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#1 Posted by Core647 (8 posts) -

So I got sick of waiting for Jeff and Co. to go on The Raid and decided to take things into my own hands. Kind of.

I am not crazy enough to just show up with an empty bag and a wad of cash and then leave 2 days later. If I am going all the way to Japan (somewhere I have never been before) I am going to spend some time there. So I went for two weeks with a friend, she left after 10 days leaving me 3 whole days to do nothing but buy a stupid amount of old-ass video games.

And that is just what I did! Here are my experiences and advice for anyone considering a raid on Japan.

I went over knowing I would come back with a lot more stuff than I took over so the first step was to get a second bag allowed on the return flight. I selected a bag to take which was far bigger than I needed and then packed very light. I considered taking two bags with me but I wasn’t sure how much stuff I would bring back so decided to buy the second bag when I got there.

And I am glad I did! I ended up with a larger volume of stuff than I thought I would and I had to search for a bag which was as large as the airline I was flying with would allow. Here are the two bags I came back with, the pack was 60% full of games, and the black bag was 100% full of games, over 40kg in crap all together:

My back hurts

So after over a week of doing tourist crap I was itching to throw all my money away on some games! Day one I actually decided to leave Tokyo and took the Shinkansen to Osaka and visit Den Den Town. I was actually a little disappointed with it, mostly because the Super Potato there was closed. There were however several really great shops. Game Tanteidan was great, I got a handful of very cheap Dreamcast games and a very nice condition Dreamcast arcade stick for $25!

A-Too further down the road was smaller but had some cool stuff. I got a handful of PS1/PS2 and Saturn Games, and also a boxed copy of Sim City 2000 for the N64! Why not?!?

There were a bunch of smaller places and I could have bought a lot but I tried to show some self control so I didn’t have to carry too much stuff around Osaka/back to Tokyo.

Day Two back in Tokyo and I take some advice I had received which was to hit up the Ikebukero Super Potato before going to the Akihabara store so I took the train out there for the morning. This store was probably my favourite in Japan, great variety and stuff was comparably cheaper than most other places with that kind of selection. They had an impressive PS1 stock which I gave up trying to look through entirely. I thoroughly attacked the Dreamcast and Saturn sections and pulled out a range of gems for cheap, picked up a couple of Famicom and Super Famicom items including boxed Gradius and 1942, and also grabbed a Famicom Dual console for $40.

After spending way too long trying to figure out how I was going to play these NTSC-J Saturn games on my PAL console at home, I decide to also just buy a Japanese Saturn. Console, cables, and a controller for $45.

With daylight running out I randomly called into a chain store called Book Off and was surprised by their game section which included a huge PS2 section, equally impressive PS1 section, and what they call “oldsoft”, mostly Saturn, Dreamcast, Famicom, and Super Famicom games. I went nuts on their PS1 section and nothing was more than $2-$5 each. They had two bins full of loose Famicom carts where 90% of them were $1 each. I could have just bought a random heap worth and been happy but was again fearful of my baggage allowance and I hadn’t even made it to Akihabara yet!

On my way back home I stopped in at the Shibuya Book Off and was again surprised at the PS1 and oldsoft sections. A few nice boxed Super Famicom games and a few PS1 oddities and I was done for the day.

Day Three and I was finally heading into Akihabara. A quick stop at the Book Off there resulted in me finding a copy of Mr Mosquito for the PS2, something I had been looking for since I got there. It’s strange Kanji font for its Japanese title “Ka” made it hard to spot but I am glad I found it. Each store had a different shelf ordering system too, which made it hard for a non-Japanese speaker. Some stores were ordered in Hiragana which was ok if you knew what you were looking for, but some stores order in genre which got frustrating when they would mix up the shmups with the Call of Duties.

Before I hit up any more stores I went to the most important place in the entire country, the shmup floor at Hey Arcade. I have been wanting to go there for a very long time and it was almost overwhelming how amazing that place is. I spent several hours just watching the freakish talent there, dudes just destroying games like Ketsui like it ain't no thing. I even managed to 1 credit Mushihimesama Futari Black Label (a slightly easier game relatively speaking!) and set the high score on the machine so I held my own reasonably well for a foreigner!

After my arcade fix I had my heart set on achieving my number 1 goal in Japan, a goal I am sure would be common among many Giant Bomb fans. Find a copy of Windjammers. I have an arcade cabinet at home and a Neo Geo four slot board so I was hoping for an MVS cart. First stop, Mak Japan, a place in which I wanted to buy absolutely everything. Arcade boards galore, and a fat rack of MVS carts. No dice. I ask the fellow behind the counter if they have it (Japanese name “Flying Power Disc”) and he apologises. Dang.

Nice try Mak Japan, but surely G Front down the road has a copy! (Pro tip: G Front isn’t open till 3.30pm.) G Front has less boards but a larger range of MVS carts. I grab the stock list and even ask the guy behind the counter. Nothing. Its almost as if some website has popularised this game and people have been buying the limited number of copies around! Feeling defeated I peruse the Naomi stock, maybe I should drown my sorrows with a copy of Ikaruga?

No! Plan B! See if there are any Neo Geo consoles going and hey maybe there is an AES copy floating about somewhere. So off to my next stop, Trader. Upstairs is their classic game floor which has a nice selection, including the biggest group of Master System and Mega Drive games I have seen yet in Japan (which was still pretty small). They are selling the Neo Geo X consoles which I am not particularly interested in and have a boxed Neo Geo for close to $200. There is also a distinct lack of AES carts around.

After feeling sorry for myself and then browsing through the Neo Geo CD selection I come up with Plan C! A CD copy of Flying Power Disc for $25. I remember seeing a Neo Geo CD console in Ikebukero for cheapish so I will hit the Super Potato and grab down the road and grab one. I pick up a few more Neo Geo CD games including Aero Fighters 2 and King of the Monsters 2 plus some really cheap Dreamcast and Saturn games. They use the term “trashsoft” for games that aren’t worth anything and are just taking up shelf space. On the way out I notice a PS Vita for $120. I had been thinking about picking one up and the price was right!

So on to the Super Potato in Akihabara. Straight to the consoles on the shelf, I was a little disappointed by the selection, Neo Geo CD in real nice condition with two controllers for $80. Sold! I also grab a Gamecube because I don't have one and its $25 and why not! I clear out the rest of their interesting yet affordable Neo Geo CD games, a copy of Viewpoint, a few King of Fighters titles, and a copy of Ghost Pilots.

Again I thoroughly go through the Saturn and Dreamcast sections for interesting Gems, there are train simulators, dating sims, and animal petting games galore, all gold and for a couple of dollars each! I see a copy of Night Trap for the Sega CD sitting there so it becomes mine. The Super Famicom section is expensive but a few things tickle my fancy, boxed copy of Gradius 3, Darius Twin, and R-Type, and some game where Yoshi goes on safari. I could spend all day in there (and a lot of money).

I finish of the day by heading upstairs to the Super Potato arcade where they have a handful of arcade machines and snacks! Its pretty small but far quieter than Hey or Try. A couple of games of DoDonPachi and I am ready to head home with my haul and see if it all fits inside my bags.

It does! Wrap some breakables in tshirts, stuff cases into the empty spaces in boxes, zip everything up and try to be gentle. Everything makes it back home in one piece, the airline baggage handler must have been in a good mood that day.

So how about some photos of everything I bought? Ok:

Games!!!

They were practically giving away the Gamecubes

A large VMU holder with buttons on it.

Frisbee! Kaiju!

Particularly excited about DonPachi and Gunbird. And if you thought Pacman CE DX was good, wait till you play UNO DX.

I don't know. Seemed like something I should buy.

There were no CD attachments or 32Xs that I could find but loads of games for them.

Famicom games about shooting spaceships, planes, things that live in the ground, and FOOLS.

Einhander! And a game about dieting!

More games about shooting things!

I dont even have the maracas!

Mr Mosquito, Mushihimesama, and Castle Shikigami

All up I bought about 120 games, and 5 consoles, plus some other crap and spent somewhere in the order of US$800.

So after all of that, here are my tips for anyone thinking about going to Japan to buy a bunch of video games:

- Osaka was good but make sure you have more time than I took and the ability to transport your purchases.

- The Ikebukero Super Potato was consistently cheaper than the Akihabara store, with just as much interesting stuff and wayyyyy less people.

- Used oldsoft is everywhere! Hit a Book Off if you want cheap PS1 games among other things. This is especially true in Akihabara, go into any store that looks like it sells video game related anything.

- If you are looking for specific items, prepare. Figure out where they are most likely to be, what the Japanese names for them are, have a list that you can tick off, and if they are reasonably common you should shop around a bit. The $5 copy of Mr Mosquito I got was $35 at another store down the road.

- Even if you aren’t after a specific item, prepare anyway! Figure out some games you would like to come back with otherwise you will end up with a bunch of weird random loose carts that don't make much sense.

- Prepare baggage early so you know how much you can buy. Make sure you pre-buy the extra bags for your flight and know what the bag size limit is, dimensions AND weight. Games are heavy when stuffed into a large bag.

- Dont hesitate too much on a purchasing decision if it is something you really want because you will run out of time and regret it later. I really wish I had bought that Sega Mark III in Ikebukero.

- DITCH ANYONE YOU ARE WITH WHO IS NOT INTERESTED IN BUYING VIDEO GAMES. THEY WILL SLOW YOU DOWN.

- For the love of god, get a bag with wheels on it. I had to carry both bags plus my carry on bag from my apartment to the train station in Shibuya, a walk which normally would take 10 minutes but took over an hour because I had to keep stopping so my back didn’t collapse on itself.

So in summary, Japan is amazing and I had the best time so you should all probably go too.

#2 Posted by Pepsiman (2477 posts) -

Seeing this post warms my heart. I used to live near Osaka until June last year, so lots of trips to the A-Too and Game Tanteidan were in order for me as well. It's really nice to see a post on used game culture in Japan go beyond "Super Potato is awesome!" because while Super Potato can be awesome depending on which location you visit, the dingier shops that are more out of the way and just so happen to carry rare games in good condition are easily my favorite. A lot of mom and pop game shops in Japan are very homely places, if such a word can be used to describe them. Oftentimes I'll go to them just as kind of a museum trip for game history, especially when I'm out near Akihabara. As much as I otherwise kind of detest what moe culture has done to that area in recent years, as you noticed, it still has some damn fine game shops that carry really rare stuff if you know where to look.

I'm also seriously impressed how learned you are about shopping for used games in Japan, especially given you don't speak the language. Places like Book Off are easily among the first I'll visit for a certain spectrum of games because their prices aren't always beholden to those of the surrounding game shops for better and for worse, but I don't see them show up often in posts like this given that most non-speakers wouldn't be interested in visiting book stores to purchase books that they can't read and also because there's no real precedence back in the west to assume a book store would also deal in games. So kudos for this post! Definitely a great read all around and makes me that much more excited to move back to Japan soon-ish.

#3 Edited by Pepsiman (2477 posts) -

Also, apologies for the double post, but since I'm not sure if user pings properly work if you edit them in, I'll just ahead and ping @marino while I'm here. I figure the raid is an ubiquitous enough concept within the site's culture that people interested in taking the plunge will find this post to be super educational. I certainly endorse it as a former resident!

#4 Posted by SgtSphynx (1389 posts) -

You got away cheaper than I would expect for that haul.

#5 Posted by Humanity (9257 posts) -

@core647: Dood, great write-up and amazing looking haul of goods! The box art alone for some of these titles look really amazing.

Some general questions for you out of plain curiosity: do you speak any Japanese at all? How was it like getting around and communicating? Did you baggage check all your "haul" bags or did you bring any with you onto the plane? What was customs like seeing all that stuff through the x-ray machine? They make you take any of it out?

Again, awesome trip. Kinda admire people willing to take a leap of faith into a country so completely foreign as Japan (by which I mean that language and culture is so radically different than the west) with the intent of purchasing a bunch of old games no less!

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#6 Edited by BIGJEFFREY (5050 posts) -

Excellent duder, very excellent.

#7 Edited by Core647 (8 posts) -

@pepsiman: I started to figure out that places that sell games stock not only what is popular at the time but also what was historically popular (hence the massive PS1/PS2 sections). I kind of wandered into the Book Off for a quick look around and was blown away by what they had and how cheap it was. One Book Off had a Dreamcast keyboard for about $4.

@sgtsphynx: It could have been even cheaper too, things like PS2 and Saturn shmups were around the $30 to $40 mark but most other stuff was well under $10. Consoles were crazy cheap compared to where I am from.

@humanity: I spoke enough to survive, be polite when buying things, and to invite people at bars to practice their english on me. I also learnt hiragana and katakana which helped quite a bit. I checked in both bags which had all my games, I was a bit concerned about the customs thing but I think if it is below a certain value then they dont care. I could just say "Nah man that stuff is all 20 years old and cost me $20". They only really care about food/plants/things that could fuck up the environment here.

#8 Edited by dekkadekkadekka (733 posts) -

I didn't go nearly as nuts when I went in October, but I did manage to find three of my white whales for the Super Famicom:

The Firemen - Loose cart, 800yen

Battle Pinball - I found 2 loose carts and a boxed copy. I bought them all. My friends are getting the loose carts.

KiKi KaiKai aka Pocky and Rocky - Loose cart, 1500 yen.

I found most of these in the Mandarake game store in Nakano Broadway.

I did get a bunch of other stuff, the highlight being a PC Engine Duo, a stack of hucards and a copy of Castlevania X: Rondo of Blood. Picked up a UK power supply when I got back for £3 and have had good times since.

#9 Edited by SgtSphynx (1389 posts) -

@core647: Makes me wish my time in Japan wasn't spent entirely in Okinawa, only time I made it to mainland Japan was on the flight back to the states.

#10 Edited by Hayt (284 posts) -

Really nice read. Do a second post on your experience getting that shit to work on a PAL system please!

#11 Posted by Humanity (9257 posts) -

@pepsiman said:

Also, apologies for the double post, but since I'm not sure if user pings properly work if you edit them in, I'll just ahead and ping @marino while I'm here. I figure the raid is an ubiquitous enough concept within the site's culture that people interested in taking the plunge will find this post to be super educational. I certainly endorse it as a former resident!

I fully endorse this endorsement!

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#12 Posted by Fram (606 posts) -

Also, @jeff should see this. THE SOUL STILL BURNS.

#13 Posted by peritus (1013 posts) -

This could use a sticky! Really cool!

#14 Posted by Flappy (2250 posts) -

With all the crappy boxart in recent years, it's refreshing to look at all the old cases.

#15 Posted by emem (1968 posts) -

@core647: I love that it's actually totally fine and acceptable and even kinda cool for you to be a crazy person in here. ;)

#16 Posted by Blomakrans (149 posts) -

Funny seeing those NEW! stickers on those old ass boxes.

Great post, thanks!

#17 Posted by cloudymusic (1118 posts) -

I like all of the shmups I'm seeing in these photos.

Thanks for sharing!

#18 Posted by spraynardtatum (2951 posts) -

wow! I'm so jealous. You're set for years! or are you?

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#19 Posted by Kaiserreich (699 posts) -

Amazing! I envy you.

#20 Posted by kidman (469 posts) -

That is grrreat! I'd really love to get that white Saturn.. damn. Congrats duder, money well spent!

#21 Edited by afabs515 (1079 posts) -

Holy shit!

That is all.

#22 Posted by chiablo (929 posts) -

Jeff? Are you listening?

People are so desperate for The Raid that they're doing it themselves. When are you going to stop this senseless raiding and show us how to do it right?

#23 Posted by chilibean_3 (1642 posts) -

Oh wow. That's one heck of a raid, duder! Law of the West!

#24 Edited by punkxblaze (2985 posts) -

You done a good thing here, son. You done god's work.

#25 Posted by Xeiphyer (5604 posts) -

Final Fantasy Tactics, Front Mission, and Space Channel 5 are all awesome buys. Good choices. Also lol gamecube.

#26 Posted by ripelivejam (3964 posts) -

Balls in your court @jeff

#27 Posted by Ravelle (1267 posts) -

People always say Japan lives in the future but they're pretty much the only one still selling videogame and consoles from the past, which is great.

I went to Japan for two week a couple of years ago but didn't do any raiding because the ticket alone was robbing me of my money, that I I was laid off 2 weeks after a ordered my tickets. Hope to go back sometime when I have a steady paying job and go raiding this time.

#28 Posted by NoCookiesForYou (760 posts) -

Dude, duuuude. I salute your effort sir!

#29 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3327 posts) -

Excellent mission, sir.

#30 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3327 posts) -

@xeiphyer said:

Final Fantasy Tactics, Front Mission, and Space Channel 5 are all awesome buys. Good choices. Also lol gamecube.

WHAT'S SO FUNNY ABOUT THE CUBE, HUH!?

#31 Edited by Fattony12000 (7416 posts) -

@core647

I'm gonna RAID JAPAN early next year, too. I am ingesting your post and gathering all the intel possible in order to conduct a successful mission. As a slight aside, did you not film gigabytes and gigabytes of video footage? If not...then...errr...it might not count as a REAL RAID. Sorry.

THAT JUST MEANS YOU'LL HAVE TO GO BACK AGAIN! MUHAHAHAHA!

#32 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5511 posts) -

Bravo duder. Great write up. I envy your journey.

#33 Posted by churrific (479 posts) -

Nice stash! Oh man the memories. I imported that exact Dreamcast fightstick back in the day. To see it again moves my thumbs to their upward positions. Thumbs up sir.

#34 Posted by TheCreamFilling (1225 posts) -

@core647: Me and some friends are going next year. Where did you stay? A hotel? Was it expensive?

#35 Posted by johnbakosh (115 posts) -

Cool!

#36 Posted by RonGalaxy (3168 posts) -

Im not at that stage in my life to really understand this, but I will eventually. Im from the ps1 generation so Im guessing I have a another decade before I start raiding

#37 Posted by I_Stay_Puft (3393 posts) -

nice haul over there.

#38 Posted by Core647 (8 posts) -

@hayt: I think I am mostly ok on this front. Obviously got the JP Saturn, Gamecube, and Neo Geo, Dreamcast is a piece of cake with a boot disc, PS1 you can do the disc swap trick (i think that works for other regions), I have a modded PS2, and one of those dual cart slot adapters for the SNES. I mostly got that FC Duo thing for Famicom games. The last step was getting a step down transformer back home to convert the silly voltages.

@fattony12000: Didn't film and I really regret not taking more photos of the stores. I guess this way people will feel more of an urge to see things with their own eyes!

@thecreamfilling: I rented an apartment from a dude, a nice little place in Shibuya/Aoyama area. The number one most important thing in choosing a place ended up being how close it was to a decent train station. The place ended up being a lot cheaper than a hotel and really felt like it was my own place which was super nice.

#39 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11739 posts) -

Dude, that's super awesome and I wish I was in a position in my life where I had the time and disposable income to partake in this sort of insanity.

#40 Posted by NegativeCero (3003 posts) -

God, that is beautiful. I'm not crazy enough or well versed in general game knowledge to to this on my own, but just the idea of this is crazy and glorious. Kudos, sir!

#41 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Livin' the dream!

Getting a huge boner over that boxed Front Mission.

#42 Posted by Evilsbane (4619 posts) -

This is the catalyst that will bring about the True coming of The Raid...it is time.

#43 Posted by GnomeonFire (745 posts) -

Makes me want to plan my own Raid. If only a certain gaming website could satiate my urges instead.

#44 Posted by AMyggen (3051 posts) -

Dude, that's amazing!

#45 Posted by mustachioeugene (510 posts) -

@core647: this is awesome, thanks for sharing with us!

#46 Posted by Fattony12000 (7416 posts) -

@i_stay_puft: Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttttttttttt dddduuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeeeeeeeee Japan is a pain in the ass to geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet tttttttoooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

#47 Edited by ripelivejam (3964 posts) -

@i_stay_puft: Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttttttttttt dddduuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeeeeeeeee Japan is a pain in the ass to geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet tttttttoooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

someone should build like, a tunnel. or slingshot.

#48 Posted by DevourerOfTime (358 posts) -

Could you make a list or more detailed pictures of all the games you got? Super interested.

Also, congrats on finding WindJammers, duder!

#49 Edited by I_Stay_Puft (3393 posts) -
@fattony12000 said:

@i_stay_puft: Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttttttttttt dddduuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeeeeeeeee Japan is a pain in the ass to geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet tttttttoooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Lie and tell them you're someone important / famous and see if ones of those Japanese tv shows will book you a flight over there. The real raid starts when they find out you aren't Bill Murray.

#50 Posted by forteexe21 (373 posts) -

ctrl+f "windjammers"
FUCK YEAH! So jealous...