Let’s Go to a Japanese Game Store!

3 01 2012

As I mentioned in the post below, the first of the year is the time for sales in Japan.  That holds true for game shops as well, so won’t you come with me to a local game shop near my apartment?  Let’s go!


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Heiwado Shoten has a nice selection of games dating from the Famiconian era all the way up to modern Xboxious Circulus.  In fact, you can buy a boxed Famicom for Y1,980 or an unboxed Xbox360 Elite for Y12,980… they do a good job of covering the spread.


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One of the interesting things about shopping for games in Japan is that no matter what store you go to, it won’t carry the same scope of games as others even if they’re part of a chain.  Store X might have only modern video games, but then store X a few miles away also carries retro, and then store X a few miles from that only has a few retro games but a wide selection of games for portable systems, and then a few more miles from that, store X only has 1 or 2 games but they have a ton of CDs. In Japan you have familiarize yourself with stores so you know which ones to hit up, and which ones to pass by.


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Here we find an OK selection of Sega Saturn games as well as an above average amount of Neo Geo CD games for a store that’s not a specialty shop (although why they want Y8,000 ($104) for a copy of Aso II is beyond me).  The selection of PC Engine games leaves something to be desired (copies of the game 卒業 Graduation, and Princess Maker 2 seem to be everywhere recently) but at least they have some.  In the last year PC Engine games have disappeared from store shelves at an alarming rate.  They also have a reasonable selection of Dreamcast games and even a few Xbox games that are harder to find, but not valuable.


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Here is a very common sight in a store that sells used (or “recycled” as they’re called in Japan) video games.  Some stores have a “junk” section where they park older games.  These games may have minor scratches on them if they’re disk based.  Cartridges might have some kid’s name written on them, claiming ownership for all time.  Some games are in absolute mint condition; others… well, not so much.   You can see they have bunches of Playstation 2 games, as well as a healthy amount of original Playstation games, although not a ton.  There are a lot of PS1 games in the wild.  It’s nice that they have Famicom Disk games, but what would be nicer still is if their Famicom and Super Famicom games were boxed.  They have a few boxed SuperFami games, the most notable being Puyo Puyo 2, which isn’t saying much.  I dig around in the Famicom and Famicom Disk games from time to time… their average price is Y200 each, and occasionally I can find a deal.


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Now we turn our attention to the glass cases.  Usually this is where stores put the items they want to highlight.  Things that say, “I’m expensive!  Buy me!”  The first time I came into this store they had a copy of Sexy Invaders for the Famicom Disk System in this case. I picked it up for less than Y1,000- a steal.   Right now they have that 360 Elite I mentioned earlier in there… it takes up most of the middle shelf.  This store keeps its more modern games in the cases along with Game Boy and DS games.  When I took the picture below I noticed they had a brown DSi LL (DSi XL in the US) for Y7980 ($103), a fair price.


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Most mom and pop stores like this can’t exist selling only games.  This Heiwado also sells gaming cards and comics.  In used manga stores, you can usually buy books either as singles or in sets.  It’s just my opinion, but asking Y300 for a single used manga’s a little on the pricy side.  I guess I’m spoiled by Book Off’s Y100 shelves.

It’s always nice to find little stores like this that cary retro.  It’s not too difficult to find Famicom and Super Famicom games here and there, but other systems from that era and before are becoming harder and harder to hunt down.  When I game to Japan 4 years ago, they were everywhere; now it’s a rarity.  In my opinion, within two years it will be difficult to find PC Engine games outside of a specialty store.  That will be a sad, sad day.  Thank goodness that little stores like Heiwado Shoten in Kita Urawa, Saitama Japan are keeping the flame aline, if just for a little longer.



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