hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Otakon 2007: An import gamer's treasure trove

7:48 PM on 07.24.2007 // Topher Cantler

Gaming isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the term "Anime convention." Put those two words together and they'll likely conjure images of smelly otaku, swords fashioned from duct tape, hentai artbooks, and acne. Not to say that this isn't the case, as these things can surely be found at such an event. Baltimore's annual Otakon, however, is a bit different.

Held every summer, America's most attended anime event isn't about ninjas and tentacle rape as much as it is a celebration of Japanese media and culture as a whole. This, of course, includes videogames. Lots and lots of videogames. In fact, for those who happen to be gamers of the import or retro persuasion, it can be something akin to paradise if you know where to look. Let me tell you about it after the jump.

I had the pleasure of attending my fourth Otakon last weekend, and with me this year were Destructoid's Features Editor Brad Rice, Associate Editor and music man Dale North, Art Team rockstar Phist, Resident A-Hole Puppetpallmich, Photographer Pedro, and Japanator Editors God Len, John Martone, and WestCabaretDrive. After we picked up our press passes, one of the first things we set our sights on was the fabled Dealer's Room. If you've never been to Otakon, let me take a moment to describe this place. Imagine a room roughly the size of your local Target, K-Mart, or wherever you buy your laundry detergent and surge protectors. Now imagine that place filled with nothing but Japanese media and merchandise. Figures, artbooks, DVDs, posters, model robots, wallscrolls, candy, toys, plushies, you name it. Yeah, that's about right.

Now I like anime just as much as the kids across the hall, but I have to admit that this wasn't the reason I wanted to be there. I know a secret. While some congoers are shopping for pillowcases with Rurika Yamamoto printed on them, I was on a different mission. Hidden in the midst of all the Gundams and polyvinyl statues of naked chicks are some of the rarest gaming gems any collector could hope to find.

The cavernous "Hall F" of the Baltimore Convention Center was packed tightly with row after row of booths, tables, counters, boards, and anything else a merchant could use to peddle their wares, not to mention thousands of attendees. Walking through all of this madness in search of something worth this week's paycheck, I pass a few booths selling Wii games and PSP cameras, used Gamecubes, etc. Then I hear a familiar melody above the din, getting louder by the second. The Katamari Damacy soundtrack. I pick up the pace now, probably trampling a dozen or so Naruto cosplayers and punching a few babies on the way (it's all a blur at this point), until I arrive at a group of tables set up by an outfit called Mad Gear.

Sweet ... mother ... of God.

A famicom still in its original box. A Neo-Geo. Sega Saturn. A Super Famicom, bundled with Chrono Trigger. Attachments, controllers, hardware and peripherals, stuff never released outside of Japan. Best of all, tables holding mountains of games most Americans have never even heard of. Is that a Shin-Chan game for Game Boy? A boxed copy of Mother for the original Famicom? What do you mean, there was an Akira game? ZOMG GRADIUS. Holy crap, how many platforms was Final Fantasy 2 released on, anyway? They're all there. Countless little squares of electronic sex, all displayed under glass cases put in place to protect them from the overactive salivary glands of people like me.

As I scan the goods and slowly sound out the katakana on their labels, I can't help but wish some of my friends were here to see what I'm seeing. I picture Aaron snatching up everything in sight, yelling "Mine! Mine!" or Dyson pitching his wallet at the clerk like a fastball and then running away giggling with his arms full of imported hardware. Chad making his patented Chad face while he stuffs Colette's purse with as many cartridges as it can hold, her passing them to him as she makes some sort of "SQUEEEE" sound.

I could have easily spent the entire con just standing at this booth with my face pressed against the glass, but unfortunately, my wallet isn't nearly as deep as my love for classic games. I did, however, score the one thing that I'd hoped to find; a game I'd been scouring the earth in search of for almost 7 years -- a copy of Project Justice (Rival Schools 2) for Sega Dreamcast. The Japanese one. You know, the good one. The moment I walked away with that in my hand made my whole weekend.

So the next time there's an anime convention in your area, consider going for at least one day. Even if anime isn't your bag, there might be something there for you. Maybe something you haven't been able to find anywhere else. Isn't that worth having to see a couple of fat guys dressed as Tifa and Aeris? For me, the answer is ... Almost.

Almost. Photo Gallery: (20 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Topher Cantler,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
N-Not that P1 isn't perfect the way she is! Isn't that right sweetie? Yes it... Oh, now don't you go and listen to those P2 fans! They just go around spreading rumors and pretending Hitler was just a handsome gentleman in sunglasses, that's what THEY do!
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Persona Q has made me realize I really want a Persona 1 remake on 3DS in a similar style. A lot. A loooooooot. You listening, Atlus?
Super Mario Maker, the announcement of Sonic Lost World for Steam, and remembering all of the mods that got made for the PC version of Sonic Generations makes me wish SEGA/Sonic Team would make their own dedicated Sonic level creation game.
gajknight avatargajknight
Hey, is your fridge running? You better catch it. I mean, it has all your food, and without food, you die. Like, forever. You don't wanna die right? If you die, how will you watch The Good wife with your favourite bowl of Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Go.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
My local Best Buy is drowning in Marth & Dark Pit amiibo
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Spooky yet totally true gaming fact: the bushes and the clouds in Super Mario Bros are the same exact shape. #Spooky
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
It is coming fast AAAAAAH
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
The newest PS4 update finally got rid of that bug where I'd get the "you can customize your power options" message every time I turned on my console!
El Dango avatarEl Dango
Should I just pass on MGSV? I haven't really liked any of the games after Snake Eater, and it's being used as a money sink at the moment.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
[Youtube][/youtube] All the episodes are on youtube now. Also I never knew they got to do a season 3. Pretty cool. Now back to Transformers. Scored a gc to my favorite thai place too. Pad ahoy bitches. It's been too long.
ashamasha avatarashamasha
i have almost all the pieces i need to build my own Arcade machine... and the last one arrive this Saturday! Soon, one my childhood dream will became true!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Interviewer: Konami, why are you selling cosmetic DLC for MGSV? Konami exec: I breathe through my skin.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
What is the Dtoid chat room?
TysonOfTime avatarTysonOfTime
Batthink avatarBatthink
This GrumpOut video was pretty funny to me (props to TheBadSpoon on the Dtoid chat room);
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Sonic Lost World is coming to PC on November 2nd for $25! I may double dip, hopefully they'll make the final boss less rage-inducing. Ah well, I can always grind for extra lives lol.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Older. Grayer. Wiser. Dick still works. #Ballin
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Wow I just want a mic for the PS4...why are they so expensive ;_;
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Went to play MGSV, got prompted to download the MGO data; it's not on the PS Store yet. Or maybe it's Kojima-san's way of telling me it's not the real MGO data, but is instead a janitor who once protected me from a puddle of pee and now wears my face.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Going grey >>>>>>>>>>> Going bald
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -