Monday, March 5, 2012

Omocha Souko Part 1: The Greatest Retro Game Store Ever.

For the first part of my special series on the soon-to-be late retro gaming store Omocha Souko (Fukuoka Honten) I thought I would try to prove the statement that I am always making about it:

Omocha Souko was the greatest retro video game store in the world.

I have to make a few disclaimers here before I start though. In many respects Omocha Souko was not a great retro gaming store. If you wanted a rare title chances are Omocha Souko did not have it. Looking for Game and Watches? Or a CIB PC Engine? Most likely they wouldn`t have those either.

Omocha Souko`s strength lay in its bargains rather than in its existing inventory. The reason they wouldn`t have rare titles or hard to find CIB consoles is because when they did get those things in they would price them so cheaply that they would sell instantly. Oftentimes to me.

Looking back over this blog I was able to pick out 15 different bargains that I found which I posted about. Most of these constituted mind blowing bargains where I paid as little as 1-2% of the going market price for some absolutely fantastic retro gear. I`ve collected those bargains here as a sort of `Omocha Souko`s greatest hits`.

In actual fact though, these are just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of the time when I`d get a great bargain I simply wouldn`t have the time to blog about it. I once found a CIB PC Engine, for example, working and in beautiful condition for 300 yen. That goes for about 100$ on Ebay. I didn`t blog about it though. Just not enough time.

Anyway, for posterity`s sake here are the top 15 bargains I have found at Omocha Souko over the past couple of years! In no particular order. You can click on the links to see the original posts.

1. Basket Full of Famicom Games for 800 Yen
This was one of the first big bargain sales Omocha Souko ever had. I stumbled across it one day while doing my regular rounds. They had a big pile of baskets in front of the retro game section with a sign saying you could get as many retro games as you could cram into one of those baskets for a flat 800 yen (about 10$).

I ended up doing about 4 or 5 of these, you could cram about 23 or 24 games into one of those baskets (more if you got mostly Game Boy carts) so the per-game price was extremely cheap and there were a few good titles available. The above photo is a typical haul that I got.

The downside of this sale was that when it was over their Famicom section was heavily picked over and for a few weeks they had almost nothing but sports titles. After a while though they rebuilt their inventory.

2. Two Twin Famicoms for 100 Yen Each
The first time I got a Twin Famicom back in 2010, I actually got two of them. For 100 yen each!

This purchase was one of those things that just blew me away when I found them. They had just been put on the shelf and when they caught my eye I wandered over expecting them to be 3000 or 4000 yen, a price I would have considered paying for at least one of them. When I saw the price tags for 100 yen I nearly fainted. That was the day I learned that Omocha Souko was the best place on the planet to buy old consoles, provided you were willing to be patient and wait for them to put ridiculously low prices on new things they got in.

My days as an Omocha Souko stalker had begun...

3. The Most Amazing Junk Section Ever Created
Of all my shopping experiences, this one remains my favorite. I walked into the store one day and there were just rows upon rows of crates full to the brim with retro gaming gear. Someone must have delivered a truckload of stuff to the store and just dumped all of it on them. Everything in all of those crates - whether it was games, consoles, controllers or cables - was 50 yen (60 cents) each.

The sheer volume of the stuff and the fact that I was there on the day it arrived made this an occasion to remember. I got PC Engines, Mega Drives, Famicoms, Games and Watches, dozens of normally expensive Famicom games and a ton of odds and ends. I went back several times, just filling baskets full of as much stuff as my arms could carry. Each time I would probably haul about $500 worth of stuff to the cashier and only have to pay 40 or 50 bucks. It was just the most incredible find I have ever made. The above photo only shows part of the haul. To give you an idea of how good it was, on my first trip there was a Virtual Boy in the crates. I actually passed that up because I just didn`t have enough space to fit it into my basket!

4. Family Basic and Famicom Trainer for 100 Yen Each
This was another being-there-at-the-right-time find. The Family Basic was CIB and in beautiful condition. It had previously been in their glass case for 4000 or 5000 yen but for some reason they decided to dump it in the junk section with a new price of 100 yen on it. The Famicom Trainer, which sells for quite a bit on Ebay, was also CIB and also only 100 yen. I couldn`t pay fast enough. I remember I got this just a couple days before Christmas in 2010, it was a nice early present.

5. Famicom Robot for 800 Yen
I picked the Famicom Robot up there a few months ago, at 800 yen for a CIB version it was an incredible find. The only other time I`ve seen one of these in stores it was priced at 10,000 yen.

6. Pile of Epoch Super Cassette Vision Carts for 100 Yen Each
I just love these things. The Epoch Super Cassette Vision was one of the Famicom`s would-be contenders for the Japanese home video game market back in the early 80s. It failed miserably though and as a result the system and its games are quite hard to come by (and expensive when you do find them). So I was massively surprised when I stumbled upon half the entire library for that console just casually lying on a shelf near the junk section rather than in a bullet proof glass case like they should have been. When I discovered they only wanted 100 yen each for them I was quite pleased.

7. Sega SG 1000 II
This was another junk bin find for 300 yen. It is in rough shape but works. The SG-1000 II is a hard to find console that should sell for about 10 to 20 times what I paid for it, even in that condition, so I count this as having been quite a good deal.

8. Virtual Boy for 300 Yen
This one I bought the same week that I found the Famicom Robot. I paid 300 yen for a complete, working Virtual Boy console. Complete as in complete in box with the manuals and inserts and everything I should add. These things normally go for hundreds of bucks on Ebay complete like that, but I got mine for the price of a large bottle of coca cola thanks to Omocha Souko.

9. Donkey Kong Jr. Game and Watch for 300 Yen
I did a double take when I saw this in a 300 yen junk pile. I love Game and Watches, but they are normally so expensive and hard to find that I never buy them. This one, which is complete and works fine, would probably have been the best Game and Watch deal in history were it not for what I found in the same bin the very next day....

10. Donkey Kong Game and Watch for 300 Yen
Complete with the battery cover and in perfect working order. Usually they sell for 60-70 bucks at Mandarake.

11. Pile of MSX Carts for 100 Yen Each
These MSX games, like the Super Cassette Vision carts above, I found casually sitting on a shelf one day. Like the Super Cassette Vision carts I only paid 100 yen each for them. Salamander alone sells for about 100$ on Ebay. That is probably over-priced, but still, this was an incredible bargain. If only I had an MSX to play them on....

12. Famicom Gimmick CIB for 100 Yen
This is the most valuable Famicom cart in my collection, yet ironically it is one of the ones I got for the cheapest price - 100 yen. The person pricing the games that day obviously did not know what they had in their hands.

13. 1967 Nintendo Ultra Machine CIB for 2000 Yen
This was actually a quite recent purchase. It is also the only thing on this list that I didn`t find in the video game section, it was a first floor toy section find. Released in 1967 the Ultra Machine is today very hard to find complete and in great condition like this, but somehow Omocha Souko laid their hands on one and somehow, not realizing its actual worth, they put it on sale for only 2000 yen.

14. Sega Mark III CIB for 300 Yen
I found this complete Sega Mark III a few weeks ago. It wasn`t in the junk section and didn`t have a price tag on it. I walked in, saw it, then I walked out without buying it. I went to my office, fired up the internet and found one on Ebay for $400. That was way more than I was willing to pay, but I decided that I would go back and ask how much they wanted for it. My budget would be 5000 yen, if it was less than that I would buy it, if not I would leave it.

So I went back to the store, picked it up, walked over to the cashier and asked how much it was. He took it, gave it a look over, thought for a moment and then responded:

`300 yen.`

I promptly paid.

15. Sega Mega Drive, Mega Drive CD and 32X all for 300 Yen
Yup, everything in the above photo for 300 yen. No need for further elaboration.

So there you have it, the top 15 retro gaming bargains I have gotten at Omocha Souko over the course of the past couple of years. It has been an amazing ride and thanks to that place I have been able to build up an impressive (if I do say so myself) collection of retro gaming gear on an extremely limited budget.

Anyway, I will continue this series with the next post in a couple of days so stay tuned!


  1. Amazing.
    This is a regular shop. Those kind of price you only get from flea market / goodwill only if you are lucky.

    I'm waiting for the next article to blow my mind with some more sweet finds !

  2. THanks Cocole! I actually do find better deals at Omocha Souko than at any flea market I`ve ever been to!

  3. Wow! I hope you pop in there every day until they close their doors! I wish I could find a place like that in NY. But, it seems these days everyone thinks they're an expert, and everything is "worth" something. It's like when I'm garage/yard saling, and the seller says, "well, I saw one sell on Ebay for this amount". To which I reply, "Then why don't you sell it on Ebay?" To which they have no reply to, and usually take my offer(and I'm not throwing out extremely low-ball offers either).

    I feel for you man! Hopefully you'll come across some great finds before they close. An here's to hoping you find a suitable replacement shop soon. :)

  4. You just made me cry, Sean. Thanks for that :P No, really, I can't believe the stuff you've found at this store -- and for bargain-basement prices! The CIB copy of Gimmick! is the one that impresses (and stings) the most :)

  5. That is simply amazing! I was wondering, how much would cost a boxed Famicom AV + AV cables, AC adaptor and some games like Gradius, Super Mario Bros,... ?

    By the way, i would like you to join, a great gaming messageboard that i participate.

  6. Jason - I will be continuing to pop my head in there until they close for good! Unfortunately the pickings are getting slimmer and slimmer since they aren`t adding new stuff and I have trawled their inventory (which is now 50-70% off) quite a bit.

    I know what you mean about everyone being an expert in North America too. That is one thing great about Japan, people are willing to part with retro games for whatever they can get just to get rid of them. I suspect it is because everyone lives in such small apartments and can`t just store the stuff indefinitely like people in North America do. Everytime you buy something new here, you have to empty out the closet!

  7. Bryan - I`m glad I`m not the only one crying ;)

    Picking up that copy of Gimmick was really the high-water point of Omocha Souko bargains!

  8. Johnny - the usual price for a CIB AV Famicom is about 6000-7000 yen here. I was able to buy one at Omocha Souko once for 2500 yen, which was a bargain.

    Unfortunately they sold all of those a long time ago! Usually within about an hour of putting them on the shelves!

    And I will sign up for an account at assemblergames!

  9. Holly crap!! Gimmick for 100 yen. I've been looking for this on Yahoo Auctions for the last 6 months. I've been seeing loose carts with writing on them went for 6,000 plus yen.
    I lived in Nagasaki for 2 years and I never found out about this store. Damn, sucks for me

  10. Yes, Gimmick goes for about 5000 - 6000 yen or so loose normally so this was the deal of the century!

    They actually have a branch of Omocha Souko in Nagasaki prefecture somewhere, I dont think it is in Nagasaki city but somewhere nearby!

  11. Any PC Enginer stuff?? I'll fly over with an empty suitcase just for the closing sale!!

  12. I didn't realise it was a closing down sale!

    When will they be closed for good?

  13. MikeC - No consoles but they have a few HU Cards. Unfortunately I have already bought all the best ones though:)

    Mike - yes, sadly it is a closing down sale. According to the sign out front they will move on April 1st. I`m kind of hoping it will therefore be revealed to have been an April Fool`s Day prank, but suspect that it is for real!

  14. I'll fly over with an empty suitcase just for the closing sale!!

  15. Too late! But do fly over here with an empty suitcase someday, there are great deals to be had!

  16. I remember most of the original posts on these finds and they were all fantastic of course! Poor Sean :(

  17. Thanks Simon, unfortunately my retro game collecting activity has nosedived since this place closed:(