Infinite mode: Japan’s love of retro gaming

Every human generation grows up with a videogame console generation. We’ll show you our age – most of the DEJAPAN team played their first games on the original PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 (nicknamed ‘roku-yon’ in Japan), and the Gamecube.

Wow, we feel old. But not as old as Atari players.

In Japan, retro gaming doesn’t so much get revivals as never go away. Beat as many games as you can, but you can’t beat some childhood nostalgia.

The NES and SNES Mini

Nintendo wants your money.

First, they put out a tiny version of the NES pre-loaded with games. That was followed by a mini SNES. Then, after you’d given up on owning either of them, they released both together as a special edition set.

Each mini console’s a shrunk-down replica of the original, including the controllers. And they’re packed with the titles you want to play: Super Mario, Pac-Man, Metroid, Castlevania, Donkey Kong…

Sure, they’re not exclusive to Japan. But they’re hard enough to find that you’ll start looking in every country you can think of.

The PlayStation Classic

Sony wants your money too. And how.

It’s clear Nintendo paved the way for this release – unlikely we’d have ever seen it otherwise. But hey, if we get more retro games in tiny modern packages, that’s a good thing.

Only revealing 5 of 20 pre-loaded games in the initial announcement was a risky move. Some people’ll buy for their all-time fave game alone. Some won’t hit that pre-order button until they know exactly what they’re getting. We’re in the first camp. Give us our Tekken 3 already.

A giant Pong table

Let’s switch from mini consoles to something with max impact. For half a million yen, Atari’s home decoration masterpiece (giant Pong table) could be yours.

Pong’s built into the table itself – not as a videogame on a screen, but with real paddles moved by turning a dial. It comes with 2 stools for multiplayer, 4 USB charging ports, and the ability to stream music.

Kinda puts the 1/12-scale Space Invaders cabinet to shame.

As huge as it is – as huge as the price tag is – this thing’s selling. We’ve spotted it at game centres and pinball arcades in Osaka. Well, they’ve got the floor space.

Retro game goods

Admit it, you wouldn’t mind owning a shoulder bag that looks like a Dreamcast. Plus a Pac-Man phone case, and a Sonic wallet, to go inside. For every practical thing you can think of, chances are there’s a gaming version out there.

Game-themed merch can get nice and weird. The Super Mario travel goods collection had a question mark suitcase. SEGA’s collab with Tanita gave us retro console bathroom scales. What’s gonna be next?

Retro game clothes

Pixels are back in fashion. In 2018, Uniqlo released 2 lines of gaming-inspired T-shirts – 1 with Namco Station, and 1 ‘Space Invaders’ collection with Taito. Those follow the Super Mario line from 2017.

Wearing a gamer tee is like wearing a band tee. It’s a signal to those in the know, shows that you’re part of the club. Same as if you got the Konami code tattooed on your chest.

We’ve also seen:

Take it far enough, and you’d dress like a gamer from head to toe. Not so much an insider signal… as a blaring alarm to everyone around you.

SEGA taiyaki

In the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo, SEGA sells taiyaki. A Japanese sweet snack, kinda like a fish-shaped doughnut, usually filled with red bean paste, sweet potato, cream or custard. Trust us, they’re good.

The ‘tai’ in the word ‘taiyaki’ comes from the traditional fish shape. But SEGA hasn’t stopped there. They’ve put out non-fish designs, like the girls from Love Live! Sunshine!, Puyo Puyo… and a huge SEGA logo.

It says ‘creation is life’ on the back. Yep, that’s the SEGA philosophy. A bite of this holds a double hit of old school flavour.

Pre-owned consoles and games

Akihabara in Tokyo, and Den Den Town here in Osaka, have the coolest retro game shops – if you know where to look.

We love Super Potato, a chain with shops in both areas. If the rainbow logo doesn’t draw you in, the giant Mario or Gameboy outside just might.

Each floor’s got a dungeon level layout, except nothing bad ever spawns and the whole path is treasure chests. Floor-to-ceiling games, for loads of home consoles and portable ones, at decent second-hand prices.

As well as game cartridges and discs, shops usually have pre-owned game consoles and controllers in stock. How many they’ve got depends on the console. (Poor unloved Gamecube.) It’s hard finding decent used N64 controllers, for example. Mario Party ruined the hell outta joysticks across the country.

Your next best bet’s Yahoo! Auctions Japan. Many physical game shops sell through online stores, so you can check out their shelves from home. Keep in mind that some shops on Yahoo! Auctions show pre-tax ‘buy it now’ prices, and budget an extra 8%.

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Start a new adventure here – or carry on grinding for 100% completion.

DEJAPAN’s where you’ll find classic games, retro consoles, and the random gaming-related merch only Japan could think up. And we’re 1UP on other proxy shopping sites, by not charging a service fee or commission.

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