Mandai – Massive Japanese Retro Store!

Mandai is a pretty big chain of stores here in Japan. They specialise in almost everything retro, used, or quirky in some way. The only trouble with these stores is that the prices vary dramatically, and to get a good deal it can be rare. Still, I have bought some very nice items from this place in the past, but on this trip it was not to be.

It’s always a good sign of an interesting store when there is a giant robot out the front right?


And it’s even better (as a sign of a place I want to go into) when the giant robot is sporting a game controller as a belt buckle. πŸ˜€


The range this place carries is nothing short of amazing, but the stock doesn’t seem to rotate all that often unfortunately – mainly due to the prices. Don’t get me wrong, the prices are quite fair on average, but they’re just not the usual jaw-droppingly cheap that a game hoarder becomes accustomed to here in Japan.

This item bellow is something I hadn’t seen before. Maybe Sean from the Famicom blog can shed some more light on it. It is a Karaoke unit for the Famicom of all things. I would love to hear the 8-bit renditions of 80s J-Pop that would come with it! I was very tempted to pick this up, and in all honesty I might go back and grab it if anyone can fill me in on it.


A few N64s for the taking. πŸ˜€


There is so much here that getting everything in a single shot is pretty much impossible. Bellow we have a few pics of the Super Famicom sections.





As you can probable tell this far into the post, this particular shop is large, very large, but the pictures really do not give the size away. Even when there in person, the front door of the shop opens up to almost a Tardis like experience. The first thing you notice is a massive Pachinko/Pachislo parlour, then the place opens out into a myriad a colours and sounds in an almost seizure inducing mess.

Some Saturn,Dreamcast, NeoGeo, and VirtualBoy stuff.



Here we have one of the isles. This one has a fair bit of the N64 stuff, and some more Super Famicom carts.


Sorry for the blurry picture on this one guys. As I have mentioned before, taking pictures in Japanese stores isn’t looked on too kindly, so I had to rush around to get these pictures. Unfortunately this means that the Famicom carts ended up being a bit on the blurry side. πŸ™


OK enough of the games for a second…. Like I mentioned above, this place is massive, and stocks so many different things that you will never get through the lot in one go – that is not an exaggeration! I usually get into complete meltdown after about 50% exploration. Bellow I have taken some random pictures of stuff that I thought would suit fellow geeks. πŸ˜€

A life sized Yoda! Yes, I understand that Yoda is not real, but if he were, this is how big he’d be. πŸ˜€


Hentai section for all that is cute, fury, tentacle-like, or a combination of all three. πŸ˜€


Yes, Godzilla is in fact smaller than DarthVader – always knew this was the case.


I was not expecting to find Coneheads toys!


And finally we have the Megadrive section on the left and game books/tutorial on the right. The picture bellow that is an area of the PS2 section that would fit into the frame. I kid you not, that would be less than 20% of what’s there for PS2!



Just looking through these pictures makes me realise just how much game gear I have missed! I missed the GameCube, Handhelds, any current Gen machines and games, plus so many other interesting sections of the store. This place is amazing to walk through for any serious Otaku, but I would definitely recommend going on a weekday if possible – people just add to the claustrophobic feeling of the place.

Since when does Taito = Rubbish?

This past weekend I did the right thing and spent time with the family. We decided to head out and go for a drive into the mountains. The mountain roads in Japan are great fun to drive on for me, very picturesque for the wife, and something different for the kids. πŸ˜€

Driving through this tiny little town, out of the corner of my eye, I catch what seems to be a discarded arcade cab. After debating with the wife to turn around for 30 seconds or so, we turn off the main road and head back in the general direction. Initially I thought I might have been imaging things (dreaming of arcades and gaming while trying to be a good family man), but then there it was! An early Taito cab! It was well and truly beat up, and due to the location very difficult to actually get a closer look, but to find it there was just plain weird.

To give you an idea of just how weird this location was, I took two pictures. Picture one shows the right hand side of the car (rice fields and dirt), and picture two shows the left hand side (Taito and rubbish). Both these pictures were taken in exactly the same spot though.

Picture 1:


Picture 2:


As you can see by those pictures this thing truly was in a strange place. It looked as if it had been there for years…. Sad sad times indeed. Yet another classic arcade cab bites the dust…. πŸ™

Special Feature – Weird Controllers – Part Two

Well… I’m back with round two of the weirder controllers I have in my hoard. I could have easily gone into a part three, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I am leaving out a few of the music based controllers, the Gameboy add-on controllers, and a few various others that I am pretty sure people would have seen before. There are just so many that could have easily made it to this list, and if any of you have a few weird ones to add then I would definitely like to see them.

OK, so here we go again with part two! πŸ˜€


The ASCII Grip

I see these around a fair bit, but to find one boxed is a little on the rare side. Honestly speaking I am not entirely sure what these are even used for, so please make a post and let me know if you have an idea.



Capcom Quiz Controller for the Famicom

Many of you may not be aware, but the alphabet only goes up to the letter ‘M’ here in Japan. Something to do with WWII I believe – yes terrible joke – apologies to all my Japanese friends reading this.



XE-1AP Megadrive Analogue Controller

Yes, you read that right! An analogue controller on the Megadrive! To my knowledge it only supports a few titles on the MD/Genesis – Afterburner being one of them. It really is one of the most ugly controllers I have seen though, but it doesn’t feel too bad in the hand. I do not know how rare these are, but this was the first time I had seen one here, so it was a must buy.

EDIT (credited to SuperDeadite from the PCE forum for the extra info):
SuperDeadite writes: “There’s about 12 games across the MD/MCD/32X platform, but it also works with the 5 analog pce games (needs the XHE-3 adapter), and also about 30 games on the X68000 (the original purpose for that controller), and around 10 or so on FM Towns.”

*I definitely want people to send/post any information they have it about any of the gear I have here. It’s hard to find info on the amount of gear I get, so it’s very much appreciated – not only by me, but by the next readers that pass through.*



Sunsoft Pachinko Controller for the SuperFamicom

As most of you guys know already I am not a Pachinko fan at all, but the controllers really intrigue me for some reason. It could be purely due to the fact they highlight an addiction that in my country of origin has not been translated to the family game console. Some of the controllers are so damn elaborate as well – as demonstrated in the controller featured bellow this one. I just can’t help but pick them up when I see them.



Hori Playstation Pachislo Controller

This would have to be one of the fanciest Pachislo controllers I have seen in my travels. It’s not only fancy, but also huge!

I have seen one other one for the PC that probably takes the cake with LEDs flashing all over the place, but this one dedicated for consoles is one of the most intricate I have so far. I am yet to use this, but I do have a few Pachislo games for the PS2 that I will have to try out at some point.


Check out this chrome styling! πŸ˜€



Playstation Kids Station

This controller is one of the coolest in my opinion. Not because it’s overly different, but just because it’s clear with giant buttons – I am a sucker for clear/crystal machines and controllers.



PC Engine Pachinko Controller

Yep, another Pachinko controller makes it into the post, but this one is for the mightly PC-Engine (quite possible my favorite console here in Japan). This one is modeled on the old school style of Pachinko, and there are a fair few games on the PCE that support it.

Imagine the censorship board trying to allow gambling games on the WII/PS3/360 back at home – not a chance! πŸ˜€



Hori Famicom Trackball

These cool little controllers only support a total of 4 games (thanks for that info Frank). I just did a quick search (as I couldn’t remember exactly which games Frank mentioned) and those games appear to be:

Operation Wolf
US Championship V’Ball
Pro Soccer
Putt Putt Golf

The feel of this isn’t exactly arcade perfect, but it’s surprisingly solid. Bet they would not have been cheap either.



The Bandai Super Controller II

Think back a minute to the 80s – Back to the future, Arcades on every street corner (in the perfect city), flat-top haircuts, and every kid owning a BMX – now think to the level of technology….

I don’t remember seeing anything like this back home in the time period. I have been debating whether or not I should be breaking the collector’s rule and trying this out for ages. It’s brand new, and although I consider myself more of a player than a collector, this particular controller puts me on the fence. It could be another summer holiday item on the list though I reckon….



Konami ParaParaParadise Controller

ParaPara is a dance craze that truly encapsulates all that is right/wrong with Japanese sub-culture. I am not even sure if ParaPara exists anymore, and based on this controller being unused and sealed, it may not have been as big as the media made it out to be a few years back. Definitely do a Youtube search if you do not know what this is. If I was to explain it though, I would say it is dancing without the need to move your legs – just stay in line, conform without question, and make sure original thoughts are left at the door, or else!! πŸ˜€



And that brings us to the end of the controller feature special. πŸ™‚

Like I said, there were many others that could have made the cut here, but I thought it would go too far if I decided to post absolutely everything. It was definitely fun going through these for a closer look, and I hope that there were at least a few that you guys had not seen before – even if you’ll be happy to never see them again. πŸ˜€

Special Feature – Weird Controllers – Part One

When looking over the “huge pile of junk” (quote: Hollo’s wife) recently, there was something that occurred to me… Japan has some seriously weird a*** controllers! I am not talking about the classic pieces of crap we all know and love (eg: Nintendo’s Power Glove – in fact I have left the Power Glove out in this round up of Japan-ness), I am talking about either dedicated, failed, or just plain odd controllers that many people outside of Japan probably have not seen before.

This two-part special feature will be highlighting some of the controllers in my pile of gear that in my opinion don’t fit the norm. Originally I was planning on doing a countdown of the top 20, but after looking at them it was going to be too hard to choose, plus I will hopefully be picking up new controllers before I even write part two.

I really hope that there are at least a few controllers that even you seasoned gamers have not seen before. πŸ˜€

So without further ado, the first of the controllers!


Capcom Pad Soldier – Superfamicom and 3DO versions

Surprisingly this is quite comfortable to use. The basic idea is that it’s designed to be held mainly in your left hand, and then instead of using your thumbs for the buttons, you actually use your fingers.

Being that it’s made by Capcom, and being that it’s designed to be played using fingers instead of thumbs, my powerful powers of observations lead me to believe that it was created for games of the fighting genre – would be usable for shooters too I imagine.


Another interesting thing about the 3DO version is the fact that you can piggy back controllers onto it in much the same way you can with the original controllers.

The 3DO versions are rare to come by as well. The SFC ones I see from time to time, but this is the one and only 3DO version I have seen in the wild.



Densha De Go – Train simulation at its finest


Is it just me, or should every controller have built in cup holders? At least I think that’s what they are…. These two are Playstation versions, but I do have the N64 version as well. However I am ashamed to say that I don’t actually own any compatible games for either machine.

Suitable games for these controllers are definitely on the ‘to-buy’ list….


Hori Super Robot Wars Controller


This thing was somewhat jarring the first time I grabbed onto it. I wasn’t sure what went where, or how it could be used comfortably. As the name implies though, it’s designed to be used with Super Robot Wars on the PS2, and from all accounts online people actually enjoy using it. Not sure if I would use in place of a standard duel shock, but it’s an interesting bit of gear.

As you can see from the picture bellow, your fingers each have a dedicated button, and your thumb rests nicely on the D-Pad. I can only assume that you rest each each analogue stick firmly into each of your eye sockets? πŸ˜€



Konami Dance Dance Revolution Controller


Once you live in Japan for a while you can’t help but get interested in hardcore DDR players – specially the cute female ones. These gamers take their performances so seriously, that if they had hats out you would definitely throw money in them.

If I think back to the arcades of yesteryear at home, people dancing in public may have very well had their heads kicked in, but this isn’t the case in Japan! They are the envy of others, and they command an audience like ‘insert pop singer here’. Although I haven’t actually used this controller yet, I will give it a go at some point, but no, there will not be a video posted. πŸ˜€


Taito Power Shovel Ni Norou


Ever dreamed of destroying things with a power shovel? Yes, of course you have. Unfortunately however, you need a pesky license to do so, and that’s where this controller comes in!

While using this I couldn’t help but scream profanity at every women walking past my house on the street. Wolf-whistles, sexual innuendo, and gestures simply came poring out of me in an uncontrollable trance like way. I may not be built like a construction worker, but now at least I can feel as dirty as one. Thanks Taito. πŸ˜€


Superfamicom NTT DoCoMo Data Controller


Originally designed to be used with a modem, this controller allowed you to interface with what was going on outside the house – in a limited way of course.

You guys might be familiar with the add-on that could be mounted on top of a Famicom that effectively did the same thing? To my understanding the main function for these devices was for gambling, and aside from all the extra buttons, it works as a regular controller.


Namco Negcon


I have done a quick write-up about these in the Namco section of SGUG, so I won’t go into a heap of detail about it here. All that needs to be said is that this controller is meant for driving games. Personally it is not my thing at all, but there are those out there that really love the thing – not sure why, but each to their own right?


Anyway, we have now come to the end of part one of this controller special. I will be doing part two soon, but I hope to pick up a few more before writing it up. There are some must buys before continuing onto part two. πŸ˜€

Epoch Hang-on LCD – Not Quite Arcade Perfect….

First off, I have to apologise for not getting more content up recently. Life has been absolutely crazy, and that’s putting it mildly… Anyway, I am back now – if only for this small post.

You guys may remember the ‘Epoch Bubble Bobble’ post I made a while back? Well if not, it was pretty much the Bubble Bobble version of what you see here – a small LCD handheld that someone would buy if they were spending too much cash on the arcade equivalent (‘equivalent’ used lightly), only to get home, rip off the wrapper and realise that it was nothing like the arcade machine.

Well, here we have the Hang-on handheld! Another handheld that is sure to disappoint those who expected the arcade in the palm of your hand. πŸ˜€


As I mentioned in the Bubble Bobble post, these particular LCDs aren’t exactly retro by any stretch of the imagination. The release dates for these don’t go that far back at all (2005 being the year of release), but that doesn’t make them any less sort after. Over here in Japan they come up reasonably often, but the prices vary wildly. I got this one sealed/unused for about the 1,000yen mark if I remember rightly, which I believe is a great deal.

I haven’t cracked this one open to try it out, so again I will turn to the great ‘Showagamer’ on youtube to demo this little LCD beast. πŸ™‚