Retro Game Hunting in Japan

Hard Off Hachioji Owada & Oizumigakuen

Two in a day

After getting off the train.

These Hard-Off stores were pretty far away for me. It was a rainy day but with the heat of a Japanese summer bearing down on us all, a little rainy weather made it a little more bearable to wander a round Japan for an afternoon. What made this location interesting to me was that you typically don’t get all of the Off stores in one place like this, and this place had them all. So if you have a lot of interests and are looking to buy some used stuff, this would be a great first place to have a look. The walk from the station was about 20 minutes for me, but you can always take a bus or drive a car to get here if you’re so inclined.

Famicom Disk System Games!

When I get to a Hard-Off I tend to have a walk through all the isles first, just to see what they have. This aisle was the first one with a dedicated section to the Famicom Disk System that I ran across, which felt unique to me. While I didn’t pick up any of these games on this trip, I would eventually add some of these titles to my collection. It’s just a fascinating thing to see in person, especially growing up in America and never really knowing about these systems when I was a kid.

Famicom Games

I really haven’t been getting into collecting loose copies of Famicom games, but If I were to do so, I could easily get a large collection for relatively cheap. Just know that if you’re going for boxed copies of Famicom games, they are more rare at Hard-Off stores, but you can still find them. I tend to see more of the expensive titles behind glass here and they tend not to be in as great of shape as you can find in Akihabara. They will be cheaper though.

They actually have some Mega Drive and Mega CD games at this location!

I had already picked up a copy of Virtua Racing for the Mega Drive prior to this trip so I didn’t really find anything good for the console. You tend to find a lot of weird history role playing or sim games for the Mega Drive, just not really sure what those games are about. I would pick some up for the fun of it, but since they are so text heavy I’d have a hard time getting through them.

A fairly small selection of Sega Dreamcast games along with some random handheld titles and Hue Cards. Again, I wasn’t really picking up for Dreamcast or anything at this time so there wasn’t a lot for me in this section.

Boxed and loose consoles.

In this image you can see the boxed Mega Drive going for around 90-100 USD. That’s basically the price you’ll find for a boxed system outside of Akihabara, where it will tend to be a bit more expensive. A loose Saturn with a power cable is only around 30, the Wii consoles all range from 20-50 depending on their condition and what they come with. If anyone has questions as to prices for systems just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

More consoles, including boxed Famicom and Gamecube.

The N64 in this picture is expensive because it comes with multiple controllers and the expansion pack, which you can see in red above the N64 logo. They’ll leave the expansion slot door open to show you when it comes with the expansion pack. Be wary about buying some of the old Nintendo consoles from these stores, a good amount of them will be yellowing, but if you’re willing to retro-bright the console it could be a good way to restore something old and save a little money.

Super Famicom section.

Just like every Hard-Off I’ve been to, they have a massive selection of loose Super Famicom games to go through. You can tell just how popular this console was by how many loose games they always have. The majority of them are also really cheap. If you’re into loose games, this is a no-brainer.

Another Hard-Off!

Walking to the next store.

After I picked up a few games from my first Hard-Off, I decided to hop back on the train and go to another Hard-Off not too far away. I had my headphones in, listened to a few gaming podcasts, and set out to continue my journey.

The second Hard-Off I went to was in the town of Oizumimachi, in Nerima City. It started off with a lovely walk through a little neighborhood and then continued down the Shirako River. The store wasn’t too far away and I had a good time stopping to take photos while holding my umbrella with the other hand.

This store was definitely smaller than the last one I went to. They have an Off-House on the first floor so you had to take the escalator up to the second floor to find the Hard-Off. The game section was small compared to other stores. The selection wasn’t the best as well. I decided that since I was heading home after this and because the game selection was so small, I should look into buying a console instead.

My new, old, console.

I ended up getting a boxed N64 for around 60 dollars, it had everything in the box, the console, controller, power supply, video cables, and even the original documentation that came with the unit. I went with the Clear Blue model since I thought it looked pretty cool and because the one my brother and I got as kids was the basic grey model, which he has possession of now.

The game haul for the day.

I picked up a few N64 games from the second store to add to the Super Famicom games I purchased at the first Hard-Off of the day. All in all, I had a great time exploring some out of the way towns in the Tokyo region. It’s as if the hobby of collection retro games is more of an excuse to get out and see more remote areas of Tokyo and Japan in general. I’ve found that as I’ve visited these stores I tend to get less and less games. Partly due to the fact that I’m not a “hoarder” collector, I kind of just want the games that speak to me or peak my interest and not every game ever made. I’m also looking into getting more of the consoles and you’ll be able to see those in my next posts.

Until then, I hope you’ll join me on my next trip to Hard-Off!

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