Featured Article – Daniel’s Japanese Adventure

Retro Domination contributor Daniel Grbac shows us that the land of the Rising Sun is the place to go for all retro loving collectors.

A one tracked mind. That’s me! So on one fateful, hot, Wednesday in Nippombashi Osaka, I did what any retro gaming nerd would do – I hunted down the supremely awesome, highly reputable Super Potato game chain store and spend some precious time exploring my past.

On initial impressions, it’s easy to think that Japan only ever loved three machines. The original NES, the Super NES and the original Playstation. Games for these three systems are in abundance in both Nippombashi (Osaka) stores and the Akihabara (Tokyo) store.

At the first store I was greeted by a huge Mario statue, going up the stairs to the retro section was Solid Snake, posing with his gun, and a Super Famicon glued to the wall complemented with NES cartridges. I was never an NES player, so these odd-coloured cartridges took my interest. But I lost interest rather quick – I was not there for NES games.

You see, I was looking for two things. I didn’t find either of them, but what I found was some of the most nostalgic and exciting things I could hope to see. Pristine condition machines and games were literally jam packed into every square corner of this two level shop.

It’s hard not to look at the myriad of SNES cartridges when they are dangling like sausages in a deli window in front of you. Even if I couldn’t read the labels, I could guess what they were via the picture or the publisher logo.

The prices were insane. A loose Street Fighter 2 cartridge for 50yen! That’s about AU60c! Over 2000yen (approx. AU$25) for a boxed copy of Mario Kart and a ridiculous 6980yen (AU$87) for an unboxed, loose cartridge of Final Fight Tough.

I saw consoles that I’d only ever seen pictures of. PC Engine, Neo Geo, Virtual Boy and special edition Dreamcast machines (refer to pictures) were just some of the consoles my precious eyes were witnessing for the first time. A Super Famicom Jr? Yep, that was there too!

Speaking of Neo Geo – the King Of Fighters 2002 cartridges (regarded as probably the second best KOF game) was an affordable 14800yen (just a lazy AU$184). Heck, even the actual console itself was cheaper.

Now, if you are like me, and chances are you aren’t (and that’s a good thing), you would have been in awe at the Playstation Bemani accessories that I could only dream about owning. A solid Guitar Freaks guitar for a ridiculous 24800yen, a Beatmania turn-table, a Drummania drumkit, a Pop N Music controller and a Para Para Paradise dancing controller were all there. Being a Bemani fan I couldn’t resist – yes I paid a ridiculous 100yen for an original copy of the first DDR game on the PSone. Indulge myself, why not? I didn’t stop there though, I also picked up Guitar Freaks and 2nd Mix Append discs for 100yen each, the first Drummania title for the PS2 for, you got it, 100yen and the original Tekken and Ridge Racer for 50yen each. Yes, I was spending big at Super Potato that afternoon!

Sometimes you forget how popular certain machines were until you see their wall of games. By no stretch of the imagination am I claiming the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast were popular machines, but I tell you there was a heap of games for both machines. My soft spot will always be for Sega – I even own a Dreamcast (and a Master System) so it was heartening to see so many great Saturn and Dreamcast games. Being an ex-arcade manager, I was so tempted to buy even Sega arcade conversion game that was on sale, but I had to resist.

Super Potato is just one of the places where you think “oh, that doesn’t seem that much” until you are holding forty items that ‘don’t seem that much’ that mysterious add up to ‘a hell of a lot.’