The Genki Video Games Interview
By Damien McFerran - 25 Sep, 2009
As long-term fans of the site will be aware, we've got a pretty close relationship going on with the excellent Genki Video Games online store. These chaps provide us with everything we need to feed our worrying retro gaming addiction and after almost half a decade of trading have become one of the UK's leading online import retailers.
We're sure you want to know a little more about these chaps, so we've arranged an interview for you lucky people.
Q: What's the very first computer game you played?
Genki: Chiller on the Commodore 64. I guess 1.99GBP 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 occasionaly he would come to the rescue - to the tune of my brothers singing "Yan'll be there, Waiting for you."
Q: What's your best gaming memory?
Genki: 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 sattellite 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 semtimental 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.
Q: What's the one game you can't live without?
Genki: Hell's Journey (Jigoku Meguri) on the PC Engine Hu Card is a game I've always returned to. Played as a priest, various spooky ghouls pop up from the Buddhist version of hell to prevent players negotiating the platforms. Maybe I was that priest in a previous life...?
Q: What's the one system you can't live without?
Genki: 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 choice UMD.
Q: What retro systems do you currently own?
Genki: Saturn, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Playstation, Lynx, Jaguar, Neo Geo CD, GameBoy, Neo Geo Pocket besides those mentioned. Having beautiful box packaging added to the regret of selling my Super Famicom collection and was probably when I first realised I was a collector as well as a gamer. 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 700GBP on release. But such misdemeanours are all part of import gaming’s rich tapestry. Luckily Genki would never charge such prices... :)
Q: Do you play newer games?
Genki: Not too much these days. But I've always an eye on the fresh titles. Murasama on the Wii looks my cup of tea. 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 Galaxy 2 looks like a dream from the future.
Q: How long has GenkiVideoGames been running now?
Genki: We're not far off four 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, easily pleased minds.
Q: Why did you set it up?
Genki: 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 wonderful 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.
Q: What are your most popular products?
Genki: 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 satisfied customer...
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.