Through the years, there has been a growing community of gamers who love playing games imported from Japan. From the original Dragon Ball Z games on Famicom to some of the newest JRPG imports for current systems, the number of gamers looking for something a little different continues to climb. But unfortunately, the vast majority of Western gamers are either unaware or uncaring about these games because they aren’t flashy enough, or they don’t have any famous people in them, or they aren’t a huge brand that spans across all of pop culture, such as Call of Duty . The truth of it is that these import games bring a very unique type of gaming to the table. So we thought we would take a minute and discuss some of our favorite Japanese imports of the current generation of gaming.
This game released in the US for the Wii in 2012. But by being released in Japan in 2010, it was able to garner a solid following. That following soon spread across the oceans to the Western world. This time, the outcry of gamers forced results, as the game was eventually shipped to North America. The story follows Shulk, who wields the Xenoblade, as he quests to stop the Mechon and save the world.
This series is not new. There have been several before the current-gen titles. But the Monster Hunter series has a seriously large fan base that continues to shoot, smash, and trap its way through bigger and bigger hunts. The most recent of which, Monster Hunter Tri , was ported to the Wii and met with fair reviews in the West. But the big news now is that Monster Hunter is coming to the PS3, and fans of the series are pumped to see what an HD system will do with one of their favorite titles.
Siren: Blood Curse
This title is a solid reimagining of the original Siren game–with a few additional features. It follows the stories of several characters; characters who are all interconnected as they traverse the areas of Hanuda Village in Japan. Often feeling a bit like a more cerebral version of Silent Hill , Blood Curse weaves an intricate story concerning ancient villages reappearing, old religions worshipping the dead, walking dead people, and the interplay between people when put in a seriously messed-up situation. Fans of survival horror definitely need to play this.
Even though this series started on the original PlayStation, it has progressed into the current generation of gaming and seems to be gaining speed. Now that more gamers have been exposed to this JRPG by outlets like GameStop, they are beginning to understand the varied and different styles of gaming that Japanese games can bring. With more than fifteen titles in the series, it is one of the longest-running RPG series ever. Five of those fifteen titles appear on the PlayStation 3, and their styles of gaming vary from standard RPG fare, to puzzles, and even into a little RTS territory at times.
A lot of people would not even give this game a second look if they saw it in their local gaming retailer. But if they were to give it a try, they would see that this game is more than just another safari simulator. It takes you on a journey through the flora, fauna, and wildlife of Africa and allows you to photograph what you see. You take on the role of a photojournalist who is given “missions” to find and photograph wildlife in Africa. As you go, you must seek them out and even learn the Swahili words for some of the animals you are trying to find. All in all, this game is a vibrant look into the wildlife of Africa and a quick peek into some of its cultural idiosyncrasies.
Released to Xbox 360 in 2007, this game quickly garnered a following. Its eye-catching style and interesting and addicting gameplay brought this action/puzzler to the forefront. The entire game starts when the King of All Cosmos smashes a tennis ball too hard during a game and sends it ripping through the fabric of the universe. In order to fix his blunder, the King orders his son to gather Katamari on Earth to recreate the sun and planets and other celestial bodies. After completing this task, the Prince then has to gather a Katamari large enough to plug the black hole left by the tennis ball.
This Atlus game takes the seemingly normal event of fear of commitment in a relationship and a night of infidelity (and all the emotions and thoughts that go with it), and spins it into a twisted action/puzzle/platformer of epic proportions. This game is both frustrating and addicting. It’s quirky visuals and bizarre characters tell the story of Vincent and his inability to commit to one of the two women in his life–whom are both named Catherine (one starts with a K). He travels his way through an acid-dream version of Q-Bert to reach the top of each of the increasingly difficult nightmare towers. Depending on your choices throughout the game, the ending will change.
Tales of Graces f
The most recent of a successful series of JRPGs, Tales of Graces f follows the exploits of three kingdoms locked in war, the children of each kingdom, and the children’s roles in restoring balance. It follows Asbel, Hubert, and Cheria–all children from the kingdom of Lhant. They meet an amnesiac girl named Sophie and befriend her. She helps them along the way as they unravel a plot to overthrow their kingdom and do their best to stop it. Once they save the kingdom, they realize that there are even greater forces at work that could destroy all of Ephinea. So they band together with a group of others to stop the destruction of their world.
White Knight Chronicles
I really wanted to put this one at the top of the list, as it is my favorite JRPG ever. This game and its sequel aren’t only my favorite JRPGs, but nearly my favorite RPGs overall. With a wicked cool combat system and an intense storyline, WKC brings an awesome experience to fans of the genre. Until I played this series, I was really a believer that Final Fantasy was the best RPG series ever. But Level 5 games totally changed my mind on that. Then when they released White Knight Chronicles 2 and added the ability to play the campaign online in co-op mode, with four of your friends, without paying a monthly MMO subscription fee, I became an even bigger fan of the series.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Level 5 games also grabs the top spot on this countdown with Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This is seriously one of the coolest JRPGs I have ever played. It follows the exploits of Oliver–a thirteen-year-old boy who receives the gift of a doll that comes to life from his mother (who dies saving his life). The doll turns out to be a fairy, who reveals to Oliver that everyone in his world has a “soulmate” with someone from the other world. Drippy (the doll-turned-fairy) tells Oliver that his dead mother, Allie, looks an awful lot like a great sage in his world named Alicia. He tells Oliver that Alicia has been captured by the evil Shadar. So Oliver and Drippy figure that Allie and Alicia must have been soulmates. They travel into the other world together to try and save Alicia with the hope that doing so will return Allie to life in Oliver’s world.