I just got back from a trip to Japan. It was my first time visiting and I went to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka over a two week period for my birthday. I started out hunting for games in Akihabara -- while amazing -- that shit is defintely priced for tourists (which confirms what I heard about Akihabara). Super Potato and BEEP were really cool experiences to see in person, but most of the games I wanted I could get on eBay for around the same price range any day of the week. I was mostly looking for Sega Saturn games.
With that said, I saw Metal Slug X staring me right in the face at Super Potato and I have not seen a copy for sale within my price range since I started tracking it. To me - Metal Slug X and Big Tournament Golf are the games I would want original home carts of in a perfect world (and frankly, I never anticipated owning either one of them). I resisted the temptation to get Metal Slug X since it was only day two of the trip. Also, I don't have a Neo-Geo console yet -- I am looking to get a US Neo-Geo when I can find a good example of one (or atleast that's my plan). Do I know getting into this hobby now is, ill advised? Yes. But, let me have my midlife crisis for christsakes!
We purchased a JR Pass and got to see many different parts of Japan. During downtime, we visited a couple of Hard Offs (particularly ones with Mode Off attached so we could shop for vintage clothing as well). I ended up getting a pretty good price on a Dreamcast and third-party VGA adapter. I plan to put a MODE in it, but I got Get Bass to test it out for like $6 US.
I did not end up buying too much else the rest of the trip (mostly just vintage clothing) so I decided to go back to Super Potato to see if X was still available and splurge. For price transparency, I paid 602k yen for it -- so about $4,500 USD which is a lot of money to me, but I do not know a fair market price for this game as I have only seen it listed for $7k+ from eBay resellers these days. I have also noticed that Metal Slug 3 shot up in price in the past couple of months (3 was my Metal Slug backup plan) and I have been watching out for acceptable prices for either X or 3. 3 went from around $2,500 to $4,500 overnight it seems. If I'm paying that much, I personally would rather have X than 3, but that's just my preference. I did not want to get a Neo-Geo without owning at least one Metal Slug game and I was happy to get my favorite in the series. It was a fun trip!