Video Game shopping in Toyama 富山市

When shopping for video games in Japan, I think a lot of people think about going to Akihabara in Tokyo, or perhaps Den Den Town in Osaka, or one of the other popularized meccas of video game and anime nerdom. But, if you've ever gone to any popularized retro gaming place in the U.S., their selection is great, but their prices typically are not. Much like the U.S., there are tons of used stores throughout the country, and they usually yield better scores.

I currently live in Takayama in Gifu, and while the gaming stores are pathetic in my city, Toyama 富山市, an hour and a half to the north, has quite a few, for some reason. Gifu City 岐阜市, Kanazawa 金沢市, Matsumoto 松本市, and Nagoya 名古屋 are within the same distance and time frame (in different directions), but they don't have nearly the cache Toyama does. I don't know why.

I hadn't been on a video game shopping trip in quite a while, and my brother-in-law recently decided to repair and mod his Super Nintendo for import games. He asked me to search for some games, along with the list of Famicom games I've been working on.

I'm not completely familiar with the Super Famicom library, but whatever. Let's go!

Shuttle シャトル in Tonami 砺波

I left my house around 8:30am, and went directly the first place on my list. This was my first time going to Shuttle. To find used game stores using Google Maps, I usually search for ファミコン, and that pulls up stores that carry Famicom games. Chances are if they carry those games, they carry all games. Shuttle is the only thing that came up for Toyama, for some reason.

And Shuttle did not disappoint. It's a massive nerd store with games, figures, porn, books, manga, fishing equipment, guns, cards, and some other stuff. I started sifting through the Super Famicom games. They had Mother 2 (Earthbound) for $20, Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana) for $10, Bahamut Lagoon for $7, this thing, which I later realized is a memory card for the Super Famicom, Chrono Trigger for $6, Tetris Battle Gaiden for $10, Bomberman B-Daman (?) for $6, Super Billionare Game?, and Great Strategy Expert?.

Tetris Battle Gaiden was on my short list of games to look out for, and $10 was the perfect price.

Additionally, they had a Mina PS2 game. I didn't even realize they made a game. The Video Game of the offshoot Anime from the opening of a TV Drama based on a short film from a SciFi convention from 1983. They also had one of those mouse pads with boobs as wrist cushions.

I really only searched through Super Famicom, and lightly through Famicom. Overall, I picked out 6 games. They had a 50% deal, too, so my $50 purchase turned into $25!

Next place!

Book Market ブックマーケット in Tonami 砺波

Book Market is more modern used store. They primarily deal in comics and other books, but these places almost always have a video game section. And Book Market tends to have more classic games these days, rather than Book Off.

They had a decent sized 360 section. They had two 4-foot sections. Most stores only give up 2 feet.

Book Market had a few Super Famicom games, but not many. They had some game called Rushing Beat, and its sequel. No idea. They did have Mario Picross for $2, though! They also had Zone of the Enders HD Premium Edition, and Dark Souls II Collectors Edition.

I only bought Mario Picross.

Book Off ブックオフ in Tonami 砺波

Next was the first Book Off of the day. Again, I was a little hesitant to go to Book Off since they weren't going to have anything older than Playstation 1. But you never know.

This is a pretty typical Book Off game rack. Nintendo 3DS, DS, and Playstation 3 tend to dominate the shelves. PSP and Playstation 2 still have decent sized sections, though. Vita is tiny. Wii is small. 360 has a small presence, as does Playstation 1. They had a few Playstation 4 games.

I peered through the 3DS games, and a game called J Legend Series 列伝 caught my eye. It's a collection of Shonen Jump Famicom and Super Famicom games on a 3DS cart. I wish this would happen with other Super Famicom games series (like Quest). I found a copy of Bomberman Act Zero on 360 for $2.50. Same with this American Ultra Quiz Game on PS2. Later, I found this game on Super Famicom and Famicom, too. I think it's based on a TV show.

I went through some of their art books, too, but I found nothing. Bust.

Hard Off ハードオフ in Takaoka 高岡市 Kanebomachi 鐘紡町

Next, I drove 15 minutes north to one of my favorite stores for buying used games, Hard Off. Along with Book Off, they are part of the "Off" family of franchises. There's Comp Off, Hobby Off, and Off House. Newer ones, too, like Mode Off, Garage Off, and Liquor Off. I've seen a Kimono Off, too. Apparently, Tsutaya is also owned by Book Off. They focus on rentals. Hard Off specializes in electronic hardware, but has software, too.




Their front facing video game section was small, but had plenty of gems. Within their glass cases, they had a copy of Radiant Silvergun for $110. It didn't have a spine card, but that's still half the price of ebay. They had a boxed copy of Super Bomberman 5 for $30. And a boxed copy of N64 Evangelion for $30. Man, I really wanted that game 10 or 12 years ago. Rummaging through their Super Famicom stock, I found The Mask for $5, and Super E.D.F., also for $5.

Again, this was only their front facing stuff. If you ever find yourself in a Hard Off looking for games, you need to go toward the back of the store in the "Junk" area. There you will find everything they don't have room for in the front.




Dozens and dozens of tossed away camera equipment, computer parts, monitors, hard drives, game consoles, game controllers, wires, adapters, and plenty of video games, too. I searched through all the Super Famicom games in the back, and found some things. Super Pang for $10. That game is fun, isn't it? Also, Super Bomberman 3 for $16. On retrospect, those games were a little pricey. They had a Super Multitap for $12. And some Konami board game called Moon Walk.

I bought a spiffy tripod for my camera, too.

Book Off ブックオフ in Takaoka 高岡市 Kanebomachi 鐘紡町

Two stores away from that Hard Off was my next Book Off. Unlike the previous Book Off, this has a connecting Comp Off and Hobby Off (unlisted). And tons of Super Famicom games. Lots of cartridges, and lots of boxed copies on the bottom shelf.

Above is proof! Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, in box, for $5 and $6 each. Obviously not new in box, but they are complete.

Additionally, they had Megaman Soccer for $4, all the Final Fantasies, Secret of Mana, and Megiten II.

Upstairs is Hobby Off. They had plenty of figures, idol merchandise, cards, and everything else. I didn't find anything.

I'm not really sure what this building used to be. Book Off was founded in 1991, and was one of the rare corporations to see continuous profits during Japan's economic bubble burst. Many Book Off stores set up shop within other stores, malls, or buildings that had run out of business. I guess this building used to be a mall. There's no way it was a single store.

Next!

Shuttle シャトル in Takaoka 高岡 Iguchihongo 井口本江




Another wall of Super Famicom games. I was starting to get a little bit overwhelmed at this point. I already purchased about 10 Super Famicom games, and other things, too. I was getting concerned with quantity over quality. Plus, my search my somewhat aimless in the first place. I wasn't looking for anything specific. I only thought of games I vaguely recall being interesting or fun to play.

I skimmed over the game shelf, but nothing caught my eye. Though, they also had boxed copies of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger for less than $10. I skimmed through the Sega Saturn, and noticed this weird game. Battle Monsters? The cover looked terrible. They did have Waku Waku 7 for $20, though. When I was collecting Saturn games 5 years ago, that was one game I could never find. Bam.

Regroup

I had some more Book Markets on my map, but I skipped them for time sake. My next few stores were in Toyama City proper, a good 30 minutes east. On my way, I stopped for lunch at a Ramen restaurant, and started looking up some games online. I called some friends, and talked with them, too.

One of my friends wanted me to find Intelligent Qube Final on Playstation 1, since he lost his copy. Also, I wanted to find Sanrio World Smash Ball on Super Famicom, so I looked up the cover art to aid my search.

Hard Off ハードオフ in Toyama 富山市 Toyotahonmachi 豊田本町

The second Hard Off of the day. This one has some good stuff, too. They had a copy of the Rockman Dash (Megaman Legends) Soundtrack for $200 for some reason. They had a copy of Dracula X: Rondo of Blood for the PC Engine for $80. There was a Virtual Boy complete in box for $150. They also had Turtles for $5, and Rockman 2 for $15. Additionally, I easily found my two games. I.Q. Final for $2, and Sanrio World Smash Ball for $5. Man... now I needed a new goal.

This particular Hard Off had tons of audio and video equipment.

The shelves in back were lined with amplifiers, speakers, cd players, dvd players, vhs players, keyboards, audio control decks, sound boards, etc… Do places like this even exist in the U.S. anymore? I think we recycled all this stuff years ago because nobody would ever buy it.

I love Hard Off.

Bunendo 文苑堂 in Toyama 富山市 Kamiiino 上飯野

When I was searching for used book stores, Bunendo continued to show up in my searches. I drove past this one, so I decided to stop. They had plenty of manga inside, but absolutely no games, or movies. I could not find any art books, either. So, I left. Next stop.

Book Market ブックマーケット in Toyama 富山市 Kamiiino 上飯野

I had decent success with this Book Market before. They had a bin full of Famicom games. But, not today. Since I visited them last, they remodeled the store a little bit. Plus, they had some CCG tournament going on, so many of the gaming aisles were moved out of the way.

They did have an extensive art book selection, though. They had the Catherine Venus Mode art book for $26, the recent Bravely Default art book for $30, and the Xenoblade Monado Archives art book for $29. They had a Subway brand sandwich book, too. Also, there was Playstation 4 for $320, which isn't a bad deal.

I felt I had spent enough money at this point, though, so I left without buying anything.

Hard Off / Off House ハードオフ / オフハウス in Toyama 富山市 Tenshouji 天正寺

The sun was beginning to set, and I was pretty much at the end of my day. With finding those two games at the last Hard Off, I was back to an aimless search, looking for something interesting, when I had already purchased plenty of interesting already.

Their game selection was not nearly as extensive as the one in Takaoka, either. I sifted through the bins, but didn't see anything outstanding. They did have a few nice looking Super Famicom controllers, though.

At this point, I was stopping at places on the way out of town, and there were only a few left.

Book Off ブックオフ in Toyama 富山市 Yamamuro 山室




This is my absolute favorite Book Off ever. The selection isn't all that great, but the building looks incredibly. Like I mentioned earlier, Book Off capitalized on taking over buildings of former businesses in the 90s. This used to be a Pachinko parlor before Book Off bought the location, and recycled the building for its own use. I would love to work at this place just so I could explore all areas unavailable to the customers.

Inside, as suspected, the selection was not that great. So, I continued.

South Street サウスストリート in Toyama 富山市 Omachi 大町

This store showed up in my searches, so I decided to check it out since it wasn't a Book Market, or a Book Off, or a Hard Off. It was definitely small, and they focused mostly on heavy metal and hard rock music. They had a small case in the back with some games, and some more on a shelf, but there was nothing. Any decent games they had were picked over long ago.

They did have copies of Beavis and Butthead on VHS, though.

Manga Warehouse マンガ倉庫 in Toyama 富山市 Kurosaki 黒崎

As far as nerd meccas go, the Manga Warehouse on the edge of town is Toyama's claim.

This building is so obnoxious, though. Looking at the above picture, what the hell is the name of this place? It's not the glowing red sign across the top. That's an advertisement saying they'll buy anything. It's not the white lettering, either. That's simply what they buy and sell. In fact, I'm not ever sure it's called the Manga Warehouse. Google Maps identifies it as the Toyama Concrete Cooperative? 富山生コンクリート協同組合?

Whatever... I just call this place Gorilla.



Racks and racks and racks of games and games and games, music, dvds, manga, porn, figures, figurines, models, replica guns, replica swords, art books, cards, cosplay, idol merch, etc… Their prices aren't terrible, but they definitely know the rarity of a game, so you'll never find a steal here. This a good place to find uncommon games with little worth.

Even though this place is open until 2am, I still had a 2 hour drive back home, and classes to teach in the morning. I left Toyama around 7pm.

Haul

So, here's my haul.

I think 15 Super Famicom games is a good start. I was primarily interested in finding Super Bomberman 3, 4, and 5, Sanrio World Smash Ball, and Tetris Battle Gaiden. The other games were somewhat incidental. Some of which were probably bad decisions on my part.

Ugh, I feel pretty dumb running out there without looking for something more specific. Again, I'm not completely familiar with the Super Famicom library. There's gotta be some other baller import games.

Shopping

This is pretty typical for my video game shopping excursions in Japan. I had been to some of these places before, so I already had an idea of what they had, and how long to spend inside. These stores aren't that much different than what you'd find in any mid-level city. Though, Toyama seems to have a few more stores than other nearby cities.

Towards the end of the day, I was skipping over some stores on my list. There is another Hard Off near the Manga Warehouse, but I was mostly cached for the day. I'm sure there are plenty of other hidden gems in Toyama, too.


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