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


  1. A very interesting read as always, cheers! I've heard about these things before and seen pictures of them but it must be pretty sweet to own one! :)

  2. Wow! Congrats on the find. I'm completely jealous. I can't believe it didn't come with the light gun, though. D-oh! is right :) Well, maybe one will show up at Omocha Souko sooner or later and then you can tell us if it works or not.

  3. Thanks, Simon and Bryan! It is a pretty cool thing to have, though I do wish it was a bit smaller:) I have to find some wall space for it, though I actually like the box better than the item itself.

    I'm on the look-out for a light gun, Bryan! Though they seem to be pretty rare, I've never seen one.

    Gives me something to shoot for though:)

  4. Hi!

    I discovered your blog through your comment on the tokyo.japantimes site (i am the author of the Video game Walhalla post). I enjoyed reading your stories and applaud your venture to amass a complete Famicom set.

    The Safari target is a nice find for 2000 yen.

    A gun or rifle should not be too hard to find on Yahoo Auctions. There is a rifle (sans battery door) up for auction right now: They appear quite regularly, so you can wait for a nicer one.

    Cheers! Erik

  5. Hi Erik,

    Thanks for the post! I have to say that I am massively impressed by the photos of your "Otacool room".

    Actually the phrase "massively impressed" is an under-statement, but anyway, I'm going to have to put a link to that on this blog somewhere. It is an amazing collection. I notice you have a sizeable collection of Kousenjuu games in there, including the one I bought in this post peaking out in the background in a couple of your photos.

    Cheers for the tip about the rifle on Yahoo Auction, I think I am going to buy one via that site. Also thanks for updating your poll on the Japan Times site to accomodate those of us who do our retro game shopping in "small-town Japan"! :)

  6. Thanks for the nice words regarding my collection.

    Some more info on your find:

    Two version of this type of target exist, called "Electro Safari" and "Electro Bird". Each of these includes three different animals - cats or birds - on a transparent rotating disc. Every time you hit the target, the disc will turn 120 degrees (counter clock-wise), making the "hit" animal tumble behind the scenery on the bottom-left and revealing the next animal to shoot . After three hits, the disc has made a full rotation and the first animal appears again. It is a nice, simple but effective mechanism. Hitting the animal and seeing it tumble is very satisfying.

    Besides Safari and Bird targets, four other targets exist in the 光線銃SP series: Jumping Bottle, Electro Poker, Electro Roulette and Electro Lion. Then there are three more targets in the "Custom" range (which uses its own type of light riffle and guns): Custom Target, Custom Gunman and Custom Lion.

    If you are interested in Nintendo Toys, you really should get the "History of Nintendo", part 1 by Florent Gorges (PixNLove).

  7. After posting above comment I had a rush of inspiration.

    A few years ago there were (literally) only a handful of people collecting this stuff, so not much need to share information directly by email.

    However, I just scanned a couple of forums and noticed there is a real interest picking up in Nintendo's past.

    But information online is still scarce. So I took the plunge and started a blog dedicated to Nintendo old toys.

    I started the blog with an article on the light-guns.

    Will be updating this regularly from now on, with treasures from my collection.

  8. Thanks for the comments and additional info, Eric. I am now more committed than ever to getting a gun for the thing!

    And excellent blog post, I'll put a link to that here. It is really useful to have that information accessible somewhere on the internet, when I was looking for info on my Safari game I couldn't find much of anything. Great photos too, I look forward to seeing future posts!