Category Archives: Gaming

Beefcake! BEEFCAKE!

“I actually don’t treat life any differently than an RPG. I’m always thinking of leveling up myself, which in this case, is actually myself, not my World of Warcraft character.” -Brian Wang, co-founder of Fitocracy.

What can I say? Someone has unknowingly answered my wishes. I alluded to the lack RPG-type real life achievements in the last couple of sentences of the first Sebaattori post, more than half a year ago. If I had had any functional knowledge in coding I would’ve attempted to create such a service myself. It would appear that in addition to not being possible, it is also no longer needed. Fitocracy is a service that has now been in beta since February. It offers its users experience, quests and achievements for logging real life physical exercises and sharing them with others. Tsumari, it’s like a HeiaHeia for gaming nerds and objectively the greatest invention since those cat ears that read your emotions.

At least that’s the image I’ve gotten from surfing around the site. I’ll need to test it in practice later tonight but it’s needless to say that I’m enthralled by the mere concept. Originally I was slightly reluctant to go to the gym today because it’s raining and the place is boring, lacking in fundamental equipment and whatnot, but the possibility of leveling up from doing a couple upper body exercises is far too tempting. Therein also lies the danger.

Yatta, yatta!

According to Owen Good of Kotaku, “[Fitocracy developers] are of course exploring ideas like mobile applications so you can ‘play’ at the gym; the community constantly asks if nutrition will be integrated into the XP system, and they’re considering that too. The manner in which I created my new weights workout was absolutely intended, and Fitocracy wants to grow that out in the quest system. “Character classes” or something approximating that are also a possibility, for those who want to specialize in, say, running, or weight training, weight loss or toning up or whatever.”

If Fitocracy is as effective an incentive as I currently believe, I may well die from exhaustion in the next couple of months while relentlessly trying to multiclass into a Runner/Leaper. I wish I was pumping iron already. That’s a first.

-Antti

Update: Reached level 3. Ding! Grats! Ding! Grats!

Legendary Lost Treasure of Mêlée Island

Gaming on the iPad

Aside from Rovio’s Angry Birds, there is in fact quite a lot of other goodies available in the entertainment ecosystem that Apple has so graciously provided us with. Anyway, some months, maybe half a year ago I realized that there is a bunch of old, quality point-and-click adventure games available on the iPad. Games such as Monkey Island. Needless to say, I bought the full suite. And a few others.

These recent developments have not gone unnoticed in the media. The one and only Finnish gaming magazine, and my all-time favourite called Pelit (i.e. Games) has recently been publishing more and more articles and reviews of games made for the iPad. From what I have read (and also experienced at firsthand) it seems that even the most cynical journalists have approved of iPad’s capabilities in this area. And why would they not? For those of us interested in older PC games (or even console games for that matter) the device kind of feels like an old PC with its 1024 x 768 resolution and simple graphics compared to modern video cards.

The latest revolution has been the adaptation of both old and new board games to the digital world. Titles like Carcassonne and Small World are now in their full glory on the iPad. And judging from the reviews alone, the change of platform has been a successful one. Unfortunately not all games work. Playing first-person shooters such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D is possible, but moving and aiming at the same time without a physical controller has proven to be a bit frustrating. The same goes for a bunch of driving games and other types of shooters.

Accessories for Gaming

The iPad has Bluetooth connectivity so it would be possible to use gaming controllers for modern consoles (such as the Dualshock 3 made for Playstation 3) with it. In theory, at least. The system being closed I would not hold my breath for anything to happen on this front anytime soon. Perhaps Android-based Playstation-enabled phones (and perhaps tablets in the near future) will have this kind of functionality. I guess the technology enthusiast collective could cook up something similar with jailbroken iOS devices. Then again, it may not be something to attract a large enough audience, as jailbreaking requires some effort and technical knowledge. Ironically, right now the iPad is only as good as Apple allows it to be.

There have been some tries to make the touch interface a bit more suitable for fast-paced action gaming (such as the Fling joystick quickly viewed by Engadget). I have not tested any of these yet, but they could prove fairly useful to those of us wanting to broaden the capabilities of our gadgets and get the most out of the gaming experience. For point-and-click games and the ever-growing genre of games for the iPad such extra gimmicks are of course useless.

Now, if only Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 (and their excellent expansions) were available on the iPad. Then I would be set for life. At least for the time being. Now where did I leave my Carsomyr +6?

- Joona

Do it yourself, Foster. I’m just a cleaning droid, remember?

I sometimes forget things. Important things. Such as how I used to love point-and-click adventure games during their golden era of the mid-nineties. At least it was the golden era for me. At that time, my gaming ambitions were severely restricted by my parents who did not exactly see the practice of hunting for pixels as a very fulfilling pastime, and as a consequence, my choice of games was also quite limited. I can still vividly remember one demo CD that I cherished so much that I probably finished all of the sharewares on it without ever being able to so much as get a glimpse of their respective full versions. There is no way for me to accurately recall what was on that disc, but The Dig, Beneath a Steel Sky, Full Throttle, Alone in the Dark, Big Red Adventure and Little Big Adventure were definitely present. In other words, the ones that have flayed my mind until this day were the heavily story-driven adventure titles.

Hello, Joey

Thinking about it now, it is difficult to comprehend to what level the imagination of a 9-year-old was enthralled by a space vessel landing on an asteroid, or a survival story in dystopian, post-nuclear Australia. These playable demo versions of games were able to get an extraordinarily strong grasp on me considering they would probably have taken an adult 15 minutes to finish and at that time I could hardly understand any of the complex nuances in the plot, nevermind the subtle humor. What I was competent at, luckily, was pointing and clicking. There are some layers of reasoning there that I can only try to understand in this day and age. Where did my enthusiasm stem from? Why do I fondly remember these games almost two decades later?

Maybe it was the sense of accomplishment from being able to gradually advance despite having to ask for help at each difficult word. Maybe it was the fact that I loved to be alone and solve puzzles. Or maybe the gray box sometimes referred to as a computer was all it took to keep me interested. In any case, that lone demo CD, which has now been lost for more than a decade, provided me with some everlasting gaming memories.

We will leave no crevice untouched!

Nowadays, I suffer from saturation fatigue. New gaming titles come and go constantly, and they are all offering tremendous amounts of playing hours, additional accomplishments, downloadable extra content and improved graphics. What a load of crapshaith. I’ve slowly come to realize that these are the exact things that have been pushing me to turn away from newer games in the first place. It makes me feel old when admitting to it, but I would rather play classics from the ancient days, when Fragilis sang and Saxaquine of the Quenelux held sway, when the air was sweet and the nights fragrant. I don’t want to partake in games that take me forever to complete, because there is simply no time for that anymore. Or even if there were time, my conscience would not allow me to waste hundreds of hours on a single game. By nature, I tend to go around every nook and cranny to make sure I haven’t missed any content in a game. This leaves me with a huge dilemma when playing newer adventure or role-playing titles with infinite playability and a throng of repetitive achievements to strive for. It’s far more rewarding – and cheaper – just to ignore the newer produce and regress back to childhood.

Amateur.

Naturally, the golden memories effect applies, and I abide by the theory that everything was better when you were 12. But this does in no way diminish the legitimacy of playing old classics. I recently saved Union City in Beneath a Steel Sky and jumped straight into Flight of the Amazon Queen afterwards only to crash… in the Amazon. By allocating a couple of hours to playing classics on a virtual machine, I can relive great stories from the best days of SCUMM games without worrying about graphics or computer requirements while avoiding the need to pour my entire life essence into the gaming process.

Be vigilant.

-Antti

P.S. Beneath a Steel Sky has also been remastered for the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, so anyone even remotely interested in puzzle adventures should go pick it up for a fistful of virtual dollars.

Cooperative Gaming

Oh, the wonders of modern age gaming!

Having played and spent quite a while in alternate, virtual worlds, I currently thoroughly enjoy the fact that games have a starting point and finally (often also unfortunately) a point where they simply end. What lies between these two points can last from a few hours to over a hundred hours. But still, it is not endless. Games like <insert here the name of your favourite MMORPG> are perhaps a bit too time-consuming and addictive for my taste. In addition, those places are filled with people who are way too young to speak properly and also to understand that bad equipment does not explicitly mean that the player has no skill whatsoever.

Then again, social gaming is a lot about who you play with. Playing split-screen cooperatively  on the same console is simply a lot of fun. Feedback and emotions are expressed spontaneously and instantaneously. Unfortunately it is not always a possibility to have a LAN party (which is arguably the best form of gaming), but cooperation comes pretty close. I would most likely rather stay inside on a sunny day and fight off all those invasions of alien lifeforms with my best friend. Sounds like my kind of good time! Back in the Baldur’s Gate era it was even fun to play singleplayer games with friends. It sure is a shame that there has not been much of that lately. Even in the virtual world, I will rather stick with players I “know” to some extent.

There is a clear distinction between cooperative and other multiplayer games. Working in cooperation means working together towards a common goal. So, it is not enough to merely have two players bashing the hell out of each other – unless, of course, there is a somewhat reasonable plot there somewhere that explains all of that. That being said, there are some excellent single-console multiplayer games, such as the whole Soul Calibur series, which simply belong to a different category altogether.

I can forgive a lot of shortcomings in case a game offers some sort of cooperative gameplay. It does not matter if the plot is full of holes and nonsense (kind of like Lost Planet 2 and Borderlands), as long as it is fun to play together. Sometimes controls (have you ever dashed in the wrong direction by accident in Gears of War?) and difficulty levels (the game being way too easy, like Borderlands) may cause some trouble. In the end, it is all about how the game nurtures your teamwork. It seems that the game industry has also noticed the rise in interest in cooperative gaming as there has been quite a plethora of quality cooperation available on consoles for the past few years.

Luckily gaming skill is really not an issue (though it might limit the spectrum of available games) as you can normally compensate for that by lowering the difficulty setting. Naturally, people tend to have different tastes in games and some sort of compromise might be required. Of course, there are games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 that are, at least for the most part, universally designed for anyone. Be wary though: in case you play games, but do not like SMG2, you just might have a defective brain.

To mention a few of the best ones I have come across so far:

  • Doom – probably my first cooperative game, worked quite well over a serial cable
  • System Shock 2 – excellent cooperative mode to defeat the lovely (though crazy) Shodan
  • Dungeon Siege – a Diablo-like hack’n’slash with experience and weapons, need I say more?
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Las Vegas 2 – terrorist hunt sure is fun
  • Gears of War 2 – the sheer amount of action is almost overwhelming
  • Splosion Man – an easy-going arcade game with some great puzzles and playability up to four people

A good source for a lot of reviews on co-op games would be Co-Optimus. My advice is that next time you play a game, grab a friend along just for the heck of it. As always, it is wonderful weather for gaming!

- Joona

PS. I can hardly wait for the co-op action that Dungeon Siege 3 and Gears of War 3 will most likely provide once they come out.

Defective Buyer’s Goggles

VR

Lately I traveled to Turku and back by train. To my astonishment, the trains were late only by roughly 5 minutes. I suppose that is an acceptable performance on a warm, sunny Easter afternoon. Anyway, what I did not agree with is the reason (or lack thereof) why it costs more to take the Pendolino train instead of the Intercity 2 train. Normally the Pendolino would be a bit faster (maybe 5 minutes on this distance) so the difference in price (like 15% more) would be somewhat acceptable, but now the online reservation system (which still cannot be used during the night) suggested that the traveling time would be the same no matter which train I took. Great.

Unfortunately I did not want to wait for at least two hours before the next cheaper train comes so I decided to hop on the more expensive alternative. So what was I paying for? My guess is that because the two types of trains are equally fast, one of them costs more. Or maybe I pay more to have the exquisite on-board WLAN capabilities and no possibility to transport a bike at my disposal. Sweet.

It gets better with differing regional tickets from long range tickets. To be honest, I do not even know if it is possible to buy a single ticket from Turku to the nearest train station to where I live (update: you can). If not, I have to buy another ticket, the regional one, which may cost quite a bit compared to the ticket I already had. Even though, looking at the trip on a map, I might have just passed the station I was going to. Ah, if only we were in Japan where it usually only matters where you get on and where you get off. That way passing one station and then going back would not result in a penalty. Sounds fair, right?

Bubble Bobble 2

One of my all-time co-operative favourites, Bubble Bobble, finally came a while ago to Xbox 360 as an arcade game. Of course, I bought the game, after reading a couple of assuring reviews saying that the same good old playability was still there and that the new version merely had new graphics, maybe extra music and perhaps some new and innovative gaming modes. If anything, I hoped the game to be like the good old versions of NES and Amiga.

However, what the reviews did not say (or pretty much lied about) is that the playability is nothing like it used to be. How can they even claim that? Not even having a million monkeys and enough time would make the game playable in any commonly understood way to understand the definition of playable. To be blunt, I would have rather burnt the money.

DRM

Ah, the wonderful ventures of software companies and Digital Rights Management. The idea is good (no piracy), but unattainable in real life: DRM with software usually just ends up bugging the Average Joe. Maybe the only way to get rid of this is to make it easier (users are lazy) to actually buy the product instead of using one’s favourite BitTorrent client and service to get it. Perhaps application stores that are tied to the operation system will provide an answer to this dilemma.

Now that Sony has some trouble with their Playstation Network, it seems that some people even have trouble playing their games offline on their own consoles. And that is partly due to excessive DRM systems. Not to mention Sony’s earlier achievements in making people angry. Anyone remember Sony’s rootkit-based protection system on some of their CD albums? The system was not only illegal but it also spawned new malware to abuse the holes left by the rootkit.

The irony is that pirates play the games and listen to the albums without ever noticing such minor caveats.

I probably need to start to wear my set of Imagination Goggles +6 to understand the full logic behind these business decisions. Or maybe they could ask me or any other possible customer next time? I know, it is doubtful, but I could gently point them in the better direction.

- Joona

Current Gaming in Espoo

Lost Planet 2, Uncharted 2, God of War 3 and Batman: AA

 

What wonderful weather for gaming! – Dan Bull

Dan Bull is close to the core truth about gaming. And by the way, if you have not seen the YouTube flick, check it out here: Dan Bull – Generation Gaming. I recommend listening to the song even for you non-gamers as the song’s rhymes are fairly well thought-out. And if you still decide not to listen to it, then it is your loss.

On a side note, I have been purchasing a lot of my console games from TheHut.com. It would not really matter which online store I use, but TheHut has proven to offer fairly good prices and I have not experienced much trouble dealing with them. Last week I bought three new games (cheap ones, though) as I received a 10%-off discount code from said store. They sure know their marketing mix in my case. However, I find it astonishing how every game is cheaper to buy from abroad. Hell, I could even fly there myself, buy the games, fly back to Finland and still get a profit. Alright, it is not that bad with the newest games that have not yet hit their first round of discounts. Some Finnish stores based in the tax-exempt wonderland of Åland offer fair prices on such upcoming titles as Deus Ex 3 and Gears of War 3. Finally!

Anyway, after reading Antti’s message on Twitter regarding Kotaku’s article I could not help but agree with Leigh Alexander. Only a handful of the games I have played during the past 5 years have been as absorbing as, let’s say the Original Doom and its many addons (or WADs). What is especially inspiring about this is that lately (or rather, most of this week) I have been playing the newish Batman: Arkham Asylum (with 3D goggles and everything). In fact I got the game on Sunday last week but I did not begin to play it until Monday evening. I knew even before I started the game that it would probably be a bit bad idea to set forth on my journey through Gotham before weekend. Not that the game is bad or anything – it is just a tiny bit too addicting.

Now, on the third day after beginning my trip to Joker’s twisted humor and crazy plans, I have completed 46% of the content of the game. To my surprise, the game looks wonderful (even if it is a console game and definitely not 1080p) and the cartoon-based world feels quite real indeed. The sound environment is excellent as well. Playing with my headphones on in a dimly lit room I could almost smell being inside the Asylum with the inmates. No reason to worry though – Batman is not your average guy when it comes to prevalence in martial arts and being an awesome detective (quite like being a two-in-one Conan all by himself). I am beginning to learn to use his constant stream of bullet time melee attacks and slowdowns to down a dozen of foes at the same time. As an option, I can sneak up on them goonies and take them to the ground with a swift strike from the above. Batman even has his own set of gadgets and a remote hacking tool. Now how cool is that?

This is my first time experiencing 3D (even though it is merely based on colored lenses) in a current-generation console game. My initial impression was quite simply “meh“: the effect is there, but it does not, at least in its current implementation, bring much more to the game. Let me elaborate on that. I have no doubt that on currently-sold televisions the 3D effect can be quite a lot better than this mimicking with fancy cardboard glasses and plastic lenses. As those second-generation TV sets have been made 3D performance in mind. My 5-year-old Sony rear projection TV is not exactly state-of-the-art in this time and age. Anyway, the implementation being what it is, the only resultant effect is a headache after an hour’s playing. Perhaps after a few iterations (and actually using current technology) this just might work. Right now, the effect is too slim to trade off color balance and brightness, among other things.

To sum it up, I have really enjoyed my stay on the penitentiary island so far. Joker’s whacky announcements remind me in a good way about System Shock 2‘s (now that is another excellent game deserving its very own post) sweet, but insane, Shodan and her riddles. In addition, the built-in lore about Batman comics is worth reading and all those in-game collectables keep me going for hours without noticing the passing of time. And the story is not bad at all itself. Now that is what I call quality gaming!

- Joona

Retrogaming in Osaka

Akiba in the East, ‘Ponbashi in the West (東のアキバ西のポンバシ)

Japan is the Xanadu for retro gamers, especially those who are keen on finding older Japanese consoles in their natural habitat and playing games in an undecipherable language. Older video games can be found in Japan in almost any independent game store, recycle store or video rental store as well as sold by established chains such as book off and hard off. ‘Who would dare ask for more’ I hear you ask? The piece de résistance of places such as Akihabara in Tokyo and Nipponbashi in Osaka is the concentrated nature of facilities offering games from the good old days. During my pilgrimages I have spent hours and hours roaming the neon-lit streets of Akihabara, yet my true home ultimately lies just outside of exit 1-B of the Ebisucho station far to the west.

In the following post, I will unravel some of the mysteries that surround the internationally much less known nerd heaven that is Nipponbashi, also known known as Den Den Town.

Man, it’s good to be a nerd these days

While the history and general information about the Nipponbashi area can be read on Wikipedia or Den Den Town’s own Japanese homepage, what I will offer here is a more pragmatic approach to those who wish to plunge into the wonderful world of Japanese Retro Games in the area. After extensive research and several dozen visits, I have delimited the main retro gaming core within a rather small area on the Sakaisuji Avenue, which comprises the majority of the video game offering of Den Den Town. Compared to all the stores selling computer hardware, furniture, anime, comics, music, movies not to mention porn, places with a reasonable offering of older generation video games are actually few and far between. The key is to find them.

Handheld consoles are something I have never owned and therefore have close to no knowledge or interest in the matter. Thus, I will not mention that specific area of gaming here. For those interested, the amount of handheld products in the following stores is always proportional to the amount of normal ones.

Looking at Sakaisuji Avenue facing north. The fun begins after passing Yoshinoya on the left.

I do believe, and certainly hope, that most people looking for old video games do not constantly want to find themselves surrounded by Japanese genitalia-pixelating smut, and for this purpose I have gathered the locations of the five main stores to check when looking for some old classics. All of these lie on the west side of the Sakaisuji Avenue, within a couple hundred meters of each other, as can be seen on the map below.


View Retro Avenue in a larger map

By far the best way to reach the mother lode is by taking the Sakaisuji Metro Line and exiting it at Ebisucho station, exit 1-B. The entrance to Super Potato is situated roughly 2 meters to the right of the exit. This strategy has allowed even someone with no sense of direction or spatial memory such as myself to arrive at the premises without getting lost. Alternatively, Den Den town can be reached by walking North from Shin-Imamiya JR station or South from Nipponbashi Metro station for those who enjoy longer walks or want to check out other stores on the way.

Twin Emperors

In Osaka, there exist two institutions that are almost completely dedicated to the promotion and sales of retro gaming memorabilia. Game Tanteidan and Super Potato Seven take the idea far enough to build their entire business plans around selling old videogames to nostalgic nerds. In accordance with those plans, the atmosphere in these stores is heavily dependent on 8-bit music and consoles set on autoplay.

Anything you want $ your soul.

Super potato is an institution that any self-respecting gamer coming to Japan will be able to name. The franchise has a dozen of stores throughout the country, out of which at least the Super Potato Seven in Nipponbashi and Super Potato Retro-kan in Akihabara are mainly focused on older consoles and titles.

Less well known but very prominent in the Osaka gaming scene, Game Tanteidan is an independent player located roughly 50 meters from its aforementioned Den Den Town competitor. These two stores will easily supply anyone with the bulk of whatever they need gamingwise, while other stores on the subsequent list are relevant mostly due to the higher probability of finding more common games at lower prices. Or abundant games for practically no money whatsoever.


Name: ゲーム探偵団 (Game Tanteidan)
Adress: 大阪府大阪市浪速区日本橋5丁目12
Phone: 06-6636-8175
Website: tanteidan.cc
Twitter: game_tanteidan

During opening hours, the entrance to Tanteidan is impossible to miss. Nevermind the huge Post-it Mario on the wall and six TV-sets showing autoplay demos of old favorites in a never ending loop, the sheer 8-bit energy emanating from the place is enough to draw the interest of passers-by.

Once inside, a whole new world opens. The floor and walls are covered in old posters, news articles and screenshots, all hovering around the same general topic. Relics ranging from R.O.B.s to Megaman plushies are hanging from the ceiling as ears soon begin to tingle from the soundchip-produced bliss.

Possibly the single best retro-cave currently, even surpassing the legendary Super Potato, Game Tanteidan offers a large variety of everything ancient. The first floor is heavily focused on the 3rd, 4th and 5th generations of console gaming. This includes games for all major consoles by Nintendo (Famicom, Famicom Disk System, Super Famicom, Nintendo 64, GameCube) and Sega (SG-1000, Mark III / Master System, MegaDrive, Saturn, Dreamcast) as well as less popular competitors Neo-Geo, PC-Engine and 3DO.

The rarest and most expensive treasures are safely behind glass doors next to the cashier. On the opposite side, a wide range of consoles and peripherals from the Neo-Geo to the Famicom Disk System are sitting on a shelf. Another couple of adjacent shelves are dedicated to official and less official guidebooks and obsolete game journalism.

Famicom, loose on the left, boxed on the right, nerd straight ahead

The shelves on the ground floor form three corridors. As a rough explanation, SFC and N64 titles are on the left, Sega titles from the SG-1000 to the Dreamcast as well as Neo-Geo and PC-Engine titles are in the middle, and Famicom and FDS titles are on the right. The supply should satisfy even the most adamant of collectors.

The second floor is more confusing due to a lack of focus. While it offers the largest inventory of MSX computers and games I have seen anywhere so far, another wall is covered with baseball cards, breaking the illusion. One shelf is filled with imported XBOX 360 games, another is occupied by game music soundtracks and there are a variety of Game & Watch handhelds in a glass display case. A coin-operated monster rally-pinball something-something arcade game is also present, as are a Virtual Boy stand and a soda vending machine.

MSX Shrine

As its name implies, however, Game Tanteidan (Detectives) is very knowledgeable on the value of its wares, and finding rare gems under market price may prove an insurmountable task. If money is no concern, it remains a great place to look for that final missing piece of a collection, as the supply is vast with more obscure consoles such as the Famicom Disk System and SG-1000 being well represented. And, with a probability that infinitely approaches one, the prices are still a bargain compared to Super Potato Seven.


Name: スーパーポテトセブン (Super Potato Seven)
Adress: 大阪府大阪市浪速区日本橋5丁目12−3
Phone: 06-4396-3377
Website: superpotato.com
Twitter: super_potato

Super Potato Seven hardly loses to Tanteidan in terms of elaborate props. The entrance is guarded by a, supposedly, life size Mario figure and a couple of smaller ones can be found after venturing deeper into the labyrinth. Game demos running on each side of the door mat are equally unambiguous toward nature of the store. The first floor is limited to newer releases, so traditionalists may want to strafe in the general direction of the stairway, which is left.

Closest I've ever gotten to a "Stairway to Heaven"

During the climb to enlightenment, preserved empty game boxes add to the unique ambiance of Super Potato Seven, as do the ridiculously narrow decorated corridors on the second floor. The naked light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling keep getting in the way of customers similar to stalactites in a cave. I’ve never been in a cave, but I’ve seen some in games; therefore, I know. Walking through the narrow corridors and constantly hitting your head in said lamps while listening to 8-bit classics and bumping into other ridiculous people might make you forget what decade it is as you keep fiddling with the Zelda game you always wanted as a kid but were never able to acquire.

Boxed Famicom and FDS games at Super Potato

On a general note, if you can find a game elsewhere, it’s most likely cheaper there than at Super potato. However, the emphasis here is on spectrum. Not the Sinclair Spectrum, though, the range of products available. Super Potato easily compares to Tanteidan in the amount of most old Sega products as well as loose Famicom and Super Famicom games. The N64 supply is relatively limited and CIB games for all consoles seem less abundant than next door. To counter this, Super Potato offers some overpriced gamer shirts and other extras like decrepit walkthrough videos of Famicom games from an era before the Internet.


Name: ソフマップ2号店 (Sofmap, 2nd store)
Adress: 大阪府大阪市浪速区日本橋5丁目12−8
Phone: 06-6634-9001
Website: sofmap.com‎

Sofmap is an oddity found in between the two greater stores. It is a relatively normal Sofmap electronics store except it concentrates on video gaming and anime instead of computer hardware. The first floor has newer second-hand games, while the second floor holds most of the older produce.

One photo was able to capture about 50% of their retro supplies

Pecularities of Sofmap include having oldschool game consoles for sale at grotesquely low prices, the catch being that they haven’t been tested for functionality and the store offers no guarantee on whether they will work. Loose games are sold for peanuts as well and even some boxed ones can be discovered for cheaper than most places. Peripherals, controllers and rumble paks are also available in limited quantities.


Name: エーツー日本橋店 (A-Too)
Adress: 大阪府大阪市浪速区日本橋4丁目11−3
Phone: 06-6641-2500
Website: a-too.jp‎

A-Too is a self-proclaimed Media Recycle Shop located roughly one third of the way from Ebisucho station towards Nipponbashi to the north. The store stands in a league of its own, losing clearly to the top 2 in notoriety while also being exponentially better than either Sofmap or Geo.

It has, or rather had a a very distinct advantage over the retro gaming concentrated venues. I remember first having gone to A-Too in 2009 to buy a carftul of N64 games, not because I needed them, but because they were sold loose from a plastic trash can priced ¥5 yen /ea. Someone had to save them. The materials used in making the cartridge must be worth more. Although said box no longer exists, the store offers a variety of adequately priced Nintendo goods from the Famicom to the N64, as well as Saturn and Dreamcast games.

FC, SFC, FDS

I recently bought a copy of Soul Calibur (Dreamcast) for ¥50 and Goonies (Famicom) for ¥300. Furthermore, A-Too offers the largest quantity of any store of the most common consoles and peripherals at very nice prices. One glass display is protecting the most coveted and exclusive titles, proving that A-Too is not entirely without merit in that area either.


Name: ゲオ大阪日本橋店 (Geo, Nipponbashi store)
Adress: 大阪府大阪市浪速区日本橋4丁目11−1
Phone: 06-4396-0081

Compared to the four other entries, Geo is almost useless nowadays. Although shelves still exist for retro products on the first floor, the oldest material to be found as of March 2011 are old DS Lites. On the second floor, in their ecological niche right next to women’s shoes, are the humble remnants of some more common Famicom and Super Famicom games that can be found at almost any other shop.

The entire inventory

The reason to mention Geo is mostly because it’s a chain with manifestations throughout the country and the situation at said shop may well change. Some Geos (Hirakata) are bound to be better equipped retrowise than others (Nerima). Currently this particular one is only good for finding a couple of popular ones for a bargain. Still worth a look before heading to the more plentiful and expensive stores.

Thus ends my insight on retro gaming in the downtown Osaka area. Potential future updates will deal with shops in Hirakata, Nerima and Akihabara whenever I have the time to properly research them. In the meanwhile, here’s a comprehensive overview and picture gallery.

-Antti

Prevalence of console by store