Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 13

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We intended to start Sunday’s shopping finale by getting away at 9am. Sadly, an amazingly comfy bed encouraged us to take it a bit easier and by the time we found our way to Harajuku it was closer to midday 😛

The Harajuku run started with a trip to the bargain store Daiso. We had been making a habit of dropping into ¥100 stores during the trip for bargain hunting/amusement, so a multi-story Daiso packed into Harajuku was, not surprisingly, amazingly good fun! We grabbed a few more goodies for ourselves and friends and family back home while we were there for a ridiculously cheap cost, including stacks of Japanese lollies and chocolates to enjoy when we got home!

From there we wandered to the tip of Otomesando-dori to grab a crepe and go cosplay hunting. Sadly we only found one pair of cosplayers (not sure if we were in the wrong spot in Harajuku or maybe we were too early in the day), so we headed over to Yoyogi Park to watch the locals relaxing on a Sunday and the rockers showing off their amazing pompadours.

It was really cool to spend a little bit of time chilling out and watching what the locals were up to on a Sunday – a guy was playing a guitar on a bench under some shade, groups of teens were playing badminton and soccer, and in the distance we saw a group of people dancing it up. Young families were out with their kids and dogs, but everyone was just relaxed and enjoying the sunshine and awesome weather.

After polishing off a bite to eat, it was time to jump back on the Yamanote Line to visit Shibuya. While there Wifey did some much-needed shopping and we also hopped down to the Bingo second hand clothing store located in the basement of the Shibuya Book Off we visited when we were in Tokyo previously to see if anything interesting had found their way to the shelves in our absence.

After dodging the hordes of gaijin and the impressive cache of locals (and getting some photos of some street art down one of the side alleys, JSR-style!), we were back on the Yamanote line for our last portion of the shopping day – Akihabara Mk. 2!

For this run I dropped Wifey off at the Caffe Excelsior opposite the UDX building (passing what looked like a group of protestors bearing cosplay outfits and someone who was wearing a Gundam mask) and started the final hunt.

First stop was Gamers, a place I’d wanted to visit since getting on the DiGi Charat train back in 2000. Sadly, the multi-floor building was a disappointment, catering to the creepy otaku with long pillows with arrays of moe (including selected pillows with squishy bits for the characters’ breasts), porn, DVDs and BRDs, more porn, cosplay, and a bit more porn. Bummer.

With a hasty exit I figured I’d visit Kotobukiya (we stumbled across it when running the maid gauntlet during our last trip – it’s close to Super Potato!) and then check out the Hard Off I missed next to Mandarake during the previous visit. Because I’m special, I promptly got lost for 15 minutes before finding my way back to Hard Off/Mandarake (should have listened to my initial instincts and walked where I thought I needed to go).

Kotobukiya proved to be great fun for this second round of shopping (picked up some anime stuff), but the trip to Hard Off wasn’t worth it, as it specialised in audio equipment and little else. While this wouldn’t be a bad thing in ordinary circumstances (while I don’t know a lot, I enjoy looking and learning about amplifiers and what-not), I was trying to go as fast as possible because I was conscious of not being too much of a pain in the rear since Wifey was at this stage getting to the end of the coffee/cake set at Excelsior.

So I jumped next door to Mandarake, this time appreciating the slight price increase in Akiba vs Nipponbashi. That being said, there was also plenty there I couldn’t find in Akihabara, and Mandarake is generally a very easy to use store for nerdy stuff. I ended up grabbing a handful of gear for the PSone, Saturn (including Street Fighter Zero 3!), Mega Drive, Mega CD and Super Famicom; SFZ3 was the most expensive at around ¥7,000, the rest of the gear was pretty reasonably priced, especially the PSone games. I managed to nab Keio Yugekitai for the Mega CD in great condition complete for around ¥1,300, so that was pretty cool too!

After finishing up there I texted Wifey and picked her up, then dropped past the Tokyo Anime Centre just up the escalators on the second level of the UDX building to see if we missed anything (picked up an awesome Macross t-shirt!), then off we went to have a look at Liberty and Traders 1, 3 and 4, all of which came up blanks for anything other than current gen systems of PS2/PSone, and at this stage I had crossed both of them off my to-get list owing to a lot of success grabbing titles for them in the wild.

This then led us back to Super Potato for some more nerding – I grabbed a couple of Dreamcast, Saturn and possibly also some Super Famicom gear (memory is a bit hazy!). With Super Potato sorted, we then went to the Sofmap wedged between the two Club Sega arcades on the main strip. The reason for the extra trek was to nab a cheap DS Lite (¥2000) as they were getting rid of them nice and cheaply (this one was in great shape physically, it just needs the fuses replaced which is pretty easy to do).

We finished up by heading into Club Sega where I played a round of Virtual On Oratario Tangram on a dedicated cab, then a couple of rounds of Super SF2: Hyper Anniversary Edition, where I got owned by someone using an M. Bison/Vega exploit by timing the psycho crusher to hit when I got up without the chance of blocking.

Normally this kind of play would piss me off, but I managed to get a few hits in before I got taken out in a succession of cheap shots, and playing against someone in an arcade in Japan was still a thrill at this stage so it didn’t really bother me 🙂 We left via the bottom floor where I failed to win a plushie from one of the crane games (got close though!) but took a couple of the Sega plushie bags as a souvenir from the trip 🙂

So with the shopping out of the way, we hit the subway and braved the rush to head back to Maihama and grabbed some delicious home-style pork and fried rice from one of the vendors before heading home.

The early night didn’t really happen, but it still made for an entertaining day 🙂

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

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Belated Shameless Gaming Month 2012 Final Roundup

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So, shameless gaming month for 2012 has well and truly gone. The question for me, though, is how did I go in the end?

Overall I think I did well, and certainly a lot better than last year! I managed to complete Explodemon, platinum/100% Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, finished Phantasy Star 2 on the Sega Ages 2500 release in Easy mode and had a crack at finishing Monster World 4 on the PS3. I ended up getting a quarter of the way through the latter before the end of the month, so unfortunately I didn’t manage to finish everything in July, but I did 100% Monster World 4 by the end of the first week in August, so I think that’s pretty good by my standards 🙂

Not sure what I’ll be working on next year, but I found this was a great excuse to funnel my time into some gaming and get me back into the groove of making time to play games, rather than just write about them 🙂

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Shameless Gaming Month, July 2012 – update 3

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Time for more updates as we get closer to the end of the month!

I managed to finish Phantasy Star 2 and at the same time exceeded my original grind on the game that saw me hitting level 35 or 36 with Rolf (to get Megid!) and topping out there. The promised hyperbolic post is coming with lots of happy snaps, but I’ll be getting onto writing it up in August.

In terms of the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, I got my platinum for it last night, so I managed to 100% it which is what I was aiming for! There were some tricky ones in there (Columns and Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine in particular caused some strife, the former of which is surprising because I used to be really good at it when I was a kid), but I managed to get it done. It’s such a shame that the emulation on the collection was so rough, but then again the price of entry was super-cheap, so it’s probably not worth complaining too much about now that Sega has started using M2 as their emulation developer.

… which leaves Monster World 4 – so I’m going to finish up this post so I can go and sink some time into it and see how far I can get before the month ends in a few days!

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Shameless Gaming Month, July 2012 – update 2

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So, time for another update!

I haven’t spent much time hammering away at Monster World 4 or the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection – I have been sinking all my gaming time into Phantasy Star 2 though, and it is proving to be an unbelievable experience going back and playing this amazing, seminal JRPG from my childhood. For those who have played through the game, I’ve just finished the dungeons on Dezo and am about to pick up the Neisword to grind my party levels up a bit on Noah, then it’ll be time to take a crack at the double-whammy of end game bosses. I reckon I’ll be able to tidy it up this week, which then leaves a couple of weeks to get stuck into the other titles I’ve picked out for this month.

I’ve actually been documenting my playthrough of Phantasy Star 2 in photos as I’ve played through important plot points or found other bit of trivia, including some hand-written notes by my brother and I had written in the official Phantasy Star 2 hint book that came with our original copy of the game on the SMD back in 1993. I have some ideas on a piece I want to write on the experience for the blog, so be prepared for a lengthy post about reliving one of the pivotal points in my gaming history. I promise it will include hyperbolic overtones (like “pivotal”, “juxtaposition” and “ahead of its time”), because any regular reader of Retro Otaku has probably got the hint that I am prone to suffering the occasional moment of hyperbolic-induced hysteria over something trivial 🙂

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