What's the very first computer
game you played?
Chiller on the Commodore
64. I guess £1.99 doesn't extend to buying the Thriller license, but it was not
missed as your imagination did the rest. Either that or Bruce Lee on the
Speccy. It'd always end in a brawl with my brothers when the rather rotund
gadgie would, despite promises of assistance, attack Bruce. Still occasionally
he would come to the rescue - to the tune of my brothers singing "Yan'll
be there, Waiting for you."
What's your best gaming
I got hooked on
GoldenEye on the N64. On a review's advice, I was playing on the top, 007
difficulty setting. Don't get me wrong - I usually lack such morals when it
comes to difficulty settings. It seemed to take a near perfect game to collect
all the satellite pieces from the lab and make it to the checkpoint in time.
But I managed to deny daylight and under many a moon managed to fight
through eventually with pupils dilated and very sweaty palms. That has to be
the closest to pure gaming.
On a more sentimental note, I loved the diverse gameplay of Xandra's Big
Adventure on the Super Famicom. Poor bloke - just your average jelly baby,
family farmer, but with a poorly child. But it gave me a real desire to succeed
against such odds as invisible platforms with the wee man pulling your heart
strings and lives long in the memory.
What's the one system you
can't live without?
I think it'd have to be
the PC Engine LT just shading out the Super Famicom. I've always loved
handhelds from the days when a local toy shop sold Game & Watch and quickly
followed by the GameBoy, then onto busting Cheech & Chong vehicles in
APB on the Lynx via Mickey Mouse on the Game Gear. The PC Engine has a real
Nippon-centric array of titles due to it flourishing so much in its domestic
climes. Missing it first time round has added to the pleasure of unearthing a
few of these blooming beauties. And the compact LT screen gives a clean, crisp
look that you can play in bed. Definitely the most under-the-covers
fun - even surpassing the PSP with a hot UMD.
What retro systems do you
Nintendo 64, GameCube, Playstation, Lynx, Jaguar, Neo Geo CD, GameBoy, Neo Geo
Pocket besides those mentioned. Having beautiful
box packaging on the games added to the regret of selling my Super Famicom
collection and was probably when I first realised I was a collector. But
getting them back can be just as much fun. Buying a Neo Geo and brand new carts
probably wasn't the intended way to spend an eighteenth birthday coming of age
present. Nor was getting a PSX for £700 on release. But such misdemeanours are
all part of import gaming’s rich tapestry. Luckily Genki would never charge
such prices... :)
Do you play newer games?
Not too much these days.
But I've always an eye on the fresh titles. Pole's Big Adventure (almost) makes me want to set up my Wii net
connection again. And having been brought up on the Super Famicom, Super Mario Brothers
U looks like a dream from the future.
has GenkiVideoGames been running now?
Seven years. Being a new
company means we work hard to please without laurels to rest on. Genki generally means "fine" or
"healthy", and is frequently used to ask "How are you?" In
Japan. The language translation software often brings this out as "Is it
vigorous?" which never fails to entertain our simple minds.
Why did you set it up?
GenkiVideoGames.com was founded to bring more
exposure to the delightful Japanese exclusive titles that don't make it to the
West. In a global world, influences from other cultures cross pollinate across
the internet and growing exposure to manga, anime and Akiba culture has meant
bringing out Japanese games in Western markets is much more feasible. The
situation has therefore improved, but going back over the last decade we can
see countless examples of fine games not being released outside Japan such as
some of the DC shooters. And going further back there's plenty of treasure to
trawl up to the surface. We also want to make import
gaming less exclusive in terms of price, though unfortunately the Pound ain't
what it used to be at the minute.
What are your most popular
Whilst there will always be
the big titles on each system such as Taromaru, Crows and Dungeons and Dragons
on the Saturn, or Kaze Kiri, Steam Hearts and Sapphire on the PC Engine, we get
requests for train sims, pachinko titles, anime - themed Famicom games, a bomb
diffusal game on the PSX, war sims... Of course our staple market is the shoot
em up and 2D fighting titles with liberal lashings of platformers. But the real
beauty lies in the diversity of titles out there. Such requests are always
welcome through our "Customer Request" facility - it often alerts us
to brilliant titles we may have missed and hopefully ends with another very
We try to give as much coverage to various consoles as our customers will allow
us: as such we are particularly well stocked on the Saturn, Dreamcast, PC
Engine, Super Famicom, Mega Drive and Playstation. Whereas the Famicom,
WonderSwan, XBox and PC FX tend to have less of a fan base so we have to go
steady on our spending sprees there.
What are Genki
Games doing this year?
Continuing to sniff out undiscovered gems of retro titles, like a gourmet
game did you play the most last year and why?
Probably Animal Crossing. Bit embarrassing, so I'll say it was to try and build
up some kanji power! The Wii release was disappointing, but something grabs you
and won't let go until you've paid your mortgage, rid your house of roaches and
run a helping of cold medicine across to a sick friends gaff before checking if
Crazy Red has anything new in stock and if there are any big fish in the bay.
you could make a retro game yourself, what what you do?
Good question. There would have to be ninjas in it such as Kaze Kiri. But
humour too like the Ganbare Goeman series. And perhaps the odd idol princess to
challenge to a game of paper, scissors, stone like a UMD game. Which is why we
don't develop games!
do you think is the best system of all time?
The Super Famicom. Like the Saturn and PC Engine its almost unrecognisable in
its Japanese form to its Western incarnation. There are a wealth of titles as
fresh as a recently cut tuna that slipped the net here: a charming platformer
called Violinist of Hamelin, Syo the Seal is a cutsey one and Nosferatu is a
nice gothic platformer like Prince of Persia meets Castlevania. Assault Suits
Valken is a belting shooter as is Cotton 100% and Kikikaikai, Septentrion is a
highly original title…
what age did you start gaming?
About nine I think. I had a C64 which was fun (when they loaded.) That bizarre
robot ROB nearly got me into the NES, but instead I ended up dishing out
shurikens like confetti in Shinobi and wondering where on earth Alex Kidd came
from on the Master System.
is your biggest gaming achievement?
I pretty much played though Zelda on the Super Famicom in one sitting. No major
achievement I guess, but it was quite a few hours. I was spellbinded though by
the emotional intensity at times and the enchanting game world. It'll always
remain the perfect gaming experience.
Why do you think Retro remains so popular?
Not wishing to be too philosophical, I think we
look back on alot of games and have plenty of warm, happy, nostalgic memories
of that time which also helps the game to attain immortal status. Like alot of
music where you recall what you were doing at the time, you never forget the
first time you played Super Mario World.
Why focus on Japanese games?
Just because there are so many that never got
released here. I personally prefer the box art too. The situation is alot
better now, but it used to always be some gruff Conan look alike on the front of
box. Not that there's anything wrong with gruff Conans of course!
What's the rarest Japanese game you sell?
The rarest one was a prize edition of Bangaio on
the Dreamcast that has already featured on Retro’s pages. There were only five
of them used for a competition and winners received the game, developer signed
phonecard and poster.
merchandise as well: is there a lot of demand for that?
I think we have quite a hardcore following as the merchandise has not been too
popular. Just to ruin our hardcore credentials, we have stocked a lot of Animal
Crossing merchandise over the years. Plus its always hard to resist a Club
Nintendo hanky release…
Do you have a
brick and mortar store? If not, why not? If yes, where is it located? How is
It was a shame but not even a Central London CEX
import store could last. So we think outside Japan it’d be hard to survive with
a physical store. But business is fine
thanks – we continue to sniff out import truffles and most importantly at the
What are your biggest pre-orders right now?
Due to the high value of the Yen, we tend to concentrate on the retro games
that hold their value (ie aren’t heavily discounted if it doesn’t sell enough
units…) So for new releases, we mainly go for the 360 shooters (such as Akai
Katana and Eschatos) and and pick them up on re-release for the better price.
The Neo Geo USB pad is proving there are still plenty of fans of the Rolls
Royce of consoles.