Japan is best known as the land of the samurai, birthplace of the conveyor belt sushi, a country where used panties can be bought from vending machines, and of course for being the mecca of video games. While one could talk about each of these topics at great length, we're here to talk about video games. Sadly, not all of the best games produced in the country make it over to the West.
The criteria for this list of Japanese games we want to see localised is as follows:
- One game per franchise.
- Must have released in Japan already and came out from 2010 onwards.
- Must not yet be announced for either EU or US, but can have trademarks for said regions.
10. E.X. Troopers - 3DS/PS3 (November 2012)
After the disappointment of Lost Planet 2 most people wanted the franchise to go sleep for a while. Yet Capcom felt we wanted more and gave us the generally disliked Lost Planet 3. Well, a little known fact is that in-between the second and third releases, Lost Planet got a spin-off that never released outside of Japan. That was E.X. Troopers, which features a manga-like art style and follows a boy and his robot trying to save the world. The game has a more light hearted story than its inspiration. It supports great co-op gameplay that can be played both with friends or A.I. Sadly there is no hope, it seems, for this game to ever come over to the West, with Capcom saying it was never intended to leave Japan. While the game is in Japanese, due to its nature it is easy to understand how to play without understanding the language. Luckily PS3 owners can import the game, but 3DS owners are out of luck unless they own a Japanese 3DS.
9. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus - Vita (February 2013)
If I haven’t mentioned it before at some point I’ll mention it again, Japan has a bit of an obsession with panties. So what is more Japanese than a game about ninja girls who fight massive hordes of enemies and get their clothes ripped to shreds in the process? Yes, we are talking about the beat-em up Senran Kagura. While we were lucky enough to be blessed by XSEED who brought us Senran Kagura Burst (3DS) over from Japan, the Vita game, for the time being at any rate, hasn’t been so lucky. Unlike the 3DS versions this game is a 3D beat-em up that is closer in style to Dynasty Warriors. The good news is that XSEED has been teasing this game since releasing Burst.
8. Tales of Hearts R - Vita (March 2013)
The Tales series has always been a franchise close to my heart. Even though the plot is easy to predict and the gameplay hasn’t changed much since 2003, I still find myself wanting to play each entry. One of the few of the series I haven’t been able to play is Tales of Hearts. The game first came out on the DS in late 2008 and never saw daylight in the West. 5 years later its remake landed on the Vita but once again it seems that Bandai Namco has no intention of localizing it. Sadly, this dialogue-heavy game currently has no fan translation either, so only those who have a good grasp of Japanese will be able to play the game.
7. Youkai Watch - 3DS (July 2013)
Gashapon Machines (Capsule Toy Machines) are a magical experience, where you spend coin after coin trying to get the right toy. Sadly for Keita when he uses one stationed near a sacred tree what he opens up isn’t a toy but a Youkai (Spirit). Keita then receives a Youkai Watch from this spirit - a watch which allows him to see Youkai haunting people and causing trouble. Whilst befriending other Youkai it’s up to Keita to help get rid of those Youkai who cause trouble for humans. To obtain more Youkai you must give them their favorite food before battling them, and after defeating them they will give you their medal which allows you to summon them in any battle. Like Pokemon, after leveling up to certain a “rank”, Youkai will evolve into stronger spirits. While Level-5 has yet to comment on its possible localization, they did file a trademark for Youkai Watch in January of 2014.
6. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2 - DS (February 2011)
For almost a decade now we in the West have been seeing the world of Phoenix Wright from the view of the defense. But in 2010, with the first Miles Edgeworth game, we got to see the court from the other side of the isle. Then in 2011 Japan got a sequel to that game, a sequel which we still haven't received 3 years later. Like E.X. Troopers Capcom has stated quite clearly that there are no plans for this game to ever leave Japan. But while we won’t get to breakdown criminals, at least we know Monster Hunter 4 will be coming over. That’s some sort of substitute, right?
5. Dragon Quest VII - 3DS (February 2013)
Oh the joy of finding a harmless and somewhat charming slime and then murdering it to death for just a few EXP. Dragon Quest is quite big in Japan, to put it lightly. Any game that features the name will sell no matter the platform it's on or quality of the game itself. During the DS years we were blessed with localization of all the remakes and DQ9. Since then both Square Enix and Nintendo (the latter published DQ9 over here) have been keen on not letting Dragon Quest games leave Japan. This includes the PS1 classic Dragon Quest VII’s Remake for the 3DS. The game is mostly a simple graphical remake. The main difference between the two versions is that the remake took the map system from DQ9 (Enemies appear on the world map) instead of featuring the random enemy encounters of the original. SE is right now “evaluating” whether or not to release it outside of Japan. So everyone make sure to hold in your gut, since we don’t know when or what SE is evaluating us on.
4. Yakuza 5 - PS3 (December 2012)
Sega, I don’t ask much of you. I don’t try to kick your teeth in after each disappointing Sonic game. I didn’t attempt to smother you in your sleep after ignoring PSO2’s Western release, even after announcing it was coming years back. Hell, Sega, I even gave you the benefit of the doubt when you bought Atlus. So with all my restraint can’t you pay me back? You know what I want - Yakuza 5 (the full version, uncut). I want to go back to Tokyo and be able to visit hostess bars and sing some karaoke. I want to beat up random thugs with my fists and various weapons I seem to hide in an invisible bag. So, Sega, please do the right thing - not just for me but also for Yakuza fans the world over - release this game outside of Japan. Now I better not see another game of yours on this list or else!
3. One Piece: Ultimate World Red - 3DS (November 2013)
I blame 4Kids for the low popularity of One Piece in America. They alone pushed the series into the depths of anime/manga hell for years in America and allowed Bleach to become America’s anime sweetheart. Enough about that, though. I’m here to hype up a One Piece game that came out in Japan last November. Now why would I push this particular Anime/Manga IP game over others, you may ask? Other than that is visually looks amazing, the game is made by the developer who worked on both Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, two of the best DS games to never come out of Japan. The game boasts a variety of quests, from catching butterflies to beating and defeating various creatures from the One Piece universe. While it has not been announced for Western release there is hope. Bandai Namco’s recent track record of bringing over less likely candidates for localization, such as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, shows that there is hope for this game.
2. Final Fantasy Type-0 - PSP (October 2011)
You all saw this one coming from a mile away. The game's fans have been begging Square Enix to bring this over in one form or another for years. And, of course, Square Enix has looked those fans straight in the face and laughed. The director of the game unintentionally poured a mountain of salt onto fan wounds when, during an interview, he said that the game was translated for US and EU release when it came out in Japan. The reason for it never coming over was the fact that the PSP was already dead in both of these regions. So what are the chances of this game ever being seen in English? 100%, actually, because even if SE doesn’t bring it over the Fan Translation is almost complete and is currently in Beta stage.
1. Valkyria Chronicles 3 - PSP (January 2011)
Sega, didn’t I say you better not be on this list again or else? Did you really think just because I let PSO2 off easy that I would do the same for this? You are oh so wrong Sega. In many ways the fact that this game hasn’t come out of Japan is a bigger insult than Yakuza 5’s absence. It's no secret that we here at gamrReview love this game series. So when Sega give us two amazing games and then leave the third one dangling in front of us, it naturally leaves us a bit aggrieved.
Before I lose myself let me explain why we love this series so much. First a foremost the art style is amazing. The gameplay also combines strategy and action together in a beautiful symphony that never gets old. And the score is composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who is best known for his work on Final Fantasy Tactics, Dragon’s Crown, FF12, Tactics Orge: Let Us Cling Together, Vagrant Story, and many other titles. So Sega I beg you, please bring over Valkyria Chronicles 3 to the West in some shape or form.
What games do you desperately want to see localized? Let us know in the comments section!