The Osu301 shopping center is the largest outdoor shopping complex in Nagoya. It’s a veritable mishmash of cultures located in the middle of the prefecture. Secondhand clothing stores sell a variety of weird and colorful dresses, pants, and jackets. Electronics stores have cases and walls lined with televisions, cell phones, and loose computer parts. The sweet aroma of warm food fills the air. You can find just about anything from rice and ramen to Italian pizza and French pastries. Akamon Street lies along the northern border of Osu. It’s a collection of electronics and hobby stores, and it’s where this week’s ‘Check the Map’ takes place.
Halfway down Akamon Street, buried between a PC parts shop and a hobby shop, is a retro game store called Super Potato. A large Mario statue stands to the left of the entry way, greeting visitors with a smile as they enter. Squares of sun-bleached printer paper are stuck to the storefront, each showing a different console the store carries. Images of the Super Famicom, Game Boy, PlayStation hang next to consoles like the PC Engine, Wonder Swan, and the SEGA Saturn. Chiptune themes can be heard from inside. The store plays different soundtracks over their speaker system, today’s soundtrack is Final Fantasy VI.
The entry way is lined with little pieces of video game memorabilia and candy. Figma figures and some small Pokémon plush toys line the right wall and a glass case of rare Super Famicom games lines the left. In between the two are several aisles stacked with colorful Famicom cartridges, organized by franchise. The space between each is a little more than enough room for a person to squeeze through, each shelf is about 8 feet tall. The Nintendo hardware and software continues all the way to the back of the store. Super Famicom, Nintendo 64, everything up to the GameCube and DS.
The first floor is a treasure trove for any Nintendo fan, complete with rare games and gadgets like the original Game & Watch line, the Nintendo 64 Disc Drive, and foreign classics like Magical Pop’n and Akumajou Dracula X. Well known classics like Pokémon, Super Mario World, and Donkey Kong Country are on full display in the aisles with no shortage of copies. Games are separated by franchise, each noted by a hand-drawn illustration from one of the store’s employees.
The second floor of the store is much the same as the first, just with Sony, SEGA, and everything in between. There’s two televisions set up to play games on, one using a two-player arcade stick and the other using the Virtual-On official controller. In the very back corner is a shelf full of old guide books and gaming magazines. It’s a colorful display with everything from Dragon Quest walkthroughs to Guilty Gear and Street Fighter II frame data.
Near the second-floor trade-in desk is a wall of Kirby merchandise. Plush toys, puzzles, figures, cups, and even silverware take up just as much space as many of the console sections. Behind Kirby and his friends is a stacked collection of PC Engine games. The console never took off in the States, so seeing a large 10 x 8 glass case full of discs and cartridges is a feast for the eyes. Import prices for a lot of these games are outrageous, the console has some of the most expensive retro-titles out there even in its homeland.
Super Potato is easily my favorite store on Akamon Street, if not all of Nagoya. Walking into the store is like going into a retro museum, filled with anything and everything from before 2005. The vast amount of games and gaming-related goods they have make it hard to not walk out of the store buying something. Super Potato is definitely the place to be for retro gaming in the Nagoya area.
“Check the Map” is a bi-weekly to monthly column that talks about various gaming-related places in Japan. While based in the Nagoya area, Taylor will be checking out different prefectures all across the country to find fun and interesting stores, arcade, and chains that celebrate video games and his other nerd hobbies.