Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arigato, Sumimasen... Japanese Nintendo DS Games

Looking through my Nintendo DS games library (which currently stands at 29 titles) for some writting material for the upcoming 1 year anniversary of my blog, I realised that I have 9 Japanese titles, seven of them for the Nintendo DS and two for the GameBoy Advance.

Jon's comment on my previous post did highlight an issue whereby while Japanese games tend to be really great, the language barrier makes their target audience a rather limited one. Short of taking Japanese classes, there is pratically no way that I could enjoy Mother 3 the same way a Japanese speaking/reading player can.

What can you do to make your Japanese gaming experience a better one? Well, start by choosing games that do not require much reading or better still, games that rely on symbols and non-Japanese characters to interact with players. In other words: "Import friendly"

Action games such as Jump Ultimate Stars and sports games such as Winning Eleven DS do not require much reading from players, and games such as Electroplankton are almost totally language barrier free. Should you need to know how "import friendly" a Japanese title is, head over to Gamebrink for English reviews of Japanese DS titles and look out for the "Import Friendly?" section in each review.

More information about a game wouldn't heard (afterall, knowledge is power), so don't forget to scour forums and review sites.

The second step would be to get a good guide. Guides are usually created by players to assist other players in navigating or going through the motions of playing, in this case, a Japanese language game. One site that I always go to for guides would be GameFaqs. The search option is pretty good, and you'll just need to key in the title of the game, and you should be good to go.

The last point that I'm about to mention, is rather moot and it can be epitomized in one word: "WAIT". While it is almost impossible to see an English version of Jump Ultimate Stars (due to licensing issues), some games have successfuly survived the conversion to English with some not without drastic changes (e.g. Elite Beat Agents, the English version of Ouendan).

Even so, not all Japanese games are translated to English, hence the moot point. I for one, would prefer the Japanese version of some games over their English counterparts due to the fact that they have better and more interesting box art (yes, looks do play a part in the whole purchasing process).

It's interesting to note that some Japanese games such as the Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright) series of games and Theme Park DS come with dual-language options of English and Japanese, but these are more of an exception than norm.

Back to my own collection of Japanese games, the games that I've enjoyed the most are Winning Eleven DS and Warioware: Made in Wario. Football is a universal game, you don't need a user manual/translation guide to play a footie game...that's what I always say and Warioware's mini-games are in two words a "no brainer".