Why I love Super Potato

Every time I’m in Japan, I always end up visiting Super Potato, the famous Osaka retro gaming shop with a very popular branch in Akihabara. It’s not the best place to hunt for old games by any means — Liberty and Friends are both cheaper, Mandarake in Nagano has more super-rare stuff at better prices, Mandarake in Shibuya has a better selection of portable titles and soundtracks, etc. And their already fairly high prices get higher if you pay with a credit card. Even so, Super Potato is still a must-visit stop, if only for a few minutes, because of two important factors. First, they allow fat, sweaty Americans like me to traipse about the store taking photos at leisure. Two, they have a retro arcade on the top floor, which I’ve never actually visited. (I’m saving it for a special occasion.) And finally…uh, did I say two? I meant three. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, retro love is everywhere.

The walls are plastered with hand-made signs, and every time I visit the old ones have been phased out by new ones. This montage is on the ground floor, offering promotion and information about the shop (including a screen shot of a dangerous golden knight looking for the restrooms). Clearly, this is a place run by people who love what they sell. And that makes it awesome.

More pictures after the jump, if you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s crappy, old-school, bikini-goddess Athena looking chastened. I can’t make out the kanji but I’m going to guess they’re using her awful, self-titled NES outing to promote the kusoge (crappy game) section and she’s ashamed. As well she should be!

Umihara Kawase and a fish-thing pimpin’ the Super Famicom selection. Clearly this is a store that knows its audience.

I believe this is what is referred to as a “Rockmandala.”

The prevailing philosophy for hardware here: Stack ’em high and sell ’em cheap. Super Potato’s games are pretty pricey, but their old consoles are priced well. Dinged-up or yellowed systems go for a bit less, but they have plenty of immaculate systems, too. And hard-to-find ones, like Sharp’s Twin Famicom and various shades of PC Engine peripherals and portables.

I found myself drawn to the Super Famicom section — perhaps not surprisingly. I recently had to sell off my 16-bit Nintendo collection, and it still smarts a little. Hmmm….

25 thoughts on “Why I love Super Potato

  1. I trust the smiths designed Gold Cloths with zippers or something. Otherwise, Aldebaran is screwed.

  2. I really wish there were a decent chain of retro/used game stores in the U.S. Other than, you know, the GameStop-opoly. I’m willing to be there’s some awesome stores in California but they probably don’t have Dreamcasts and SNESes in glorious stacks like that.

  3. Man, I don’t know what’s more endearing: that they have a blown-up screenshot of the Saint Seiya NES game pointing out the restrooms, or that they remember Saint Seiya at all.

    What is that red console in the lower left of the last photo? And, would they happen to carry US-style Super NES units that haven’t yellowed-out with age?

  4. And their already fairly high prices get higher if you pay with a credit card.

    In America, that’s not legal as it violates the contract with the credit card companies; they can’t charge you more for using a credit card. Abroad, not so sure about; I still need to check to see if the same holds true in Canada.

  5. Super Potato, yes! I was taken aback by their stack of shrink-wrapped Neo Geo home consoles for sale. I always find myself wandering aimlessly through that store every time I’m in Den Den Town as well, but I never remember the name. Shame on me.

    By the way, the Athena sign and the Super Famicom sign bear the same message – the store is offering to pay “high prices” for used game walkthroughs and strategy guides.

    Zef, US consoles in Japan are extremely rare, even in the retro-happy world of Den Den Town. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one. And I think the red and black consoles on that bottom shelf are the same machines, but I can’t make out the name written on the price tag. Whatever they are, they cost about $91.

  6. @LBD : must not apply to gas stations then, as many charge as much as a dime per gallon extra for using plastic.

  7. Japan is still a cash country, and very few people have credit cards, so they jack up cc prices to help cover hte credit card fees. i saw this all over the country.

  8. On the contrary, Japanese retro shops are much (MUCH) more reliable than American shops like Gamestop. They pride themselves on offering working merchandise. At the very least, I would imagine any FDS consoles in need of a new belt are marked down considerably from the working ones.

  9. Goddamn, if you can FIND a store that even takes plastic, you should be happy. Most won’t, or it takes 10 minutes and you have to fill out extra paperwork and.. it’s.. it’s just crazy.

    This is the country where ATMs -close down at night- (presumably because they’re staffed by service tech folk over a phone). Get your cash, don’t run out. =p

  10. I can’t believe I didn’t hit Super Potato when I visited Akiba a year and a half ago. I was woefully unprepared! Next time…?

  11. I went with my family, so I only stopped at a few stores (Trader- or was it Games or something?- 2 is a lot better then advertised actually), and Super Potato was one of them. It’s really great! As long as you don’t buy with boxes of course- or with dinged up boxes anyway. I got a good portion of SFC games while I was there…now you’re making me wish I could go back when I have more time…sigh…

  12. I also love that Super Potato seems to broadcast the mario theme into the street any time they’re open.

    But yeah, I get the feeling that Japan is going to transform straight from a cash-based economy to a cell-phone-based one, bypassing credit cards entirely. Plastic is really the ugly step-child of commerce over there.

  13. Saint Seiya magnet on the first picture on the poster! Yoga versus Aldebaran. Score for Jeremy! :)

  14. Japan has already dipped into paying via cellphone but their infrastructure is not yet setup for millions of scanners to be installed into every store, vending machine, bank, post office, etc. and it’s unlikely that it ever will.

  15. Oh man, I wish I could find a decent priced Japanese dreamcast… mine doesn’t work anymore and just scratches up discs…

  16. The non-human character on poster on the far right of the top image looks a little bit like ToastyFrog.

  17. numix, that is such outdated info, at least as pertains to akihabara. most of the shops that didn’t take plastic are pretty much gone. last time i paid with plastic at liberty, you needed to spend at least 5000 yen, but that’s not really challenging when you’re dealing with collecting retro games… and that was pretty much the worst thing that happened to me.

  18. I’ve never been at a single electronics shop in Japan that doesn’t take plastic, at least not since I’ve started traveling here for work. Credit cards are becoming much more prevalent, and in fact I saw an ad on the train for a new card that works like a Suica/Pasmo card and automatically debits your bank account every time you use it to ride the metro. Seems insanely convenient — one more reason to envy Tokyo’s public transportation.

  19. Cool photos. I really liked Super Potato, too, though I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked to really dig through it all. I scored a few good games there, though. I’d like to go back some day.

  20. I honestly don’t recall ever going to or hearing of Super Potato in several years of living in Japan and bumming around Osaka. What part of town is it in? Sofmap over kinda between Namba and Nippombashi, near Namba Parks is where I’d always go.

  21. i think you mean the mandarake in nakano, not nagano, unless you took a loooooong train ride. and also i happen to know that’s the one with the good deals :p got judgement silversword there for 6200 yen like a year ago!

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