I’m actually not much of a modern console gamer. Growing up in a house with a Sega Megadrive, the golden age of gaming for me remains around the early ’90s. As such, retro gaming has become somewhat of an obsession for me. Luckily, instead of living in the West where the only easy way to collect retro is for $100s on eBay, I live in Japan where retro collecting is still very much alive. In this series I will talk about some of the best stores in Japan for retro gaming and all the positives and negatives that come with each one.
Established in 1987, Mandarake now has 11 stores in Japan focused on several areas of nerd culture, from cosplay to manga, and a bizarre collection of ancient collectible toys; it is of course the video games that I come to Mandarake for. Mandarake has 4 stores across Tokyo, 2 in Osaka and 1 in Fukuoka, Kokura, Nagoya, Sapporo and Tochigi, so it’s a good choice for those visiting one of Japan’s metropolises.
While all Mandarake’s are different, even the small Kokura store has a generous gaming section. The software section usually boasts a large selection over a broad range of consoles, though not much modern fodder. While Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Gameboy, 3/DS, Playstation (1-4, PSP and Vita), XBOX 360, Wii/U, Saturn and Dreamcast games are pretty commonly available in most retro stores, Mandarake goes a lot further in its selection. Note: Xbox One has not really sold here.
If you are a fan of more uncommon consoles, such as the Virtual Boy, 3DO, Neo Geo/CD, Wonder Swan, NeoGeo Pocket, MegaDrive, Game and Watch, Atari Lynx, PCFX or SuperGrafx, then you should be able to find at least some software for that here. The staff here tend to be more knowledgeable about gaming than most retro stores, and while their English may not be good, if you write down the name of the software you are looking for, then they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Mandarake also has a cabinet of rarer or more valuable games as well as consoles. You will see a wide range of older consoles in these cabinets often in good quality boxes; however, I do not recommend purchasing consoles here. Mandarake puts a heavy weight on a good looking box. If you are a perfectionist, the higher price might be worth it to you, but if a few tears or knocks don’t bother you, you can often purchase the same console for around half the price elsewhere.
That being said, perfect in box games also have ridiculous prices at Mandarake. But this can work to your advantage. If you don’t mind a beaten up box, or a game with the box or instructions missing, then you can get games at extremely reasonable prices. The original Mother can be picked up at Mandarake in a damaged box for $5, and Megaman/Rockman 2, usually $30+ in Japan, was only $18 out of the box.
-Large selection of rarer kinds of software.
-Central City Locations.
-Cheap games if box is damaged or missing.
-Not a large amount of stores overall
-Consoles are very overpriced.
-Games in good boxes are expensive
Overall Mandarake is possibly one of my favorite retro gaming stores but you have to be extremely careful when it comes to in-box pricing.
You can find out more about Mandarake on their website.
Cover photo from asianbeat.