In the gaming industry, there are development companies all over the world; from Electronic Arts and Activision in the United States, Nintendo and Sony in Japan, and NCSoft and Neowiz Games in South Korea. Due to this simple geographical barrier, not everyone will be able to play every game in their region. Here are some of the best Japanese-only games that you should import. Note that while some of these games you will need to be fluent in Japanese, others you can get by knowing nothing.
Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2
The original Ouendan game came out in the United States, renamed Elite Beat Agents. Elite Beat Agents was a Nintendo DS rhythm game. Each stage had a different song in which you must tap, drag, or spin the corresponding number in line with the beat of the song. There were 19 songs in total in the U.S version, and it met with critical acclaim with game reviewers; however, it didn’t translate into sales for the game. The game sold around 180,000 copies, but Nintendo was hoping for sales around the 300,000 range. Due to this fact, the sequel never made it over to the states. Ouendan 2 made several improvements, while keeping the basics of the gameplay the same. Ouendan 2 requires little knowledge of the Japanese language, so if you are into rhythm games, dust off that Nintendo DS and import this game, as you won’t regret it.
Final Fantasy Type-0
Final Fantasy Type-0 is an action role-playing game, developed by Square Enix for the Playstation Portable back in 2011. The game has similar play style to Final Fantasy Crisis Core, which was a big hit in North America. During the development of the game, Square Enix were trying to gauge the interest of localizing the game in North America. For the past several years, they have been teasing that the game would eventually get a western release, but nothing ever surfaced. Games for the Playstation Portable haven’t been made in years, so many gamers thought that this game would never get a release…until this past E3 2014, where Square Enix announced that a high-definition version of the game would be released on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. However, there is no launch date, even tentative. There was a fan-translation in the process of creation for the Playstation Portable version, but Square Enix shut it down a couple of months before the announcement for next-gen consoles.
Jump Super Stars
Jump Super Stars is a 2D fighting game that was developed for the Nintendo DS. Essentially, think about this game like Super Smash Bros., but with famous anime characters such as Goku from Dragonball Z, Gon from Hunter x Hunter, and Ichigo from Bleach. Representing over 27 different anime series, this is a must have for anyone into anime and manga. The reason why this game will never see a western release is due to the licensing nightmare that it would create. Releasing it would necessitate negotiations with the many different companies owning the U.S. rights to the many different series involved. Bottom line, it would be a nightmare to even get half of the rights together to make a release. Though it will never see a western release, and requires a lot of knowledge of the Japanese language, there are several different guides out there that have step-by-step guides of game mechanics, and boasts a very good fan translation as well.
There are many games that we will never see in North America. Honorable mentions include Mother 3, Seiken Densetsu 3, Sin and Punishment, and the Super Robot Wars series. However, please don’t let this stop you from importing games and trying them out. Even though you may not know what is going on, or how to access things, there are guides out there on the internet, and you may play something that will change your perception on games.