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Articles on this Page
- 12/20/14--20:24: _L'histoire d'un Pet...
- 12/22/14--03:29: _Famicom Shopping Ne...
- 12/23/14--18:15: _Rarities: Nintendo ...
- 12/29/14--23:36: _More Famicom Rariti...
- 01/13/15--16:11: _Yahoo Auctions: Som...
- 01/18/15--06:00: _Some Interesting Fa...
- 01/19/15--04:16: _Interesting find: A...
- 01/23/15--18:24: _Yasuda Fire & Marin...
- 01/24/15--16:47: _Famicom Price Infor...
- 02/09/15--17:42: _A Minor Quibble wit...
- 04/17/15--19:21: _Some Famicom Playin...
- 08/16/15--04:58: _Checking in
- 11/11/15--18:56: _My Childhood Video ...
- 01/28/16--01:29: _The Rise and Fall o...
- 03/24/17--00:20: _Yes, I'm still aliv...
- 05/21/18--20:08: _Bringing the Blog B...
- 05/24/18--21:53: _Kyorochan Land and ...
- 05/28/18--23:23: _The Awkward Relatio...
- 06/03/18--21:02: _The Last Famicom Ga...
- 06/13/18--22:52: _Oh No! Japanese Re...
- 12/20/14--20:24: L'histoire d'un Petit Robot et un Virtual Boy.
- 12/22/14--03:29: Famicom Shopping News: Super Potato Just Opened a Shop in Nagoya
- 12/23/14--18:15: Rarities: Nintendo in Store Display from the early 1970s
- 12/29/14--23:36: More Famicom Rarities: Amada Puzzles and Menko
- 01/19/15--04:16: Interesting find: Atari 2800 Discovery?
- 01/23/15--18:24: Yasuda Fire & Marine Safety Rally: Oh God, What Have I Done?
- 01/24/15--16:47: Famicom Price Information Part 2
- 04/17/15--19:21: Some Famicom Playing Cards - Mach Rider Style
- 08/16/15--04:58: Checking in
- 11/11/15--18:56: My Childhood Video Game Stash has been Found!
- 01/28/16--01:29: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Retro Video Game Market
- 03/24/17--00:20: Yes, I'm still alive after over a year
- 05/21/18--20:08: Bringing the Blog Back to Life
- 05/24/18--21:53: Kyorochan Land and Delayed Effects Product Placement
- 06/03/18--21:02: The Last Famicom Game: Adventure Island 4
Il y avait untrèspetit robotdont le nom étaitPhil.
Un jour,Philvoulait jouer avecson Virtual Boy.
PuisPhila été désorienté.Etil est tombéet ne pouvait passe relever.Oh, pourquoiétaitPhilsi petit?Pourquoi était-Philsi petit?
Super Potato is almost without a doubt the most famous of all Japanese retro game stores. I`ve never visited the Akihabara one, but I have taken in the one in Osaka and it blew me away.
So I am glad to be the first person in the blog-iverse to do a write up about the newest Super Potato, which just opened its doors in Nagoya this week!
As I mentioned before, Nagoya has a toy/game/cosplay/otaku neighborhood called Osu, which is a bit like Akihabara or Osaka`s Den Den Town. The new Super Potato is located right in the middle of that on Akamon Street, almost next door to the Mandarake, which will make it very convenient for retro game collectors visiting Nagoya to visit the two biggest shops.
The shop is comparable in size to the Osaka Super Potato, I`ve never been to the one in Akihabara so I don`t know if it rivals that one or not. Its pretty decent sized though, taking up two floors in a cute little building.
The first thing that is likely to attract your attention from the sidewalk is a giant Game Boy in the window which is....so cool....
Similar to the one in Osaka, when you go through the entrance you are greeted mainly by snacks and plush toys rather than games.
Proceed further inside though and a Famicom box is hooked up to a TV so you can give Duck Hunt a go!
And no write-up about a Super Potato would be complete without a picture of the stacks of Famicom consoles.
Behind the Famicom games they also had a pretty huge selection of Super Famicom games.
They had some pretty amazing stuff in the glass cases. This beautiful CIB Epoch Super Cassette Vision caught my eye, I`ve wanted one of these for a while.
They had some cool rare Famicom games too, like this green copy of Kinnikuman, which they wanted 35,000 yen for
Keiji Inafune, the man who designed Rockman!! They didn`t have a price on it, I can`t even begin to imagine what something like that would be worth.
The second floor had a lot of stuff for Sega and Sony consoles. Mostly stuff I`m not interested in except for their awesome Sega Mark III selection.
I suppose I should mention the prices at this point. In a word: high. Not quite Toronto high, but pretty damn high. They had a loose Twin Famicom for 17,000 yen, which is probably even on the high end by Ebay standards. Some of the games were reasonably priced but a lot of them were quite expensive - Mandarake which is just around the corner generally has better prices (though nowhere near the selection unfortunately).
Despite the lack of dirt cheap bargains this is definitely a must-visit. The thing I really like about Super Potato is how well they display their games - they just look way more beautiful and enticing in there than they do anywhere else. A visit to a Super Potato is as close a thing to a religious pilgramage that retro gaming has to offer. It is a place that inspires. And now there is one more place to do it!
Nintendo started out as a playing card maker and as late as the 1950s that was still its main line of business (somebody correct me if I am wrong about that). They made a variety of cards, including regular playing cards and Japanese style hanafuda cards. This display advertised both, with their landmark Napoleon cards featured on the top panel.
These things are literally museum pieces, one having been featured prominently in the Nintendo museum event held in Osaka back in 2007. That is about the only reference to them I could find online.
About 2 years ago one of these popped up on Yahoo Auctions and I joined in the bidding, which ended up going through the roof (I dropped out at about 10,000 yen, it went a bit higher than that but I can`t remember the total). So when I stumbled across this one a couple weeks ago with a starting bid of 1,000 yen I was the first bidder. I put in a max bid of 10,000 just to see what would happen.
And guess what? Well, obviously I won it but the best part was that I ended up being the only bidder this time so I got it for a bargain. The good thing about bidding on stuff which only shows up in auctions once every 2 years is that unless the auction gets well promoted the people who would bid it up might not even notice it is there, which I think is what happened this time.
The thing that I really love about this is that it makes for a great piece of easy to display interior decoration. These were designed to be hung from the ceiling as mobiles. Pardon the mess in the background of this photo, I will be finding a more suitable location to hang this in good time.
I am really getting into collecting vintage pre-Famicom stuff from Nintendo, partly inspired by Erik`s Before Mario blog, so I`m pretty happy to add this to my still modest collection.
EDIT: I originally thought this was from the 1950s owing to what the seller had been talking about. As Erik points out in the comments however it actually dates from the early 70s.
In the mid-1980s a company called Amada had a contract with Nintendo and a number of game producers like Jaleco and Konami to produce novelty items related to Famicom games. I first got interested in their stuff a few years ago when I stumbled upon a box of Famicom mini cards they put out in 1985. They made a number of other things, including the ever popular series of erasers shaped like Famicom carts, complete with their boxes and a series of stickers that I have a few of but haven`t posted about yet.
Amada`s relationship with Nintendo was very brief, they seem to have only had a 1 year contract as all of the merchandise they made was limited to games released in or before 1985. So for games from 1986 onwards there is none of this stuff, which is kind of an interesting divide in Famicom game history.
Last week I picked up a couple of other Amada Famicom goodies released in that one year. The first are a pair of Famicom jigsaw puzzles of Star Force and Yie Ar Kung Fu pictured at the top of this post. These were relatively tiny puzzles with only a dozen or so pieces
Though the boxes are almost the same size as the regular Famicom game boxes:
Judging from this blog here (in Japanese, but there are some pretty cool photos of Amada Famicom stuff so its worth a look) these puzzles sold for just 20 yen each back in the day, though most of them were sold in little envelopes rather than boxes like this. The boxed ones were given out as prizes to lucky winners of a game (if your puzzle had winner written on the back you could trade it for one of the boxed ones I think).
Another thing that I picked up were a couple of boxes of Famicom Menko. Menko are like trading cards, but they are made of very thick cardboard and intended to be throw at the ground in a game (the goal of which is to flip over other cards).
So these are different from the mini cards Amada also issued for the Famicom, though the fronts are largely the same, featuring images from games that look like they were created just by somebody pointing a camera at a TV (something which a number of Japanese trading card makers were known to do back in the 80s).
mad-masax, was without much fanfare putting up what looks like it may be one of the most impressive Famicom sales ever.
Currently he has 280 listings, each of them a different CIB Famicom game with a starting bid of 300 yen (about $3). The selection he has so far is crazy, including some of the most sought after, hard to find titles out there - Battle Formula, Lickle, Moon Crystal, Gimmick, Recca, Snow Bros, Adventure Island 4, Kung Fu, Magical Doropie, etc etc. All CIB and all look like they are in (or near) top condition.
The thing that really teases me is that in the description he says he is planning to auction off a little over 1000 different games. Given that there are only 1051 (give or take) official Famicom carts out there, and also given the insane quantity of rarities he already has listed, this may mean that this seller is breaking up an entire, complete set of Famicom carts - all CIB! I should note that the seller doesn`t actually claim to be selling a complete set, but it looks like he might have one (or something very close to it).
A couple of years ago somebody did something similar on Ebay, where they received 1 million Euros for the whole collection (albeit that collection included some other consoles as well so it was quite a bit bigger and must go down as the most impressive Famicom sale ever). Other than that though, I`ve never seen a collection as impressive of this being sold off all at once. Definitely something worth watching if you are curious about what CIB Famicom rarities will go for, Battle Formula is currently the leader in the bidding at a little over 50,000 yen.
(note - the photo at the top of this post isn`t from the auction, but from my own meagre CIB collection! To see what he has, click on the link above, its way more impressive).
As I mentioned in my last post, a seller on Yahoo Auctions has been putting up an amazing collection of CIB Famicom games with low starting bids. In fact he seems to be putting an almost complete set (over 1,000 games according to him and he has put up 600 different ones so far) - all CIB and all in nice condition.
Since an opportunity like this only comes once in a while, I thought this would provide a useful bit of information to record - just how much are all of these games, being auctioned at (almost) the same time in almost the same condition by the same guy going for?
While one sale isn`t enough information to form the basis for a price guide, at least this will give us a hint of what these games are roughly worth - virtually all the games got a fair amount of bidding so we know there weren`t any expensive ones going for unrealistically low prices, while at the same time the low starting bids meant no unrealistically high prices set by the seller (though of course that doesn`t mean everyone was bidding rationally).
The seller hasn`t quite been selling them all at once, in the first round he auctioned off 300 (and has a second round of 300 which will finish next week). The first round finished last night and these are the games which sold for over 5000 yen, which accounted for 88 out of the 300. I cut them off at 5000 yen partly to save myself some time and partly because the more expensive ones, having gotten the most bids and most attention from buyers, probably went for prices closer to their actual value.
I have listed these below, in order from most to least expensive. The values are in Yen and do not include shipping (which would have added 164 or 510 yen depending on the method of shipping chosen). To get a rough idea of the value in US $, the exchange rate at the time of the auction was about 115 Yen to the Dollar.
All games are CIB and, while I didn`t closely look at all the pictures, the ones I did inspect were all in very good condition. Some of them were sold as new or never used, these are marked with `New` after the price.
There are a few interesting things. The most expensive game was Summer Carnival Recca at 104800 yen, almost one thousand dollars. Battle Formula, another rarity, was a close second and the only other one to breach the 100,000 Yen barrier. Taking third place was a game I had never heard of for the Datach called Battle Rush, which apparently is also quite hard to find CIB. Kung Fu (the scarce variant of Spartan X), Snow Bros and Lickle all got over 50,000, which isn`t surprising as they are all quite hard to find.
One game that did surprise me was #10, Double Dragon which sold for a whopping 36100 Yen. That is a great game but by no means is it rare (though CIB copies in nice shape are a bit hard to come by). It seems totally out of place wedged in between Adventure Island 4 and Moon Crystal, both of which are extremely hard to find. I have seen slightly worn copies selling at Mandarake for about 1/10th that price.
There are a few other super common games that made the list - Dragon Ball Shinryuu no Nazo, Kakefu Kun and Saint Seya Goukin Densetsu seem completely out of place on a valuable game list but they were all new which might explain it (though I still think they went for too much). Mitsume ga Toru, a hard to find and very popular game, also seems out of place right next to Milon no Daibouken, which is a good game but extremely common.
There don`t seem to have been any steals among the games on this list (the ones that went under 5,000 yen were mostly unsurprising too). Kage and Taiku no Gen San seem a bit lower on the list than I think they deserve, but the prices paid for them aren`t much different from what they go for in shops.
I`ll update this again next week when round 2 of the sale finishes.
|Summer Carnival 92 Recca||104800|
|Battle Rush (Datach)||81550|
|Adventure Island 4||39000||New|
|Chip and Dale's Adventure||32700|
|Banana Oushi Daibouken||32100||New|
|Bubble Bobble 2||30200|
|Gold Punch Out||28500|
|Yu Yu Hakusho (Datach)||25500|
|Doki Doki Yuenchi||21500|
|AnpanMan no Hiragana Daisuki||20500|
|Chip and Dale's Adventure 2||20100|
|Nekketsu Street Baseketball||18060|
|Spartan X 2||16015|
|Kyoro Chan Land||15700|
|Taiku no Gen San 2||15200|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2||14700||New|
|Spelunker (with POP)||14500|
|The Empire Strikes Back||14300|
|Star Wars (Victor)||13060|
|Mike Tyson Punch Out||12200|
|Choujin Sentai Jetman||12050||New|
|Fushigi no Umi no Nadia||11200|
|Dragon Ball Shinryuu no Nazo||11166||New|
|Adventures of Lolo 2||11100|
|Gekitotsu Macho Man||11015||New|
|Nakayoshi to Isshou||10500|
|Mitsume ga Toru||10000|
|Milon no Daibouken||9649||New|
|Mighty Final Fight||9050||New|
|Kawa no Nushu Tsuri||8450||New|
|Hoshi wo Miru Hito||8000|
|Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru||7850|
|Popeye (silver box)||7501|
|Tatakai no Banka||7150|
|Donkey Kong Jr Math||7050|
|Saint Seya Goukin Densetsu||6511|
|Taiku no Gen San||6350|
|Chiki Chiki Machine||6265|
|Mickey Mouse 3 Yume Fusen||6100||New|
|Zelda no Densetsu||6050|
|Tom and Jerry||5761|
|Ninja Ryukenden 3||5600||New|
|Mario Bros (silver box)||5510|
|Bio Senshi Dan||5250||New|
|Red Arima 2||5250||New|
|Tashiro Masashi Princess ga Ippai||5000|
difficult to use but nonetheless much beloved) Atari 2800 system.
This random Atari 2600 game though I think might be a really interesting discovery, a piece of video game history that I haven't been able to track any information down on the internet. It therefore intrigues me and I want to write a bit about it here.
First to rewind a bit. The Atari 2800 was Atari's disastrous attempt to introduce the 2600 to the Japanese market. They chose 1983 to do so, the same year the Famicom came out. You can guess who won that battle. So few Atari 2800s were sold that it is quite a rare console to find today.
The 2800's lifespan was so short that only 30 titles were officially released for it. These were all Atari 2600 carts that had Japan-specific boxes and manuals made for them, which are pretty cool and, like the console, very hard to find. Well, the loose carts are indistinguishable from 2600 carts, so really its just the boxes and manuals for the games that are rare.
This brings me to my new copy of Gangster Alley. Take a look at this list of Atari 2800 games. Note that Gangster Alley is not on it.
Now take a look at that box. Note that everything about it is the same as the Atari 2600 box for that game. Except the lower right hand corner, which has a label which says:
("Video Game Cartridge for use with the Atari 2800")
This seems to have been an Atari 2600 game that did not get a re-make for its box art but nonetheless was released in Japan for the 2800 with just a sticker applied to the box. I have looked around the internet, both English and Japanese (incidentally Japanese people almost never write or blog about the Atari 2800, it was that unpopular here) but haven't been able to come up with any information about this. It makes me wonder what other Atari 2600 games in addition to the standard 30 might have been released here.
Any Atari experts out there know anything about this?
I left them in our spare room until this morning when I cut them open and out poured:
Obviously, Famicom carts.
These two boxes between them contained 440 Famicom carts, which is by far the most I have ever acquired at one time.
Why would I, a person who already has a gigantic mountain of Famicom carts, buy 440 more of them? This is where the ridiculous calculations of the serious (but woefully underfunded) collector come in. As it says in the blog description, I am actively trying to put together an entire set of Famicom carts. That is an expensive proposition since a few of the games are seriously rare and expensive to find.
Out of the 440 carts in these two box, 438 of them were ones that I already had. Of the remaining 2 that I needed, one was relatively easy to find on its own, but the other was one of the rarest and most expensive Famicom carts out there and basically it was the sole objective I had in mind when bidding on this lot.
Meet the newest addition to my Famicom collection. Yasuda Fire & Marine Safety Rally.
Originally the game came with a plastic case and a map. Finding one complete, particularly with the map, is extremely difficult and there may only be a handful in existence. Loose copies like mine are a bit easier to come by but still command top dollar on their own - consensus seems to be in the $300-$500 range. Mandarake has a copy with the box, but no map, for 84,000 yen while Super Potato wants 170,640 Yen for a copy with both box and map.
So these prices were way more than I could possibly justify spending on one game. On 440 games though I could sort of justify dropping a somewhat sizeable load of cash, in the hope that by selling the 438 that I don`t need I could get back most of what I spent.
So I can cross one of the big ticket items off of my list of needed games. Oh and if anyone is in the market for Famicom games, uh (cough cough) , I`ll probably be updating my sales thread over on Famicom World with about 438 or so carts sometime soon.
Last week I presented a list of sale prices from a massive auction that is taking place on Yahoo Auctions of CIB Famicom games. The seller is putting up over 1000 CIB Famicom games (which would be almost all of them, possibly all) at a rate of 300 per week. In the first sale, 88 of the games fetched prices over 5000 yen and I listed alll of those. The highlights were Recca Summer Carnival and Battle Formula, which both sold for a little over 100,000 yen each.
Yesterday round 2 of the auction finished and here I present the same thing - a list of the prices of all the games that went for over 5000 yen.
This week the results weren't as spectacular as last, in part because there were fewer big ticket items in this one. Only 57 games went for over 5000 yen, and most of those went for under 10000 yen. Not a single game went for over 50,000 yen in this week's group, but there were a few interesting highlights.
First off, the number one game was probably one you have never heard of - Karaoke Studio Top Hit 20 Vol. 2 - which went for 46,000 yen. That is a game made for the Karaoke Studio microphone accessory and is extremely hard to find CIB (or loose for that matter). One interesting aspect of that game landing at number 1 is that it is a game that is probably of no interest to people outside of Japan. One question people have been asking is the degree to which Famicom game prices are driven mainly by foreigners buying stuff up. A karaoke game like that, which is more or less unknown outside of Japan and of little interest (its all in Japanese) almost undoubtedly went to a Japanese collector, so the domestic market seems to be driving the prices too.
Number 2 on the list was the much more familiar Battletoads, which went for 30,000 yen (A few years ago I sold a CIB copy of that game for just $35, albeit with a rougher box. I could kill my previous self for that act of stupidity).
There were a few games whose prices went for higher than I would have thought. Prisoner of War is a bit hard to find, but it surprised me to find it in the top 10 selling for more than Over Horizon.
A few games actually sold for prices which might be considered quite cheap. Barely making hte 5000 yen cut this week was Uchu Keibitai SDF at exactly 5,000 yen. That is a pretty popular and, while not rare, it isn't particularly easy to find. It must have slipped under the radar. 2010 Street Fighter and Abadox also went for lower than I thought they would.
Its also evident that new stuff was selling for a premium as most of the new games sold for prices higher, relative to the popularity/rarity of the game, than I would have thought.
The seller hasn't started round 3 yet but when he does, I'll post the results here.
|Karaoke Studio Top Hit 20 Vol 2||46000|
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||29000|
|Prisoner of War||22600|
|Metal Fighter My||16500|
|Yancha Maru 3||15550||New|
|Samurai Pizza Cats||14500|
|Kyouryuu Sentai Juu Ranger||12500|
|Yancha Maru||11500||(with stickers)|
|Donkey Kong (Silver box)||10001|
|Wanpaku Kokun no Gourmet World||9038|
|Cosmo Police Caravan||8590|
|Duck Tales 2||8250|
|Donkey Kong Jr (Silver box)||8000|
|Gundam Wars (Datach)||7000||New|
|Double Dragon 2||6851|
|Kamen no Ninja||6250||New|
|Yancha Maru 2||6080||New|
|Akumajo Special Boku Dracula Kun||6050|
|Chigoku Kyokuraku Maru||5800|
|2010 Street Fighter||5730|
|Tiny Toon Adventures 2||5251|
|Ultraman Club Kaijuu Daikessen||5250|
|Uchuu Keibitai SDF||5000|
|Ultraman Club (Datach)||5000||New|
I was cruising Yahoo Auctions earlier today and was about to put a bid in on a Famicom game from this seller by the name of gs76u87o.
Then I stopped because I wasn't allowed to. Not because I have any problems with my feedback. Not because I couldn't pay promptly. Not because of anything I had done or would do.
The reason I couldn't put a bid in on the game was because gs76u87o is a piece of racist garbage.
If you can read Japanese and take a look at any of his listings, he openly states that he won't deal with foreigners. Note that the language makes it clear that he isn't referring to people living overseas - which would be OK since most sellers only ship within Japan for a variety of legitimate reasons. No, he means anyone who is not ethnically Japanese he won't deal with regardless of where they live.
While not in the majority, it is disturbingly common to find this sort of racism being openly displayed by sellers on Yahoo Auctions. It probably doesn't get commented on much since these things are always written in Japanese so most foreigners don't notice and it has less visceral impact than seeing "Japanese people only" written in English..
It pisses me off that Yahoo Japan - a major company if there ever was one - allows this open type of racial discrimination to go on. If an Ebay seller put up a condition saying "Only white people can bid on my stuff, if I find out you aren't white, I will leave negative feedback and blacklist you" you can imagine the shitstorm that would happen. That guy would not have an Ebay account for long. On Yahoo Auctions though it is totally OK and good luck trying to complain about it.
This sort of shit is, while not an everyday thing, something that foreign residents of Japan do have to put up with in various situations. The only time it ever really causes a stir is when the perpetrators make the mistake of expressing their racism in English - as was the case with the incident in the photo at the top of this page (which occurred at a pro soccer game - the team actually allowed that banner to be hung in the stadium for the duration of the game and were only punished by the league after an outcry following the photo showing up online).
So anyway, what was my point? Fuck you gs76u87o I guess is obvious, but also fuck you Yahoo Japan for allowing this shit to exist on your service that I AM FUCKING PAYING YOU TO PROVIDE TO ME and have a LEGITIMATE EXPECTATION THAT MY ETHNICITY WILL NOT PRECLUDE ME FROM FUCKING USING IT.
Sorry for the all caps, but that really needed to be emphasized.
I do have a few minutes to spare here though so I thought I would use it to introduce one of my more interesting Famicom ephemera additions - a pack of Mach Rider playing cards.
These are pretty neat, they seem to have been issued by Nintendo back in the 1980s. I am not sure how many different games they released packs of cards for, but I have also seen Spartan X ones out there. They come in a nice plastic Family Computer case that is blue on the bottom with the Nintendo logo in the middle:
Open it up and you have a deck of cards ready to play poker or whatever:
If your pack is new like this one it will also come with a special stamp on it:
There used to be a tax levied on playing cards and these stamps, issued by the government, had to be applied to all decks of playing cards as proof that the "Trump Tax" had been paid. You don't see playing cards in stores with these stamps anymore so I assume the tax was abolished at some point, but I think it adds a layer of interest to these cards.
I will try to start updating the blog a bit more regularly from now on but we will see how that goes.....
It has been a few months since my last post. If anybody is still reading, don`t worry, I am not dead. I am just a father.
My son is now 10 months old and the old saying about your children becoming your only hobby because they kill all your other hobbies is basically true. I don`t think I have played any video games since he was born (save testing some that I sold, but basically that just involves me putting the cart in to see if the game loads and no more).
To be honest, I haven`t missed them much - playing with the little guy and watching him grow day by day is by far the funnest thing I have ever done. Suddenly I find myself finding it hard to imagine having a hobby that wouldn`t include him.So now my hobby is reading Thomas the Tank Engine books to a little guy who can`t speak yet but absolutely LOVES it when I make a toot-toot sound for Thomas. Hard to beat that.
Blogging is, along with video games, one of those hobbies that has had to take a back seat as a result, hence the lack of posts here. At the moment he is sleeping so I have a few minutes before I pass out from exhaustion to compose this post (ever tried spending a day carrying a 10kg bag of potatoes around? Give it a try and you`ll understand). I`m not sure how often I will be able to post though, mainly because I haven`t got much to write about. Its incredibly difficult to generate content for a video game blog when you aren`t playing video games. I am not declaring the blog closed though, I have too strong an attachment to it to do that. When my son gets old enough to play I might start back into video games again. I hope he`ll like the Famicom classics because thats what we`ll be playing. And maybe that will generate some interesting material for posts.
In the interim I will try to find some time to devote to posts whenever I have a minute. I do at least get the chance to stop at game shops on the way home from work once every month or two. I don`t buy stuff much anymore, nothing like the glory days in Fukuoka 4 or 5 years ago, but I still like to look. When I find something interesting, I`ll try to let you know on here!
In September I made a trip back home to Canada with my family in tow to visit my parents. It was the first time back in quite a while for me (and my son`s first time ever). After getting over the emotional greetings, etc one of the first things my parent`s said was "There is a huge stack of your junk in our garage. Do something about that."
While most of my childhood possessions are long gone, a selection of my old treasures has somehow managed to survive multiple moves over the decades and remain packed up in plastic bins at mom and dad's place. And as I happily discovered while going through the boxes my childhood video games were among the survivors.
My NES Action set, still in its box, was among the first things I fished out (but forgot to take a picture of). I didn't have a chance to plug it in so not sure if it still works, but along with it I also found my complete library of NES games, pictured above. Double Dragon III, Shinobi, TMNT, Operation Wolf and the SMB/Duck Hunt cart that came with the console. Yup a grand total of 5 carts that I put together over several years. Sitting as I am now on a pile of hundreds of Famicom games, its hard to imagine how I managed to get so much entertainment out of these 5 carts back in the day, but I remember very clearly that I did. The fact that these cost $40-$50 each in 1980s dollars, which represented several months worth of allowances for my 10 year old self no doubt explains that.
In another box I found an earlier era of my childhood video game collection, my Commodore Vic-20, complete with all the games.
I also found in the box a pile of floppy disk games for the Apple IIC, the computer that eventually replaced the Vic-20 as our official family computer in about 1987 or thereabouts. While I had saved the software for it, the Apple IIC itself is no longer around, probably a victim of its own bulkiness.
I'd like to say that I was able to hook these up and play with them but I unfortunately didn't have time. Nor did I have space in my luggage to bring them back to Japan with me. I can at least say, however, that they are still safe. After some negotiation with my parents I was able to secure the continued use of some storage space in their garage for the indefinite future (in exchange for my agreement to get rid of a lot of other stuff: sorry baseball card collection and all of my old books). So they remain in Canada, awaiting my return. Someday I shall return for you, childhood video game collection, and we shall play together again, probably when my son is old enough and my apartment big enough to house you.
If you look over on the archive of this blog you`ll note that its first 3 years (2009 – 2012) were a lot busier than its most recent 3 years. Take a glance through the posts in that first three year period and you will see a lot about me going to game shops in Fukuoka and finding some amazing bargains. At the end of 2012 I left Fukuoka and haven`t been able to roam the retro game stores like I used to since, hence the lower number of posts since then (not to mention becoming a father in that time period too).
This isn`t to say that you can`t find bargains, they still probably exist out there. Somewhere. But the wild west days of finding copies of Gimmick for 100 Yen seem to have past us by.
Which is a cool thing to do in Japan because sometimes you find coin operated Mobile Robot suits like the one in the above photo which was taken over the weekend. I need to get one of these for our living room. I was thinking it would have been the most awesome Famicom controller ever, and I hope Nintendo will release one, maybe for Formation Z or some other game, in the near future.
Will be back in 2018 with another update, maybe sooner. I haven't bought a video game in over a year, which is really the main reason for this blog's inactivity. When the occupant of the above Mobile Robot suit is old enough, I'll probably break the Famicom out again and find some more reasons to post :)
Not sure if anyone is still out there but hello, my name is Sean and I like Famicom games. This is, or at least was, my blog.
I have been out of blogging for a few years now. I started this blog almost ten years ago. At the time I was a graduate student in Japan with lots of free time, very few responsibilities and also very little money. The perfect time to start a blog about collecting Famicom games, which at the time were extremely cheap and plentiful!
Then I graduated, got a full time job, had two wonderful kids and bought a house in the suburbs (still in Japan) and Famicom collecting, and blogging about it, had to take a back seat to everything else. So the blog has gotten extremely dusty as I haven't really posted regularly in the past four years.
But now I want to dust it off and start blogging about the Famicom again. Two things have prompted this decision:
1) When I started this blog I had the goal of collecting all 1051 officially released Famicom carts. I never reached that goal during the blog's original lifetime but I have decided to re-start that quest and that naturally gives me something to blog about.
2) Being a father now gives me a different perspective on things than I had a few years ago and I hope this will give me something useful or at least interesting to write about. My kids have never played Famicom but I'll probably introduce it to them in the not too distant future so that will likely be another focus (for privacy reasons I won't be putting pictures of them here but you can take my word for it that they are insanely cute and awesome kids).
So we'll see how this goes!
One initial thing I am of mixed emotions about is what to do with my antiquated blog list. One of the best things about blogging isn't your own blog but reading those of others. Its kind of disheartening to try to get back into the blog and look up all the other blogs I used to follow only to get either blogs that haven't had an entry since 2013 or, worse, pop up ads telling me that the domain of a former blogger's site is now for sale. Looks like about 80% of the blogs/sites I followed 5 years ago are now defunct!
On the other hand I am delighted to discover that a few are still at it, like Simon and Bryan and I look forward to catching up on what they've been writing about.
Still though, not sure about that blog list. Its kind of an interesting archeological record of what the retro game blogiverse looked like circa 2012 so I''m tempted to leave it intact. On the other, its mostly a bunch of dead links or links to discontinued blogs and not much use to anyone.
Anyway, I hope to do about a post a week from now on and see how long I can keep that up!
I have been aware of this game for years because it is one of the somewhat rarer and more sought after Famicom titles in Japan. The lead character is Kyorochan, who is a mascot for Morinaga Corporation's Chocoball snacks. I had always assumed that this was some sort of limited release product tie-up with Morinaga which explained its rarity, but it turns out it is just a regular Famicom release. Its status as a high priced game seems to come from the fact that it was simply released late in the Famicom's lifetime (it was released in December 1992, despite the 1991 copyright date on the cart) and thus not many copies were sold.
I kind of like the game's cover art, which looks like the cover of a Chocoball box. I like it so much in fact that I went down to the conbini and bought a box of them for comparison:
26 years after Morinaga somehow finagled their way into the biggest instance of product placement in Famicom history, their efforts to induce purchases of their snacks continue to pay dividends (84 Yen dividends in this case).
I chose the caramel flavored ones which have a different color scheme than the Famicom game (which uses the chocolate flavor coloring). I like caramel.
The box opens on the top:
This is one of those games that I really regret not having purchased a few years ago as it has gone up in price quite a bit. I was browsing my old posts and came across this one from 8 years ago (how time flies) which shows a copy of it available at the old Mandarake in Fukuoka for 2900 Yen. I ended up paying about double that for this copy! D-oh!
this post I did 6 years ago about some of the better Famicom games I had at the time. But the image wasn't directly from my blog, rather it was contained in this video on YouTube:
The video is by "Pat the NES Punk" who I guess borrowed my picture for some reason.* The video itself addresses the question of whether demand for Famicom and Super Famicom games is increasing. They emphatically answer "no" to this question. Originally I was planning to do a point-by-point response to their arguments, which I should note were made in 2015 and the explosion in Famicom prices since then seems to have proven them wrong.
But then I realized that this was unnecessary since there is really just one common and, for reasons I'll get into further below, faulty underlying assumption behind their arguments which is worth addressing. That is that Famicom games might be, in economic terms, little more than a substitute good for NES games. A substitute good is one which is so similar to another good that consumers view them as interchangeable. Thus if the price of one of those goods rises, consumers will start buying the substitute good instead. This will cause the price of the other good to rise as well.
So their assumption is that assessing demand for Famicom games can be approached by determining whether or not NES collectors, frustrated with rising prices of NES games, are turning to them as a substitute good. They conclude that this isn't happening in part based on factually incorrect statements (like not being able to play half the games due to the language barrier, which overstates that quite a bit) or logically dubious propositions (like American collectors preferring the familiarity of NES games, which may be true but doesn't preclude them from also liking Famicom games).
But what I really want to address is the whole NES-centric view that Famicom collecting is little more than an appendage to NES collecting. I don't think this is accurate.
Of course I have my own personal biases as a Famicom collector who has little interest in the NES. Seeing discussions like that inspires an almost tribal instinct in me to paint my face blue, don a kilt and yell "Freedom" as I swing a pixelated battleax at the NES hordes that have dominated and oppressed my people for so long.
More objectively though I think its just plain incorrect. So I thought I would review some of the reasons why analyzing the Famicom market through the lense of the NES market like this makes no sense (at least to the extent that you are trying to understand the Famicom market). These observations are based in part on my time as a collector but also as a seller of Famicom games on Famicom World, Nintendo Age and RF Generation for several years (mostly from 2011-2016)
1. The Famicom, not the NES, is the most international console
This is kind of a bold statement but I think it is true. Of course back in the 1980s the NES was the better known of the two internationally (outside of Asia and a few other markets anyway) and the version released in Europe and other regions copied the look of the NES rather than the Famicom (both the console and the carts). But this, I think, makes the Famicom more appealing to collectors internationally today than the NES is.
If you are a European collector looking for something new, the North American NES is pretty blah since it looks exactly the same as your NES, although it might have some releases which didn't come out in Europe you might want to pick up. And vice versa.
The Famicom though? The console and carts look completely different and are aesthetically way more pleasing than the boring grey NES ones. The variety of games is also significantly different and there are loads of great ones that weren't offered on the NES in either Europe or North America. It also has a much more important place in gaming history as the mother of all Nintendo consoles, a title which the NES cannot lay claim to.
I think these factors combine to make the Famicom the go-to "foreign" console for collectors in most countries rather than the NES. This of course means that the potential market for Famicom games is quite a bit larger too (emphasis on "potential" since the domestic market for NES games is still way bigger).
2. The Famicom's Holy Grails are Completely Different from the NES's Holy Grails
One of the most distinctive features of the Famicom and NES collectors markets is that despite being the same hardware, there is almost no overlap between the two in terms of what collectors consider the holy grails. They each have quite different ones.
There is a list of the most valuable NES games on Racketboy (from 2017) here. While a lot of those games were also released on the Famicom, the vast majority of them (with some exceptions like Little Sansom, Snow Bros and the Jetsons) aren't among the most expensive and none of them really crack into pure "holy grail" territory.
Interestingly I just realized that there isn't a similar comprehensive list of the Famicom's holy grails out there(the racketboy list above has an addendum which mentions five Famicom rarities but this is just the tip of the iceberg) but I can say that most of the games that would be on it (hey, this gives me an idea for a future post) are not NES icons. This is because so many of the rarest Famicom games have unique little histories which resulted in very limited releases. Just off the top of my head some of those are:
Recca Summer Carnival 92
Gold Binary Land
Gold Punch Out
Yasuda Fire and Safety Rally
Gold Dragon Ball Z
Bridgestone Cycle Tailor Made
Exed Exes Silver/ Gold Members Label
Lot Lot Silver/ Gold Members Label
This is by no means an exclusive list, I'm pretty sure the Famicom has way more holy grails than the NES does.
The important thing though is that this difference really demonstrates how Famicom collecting is NOT driven by NES collectors seeking cheaper versions of NES games since the most expensive Famicom games have no NES equivalent. This also applies to the most expensive regular issue games like Gimmick! and Adventure Island 4 which weren't released on the North American NES.
3. The Japanese market still exists
Its perhaps also worth noting that there are 127 million consumers in Japan who don't really give a shit what foreigners collect, except for the fact that they are making everything way more expensive, which is annoying. The dynamics of Famicom collecting in Japan among Japanese collectors is significantly different than it is outside. Japanese collectors have much different tastes in games, and the fact that a game wasn't released outside of Japan, a major driver of a Famicom game's value on the international market, is of zero interest to them. While the run up in prices on Famicom games I think can mainly be explained by foreign demand, Japanese collectors have (some happily, some reluctantly) jumped on the bandwagon, and stuff like TV shows highlighting the collector value of games are now common place.
If anything though, this chronology puts the horse before the cart (HA! Get the pun?). I think shops in Akihabara and Den Den Town were selling Famicom games as collectors items long before NES collecting became mainstream in the US. Mandarake and Super Potato have been around a while now.
4. Famicom Collectors Come in all shapes and sizes
Returning to the international collectors market here, it seems to me that people have a pretty wide range of reasons for buying Famicom games and very few do so to avoid high NES prices (even fewer now that Famicom prices are getting so high).
So what are the types of Famicom collector, and what determines their demand? And how does this relate to the NES market? We can create a hypothetical band of collector types, from "extreme Famicom collector" on one end to "Extreme NES collector" on the other.
1. Extreme Famicom collector - only collects Famicom games
2. Regular Famicom collector - collects mainly Famicom games, but also other stuff from other consoles. Has interest in NES, but mainly just in stuff that isn't available for the Famicom.
3. Neutral collector - has lots of consoles including Famicom and NES but does not have a preference for either and collects both equally.
4. Regular NES collector - collects mainly NES games, but also stuff from other consoles. Has interest in Famicom, but mainly in stuff that isn't available for the NES.
5. Extreme NES collector - only collects NES games.
I think most Famicom and NES collectors fall somewhere on this spectrum, but the problem with
analyzing the market for Famicom games through the lense of the NES market is that you arbitrarily eliminate consideration of collector types 1, 2 and 3 from the equation. The relative numbers of each of these groups is an open question which I don't know the answer to, but at the very least there do appear to be a non-trivial number of people in those categories out there who are spending money on games, so they shouldn't be ignored.
So these are just a few of my thoughts on the folly of judging the market for Famicom games primarily based on an analysis of the idiosyncrasies of NES collectors, which is what Pat the NES Punk does in that video. I'm not trying to criticize those guys particularly, I watched a few of their videos and found them entertaining, more I'm just trying to add a more Famicom-centred perspective since it seems to be lacking in a debate that is fundamentally about Famicom games (an odd omission).
This week I scratched another game off my Famicom want list - Takahashi Meijin's Adventure Island 4!
It was released 24 years ago this month (June 24, 1994) which gives it a distinguished place in history as the last game ever released for the Famicom. This also makes it one of the hardest to find since it simultaneously falls into several categories that make it a high-demand item:
1. Late release with very limited sales/production making it a rarity
2. Game featuring a popular character
3. Game never released outside of Japan
4. Game generally well regarded as a game
I have wanted a copy of this since the earliest days of my collection. Its every Famicom collector's white whale since the existence of the other Adventure Island games (all of which are much easier to find and cheaper) in your collection constantly remind you of its absence. Its something about the numbering that plays on whatever elements of an obsessive compulsive personality lurk in your psyche - 1, 2,3.....where is 4? Its an itch I need to scratch!!!
So I am relieved to have this in the collection now, though once again I find myself regretting not having purchased it a few years ago when I had the chance. I distinctly remember holding my finger above a Yahoo Auctions BIN button for a nice loose copy at a price of 8200 Yen about five years ago and for whatever reason (hubris? arrogance? sheer stupidity?) holding fire in the mistaken belief that a cheaper one would magically appear. I paid just under 14,000 Yen for this one and counted myself lucky.
A few years ago I wrote about what I thought was one of the coolest things in Japan: Famicom bars. Basically these are bars or cafes which cater to retro gamers. For an hourly fee they allow customers to sit at a table and play a Famicom (or other retro console) while having a drink. Its a very similar business model to internet cafes which are everywhere in Japan. I'm not sure when the first opened, but some have evidently been around for decades. Some of them are really great places with really knowledgeable owners.
Or, at least that is how they were until today. Police in Kyoto and Kobe have just arrested four individuals who ran retro game bars (Game Bar Clantz in Kyoto, Equlit in Kobe, and two others which aren't named in the news reports). Their crime? Allowing customers to play games produced by Nintendo and Capcom without permission from Nintendo and Capcom.
If you want to see something really surreal, check out this news clip about the arrest. The police seized more than a thousand game cartridges (mostly Super Famicom) and several consoles, including a red and white Famicom. They laid it all out for the press to see, the same way they do with piles of drugs and cash seized from drug kingpins. Its weird.
The legal problem is that charging the public to play on games licensed for home consoles is a violation of copyright law, since the owners of the copyright (Nintendo, Capcom and other game makers) only license those for non commercial, domestic use. In other words, the entire business model of Famicom bars is basically illegal. According to this report, the police action was launched in response to complaints from Nintendo itself (along with other game makers).
While it was only four retro game bars that were targeted in this raid, this basically means that all of them are illegal and I doubt any will stay in business after today at the risk of the owner being arrested. I just discovered that the link to Famicom City in Shibuya, a major retro game bar that opened in 2015 which I wrote about in my earlier post on these stores (from which the photo at the top of this post comes), is now dead. The only way for these bars to go legit is either:
A) get permission from the makers of each game they offer to the public to do so (highly unlikely, given that the makers obviously can and will refuse such permission), or:
B) Remove all home consoles and replace them with arcade cabinets (which are licensed for use by the public and thus not illegal to use in a bar). This is do-able, but of course arcade cabinets aren't ideally suited for cafes (except the table top ones) so doing so would really change the nature of places that do this.
This is really sad, since retro game bars were one of the coolest elements of the Japanese retro gaming scene. It also feels quite petty on the part of Nintendo. While I appreciate that legally they are in the right, I don't see what purpose is served in shutting these places down. The games involved look like they were mostly over 20 years old, so its hardly like they were eating into Nintendo's profits and turning a blind eye to technical violations of copyright undoubtedly had the benefit of throwing a lot of good will from the gaming community to Nintendo (and Capcom who were also behind this). I think they deserve to take a hit to their reputation for this, how about you?