If you don’t know, Hard-Off is a store in Japan that sells a bunch of used stuff. Usually of the “hard” variety if you can believe it. This can be video games, consoles, stereos, CD’s, fake guns, figures, musical instruments, etc. It’s just a ton of stuff that you can dig through. The reason I go to them are for their selection of retro games. As I show of more and more of the stores that I’ve visited I’ll have more photos to really show what’s available and talk about what you can expect to find in these stores compared to other places in Japan.
This first store I chose was in Fujisawa. I selected it because it wasn’t that far for me to travel and it seemed like it was a big store. It’s also about a 5 minute walk from the station to the store, which is a great asset considering the distance of a few of the other stores I’ve visited more recently. It’s a multi story building with an Off-House, Hobby-Off and then a Hard-Off on the top floor. Those other names are for clothes and hobby stuff, pretty easy to understand.
To be honest, I really didn’t take a lot of photos of the inside of this store, which is something I’ll fix on subsequent Hard-Off excursions. The photo above was pulled off of google maps but I felt like it needed to be shown. You can see a good selection of Famicom games in the image, loose carts in bags on hooks and boxed copies on the bottom. The store had a decent selection of Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Playstation 1, 2, 3, & 4, and even some Saturn games and perhaps a random other console or two here and there. It’s a little hard to find Mega Drive games since those seem to be pretty rare outside of Akihabara.
Now, being my first store I got pretty excited and wanted to start collecting games right away. So I inevitably bought all of these games in the two images below. I never had a Super Nintendo or Super Famicom growing up, so I definitely wanted to get some of the classics for the console. I did, however, have a Nintendo 64 so I wanted to get a few of the games I loved for that console as well.
As you can tell from the images, I mostly bought boxed copies of the games and only picked up four loose carts. I do regret buying those loose carts now, I realized that I prefer to have a complete boxed copies of all my games. I love the fact that some of these games are 30 years old and are still in such good condition. It’s such a treasure to look at the box art and flip through the manual and see all the cool artwork inside. As I play these games I’ll definitely post pictures of the boxes and manuals so others can experience it as well.
As I visited this store I did not have a Super Famicom or N64 to play any of these titles, those consoles will come later and I’ll go into how that all works in another post.
Back to the store! Should you go visit this Hard-Off in your search for retro video games? I want to say yes and no. They do have a fairly ample selection of games and consoles available. They even had a decent, if not small money case of highly valuable games. One of the games I was looking for was Super Metroid on the Super Famicom, which they had in the money case. It was a little tattered looking and cost around 50 USD for a boxed copy, I’m pretty happy that I didn’t just buy the first copy I found and waited to see what other stores had to offer.
Look at that first image I posted and see if you can spot anything wrong with the layout of the store. This is something I only realized as I was going through all the games while in the store. A lot of the Super Famicom and Famicom games are on display right in front of a large floor to ceiling window. It’s really a shame at what they’re doing to a lot of these products. You can immediately see sun damage on a good portion of their stock. You can spot carts and boxes that have been sitting on the shelves for a long time because their colors are well faded. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a game in great condition, it’ll all probably just depend on how long they’ve been on the shelves for. The other systems, for the most part aren’t affected by any of this and still look in great shape.
All Hard-Off stores have a section they call junk. These products don’t come with a warranty and you take a risk in buying anything from here. They have blue bins full of old games that you can sort through. You’ll also find bins of AV cables, controllers and any other peripheral you can think of. The majority of these products will cost you about a dollar.
From the boxed games I bought, they ranged in price from under three dollars to about thirteen at the max. Way cheaper than the prices you’d find in Akihabara for sure, but perhaps with a few caveats that I’ll explore later on. For now, that’s one Hard-Off store down, let’s see which one we go to next! (Oh, and definitely more and more pictures of other stores.)