Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Famicom Cart: Gimmick!

Another one of my recent bargain finds at Omocha Souko was a complete in box copy of Gimmick.

This is a pretty hard game to find for the Famicom so I was quite surprised to see it lying in a black plastic crate surrounded by miscellaneous cables and broken controllers. I nonchalantly tossed it into my cart and whisked it home.
That night my wife and I, having no previous knowledge about how the game works, put it through its first sea trials. On turning it on the first thing we noticed was that it looked a lot like Hoshi no Kirby (Kirby`s Adventure). You control a little blob (named Yumetaro) on a side scrolling platformer in a very colorful, Kirby-esque environment.

So I first tried playing it like Kirby, which got me killed rather quickly as unlike Kirby Yumetaro doesn`t have the power of flight, nor can he suck up enemies like a vaccuum. Instead, Yumetaro confronts enemies either by jumping over (or on top of) them or by throwing stars at them. To do the latter, you have to hold the B button down for a couple of seconds and wait for the star to form on top of his head and then let it go, which causes Yumetaro to throw it. This resulted in a lot of confusion when I first tried it:

Me: (trying to suck enemies up) ¨What is he doing? Suck the enemies up! Oh....Damnit!¨

Wife: ¨No, its not Kirby.....just keep the B button down and....¨

Me: ¨I AM pushing the B button, but this bloody star just appears and disappears and the enemies don`t get sucked up......NOW what is he doing?¨

Wife: ¨No, its not Kirby, you have to KEEP pushing the B button down and wait for the star to appear and then throw it.¨

Me: ¨I do keep pushing the B button down but none of these enemies are getting sucked up.¨

Wife: (getting increasingly frustrated) ¨No, its not Kirby, push B button and keep it pushed.....¨

And so on and so forth.

Anyway, it is actually quite an enjoyable game once you give up on all attempts to play it like Kirby. Hardcore Gaming 101 has an excellent write up about it here, so I won`t attempt to describe the entire game in detail. This, of course, also allows me to avoid the humiliation of admitting that we didn`t make it past the first level and that I am thus completely unqualified to write a proper review of the game.

Purchase price-wise, this was a pretty good deal. At Mandarake they are selling loose copies for 4,000 yen (about 50$). I paid 100 yen (about $1.25) for a complete copy.
I really like the box art, but the cart itself isn`t much to look at. Most Sunsoft carts have brightly colored labels (like After Burner or Super Arabian) but they took a minimalist approach to Gimmick. This is pretty hard to understand as the contrast between the Spartan, subdued color of the cart and the vibrant colors in the game is extreme. Still though, its a welcome addition to my collection.


  1. And now you find what may be one of the rarer Famicom games, complete in box to boot! I am so jealous of you, and with every article I only grow... jelouser.

    I kid, of course. Glad to see your string of video game finds-based luck is going on as strong as ever!

  2. Thanks Skyrunner! It brightens my day to think of you getting....jealouser:)

    Until I got this I didn`t actually have any `trophy pieces` in my Famicom collection. Out of the 700 or so other carts I have none are what would be considered `rare`, though a few are hard to find or mildly expensive.

    I can only hope to score some more gems like this for cheap, otherwise I`m going to have to shell out some serious $$$ for the remaining carts I need;)

  3. That my friend is the ace of your collection!

  4. ......A bit over a dollar....

    ...For a CIB Gimmick!....

    Hey, ten bucks says tomorrow you'll find a Chamera Famicom and matching Chamera Zelda edition in a bin for 100 yen :P

  5. Ha! I'd echo what everyone else has said so far, but what's the point? Congrats to you, Sean! Don't give up on the game, BTW. I've only played it for a bit, but I liked what I played quite a bit.

  6. FF - thanks, it definitely is.

    Deogenerate - Stay tuned, you never know what I might find for next to nothing at this place!

    Bryan - thanks. I liked what I saw too and will definitely not be giving this one up!

  7. I'm so jealous. Gimmick is a great game and the chips in side the cart mean it's quite hard to emulate, I think it's still not perfectly emulated. It's also one of the hardest games you'll ever play. Bob Mackey from retronauts has a really good lets play of the game on youtube that explains why he thinks it's one of the most technically impressive NES games. Maybe someday I'll get lucky and find the even rarer english language version in a charity shop, it only ever got a limited scandanavian release for some reason. Fat chance of that though!

  8. arrggh I was looking for this game on my Japan trip and the only copies I could find were in Akiba for over 10000 yen each (complete), which was significantly more than I was willing to pay. (Would've taken a loose one for 4000 though.) Well done on the score!

  9. I'm starting to think that Akihabara, although the easiest place to find games, is by far the most expensive. When I visited Sapporo, I went into this used game/manga shop that had a few Famicom games. It was there that I saw my first ever 50 yen games. Never ever in Tokyo had I seen anything less than 100 yen. Even in the junk section of my suburban Book-Off, most carts were 100-120 yen.

    But starting next April, I'm moving to Kanazawa for a teaching job. That's where that big eBay seller of Famicom games is located. I'm unsure if they have an actual store, or if I can even easily get there from where I'm living, but I'm hoping I can continue collecting games in Kanazawa.

  10. There was a junk bin in a retro-themed floor of a Softmap in Akiba that I bought a few 50 yen FC games. Weren't exactly winners, but I'm cool with Ninja Hattori-kun for that price.

    I'd been led to believe Den Den Town was cheaper than Akihabara, but in my experience that was definitely not the case!

  11. Yeah, I mean the 50 yen game I bought was "Family Boxing." Shame I only got to play it once, it was one of the few I had to abandon when I left Tokyo.

    Also, as cool as the Super Potato in Akihabara is, it's a bit on the expensive side, though, their bundles are usually reasonably priced. And it sort of is a mecca for any retro game collectors in Japan, so it's definitely worth a visit.

    My favorite place in Akihabara is called "Retro Game Camp" (レトロゲームキャンプ). It's right next to the Don Quixote. I'm sure there are cheaper alternatives, but for a fairly small store, they've got a lot of cool stuff for decent enough prices.

  12. Retr0gamer - thanks for mentioning the youtube clip, I will check that out. I`ve heard that the European release is insanely rare, wouldnt that make an amazing charity shop find?

    Discoalucard and Nate - I have a theory about junk bins. Akihabara is swarming with retro game enthusiasts and so all the shops know what everything is worth and a certain price equilibrium has been achieved. Some shops might have junk bins, but they won`t be putting out any copies of Gimmick or anything like that by mistake.

    Shops in the suburbs like Omocha Souko on the other hand are different. Omocha Souko has a big sign outside their store that says they will buy anything. And they probably do. They`ve got clothes, electronics, toys, shoes, etc etc. I even bought my Christmas tree there. So they get all their stock just from people who are probably moving or something just driving up with carloads full of random stuff that they pay a few yen per kilogram for.

    As they have to hire locally for minimum wage, they dont have access to the same pool of knowledgable workers like Akihabara shops do. So their basic business model is to just shovel as much of this crap that they have coming in onto their shelves as quickly as possible without much regard for what it is actually worth. Just turning it over quickly is how they make money.

    So among all the junk that they get they inevitably wind up with some good video game stuff that they just toss out there for a fraction of what it is worth.

    Then I come in the store and buy it!

    So I think the best bargains are to be found out in suburban stores like that which dont necessarily specialize in video games but stock them nonetheless. Hard Offs can also sometimes turn up steals like that, though in my experience most of them actually overcharge rather than undercharge.

  13. Oh and Nate - good luck in Kanazawa! I`ll bet that Ebay guy probably gets his stuff from a shop like Omocha Souko there that does the same thing. If you can figure out where that is you might be able to get some massive deals if you can beat him to them!

  14. Thanks! After doing a bit of research I found out it's Yamatoku and after consulting their website, they definitely still have a shop. Seems they sell kimonos, watches and diamonds or something and games. So, I hope it'll be worth checking out. According to Google Maps it's 30 minutes walking from the school I'll be working at.

  15. Great! That should be a lot of fun! Actually I`ve always wanted to go to Kanazawa, I hear its quite an attractive city with a really nice garden. Having a great retro game source there would really be icing on the cake!

  16. I've never heard of this game actually but it looks quite good. I like weird platformers like this. Another great bargain too, nice going! :)

  17. Thanks, Simon! I like the weird platformer genre too, I have high hopes for this one!

  18. Huh... from all the stuff you find there, I always though Omocha Souko was just a game store, but the way you described it in your comment, it sounds more like the Japanese equivalent of a Goodwill store or a Salvation Army. Am I right on the dot with that, Sean?

  19. Skyrunner -
    Yes, it isn`t just a game store, though its quite different from a Salvation Army store. The literal translation of the store name is `Toy Warehouse`. I would say their floor space is divided like this;

    25% - clothes and shoes
    15% - toys
    5% - trading cards
    5% - used home electronics
    15% - video games
    15% - comics
    5% - fishing equipment
    5% - pachinko slot games (not for sale but to use)
    10% - misc other stuff

    It is definitely geared towards a younger crowd though. The clothes are all used, but they are all young people clothes rather than the mix of granny sweaters and old blazers a Salvation Army store stocks. Also the decor of the store is quite funky and littered with cool displays (they have a giant Millenium Falcon suspended from the ceiling above the escalators for example).

  20. Oh and I forgot that they have a musical instrument section and a CD/DVD/Vinyl section as well.

  21. Man, now I want to visit one even more now (Maybe if I ever go to Japan)... maybe if I ever get a chance to go, I'll find myself a Gimmick too, ha ha!

  22. They are fun to visit, there are actually a lot of chain stores like that here that specialize in all types of cool used goods. I must warn though that they don`t always have amazing deals like what I`ve been getting, you have to get there at the exact right time - ie the second they put the new stuff out before the store stalkers like me buy all the good stuff;)