When I came to Japan last year, admittedly, I brought along most of my working game machines. I took with me a veritably large selection of machines: the PlayStation3, the Xbox 360, the slim PlayStation 2, the PC Engine I had bought from the excellent Akihabara retro games store Super Potato, and my wife’s old Super Famicom (Super NES to the rest of the world) and PlayStation 1 consoles.
Along with those came a couple handhelds, or so I thought. I had checked my luggage for my handhelds to play, and noticed that two were missing. Those two were the PSP and the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Now, the Neo Geo Pocket Color is a bit of an obscure games console, so I really didn’t have many games for it to play. My PSP, on the other hand, was much more valuable in terms of what games I brought along with me. Whether they disappeared somewhere in the flight over or simply I had left those in America, I can’t be sure. But the disappearance of the PSP did bother me a little, and recently, I finally decided to replace it. Replacing would become an adventure in itself, as the PSP is discontinued now in favor of the much nicer PS Vita, so I would have to shop a little bit, and that was a fascinating endeavor on its own.
There are more than a few stores around Tokyo, if not Japan in itself, that offers used gaming machines for purchase. The least surprising store to offer machines is Book OFF, the second hand media store that seems to have a little bit of everything. There was a particular model of PSP I was even looking for – Sony released three models—and Book OFF had plenty of them around. Another store which had a selection of PSPs is Sofmap, the electronics chain with a massive presence in Akihabara. UShop, a store that doubles as a “junk” retailer and cheap electronics dealer, also has a few. “Junk” in the parlance of Japanese retailers means second hand items with no guarantee that they will actually work, which usually means they are cheap for parts, or simply have many bruises that would make them less than desirable on the showroom floor. Used game specialists Trader also have a good selection of PSPs as well, many of them still in their original packaging, but nonetheless secondhand and maybe with a few defects. It should be noted, that all of these places also have Nintendo DS and 3DS as well, in higher quantities, but since I’m not yet in the market for a 3DS and I do have an older DS model that still works quite well, I’ll have to focus on that another time.
When you shop second hand for machines, you have to keep in mind what condition you might receive the machine in. The shops will have advisory labels and sometimes grade ratings to describe what might be wrong with the console, but it doesn’t entirely explain every single defect if there are any. For example, my machine was discounted because it lacked any accessories at all, but it also had a power switch problem to where the PSP couldn’t turn off fully, only go into sleep mode.
Games for PSP are easy to find because the system was much more popular in Japan than it was in other places. New games are even still being produced for it. The best part about the PSP is that the games do not have “”territorial lockout”” restrictions, where the region for the game purchased is the only region it can be played on. In this case, the only restriction is by account. My main PSN (PlayStation Network) account is the only one that can be used on the machine, so nothing from any other accounts I might have. Films on UMD, however, are definitely locked out by region, but UMD films were not so popular in America.
On the subway, you can find many people still playing with their older PSPs and enjoying videos, too. It has declined only recently with the popularity of smartphones, but they are still in use by many people. For a time, it was the handheld of choice when it came to the game Monster Hunter, which was hugely successful in Japan.
There’s no shortage of places in which to buy used machines if you have the desire to play anything from years-past. Just keep in mind as with any second-hand device, you have to be mindful of any possible defects, blemishes, or quirks as a result. I’m happy because I get to play all my older games again!