Farewell, my Conker buyin’

The retro gaming’ collector’s bubble has definitely gone global. Prices on classic games around Tokyo have gone way up since the last time I was here, back in Sept. 2015. I’m seeing retro titles that have doubled in price, some that have even tripled. So much for Japan as a last bastion for cheap, interesting, classic gaming finds…!

Of all the outlandish price explosions I’ve seen in the brief time I’ve been in Japan, though, none compares to the skyrocketing costs of game music CDs. It makes me feel a lot better about the relatively small amount of money I’ve sunk into game vinyl over the past year. Check out these CDs, which you wouldn’t think would be particularly spendy:

The yen-to-dollar exchange rate currently stands at 112:1, meaning that Donkey Kong Country 2 CD is selling for slightly more than $1400. No, I didn’t forget a decimal point. That is fourteen-hundred American dollars. These four CDs here are the costliest game music collections I saw today at the Nakano Broadway mall (which contains about half a dozen shops that sell retrogames and related goods), and they all have one thing in common: They’re all for Rare-developed games. Given the correlation between scarcity and price on collector’s goods, you have wonder if perhaps someone misunderstood these “Rare CDs” as “rare CDs” and priced them accordingly. Or it could just be that someone really likes David Wise. A lot. I mean, yeah, he’s great, but…

Anyway, the completely bonkers pricing on vintage games in my old cart-pilfering haunts means this is going to be a marvelously inexpensive trip to Japan. Most interesting games have priced themselves beyond the limits of what I consider reasonable, at least here in Tokyo.

19 Comments

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19 Responses to Farewell, my Conker buyin’

  1. I guess the curry budget can go up.

  2. Discord_inc

    I remember when it used to be games like Suikoden 2 and Radiant Silvergun that got overpriced. I guess the bright side is I spend less money on retro games

  3. Roger

    Not sure about music but you can still find good deals in Book Off and in Trader. Takes a lot of searching though. Trader 4 in Akihabara will usually have a box of untested games that they sell for less. It’s usually worth the risk – never had any trouble with anything I bought there.

    But yes, Prices have risen a lot. In 2005, I bought a lot of games in Japan for practically nothing. Went again last Summer hoping to find the same kind of deals but 10 years is a long time I guess.

  4. Kazin

    Oh great, and I’m on the cusp of my first trip to Japan next year, possibly. The market starts sucking just in time!

    Unbelievable on those prices, though. Sorry to see the classic stuff going up so far in price. How was the Saturn stuff in terms of cost? That’s what I’m mostly interested in picking up (along with a Japanese Saturn) since emulation sucks and the games largely aren’t ported anywhere.

    And yeah… I’d like to buy some game soundtracks, too (either on CD or MP3, though, not interested in vinyl), but the sheer cost of doing so for most of the stuff I want means I pretty much won’t. My FFXIV soundtracks cost $50 on disc, which just seems so steep to me (I own very few game soundtracks as is, though, so I’m not used to the prices, really).

  5. Well, I suppose you’re still better off paying that much for a rare soundtrack in Japan instead of wading through eBay markups and the threat of bootlegs.

    Or have bootlegs infiltrated Japan’s retrogame circles as well? Is there nowhere I can splurge on Battle Mania Daiginjou and feel stupid solely on account of the money spent?

  6. HelloMrKearns

    just thought i’d check and some of his music is on Spotify. not the OSTs but some nice arrangements.
    https://play.spotify.com/artist/5xL16b9rHJ6HRVmaBTkvnk?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

  7. Kirin

    Wowwww, that is bonkers. I remember picking up used soundtracks for cheap in Japan, but that was, uhhhhhh, like literally two decades ago now, so. Yeah.

  8. Wow.

    When you pay $1400 for a music CD, do you ever…open it?

  9. casey

    I’m flabbergasted at those prices. I mean the cheapest soundtrack in that image is like $140.

    • In fairness, this is the crazy overpriced premium collectible showcase window. Lots of CDs are priced within range of normal humans. But still!

      • Also, prices on CDs in general are going down as people dump discs and move to digital. I’ve bought some collectible CDs I’ve always wanted, like Actraiser Synphonic Suite and the Orchestral Game Concert CDs, at very low prices over the last couple of years as game prices have skyrocketed.

      • dc12

        Did you check the Tower Records bargain bin?

  10. Gio Castillo

    Was this at the Mandarake store? I never did mamage to buy anything from Nakano Broadway except for Hotline Miami and Dokuro at the store on the ground floor.

  11. dc12

    Well… I hope you get to go to Seoul, Hong Kong, or Taipei to uh.. check out the Retro Gaming Scenes.

  12. boxofficepoison

    Were cd’s from western games in that era printed in incredibly small numbers? Can’t imagine any other reason why donkey kong country 2 would be that much.

  13. Slick Vic

    Have you tried the shops outside of Tokyo? I’ve heard prices might be somewhat reasonable in the western part of JP.

  14. boxofficepoison

    Also I’m planning a trip there this fall and was really hoping to increase my import Saturn collection, don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve heard there has been a huge spike in Saturn prices in Japan lately.

  15. Dan

    And to think, the original developers, artists and publishers of all of this IP could be making this profit on their hard work. But no, the profit goes to the second hand re-sellers, and the preservation is left to the “pirates”. What a waste.

    Frank Cifaldi says it all. This stuff (games, music, whatever) needs to be re-printed and made available. We have the technology. Why don’t companies want to do it?

  16. Daniel Feit

    it’s not too late to try your luck in Osaka!