Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Box Art Battle: Lode Runner vs. Raid on Bungling Bay

I thought I'd borrow an idea from Bryan's "which box art is better?" posts, only with a Famicom twist.

I picked up two boxed Famicom games the other day, Lode Runner and Raid on Bungling Bay. Both of these were made by Hudson Soft under license from Broderbund in the early 1980s. The carts of both feature the same cover art, which is very similar to that on the pulse line carts only without the pulse lines, but their boxes are completely different.

The Lode Runner box (above) is a bright cartoony one. I like it. It has a lot of color and the picture takes up almost the whole front of the box. This is also a really small box, its just slightly larger than the cart itself.

The picture is very similar to the game, except that in the game you don't have a gun. And the characters look nothing like that. But its got the gist of it. Walking up ladders, sliding along ropes, being chased by bad guys - Lode Runner's got all that.

The Raid on Bungling Bay one, on the other hand, is a hard one to figure:
Raid on Bungling Bay is a game in which you control a little helicopter that goes around dropping bombs on islands. So the tiny little speck you can barely see silhouetted against the setting sun makes sense. But what is that face?

It seems to be some sort of cyborg, I think that must be the leader of the Bungling Empire? Or something? But we don't see anything like that in the game.

I actually like this box art. It is very dark and strange. It is the sort of thing that Dieter from Sprockets would have designed, or at least heartily approved of in a monkey-touching sort of way.
Now is the time at HudsonSoft when we dance.

I just find the contrast between these two boxes to be kind of interesting. Same maker, same era, same general type of game, but radically different approaches to box art.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Famicom Cushions and other Famicom Crap....I Mean Merchandise. Famicom Merchandise.

I was at Village Vanguard, a novelty store downtown, today. I did a post about them a few months ago as they sell Famicom games. They had some new Famicom crap in today though so I thought I'd take a few pictures and put them here.

The main thing of interest was the Famicom cushion. As the name implies it is a cushion and a Famicom: all in one.

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of novelty stuff like this. The attempt to cash in on my ironic sense of hipster nostalgia is just a bit too blatant. Still though, it was a nice try. It is actually two cushions, a Famicom cushion and a Famicom Disk System cushion:
They are tied together at the back, where you can also see the controller wire strings:
Which connect to the controllers:
It is really a shame that they display them wrapped in ugly plastic like this. I would have been much more tempted to buy one if they had displayed them nicely (like making a cushion Famicom Box or something). Usually Japanese stores are much better at stuff like that, Village Vanguard (and whoever manufactured these things) really dropped the ball there.

I was almost tempted to remove one from the plastic for the purposes of these photos. You know, the old:

"Cough Cough" (sound of plastic being torn) "Cough Cough"

routine. I didn't have the guts though.
Another problem is that they are made of this plastic-y type of material that doesn't look like it would be too comfortable. If I did have these I doubt I would use them as cushions much.

I suppose they would make for a rather cunning anti-Famicom theft device as you could put them under your TV when you go out of town and burglars would be tricked into stealing your Famicom (and Famicom Disk System) cushions rather than your actual Famicom (and Famicom Disk System).

The problem with that is that these pillows actually cost more than a Famicom (and Famicom Disk System), so you'd have been better off just letting the burglars take the real thing.

Anyway, these are about 3300 yen if anyone is interested.

They had some other kind of interesting Famicom related crap lying around. Like this handbag:
Must have been an imported one.

They also had these carrying cases:
Not too sure what it was for. I guess you could keep your Famicom controller in there or something.

And a little box that contains Space Invaders:
And some Mario dolls:
And more Mario dolls:
And Mario mobiles:
And boxes shaped like blocks from Mario:
And Luigi hats:
And a bucket of actual Famicom games:
I didn't buy a thing.
Related Posts:
- Fukuoka Famicom Shops V: Village Vanguard and Don Quixote
- Famicom and Game & Watch Stuff From Loft

Friday, June 24, 2011

Famicom Light Gun and Wild Gunman: Yipee Ki-Yay M------- F-------.

The censored words in the title of this post are actually just "My Famicom". Not sure why I felt the need to block them out like that.

Anyway, my visit to the other Omocha Souko yesterday turned up more than just the Luigi Mosaic. I bought something too. A good thing.

At the front of the store they have a pile of old consoles. Among the Mega Drives and Nintendo 64s I found this guy snuggly nestled, awaiting purchase:
This is the Famicom light gun, the original NES zapper.

I have been searching for one of these for the longest time. Its been a craving of mine. I had maintained fantasies about finding one in a junk bin for 100 yen or something, but 2 and a half years of fruitless searching has convinced me of the futility of that dream. These things are HARD to find. Yesterday was the first time I had ever seen one in person.

So I was quite pleasantly surprised to see it there. The price was 3,000 yen (about 35-40$ US) and, as you can see, they bundled it with a copy of Wild Gunman. The box was in great condition and they said it was in working order, so how could I resist?

Opening it up, this is what I got:
Love at first sight:
I had the zapper for my NES (still have it, in fact), but this thing is just a million times better. According to the tales of internet lore, American safety regulations prevented Nintendo from making the zapper look like a real revolver, so they made that kind of generic space gun looking gray thing for the NES. I like the revolver look way better though.

I mean, when I popped Wild Gunman in for a go, I actually kind of felt like I was in the old west with this thing. Well, just a bit - my living room looks nothing like the old west (except for the dust). Still though, its way more fun to be blowing away gun shooters with an old west 6 shooter than some gray "zapper". You can even cock the hammer on this thing.
The box is great too. On the back it has a very complicated diagram. If you look closely you'll notice that the only useful information this thing conveys is "plug it in." I guess they had to put something back there:
The front of the box is great too. Its got a little cowboy in the lower left corner shooting at a TV. It looks great on my shelf, I put it right in front of my bottle of whiskey for that added touch of the old west:
The other thing I really like about this game is that it was featured in Back to the Future II. Apparently the filmmakers took some liberties as the arcade cabinet they show in the film didn't exist and the gameplay they show is a bit different from the actual game. Still though, take a look at that gun Marty McFly uses to shoot the bad guys. Spitting image of the Famicom light gun!

Not only can I pretend to be an old west gunslinger, I can also pretend to be late 80s Michael J Fox. Sweet!

Anyway, I'm quite happy with this thing. It is one of the rare times when I buy something and it turns out to be every bit as good as I thought it would be (Family Trainer - that barb is directed at you).

Related Posts:
- Famicom Cart Mosaics: The Luigi Wall
- Mega Bargain of the Day: Family Basic, Family Trainer and Climber Stick

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Famicom Cart Mosaics: The Luigi Wall

Notice anything interesting in the above photo?

Well, OK, there is probably a lot of interesting stuff in the above photo, so let me narrow it down for you. Take a close look at that picture of Luigi's face on the wall there. Know what that is made of?

You guessed it, Famicom carts:
I found this creation at the "other" Omocha Souko store that I sometimes visit, which is about a 30-40 minute bike ride from my place.

Somehow I have managed to visit that store at least 3 or 4 times without having ever noticed this awesome thing before. I suspect that on my previous visits it was probably hidden behind some merchandise as the space in front of it is used as a shelf. They must have sold something since the last time I visited and voila, Luigi has been revealed.

This thing is great. It reminds me a bit of that Akihabara Famicom chair that has become a shrine that all Famicom collectors must make at least one pilgrimage to during their lifetime. I haven't been to that one yet, but it really pleases me to be able to share the Luigi Mosaic out here as western Japan's own Famicom collector shrine.

In contrast to the Akihabara Famicom chair, I don't think anybody's ever taken notice of the Luigi Mosaic. I'm not even sure that most of the staff at the store are even aware of its existence. I think it is absolutely fantastic though.
A rough estimate arrived at by measuring its dimensions suggests that it took more than 1,000 Famicom carts to make it. I particularly like the way they used the oversized white carts to make the "L" in Luigi's hat.

So anyway, add the "Luigi Mosaic" onto your list of must-see Famicom stuff. Or don't, most people don't maintain such lists after all. And this store is really inconveniently located. Heck, just look at the pictures I put up here and that'll probably be good enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

80s Girls and the Famicom: Miho Nakayama's Tokimeki High School Idol Hotline

I was at a Book Off this morning and as I was rummaging around their old junk video game section I came across a copy of my new favorite Famicom game: Idol Hotline Nakayama Miho Tokimeki High School.

I've never played this game and don't care if I ever do. Its still the best Famicom game ever made. Because its the only one that's got Miho Nakayama.

Actually I had never heard of Miho Nakayama before today. Because I was stupid and ignorant. Miho Nakayama was a big pop star and actress back in the 80s and 90s.
This game came out in 1987. Wikipedia tells me that Miho Nakayama was about 6 years older than me at that time. Er....of course she'd be 6 years older than me now too, but never mind about that. 1987 is what is important here.

I would have totally had a crush on Miho Nakayama if I had seen this game in 1987. 1987 was a good year for me and crushes on teen pop stars. For ease of reference, I present here a year by year breakdown of girls I had crushes on in the mid to late 80s:

1984: Cindy Laupher (don't ask), Phoebe Kates (Gremlins, rowr);

1985: The pretty girl from the Goonies (not the one with the short hair. The other one), the brunette from Facts of Life;

1986: Alyssa Milano, the blonde girl from Facts of Life;

1987: Tiffany, Debbie Gibson.

1988: Malory from Family Ties.

I think Miho Nakayama would have fit in pretty good there, being a 1987 teen pop star herself like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. Miho Nakayama is way better than Tiffany and Debbie Gibson though. I'm sorry, Tiffany and Debbie, I know you are both regular readers of this blog but it needed to be said. Miho just blows you both away.

Look at that 80s look she's got. Tussled bangs, high puffy collar. And there is even more Miho on the disk itself:
Look she's calling some guy on the A side. I wonder who???? Tee hee.
Ahem. Anyway, about the game. From what I've gathered from an excellent walk-through of the game at GameFAQs, this is an interesting one. Kind of a walk through adventure game where the game gives you phone numbers and you call and listen to a voice recording of Miho telling you stuff.

Yup, that is right. You get to call Miho Nakayama in this game. And she smiles and talks to you on the phone, just like in these pictures. One word:


If I had possessed this game as a kid, I would have called those numbers a lot. Kind of like Lisa in that episode of the Simpsons where she gets addicted to the Cory hotline. Our phone conversations would have gone something like:

Me: Hi Miho (giggle giggle).

Miho: (pre-recorded message plays).

Me: Bye bye, Miho (giggle giggle).

This would have been repeated ad nauseum.

Anyway, go buy this game, whoever you all are reading this (Miho? I'd like to think so). Just get it. It is great.

Postscript: Courtesy of Mark in the comments section, you also have to watch this original commercial for the game. Superb!

Related Posts:
-Back in the USSR, Thats Where Famicoms Are
-M.U.S.C.L.E. Men and the Famicom: Kinnikuman Muscle Tag Match

Monday, June 20, 2011

False Famicom Stores: Remnants of a Time when "Famicom" meant "Video Game"

As someone who likes to go around to retro game stores looking for old Famicom games, one thing that really annoys me is when a store goes so far as to include the word "Famicom" in its own name, but doesn't actually sell any Famicom stuff.

The above photo is a picture of a sign in front of a game store I ride past sometimes. The yellow sign says "TV Game Famicom House", which is the name of the store.

They do not sell Famicom games though, despite calling themselves the "Famicom house". They only sell current gen games. And lots and lots of porn. So if you are in the market for some current gen games and Japanese porn, this is your one-stop shop. If you are looking for Famicom games, give it a miss. It is one of the most extraordinarily misleading store names I've ever seen.

It is, however, a chain store, and every time my travels take me to another branch I'm always tempted to go in. "Oh, this one MUST have Famicom stuff" I think to myself. I always leave disappointed.

Last week a really good blog post went up on the Japanese blog Famicom no Netta that explains this most annoying of store naming trends.

Back in the 80s the word "Famicom" in Japanese was synonymous with "video game system". As a result, a lot of video game stores used the word "Famicom" in their names. Nintendo, apparently, didn't object.

When the Super Famicom came out the trend continued. After all, the Super Famicom could still be considered a "Famicom" as it had that word in its name.

When the Sega Saturn/ Playstation/ N64 generation came out I guess they just figured "Crap. Its going to cost a lot to replace all our signs and company letterhead. Screw it, leave the word Famicom up there."

So, though annoying, these stores like Famicom House are an interesting relic of a day when the word "Famicom" simply meant "Video game system". This is of course quite similar to the way kids in North America used the word "Nintendo" to describe consoles in the 80s until the Super Nintendo/ Genesis came out and forced us to start differentiating between them.

The post on Famicom no Netta also has some other very interesting examples of how the word "Famicom" is still used in some instances to mean just console. The post is actually mainly about how local governments still seem to think the word "Famicom" means console. I hope they won't mind my stealing this image here:

This is a section of a list created by the Eto ward office in Tokyo, which enumerates different kinds of large garbage and how they are to be disposed of. Between "Fax machine" and "Fan Heater" you have "Famicom" (2nd item in the list) which is to be disposed of as "Unburnable garbage". This doesn't just mean Famicoms, but game consoles in general. Famicom no Netta has a whole bunch of these from various local governments mainly around Tokyo. I think this is kind of neat.

Anyway, if you ever happen to pass this store:
Remember that it doesn't have any Famicom stuff. Just current generation games and lots and lots of pornography.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Video Game Grading Services are a bad Phenomenon

As the title of this post suggests (perhaps a bit too directly), I am not a fan of video game grading services. For those who don't know what video game grading is, it is basically a service that for a fee will evaluate the condition of your video game, give it a number grade based on that condition, and then encase it in a tamper-proof slab of plastic.

According to Game Sniped graded games first started hitting Ebay around 2008, so they are a relatively recent trend in the video game collecting world. In the baseball card world they have been around a lot longer, probably since the late 90s if I recall correctly.

I take their entry into the video game collecting world as a huge negative for the hobby. They represent everything that I dislike about collecting hobbies in general - anal retentiveness, greed, obsession with something as superficial as condition and people looking at the thing they collect as an investment rather than something to be enjoyed for what it is. All bad stuff and all of it perfectly personified in the video game grading service.

Metaphorically speaking, these services represent the "end of the innocence" of a hobby. They literally put the thing beyond its intended use. You will never play that video game again - it is permanently sealed, never to be touched by human hands. It is the physical manifestation of the process by which an item goes from being whatever it actually is - a video game, a comic book, a baseball card - to nothing more than a sterile piece of investment. They might as well be government savings bonds from the moment they get graded, because they are no longer good for anything other than being a repository of value. And bad ones at that - they don't even pay interest.

I have two other specific gripes with these services that I want to talk about here. The first has to do with the economics and the second with the visuals. Lets start with the economics.

1. Graded stuff in general does not obey economic logic. It is a pyramid scam waiting to collapse.

I just took a look on Ebay at the prices for sealed copies of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES. I found 6 copies of it sealed, 5 of which were ungraded and one graded. The ungraded ones were selling for between 109.95 and 300.00 Buy it Now.

The single graded one was selling for 1800.00 Buy it Now, six times more than the most expensive of the ungraded ones.

That makes absolutely no sense. They are all sealed - which to me means they are all mint and thus all the exact same (there was no damage noted in the ungraded ones). Grading services from what I've found cost about 25$. So if we are generous and say that the most expensive of the ungraded games represents the true value, then logically the graded one should be worth $300 +$25 = $325. Maybe we could add another 25 for the hassle the seller went through to get it graded. That still leaves us with a price of $350.

There is really no rational basis for a premium of $1500 on this thing just because it has been graded. The increase in value has just been created out of thin air.

Of course, there are a lot of variations in sellers on Ebay and this is just one example, a rather striking one at that. We would need to look at a lot more to firmly establish the argument. Still though, from just looking around Ebay you can pretty much pick any popular NES game at random and you will notice that in general the premium sellers are charging for their graded games are totally out of whack with what common sense dictates they should be. There is just no rational basis for this and it can only be explained as a speculative bubble that will burst just as dramatically as the real estate bubble did a couple years ago when people come to their senses.

Bottom line: do not buy graded games as an investment.

Now, on to my complaints with the visuals.

2. Grading a Game robs it of its aesthetic qualities.

As I've said before, I'm not totally insensitive to the condition of my games. I like a game in a nice box that is in good condition, and sometimes I'm willing to pay a premium for it. Also, when I get a game that is in good condition I am usually careful with it and do my best not to let it get damaged.

Why? I think most of you will agree that the reason we might pay more for a game in good condition is simply because they look better that way. Particularly with boxed Famicom games, they look really great when they aren't all creased up.

Lets take a look at what those expensive NES graded games look like though:

(Image source: Joystick)

Pardon the expletive but these look like shit. Who designed these slabs? Michael Bay? I don't even know where to begin with what is wrong with these things.

First, just putting them behind plastic robs them of a lot of their character. One of the things I really like about NES and Famicom games is that most of them came in cardboard boxes. Cardboard is softer and has a more natural look than plastic. The ink on the cover looks different than it does on plastic and it reflects light in a different way. These are all positive things. Put cardboard under plastic though and you rob it of all of that.

Second having these labels with the condition number and hologram (I hate holograms) and other info visible on the front is just idiotic. It distracts from the game itself. If you are going to display these games then you want the games themselves to be the only thing showing. With these plastic cases the games are always under these sterile looking labels that are only functional if you want to sell the game. They look exactly like the labels on my contact lens boxes.

The bottom line is that these things have no class. I love having shelves filled with loose or boxed Famicom carts. Over the years these things have come to have a bit of style to them. They look great, either alone or in a group.

Graded games though I would actually be embarrassed to have visible anywhere in my apartment.

You might say that encasing them in plastic and putting a label on them is unavoidable given the nature of grading services - they have to convey the information somehow while at the same time making the case tamper-proof. This is correct. But that is exactly my point: if there is no way to permanently grade these things without robbing them of everything that makes them worthy of collecting in the first place, then what is the point of having these services around?

Oh yeah, money. On that, see point 1 above.


I just really really dislike the fact that these services even exist. That is a very high level at which to dislike something. Existential dislike. Can't beat that.

As a closing cheap shot, I'll note that this is another thing that I like about collecting video games in Japan: I have never seen a graded video game in any store here. Even stores like Mandarake that have games selling for hundreds of dollars don't use these dreary services. Good on 'em, I say.

Related Posts:
-Famicom Cart Condition: Why Good is Bad and I'll Never Collect Sealed Stuff

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Other Retro Japan Collections1: Japanese Movie Programs

I`ve been out of the blogging world for a week or so since my computer completely crashed a few days ago. I now have a new one though so I`m back, baby! Back in blog.

Anyway on with this post.

One of the main reasons I like collecting Famicom games has nothing to do with video games per se. Rather, I like them as something that is cheap, fun to collect and which reminds me of my childhood, but in a kind of Japan-y way.

Japan has a lot of cool stuff like Famicom games for foreigners like myself to collect. A lot of this stuff is insanely cheap too which is great. My first taste of this came about a decade ago when I was at a flea market in Kyoto. A number of booths had old coins and I picked one up with a sign saying "Northern Sung Dynasty". The coin was over 800 years old. The price? 100 yen (about a dollar). I accumulated quite the pile of old coins in my first years in Japan, some of them up to 2000 years old, most of them dirt cheap.

Like Famicom games a lot of these old coins were a dime a dozen to Japanese people, who see them all the time. There are of course a lot of expensive ones out there too, but the run of the mill ones, as with run of the mill Famicom carts, are so cheap they are practically giving them away. As they say, one man`s trash....

Anyway, I thought I`d devote a few posts here to some of the other retro collecting hobbies that Japan has to offer. Like the Famicom (and unlike ancient coins) these all generally fall into the realm of Japanese versions of stuff you might remember from your childhood. Today`s post looks at one of my favorites: Japanese movie programs.
If you ever go to the movies in Japan you`ll probably notice the souvenir stands selling programs to the movies being shown. I don`t think I`ve ever seen this type of thing back home, but in Japan movie programs are pretty common. They usually have 20 to 30 color pages with photos and info about the movie, behind the scenes stuff, etc etc.

I never buy these at the movies myself as they don`t seem worth an extra 5 bucks on top of the already bloated ticket price.
Instead I kind of got into collecting them by accident one day (much like how my Famicom collection got started). I was at a used book shop that had a whole shelf of these things for 100-300 yen each. I took a brief glance and saw a few from recent movies that didn`t interest me much. Then I leafed through the row a bit and found one for Ghostbusters. I was taken aback.

" Really? They made these things back in 1984?" I thought to myself. I had seen these things in book stores all the time but until then I had always assumed they only had ones for recent movies and none of the "classics" of my childhood. Intrigued I started really searching through the pile and within minutes I was pulling out programs from old films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Return of the Jedi, Superman and a ton of other great old movies.

I was instantly hooked.

These are a really great, cheap thing to collect if you are a film buff. These are pretty much the only cheap and attractive pieces of movie memorabilia out there that people actually got at the theatres when the movies were originally playing (these weren`t sold in stores).

They have great cover art (usually the movie poster). This is the one from Gremlins:
This one I really like because it has a pop-up centrefold:
And this picture of Gizmo:
Anyway, these are a kind of neat thing to collect if you like movies. Hollywood`s version of the "Japan-only" release!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Famicom and Game & Watch Stuff From Loft

The other day I was browsing around the Loft downtown. The Loft is a rather cool department store of sorts.

When I think of department stores I usually think of places that sell housewares and tacky golf slacks to folks from the burbs. The Loft is not this kind of department store. It sells similar genres of stuff but it markets itself towards the yuppie set.

So if they sell unattractive golf slacks, they sell them in an ironic way to urban hipsters and not to people who actually intend to play golf in them.

If that makes any sense?
Anyway, they also - and I don't know why I'm telling you this - have the nicest public bathrooms in their block of downtown, which is right next to the main subway station. Very clean and modern, the toilet seats are heated, and they generally keep the riff raff out.

So if you are ever in Tenjin and are faced with a sudden emergency, head straight there. The facilities on the fifth floor are particularly spacious. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Tell them Sean sent you, I'm a regular.


Moving on, let us return to the subject of my trip to the Loft.

During my last trip there (fifth floor) I perused the novelty item section. This is my favorite part of the Loft. I was delighted to find some Famicom and Game & Watch related items on the racks.
The first were these Namco key chain controllers. They had Xevious, Street Fighter II and Family Stadium versions.

There was a sample of the Xevious one out which you could try. Basically if you push one button it starts playing the background music from Xevious. Then each time you press the other button it makes the shooting sound.

The sound quality was actually quite good and true to the original. At 889 yen though (a little over 10$) these things were way overpriced, so I passed on them.

Next to those were the Game & Watch themed key chains:
These are solar powered and they had a few different games. Each has an LCD screen that shows scenes from the original Game and Watches.

What sucks immensely about these is that you can't actually play the games. The screens just run a looping pattern of screen shots from the original. They have an "A" and "B" button, but those are just for decoration.

I find this to be really obnoxious. I know for a fact that these days they can make these LCD games for dirt cheap - I've even gotten free ones in boxes of cereal before. I can think of no valid reason why - for the price they charge (over 10 bucks) - they could not have made these things with games that you could actually play.

It is like they are just rubbing our noses in it or something. It is as if some corporate bigwig, after screeching his Delorean to a halt on the sidewalk in front of the store entrance, were to hop out and announce to all the customers he had just narrowly avoided hitting:

"Ha, you Loft shoppers with your fancy shoes and oversized hats. We know you gonna buy whatever shit we put on these shelves so we ain't even gotta do jack to make these products half-way decent. We be price gouging old-school, bitches! Yeah! Watchoo gonna do 'bout it? Pshaw, right. Peace, out! Suckaz!"

Then he gets back in, backs over an earthquake relief collection box while executing a three point turn, and peels out back onto the street, encouraging the two prostitutes in the passenger seat to give everyone the finger backwards through the sun roof as they zoom away. The last thing the startled customers hear is him scolding the girls for having spilt his cocaine all over his new leopard print floor mats while he was making his speech.

Well, maybe it isn't that obnoxious but still. Take out the bit about backing over the charity collection box and it'd be about right. My point is that A Game & Watch key chain that you could actually play would be something worth having. One that is just for decoration? Well, that might be worth having too if it was in the 4-5 $ range. But at these prices? Bloody pirates is all they are! Pirates with decent public bathrooms I'll admit, but still pirates nonetheless!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Video Game Collecting: Boxed or Loose?

As someone who would refer to himself as a "video game collector", one question that has often plagued me when making a purchasing decision is whether or not I want a game boxed or loose.

I count myself as fortunate that these are the types of things that cause me worry.

When I started out trying to collect the whole Famicom set, I was only interested in getting the loose carts. The boxes and manuals didn't interest me much. I was mesmerized by the colorful carts and didn't really give those extras much thought.
Over time though I've come to appreciate the boxes. A lot of them are just as colorful as the carts and exude that retro 80s vibe in ways that the carts alone are incapable of.
I've got about 30 or so boxed Famicom games. I think they look quite nice on my shelf. For financial reasons I'm still focusing on trying to get all the Famicom carts loose, but the boxes have won me over to the point where I am willing to shell out a bit of cash on the odd nice one every now and again.

For the most part I am only interested in the cardboard boxes though. The plastic ones just don't interest me. Some people praise them for being sturdier, but that doesn't impress me. They lack the charm of cardboard.

Wait, did I just praise the charm of cardboard? Oh the eccentricities of this wonderful hobby....

Anyway, part of this is timing - plastic cases started turning up relatively late in the Famicom's career so most of my favorite classic games come in cardboard. Namco's lineup illustrates this point well. All their numbered carts (Galaxian, Pac Man, Xevious, Burger Time, etc) came in tiny cardboard boxes, but their later games (Family Circuit, Family Stadium, etc) came in plastic boxes. The former look about a million times better than the latter.
An oft-overlooked element that adds interest to Famicom collecting in particular is that it is the only Nintendo console where games came in a variety of box sizes and materials. Super Famicom and Nintendo 64 games all came in boxes made of cardboard (a plus) and of the same size and dimensions (a minus). Ditto with the GameCube and Wii, only they used plastic instead of cardboard. I'm sure there are the odd special edition game or something that bucked this trend, but by and large all boxes on subsequent consoles strictly conformed to a single standard.

I also have a small collection of Famicom Disk System boxed games. I'm not sure if these are boxed, actually. They come with their mini-cases anyway:I find these kind of cute too. They are like CD cases only half the size.

Anyway, just some musings on the boxed vs. loose question.

Related Posts:
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