As a game collector, you eventually come across a game that you simply cannot find. A game that's not necessary rare, but uncommon. The only distinction between the two being demand. This particular game for me is (was) Dance Dance Revolution Party Collection.
DDR Party Collection was released in Dec 2003 as a follow-up and compliment to DDR Extreme. The arcade version of DDR Extreme had so many songs that the home release couldn't contain them all and they released two games. DDR Extreme had all the new original songs, plus some favorites. While DDR Party Collection contained the bulk of the favorites and classics they couldn't pack into DDR Extreme. It used the exact same engine as DDR Extreme, and had just as many songs!
We played this game a few times at DDR Nights in college, as Tony had a ROM copy, but I wished someday to own a legitimate copy. Throughout my Study Abroad in Japan, I searched for this game, but could not find it. Throughout my yearly vacations to Japan, I searched for this game, but could not find it. I eventually gave up and decided to buy a copy off ebay, but they were no longer listed! No one was selling.
It was one year ago yesterday that I finally found a copy. My 6 year long quest had finally come to its end in Kumamoto. And it was a fated encounter...
After Dave and I visited Kagoshima, we traveled North to Kumamoto. Kumamoto is Kyushu's central prefecture, and it's focal point is the gigantic castle in the dead center of town. Dave and I were able to visit the castle, but only 30-40 minutes before it closed. Afterward, we wondered what to do.
On my map, I had one location written down which was a Geo (video game store) not too far east of the Capitol. We ventured down the castle hill, and made it to the train station. We passed some delicious looking restaurants on the way there, but wanted to ensure we got on the train. When we got to the train station, the train wasn't scheduled to arrive for another 20 or 30 minutes, so we backtracked to this interesting hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
This restaurant served Okonomiyaki, but it's not the type you would expect. It was definitely prepared in a similar manner, but the pancake was HUGE.
The radius of this pancake is about as large as the diameter should be. She piled on the cabbage, and smashed it all down into form.
The pancake was flipped over, folded, and cut up into servable pieces.
And like all Okonomiyaki, it was absolutely delicious. Between her semi-decent english and my horrible Japanese, we were able to talk a little bit about what she was actually making...
Japan may look somewhat small, especially compared to the United States, but it is incredibly diverse. As a country, Japan grew from isolation, and that isolation spread to its culture, and it culture is known for taking elements of other culture, assimilating them, and expanding on them. So you get plenty of local cultural traits you won't find anywhere else. And this especially applies to food.
This particular version of Okonomiyaki is only local to Kumamoto and is known as Choboiyaki. At least I think that's what she said. Here's a pic of the menu with the name on it: Image!. Maybe it's just Choboyaki... or Chobomiyaki, except the 'ya' fire kanji immediately follows 'chobo'. I dunno...
That stuff was delicious and unique, but it's off to the game store to kill time. I'm sure Dave was somewhat bored with my over-attentive scrutiny of searching every single game they owned, so I didn't go through absolutely everything. I searched PS2 games and found nothing. I skimmed PS1, skimmed Saturn, searched Dreamcast, and that was pretty much it. I couldn't quit find the Rhythm game section for PS2, but didn't want to bore Dave that much more.
Though, on my way out, Beatmania caught my eye. "Hold on a second.." I said as I crotched down to take a look, and HOLY CRAP! What do you know! It just so happened that they had a copy of DDR Party Collection on the shelf. I was pretty surprised, as I had never seen this game in the wild. Though, I didn't get my hopes completely up, as in the past, I happened across a game on the shelf, and they ultimated didn't actually have it in stock.
I took the case to the counter as my only purchase. They went around the corner to search through their PS2 games, and didn't seem to immediately find it. The two girls came back to the counter to take a look at the case again and noticed something they had missed on first glance. They went to the back and came back with this:
Exclamation point! Not only did they have a copy of the game, they had the limited edition release of the game that came with a dance pad, complete with bucket.
I looked closer at the sales label (pictured here), and it had the sale date as Dec 11th, 2003. Not only did they have this in their possesion, but it's been since RELEASE DAY! It had waited for 6 1/2 years collecting dust and being constantly passed up but patrons until I came through the doors. One of the games I've been searching for 6 years, and I found a release copy NEW.
This is fate. I immediately bought it.
Unfortunately, having a bucket of DDR turned into a slight difficulty considering Dave and I packed VERY lightly for our trip. I had no room for this thing in my luggage. But how could I not keep this thing that I was destined to own!
Well, I don't need the crappy DDR pad. So, I threw that in the trash.
I stuff the bucket full of my dirty clothes
And doing so gave me plenty of room to store in my luggage
And so my quest ends. The game that took me the longest time to find was finally found. (Actually, I guess that's not true, as I've been searching for a copy of Snatcher on Sega CD since the late 90s.) With DDR Party in hand, my PS2 DDR Collection is complete. I have all the games I want. ^_^