After getting a taste of what Hard-Off could offer, I was eagerly looked forward to another trip out into the electric lights of smooth jazz sounds of Japan. This time I was headed for the little town of Yamato, west of Yokohama and even further west of Tokyo. When I arrived I got off the train to one of the quietest little train stations. You quickly get the sense that this town is not one that is frequented by a lot of visitors. There were hardly any people around this train station or on my short walk to my destination. After a brief stroll down the road I came upon the building I was looking for and rounded the corner. I was greeted with a grocery store which threw me for a loop, I backed away from the building and looked up at the sign to see that Hard-Off was actually on the second flood, I entered and went up the escalator to the right.
The game section encompassed one long isle in the middle of the store. Starting with PS4 games and eventually getting into a decently sized retro section on my left. To my right was a small selection of consoles along with one glass ‘money’ case that held all the more expensive games that are harder to find.
I felt invigorated by seeing all these games and I really decided to get my hands dirty and take my time to go through the titles they had. I wasn’t really in a rush, my afternoon was this trip and I wanted to really get a sense of what Hard-Off had to offer. I’ve been watching plenty of content on YouTube over the past few weeks, looking for good recommendations of games to buy. I wasn’t too well versed in Japanese games and what they had to offer, especially on the older generations of consoles since there are a lot of exclusive titles that never came out in the West.
The one thing you have to really learn by doing is figuring out what a good price for a game is. If you’re frugal with your money you really should take your time to get a list of games you’re looking for and find out what they’re going for online. This will give you a frame of reference as to what a good price is. Maybe watch some YouTube videos, or check out some of the prices I’ll be posting in my Retro Game Hunting updates, or perhaps use a site like pricecharting.com. Sometimes you just need to get in there and see games on shelves and see their prices. By visiting a store like Hard-Off, you can easily find games for a fraction of the price you see them going for online.
If you’re visiting Japan and are planning on staying in the Tokyo region, you have to think about if going to a Hard-Off is really worth your time. You might see some of the prices I’m showing and talking about and think of all the great deals you can get and all the money you can save. What you need to consider is that some of these hard offs are 60-90 minutes away from downtown Tokyo. They may cost 10 or more dollars to get to by train, depending on the location. The further away from Tokyo the cheaper they may be as well. If you pick some far locations it may take up your whole day going to one or two of these stores. If you want to spend a day or two of your limited time visiting Japan wandering around little towns and thrift stores that’s okay to do in my book. If you’re looking for certain games and want them in boxed and in good condition, you may just want to hit up Akihabara and the stores there. While you may pay a higher price, they’ll most likely have all the games you want and you wont really have to travel far for them. Just something to think about.
For me, living in Japan and enjoying these little trips to different places and exploring off the beaten path has given me an idea to start collecting for other people. It’d be fun to buy games for others that can’t visit Japan, putting together little gift boxes of games and miscellaneous items for a fee. It’s a cool concept at least.
If you’re simply looking for loose N64 games, they are really easy to come by in these Hard-Off stores. They are generally very cheap for your major franchises like Zelda and Mario. Boxed copies are widely available as well, including all the inserts and manual, for a relatively low price at the moment. While you can get a boxed copy of Ocarina of Time for around 12-15 dollars, Goldeneye may cost up around 40-50.
Every Hard-Off I’ve been to has just a massive amount of loose Super Famicom games for you to pick through. The majority of the bags games are in decent condition as well. They are definitely cheaper than the boxed games I’ve been hunting for. You can probably get 25 good loose Super Famicom games for around 100 USD if you avoid the more rare titles.
Yes, you can find PSP UMD titles in Hard-Off as well, if you’re into that sort of thing. There are usually a good selection of Game Boy titles as well. The boxed copies of games are sealed up with wrapping, so it’s hard to really inspect the inside of the boxes to check the condition of the manual and everything. Typically, if it’s a boxed copy at a Hard-Off, you can expect the quality to be okay, I haven’t bought any games that were a mess inside, but I have got some that were really great quality, it’s more of a crap shoot in that regard.
You’ll notice through these images the disparity in the selection of Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) and Nintendo games. This was at a point where I was only really looking for Super Famicom and N64 titles, I’ve since spread out further into other console but you’ll have to wait for that revelation! I’ve noticed that a lot of the Mega Drive titles they have tend to be historical in nature at Hard-Off, it’s less likely, but not impossible, to find your Sonic or more popular Western games.
This was the glass ‘money’ case at this store. It didn’t have the biggest selection of titles and nothing that really spoke to me at the time. Even though this store is a thrift shop of sorts, don’t expect to always find the cheapest prices on every game here. Some of these prices will rival what you’ll pay in Akihabara and they could be in worse condition! Just be mindful of what you’re buying and make sure the price is right for your budget and what you’re looking for. Don’t feel pressured into getting the game just because you’re there.
These were the games I picked up on this trip. I was happy to see they had a copy of Virtua Racing for the Mega Drive, I remember renting that game as a kid and enjoying it. It’ll be pretty funny to see how it holds up today. As you can tell by the rest of the games I bought, I’m trying to get the basic set of games for a collection. All these titles seem to be relatively easy to find at any Hard-Off, so as long as you find a good copy of a game, pick it up.
So that was the second Hard-Off trip that I went on and I enjoyed my journey. I’m not sure I’ll really need to ever visit this Hard-Off again, mostly because I’m getting more and more particular on the games I’m looking for, and hardware for that matter. The trip was enjoyable and I’m happy it was one of the earlier stores that I went to.