When I was just a little kid, I always dreamt of heading to Asia and experiencing the culture, the sights, everything. As I grew older, I learned a hell of a lot more of some of the countries that I wanted to visit. Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan were on the top of my list of places to go. Luckily for me, I'm now able to fulfill one of those dreams, by working in Japan. Kawasaki, to be exact.
The city of Kawasaki lies in the prefecture of Kanagawa, which is right beside Tokyo. From my apartment, it literally takes me half an hour by train to visit some of the coolest sights in the area. Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza and more are accessible for only a couple of yen for the train. The best sector for a gaming geek like me however, is Akihabara. Known for its wide range of electronics, Akihabara is any video game enthusiasts' dreamland. There are literally dozens of game stores within a 5 minute walk from each other, and all of them carry the latest games, plus an impressive range of retro games for your Mega Drive or Famicom. Amusingly enough, there are also stores dedicated to "import" titles, straight from North America. If you were ever homesick for some of the more popular titles from the U.S. or Canada, or you'd prefer your games in English, you won't have any problem finding them in this place.
Despite the dozens upon dozens of game stores that you could visit in Akihabara, there is one that stands out above the rest. It's a store that any video game fan would need to visit in person to really understand why it's so wonderful. The name of the store? Super Potato. Nestled in between several other electronic stores, Super Potato is instantly recognizable from street level, even though it's located on the second floor of a rather small and narrow building. Pumping through the speakers of Super Potato are the too familiar theme songs from many of the classic NES/Famicom titles, such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Ice Climber. There's just something far too surreal about walking into a game store while the Planet Zebes theme song is pumping through a pair of speakers and a subwoofer!
Walking into Super Potato is definitely a cool experience. To your left, you will spot dozens of used Famicom machines for purchase, as well as accompanying controllers. To your immediate right, you will spot what's possibly the oddest thing in the store: a Virtual Boy demo kiosk that's fully functional. Look behind you from that spot and you'll see an impressive collection of Famicom keychains and cellphone straps, and some uber-cool Famicom pillows. that retail for close to 3,000 yen. Although the store does carry some of the newest titles, Super Potato is mainly for the retro lover in all of us. You can purchase Dreamcast, Famicom, Super Famicom, Mega Drive and Wonderswan titles, all for a fairly cheap price.
If there was only one store you could visit in Akihabara, I would definitely recommend going to Super Potato for quirkiness alone. After spending a good five hours roaming around the sector, I've yet to find a store that can match its personality. While the title selection is aimed mainly at a niche crowd, that alone isn't a reason not to stop by. To find Super Potato, head towards the Club Sega arcade beside Akihabara station, and then walk down the sidestreet beside the arcade, and then hang a right at the first intersection. Walk one minute down the street and you'll be able to find the store. Remember, listen for the music!