A Quick Tour Of One Of The Best Game Stores On Earth

The Akihabara branch of Japanese games retailer Super Potato is one of the best game stores on the planet. If you’ve never been, you can do the next best thing and take a tour of it right now with our features editor Chris Kohler.

Chris is in Tokyo right now to bring you Tokyo Game Show coverage, which will run from September 21-24. He’ll be teaming up with Brian later in the week for a whole bunch of news, impressions and interviews from the show (and beyond)!

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Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

OSU_Nightfall
OSU_Nightfall

I went to Japan in July, and most of my time in Tokyo was spent combing through various retro gaming shops, trying to find everything on my buylist. A quick run-down:

Super Potato - This store lives up to both the good and bad of its reputation. Its prices are almost always the highest you’ll see, but they really do have the most comprehensive collection in Aki by a large margin, as well as an interesting selection of other gaming memorabilia. In fairness, for some high profile games (Seiken Densetsu 3, Terranigma) their price was not the highest I saw, and a few low profile games were listed at a fair price. Was the only place in Aki I could find several titles. I suggest looking here after you’ve exhausted other options. Worth visiting if only as a part of gaming culture.

Trader and Trader 2 - Super Potato is more famous, but for my money Trader is the best retro gaming store overall. They have a large selection with fair prices, and a few bargains. Was the only place in Akihabara I saw the coveted mini-RGB Framemeister, at a very reasonable 33,500Y... which, sadly, I could not resist.

Retro Game Camp - Their selection is spotty and terribly organized, and their prices are often higher even than Super Potato. This store lived up to its reputation as well, only their rep is mostly bad. However, you can find a bargain here at times. I picked up a 1-chip SNES hiding in a pallet of Super Famicoms for $40.

Friends! - Quite difficult to find, on the third floor of a nondescript building. Only signage was a few hand-drawn 8x11 sheets of paper. This store also lived up to its rep as one of Aki’s hidden gems. Surprisingly good selection of often difficult to find games. Prices ranged from fair to a little high for some high-profile titles. Run by a very sweet lady and her husband, friends is definitely worth the time to track down. The retro gaming articles that list this store had a current address for it as of July.

Book Off - Dear God, I wish we had book off in the US. It’s like a Half-Price Books that also carries a big selection of current and retro games, as well as anime statues and memorabilia. You never know what you might find in their used games section. Their selection of 100Y used manga is unbelievable. There is no better place in Japan to look for used manga than Book Off. For retro games, the Akihabara location was unfortunately a waste of time; they seem to have a policy of marking all Super Famicom games for 850Y regardless of what they’re actually worth. This could lead to finding an expensive game for cheap, but despite having a large selection of titles I didn’t find a single one worth buying. Note that that only applies to this location; all other Book Offs were amazing.

Mandarake - Not bad at all. A decent selection with often excellent prices. Truly excellent if you’re looking for used manga.