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Great Japan-only games


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So this morning I find myself in Tokyo.

Only waited about 25 years to cough up the money to fly here. For the next few days I'm a man on a mission: Buy all crazy Japanese games I never had the chance to buy in the US (despite the weak-ass dollar today).

The question is, which great games were never released in the US and might be commonplace in Japan? I'm particularly looking for older games (from Megadrive to Dreamcast), but I'd also easily buy newer games (PS2, DS, PS3 etc) if they were just great. I don't care if I can't play due to the language (studying).

Games I like:

Top-down, Sim-City-like, turn-based strategy. Beat games. Side-scrolling beat-em-ups. Deep anime-influenced RPGs. Censored games. Other wackiness.

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-=Sega Master System=-

Dragon Crystal (Maze) *

Ninja Gaiden (Action Platformer) *

Power Strike II (Shmup) *

Sagaia (Shmup) *

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Platformer) *

Sonic Chaos (Platformer) *

*= May not be a Japanese version available, but there are European versions that may show up in Japanese shops.


Alien Soldier (Run 'N Gun) *

Eliminate Down (Shmup) *

Gley Lancer (Shmup) *

Monster World IV (Action Platformer RPG) *

Pulseman (Action Platformer) *

Super Fantasy Zone (Shmup) *

Thunder Force IV (Shmup) *

Twin Hawk (Shmup) *

Undead Line (Shmup) *

Zero Wing (Shmup) (European version)

*= Japanese version


Assault Suit Leynos II (Action Platformer) *

Battle Garegga (Shmup) *

Blast Wind (Shmup) *

Darius II (Shmup) *

DonPachi (Shmup) *

DoDonPachi (Shmup) *

Dungeons and Dragons Collection (Hack 'N Slash Compilation) * +

Galaxy Force II (3D Shmup) *

Gradius Deluxe Pack (Shmup Compilation) *

Hyper Duel (Shmup) *

Kyukyoku Tiger II Plus (Shmup) *

Layer Section II * (Shmup)

Marvel Superheroes vs Street Fighter (Fighting) * +

Metal Black (Shmup) *

Night Striker S (3D Shmup) *

Radiant Silvergun (Shmup) *

Salamander Deluxe Pack (Shmup Compilation) *

Samurai Shodown Best Collection (Fighting Compilation) * +

Sokyugurentai (Shmup) *

Stellar Assault SS (3D Shmup) *

Strikers 1945 (Shmup) *

Thunder Force V (Shmup) *

Thunder Force Gold Pack 1 (Shmup Compilation) *

Thunder Force Gold Pack 2 (Shmup Compilation) *

Vampire Savior (Fighting) * +

X-Men vs Street Fighter (Fighting) * +

*= Japanese version

+= Requires 4MB cart


Border Down (Shmup) *

Ikaruga (Shmup) *

Under Defeat (Shmup) *

Zero Gunner II (Shmup) *

*= Japanese version

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You're going to have more of a problem than that. The DS is region-free, but just about any other system isn't. So you'll need to buy an appropriate system there or use... shall we say... alternative means.

Yeah, I have that covered. I bought this gigantic suitcase (3" x 2" x 1") entirely empty to fill up with all required Japanese consoles. :) Not going to alter my existing systems.

I feel like I'm going to enter one of these stores in Akihabara and spend 6 hrs in a daze, and walk out utterly confused about what's actually good.

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A few more...

-=PC Engine CD=-

Akumajō Dracula X Chi no Rondo (Action Platformer) *

Rayxanber II (Shmup) *

Rayxanber III (Shmup) *

Spriggan (Shmup) *

Spriggen Mark II (Shmup) *

Super Darius (Shmup) *

Super Darius II (Shmup) *

*= Japanese version


Gradius Gaiden (Shmup) *

Namco Museum Encore (Compilation) *

Raiden DX (Shmup) *

X2 (Shmup) *

*= Japanese version

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Ah yes, a weeaboo's paradise. Although if games were all you were after, it would've cost a lot less to just import/eBay.


Osu Tatakae Ouendan 1 and 2

Jump Ultimate Stars

Densetsu no Stafi

Daigasso Band Bros







Arcana Heart

Melty Blood Act Cadenza

The Rumble Fish




Touhou series. All of it. :P

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To me, the gist of the Japan only games that are noticeably absent in the American market is the dating-sim/visual novel games. Many recent lot of them being excellent or just masterpieces like Ever 17.

I used to think Touhou games were great, but there are better alternatives out there I believe.

Then there are the fighting games like Fist of the North Star and a few others.

Most notable releases do come to the States, so I don't think that niche is much to talk about anymore.

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I completely agree with the guy who said Tales of Destiny PS2 Remake. I haven't played it, but I played the original and this is more than just a port like FF Chronicles or whatever it was. To quote http://www.videogamerecaps.com/: This RPG is all about guys with "big swords and even bigger hair!" If you're into that kind of game, I think Tales of Destiny for PS2 is the way to go. I'd also recommend the PS1 remake of Tales of Phantasia. These remakes never came out in America yo!

Another good SNES title that I think nobody mentioned is Bahamut Lagoon.

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