Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anatomy of a Japanese Video Game Store's Retro Section

In a comment on a recent post Bryan raised the question of which consoles Japanese retro game shops generally stocked the most games for. I thought that would make an interesting question to devote a post to, so that is what this post will be about.

I took my camera to good old Omocha Souko's retro game section and basically photographed each console's section. I only looked at consoles they had at least a few games for, so unfortunately some consoles (Sega Master System, Epoch Cassette Vision, Virtual Boy, etc) aren't included. I also didn't look at any systems more recent than the Dreamcast, mainly because this store keeps its PS2 games and everything since then in the "current" game section.

Using these criteria, we are left with ten consoles: the Playstation, Famicom, Super Famicom, Gameboy, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Mega Drive, Neo Geo, PC Engine and Nintendo 64.

So here we go. I'll run down the list starting from the smallest and working our way up to the largest in terms of games they have available. First up is:

10. Neo Geo
Omocha Souko probably has the worst Neo Geo section out of all the game stores that have Neo Geo games (most don't have any). Just these few boxed games, almost all of them on the bottom row being copies of the same game. All boxed, none loose.

9. PC Engine
Yup, three PC Engine games. That is their entire stock of loose PC Engine games. In fairness they did have more, but I bought about half of their stock (ie three games) a couple weeks ago.

Their PC Engine section would have come last in the list but for their boxed section:
Not a lot - in terms of both quantity and quality - but at least they have a few!

8. Game Boy
These are all the Game Boy games they have. They have a small number of boxed ones in addition to this elsewhere.

Omocha Souko has an unusually small Game Boy section, most game shops this size would have several times more. I happen to know why they have so few. Last year they did this sale where they gave you a basket and you were allowed to cram as many retro games into it as you could for only 800 yen. It was one of their best sales ever, I did a couple posts on it. To really get your money's worth, size was important. You could only fit about a dozen or so Super Famicom games into that basket, but you could easily get a hundred or so Game Boy games. So naturally everybody (myself included) crammed their baskets full of Game Boy games. By the end of the sale they only had a few left, so the section in the above photo really just represents how far they have come since then in rebuilding their stock.

7. Sega Mega Drive
They have about 30 or 40 loose Mega Drive carts, and a larger number of boxed games:
The Mega Drive is one of the few cart based retro consoles where it is more common to find boxed rather than loose games, on account of them coming in sturdy plastic boxes. This is actually only part of their Mega Drive boxed section, they have a couple dozen more on another shelf. You'll note though that the selection is not that good, they have endless copies of Puyo Puyo and Monaco Grand Prix for some reason.

6. Dreamcast
They have a pretty good shelf full of Dreamcast games here. I'm not sure how the quality goes, its not really my console, but the prices are pretty cheap (100-500 yen each).

5. Nintendo 64

This is their loose N64 section. They have a boxed section as well which I neglected to take a picture of, but that adds a fair number to the total.

As an aside, the Nintendo 64 is the one console that I have officially ceased purchasing new games for due to the fact that I have actually acquired all of the games I am interested in for it. I have this section to thank for most of them, including Perfect Dark, which was the last one I wanted.

4. Sega Saturn
They have a pretty sizeable Sega Saturn section. The above photo shows half of it, they have an identical shelf that is also full of Saturn games.

3. Playstation

Their Playstation section is pretty big, though it used to be much bigger (all of it is in the above photo). Playstation games are basically the cheapest games you can buy there on a regular basis (ie without relying on any special sales or anything). You can kind of see in the above photo that some of them are bundled together in packs of five games. Those 5 game bundles only cost 200 yen each - which works out to 40 yen (about 50 cents) per game. You tend to get a mix of good and bad ones in each. Since they started doing that their Playstation section has shrunk dramatically, it used to take up about three times as much space.

2. Famicom
As I noted in a post last year, their Famicom section now is a shadow of its former self. When I first visited 3 years ago, they had thousands of Famicom games. Now they probably have a thousand or so. They have rebuilt their stock a bit since that earlier post, but it is still far from its prime.

Basically they have one aisle with games hanging on pegs from both sides:
They also have a few in a case near the cash register, but not many.

1. Super Famicom
I don't think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that Omocha Souko is drowning in Super Famicom carts. They are everywhere. On the wall in the above photo, in another aisle here:
In crates scattered throughout the store:
Boxed copies on shelves:
And more shelves:
They are just everywhere. These photos only capture some of their stock. Thousands and thousands of games. Even when they have blowout sales people will only buy a smattering of Super Famicom games.


So there you have it - the top ten most heavily stocked video games in a relatively large retro Japanese game store. I think this is a good representative ranking, except for the Game Boy which would normally rank a bit higher at most stores.

Related Posts:
-Why Japanese Retro Game Shops are so Much Better Than North American Ones
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 1: 007
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 2: The Decline and Fall of the Famicom Empire
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 3: Mandarake
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 4: Flea Markets Brought to you by the God of War
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 5: Don Quixote and Village Vanguard
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 6: The New 007 and Hakozaki Flea Market
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 7: The Other Omocha Souko
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 8: The Cheapest Famicom Carts in Town
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops 9: Wanpaku TV Game


  1. That was... awesome!

    I really appreciate the photos of Saturn and Dreamcast games, since I know this blog's got a big Nintendo/Famicom focus.

    But at the same time, it was also really depressing - there's nothing like that over here!

    But seeing the pictures are still fun :) You didn't get into trouble taking all those pictures? My understanding is that Japanese store owners get cranky when you whip out the camera for a few candid pics of their stock.

  2. Thanks, Sean!

    Despite the blog's name, I do occasionally allow the subject matter to stray into the Dreamcast and Saturn area, though the only Sega console I actually have is the Mega Drive. :)

    You are correct about most Japanese game stores prohibiting photography. Omocha Souko has a sign saying no pictures, but they also have the most slack-ass employees I've ever seen in Japan and nobody has ever objected to my photographing their stock (though I try to be subtle about it just in case). A lot of other shops are similar, so I've built up quite the collection of game shop photos on here over the past year or so!

    Mandarake, which is probably the best (in terms of quality, not necessarily price) retro game store in town is, in contrast, dead serious about their no-photography policy. They've got signs plastered on every aisle throughout the store, translated into four languages stating no photography. Their staff also roam the aisles constantly so except for a couple I dared to quickly take at their old location, I never photograph there. Which is a shame, as they have far and away the most photogenic stuff in town!

  3. Very interesting post, thanks! Lots of stuff I'd like to look through, especially Saturn and Dreamcast :) Poor old Master System :(

  4. I'm with you, Simon... the Saturn's my favorite retro system, so being able to look through those would be a dream come true!

  5. By the way, regarding Mandrake, do you take photos with your phone or a proper camera? If you have a 'smartphone', you could put it on silent, turn the flash off, and make it look like you're texting someone of browsing the internet whilst secretly taking covert pics :) (not that I'm an expert at taking covert pics of course!)

    Skyrunner - yes, it sure would be a treat, but maybe not if the games sell for the same sort of prices in Japan as they do here in the UK! If they sell for good prices, I'd end up spending all my wages there :P

  6. Interesting post. I wish they had shops like that over here in Aus.

  7. Simon - all my photos are taken with a proper camera. The one on my phone sucks - very poor quality images, so I've never used it at Mandarake, though I did think about it.

    Skyrunner - I hope you someday do get to have a look through them:)

    BRIK - I think the same thing when I'm back in Canada.

  8. I both love you and hate you for this post, Sean. I love you for it because it's great to finally see a good portion of the stock of one of the stores you frequent, and I hate you for it because now I desperately want to walk into said store and buy a bunch of those cheap Dreamcast and PlayStation games. And of course I'd want a bunch of those Famicom games, too ;) Did you wind up buying anything during this particular trip, by the way?

  9. Thanks and sorry, Bryan! :) I think you'd like a trip there!

    I didn't buy anything this time, though I did make a purchase there a few days ago that I haven't written about yet. Bunch of Famicom games, including some that I needed!

  10. I'd agree that this is pretty standard for any store that carries any retro games. When I first got my Famicom (and before I knew about Hard-Off and the manga store within biking distance to my dormitory) and not having the time to travel to Akihabara yet, I knew there was a Book-Off at the next station over. Not a very big one, but one regardless.

    When I went there and saw the sign that said "OLD SOFT" or something, I was completely shocked. They had a whole shelf stocked full of Super Famicom games... and at the bottom, two baskets with loose Famicom carts. And they were all baseball games or mah jong.

    Even at the infamous Super Potato, while they have a sizable amount of games from every system, Super Famicom has the most.

    I kind of wonder why? Is it that there are more Super Famicom games than Famicom games? Or is it just because the Famicom is more popular than SuFami? Or both?

  11. Nate - yes the Book Offs here tend to have way more Super Famicom games than Famicom games too. Well, actually most of them don't have those "Old Soft" sections and thus don't have any of either, but with the ones that do that seems to be the trend.

    It is a good question you raise about why this trend is. Gives me an idea for my next post...

  12. Ooh, I finally have a chance to go tomorrow! btw Sean, I would really appreciate, If you could put here addresses to Omocha Souko, 007 and some other good retro game stores. I tried to google 007, but all I got was some James Bond stuff :), and my japanese skill aint on par for omocha souko's website so I could make out the address for the best one.

  13. Hi Samsa, great!

    This is Omocha Souko here:,130.426941&sspn=0.071469,0.154324&vpsrc=0&z=16

    After visiting there, 007 is only a 10 minute walk away. From Omocha Souko just walk along the main road (route 3 on the map) towards downtown and you'll see it on your right, you can't miss it.

    If you come by train, just get off at Kaizuka station. You'll be able to see 007 clearly from the train as it pulls into the station. Omocha Souko you'll be able to see from the station entrance. "Omocha Souko" is written in Japanese, but it also says "Maxim City" in English.


  14. As we know that Japanese are one of the first buyers of any games. Japan is known as world of electronics. Even i brought couple of games from Japan.