Friday, January 21, 2011

Fukuoka Famicom Shops V: Don Quixote and Village Vanguard

Four posts in four days, I am on a roll. That ends today, because I've got stuff to do on the weekend. Fun ride while it lasted though.

Today's post is the next installment in my series on Fukuoka's Famicom shops. I cover two different stores today: Don Quixote and Village Vanguard.

I put these two shops into one post because they have something in common. Neither one is a game shop, nor is either one a used goods shop. Don Quixote is a major retailer with hundreds of locations across Japan which sells everything from groceries to plasma TVs. Village Vanguard is also a major chain, but it mostly deals in novelty items.

What they have in common (apart from being major chains) is that they both stock Famiclones. And, as an adjunct to their Famiclone display, they both stock Famicom games that people can pick up with the Famiclone.

Lets have a look. First stop: Don Quixote.

Don Quixote is a crowded shop with narrow aisles:
Its got some bargains - orange juice for example is much cheaper here than most places.

Famicom bargains are, however, in short supply here.

The Famiclone they sell is the "Next II":
I'm not sure if its any good.
They have a nice display with a TV loudly airing the music for Jaleco's Moero Pro Yakyu, which I find kind of pleasant:They also have this very interesting "FC Portable" which allows you to play Famicom games on a handheld device:It looks neat in the picture, but I suspect its a piece of crap. It doesn't have a rechargeable battery pack either so you have to buy a bunch of batteries seperately.

Anyway, Don Quixote's price for its Famiclone is quite reasonable. Their Famicom games, on the other hand:
498 yen per game. That wouldn't be too bad a price if they had some decent games in there, but they don't. I looked. They are all "commons" that usually go for 100 - 300 yen at most shops. Some of these are fun games - I particularly like Exerion - but they are quite overpriced.

So I just go there for orange juice, not for Famicom games.

Next stop: Village Vanguard.

I love Village Vanguard. Their stores are really fun to explore, with aisle upon aisle of nothing but tacky novelty items. I do a lot of gift shopping there.

They've got the staples, like rubber chickens and women in bikinis:
Gumball machines and masks of Matsuko Deluxe (a transvestite celebrity who is on all the variety shows here):
Mannequins under disco balls:
Funky trading cards:
And statues of famous celebrities:
Like Don Quixote, they also have Famiclones in stock, for roughly the same price:
And next to that, a basket full of Famicom games (apologies for the blurry pic):
These were on sale for 525 yen each, roughly the same price as Don Quixote. The big difference though was that there were a few games in there which were actually worth 525 yen. I found Adventure Island and Donkey Kong in this basket, which usually go for at least that much in most game shops. So I give Village Vanguard's Famicom selection higher marks than Don Quixote's, though I never buy Famicom stuff there either.

Instead, I walked out with a pack of ALF cards:
"Catting Practice"! Oh, that guy kills me:
200 yen well spent.

When I started off this series I intended to compare prices of 6 games at the various shops, but I've found that most shops didn't have enough of those games to make that type of comparison worthwhile.

I will make this observation on these two shops though. They are major chains which don't buy used stuff from people off the street (which is how every other Famicom shop gets their stock). I find this interesting. It means they procure their stock of games from some distributor. I kind of wonder how that works. I mean, it seems there is actually a centralized wholesale market for used Famicom games out there. I wonder if the distributor just buys huge lots off of Yahoo Auction and then parcels them out to these retailers or something. Its kind of interesting.

Well, interesting to those of us Famicom collectors who study economic organization in their "day jobs" anyway:)


  1. Very interesting names for these stores, I have to say -- Don Quixote especially.

    It's also interesting how common Famiclones seem to be. Do they play Super Famicom games, too? Otherwise, why do they have four buttons?

    Anyway, thanks for the fourth post in four days. Have a nice weekend and recharge those batteries! :)

  2. That is a good question about the buttons. I don't know. These only play Famicom games so it doesn't make much sense.

    On a related note, if my math is right, the Super Famicom is now 21 years old. Patents last a maximum of 20 years, so it probably won't be long before we start seeing Super Famiclones. Well, actually I think I have seen them before, but they must have been illegal pirate versions or something.

    And thanks, you have a good weekend too!

  3. Heya. Just a quick thanks for this series, I'm currently in fukuoka studying japanese, and this is saving me some valuable time in terms of tracking down good retro stores.

  4. Also, you can get super famiclones pretty easily, not sure on legitness, but there were a few dual ones in akiba, I picked up the FC twin

  5. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your time in Fukuoka and head over to Mandarake and Omocha Souko if you have time. If you like retro game stuff, you'll probably find something there.

    INteresting about the super famiclones...

  6. Sweet! I love Japanese shops, I wish I lived in Japan. I agree with Bryan that they have some great names too. I like 'Super Potato' most :)

  7. Yeah, Japan is a shopper's paradise. Especially if you like old video games.

    "Super Potato" is an excellent name for a store indeed. I've lived in Japan on and off since the late 90s and I still have every been there (I think they have a few locations, but none in Fukuoka). It is my mission in life to get to the one in Akihabara someday.

  8. If you want a look at the super famiclone I bought, Don Quixote has a bunch well hidden near the PSP games, and far away from the other famiclones

  9. Cool, thanks. I'll take a look next time I'm in there!