Retrogaming Guide To Akihabara

It's every retro gamer's dream to visit Akihabara, "Electric City" in Tokyo but is it really worth it? You will find the answer in this guide which covers the most known retrogaming stores in Akihabara.

First Stop: Akihabara Metro Station

After arriving to Akihabara Metro Station, follow the sign "Electric City" and you will come across the famous SEGA buildings outside. You can't really miss it. The surrounding streets are crowded by manga, toy and electronic shops. Not to mention the Hentai shops. You will also come across the "Yodobashi Camera" store which is probably the world's biggest electronic store. If you are looking for an high-end camera or a strange beauty peripheral from Panasonic, this is the place to visit for. If you are a fan of rice, you can also buy an expensive rice cooking machine which is very popular in Japan. I honestly didn't enjoy this store but everyone has another taste.

- The famous SEGA building in Akihabara doesn't sell SEGA video games unfortunately.
 

Super Potato (スーパーポテト): Heaven or expensive as hell?

This is the most visited retrogaming shop in Akihabara and possibly the most popular one. If you are looking for a Nintendo Famicom, Nintendo Super Famicom or Sony Playstation game, this is the best place in my opinion. But I should warn you about the prices. Although Super Potato has nearly every game and console in stock, they cost more than other shops in Akihabara.

 
- The prices of loose Super Famicom cartridges by "Super Potato" aren't that bad.
 

There are of course exceptions but if you want to catch a good price, you have to check other stores in this area. If you are looking for Sega Saturn or Sega Dreamcast games, I am sorry to say that Super Potato will disappoint you. I have only bought some accessories there but I enjoyed visiting this shop as it really has the true retrogaming atmosphere and the arcade section in the third floor immerses you into another world.   

 

- The labels on the games indicate the condition of the game but the prices differ even in the same condition.

 

Trader (トレーダー本店): The "Junk" heaven

There are four "Trader" stores in Akihabara. Not all of them carries out retro video games but the first "Trader" is the one that you will be looking for. The entrance floor gives a bad impression but the second floor is amazing. Trader has video games nearly from all the consoles and they also have random stocks of boxed and unboxed retrogaming consoles. During my visit, I had the chance to buy Dreamcast Regulation#7 console, but my hesitation didn't allow it. I have bought boxed Sega Saturn and Nintendo Famicom AV consoles in mint condition. The prices were also fair: Sega Saturn for 5'500 Yen and Nintendo Famicom AV for 13'500 Yen.

You can also find really rare video games by Trader and they are displayed in an locked glass shelf. They didn't allow me to take photos but they had rare games like Shinrei Jusatsushi Taromaru for Sega Saturn and Iron Commando for Nintendo Super Famicom. The common rare video games like Final Fight Tough, Akumajo Dracula X for Nintendo Super Famicom and Street Fighter Zero 3,  Hyperduel for Sega Saturn can also be found by Trader.

The most amazing thing about "Trader" is that they have some video games under the label "junk". Interestingly the meaning of junk was different then what I've known. They sell video games as junk which have missing parts or weren't tested. I have bought about 20 junk video games there (for Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast) and all of them were working. If you visit "Trader", buy definitely what you see under "Junk", you will not regret it. The prices vary amazingly between 100 Yen and 500 Yen.

Mandarake (マンダラケ): Best retrogaming shop in Akihabara

Mandarake was for me the most special retrogaming shop in Akihabara. They have whooping 8 stocks and the retrogames are on the 6th floor. Unlike "Trader" and "Super Potato", they have proper elevators to use if you want to avoid the stairs. Their building is also very special and one has to be blind to miss this dark futuristic building.
 
- Mandarake's building looks like a futuristic skyscraper from outside, you really can't miss it.
 

The have amazing stock of retro video games for Nintendo Famicom, Nintendo Super Famicom, SNK Neo Geo AES, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation. They have of course stocks of retro video games for all retrogaming consoles but the amount of games for Sega Saturn and SNK Neo Geo AES are just amazing. The prices are definitely better than "Super Potato" but you have to compare the prices with "Trader" to get the best offer. 

 
- They have amazing stock of SNK Neo Geo AES games, the prices are also good for their conditions.
 

You will see a very special glass shelf near the cash desk. They showcase some very rare retro video games and items there but they have no price tags on them. That means they are not for sale and the guys working there don't like taking offers for these items.

 
- The "Not for sale" items by Mandarake.

 

- Some of the rarest japanese video games by Mandarake. They don't allow taking photos though :)
 

Friends (フレンズ): Weird or friendly?

Before visiting "Friends", I read many great articles about it and I had the impression that it was a little wonder store in Akihabara. Unfortunately, that's not the truth and this store is overhyped. Finding this store is like finding a hidden star in a Mario game. It's very easy to miss but if you try to find the "Zenith coffee shop" in Akihabara, you will then find this store in the nearby building. The store is run by an old lady and I guess her relatives or sons are also working there. The store is divided into two floors and they have limited stocks of retro video games and retrogaming consoles. The prices of Nintendo Famicom and Nintendo Super Famicom retro video games are the best in Akihabara but I found the prices of Sega Saturn retro video games really expensive in contrast to other stores. "Friends" has also a junk section like "Trader" and I advise you to check it first before buying other stuff in this store.
 
The store is really small and most of the times you will only see 1-2 customers inside checking the games.I was really disappointed with their stock of games but I found a real gem there. I have bought an unboxed Dreamcast broadband adapter for about 4'000 Yen. Amazing price. Visit this store at the end of the day, If you just want to surprise yourself.
 

Conclusion:

Akihabara has unfortunately lost its reputation about being the paradise for retrogaming and it's now filled out with electronic toy and manga stores. There were also 2-3 other retrogaming stores in Akihabara which I have visited but that's all about it. Some of these stores will hopefully exist in the future but if you have the chance to visit Akihabara, then just don't delay it. The prices of retro video games in Akihabara are increasing and it's just a matter of time that EBAY will be the only place to get the best deals in retrogaming.  
 
Lastly don't forget to visit "Book Off" chain stores in Tokyo as you will find some retro video games with good prices in these stores. They don't stock too much and some of their stores don't offer any retro video games but I have visited many "Book Off" stores in Shibuya, Akihabara and Shinjuku regions and found little surprises.