November 22nd, 2013

Our list of the must-see retro game stores in Tokyo’s Akihabara district

Visiting Tokyo’s Akihabara for the first time? Looking for retro games and don’t know where to start? Akihabara can be overwhelming on your first visit with lots of shops, arcades, duty free hecklers, and curry restaurants all vying for your attention. Here are what I would consider to be the must-see places in Akihabara. I’ll order these with the most recommended at the top.

Super Potato. The most famous retro store in Akihabara. If you only visit one place, make it here. Prices are high but you will never see so much treasure at once place.
1 Chome-11−2 Sotokanda
Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan
+81 3-5289-9933
Link: Google Maps link

“Mandarake”, huge fairly new 7-story building with all kinds of collectibles, not only games. Very rare items in the glass cases along the walls. Pricey but very rare stuff available.
3−11−12 Sotokanda
Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan
+81 3-3252-7007
Link: Google Maps link

“Friends”, a little mom and pop shop on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Might be hard to find. You can only see the entrance to the stairwell from the sidewalk. Some rare items at very reasonable prices for Akihabara.
You may need to look for the name in Japanese: フレンズ, might be written on a sandwich board
Japan, 〒101-0021 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Sotokanda, 6 Chome14−13 信越外神田ビル
Link: Google Maps link

Chain used bookstore, you may find bargains on 8-bit through 32-bit stuff. I bought a LOT of stuff at Book-Off, but at the ones in northern Japan, not Akihabara ;). Good stock of game soundtracks.
Japan, 〒101-0021 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Sakumachō, 1 Chome DANKEAKIHABARAビル
Link: Google Maps link

“Trader”, under the train tracks. Large store, decent prices, but nothing too special.
トレーダー 2号店
〒101-0021 東京都千代田区 外神田1丁目4−9
+81 3-3255-0777
Link: Google Maps link


If you have another day to kill, you can take a train out to the Nakano section of Tokyo and go to the Nakano Broadway shopping plaza. Lots of little game and manga vendors on B1, 2F, and 3F, and several small Mandarake stores.

5−52−15 Nakano
Tokyo 164-0001, Japan
+81 3-3228-0007
Link: Google Maps link

If this is your first time going to Japan, be advised that credit cards are not as heavily used in Japan as in the US. Large stores should be OK but don’t be surprised if small stores or restaurants can’t take your card. In addition, not all ATMs will take foreign cards (7-11′s will). Carry lots of yen in cash.

Have fun!!! Looking at all the maps makes me miss it so much. Wish I were going too.

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October 1st, 2013

Man, Peach has really let herself go

Dear Mario, I’ve baked you a cake for you! But I ate it already.

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September 2nd, 2013


Oh the horror of unlicensed goods on eBay. It looks like Pikachu has brown nipples.

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August 13th, 2013

Weekend haul (backlogged), 03.16.2013: Hello Mac N64 controller, Gold Wii Wheel

I’m pretty backlogged with things I’d like to share, so I thought I’d show off a weekend haul I got in Japan back in March.

weekend haul march 17 2013

I’m using 100 yen = $1 just to make things easy.

Bravely Default guide with AR Cards $8.50
Mother 3 Guide $4.50
Breath of Fire CIB $2.25
Chrono Trigger CIB $2.25
Final Fantasy VI CIB $2.25
Final Fantasy VIII lanyard $1
FFVII fan magazine $3
John Williams Film Works with bonus tracks $2.25
Moon PS1 $19
The Lord of Elemental CIB $6 (pretty sure this was a price mistake; marked 600 yen while others were in their collector’s case for 6000 yen)
Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops Double Pack $20
Link to the past CIB $8
5 Centimeters Per Second LE $35
Hagane cart $2.25
Suikoden I and II PSP $19
Smash Brothers CIB $7.50
Ni no Kuni DS $8.50
We Love Katamari soundtrack $5
Xmen Vs Street Fighter saturn $2.25
Club Nintendo Gold steering wheel $15
Final Fantasy VII International $8.50 (for a friend)
3x Hikaru Utada singles $0.33 ea
and the big one
N64 Hello Mac controller $5.25

I thought Hagane was my find of the day, as I’d never seen a copy in person before……. until I found the controller. I will be writing more about Hello Mac in the days to come.

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July 15th, 2013

Weekend haul, 07.13.2013: Final Fantasy X-2 Tiny Bee Controller

I have only two weeks left of living in Japan, so I’m in a sort of “it’s now or never” mindset when shopping lately. Maybe kind of bad for me, considering how much (mostly gaming) stuff I have to ship back to the US. (I’m up to 21 boxes of stuff shipped so far.)

Here’s my haul from Saturday, from Yorozu-ya in Hokuto, Hokkaido, Japan. Everything from the same store.


Hello Kitty limited edition Game Boy Pocket (boxed) – ¥2000 ($20)
Game Boy Player (boxed) – ¥500 ($5)
Final Fantasy VI soundtrack – ¥280 ($3)
Chrono Trigger soundtrack – ¥300 ($3)
2x Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Blu-ray – ¥500 ($5) each
Final Fantasy VII Advent Children standard DVD – ¥500 ($5)
Suikoden PS1 – ¥100 ($1)
Yellow Hori N64 mini controller – ¥1200 ($12)
Green Hori N64 mini controller – ¥1200 ($12)
Final Fantasy II Premium Strap (from the Wonderswan boxed set) – ¥300 ($3)
Super Mario Bros. 2 Famicom Disk System – ¥500 ($5)
Legend of Zelda FDS – ¥500 ($5)
2x Castlevania FDS – ¥500 ($5)
4x cloth Dragon Quest world map – ¥100 ($1) ea
Hello Kitty limited edition Game Boy Pocket (loose) – ¥1200 ($12)
FF Dissidia desk calendar – ¥100 ($1)

And the thing I specifically went there to buy……..


Final Fantasy X-2 Hori Tiny Bee controller – ¥5200 ($52)

The last two on eBay sold for $200 and $335.

I actually passed up a gold Hori N64 mini controller for ¥3800 ($38) and a Club Nintendo Super Famicom style Classic Controller for Wii for ¥2800 ($28).

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July 6th, 2013

Square holds a quick 2-week Vagrant Story art exhibit

If Square Enix holds a Vagrant Story art exhibit, but doesn’t tell anyone, does it really happen at all? That’s what I’ve been wondering, since I missed out on this! I would’ve possibly made a trip down if I knew about it.

Back in mid-May at Square exhibited original drawings from Vagrant Story at their new Artnia store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Luckily the blog Intermezzo has a nice gallery. There was also a Final Fantasy VIII exhibit in the same space immediately preceding the Vagrant Story exhibit. The gallery for that is here.

I was pretty shocked when I discovered this while Googling for… I don’t even remember. Square doesn’t acknowledge this PS1 classic much these days, a reminder of the days when even Square’s B-level games were mindblowing.

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July 6th, 2013

New from Japan: “AD Adapter” plays GBA games on your Super Famicom

Ladies and gentlemen, the backwards-engineers in Japan bring you the very latest: the ability to play circa-2000 handheld games on 1992′s console hardware. The newly-released “AD Adapter” plays Game Boy Advance games on your TV using a Super Famicom.

I saw one of these a few weeks ago in an indepedent game store in Hakodate, Japan, and had no idea what I was looking at at first. I knew of of the Super Game Boy Player and of adapters to play old games on the N64 but this one was brand new to me. As my friend pointed out, there must be some kind of extra processor on board, as the GBA handled more colors than the Super Famicom. It was released in May and has a price of 3,400 yen (about $34 US).


Picture credit: Japanese 3DS Tumblr

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June 24th, 2013

Thrift store find: Parappa the Rapper plush, $3

This little guy had been sitting at my favorite thrift store for months marked at 1000 yen (about $10). It wasn’t until they marked him down to 315 yen ($3) this weekend that I knew he was coming home with me.

This plush is called “Iikanji Parappa,” or, “Good-feeling Parappa.” It fills me with all kinds of PS1 nostalgia — good feeling, indeed.


He looks a little bit like this set of 3 McDonald’s promotional plushes where he’s holding a french fry container. The set recently sold for $50 on eBay and I really want a McDonald’s Chocobo.

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June 24th, 2013

The games that I’m throwing away

I’m getting ready to move from Japan back to the US next month, and I’m afraid there are going to be some casualties.

If none of my Facebook friends claim them, the following pile of glorious shovelware is going in the trash. Of course I might salvage some spare PS2 cases and fat PS1 import cases before dismantling them all to comply with Japan’s strict trash separation rules (paper, plastic, unburnables, etc.).

No takers on the Fire Pro Wrestling-themed pachinko? Evangelion pachinko? Horse racing simulator?? *crickets*

These all came from a perhaps ill-advised lot of games from Yahoo Auctions. I already took out the RPGs — Chrono Cross, Breath of Fire IV, Tales of Elementia — and the Capcom games — Marvel vs. Street Fighter EX, Biohazard 3, and more, so no good games were harmed in the making of this post.

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June 8th, 2013

Rockman is unimpressed

Rockman’s face on the cartridge label of Rockman World for Game Boy is kind of unintentionally hilarious. Like he’s saying, “Meh, it’s an OK game.”

(Found while trying to remember if the Game Boy Mega Man games used Roman or Arabic numerals……… and the answer is Roman!)

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