Feel of Japan and games and you feel of Akihabara. Otaku center of the planet and birthplace of AKB48, maid cafes, and unreachable dreams. It attracts vacationers expecting a uniquely Japanese encounter, and it delivers. But although “Akiba” may well appear like the place to go for retro gaming, it is cold, harsh organization as usual behind all the lights and toothy maid grins.

Like a lot of other individuals, I came to Japan in my mid-twenties with fond memories of gaming. Developing up, my older brother was rich (i.e. he had a job) and could just about afford something he wanted. The initial method to come into the home, in addition to Dad’s Commodore 64, was an imported Sega Megadrive (Genesis in the States). This was my initial gaming knowledge that I in fact understood. Make the blue hedgehog get as far to the appropriate of the screen as attainable. Easy. My brother seemed to be in-the-know as he seldom bought dud games. Street Fighter two, Shinobi, Streets of Rage two, Ecco the Dolphin. Classic following classic.

For my 10th birthday I got a Super Nintendo. My brother got a Sega Saturn, I got a Playstation. He got a Dreamcast, I got an N64. In between us we practically had every little thing. Shenmue on the Dreamcast was an specially effective game for me and was a massive influence in my coming to Japan.

So here I am. Off the boat and ready to discover my personal childhood dreams. 1st quit: Akiba. As a museum dressed as a city, it’s fantastic. And seeing all these games from my previous was mouth watering. I picked up a couple of things here and there until I found I’d been paying also significantly. Generally, even ultra common games like Super Mario Globe for the Super Famicom or Tetris for the gameboy are going to be 2000-3000 yen in Akiba. And systems are even worse. 7000 yen for a Sega Saturn or Super Famicom – much more if it’s in a box. Rockman (Megaman) for the Famicom will simply be identified at 3000 – 4000 yen – that is with out a box!

Recycle Shops

This is exactly where one man’s junk is one more man’s Jet Set Radio. They’re quite hit and miss, but I’ve picked up Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart and counless Gameboy Pokemon games for 105 yen each and every. The staff are essentially clueless. There’s no doubt in my mind that appropriate now Street Fighter Zero three is sitting on a shelf somewhere expanding dust with a crazy 210 yen sticker on it.

Recycle shop


Much significantly less hit and miss, but still a flaky place. It’s not possible to know the pricing. Occasionally it’s Akiba standard, but much more typically than not it is amongst 105 and 500 yen. Systems that are often found here are Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast. Also Playstation 1 and two, Gameboy, GB Colour, GB Advance, and now and once again, Megadrive, Wonderswan and some Neo Geo pieces.

For the sake of this report I checked out the Shibuya Book-Off to see what was on supply. They had 2000 yen DS lites. Pokemon Yellow for 500 yen, boxed. Turok and Doom on N64 boxed for 350 yen each and every. Numerous Super Famicom carts for 105 to 500 yen each.

A swift look on Super Potato’s website (possibly the most renowned retro game shop in the world) shows Pokemon Yellow for 840 yen with no the box! Other steals from Book-Off I’ve picked up in the past are boxed Super Famicom systems, Gameboys boxed (can you tell I like boxes?) and hundreds of Dreamcast games. (Did I mention I gather Dreamcast?) When I’m somewhere new and find a Book-Off, it’s like my tenth birthday all more than once again.

Book off


This is the ultimate location. You have a 90% opportunity of discovering something great. And a 90% possibility that it’s a enormous bargain. Book-Off’s rural brother, tough to uncover and typically far from the station, these shops purchase and sell every little thing from furniture to lighting to garments to surfboards to cameras to TVs and much more. Just take in the atmosphere. Take in the terrible Tough-Off theme tune playing on repeat. Take in all the individuals who look like they really ought to be attempting to get a new job rather than flicking by means of LaserDisks at 3pm on a Tuesday. It is charmingly depressing. But the name makes most chuckle.

These shops generally have two components. Initial is the premium game portion. Most of these games have been plastic wrapped and are priced from dirt cheap to about Akiba levels. Considerably the same as Book-Off, the pricing is random and pretty significantly on the whim of the staff working the day the stock came in.

Hard off

More impressive are the consoles themselves. Again, hit and miss, but you’re probably to find a bunch of boxed Saturns, Super Famicoms, Playstations and so on. The ideal choose-ups for me were a Dreamcast Regulation 7 for 5000 yen. This is a really restricted Dreamcast. Just verify out the prices on ebay to see how a lot of a steal it was. I also got a nice boxed Panasonic 3DO. Why? Due to the fact it was 4000 yen. You eyes will pop when you turn the aisle and locate rows and rows of these classic systems.

The second element is the junk section. This is where unboxed loose systems go to die. They’re about 525 yen every single but contain no wires. However wires and controllers and so on are identified in or around the identical region, generating it attainable to pick up a complete working set for as little as 1500 yen. You will also discover strange tiny knick-knacks from the past like Sega branded Tv entertainment units, Super Famicom carry situations, memory cards and rumble packs.

Hard off junk

The employees will tell you that there is no guarantee these things will work – they’re junk after all. But come on, this is 1990s Japanese hardware. Of course it is going to perform.

So, Akihabara is the icon of gaming in Japan, and it knows it. The only actual advantage of the location is that it is far significantly less hit-and-miss. You’ll also locate specifically what you are after at Super Potato or Trader. But where’s the exciting in that? That feeling of walking into an unfamiliar employed goods shop and catching a glimpse at the gaming section with fill you with cheapo excitement each and every time.

For far more about the above “Off” retailers, check out this post. For the “Off” liquor store, read this 1.

Tokyo Cheapo