Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Falling in love with Akihabara again: Retro Games

Mandarake Nakano Broadway

Early on in my stay in Japan this year, a friend of mine introduced me to the Mandarake store in Nakano broadway. It's huge, and sells many beautiful books and Pullip and Blythe dolls, and also has a handsome collection of retro games and consoles for sale. It's the place I bought my Dreamcast from, and although it was a little on the pricey side at 10,000 yen (about 80 British quid at the moment, due to the absurdly expensive yen) it's in mint condition and is a historically interesting limited edition, so I'm fairly happy. However, the retro games stores I later found in Akihabara still kicked its ass.

Super Potato, Akihabara

Super Potato is a hilariously named retro games store that exists on about four or five floors. Each floor is dedicated to another console generation, except for the top floor which is full of vintage arcade machines. It's a lovely place, and has a fairly encouraging, well-organised Dreamcast section at the back of the third floor. Unfortunately, they were missing some of the most popular Dreamcast games, including Eternal Arcadia, the one I really needed to buy as I'm writing my thesis about it. If I wanted to buy dating sims, though, I'd be in luck at Super Potato. It's also worth noting that Super Potato and Game Camp sold unboxed, body-only Dreamcasts, and had plenty in stock, while Mandarake just didn't offer that option. If I was spending more time in Japan, Akihabara would be a great source of disposable Dreamcasts - they probably don't have much life left in them, but if I wanted to I could buy a cheaper one knowing that I could replace it with another when it breaks.

Retro Game Camp, Akihabara

Retro Game Camp looks much less reassuring than either of the other two shops I visited. It's a tiny shop that appears to be fighting for its place on the main north-south road of outer Kanda, and it looks like a complete mess. While Mandarake uses its window space and the area nearest the door to showcase its most prohibitively expensive rare items, Retro Game Camp's doorway is adorned with crates of suspicious-looking, bargain basement CD-ROMS. Their website didn't indicate that they sold Dreamcast games, but since they are located so close to Don Quijote I thought it worth taking a look on my way around. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did the bargain baskets provide me with a dirt cheap, unboxed but completely legitimate, copy of Crazy Taxi, but their Dreamcast shelves were packed full of multiple copies of almost all the most popular Dreamcast games. Shenmue 1 and Eternal Arcadia were both only available at this shop when I was looking around. Retro Game Camp basically gave me exactly what I wanted in huge quantities. I left the place shaking with joy and excitement.

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