintendo 3DS, and the Game Gear to the PlayStation Portable, a true handheld delight.
Tony apologized for the empty spots on the shelves; business, he says, has been good. Venturans, as it turns out, really enjoy retro gaming, as evidenced not only by the need to restock but also by the trade-ins and systems behind the counter.
Legends sports a variety of original consoles, from the Nintendo to GameCube and everything in between, as well as handheld systems from Sega and Nintendo. There are also a few emulation systems available, but if you’re buying classic, legit cartridges, splurging for a system to match is probably the way to go.
While the shop itself is still in its infancy, there is plenty to enjoy here, and possibly more to come. On my visit, a Sega system set up near the entrance teased a playable Sonic the Hedgehog, and I can imagine that more such stations would give customers the ability to test cartridges and, perhaps, fall in love all over again.
Visit Pastime Legends not only to browse the selection, but also to rekindle that long-lost feeling of awe one used to bathe in down the aisles of legit gaming shops of days gone by.
Chris O’Neal has been living in the past a lot lately. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.