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Articles on this Page
- 06/14/14--20:14: _Famicom Bars: I wa...
- 06/20/14--17:36: _Cool Finds: Famicom...
- 07/05/14--00:23: _Getting Used to the...
- 07/11/14--18:45: _Retro Game Collecto...
- 08/02/14--02:11: _The Original Mach R...
- 08/13/14--19:12: _Interesting Famicom...
- 08/16/14--01:39: _The Cool World of C...
- 08/30/14--00:13: _Interior Decor: Fam...
- 09/19/14--18:18: _Awesome List: Japan...
- 10/31/14--17:43: _Been a Busy Month
- 12/11/14--16:22: _Five Years of Famic...
- 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...
- 06/14/14--20:14: Famicom Bars: I want one.
- 06/20/14--17:36: Cool Finds: Famicom Lunch Box
- 07/11/14--18:45: Retro Game Collectors: Why Don`t We Collect Rookie Games?
- 08/02/14--02:11: The Original Mach Rider
- 08/16/14--01:39: The Cool World of Chirashi (Famicom and Movie Mini Posters)
- 09/19/14--18:18: Awesome List: Japanese Gamers 18 Fond Memories of the Famicom
- 10/31/14--17:43: Been a Busy Month
- 12/11/14--16:22: Five Years of Famicomblogging: A Retrospective
- 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
|Famicom City in Shibuya|
Famicom bars and cafes are one of the few remaining awesome bastions of Japanese retro gaming culture which I have yet to try.
If you don`t know what they are.....well, basically they are about what you think they would be after hearing the phrase "Famicom bar" or "Famicom cafe". Bars and cafes at which customers can play Famicom and other retro games. There is a good write up about some of them in Tokyo over on 1Up here.
My main reason for not having ever been in one of these places (there are even a couple not far from where I live) is, I`m ashamed to admit, that I`m a bit of a cheapskate. The problem is that most Famicom bars/cafes have a pricing policy that is significantly different from most bars and cafes. They aren`t places where you can just go in, order a beer and casually down it at your own pace like at a pub. Instead they charge by the hour, usually with a minimum total charge of 2000-3000 yen.
Given that I can actually buy a Famicom for about that much, I`ve always balked at going to one. This is horribly cheap of me, I know. You are paying for the experience of sitting in an interesting environment and playing games, so comparisons with the price of an actual Famicom are kind of meaningless. Nonetheless, my mind works in mysterious and not always rational ways like that.
When I think about though I totally understand why they price things that way. The Japanese otaku crowd is, to be gentle, renowned for not being short on people who like to linger. Open a business specifically targetting them and not charging by the hour is an invitation to have your business swamped by people ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and then sitting there for 9 hours playing Dragon Quest 3 over and over again.
Anyway, what I really like about this kind of business, in the abstract anyway, is that it has always been a secret dream of mine to open up a bar when I retire and these places give me lots of room for daydreaming about what kind of a Famicom bar I would open if I ever got the chance. I think I would introduce a twist on the pricing policy. I would have a two drink minimum to avoid the lingering otaku problem, but with each drink you would get one game to keep when you leave. So the menu would have two columns, one with a type of drink and the other with a list of games, and with each order you would have to choose one of each. The price of the drink would largely depend on which game you wanted to go with it (Gimmick and a beer would be very expensive, Golf and a beer would be very cheap). It would be kind of combining drinking and video game shopping in one experience, which I think would be a lot of fun.
And of course the best part about opening a place like that would be decorating it. I would like to have one entire wall basically wallpapered with Famicom carts. I think that would look awesome. I would also cover the counter tops and table tops with a solid surface made up of Famicom carts too (covered with a bit of plexiglass). They look so awesome, I`m surprised none of the existing places have done that yet. The one photo (in the top of this post) is from one in Shibuya where they tried to do the decor in red and white Famicom colors. I do not like the look of that one at all. It just doesn`t have the right vibe - it is too clean and orderly and looks more like a generic fast food restaurant rather than a cool place with some character. And using identical flat TVs is a big no in my books - my place would be decked out exclusively with old-school cathode ray TV sets.
This thing is totally awesome. Released in 1985 it features the usual round up of figures from popular early Famicom releases on the front - Ice Climber, Super Mario, Wrecking Crew and Clu Clu Land. The art looks awesome close up
This must have been a pretty awesome thing for a kid to carry his or her lunch to school in. It brings back fond memories of my own Empire Strikes Back lunch box that I used to lug around in the early 80s. I`m not sure if this Famicom one came with a thermos or not.
This is definitely one of the most interesting Famicom controllers ever made. It is about what you think it is - an inflatable motorcycle that you ride on. The handlebars, which are removable, are the only actual functional controller, with start/select buttons and the gas/brake control built into the handles themselves.
Its actually a pretty cool controller, hooking it up it reminds me a lot of motorcycle games that I have played in arcades. The controls work pretty smoothly.
There are, however, two caveats. One is that it is a massive pain in the ass to actually blow the thing up, especially if you aren`t used to doing so like me. I thought I was going to pass out by the time I got it fully inflated. Therefore this is one game that probably isn`t going to be played with very much in my household, neat though it is.
The other thing is that this controller was designed for 7 year old Japanese kids rather than 37 year old, 6 foot tall foreigners. If you fall into the latter category, this is what you will look like when riding it:
For comparison`s sake please note the similarity:
It is massively uncomfortable for an adult to use the controller as a result, which is too bad. Of course it is possible to use the handlebars without the motorbike so I might stick to that.
Its kind of a must-have item for anyone collecting oddball Famicom stuff. It was never released outside of Japan, and even in Japan it is a hard one to find (this is the first one I`ve ever seen, I won it on Yahoo Auctions). This one doesn`t have the box which made it within my price range, with it I don`t think I could have afforded it!
By `rookie game` I basically mean the game in which a major character made his/her/it`s first appearance.
In baseball cards, for example, a player`s rookie card, like this 1951 Bowman Willie Mays, is considered really valuable and everybody wants it. Willie Mays is of course a popular player so all his cards ae popular, but his rookie card in particular is the one that everyone places the highest value on
I have pictured the Donkey Kong Famicom cart at the top of this post, but if we are going to be strict, I don`t think that would count as a rookie game. The Colecovision cart was the first home port of Donkey Kong, so I think the Colecovision Donkey Kong would be considered the true first appearance cart of those two characters (I find it kind of interesting that Nintendo`s two most famous characters didn`t make their home debut on a Nintendo console). Technically of course the game was featured on Arcade cabinets first, but I don`t think those count (or, more accurately, they do count but would fall into a different category since collecting arcade cabinets is a whole different ballgame from collecting carts).
Anyway, those are just some thoughts I had about that. I wonder why we don`t collect video games in the same way that comic book or sports card collectors do. I guess part of it might have to do with the fact that video game carts are tied to specific consoles and most of us collect games for whichever systems we have or like rather than just collecting carts for collecting carts` sake (which is kind of what baseball card collectors do).
It would make for kind of an interesting approach to collecting. Some systems definitely have a lot of important characters first appearance, like the Famicom (Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters, etc).
As usual, Erik over at Before Mario has beat me to writing a post about Mach Rider by about 3 years and I recommend checking his post out for the full scoop on the toy. Just to recap the highlights here: It is based on a toy originally released by Hasbro under a different name. It came in 3 colors (I got the yellow one, but I guess the photo gives that away). Its basically a racing car that will fly at high speeds off a jump ramp. It is awesome.
The box mine came in is a bit beat up, but its awesome nonetheless:
Before finishing this post, I have to put a little plug in for a friend of mine over on Famicom World, Dire51 (aka Rob Strangman) who has just put out a book about retro gaming entitled "Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman". If you are looking for some light retro game reading, give it a look!
The man in the centre of the above picture is Yoshitaka Enomoto. He is standing next to the host of a TV show called Nandemo Kanteidan, which is kind of a Japanese version of Antiques Roadshow. It is a lot more flamboyant than the English version, but I watch it a lot. Mostly people bring stuff like old samurai swords, paintings, bits of pottery, etc in to get told it is either worth a fortune or completely worthless. The host, who is a comedian, cracks jokes throughout the show.
Anyway, the particular episode that Mr. Enomoto appeared on was broadcast on Tuesday this week. He brought an interesting bit of Famicom history and an interesting story with him. The antique that he brought with him to have appraised was this (pardon the photo quality, I was just aiming my camera at the TV while the show was on):
A gold copy of Rockman 4!
If you aren`t familiar with hyper Famicom rarities, the gold Rockman 4 is probably the rarest Famicom cart out there, only 8 copies of it were ever made. I have seen one in the wild once and posted about it here, at Super Potato in Osaka last year.
The carts were made as prizes for a competition that Capcom ran to have fans design the boss characters in the new Rockman game. They received over 70,000 entries from fans across Japan, most of them little kids. Only 8 were chosen and each of those 8 kids got a special gold copy of the game when it was released.
Its rarity means that it is super valuable and, as with a lot of these gold/silver special carts, it is pretty easy to fake (all you have to do is paint a regular Rockman 4 cart gold, though an expert would immediately recognize it since the underlying plastic is a different color from regular carts).
There was no danger that this one was a forgery, however, since Mr. Enomoto as a junior high school student back in 1991 was one of the lucky 8 winners of Capcom`s contest. His design? Brightman:
It was pretty neat to see that at least one copy of the gold Rockman 4s remains in the hands of the actual kid who won it back in the day.
The show did a little segment about the history of the Famicom, which was interesting but if you are reading this blog you probably already know the details so I won`t recap what they said.
628,000 yen (about $6300 US) on it, and this one looked like it was in every bit as good condition. Maybe Super Potato is a bit overpriced? Or the experts on Nandemo Kanteidan don`t quite know as much as they let on? I guess it is hard to put a price on something so rare, they must hardly ever pop up for sale.
Its also interesting to wonder how many of the other 8 are still in the hands of their original owners? Obviously the one in Super Potato isn`t, but what of the other 6?
As an interesting point to end the post on, the experience of designing Brightman as a kid seems to have had a major influence on Enomoto. He went on to become a professional illustrator and has worked on a lot of animated TV shows and Manga!
One of the types of Famicom ephemera which I enjoy collecting the most are chirashi (mini posters/ flyers) that were handed out back in the day to advertise upcoming game releases.
I like them mainly because they look cool and are the sort of thing that look good when framed and hanging on your wall. Like my Gyrodine and Sky Destroyer ones, which have awesome artwork on them:
I picked up a small lot of them off of Yahoo Auctions the other day that just arrived in the mail. I`m pretty happy with them. Most of them were actually Famicom Disk System games, like Metroid here which is probably my favorite of the lot:
And Super Mario Bros 2:
Zelda no Densetsu:
The only thing that I dislike about collecting Famicom chirashi is the price - they are pretty hard to find so the prices likewise tend to be on the high side and bargains are few and far between. Still though its kind of worth it for the cool artwork. They also have cool stuff on the back, like this one which explains how you can re-write games on disks:
Collecting chirashi is actually one of my main non-Famicom collecting pursuits too. In addition to advertising video games they are also used for a lot of other things, including movies. Japanese movie chirashi are actually in some ways even cooler than the Famicom chirashi. Japanese movies almost always have unique paintings commissioned for them which are reproduced on the chirashi. The artwork, which often combines familiar scenes with bold looking kanji, make them look pretty awesome. Like this poster from You Only Live Twice, with the 007 in big type, with the title in kanji below. Totally epic:
Same with this old school Battle Star Galactica from the 70s:
When you have 12 of the same Famicom cart you can organize them into 3 by 4 squares which, when put together with other carts you have 12 of, can open up some interesting interior decorating ideas.
little piece reporting the top 18 things Japanese people remember about playing the Famicom as children. Rocketnews did a good piece in English mentioning the highlights, but after reading the original I thought it would worth doing a pure, stripped down English translation of the list, which is totally awesome. Here they are, in the same order they appeared in CuRazy:
1. To begin, blowing on the cassette.
2. At school, classes were generally divided into a Draqon Quest faction and a Final Fantasy Faction. But there would always be that one guy on his own who was into Wizardry.
3. Declaring that you would play Famicom all through the night on New Year`s Eve, then giving up halfway through.
4. Pushing the reset button again and again and again because the game wouldn`t start.
5. Getting into a fight while playing a simultaneous 2 player game.
6 Having it hidden by your parents.
7. When playing a two player game and the 1P player was about to lose, pushing the pause button in rapid succession (to mess up 2P`s timing, 2P not being able to retaliate as the 2P controller doesn`t have the pause button).
8. Playing a racing game and moving your whole body with the game. Then doing it a bit too much, pulling out the cord and causing the game to blink off.
9. When you finish the game, waiting for a bit to watch the end screen.
10. Your parents, while carrying the laundry, tripping over the Famicom and causing the game to freeze.
11. Loving it when you played by yourself! Hating it when your friend came over!
12. When your friend was playing, amusing yourself by playing with the microphone in the 2P controller.
13. 20 years later, finally actually reading the instruction manual for the first time and realizing what the game`s story was all about.
14. Buttons getting stuck in.
15. When inserting the cart, having to carefully push both sides in equally.
16. Being incredibly anxious the first time you played Dragon Quest 3.
17. Not being able to save a game, just leaving the Famicom on when you went to school. Then coming home and discovering your mom had turned it off.
18. Writing your name on the back of the cart.
Five years ago today I found myself in my living rom in our old apartment in Fukuoka with a bit of free time to kill. I sat down on a tiny sofa with a ton of recently photographed Famicom carts scattered on the floor and I wrote this post about the different designs that Famicom carts came in. Thus Famicomblog was born.
Five years later and, much to my surprise and delight, Famicomblog is still a going concern even though the recent addition to our family has severely dented my blog output. Normally when a blog becomes too self referential it is a sure sign it has jumped the shark, but screw everything I am going to do the ultimate in self referential blogging just this one time to mark the occasion. In self-congratulatory honor of having reached the 5 year milestone I am going to take you on my ego trip through what I like about my own blog. Read on at your own peril
My Tour D`Excitebike post that I made during the first year remains the one I enjoyed making the most. I just took 5 copies of Excitebike with me on a bike ride around Fukuoka, taking pictures of them at random places - castle walls, a port with fishing vessels tied up, the red light district, etc etc. I got a few odd looks from people as I did so but that was a really nice day and so totally worth it.
this one with my Nintendo Lefty RX about a year ago which was also a lot of fun (I was pleased with how the photos for that one turned out, if you use forced perspective you can make a tiny toy car look almost real)
One kind of post which I did a lot in the early days of this blog but gave up after about the first year or so were ones in which I photographed my entire collection. The carts look so awesome stacked up, I kind of miss doing those posts. When you have a collection of under 500 carts like I did back then it was still feasible to do those, once I got above that number I had to stop doing it mainly for lack of space to set them up and take the photos.
Omocha Souko. The day I found out it was going out of business was by far the darkest day in my gaming life, it had been such a fun place to go for deals. I still enjoy looking back and reading old posts about the deals I got, especially the day they put these crates out.
retro game shops in Fukuoka that I visited. I think this blog has more information about the Fukuoka gaming world than any other, at least of those in English. Sadly, even though it has only been five years since I started this blog most of that information is already out of date, probably half the shops I visited have either closed or moved.
Probably my favorite post, in terms of substance, is the one in which I compared the power consumption of retro consoles to the PS3 and found that my entire retro gaming collection used less energy than the average one of those. I'm not sure what the PS4 uses, I'd like to do a similar comparison but I sold most of the duplicate consoles I used in that post so I might not have enough to make a comparison.
Another thing I have to do is get Phil in some more posts. I packed him away when we moved 2 years ago and I think its about time I fished him out of whatever box he is in.
Anyway, those are some of my sentimental reflections as the father of a 5 year old blog. I should like to give a big thanks to everyone for reading all these years, it has been awesome getting to know you all through the blog (and through your blogs for those who have them, I'd list you by name but refrain out of fear of forgetting someone). Hopefully five years from now I'll do another one of these on Famicomblog's 10th anniversary.
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.