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Level - X

When I heard about this museum exhibition, I was mildly intrigued... A Famicom show in Tokyo, showing all the Fami games ever released? Sounds great, but... Naah... I didn't need to go. I had my Famicomplete, and besides, a round-trip shinkansen ride to Tokyo costs about ¥26000. But then, an old student invited me to visit him in Tokyo, and I wanted to buy something in Akihabara anyway, so I decided to go. On the last day of the show.

Here's the big sign that greets us at the door of the museum.
Admission: ¥250

And here's a flyer that we can all take home. Look at all of those screenshots! "I want my FA-MI-CO--M!" <--as sung by Sting.

Perhaps that was not such a good idea looking back, when, upon entering the museum, we attendees were notified that the wait to see the Level X show would be at least an hour. So, I moved over to what looked like the beginning of the lineup, seeing as how it queued downstairs where the show was. The lady in line said, "Nope, it starts up the stairs." So up I climbed to the top of the museum, the 4th floor, to wait in a lineup that wound down 4 flights of stairs.

Yes, even dead schoolgirls from Japanese horror movies must wait in line, like everyone else!
So, we all waited and waited...

But it was not so bad. I had come prepared for a long wait, be it on the shinkansen or at the Level X show. I did what was appropriate for an NES fan to do while waiting for a Famicom tribute show -- I pulled out my "keitai famicom" and started playing Pajama Hero Nemo. This surprised a few attendees, not least because I was playing a Famicom game on a portable, but also because I was a foreigner. Some 11-year-old kid stopped as he was climing up the stairs and looked at me and said, "Incredible, foreigners are at this show, too?!?!"

And because we were all waiting in line for what was essentially a last look at the Famicom or a "farewell Famicom" show for them, on the last day of the show, I could feel a definite sense of solidarity among us while we waited. Some people were waiting and discussing their Famicom memories; some were playing GBA; some, using their cellphones, but almost all were waiting in line to have their one last look, as though this were Lenin in state whom we were going to see.

And waited... and waited some more...
Okay! At the front entrance after only an hour of waiting, and then...

So, as expected, it was a very nostalgic experience. At the entrance there were previews of new GC and GBA games, but not many people paid attention to that. Then, on a huge theatre screen, Dragon Quest and Super Mario Bros. 3 was being played as a movie loop. At the registration desk, I bought a souvenir book and took my pamphlet and museum bag, and entered the show. At the front entrance was a line-up (another one?? Arrghhh!) of people waiting to play Super Mario Bros. on a projected screen. That's a fun game, but I don't need to play it at a show. Around the screen were cases with conceptual designs of Donkey Kong, Mario, Pokemon, and others. It was very interesting. There was also a PCB from Xevious in the arcade. Interesting stuff. Around the corner was a movie room playing a short reel of the Famicom assembly line (!) and how they assembled the Fami and stuffed them into boxes. Then it was revealed that this was a movie capturing the packaging and shipping of the very last Famicom unit, in the year 2003. <Sniff!>

Argh! That's the last photograph for today, then.
But, you can always buy the souvenir book from the show. It's in Japanese and Engrish!!

Now, into the meat of the show: the rest of the display cases had hundreds (well, 1,251, I suppose) of boxes of all the released Famicom games to look at. Alongside them were famous game systems during the 20 years the Fami was on sale, including its rivals. And, finally, gamers could play some N64, GBA, GC, SFC, and Famicom versions of famous Nintendo games, such as Mario, Mother, and so on. It was nice to see all the games in person, anyway.

During the show, some Japanese guys were really surprised to see something called Super Mario USA in the case, so I started a conversation with them and we talked about Japanese vs. US games, Mario, etc... One of the guys spoke English well enough, so we became friends and walked around the show discussing games. After that, we went around Akihabara together, game hunting! It was a fun evening, a meeting of two cultures, and a great day, in total.

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