Retro Game Shopping in Tokyo Akihabara, Japan – Updated 2016
So I recently came back from Japan, and one of the highlights was seeing all of the retro gaming gear out in mainstream stores. The second hand market there is huge, and as a result, most gaming stores will have a ‘vintage’ section full of SFC/FC and GB carts. If you are lucky, you might even find a loose or complete SFC console. In summary, retro game shopping is epic in Japan.
So i thought i would write up the best places i found in my short stay for retro game shopping in the four cities i visited; Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I’m starting with Tokyo first below as it has the largest proportion of stores. I didn’t take as many photos as i would like, as a lot of the stores aren’t super keen on tourists taking photos.
1. Super Potato
This place has by far the largest range of retro video game consoles and games. As reported elsewhere, they price their items above other nearby stores in Akihabara, but not higher than Retro Gaming World (see below).
Whether you consider it expensive is relative i suppose. For myself as the casual gamer that simply wanted to purchase a SFC console and some old favourites, this was a good place to rummage around. I picked up a few SFC and FC cartridges between Y500 ~ Y1000, which i thought was reasonable. They also have some cool merchandise like a Famicom console plush, Street Fighter II pillows, tshirts, and figurines, and a miniature Nintendo Game and Watch range.
There are a few Traders in Akihabara, but the one that stocks retro video games is located a few blocks north of Super Potato and is on the 2nd floor of the store. It’s on street level on the main road so you won’t miss it. Personally this was the best place for retro video games in Akihabara for me.
For consoles, they stock a range of boxed, loose, and third party remakes or all-in-ones. For games, you will find games for FC, SFC, Sega MegaDrive / Genesis, N64, and Saturn (The newer Wii/PS/XBox stuff is all on the ground floor).
Unfortunately the only photo I took in this store. I took this because I wanted to look up the company of these remake consoles (Columbus Circle?). If you look up “Trader, Akihabara” in Google Maps, there are some excellent shots of the store inside.
Theres a bargain bin in the corner that has a lot of loose Famicom, SNES, and N64 cartridges for you to run through, all costing between Y10 ~ Y500. There probably isn’t anything rare in these piles, however, if you are after certain popular titles you are bound to find something there. I managed to pickup a copy of Transformers Convoy, and Pacland for cheap. Transformers was the cheapest at Y98.There was also a surprising number of Street Fighter II for SNES in those containers, I guess there’s surplus of that in the market. Anyhow, the bargain bins are a good start for finding those common games that you really shouldn’t be paying much for.
Friends is a bit tricky to find, but not impossible. Its upstairs in a building
I found out about this place by looking online and it was recommended as one of the best places to start. However when i got there, i found the stock to be lacking for FC/SFC for games or accessories. Even consoles were far and few between. The shelves looked pretty bare, with only minimal stock out for purchasing. Any decent finds were actually pricier than Mandarake, Super Potato and Trader (For instance, Rockman 3 for FC was ~Y2000, whereas i managed to get a copy for Y1200 at Mandarake). I cant comment much about the PSX / XBOX range upstairs as I didn’t really take a good look. I’d visit this one if I were going again, purely for the fact that the store looked REALLY good from the photos i saw online during my research. Anyway, i picked up an N64 controller here because I needed one.
Don’t waste your time on this store. Everything is super inflated to the point where you are better off buying online and getting it shipped from Japan to your home destination.
5. Mandarake Akihabara and Nakano
Great store to go to, although I advise you to take the lift. Seven flights of stairs to reach the gaming area is quite a feat! This store not only sells video games but has manga and toys on other floors. There is a large section of FC/SFC games both boxed and loose. Items generally seem to be in much better condition than other stores. Don’t bother trying to pickup consoles in this store as they can be had cheaper at Trader.
Similar story in Nakano Mandrake. A lot of cartridges to rummage through which is always fun. Slightly cheaper than Akihabara.
6. Book Off
One of the best things about Japan was visiting this chain. Bonus points as there is an English book section in each store as well if you cannot read Japanese. In 90% of the Book Offs that i visited in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Kyoto, there was a retro game section in varying sizes. What seems to be consistent in these shops in terms of stock after visiting a fair few of them are:
a) Sports games for Super Famicom, with a ridiculous number of Derby Stallion copies, boxed and all.
b) Gameboy to SFC adapters
c) Nintendo DS consoles
What you find here will be a bit of a hit and miss depending on the store itself, and the stock available at the time. Some stores have much more of a focus on vintage games, whereas others will be almost non-existent. I’ll try to write-up a list of Book Offs that i visited in a future blog spot. Anyway, I purchased my SFC for ~Y3000 at a Book Off that came with two control pads.
SFC controller for Y250
7. Surugaya Specialty Store
Relatively new store that popped up, I believe it is a chain outlet. Expect to see your usual assortment of FC/SFC, but at a much bigger range than say, Traders or Friends. I quite liked this store, but didnt end up buying much here. From memory I think this one is on the pricier side, think Super Potato.
Interesting store this one. Definately don’t bring the kids here as there are some adult sections in store (hidden behind a curtain). This shop has a mix of FC/SFC and Sega megadrive items, but what really stands out is its retro computing items. Think if 486 and older hardware running old school games from that area. Really interesting to have a look at, though space is a little tight. You need to walk down a flight of stairs to reach it. It does look a little suss before you go inside.