Inside Super Tomato – Cardiff’s Favourite Retro Games Shop

inside super tomato

Episode 2 of The Retroad Show is here (made possible thanks to our Patrons) and I have travelled to a whole different country! It’s only 30 miles from where I am based in the UK, but over the bridge I go to Cardiff, Wales to explore a retro games shop called Super Tomato which has been alive and thriving for 14 years.

Owner Tom has seen the ups and downs of founding a retro games shop, especially one in the city centre of the capital of Wales. 16 years has forced Tom’s hand to innovate and do things a little differently, with his USP being that he visits Japan every few months to restock his shop with unique and rare retro gaming products.

To our American readers, this shop may look small, but it’s very typical of a retro games store here in the United Kingdom. Rent is obscenely high and taxes drain store owners of everything they have, but this makes our stores magical in a sense. Every inch of Super Tomato is filled with stock, taking advantage of every possible nook and cranny to display merchandise.

It’s clear that Tom has an immense passion for video games and it shows not only in his store but also how he talks about it, which you can see in our video below.

So Tom, tell me about this incredible shop!

Hi, my name is Tom and I run Super Tomato, a store that sells retro video games, old toys, and general old Japanese memorabilia that we pick up from Tokyo every 4 months or so. We’ve been here 16 years now, and we try our very best to create a nice atmosphere and safe space for people to come and see/buy things that they don’t see anywhere else.

We have only been going to Japan for about 8 years now. Prior to that, we had some good relationships with wholesalers in Japan, but we always thought it would be financially difficult to travel over there personally. We found that pre-pandemic it was very easy and accessible to travel too, so once we established a habit of doing that, we visited much more often to find unique products that wouldn’t be easy to find online or from wholesalers.

I cannot emphasise enough the amount of catharsis you get just shopping around Tokyo, and by god, I bring back a lot for myself… because you would wouldn’t you!

What kind of stuff does Super Tomato sell?

game boy pocket sonar

As soon as I stepped into the store, I witnessed that it was stacked floor-to-ceiling with video games, all organised randomly which caused an overwhelming surge of nostalgia. I don’t think Tom planned this, but it was an incredible feeling that I know every customer will experience.

I was immediately greeted with a display filled with Game Boy goodies; it was almost as if the store knew what excites me the most. There was a range of cartridges that you expect to see in a traditional retro games shop such as Pokemon, Zelda, Tetris, Super Mario, a couple of boxed Bomber Man games, and GBA carts too.

But as I mentioned, this is no ordinary retro games shop. Amongst the basics were limited edition consoles that I had never seen before, including a Guitar Hero Nintendo DS and a Japanese Exclusive “Yamuri Giants” Game Boy Advance.

There was also a boxed Game Boy Pocket Sonar which is incredibly rare and not often seen in such great condition, and one of Tom’s most recent pickups is a Gold Bomberman CoroCoro SNES cartridge that is also a Japanese exclusive.

And this common occurrence of rare, never-seen-before Japanese items scattered amongst the store is what makes this location a unique visit. As a retro gaming journalist, I only read about these products, so getting the opportunity to see them in the flesh and even add them to my collection is a privilege in itself.

sega pico box

One of my favourite pieces that Tom had up on display and for sale was a console (or some may even call a handheld because it is technically portable) that I had never seen before in person. It’s called the SEGA Pico and was one of the only times in history that SEGA and Nintendo actually collaborated together on products.

This product was marketed for children, and the cartridges were actually books that required a pen to “play” the game. This would make the book interactive with noises, but there were also accessories for it too, including the steering wheel set that you can see on the box in the image above. Nintendo collaborated on video games with SEGA just as it does today with the Mario & Sonic Olympics titles, and there’s even a Pokemon game for the SEGA Pico!

For those that want to experience products hands-on, Tom has a couple of gaming setups, including a Dreamcast display box with the console, screen, and controllers available to play on, alongside a SNES display box that lights up and is playable right next to the counter.

Tom is very open for customers to ask to hold things too, with some product accessories out to touch. I had the privilege of playing around with the infamous Steel Battalion Mech accessory featuring countless buttons, joysticks, and even pedals!

steel battalion controller

If retro video games aren’t your thing… you should be ashamed. But also you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of figurines and magazines readily available to take a look at. From Transformers, to Star Wars, to Japanese toys that I wish I knew how to read, there’s something for everyone. The Star Wars figures on display were seriously impressive, some tiny and many giant sets that filled up the corner of the room which would make any Padawan quiver in excitement.

Like in Episode 1 of The Retroad Show, Tom also had a couple of interesting electronic tabletop games such as a super rare Outrun LCD video game made by Grandstand in 1989, again, my first time seeing one in person. The console itself had the bonnet of a car on the front to make it look like you were behind the steering wheel, it was incredible!

What’s the future of Super Tomato?

super tomato toys

The goal ultimately is to have a space that celebrates all of this wonderful stuff that perhaps, you don’t find anywhere else. I can’t emphasise enough that anyone who walks into the shop, you really don’t have to buy anything, you are more than welcome to come and in look around. I am grateful for anyone that walks in through the door.

The whole notion is that this is a place that is safe, nice, and calm, allowing you to explore things that are in your field of interest that you perhaps might not be able to find elsewhere. We want a space for people to enjoy and celebrate that fact, because there are so few places like that anymore.

For anyone that reads this far in the article, I have left a limited edition Retro Dodo t-shirt with Tom, given to the first person who buys something from his store and mentions that they have read and/or watched our article/video.

It’s truly an incredible store that I advise anyone to visit should they be in Cardiff, it’s just a 5 – 10 minute walk outside of the city centre and is filled with an insane amount of nostalgia – you won’t be disappointed.

Episode 3 takes me to Scotland to document my visit to a GIANT video games store that I cannot wait to share with you, so be sure to come back next month and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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