Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Unsentimenal Famicom Collector

Today's post is brought to you by our new sponsor: my Jaleco cart collection. Remember their motto:

Jaleco Famicom carts: Buy 'em cuz they got "Jaleco" written on them. And stuff.

Anyway, enough of this shameless commercialization. I have other things to discuss.

I've been trying to wax philosophic recently about my Famicom collection. As you can probably infer from the fact that I keep a blog about it, I am rather fond of my collection.

But I'm not sure how to define that "fondness" I have for it. Do I like the Famicom for nostalgic purposes? Because I like the retro-80s look? Because the games are fun? What?
What has spurred this introspection has, of all things, been my recent browsing habits on Ebay. I've noticed that the types of things which I look longingly at are almost entirely toys that I used to have as a kid in the 80s. Gobots, the little G.I. Joe action figures, vintage Star Wars stuff, Light Brights, Garbage Pail Kids, Dukes of Hazzard lunch boxes.....this is the sort of thing that I devote time to just looking at pictures of.

I never buy any of that stuff though. I really WANT that stuff, but I never follow through and buy it.

Partially this is because I'm a starving student who can't afford to be spending big bucks on shipping vintage toys across the Pacific. Mainly though its because of the realization that what I want out of these toys is something they can't give me.

When I see a picture of a toy I had as a kid, it usually brings a specific memory to mind. I remember having the thing in my hand. I remember being 8 or 9 years old. I remember being surrounded by friends and family - most of them faces I haven't seen in decades. I remember cold mornings in the playground before school started, with a prized possession in my backpack. I remember sitting on the floor at a friend's house, riding a bike, walking through the woods - all the things that kids do.

Oh god, this post is getting way too sentimental. I better move on before you start looking up silly kitten videos on Youtube or something.

My point is that what I want out of those toys is associated with these types of memories. I don't want the thing itself, I want to be in the same situation I was in when I originally owned them.

That of course is impossible. I've noticed that on the odd occasion when I actually do acquire a toy that I owned as a kid, its always a massively disappointing and empty experience for that reason. Its like some part of my brain which is fundamentally incapable of cognitive reasoning (my stupid, sentimental side) actually expected the acquisition of this toy to transport me back to Christmas morning in 1984 or something. Actually getting the thing and realizing that it doesn't have this magical power is always a let-down. In the end, I'm just a 34 year old with a hunk of plastic in his hand.

Er...I should note that I am an extremely happy 34 year old, all I'm saying is that like everyone the sentimental part of me sometimes longs for the simplicity of youth and the desire to "go back".

So my preference - dictated by the cold, rational part of my brain - is to just leave those toys as nothing but images on Ebay to me. I actually get quite the kick out of that. Looking at them feeds the sentimental, stupid part of my brain. It thinks:

"Hey, look. G.I. Joe. Remember the playground near our old house where we used to play with these? I want to go back there. If we buy this, it will take us back there. Buy this."

Then the cold, rational part of my brain, which has a sort of maternal protective instinct for the stupid sentimental part, tells it:

"Yes, that is a nice memory. Its too bad we can't buy that though. Maybe someday though. Then we'll go back to the playground."

This satisfies the stupid, sentimental part of my brain. It keeps him quite happy with anticipation. It encourages him to recall these sentimental memories and be satisfied with them. It also protects him from the disappointment of realizing that the old adage "there is no going back" is brutally true.
Anyway. The Famicom is kind of an odd fit for me from this perspective. It is a toy that existed at the time I was a child. But it is something that I never actually had or was even aware of when I was a kid.

So its kind of the perfect thing for me to collect. I have no emotional expectations from it like I do with toys I actually had (or wanted) as a kid. The stupid, sentimental part of my brain is only vaguely interested in it. It kind of excites a very general type of sentimentality for "the 80s", but it doesn't call to mind any specific childhood memories. So the risk of my stupid, sentimental half of the brain having its illusions shattered isn't a concern.

At the same time, it is a rather fun thing to collect. I realize as I do so that, freed from the emotional baggage, I am free to create new memories with my Famicom. If I were to run off and buy a bunch of G.I. Joe action figures, the memories I have of them would always be rooted in my childhood and not the present.
With Famicom games, the memories I am creating are all pleasant ones rooted in "the now."
Thanks, Garth. Love you, man. Anyway, I'll always associate my Famicom stuff with me in my 30s, living here in Fukuoka and generally having a fun time with them.

This is probably something that attracts the non-Japanese Famicom collectors like me out there, even if they never explicitly state it like this. We have no childhood memories of the Famicom. Sure, we have memories of some of the games - but not the physical items themselves, which are quite distinct from what we had as kids (big, gray NES carts). At the same time, they do appeal to us because they look in a very general way like the sort of thing we had as kids. Just similar enough to make us like them and enjoy them, but not similar enough to actually make us associate them with specific childhood memories. The Famicom keeps our illusions intact. We don't have to go back, all we have to do is enjoy what we have.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fight Climate Change: Buy a Famicom

I really don't want this blog to turn into some preachy pile of political BS, but today I read something that made me mad.

How mad? This mad:

Hardcore, man. Hardcore.

Anyway, as is so often the case, now that I am mad about something, I want to make all of you mad about it too.

Don't let all these negative vibes turn you off though. I think I have an important point to make here and you will be quite surprised by what I have to show you. So please, read on.

What made me mad was discovering how much power the PlayStation 3 consumes: 150 watts (article).

That number might not mean anything to you, as it is just a number. So I thought I'd show you in photos of my retro console collection just how much that is.

Basically my mission was to see how many of my old consoles I would need to plug in and turn on to match the amount of power that just a single one of these things uses:

Lets start with the Famicoms.

The Famicom uses 4 watts of power:
So lets see here, I'll just get all eleven of my red and white Famicoms out:
Don't ask me why I have eleven of these things just lying around. Trust me, you don't want to know. What is important here is the fact that if I were to plug all of these in and turn them on, they would only use 44 watts of power, less than a third of what a single Playstation 3 uses.

We are nowhere near our goal yet so I'll have to keep looking. Next, I'll toss my four AV Famicoms into the mix. They also use 4 watts of power each:
OK, that brings us up to.....60 watts. Still not even half way there yet.

What else do I have? Oh here we go. Lets add my two PC Engines (4 watts each) to the pile:
That brings us to 68 watts, almost half way to equaling a single Playstation 3.

Guess I'll have to go to the next generation of consoles. My Superfamicom is a relative energy hog, consuming double what a Famicom uses:
Well, that brings us up to about half of a single Playstation 3.

What else do I have lying around here? Oh, my two Mega Drives. They use an absolutely massive amount of power - 13 watts each. Lets see how far they get us:
Well, that puts us over 100 watts, but we've still got a way to go.

Guess I'll have to go to yet another generation and toss my Nintendo 64 into the mix. At 19 watts that thing uses almost 5 times more than a Famicom, surely that'll get us up to the Playstation 3 level:
121 watts. Nope, not quite there yet.

Hmm.....well, lets toss my two Famicom Disk Systems on. At 3.6 watts each they aren't much but I'm running short on stuff to add to the pile here and every bit counts:
Nope, still not there yet. Well, that just leaves me with my three Twin Famicoms (6 watts each):
That brings us to 146.2 watts. Still less than a Playstation 3.

And you know what? I am out of consoles!!!!! Holy crap!!!!! My entire retro console collection combined - massive as it is - cannot equal the energy consumption of a single Playstation 3!

In short, turning this thing here on:
actually uses more energy than if you were to plug in and turn on all of this:
That is:

11 Red and White Famicoms
4 AV Famicoms
2 PC Engines
1 Super Famicom
2 Mega Drives
1 Nintendo 64
2 Famicom Disk Systems
3 Twin Famicoms

26 retro consoles COMBINED do not even match the energy sucking PS3.

I am tempted to end this post shouting out the blatantly obvious. Something like:

"The Playstation 3 is an Earth-destroying, planet melting piece of crap that should never have been made and everyone associated with designing this travesty will rot in hell for all eterni...."

Um, no wait. I won't say that. There isn't really much to be gained from saying anything, really. The above photos speak for themselves. I will just ask that the next time you see someone spouting BS like "Sony Playstation 3 is Green for the Environment.", please refer them to this post.


A few irate PS3 owners (I assume) have taken issue with some points in this post. For clarification:

The 150 watts the PS3 uses is its average use when in active mode (see the source I referenced in the post). The actual consumption varies (a quote of between 135 and 180 watts was given by a poster here).

The PS3 Slim, it was also pointed out, uses less than the regular PS3 (60 watts). So I give Sony some credit for that reduction.

Related Posts:
- Why the Famicom Has Aged Well Part 2: No Planned Obsolescence
- The Unsentimental Famicom Collector
- Famicom Cart Condition: Why Good is Bad and I'll Never Buy Sealed Stuff

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why the Famicom Has Aged Well Part 2: No Planned Obsolescence

This is the second part in my series examining why the Famicom has aged well. Oh boy.

This time I make the basic argument that the Famicom has held up well simply because it was designed to do so. In this regard it is a wholly different, and vastly superior, creature than the type of consoles that producers are interested in making today.

I start off with an interesting, though not entirely scientific, comparison. Here is a pile of 11 old-school Famicoms:
These are all of my red and white Famicoms, gathered here and there over the past couple of years. Here are a few relevant statistics about this pile:

91% of them (10 out of 11) come from junk piles.

82% of them (9 out of 11) are in working condition.

26 years is their average age (rough estimate).

300 yen (3$ US) is the average price I paid for them.

1051 games were released for this console.

100% of those 1051 games can still be played on this console.

I think these stats are fairly impressive, and I'll be referring back to some of them throughout this post. The first one I want to draw everyone's attention to is the fact that 82% of these 26 year old consoles are still in working order.

Compare that with this rather shocking article about the failure rate of the current generation of consoles. Within 2 years of purchase, a whopping 23.7% of XBox 360s and 10% of Playstation 3s had failed. Within 2 years! The Wii was the only one with anything near a respectable rate of 2.7%.

These were all, it should be pointed out, purchased new and not damaged by their owners (ie they just stopped working on their own without anyone dropping them, etc.)

Lets take the PS 3 as an example as its failure rate falls roughly in the middle of the 3. If we extrapolate that ten percent every two years forward for 26 years we are left with only 25.41% of PS3s that have not failed. Yikes.

Of course we have to account for the fact that Sony is repairing the ones that failed under warranty. I don't think this will make much difference in the long run though as their warranty only lasts for 1 year (though it can be extended, I doubt few would pay to do so). Also we have to take into account that the 10% per year failure rate is for brand-spanking new models. As these things age it is reasonable to assume that the failure rate will go up. It is hard to tell how much it will go up, but I think it is safe to say that far fewer than 25.41% of PS3s currently out there will still be functioning 26 years from now.

Again - compare that with these babies:
Almost all of them come from JUNK bins, yet 82% of them are still working after 26 years.

The gist of what I am getting at here is succinctly laid out in Table 1-1 below.

Table 1-1 Piece of Crap Comparison Table

Not a Piece of Crap?

Piece of Crap?



Playstation 3


To appreciate the significance of the findings in Table 1-1 it is necessary to discuss a concept that has been slowly creeping into the video game world for some time now: planned obsolescence.

The idea is simple and probably something you all have a visceral hatred for. Manufacturers deliberately making their products less long-lasting so as to force you to buy more of them. The classic example is the light bulb. Early light bulbs produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were quite long lasting. Then in the 1920s the major bulb manufacturers realized they could sell more bulbs if they just made lower quality ones that burnt out quickly. So they formed a cartel and agreed that they would not make light bulbs which lasted more than 1,000 hours.

Video game makers aren't quite that evil, but this sort of thinking is clearly working its way into the industry. The Famicom was made to last - and it has. Current gen consoles much less so. This isnt' necessarily part of some evil plan by the makers - the fact that current consoles are much more complicated and have moving parts explains much of the difference. The old Famicom Disk System for example is way worse than the Famicom, simply because of that bloody drive belt.
So I'm not saying the manufacturers are deliberately designing consoles to break down quicker, though in fact the consoles (except maybe the Wii) do seem to be doing just that. I think its more a case of the manufacturers simply not caring if the consoles last longer than a few years, which is how long they figure they'll be able to milk them as cash cows and then move on to the next gen.

Where planned obsolescence is coming into play with the newer stuff is more with what is generally referred to as "systemic obsolescence". That is, where something like software becomes incompatible with newer systems and hence obsolete.

You can see that the video game industry is consciously moving towards making every game you buy obsolete in this sense within a few years. I don't mean obsolete as in "outdated" but obsolete as in "cannot be used at all". This article here in which the author relates his frustration at being unable to play his copy of Heavy Rain because the Playstation Network was down illustrates the point nicely. As the writer aptly points out:

"...what does bother me is that Heavy Rain is a single-player game. There is no logical reason that the game cannot be played off-line, yet because of this reported error, I was completely unable to play the game at all."

This is the sort of thing people should be really mad about. The comments to the article generally responded by saying stuff like "Yeah, but don't worry. Sony fixes these problems quickly and the system will be back up quick, so why are you complaining?"

This kind of thinking misses the long-term point though. That game will only be useful for as long as Sony is willing to incur expense to maintain the Playstation network for PS3 users. Do you really think they are going to still be doing that 26 years from now? The answer, I think, is a resounding "no". When Sony decides (as it will) that it wants everyone to buy PS4s and ditch their PS3s, all they have to do is flip a switch and presto - your PSN dependent game becomes useless.

I'm not saying that they will do that, I don't know. But the fact is, with Famicom games (and of course all old games) you don't have to worry about that. You know that so long as the thing is physically fine, it'll work. It will never be made obsolete to the extent that you cannot use it.

Of course most new games still don't require a network to function, but I predict that within a very short time, pretty much all video games will be released in this way - your continued use of it will after a certain contractually guaranteed time period be completely at the whim of the manufacturer. It'll all be digitally distributed and your use of the game will be dependent on them completely. This is the sort of thing that I dislike strongly. When you buy a physical item, you acquire full property rights to it. You can use it and dispose of it as you see fit.

When you buy something digitally, it is more like you are buying a service rather than an actual product. The company always has a string tied to the thing you bought - such as through making your use of it dependent on a service (like the PSN) that they control. You can't dispose of it as you see fit, but they can.

I think people should be concerned about this not just because of the fundamentally anti-consumer bent all of this has but because of broader concerns related to the environment and social responsibility. This point can best be summed up in one image:

This is where E-waste ends up. Poor countries with no effective health or environmental regulations where kids scavenge the toxic components for metals.

You know what doesn't end up as E-waste? Famicoms.

You know why Famicoms don't end up as E-waste? Because of what I wrote above. Famicoms are durable and they were NOT deliberately engineered to become obsolete within a few years. All 1051 game cartridges still work on them. This means that there is still a thriving market for used Famicoms even though the things are now 28 years old. Even broken ones don't usually get thrown out as they can be scavenged for parts (hence my keeping the two Famicoms I have which don't work).

Today's consoles though? Nope. Future E-waste is what they are, unless the console makers get off their asses and start taking the issue seriously (which they, and Nintendo in particular, don't). They aren't built to last and the games they have are increasingly being designed to no longer work after a few years.

To a certain extent this is by accident - the increased complexity of the consoles seems to naturally lend them to breaking down easier than simpler cartridge based consoles of the past. To a large extent though this is deliberate policy by the game makers themselves, who have a very open hatred for the used game market and seem to be doing everything they can to snuff it out by increasingly making new games nontransferable and completely useless without their networks.

So anyway, that was a much longer post than I thought it would be. But basically it all boils down to this: Old consoles like the Famicom are built to last and will never become obsolete. This is good for consumers and good for the environment. The video game industry today hates that. It wants you to have to buy stuff again and again and it really doesn't seem to give a crap about the consequences. This is one of the reasons I never buy new stuff. Partly its economic considerations, but to a large extent it is because I find all of this very disturbing and want no part of it.

Vive la Famicom: the socially responsible console.

To end on an upbeat note, I present me latest salute to the Famicom: A new world record in console-stacking. 11 consoles.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mega Bargain of the Day: KousenjuuSP Electro Safari

Today I picked up what is without a doubt the most interesting retro game thing I've ever come across at Omocha Souko. You know how some sellers on Ebay like to throw around the phrase "Mega Rare" for stuff that is insanely common and easy to find? Well, I think this item might actually qualify as "mega rare" in the real sense and not the Ebay seller sense of the phrase. In fact I believe this post is the first time anybody has actually put photos and a description of this item up in English.

So remember: you saw it on Famicomblog first! Feel free to go forth into the world and propagate the knowledge you will have gained from reading this rather silly post.

What am I talking about? Let me introduce the latest addition to my collection, the Kousenjuu (light gun) SP "Electro Safari":
I saw this on the shelf at Omocha Souko this morning for 2,000 yen (about 20 dollars US). I thought it looked kind of neat. Some kind of 70s toy with a great looking box. When I took it off the shelf and saw who the manufacturer was though I became really interested in it:
"Wow" I thought, "An old Nintendo toy. I wonder how old it is?"

Further looking around on the box turned up this:
Wow, 1970. 41 years ago. 13 years before the Famicom. Pretty old.

As is often the case when it comes to sizeable things, I couldn't convince myself to buy it then and there. It was big and it was something I didn't know anything about. If I bought it and then discovered it was some really common thing you can get anywhere, I would have felt really stupid when the Mrs. came home and I had to explain the new purchase.

So I came home. And did an internet search. I entered the name (光線銃エレクトロサファリ) into Google and did a search.

I got nothing related to this game. Mostly a bunch of stuff about Famicom light gun games.

Hmmm. Intrigued I did a search of the word in English. This is a Nintendo product, for christ's sake, surely thousands of my fellow video-game nerds have already catalogued this thing all over the internet.

Nope. Nada. Even Wikipedia, which usually has tons of lists and info on retro game products had nothing (in English - see bottom of this post for what the Japanese Wikipedia had to say about this series).

I then turned to Famicom World and asked if anyone there knew what it was. Nintendodork was very helpful. Long story short he told me that these things are really rare and that I should get my ass back to Omocha Souko ASAP before someone else snagged it.

So I did.

I'm rather pleased with it. The box is just awesome. The simplicity and colorfulness of the cover art is just way too cool:
I LOVE pith helmets:
And Lions!
It still had the original price tag. 5,900 yen. The kanji on it indicates it was purchased at Iwataya department store all those many years ago (I love details like that which tell you something about where old stuff like this came from):
This coincides with what I assume is the manufacturer's suggested retail price printed directly on the box. I note this because later Nintendo stuff (like most Famicom stuff) doesn't have an MSP directly on the box:
Unfortunately it also had Omocha Souko's price tag. Dead centre on the front. With TAPE too! F%#k!
Thankfully some very delicate peeling removed it without damage. I felt like I was defusing a bomb or performing open heart surgery as I did this:
Next I opened up the box and voila!
A beautiful picture of a safari scene. High art at its finest:
The object of the game was to shoot the cheetah (I think that is a cheetah):The light sensor sticks out from under the glass:
This is what the back looks like. It has a string so you can hang it up. Maybe I'm going into too much detail here but what the hell, I love this thing so I'm going to make all of you love it too:
The date of its manufacture is confirmed here too:
It came with a few pages of instructions:
The frame is a piece of elegant beauty:
There was a bit of a catch, though. Can you guess what? Come on. You know.

Yup. Four words (if you translate it into English):

"Light gun sold separately."

D-oh! So I don't know if it works or not. Judging by the way it was kept in its box with everything (even the original packing paper) I'm guessing it might work. But who knows.

Regardless, I am happy with my new purchase. My next decision is a crucial one though. In terms of art, this is probably best categorized in the "velvet Elvis" department. I can't decide if it is tacky enough to be kitsch (and therefore tasteful) or too tacky to be kitsch (and therefore tasteless). Oh decisions, decisions.

Edited to Note:

A bit of further research turned up info on some similar games in Japanese. This page has some pics of some other games in the same series:


The Japanese wikipedia entry for 光線銃シリーズ , "light gun series" does have a bit of useful info about this series, if not this game in particular. It says that they (along with all Nintendo light gun games) were developed by Gunpei Yokoi and went on sale in 1970. Unlike the Famicom zapper (and later ones) this one relied on a "solar battery" (not sure about that translation) with the gun shooting light at the target (with the Famicom zapper the TV shoots light at the gun rather than the other way around).

They released a number of versions with different action scenes, though it doesn't tell us how many or what kind of scenes. It was a very big hit in the year it was released and became a top seller.

Also this video (with English subtitles) from the Nintendo Museum at the Hankyu Department Store in Osaka features some similar games (see 5:02 for one that is almost the same as mine):

Youtube Video

Related Posts:

- The Unveiling: Donkey Kong Hockey! And Why Game Boys Suck

- Mega Bargain of the Day: 3 Consoles and a Game for 10 Bucks
- Mega Bargain of the Day: Exorcising My Twin Famicom Demons
- Mega Bargain of the Day: Another Square Button Famicom
- Mega Bargain of the Day: Famicom Basic, Family Trainer and Climber Stick

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pachinko and the Famicom: AKA the Stupid Side of Japanese Gaming

I was in Omocha Souko a couple days ago and found that they had put some more stuff into their junk section. Unfortunately the only Famicom related thing they put out was this:
The Pachinko Controller (misspelled as "controler") from Coconuts Japan. At 100 yen I figured, what the hell.

Released in 1991 this probably takes the cake as the stupidest controller ever released for the Famicom. This is one of those things that is peculiar to the Japanese world of gaming. One of those "stupid things" I should say. And I do apologize for the excessive and childish uses of the word "stupid" in this post. I really couldn't think of a better way to express the nature of this controller and pachinko games in general than with the use of that adjective.

Anyway, almost every console in Japan has at least one Pachinko controller released for it. The junk section of Omocha Souko is full of them, mostly for the Playstation.

Pachinko is a simple game, very similar to pinball. You shoot metal balls and try to get them to fall into certain holes. Unlike pinball though, pachinko is a form of gambling. You win more metal balls if you get it in the right hole and these can be exchanged for prizes. So its really more a combination of pinball and slot machine.

As gambling is technically illegal in Japan, you can't exchange these balls directly for cash or prizes. But mysteriously a number of businesses have sprung up right next to pachinko parlors which will exchange them for such prizes. No collusion there whatsoever (wink wink, nudge nudge).

The pachinko industry is an insanely large one. In 2006 it took in 27.45 trillion yen in revenue (about 275 billion US dollars), a sum greater than the domestic auto industry. They are everywhere, you almost can't walk 5 steps in Japan without running into one. This leads me to...

My Rant About Pachinko

I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but the urge to use this post as a platform to air some of my grievances with the pachinko industry is just too great. Skip this section and go to the bottom if you are only interested in the Famicom controller. Read on if you are interested in bad stuff about pachinko.

I have to say that I have never played Pachinko (save on the Famicom) and never will. There are just so many reasons to be disgusted by the industry that it boggles the mind. The top four that I can come up with off the top of my head:

1. Pachinko kills babies. No kidding. Every summer across Japan pachinko addicted parents leave their offspring in boiling cars while they go to play pachinko for hours on end. They then come back to find their kids dead from the 40 degree heat (see here, here and here for just a few examples reported in the news).

2. A lot of pachinko parlors are owned by groups with North Korean connections who funnel the profits to Pyongyang, which in turn uses it to build weapons. I thought this might just be an urban legend, but it turns out there is a semi-reputable source for this information (see the Japan Times article here).

3. As with any gambling, some people get addicted to it and end up ruining their lives with debt. See the above linked Japan Times article on how shady consumer loan companies have taken advantage of this by setting up shop right next to Pachinko parlors (though I'm glad to say that most of those businesses have gone under since that article was written due to changes in Japanese law on the interest that such companies can charge).

4. Pachinko parlors are ugly. In an urban area they can sometimes provide a bit of welcome kitsch to a street, like this one here:
But most of them are just massive contributors to urban sprawl. It is not uncommon to find stretches of once beautiful countryside being razed to build one of these eyesores and the massive parking lots that surround them. Beautiful old farmhouses and rice paddies replaced by this:
Not good at all.

End of Rant

OK, glad I got that off my chest. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the stupid controller.
As I was saying, this is a stupid controller. You might notice that it is basically just a big, clumsy regular Famicom controller with an added trigger button. I plugged the thing in with a Pachinko game to give it a try:
I had a lot of trouble figuring out what this trigger was for. The best I can tell it just replicates movements that you can execute with the regular buttons. So, you know, its kind of stupid.

Actually, I have to say that Famicom pachinko games in general are really stupid. The fact is that it is not a fun game to play at all, the only thing you control is the angle of the ball when it is released and then you just watch as the balls randomly fall wherever they might:
Seems the only reason people play regular pachinko is because of the gambling element, which of course is absent in the Famicom. So as I said, its just kind of stupid.

Anyway, I end this post with a photo of the crumbling facade of "Pachinko Empire", a parlor not far from my place that went out of business a couple years ago and now sits rotting:
I get all sorts of pleasure from seeing this thing crumble. It is a mix of schadenfreude and my romantic fascination with the folly of hubris and the ephemeral nature of human existence. Brings to mind the classic of Japanese war epics:

The sound of the Gion Shoja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

- Opening passage of the Heike Monogatari (13th century military romance. Translated by Helen Craig McCullough)