USPS Loses $7,500+ Worth Of PAL Super Nintendo Games Destined For Digital Preservation
Posted on February 15, 2017 12:00 PM by Rob Williams
If you think you’ve experienced shipping hassles in the past, you need to hear this story out. A couple of weeks ago, the United States Postal Service managed to lose a very heavy package containing 100 PAL-region SNES games, valued at $7,500 or greater. This story could act as a lesson to both insure your packages properly, and to avoid using a standard fare postal service to ship sensitive packages.
The 100 PAL carts were destined to arrive at emulation legend byuu’s house, so that he could dump the data from the ROMs in an attempt to create copies that are as accurate as possible. While there are “clean” sets already floating around out there, byuu’s intent was to go further by analyzing how the carts would have handled memory management. Ultimately, the goal here isn’t to just recreate the SNES well enough; it’s to recreate it as perfectly as possible. Preexisting ROMs simply don’t include the kind of information byuu requires.
Secret of Evermore running in Higan
A bit of backstory: byuu is responsible for the Higan emulator, one that’s designed to deliver gameplay as accurate to the original platform as possible. That means that Higan requires more processing horsepower than most others, because absolute accuracy is the name of the game, not “good enough” accuracy.
To date, byuu has already digitally archived SNES games from other regions, and the goal was to preserve 100% of PAL carts over time. That was in the process of happening, as one seriously helpful emulation fan was kind enough to send byuu carts to archive, 100 at a time. While it’s admirable that someone would take a chance on sending such a high-value shipment, USPS has come along to remind us that some shipping companies can’t always be trusted with important shipments, and that apt insurance is important. But even then, if insurance covers a shipment like this, there’s no guarantee that the owner would be able to replace his copies with new copies of equal quality. These games are over 20-years-old, after all.
USPS trucks wait in the shadows, anxious for more PAL carts to pounce on
After spending a couple of weeks trying in earnest to get proper support out of USPS, it became clear that the package was gone for good; either stolen, or truly missing due to incompetence.
While some might jump to the conclusion that this is a scam, anyone that’s been following the project knows otherwise. One 100 PAL cart shipment was already shipped back; this second shipment was going to be the second of five total. Admirably, the person who sent these carts is willing to continue sending more carts for preservation, but obviously with a different shipper, and with fewer carts sent in one batch.
In truth, USPS isn’t unique in this instance. I’ve had FedEx deliver a package to the wrong house once, and UPS has on multiple occasions dinged me with superfluous fees and delivered packages that looked like they were used for sport. The ultimate lesson is to not cheap out on insurance if a shipment is valuable, because it’s a lot easier to replace the $100 or $200 or so it might cost up front rather than the $7,500+ in this particular case.
Despite the odds being against both the shipper and receiver here, it’d be nice to see the package rise to the surface at some point. Fans are already actively scouring websites like eBay to see if all of the carts, or even a select few at a time, wind up on there. Some of these carts are very rare, so spotting them in the wild wouldn’t be too difficult.
In the meantime, byuu remains committed to continuing the preservation of these games, despite the unbelievable hassles and stresses caused this past month.
Feb 16th Addendum:byuu posted to reddit that he received the shipping label affixed to the box, but not the actual box itself. He believes at this point that someone at the New Jersey USPS distribution center stole it. USPS sent a letter of apology, but that obviously means very little to byuu or the victim who sent the package.