Friday, October 7, 2011

Mega Bargain of the Day: Pile of Epoch Super Cassette Vision Carts

I was at Omocha Souko today browsing their junk section. It has been an amazing week for me there, I picked up the Famicom Robot a couple days ago for a steal. Today I found something just as good.

As I was looking at the usual junk, I noticed these babies sitting on a bottom shelf:
I couldn`t believe my eyes. Fourteen Super Cassette Vision carts just sitting there in the junk section.

Just to put into perspective for you how hard these things are to find, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the past 3 years wandering through the aisles of pretty much every game store in this city. Before today I had never seen a single Super Cassette Vision cart in my life. These things are massively hard to find, even Mandarake doesn`t have any. A quick search on Ebay just now turned up only a handful of the things, the lowest price for a single game being 24$. Yahoo Japan Auctions has them for slightly lower starting bids, but even there the pickings are slim. These are about as rare as retro video game carts come.

I knew I had to have them, they just looked way too amazing to leave there. The only problem was that I didn`t know how much they were. The junk section at Omocha Souko is usually just for consoles and accessories, not games, so they only had prices listed for those things.

I flagged down one of their staff and asked how much. He didn`t know and went to go ask one of his supervisors in the back. I stood guard in front of the shelf while he did so, warning off would-be Epoch Super Cassette Vision cart purchasers with my nasty `These Epoch Super Cassette Vision carts are MINE` look (trust me, you don`t want to see that look).

He came back a minute later and said `100 yen each.`

`I see` I said, rubbing my chin as though weighing the purchase decision `thank you`.

As soon as he was around the corner I grabbed a basket, slammed my forearm onto the shelf and swept the whole lot into it in one motion. I then speed-walked to the cashier to pay for them immediately and get the hell out of there before they changed their mind.

These things are just amazing. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that one of the reasons I love Famicom carts so much is how colorful they are. They just look a million times cooler than the boring grey Super Famicom or NES carts.

Until today I had never seen a video game cart that could give the Famicom cart a run for its money in terms of appearance, but I have to say the Super Cassette Vision carts do. Just look at those colors:

The carts are about two-thirds the size of a Famicom cart:
The main surface label on each is a mini instruction manual that tells you which controls do what in the game:
And the top label has the name of the game, making them extremely easy to identify when stored:
Unfortunately the one thing I am missing is an actual Epoch Super Cassette Vision console to play these on. I have an Epoch Cassette Vision (without the `Super`), but they aren`t compatable with it. Someday though I am going to figure out what Comic Circus, Milky Princess, Elevator Fight, Ton Ton Ball, Miner 2049er, Punch Boy and...well all of these games are like. They sound awesome.

I might add a bit here about the history of Epoch and these games as it is kind of interesting and not much has been written about it in english. When you read about the history of video games, the 3rd generation is usually portrayed as a two-way race between Nintendo and Sega which Nintendo overwhelmingly won with the NES/ Famicom.

In Japan though it was more of a three-way race won by an even more overwhelming margin by Nintendo over Sega and Epoch (and Bandai and Atari, which also made attempts to compete).

Epoch actually beat Nintendo to the chase though by releasing the Cassette Vision in 1981 - the first successful cart-based system to be released in Japan. At one point they controlled 70% of the Japanese home video game market. The release of the Famicom in 1983 wiped that out completely.

The Super Cassette Vision was Epoch`s attempt to compete with Nintendo to regain some of its market share. It teamed up with NEC (later maker of the PC Engine) to develop the hardware, which was released on July 17, 1984.

The system never took off and Nintendo was able to capture 95% of the Japanese market during that generation. The Super Cassette Vision was discontinued in 1987, with thirty games having been released for it. Shortly thereafter Epoch started releasing titles on the Famicom as a third party developer.

Anyway, its an interesting snippet of Japanese video game history. And I just grabbed almost half the console`s entire library of software for about 20 bucks!

Related Posts:
Mega Bargain of the Day: KousenjuuSP Electro Safari
Flea Market Finds: Epoch Cassette Vision


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wow! Nice find!

    You are right, the carts look amazing. So colorful and retrolike. If it wasn't for their colorful nature I'd say the carts look more like Atari carts then Famicom carts.

    Kiddo @ Famicomworld

  3. THanks, Kiddo! I was thinking the same thing about the Atari carts, their shape is very similar!

  4. skyrunner14 here:
    Whoa, that's a fantastic find! Kind of reminds me of the great deal I got when I got my Saturn... here's hoping your search for a Super Cassette Vision isn't as nerve-wracking as finding the original one was! And speaking of which, here's hoping you still find some games for that as well.

  5. You're not kidding when you say they compete with Famicom carts in terms of color! Also, they're so *tiny*! Now I have to see what the console looks like -- and what the games themselves look like (their graphics, etc.). I don't suppose some of this info is on line?

    Anyway, what prompted your interest in this console and its games, Sean? It sounds like you've been looking to acquire them for some time??

  6. Skyrunner - thanks! Yes, I am still looking for games for the original, which are just as hard to find!

    Bryan, You can see a picture of the console here:

    There isnt much about the games themselves online that I could find. Some of the ones in the library were also released on the Famicom (Mappy, Doraemon, SkyKid), so I`m interested in finding ou t how they compare!

    I have a fascination with old, under-appreciated stuff, which I think is what drew me to the Epoch consoles in the first place.

  7. Nice find!
    I never knew of this console.
    I find it really interesting to read what consoles were popular in different countries back in the day. In Australia when I was a youngster the Master System was king believe it or not!
    Is their much retro Master System stuff still around in Japan these days?

  8. THanks, Zen! It is a bit of a rarity, even in Japan most people have never heard of it!

    About the Sega Master System - stay tuned. My next post will be about another really good retro purchase that I made this week and without wishing to spoil the surprise, it was Master System related!

  9. Thanks for the link to the pic of the system, Sean. I'm kind of disappointed with it, to tell you the truth. The carts are so colorful and cute, and the system is so ... drab. Still, I'd love to see what these games look like when played :)

  10. True, it isn`t much to look at as a console. I definitely like the Famicom`s look better. I think the front part is a storage place for the controllers, which is kind of neat. I found one for about 200$ on Yahoo Japan Auctions, but I`m going to hold out for a cheaper one!

  11. Heh heh, Sean, you and I think much alike. I always wait for a better deal when I'm on the market for any game or game system. Of course, sometimes, you can't wait. You just gotta act!

    Me, I waited for a while before buying a copy of Enemy Zero for my Saturn. I got one for $40, and that was only after I looked at several deals before choosing it... it was the cheapest I could go for.

    But now the second disc is too scratched up, and I may need to buy ANOTHER copy... where was I going with this? Anyway, don't wait too long. One day, you'll come across a deal, then come across another, more expensive one later and be like "Aw shucks, I should have gotten that other one." ;-)

  12. LOL, yes I do think like that!

    I`ve had a couple of times where I`ve purchased something expensive only to find it a few months later in a junk bin for a fraction of what I originally paid. This has made me a bit more careful with my purchases (ie cheap).

    When I do come across a bargain like these babies though - I pounce!

  13. Seems like you've had just the opposite of my situation happen to you then, huh? In any case, considering how hard it apparently is to find that Cassette Vision in the first place (so I've heard), $200 doesn't seem like that much.

    How do you usually save up your money, anyway, if you don't mind my asking? Me, I put a little aside every time I get paid, into a separate fund to buy game-related and other stuff, and use the rest for bills, grocery shopping, and the like.

    $20 aside every other week doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up. It's how I bought my 3DS when they first came out!

  14. I don`t specifically set money aside each month, but I do impose a limit of about 50$ a month. Once I`ve spent that I usually stop buying stuff for the month, though I sometimes break that rule if I find some amazing bargain or something. Also if it is a special occassion I sometimes allow myself to splurge:)

  15. Awesome find sir! It's the kind I wish I had made :P I know little of the Epoch systems - as you mention, it was between the NES and MS over here (which the MS overwhelmingly won, by the way!) - so this was a fascinating post for me. I hope you find the console as well soon. How much do they normally go for?

  16. Thanks, Simon!

    I`ve never seen the console in stores, but Yahoo Japan Auctions has one for 15,000 yen (about 200$ US) which is complete. They have one on Ebay which is not complete (no rf switch or ac adaptor) which is also going for 200. I`m going to hold out for a cheaper one, you never know what will turn up in a junk bin or flea market!

  17. Great post Sean - I reckon I'd only read about the Epoch systems in passing around the place, great to have a writeup and some pics of the carts to demonstrate the technicolour awesomeness of it all :)

  18. Yeah, these aren`t the most famous carts for the most famous system so I`m glad I could do my part to spread a bit of the word about them. I just wish I could play them:)