Importing Nintendo Games From Japan

Japan gets a lot of interesting stuff from Nintendo, some of which never makes the trip across the ocean to North America.  Lots of really good, and horribly awful 8-bit Nintendo games only showed up on the Nintendo Entertainment System's Japanese counterparts, the Nintendo Famicom, and Famicom Disk System.  Having some of these Japanese exclusives can be lots of fun to try out and great additions to any Nintendo collection.

Buying old electronics from another country on the other side of the planet can seem like a bit of a sketchy idea, but it is far easier and cheaper than you might imagine.  This is my Famicom.

It is in fantastic condition and works like a charm. I got this in an eBay auction from a Japanese seller for $17 and it came complete in box with all the cables and manuals originally packaged with the system. That's super cheap. In North America these days, a NES at a game shop will run you $60 minimum and if you ever see an actual Famicom in a shop they will want an arm and a leg for it, or it's not for sale at all. That is my Nintendo collecting pet peeve, when all the best stuff in a game shop isn't even for sale.  The fact of the matter is retro Nintendo stuff is very abundant in Japan and these things over there are still relatively inexpensive.

Here's another example, my Famicom Disk System and a few games for it.

Above you can see Famicom Disk System releases of The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Super Mario Bros. I paid $19 in auction for the Disk System, and about $35 in auction for the games. The Famicom Disk System is super cool too. For those who are unfamiliar with this thing, you set the Famicom on top of the Disk System and plug a connecting cable into the cartridge slot.

Now you can play games on Nintendo proprietary floppy disks. The disks are writable, meaning you can save your game! This was before they had figured out how to save data on cartridges through the use of internal batteries, and The Legend of Zelda and Metroid were actually first released on this console. So, you can save your game in this version of Metroid instead of putting in a password, which is pretty neat. The Disk System has one major problem for collectors and gamers today and it has to do with the rubber belt that connects the motor to the disk drive. Nowadays you will not find a Famicom Disk System with the original belt intact. We are well beyond that rubber's lifespan and they all dried up and broke a long time ago. This means you have to replace the belt with a modern one, which is no easy task.

If you are interested in adding some Japanese Nintendo stuff to your collection check out eBay and don't be afraid to import. I have only scratched the surface of pile of cool stuff we never got to see in North America.  Japanese eBay auctions tend to be cheap because there are so many of them. There are some huge sellers too that have thousands of items for not much money, such as Yamatoku Classic that have auctions ending all the time. Shipping takes about 2 or 3 weeks usually and costs around $15 to $20 depending on what you get. I have imported lots of stuff and I still have never had to pay any duties. Check it out.

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