Nintendo joystick in Super Potato

Retro Gaming and Childhood Memories at Super Potato!

“And he (Jesus) said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
-Matthew 18:3

I’m not religious but if the verse above was true, then I sure was a step closer to Paradise on the night of 12 November, 2013.

Because on that night, I was savouring all my favourite childhood games on almost every retro console you could think of: Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Playstation 1 and many more! Retro gaming sure brings back memories from decades ago and I felt like a child again, the mini-me I once was.

So if you too want to bring your inner child back or if you simply like retro gaming, get yourself to the video game shop I was at: Super Potato in Akihabara, Tokyo. If you ‘re seeking the kingdom of heaven you might want to give it a shot too 😛

Super Potato sells a wide variety of games and consoles from the days gone by:

Super Potato retro gaming shop in Akihabara, Tokyo

Seven consoles, a thousand memories

Speaking of memories, there’s one that hit me immediately after I entered the store. And I’m sure it’ll hit most of you fellow 90s boomers – Super Mario Bros!

Super Mario Bros Nintendo retro game in Super Potato Akihabara

I can still hum the game’s tune and so can my colleague! And we’re both 28 lol

Super Mario Bros

However, it wasn’t my favourite game and I sucked at it. For one thing, I could never reach the top of the flag pole no matter how hard I tried…

Super Mario Bros (2)

…and I kept crashing into turtles.

And that’s not all – still remember these classics?

Contra NES Nintendo

That’s right, it’s Contra, one of the best games on NES! Though like Super Mario Bros and most other games at that time, your hero dies immediately upon touching the enemy. Which is so unheroic (and quite pathetic).

Front Line NES

Another classic: Front Line! This game was SO hard back then and still is now!

Yie Ar Kung Fu Nintendo

Remember this one, Yie Ar Kung Fu? SOLID GOLD. And I still can hum the tune for this game too!

So are you feeling it already, the good ol’ nostalgia of growing up? It’s really ironic how the selfish and profit-orientated motives of game developers have such a joyful and profound effect on the lives of us consumers!

And we happily part with our money for more – I never complained (obviously because I wasn’t the one paying :P) As the years went by, these early 90s games started to get boring and my brothers and I were longing for a more advanced game platform. Our parents knew how badly we wanted one.

And parents being parents, they understood our wish but weren’t understanding about it. We always got big fat NOs with some occasional kung fu.

But kids being kids, we always persisted until the much-yearned YES came (in the case of Asian parents, it’s usually when their kid does well in an exam). We finally got our Sega Megadrive which was every boy’s wet dream!

Of course, all this was at a time before puberty kicked in and the girls in school were regarded by the boys as strange enemies.

Sega Megadrive 16 bit in Super Potato

Speaking of girls, I used to wonder as a kid how boring their lives were as most of them don’t play video games. Just what on Earth do they do during their free time? As I’ve stopped gaming for many years, I now know the answer they’ve long known

Sega Game Gear in Super Potato

And as for the boys, I used to crave for a Game Gear. Now when I look at one, I just laugh.

Nintendo Super Famicom joystick in Super Potato

Thinking back about how we perceived the different platforms really amuses me. I used to think that Sega Megadrive is better than Super Nintendo because….

Sega 6-button joystick in Super potato

….a Sega Megadrive’s joystick has more buttons (six) compared to a Super Nintendo’s (four). To a kid, more is always better.

So as I browsed through the shop, looking at different titles and platforms produced over the years, my life also flashed before me in stages – in a non-morbid way of course.

After all, these products were released at different periods of the past. Each product brought me back to a different chapter of my life. So I didn’t just recall the game, but life too as I lived it.

This felt simulaneously happy and sad, oddly – happy because all the good times came rushing back, and yet sad because all this is forever confined to the past, the innocent and carefree joy of a child never to be experienced again as adulthood beckons.

Let me share the photos which speak what I just spoke about; let it get you into your own reverie:

Super Nintendo Street Fighter 2 cartridge in Super Potato

c. 1993-1994: Street Fighter 2 used to be the in-thing around the world. This game sparked the ‘Fighting Game Revolution’; many game developer firms came up with their own fighting games, hoping for the enormous success that SF2 had!

Super Nintendo cartridges in Super Potato Akihabara

As with the SF2 cartridge, all these titles were released in the NES era when gaming was at its infancy. Simple pixel art + MIDI music = growing up.

Golden Axe cartridge case Bare Knuckle Streets of Rage cartridge case Batman Forever catridge case
These games were released after the Nintendo era and offered more depth and thrill. Golden Axe and Bare Knuckle are 2-player beat-em-ups. I just love how pressing the ‘A’ button will make all the surrounding enemies freeze as you summon your magic powers or police backup. Batman Forever, though poorly made was also a classic due to its catchy music, complex movelist and extremely tough stages.
Mortal Kombat II Sega Genesis

Mortal Kombat II ! Man I loved this game, fatalities, brutalities, whoopy!! and all. I find it so easy to beat now so I laugh at how my simple IQ back then had problems with such simple AI. Like every time you give a flying kick from a certain distance, the CPU just stands there.

Playstation 1 in Super Potato

Damn, it’s the original Playstation! This is when home gaming really took off into an extremely mesmerising level with games that take months to complete. I accidentally fried the old console bought in 1998 so I bought one here at JPY 2980. And it DIDN’T WORK – I think they sold me a spoilt unit.

Sega Dreamcast in Super Potato

An army of Sega Dreamcast units. This is Sega’s answer to Sony’s Playstation. I still prefer the latter as Dreamcast joysticks aren’t user-friendly.

Playstation 2 gold limited edition in Super Potato

This Playstation 2 gives more recent memories. It still is the most modern platform in my house, which means that I had already stopped gaming a long time ago.

Final Fight arcade machine in Super Potato

If home console action isn’t enough for you, get to the next floor above. There’s a mini arcade!

All these nostalgic trips made me realise that a lot of our memories aren’t gone or forgotten; they’re just buried somewhere deep beneath the depths of our minds. And all it takes is a simple stimulus to dredge it up: an object and the way it looks or feels.

Take for example, my experience with a game called Goonies. I had long ‘forgotten’ that there was such a game until I saw an image of it on Google and when I played it on an emulator, I could hum its catchy tune so flawlessly!

And by doing so, I suddenly recalled so vividly the atmosphere around me twenty years ago. How it felt like in the previous house I lived in…the house’s layout, everything that lay inside it, every sight and smell..I could mentally picture it all so strongly.

And I recall how close we were, three brothers who were brought together by an electronic device, and how sometimes it also caused childish conflicts.

And how the blaring of simple MIDI sounds from this device would gravitate all of us kids towards its source and get us hooked for hours. How sheltered, naive and easily excited we were over the simplest of life’s joys.

And how, amidst our peacefully ignorant naivete were our parents who worked, slogged and worried to give us this blissful period of our lives.

I’m not ashamed to say this experience brought me close to tears. I learnt to cherish the blessings that I have: a happy childhood and family.

Playstation 1 box in Super Potato

So perhaps this is what Matthew 18:3 is all about. To enter ‘heaven’, which is to be truly happy, you’ll have to be the innocent child you once were, free from the worries that plague the mature. And since it is impossible to time travel back in body, it’s still possible mentally, in spirit.

All you need for this is an object which was significant to you in the past. Grab it, let it take you back.

*****************************************************************************

Information:

Super Potato
Address (of the branch in Akihabara):
101-0021, Japan
1-11-2 Kanda sotokanda Chiyoda,
Tokyo-kitabayashi building 3F/4F/5F
Website: http://www.superpotato.com/ , in Japanese. Use an online translator. On this website you can find the locations of its branches nationwide and more details on their products.
Opening hours: Daily, 11.00am to 8.00pm (on weekends and national holidays: 10.00am – 8.00pm)
Products sold: Retro games, game consoles and accessories (joypads, plugs, memory cards etc), game merchandise.
Tips:

  • Finding my way there was tough as it’s a small 3-storey shop located above the ground floor. Look out for this sign and make your way up:

    Super Potato Akihabara Sign

    Photo from Akihabara News – click the link for more photos and in-depth info

  • Instead of buying a console and its games, you can also play them on computer emulators which can be downloaded online
  • Testing of a console isn’t allowed. That’s how I ended up getting a spoilt PS1.
  • Take note that the consoles are made in Japan in accordance to Japanese power and TV specifications. If the TV or power outlet in your country is incompatible, your purchased console won’t work.

 

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9 comments on “Retro Gaming and Childhood Memories at Super Potato!

  1. Your post brings back such great memories. Super Mario Bros was the only game I could ever pass on my own! I would always play Contra with my brothers and we would put in the special code to get a gazillion extra lives. Even then I would go through all of them and steal lives from my brothers. I’ll be in Akiba in a month, will have to stop by Super Potato!

    • Haha good times aye? Speaking of stealing lives, still remember the ‘1UP’ that’d pop up once in a while in a game? That used to create some conflicts cos we’d have a rule that the player with less lives gets the 1UP, but sometimes some guys are selfish and hog all the extra lives even though they already have so many =P

  2. I remember playing Contra, and the kungfu video game. I remember the kungfu game, i always loose when i face the enemy holding a chain. hahah.

    Awesome childhood game.

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