Friday, February 15, 2008

Why Do I Buy Japanese Import Games on the DS, and if you do, HIGH FIVE!

For more imported video games and reviews for the Nintendo DS, head over to the brand new

Talking about Japanese DS and GBA games, if I were to get one dollar (USD please) for every single person who has asked me why do I purchase Japanese games whereas a. I'm not Japanese and b. I don't read or write Japanese unlike my Japanese aunts, I would probably get a decent amount of money to spend at Starbucks.

The same can't be said if I were to get a dollar for each person who asked questions about the R4DS. Now that would be a real bonanza.

Anyways, back to import games, specifically Japanese ones. There are nearly a dozen Japanese games in my collection, including the ones for the GBA. Let's break them down, title by title, on why did I actually purchase each title and how non-Japanese friendly they are.
  • Jump Ultimate Stars - I bought into the hype, which was like "OMG, must have" levels when it first came out. I manage to get this secondhand though, and in almost new condition.

    This game is in Japanese, but is playable with a guide and it's not too difficult to do so. And the gameplay is fun! Getting to use various Jump! IP to bash each other up, sweet!

  • Atarimix: Happy 10 Games - I must admit, I bought this for aesthetic reasons, and then only for gaming reasons. It seems the makers of the Japanese version of Atari Retro Classics had a little bit more money in the art department, so much so it resulted in a way cooler packaging (both cart and box) compared to its horrible US counterpart.

    I didn't realise that this was a Japanese game when I was playing it. Everything was in English, except for the manuals.

  • Winning Eleven DS - My first footie game on the DS, and it was in Japanese and it featured a gashapon machine (of all things) used to obtain new players! I bought this because it was a steal at USD 19.90 or was it USD 9.90 at that time.

    I had alot of help on the gameplay department, with my colleague showing me what buttons to press, but I figured out the menus on my own. I completed the entire world tour mode (yay!) and I ended up renaming players to have English names.

  • Ouendan - Most people would know this game as the Japanese predecessor to EBA. Hype levels for this game was apparently much greater overseas compared to that in its own native country! Enough said.

  • Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten - It has a mouthful of a title but don't be surprised that this is actually an Japanese-English dictionary! And yeah, there are some mini easter eggs inside to surprise you.

  • Electroplankton - This is also another case of the Japanese version of a game trumps the English version in terms of packaging. Collectors should consider this as it comes in a very nice extra large box and earphones!

    It's a rhythm game and with the exception of the game manual, whatever sparse menus it has in-game are in English.

  • Magic Taizen - Another game for collection purposes, it come in an extra large box and a deck of cards to help you with your magic tricks.

    Yup, you read that right. It's a game that would have you performing magic tricks PROVIDED that you know your Japanese.

  • Nodame Cantabile - It's cheap. At USD 14.90. A no brainer purchase but for a rhythm game there's a lot of text based chat bubbles. In any case, don't let them bother you as all you need to know is find out which button is for No, and Yes, to start the mini-games.

    The game is like Ouendan and you should have no problems playing the mini-games.

  • Gunpey DS - The fact that it is still in its shrinkwrap irks me to no end but I don't really know when I actually get to play this game. No time no time no time. Sk8land and Digidrive beckons!

  • Digidrive: Woohoo! Game crack! Yay! It makes me happy...and addicted! Argh! Part of the bit Generations series of games, the game is entirely in English with the exception of the manual and Japanese. You must be anal-retentive not to play this game simply because it's"Japanese".

    Did I mention it's cheap too?

  • Mother 3: I must say that all my GBA games are in Japanese and Mother 3 is no exception. I bought this soldly based on how good its English predecessor (Earthbound) was.

    This game requires dedication. Dedication in a sense that if you can't read Japanese, you'll need to stick with a guide and Mother 3 guides are like...huge-ass system specifications documents! Do tell if you managed to finish the game using this method, I've yet to pass the first 5 minutes.

  • Mawaru Made in Wario, a.k.a Warioware Twisted! Before the addiction that was Digidrive, there was the madness of Warioware Twisted! It tells you something when the cartridge comes with a built-in gyroscope to sense movement from left to right.

    I bought this on a discount at Play-Asia, and those have been denying themselves a dose of this madness simply because its in Japanese can go screw themselves over with the more expensive English version. I don't care anyways as I CAN play this game.

    Besides, the Japanese box is way cooler. The brown cardboard does exude a "Made-in-Somewhere" vibe.

  • Bura-Bura Donkey/Donkey Kong: King of Swing: I've got to admit it, I bought this because it was cheap. But don't be surprised as the GBA has very good games, that so happen to have cheap price tags!

    Anyways, the menus are pretty easy to figure out and the tutorials are presented really nicely. Players shouldn't have a problem getting a hang of this game, otherwise you would probably have the IQ of a ferret, or some other small creature who probably wouldn't understand the concept of "Shoulder buttons".

  • Famicom Mini Series Vol. 05: The Legend of Zelda. Strictly for collecting reasons, this game, a direct port from the original Famicom game is staying inside its box.

I find it irritating to hear that, "oh man, it's in Japanese, no way I'm playing it". Somehow people get the idea that playing a Japanese game is equivalent to reading a Japanese dictionary. With the exception of text heavy games, I (and many other enlightened gamers who don't read or write Japanese) have proved that it is entirely possible to play, enjoy and finish Japanese games.

What's more, there are very good and interesting games that will not see their English counterparts, so don't miss out!