Thursday, September 16, 2010

Retro-game Shopping will never be the same again

Apologies for not updating this blog as often as I should, this was a busy summer around here! I should take the opportunity here to thank Bryan for the flattering write-up he did about Famicomblog on his wonderful blog here. Much appreciated!

Anyway, as is often the case with my recent posts, in this one I will be describing another one of my Famicom-related shopping experiences. Over the past two days I have gone on a massive buying spree at my favorite retro-game store, Omocha Soko.

I am sometimes given to exaggeration, but I think I can confidently say that I made retro-game shopping history over the course of the past 24 hours of shopping. I was fortunate enough to hit the greatest bargain the world has ever created. Even by Omocha Soko's generous standards this blows away every other sale they have ever had. Remember last month when I was bragging about getting two Twin Famicoms for 100 yen each? That was nothing. THIS was the motherload.

My story actually starts about 3 days ago when I popped in to Omocha Soko to see if they had anything new. The Famicom game racks were pretty much the same as usual - I've picked them over for the past two years and now basically have every game they've got out there. I also checked the console and controller sections but not much new there either.

At the back of the store, however, something really caught my eye. Stack upon stack of these black plastic crates filled to the brim with old consoles, controllers, cables and games of every type. Usually when they get new stuff in (they buy stuff from people who come in off the street) they'll just dump it in the back for a few days until one of their employees gets around to sorting it out and putting prices on it. Normally they might have at most one or two of these boxes out and when I see them I know that within a couple of days they'll have new stuff on the shelves so I make a note to visit again in the next day or two (you have to hurry when they put new stuff out, otherwise other people will beat you to the good stuff).

This, however, was unlike anything I had ever seen before. They had these things stacked almost to the ceiling, row upon row of them. Somebody must have literally dumped an entire truckload of old video game stuff and just said "Just take it all."

Because they hadn't put the stuff on sale yet I couldn't see exactly what they had, but it looked promising so I made a note to come in soon and have a look at the stuff when they put it out for sale.

Yesterday I made my second visit and, sure enough, all the stuff was out for sale. But nothing could have prepared me for the sight that beheld my eyes. Apparently, due to the sheer volume of stuff they had gotten and the massive pain in the ass it would be to sort it all out and untangle all the wires, they just put the crates out with signs saying (basically) "Everything in these boxes is 50 yen. Nothing has been tested so buy at your own risk." I snapped a couple pictures of some of the crates. You aren't allowed to photograph so I did this somewhat surreptitiously (gee, I hope nobody from the store reads this blog), apologies for the blurry pics. These ones had controllers, consoles and a million cables in them:
And these ones had tons of games (only the stuff in the crates were 50 yen, the stuff on the walls was seperate):
The above pictures only show about 1/3 or so of the total amount of stuff. It was massive.

Now, 50 yen is only about 5o cents US so you might expect these crates were full of crap. Not so. Well, not exactly so. Most of the stuff actually was crap, but there were a lot of GOOD things in there too. And by virtue of having arrived at exactly the right time I had first crack at picking them over!! My retro-game shopping dream come true!!!

Being bicycle-bound I had some finite limits on the amount of stuff I could carry, so I ended up making two trips, one yesterday and the other today. This was today's haul, still in its bags:
In total I spent 3450 yen (1600 yen yesterday and 1850 yen today), which is about 40$ US at today's exchange rate. Lets take a look at what I got.

Fist, the consoles. One (working) AV Famicom with both controllers (this counted as just one item despite really being three):
One functioning, clean old-school Famicom complete with the expansion port cover (those things are hard to find):
One PC Engine complete with Disk drive and interface unit (as with the AV Famicom, this only counted as one thing despite it, really, being 3). I have all the cables and a controller for another PC Engine which has a busted console, so this works out perfect for me:
Two Sega Mega Drives. I actually didn't want two of them, but ended up getting two kind of by chance. On the first day I picked up one that was just console-only. On the second day I rummaged through the bins looking for an AV cable and AC adapter for it. At the bottom of one of the bins I found a bag with another Mega Drive complete with the cables (though missing the controllers) and I figured what the hell:
And next, the Famicom controllers.

First, the Famicom Joystick 7 Mk II, which looks pretty damn cool:
And a Famicom Hori Controller:
And two Joycard controllers, one boxed with a picture of Takahashi Meijin on it:
And did I get games? Yes I certainly did.

First I got this fantastic copy of Lode Runner for some 1980s 8-bit Sony console that I don't own (edit: this is a game for the MSX "Hit Bit", a home computer released in 1983). I'll probably never be able to play it but man, I could not resist buying this for the awesomeness of that cover-art. This is without a doubt my favorite box-art of any video game I've ever had:
And Famicom Carts? Oh, you bet they had Famicom carts. GOOD ones, not just a bunch of baseballs and golfs. I picked up 32 of them. To be honest I already owned copies of most of these games but I got these mainly for the purposes of future trades or something. These ones I got today:
And these ones yesterday:
I had been wanting "Crazy Climber"for a really long time and was really excited to find it.

They also had a bunch of Disk System games. I have 3 disk systems now (two in Twin Famicoms and one FDS) but none work. Still for the future day when I actually get one of them up and running I now have some awesome games to play:
And I got these games for other consoles. Perfect Dark for the N64 is one I've been looking for a long time for, but the cheapest I've ever seen it was 3,000 yen (ironically almost the same amount I paid for everything here). I just got the Sonic game so I'd have something to test my new Mega Drives with (when I get a bloody controller for them anyway. Of the hundreds of old controllers in those endless stacks of crates I couldn't find a single Mega Drive controller):
The coolest thing I found though was hidden at the bottom of one of the games crates. I though it was just some piece of junk at first and almost ignored it, but when I took a closer look I realized that it was an original Game and Watch from 1982:
I've really wanted to get a Game and Watch for a long time, but they are so expensive (hard to find for less than 5000 yen) that I've never bothered. I probably wouldn't have gone for Mickey and Donald, but beggars can't be choosers and it was still a good find. I have to get some batteries for it to see if it still works, but its in pretty good shape (edit: got the batteries and it does work!):
And rounding out the purchases were a bunch of miscellaneous cables and stuff that I needed to "complete" some other old consoles I have lying around:
All in all, an amazing haul when you consider how little it all cost. If I can just repeat that total: 3450 yen. Yup. For less than the cost of a single Wii or PS3 game I got all of the crap in the following photo. Is it any wonder that I don't buy current generation console stuff?
The missus might not be happy if I don't get our living room looking like normal again by the time she gets home though, so I better finish this post here and go tidy this up.


  1. Wow! What a great haul :) Does the PC Engine + CD-ROM actually work? If so, I'm completely jealous (esp. since you paid just $.50 for it). Do these games you buy tend to work, too?

    BTW, thanks for the shout out!

  2. Thanks!

    I'm not sure about the PC Engine yet. It turns out I need to get a different AC adapter for it than the one I have (means another half-hour of rummaging through their junk bins trying to find one. Any excuse to go back is fine with me though!) My suspicion is that the HU card part will work but the CD part might not, which would be fine because I just wanted to play the cards with it anyway.

    I actually made a 3rd trip yesterday and was able to find a Mega Drive controller and can confirm that both Mega Drives work great.

    Surprisingly, pretty much all the games I've ever purchased in junk bins have worked. Famicom carts were built to last. I only buy the ones that look OK (ie no torn labels or cracked cases or anything major like that wrong with them) so the only problem they usually have is massive quantities of accumulated dust. After a quick once-over with some cleaning sheets they look almost like new (maybe just some scuffs or scratches here and there) and work fine though.

    One problem that I just discovered though is that you have to be careful with Junk bin Famicom Disk System games. The labels on the cases do not necessarily match the game inside. I was pretty psyched to find a copy of "Metroid" (as in the above picture) but when I looked closer at it at home I realized the game was something completely different! Fortunately the other ones matched!

  3. Oh, that's nice to know -- about the Famicom carts being tough. I'm seriously considering buying a Famicom Twin soon (I've wanted one for ages) and of course I'll need to buy a few games to go along with it :)

    One more question for you: Do you ever get the chance to play some of these games you've bought? If so, which are your favorite Famicom games?

  4. I play Famicom games a fair bit. I now have 623 carts out of which I play about 100 on a semi-regular basis.

    Personally I like the classic arcade-style games like Donkey Kong, Galaxian, 1942 and Spartan X.

    For two-player I play Dr. Mario a lot.

    Of the games that are only on the Famicom and not the NES, off the top of my head I like:

    Yume Pengin Monogatari
    Star Wars (Namcot version)
    Ganbare Goemon (series)
    Garfield (hard game but kind of amusing)
    Ninja JaJaMarukun

    I also like Antartic Adventure a lot!

  5. I've been reading a lot of posts after discovering the blog, and let me tell you, this is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs. Like, bookmark and check every day for a new post website. Not many websites are granted that honor :P Goes to show how brilliant this blog is.

  6. Thanks Terry! I am honored :)

  7. I have 2 game and watch systems, the fist is a wide screen mickey mouse game from japan, and the second is the club Nintendo reproduction of game and watch ball

  8. I _really_ need to go to Japan some day.

    Is there some way I can e-mail them and ask for them to send me a game in the USA? Or can you mail one to me if I send you some money and my address and phone number? This place looks awesome.

  9. This shop closed down about 3 years ago unfortunately....with prices like that (which are almost impossible to find these days since the retro game market has picked up) its not surprising they didn`t last long!