Friday, September 08, 2006

speaking of retail...

There are, essentially, two types of specialty shops. One is all stuff. Wares are crammed in everywhere. The prevailing display method is the pile, and the organizing principle behind the collection is, at best, obscure. The second kind of store is sparsely outfitted. The idea there is that the store is of impeccable taste. "Trust us," they say, "all is good here. You can't go wrong...because we won't let you."

I much prefer the first type. --While I don't like buying the wrong thing, I do enjoy learning new things, and buyer's remorse offers excellent opportunities for insightful musing.

This brings us to Pink Godzilla, a videogame store in Seattle. I visited it three weeks back. It takes a little work to find something in the tiny, cluttered space, and that's rad. The rest of the experience is also terrific: the rad little Asian girl behind the counter will try to sell you a copy of Rhythm Tengoku, which is a rhythm game by the Warioware people. She will use all the tricks of the attractive retail worker. She will make you play the game, even after you admit that Space Channel 5 proves that you can't play rhythm games for shit. She will brandish her imported DS Lite, the black one, and politely not notice as you drool. While you paw clumsily at her sleek hardware, she'll say "see, you're not so bad!" She will smile charmingly as she thus reassures you. In a minute, she'll move you to her favorite stage, where you pluck hairs from an onion, and, cleverly, she'll apologize for making you play the harder part, after she has demonstrated the easy section.

Again, this is superb retailing on her part. Even before this interaction, I'd resolved to pick up an import copy of dotstream, a beautiful-looking racing game from the Japanese Bit Generations series. Her excellent work made me comfortable enough in the environment to double my expenditure and throw in a copy of Orbital as well. (Next time I'm there, I'll probably yoink a copy of Sound Voyager.)

Amusingly, it appears that two weeks later, Tycho had an almost identical purchasing experience.

Aside from the items I scored, there was some most satisfying foraging to do. Controllers of nigh-limitless variety hang from the ceiling. Small inaction figures fairly throng upon the shelves. At the time of my visit, I was around halfway through Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation, and loving it, so naturally I was enthralled by the Japanese Super Robot Taisen Alpha.(1) Then I remembered that a solid third of the SRT experience is staring at menus, customizing mechs. Then I remembered that I don't read Japanese. Sigh. I gotta get on that.

They also rocked copies of the brilliant Japan-only 'Cast fighters Marvel vs Capcom 2, Street Fighter Zero 3 and Street Figher III.(2) Now, I know I talk big about how my "Street Fighter days are over, because all that SF once did, Soul Calibur does at least as well, adding a bunch besides," but what you have to realize is that these are Street Fighter games. That are Japanese. They are Japanese Street Fighter games. And so I must buy them. That visit, I resisted the purchase, but only because they had all three, diluting my cravings amongst them. Had there been only two, I could have made a decision, and be even deeper in hock than I am.(3)

What a store. I'm no teacher, so I shouldn't be giving a grade, but the experience of shopping there gets an S.


(1)There's much more to come on this topic. For now: the SRT series in Japan is known for bringing together mechs from many different series. The box art suggested that Evas might fight Veritechs, for example. The Atlus-released American versions can't do this, for stupid legal reasons, so they stick to the NamcoBandai-owned Gundam machines. Which are awesome, but c'mon. Evas vs Veritechs! How do I not want to battle those?
(2)Or anyway, the Japanese versions are 'way easier to come by: a couple of these did see American release, as I recall, and are shocking expensive on the secondhand circut.
(3)Also I need an arcade stick for my fighting games, and they didn't have one. 6-button fighters are all but unplayable with a standard Dreamcast controller.
(4)Did I ever mention that I picked up Advance Wars for 8 bucks at Goodwill? Or the highly-regarded (and punishingly difficult) Fire Pro Wrestling for five?

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