(Disclaimer: Yes, I'm a licensed 3DS developer. Yes, I'm working on Cave Story 3DS. And, yes, I still wanted to get a Japanese 3DS instead of waiting for the North American version). And here's my story
My wife is Japanese and her parents live in Japan. Aside from obviously having a place to stay when I go to Japan, having a physical address in Japan opens up a beautiful world called amazon.co.jp. Since most sellers won't ship outside of Japan, I regularly can pick up toys and random crap I shouldn't buy and probably couldn't get in the US without major mark-up.
Enter the Nintendo 3DS. Maybe I was too slow or didn't pay attention, but I missed the order "window" on Amazon to get one day-of. Carp... That only left one other relatively plausible option: send my wife (who is in Japan at the moment) to Yodobashi or BIC Camera to pick one up Saturday morning. Well, seems like it wasn't my day. Japan's Saturday (our Friday) it snowed in Niigata. She couldn't get away to get the 3DS. Even if it didn't snow, she'd probably have been too tired from watching our crazy daughter, Miria.
At this point I feel like it's a matter of principle just to get my hands on a Japanese 3DS. I rationalize that it's for the office and the team can have a look at other 3DS games before we finish Cave Story. But really I just want to play it! (just don't tell anyone at the office, right?).
It's Friday evening, so what do I do?
That's when I remember Japan Video Games. I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner. JVG is this really cool store in San Gabriel, California. It's been around for probably over 20 years and through their history have been able to source almost ANYTHING from Japan within days if not day-of. I remember buying Street Fighter II Champion Edition (PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16) from them, and Tekken 2 (import PlayStation) and more games than I can remember. All always within days of release from Japan. Their timely nature came in super handy when I worked at Tips & Tricks magazine. We could buy the Japanese version of a game MONTHS before it was even announced for US release and work up and awesome strategy guide in time North American launch.
But back to the 3DS.
I wake up really early on Saturday morning (early being 10am) and call the JVG main line. No one picks up. Of course not, they open at 11am. I call at 11am. Still no one picking up. I figure they're freakin' busy from all the guys like me buying 3DS units. I decide to drive up on Saturday. They're closed. OH F4CK! What is this? Some kind of cosmic conspiracy to stop me from playing 3DS before I should?
It must have been because Sunday I was deathly ill. Fever all day. Incredibly painful headache and no energy to move. Universe, 1: Tyrone, 0
I felt a tiny bit better this morning. That is, I could actually get up to go use the bathroom. Since I'm up, I call JVG and see if they are either open and/or have the 3DS.
Girl: “Hello, Japan Video Games. How may I help you?"
Me: "Do you have the 3DS in stock?
Girl: "Actually, yes. I think we have one or--"
Me: "PLEASE HOLD ONE FOR ME!"
Girl: "um, sure. What is your name?"
Me: "TYRONE AND I'LL BE THERE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE"
So, yes. That's how I was able to get a Japanese 3DS for the office. I also picked up SSFIV, Layton and Ridge Racer. The funny thing, I ran into Jim, JVG's owner, and we caught up--it's been about four years since the last time we spoke. I saw him at Anime Expo 2010, but they were being mobbed by cosplayers at the time. It was nice to see their store able to succeed when there are so few outlets for Japanese imports, toys and other items.
I drive back to OC from JVG. Everyone at the office was pretty excited to see the 3DS in action--even if Ridge Racer made just about all of us sick after a couple of seconds. I didn't bother to tell anyone what Jim told me on my way out of Japan Video Games, "Why didn't you call on Friday? We had already received the 3DS".
It's my first post. I'm not particularly inspired to say anything exciting. I take that back; I am looking forward to GDC next week. Will you be there? Chances are big that you can find me at IGF. Let's meet up. We can hug.