5 must-play video games that never saw the light of day in America
Foreign video games like Tales of Graces, Xenoblade and Yakuza are all great games that almost didn't even make it to America, but we eventually saw them and loved them. That doesn’t change that there are awesome games that, as of right now, are not seeing the light outside of Japan, and that’s a shame. So here are 5 Japanese video games that you need to know about.
1. Captain Rainbow (Wii, 2008)
Ever wonder what would happen if Nintendo got a little filthy? Well, Captain Rainbow gives you all the toilet humor you can handle. A parody of games like Super Mario Sunshine, this adventure sees players assume the role of Nick, a TV star who has the ability to transform into Captain Rainbow, an awful hero in any regard. When Nick’s show starts to fail, he heads off to the magical Mimin Island, hoping to have his wish fulfilled and his show ratings revitalized. Expect to meet many minor (but crazy awesome) Nintendo characters as you solve puzzles, catch fish, go boxing and collect stars to get your ultimate wish. You won’t recognize a lot of the characters, but you’ll still have a great adventure. And did I mention the toilet humor?
2. Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! (PlayStation 3, 2008)
While fans in the US have largely been able to receive Sega’s Yakuza franchise with regularity, this feudal spin-off was deemed “too Japanese” for the American market. Sort of like switching from Cowboy Bebop to Samurai Champloo, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan follows a fictionalized story of real-life Edo ronin (swordsman) Miyamoto Musashi, who is hired by a young girl to assassinate an impersonator that has stolen his identity. The game has the same great action the series is known for, and the facial recognition technology truly is remarkable, making it feel like you’re watching a terrifically crafted anime or movie. And, as a plus, the game stars the very popular Matsuda Shota.
3. 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de (PS3/PSP/Wii, 2008)
Don’t let the strangely worded name dissuade you from trying this great game that occupies the genre known as “sound novel” (also called visual novel). Developed by Chunsoft, makers of the DS classic 999: 9 Hours, 9 Person, 9 Doors, the game revolves around a murder mystery where several people, based on their interactions, try to figure out exactly what is going on. The game is cryptic, disturbing and has over 85 possible endings, meaning it’ll be a while before you’re done. Of course, before buying, remember that this is a visual novel—a type of game where you pretty much just watch a story unfold and take very few actions, sort of like those “choose your adventure” books—so there aren’t going to be shootings or fistfights. What there will be, though, is a great story from a company that really knows how to keep you hooked.
4. Boku no Natsuyasumi (PSP/PS3, Various)
Ever wonder what video games would be like if you didn’t have to always fight someone or catch something or go somewhere? Well, don’t expect any bazookas, demons and submarines in Boku No Natsuyami (essentially, “My Summer Vacation”), which follows the story of young Boku as he tries to find fun on a vacation with his aunt and uncle in Japan’s countryside. For 31 days, it is your job to, well, enjoy your summer vacation as you collect bottle caps, hunt down bugs, or even just chill. This is a port of a game that was released on the original PlayStation for handheld devices, the Boku series of vacation simulations is now a legitimate franchise with several sequels so be sure to enjoy them all when you just want to relax.
5. Pro Yakyuu Spirits (PS2/PS3, Various)
Baseball games in America are largely dominated by the MLB license so, if you want to see a few new faces, the various installments of the Pro Yakyuu Spirits series have the entire roster from the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. But beyond just different players, what really makes this Konami series great is the attention to detail in recreating the sport, a terrific career mode that spans across twenty years, a World Baseball Classic mode featuring players from around the world, and the “Spirits” mode the series is known for. After you’ve seen all that this game has to offer, you will understand why this is such a huge franchise in Japan, even if you aren’t necessarily into baseball.
PS: there’s an entire catalog of games that never came to America going all the way back to the NES and Genesis days but—because I actually want you to be able to play the games this list is focused on games that are current and you can therefore easily find on places like Amazon.
So what other great games have you seen recently that definitely need to come to America? Be sure to sound off in the comments below. And for all your entertainment needs, be sure to follow DramaFever and myself on Twitter.