Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Return to the Fukuoka Famicom Shops

I just got back from an overnight business trip to the place where this blog began: beautiful Fukuoka!

I was there for a couple of meetings on Tuesday, but Wedensday morning and early afternoon I had to myself and decided to drop by good old Mandarake to see how things have changed there since I left.

I would have loved to have been able to do a thorough revisit to all the Famicom shops I described in loving detail in numerous posts on here back when I lived in Fukuoka but it wasn`t possible to do so with the time I had.  Sadly my favorite shop that I used to visit 3-4 times a week, Omocha Souko, went permanently out of business last year so the one place that more than any I wanted to see on my return could not be paid a visit.

Another issue was simply the fact that as a visitor to Fukuoka I did not have a bicycle, which was really instrumental in allowing me to visit all those awesome retro game shops, many of which were not easily accessible by public transport.

Anyway, I made sure that I would at least visit my favorite surviving Fukuoka Famicom shop on this visit and even booked a hotel (the Green Hotel if anyone is interested) that is literally next door to Mandarake.

Despite their no-photography policy I decided to take a few pics this time since even if they kicked me out its not like I visit there that often anymore.
Wall to wall CIB Famicom goodies, no other shop in Fukuoka comes close to matching this.  The blue sign there says they will pay 50,000 yen for a CIB copy of Kung Fu.

A few copies of Thunderbirds and Tomato Princess in the Salad Kingdomthere:

Oh and what is that at the end of the aisle?

Get a little closer:

The glass case with all the good Famicom stuff in it!!

About half of this stuff I remembered from my last visit, loads of CIB games for the Famicom and Super Famicom.  They have a CIB copy of that really rare silver Hot Scramble Z which they are selling for about 900 bucks.

Basically all that stuff was out of my price range, but I did pick up a few Famicom games. Mandarake generally has pretty good prices, at least at their Fukuoka branch, so I am always glad to walk out with a few new purchases.  I picked up CIB copies of Binary Land and Highway Star, which will go nicely with my collection.

The only other Famicom-related place I got a chance to visit was a Book Off next to Hakata Station.  I had actually profiled that one on here a couple of years ago in a post that consisted mainly of complaining about their outrageously high prices.

I was hoping they might have changed that problem and got a bit excited when I saw that they had moved the `old soft` section (which is where all pre-PS2 era games at Book Offs are kept, if they have any) and tidied it up a bit:

Unfortunately despite the facelift the prices were the same as usual.  They even still had the exact same copy of Devil World priced at 1550 yen (about 2-3 times what its worth) that I had complained about in that post 2 years ago:

That will probably always be there!

Anyway, it was nice to go back to Fukuoka, I really do miss the place. 


  1. Nice to see another post from you, Sean! Also, you can't go wrong with Binary Land, in my opinion. OK, some are sure to dislike its antiquated graphics and soundtrack, but you can't deny its unique gameplay. Anyway, hope all is well with you and your wide and dog :)

    1. How could anyone hate Binary Land? I mean, it's so wonderful...a very underrated Famicom game.

  2. Beautiful! I would die if I saw a place like that in real life--there's a flea market stall near me with retro games, and his most exotic merchandise is a stack of four bootleg Famicom carts in the glass case.

    Any reason they wrote it as "Kung Fu" on the sign? Wasn't the game called Spartan X there, or was it released as Kung Fu too?

    1. It WAS released as Spartan X. It was ALSO released as Kung Fu, but only a handful of copies sold. That must be why they're willing to pay so much.

  3. Bryan - thanks! You are totally right about Binary Land, it is one of my favorite games (I quite like the music too). I`ve actually had a loose copy of it for a while, but I had wanted to find a CIB one since the box looks pretty good too!

    Nightmare Bruce - basically what Logan said. I actually have a post on here that explains a bit of the background of the Kung Fu/ Spartan X versions:

  4. I'm dying to know... what were the prices on those loose games on the top shelf of the glass case? Sadly they're just barely out of the frame.

    If you can recall, I'm really curious about the prices on Bio Miracle, Nekketsu Basketball, Twinbee Cinnamon, Majyuuou, and the gold-cart bombermans.

  5. Good question. From memory:

    Bio Miracle: I think it was about 20,000 yen or so (not confident on that though)
    Nekketsu Basketball: 5500 yen (ish)
    Twinbee Cinnamon: 3000 yen

    I`m not sure about the others.

    Not visible in the photo is a loose copy of Gimmick they had in there, which was 16,800 yen. The price of that game has exploded, 2 years ago they only wanted 4,000 yen for the same game in the same condition.

    1. I'm afraid I would bankrupt myself if I spent a week in Japan. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

    2. I'd bankrupt myself in A DAY if I lived in Fukuoka.

    3. You can imagine how my finances were after 4 years of living there :)

  6. Yup, it is really easy to spend money in this country. Sometimes that is a good thing....sometimes not:)

  7. that is such a beautiful site *single tear*