Akihabara isn't that exciting

Though, I'm pretty sure I didn't go to the right places..

Akihabara was one of the top places on my itinerary for Tokyo.  Worldwide, it is known as THE hub for Anime, Video Games and all things electronic.  Almost every store sold new and used video games, music, movies, anime, electronics, toys, and just about anything geeks like us would buy.  You'd think it'd be heaven, right?

Yeah, it's great if you're trying to find something relatively new.  But searching for rare or uncommon video games is pointless.  I visited about 30 game stores along Chuodori and in the alleyways around there and each store had the same problem..  Overexposure.

So many goddamn people visit Akihabara that any amount of selection had already been picked over by thousands of people that day.  Every store I visited had wall-to-wall people.  I could hardly even more through the aisles, let alone, stay in one place long enough to actually give an exhaustive search.

Also, because of the centralized location and massive worldwide acclaim of the area, real estate is tight.  Every store is smaller than your average Mall Gamestop and holds about 3 times the product.  Most stores do have multiple floors though, but they generally keep games to one floor, Anime to another floor, and buy counters to another.


My first location was Akihabara's Yodobashi Camera.  Yodobashi is THE premiere electronic department store in Japan.  I can't really think of a good analogy..  It's kinda like the FAO Shwartz of electronics?  Except not snobby.  Their Gashapon Aisles were impressive.


I bought a couple toys for Jess Roqs, but that's about it.  The toy section was kinda boring and expensive.  So was their game section.  Their game section did have a neat little diorama for Gyakuten Kenji, which was released TODAY in Japan.


Ultimately, I left this massive building unsatisfied...


Exiting Akiba station and heading west to Chuodori, the first major store you see is Gamers (pictured above from across the street.)  As I stood cramped in a boring corner of Gamers waiting for someone to move so I could stop looking at the N64 games, I said to myself, "ya know, if there were an earthquake, not a single person in this building would exit alive."  Maybe it's not so cramped for Japanese people.


It was pretty cramped for Japanese girls dressed up in gigantic mascot uniforms, though.  She had to shove her way through everyone just to get to the back of the store.

Games did have a poster for Evangelion 2.0 in one of its stairwells.


Besides that, I didn't find anything great inside of Gamers.  Well... I suppose I did find a first print copy of Riz-Zoawd on DS that was packaged with the OST.  Riz-Zoawd is a Japanese RPG based on The Wizard of Oz that uses the Stylus in some weird way.  It's developed by Media Creations (creators of Wild Arms). It looked really interesting.  But I figured that I'd never play it, so I passed.

Wandering Around

Like I mentioned before, Akihabara was fricken packed.  The day I visited was Greenery Day (a national holiday), so that may have been another reason for the crowds.


Isn't selling the R4 card illegal in Japan?  Note that the sign states that the R4 card does not work with the recently released DSi.  Only works for DS Lite.


One of the buildings had some girls singing a concert.  It was just a bunch of J-Poppy songs, so I didn't stick around for very long.

Super Potato

When talking about Japanese retro games, Jeremy Parish, Chris Kohler, and other retronauts always seem to mention their favorite Japanese game store: Super Potato.  So, I made a point to find this place and take a gander.


Super Potato has 3 floors to its own.  All the merchandise is crammed into floors 3 and 4.  Translating: The 3rd floor has Famicon, Megadrive, Super Famicon, 3DO, PC Engine, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, and NeoGeo games.  The 4th floor has Playstation, Gameboy, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Xbox, Game Watch, Game Music, LSI? and something else.  The 5th floor is their retro arcade.


Their selection was quite vast, but they didn't have any decent Dreamcast games :/.  Oh well, Super Potato prides itself on Famicon and Super Famicon games.


My final point of interest was Mandarake.  Every piece of merchandise in Mandarake was purchased from actual people.  They have no distribution lines of merchandise, no regular products.  Hundreds of people line up every day to sell their crap to Mandarake, and Mandarake puts a price tag on it.  And it doesn't have to be an official product either.

Mandarake is particularly notable for carrying Doujinshi, which are self-published works.  Most of which are Manga, and ALSO most of which are either Yaoi (which is guy on guy action specifically catering towards a female audience) or straight-up Hentai (anime pornography) of popular anime/game characters.

I've found some fantastic things at the Fukuoka and Nakano Mandarake branches, but the Akihabara branch suffered the same problems as all the other stores in Akiba.  It was very cramped and had poor selection.  Though, they did have Cosmic Smash on Dreamcast for $46.  They also had a copy of Border-down on Dreamcast for $96, which is the cheapest I've found it for...  I didn't buy either.

That's it

Unfortunately, that was really all that I visited.  I probably should have visited the Anime Radio station and the Akihabara UDX, but I was getting very discouraged on my hunt for video games.  The only thing I bought in Akihabara were a couple of Capsule Toys and Doki Doki Majo Shinpan.  Every store I visited was just another dead end search for spiffy games.

Overexposure definitely makes Akihabara horrible for game shopping.  If you want to find great games, you need to find the friendly neighborhood game stores that only the locals go to.  As I mentioned yesterday, that Geo North West of Shinjuku was amazing.  I found Ketsui and Project Justice for quite a cheap price.

In fact, I came across a couple dudes sifting through Playstation games and writing down prices on this very intricate printed out spread sheet.  Pricing and searching for games in Akihabara is pointless.  Be prepared to do a little more traveling if you actually want to make money buying Japanese games and putting them on ebay.  I've come across full boxed copies of Chrono Trigger and Seiken Densetsu 2 for as little as $5 in places you wouldn't think to look.

Anyways, the Over-hyped popularity of Akihabara is what disappointed me.  There are better places in Tokyo for this kind of stuff.