Monday, 5 May 2008

Tokyo - City Of Dreams?

So, there I was. In Tokyo. The city, which I heard so much about. All my retrogaming dreams would finally come true. Well, at least that's what I thought. Many of my mates on the internet already warned me about Tokyo not being the retrogamer's paradise, which it used to be. I took a mental note but still thought, that it at least must be better over there than in my hometown in Germany. And well, it was. Sort of.

~Akihabara~

On day 2 of our visit, we went straight to Akihabara, to check out some retroshops. At first we had some trouble finding one, but then we found the quite famous "Super Potato" shop. We went up the stairs to floor 1 and the amount of retrogames you'll find there is a bit overwhelming at first. You have dozens of Super Famicom carts, even more Famicom carts and also Sega Saturn games. A whole shelf full of them! In a neat little glass showcase, they stacked up the really rare items. A little bit of hardware can be found here and there as well. So that sounds great, doesn't it? Well it was to a certain degree. What wasn't as nice, were the prices of the games. A Guardian Heroes did cost around 24 EUR there. I already bought that for 7 EUR on ebay.de! The other prices were mediocre at best, too. Especially the rare items were really expensive. So the only bargain you could obtain were 100 Yen (0,60 EUR) games like Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA or Fighting Vipers. I managed to get some great bargains here and there (Like Miniskirt Police for 13 EUR, which I have to review in some days!), but I was still a tad dissapointed. Other Retroshops in Akihabara (and there aren't too many of them either!) have roughly the same pricing, so if you are after the good Sega Saturn games, you might want to continue browsing ebay.


But hey, I was warned, wasn't I? So I had a look for some boxed hardware and... uhm... found nothing. The Super Potato shop had that boxed white Saturn, but with a 80 EUR price tag and a definitely not mint box, I had to pass. I bought the even more rare V-Saturn on ebay.de for around 70 EUR for example. I wasn't even able to find some boxed Joypads or something like that. Not to speak of truly rare and / or unique items like the Sega Saturn backpacks, SegaFan Issues or the Segata Sanshiro action figure. If you are a collector of unboxed Famicom games, then Tokyo is still your paradise. But regarding Sega Saturn games Tokyo is not a must anymore. If you are there to see the extraordinary city, then it's fine to browse some Saturn Games here and there and save some money whilst buying a shitload of 100 Yen games.

~Bars~

When staying in Tokyo, your brain is constantly exposed to an immense amount of flashing lights, uber sized billboards, incredibly gorgeous girls and incredibly loud sounds. So it's just natural, that you want to relax somewhere and drink as much beer, as you can. A mere days before we flew to Japan we actually found two Tokyo based videogame themed bars in the internet. 8-Bit Café and 16 Shots. They were even just minutes away from our hotel, so it was clear that we'll hang out there and drink like crazy. We first visited the 8-Bit Café, which is nothing more than an apartment located on the fifth floor in one of Tokyo's skyscrapers. It's quite small, but you can squeeze a lot of people into it, if you want. And more importantly there was gaming goodness lying around everywhere. Super Famicom carts, two Sega Saturns, a showcase filled with odd stuff and a lot of videogame related books. Of course you can play all that stuff as well! We immediately ordered some beer and for some odd reason they only had german Löwenbräu beer. That didn't stop us from drinking, though. After some rounds of Street Fighter II we also managed to get in contact with some true locals, who already were kinda drunk. It was a really nice evening there.




The next day, we wanted to visit the 16 Shots bar, which was only 5 Minutes away from the 8-Bit Café. It was even smaller, roughly fitting max. 7 people inside. 4 at the counter and 3 around a great cocktail cab with Raiden Fighters 2. The first thing you noticed was the music. In the 16 Shots bar the playlist was filled with videogame tunes like the Segata Sanshiro Theme (!), Virtua Fighter tunes and countless of other stuff, whereas the 8-Bit Café was mainly playing "ordinary" electronic music. The 16 Shots bar had a lot of gaming goodnes flying around here and there, as well. But the really great thing about it was the toilet, which had a pinboard with business cards on it. Those weren't normal business cards but business cards from people who work at Sega, Grasshopper Manufacture, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Famitsu, etc. Nearly the whole industry was there and I was peeing right next to them. When visiting the 16 Shots bar more often during our stay, we noticed why there were so many business cards hanging at the toilet pinboard. Those people actually visit the bar quite frequently! We managed to meet people from Climax (Dark Saviour anyone?), Grasshopper Manufacture, the guy who made Every Extend Extra and most importantly a very nice and friendly guy from Sega. We drank a bit, talked a bit and whoops, the next day we had an appointment at the Sega Headquarter in Ootori.

~Sega~


The next day we arrived in Ootori on time and already saw a huge Sega sign when we stepped out of the JR line station! We didn't hesitate and went straight to it, posed infront of the Sega sign at the doors and went in. Inside it looked like your ordinary office building, with (gorgeous) secretaries running around and people waiting in the foyer to be picked up. It did take quite some time until our acquaintance came. But it was our mistake. We went straight into the Arcade Division Building and the Sega guy was waiting at the true Headquarter, just two blocks away, which we totally missed. The main headquarter was more representative with a huge Sonic in the Foyer, huge display windows with Sega memorabilia and some LCD screens with trailers of upcoming games running on them. We went into an empty conference room on the third floor and takeld a bit with him. Mostly about Dreamcast stuff, since the interview was mostly lead by a mate from Dreamcast-Scene.com.


So there wasn't too much Sega Saturn related stuff involved in our conversation, but we got a glimpse of how it must have been to work at Sega at that time. The guy, whom we talked with, was actually working on Burning Rangers and some other big games for the Sega Saturn. He also saw Shen Mue running on stock Sega Saturn hardware, which brought some tears to my eyes, once I heard that. I wish I would have been able to ask more interesting questions about the Sega Saturn, but time was scarce and he wasn't able to answer the truly interesting questions, since he didn't work in the responsible departments. And besides, there is not much unanswered stuff left, I am afraid.


~Tokyo In General~

So there you have it. That was Japan for me. Few retrogames, the ones you find are either very common and thus only about 100 Yen, or very rare and very expensive up to 98,000 Yen (roughly 600 EUR for an "Heim Waltz"). The girls in Tokyo are incredibly gorgeous, with the majority of them wearing (no matter how cold it is) nothing but Miniskirts, high heels, stockings and crazy tops. 99 % of them are super skinny and very cute as well. Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo is actually quite cheap. A can of coke out of a vending machine is 120 Yen (0,60 EUR), a Big Mac is 240 Yen (1,50 EUR, WTF? It's currently over 3,10 EUR in Germany!) and you can get the cheapest Metro ticket for around 100 - 140 Yen. So, Tokyo isn't really expensive. You can actually live there and you can especially afford a vacation there. Our flight was around 600 EUR and the 2 stars Hotel 400 EUR for 9 days. And let me tell you, that 2 stars in Japan are like 6 stars over here! It was incredibly noble and just perfect. I'll definitely visit Tokyo again some day.

5 comments:

Caleb said...

Aww.

Too bad you couldn't find any Saturn Games for cheap...

I suppose it's like everywhere though...you have to know where the local places are to buy cheap retro stuff. All the major stores are gonna have high prices.

Ah well. At least it sounds like you had a good time!

fatherkrishna said...

What a stunning post! If I'm absolutely honest, this is THE post I've been waiting for! I have to say, even though it didn't turn out to be the retro-fest it promised to be, I'm hugely jealous of the Japan trip I've always wanted to experience...

The bars sound amazing, even peeing next to business cards from Sega and Grasshopper sounds like the shitzen!

I love the photos, particularly the montage at the top of the post... Could you explain who is who on that?

Just being in any new country is a 'trip' for me. Barcelona last year, Cyprus this year... It's so rare that I escape the confines of Manchester/The UK that anywhere I go seems magical!

However, tonight the weather in Manchester has been Mediterranean.
After a few beers, I took a car ride through Manchester and managed somehow to imagine I was seeing it for the first time...

My city rocks! Vibrant, multicultural, dangerous, exciting and happening. I took a trip and that shit was good! I'm gonna big up my own urban paradise soon over at FKWS...

Until then I love this post elend!!! Take me with you next time!!!

P.S. Any presents? LOL!

elend said...

The guys on the Header are (from left to right): 1) Doc Aetzn 2) the Barkeeper of 16 Shots 3) Shagy 4) Me (Helloes!) 5) The guy from Grasshopper Manufacture 6) Max.
Numbers 1, 3, and 6 were the guys who made the trip with me.

I know exactly, what you mean. It's always work, work, work over here and germany isn't known for its great weather either. The last couple of days it has been quite hot, which I enjoy much. I am taking a lot of photographs recently (www.flickr.com/andersdenkend) and am just enjoying the sun at weekends.

Oh and btw, here is the complete set of my photos! www.andersdenkend.com/zwischenraum/tokyo08.rar

NebachadnezzaR said...

Helloes! :D

Sorry for the late comment.

Well, what a trip you had, Mr. Elend! I imagine that the lack of cheap retrogaming stuff, specially rare ones, was a major let-down, but retrogaming-themed bars? Gorgeous girls? A trip to SEGA's headquarters??? That's fucking awesome, mate!!! :D

We all got to go there someday :D

Btw, about the weather, right now it's raining :/ It's been really unstable lately, one day is hot as hell, the other is raining and it's freezing... Go figure...

gnome said...

A fantastic post elend! Unfortunately just found the time to read it, but, yeah, absolutely impressive...