What’s Old Is New: A Visit to Gotham City Games (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

By Adam Malmut (VGBoys)


Powered by social media and a video game collector’s community, there has been a recent revival in popularity in what video game enthusiasts would call “Retro Gaming.” What is retro gaming? It depends who you ask. The general consensus from our research would define “retro” as video games that were developed and released up through the 4th generation console era. More specifically, this is when gamers were playing on 16-bit consoles; Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx-16, among others. Many other game players would include Sony Playstation, Sega CD, and Nintendo 64 as well. As we suggested, it depends who you’re asking. Naturally, this would also include everything that released before these systems. 

Many social media users utilize hash tags to connect with their desired online community. Hash tags such as #RetroCollective and #RetroGamer will land an Instagram user in the midst of a retro gaming photo hull. But some may question the relevance of retro gaming during a time where small handheld technologies like the smartphone exist. Technology has even brought us to the beginnings of virtual reality being accessible and mass-produced. Why look back? The re-introduction of privately owned video games stores may be a sign that new technology may not be enticing enough to keep the attention of the modern video game player.

PRIVATELY OWNED STORES RETURN: recently visited with Ralph Pugliese, owner of Gotham City Games, a Brooklyn-based video game store that caters to the retro video game market. We were seeking answers to find out why retro is back. Pugliese says that he knew that retro games would be popular. “It’s nostalgia,” said Pugliese. “We want to re-buy things from our past that brought us joy…games in the 80’s and 90’s were more pure. Just press start and play and figure it out as you go.”

Gotham City Games began about five years ago in a garage in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. “I had another job at the time working with my Father’s landscaping company which allowed me to have time off in the winter months,” said Pugliese. “In those 2 -3 months off work, I would seek out video game collections all over the tri-state area, as well as work on refurbishing systems and games.” After building his inventory though garage sales, trading, and hunting down games at local flea markets in Downtown Brooklyn, Pugliese decided to open Gotham City Games at their Brick and Mortar location on January 2015.

How does a privately owned store compete with the mainstream giants of the video game industry? “GCG is definitely different from mainstream video game stores like Gamestop,” Pugliese said. “We have strict focus on used games and accessories prior to the Xbox 360 generation. This helps makes us different… Direct competition with a gaming juggernaut corporation is not a good business plan. Here at GCG we do sell new games, but it is not our primary focus.”


Ralph Pugliese tells us that Nintendo 64 and Gameboy are the most popular systems in his shop. “Gameboy batteries last and people love them for their commute,” says Pugliese. “Playing Mario on Gameboy is still way better than most mobile games out today.” When staying at home, Nintendo is still the way to go according to the Gotham City Games owner. “The N64 remains, to this day, the best multiplayer gaming system. I brought mine to college and it was the most played system for me and my friends.” We asked Ralph what draws his customers toward older games when there are so many new games available. “Many games now have long tutorials and learning curves,” said Pugliese. “Not to mention the fact that some have un-skippable cut scenes and so on. In the time it takes to start up Metal Gear Solid V, you could have already played and defeated Shredder in Turtles in Time. ”


Gamers are a passionate group. If you ask any of the self-proclaimed “Gamers” on social media, most will admit that it becomes a lifestyle rather than a social activity. Gamers connect with pictures of their personal collections, share stories of their gaming experiences, and become impassioned when deliberating over which console is the greatest. It may be such a passion that leads to stores like Gotham City Games to come into existence. “I wanted to open a video game store because I always enjoyed video games and doing something that you love is extremely rewarding,” says Pugliese. Community outreach remains a focus for Gotham City Games. “Our biggest [event] was NYC Comic Con and we are going back this year even bigger.”


“New items would definitely be the addition of toys, most notably the Funko products, as well as the apparel we have added to shop,” explains Pugliese. “We now carry officially licensed video game and super hero merchandise. Examples are Mario hats and Batman umbrellas and coffee mugs. We also just launched our online e-commerce site and added 200 products and will hopefully have that up to 1,000 in 2 months.”

VG BOYS QUICK-HIT RETRO GAMING TRIVIA (Featuring Ralph Pugliese, Gotham City Games)

  • Q: Choose one – Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter?  
  • A: Tough Call. I’ve enjoyed both and they are probably the top two fighting franchises. I’m going to say Mortal Kombat because I really enjoyed the early ones on the SNES and Genesis.
  • Q: Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, or Pokemon Yellow?  
  • A: Pokémon Yellow, I enjoyed the most because of the TV show. However, I always picked Bulbasaur on Red and Blue and loved them too.
  • Q: In the original Megaman game series, who created Megaman (the character)? 
  • A: I have no idea who created him, but great games – When Capcom was great.
  • Q: What year did original Super Mario Bros. release? 
  • A: I believe 1985 with the system.
  • Q: You’re stuck on a deserted Island with electricity and one console, one game. What is it? 
  • A: SNES, Turtles In Time.
  • Q: What was the most influential game in the retro era vs. modern era of gaming?
  • A: Super Mario 64 (retro), and The Last of Us (modern).