Hey, do you own a Playstation 3? If so, did you know that your system is region-free and can play video games from far off lands, like Japan, or China? So let’s take a look at some of the best games available on the import market.
You may be thinking, “Why should I bother spending ridiculous import prices for some game where everyone talks in moon language, when there are plenty of great games available at my local game store?”
Well, to that I say…You’ve got me there. It is admittedly a larger investment than the average game. But wait! Don’t leave yet! The great thing about importing for a region-free system like the PS3 is that we can play games that won’t be released in our market. And not every import game is impossible to play because it’s in Japanese. In fact, that is what this list will be focusing on. This list will be containing games that can be played with reasonable ease, even by a person that understands no Japanese at all. And of course, the list will also only contain titles that are not available in the United States for the PS3.
10. Red Seeds Profile–
I actually wanted to give this game a higher spot on the list, because it holds a special place in my heart. This game is essentially a big homage to David Lynch’s series Twin Peaks, and it really captures the same quirky feel the television show had.
While it does not have the best graphics, and rather repetitive combat sections, it has a saving grace in the story. Red Seeds Profile provides a very provocative murder mystery and peppers it with some oddball humor and interesting characters, especially that of the player’s character, Francis York Morgan.
Now, the thing about Red Seeds Profile is that it does have a US release, but only for the XBox 360. It goes by the name Deadly Premonition on the 360, and is quite cheap as well, so if you have a 360, just get that version instead. But if you don’t have a 360, and don’t intend on getting one, it would be much more economical to import the game for your PS3. And the best part? While the in-game text will be written in Japanese or Chinese (depending on the version you get), the dialogue is completely in English.
9.Pachi Para 16: Silver Shining Paradise 2–
Do you like Pachinko? Do you like anime? Well, let’s be honest, if you’re considering importing games from Japan, there’s a decent chance you like anime. If that happens to be the case, this game is for you. This is a virtual Pachinko machine that includes animated clips of anime girls and Japanese idols (which basically means a supermodel in Japan) doing random things like swimming, frolicking on the beach, posing, and other things like singing or talking to you while you’re trying to play.
Now, if you don’t know what Pachinko is, it’s basically a vertical pinball machine without flippers, and thus, the game is luck-based, as opposed to using your masterful pinball skills. It’s actually quite fun, if you want to just want to chill out and play, but not have to put too much focus into what you are doing. It has a rather relaxing quality to it, with the colorful graphics and happy J-pop songs. The best way I can sum it up is taking a little tropical vacation on your PS3…except with Pachinko.
8. Toro! Let’s Party–
What some people may not realize is that Sony has a mascot. That mascot is a little white geometrically-shaped cat named Toro, and he has been making appearances in games since the PSX days. Although he’s mostly stayed over in Japan he’s made a few stateside appearances, such as being a downloadable costume in LittleBigPlanet.
He has a few of his own games in Japan, including Let’s Party!, which is similar to the Mario Party series, wherein you play an assortment of mini-games with friends. I’ve recently read some rumors that is getting a domestic release, but I have not found any concrete information on it.
7. Boku no Natsuyasumi 3
This game is rather peculiar, but fun in a simplistic way. You play as a young boy in Japan during the 1970’s, and really, the only thing you do in the game is what a little boy in Japan might do. You can catch insects, swim in the lake, play jump rope, slide down hills, and just explore the mountainous region of Hokkaido. There isn’t much of a story going on, it’s just a game that appeals to your inner child. It doesn’t sound like much fun just reading about it, it has to be experienced. Fortunately, the game goes fairly cheap nowadays, especially for an import. So give this a try if you can find it for a reasonable price.
6. Furi Furi! Saru Get You–
This is part of the Ape Escape series, and is an exclusive Playstation Move game. It’s essentially a rail-shooter, similar to the House of the Dead or Time Crisis games, only with the characters from Ape Escape. I’m not entirely sure why this doesn’t have any domestic release planned, since many of the Ape Escape games have been released stateside. If you’re a fan of the series, or a fan of rail-shooters, this game should prove to be well worth the investment.
5. Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2010–
Do you remember the Bases Loaded series? Those fun little baseball games that had the pixelated players and fictional teams on the Nintendo and Super Nintendo. Well this series is something of a spiritual successor to Bases Loaded, even though it has been around just about as long.
It features cartoonish players and is similarly structured to the Bases Loaded series in terms of gameplay. However, this series adds some additional content, such as a mode where you manage a team, and train an amateur player into a star player. It’s a popular series in Japan for a reason, because it really sets itself apart from other baseball games in terms of varied gameplay and appealing character design.
4. Samurai Warriors 3Z–
Another game to add to the list that has a domestic release for another console. Samurai Warriors 3 saw a release on the Nintendo Wii, and was originally intended to be a console exclusive. Needless to say, fans of the series were not pleased, as the Wii version had Playstation 2 level graphics and just did not have the kind of graphical capabilities that are available to a console like the Playstation 3.
So, one year after the release on the Wii, Koei released an upgraded version with additional content, such as a new challenge mode, and three new characters not present in the Wii version. While it is entirely in Japanese, it’s basically a Dynasty Warriors game, except set in the Sengoku period of Japan, as opposed to the Three Kingdoms era of China. So even if you don’t understand what is being said, you should have absolutely no trouble playing this. It’s you against an entire enemy army that doesn’t stand a chance against a single warrior.
3. Monster Hunter Portable the 3rd–
Initially released on the PSP, this sequel to the popular Monster Hunter series is set for a “re-mastered” release on the PS3 this summer, in Japan. The PSP version is supposedly slated for a North American release, but no date has been confirmed at this point in time. So if you want to get your big game hunting on from your PS3, you’d be better off importing. The Monster Hunter series is fairly easy to play without a whole lot of required reading, but this one might give importing audiences some trouble. But there are guides for the PSP version online in English, so a little bit of studying may be required for this. But even without some reference checking , the PSP version was manageable, albeit with a good deal of trial-and-error.
2.Ryu ga Gotoku KENZAN!
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Yakuza series, and are enjoying the rich storyline and brutally satisfying combat of Yakuza 4 right now! If you aren’t, what’s the matter with you? Yakuza is the spiritual successor to Shenmue, and there’s really no reason for you not to be playing it…Unless you didn’t like Shenmue, I guess. But for those of you who love Yakuza and are waiting for the next zombie-filled installment, allow me to recommend this gem that never made it stateside.
KENZAN! is a spin-off of the Yakuza series that focuses on the protagonist of the original series’ ancestor, Kazumanosuke Kiryu, whose life seems to mirror that of his descendant, Kazuma Kiryu in many ways, such as becoming the protector of a young girl named Haruka.
The game works the same way as the other games in the series, except there is more emphasis on using bladed weapons. It’s definitely a must-have for Yakuza fans, or those who are enamored with Japanese culture. And the best part is that the game is fairly cheap to import these days, however there are no trophies, so you trophy maniacs won’t be getting your fix here.
1. Aquanaut’s Holiday: Hidden Memories–
Here we are, at Number 1, and I can’t think of a better title for this spot. This game is just beautiful. The story of Hidden Memories is to search for a missing oceanographer, and you do so by traversing the ocean in a submarine.
Now, if you get the Japanese version, well, you’ll be having quite a hard time. But, there is hope in the “Asian” version, which was released in China and Korea. The Asian version features a “Chinese” and “English” subtitle option. While the English subtitles are somewhat broken English, it’s still comprehensible enough to enjoy the game.
Now the story, and searching for clues in the ocean is not the main attraction here, but rather the ocean world built around the story. In addition for searching for clues, you can explore the ocean depths and view the local underwater denizens, which are beautifully rendered. This is one of those games where you sometimes forget there is an actual objective and just lose yourself in the scenery.
The problem here is that the game is no longer in print, and getting a copy can be ridiculously expensive. However, if you can find the game for less than $100, it’s more than worth it.
So, by this point, some of you might be thinking, “Ok, Paul, I’m sold, now where can I get these foreign treasures?”. Well, depending on where you live, you may be able to get a copy without even having to purchase online. Most cities that have a “Chinatown” or other Asian equivalent will have a store that sells some imported media, and if you have one of those near you, I’d recommend checking there first.
Of course, if that’s not an option, you can always use sites like Yes-Asia.com, Renchi.com, Play-Asia.com, or one of the many other import sites on the web. You can also try eBay, as many Asian sellers offer games, but in my experience, eBay sellers charge the most for import games.