Japanese N64 Games, Because I Was Bored One Weekend.

Posted by ArclightBorealis (1563 posts) -

I will get this out of the way. I know people have different stances on this, but I use emulators on occasion. Yeah, some times I'll download a ROM, hook up my Dualshock to a USB adapter, and play some old console games on my computer. However, I only really use this if I'm thinking about purchasing an old N64 game. Because many things have changed over the years in video games, I want to atleast know if something I want to check out will still be fun for me. I don't really have to do it for first party Nintendo games, since alot of their formulas are timeless (heck, they're still used to this day), but for other games, I have to be sure that the game is more than just "good for its time."  
 
However, instead of my usual "try before buying" approach, I found myself just downloading some ROMs of Japanese N64 games. The only import game I really own is Sin & Punishment Successor to the Earth, and that was released worldwide on the Virtual Console, just with more menu translations. There is some cool looking stuff from Japan, so this last weekend, I downloaded 5 ROMs (though only 4 I was really able to play), and stumbled through the Japanese text until I grasped the overall concept. Some quicker than others.
 

Bakuretsu Muteki Bangai-O

 
Or just Bangai-O. 
 
This was definetely the most import friendly game I played out of the bunch. There's very little menu options and stuff that you need to know, and the story is completely silly and can be ignored. Which is good, because the game is fun. It's definetely Bangai-O. 
Before this one, I had played Bangai-O Spirits on the DS. Very challenging game, but extremely fun, with over a hundred stages and multiple weapons to use in tackling challenges. That, and so many bullets. 
 
Interestingly, just about every sprite in this game are the EXACT same in Spirits. The buildings, the projectiles, the fruit, even your Bangai-O is the same, despite the official art in both games being different models. That, and no multiple weapons like in the DS game. Instead, you just have two types of shots, your super 100 missle attack (which was called the EX Attack in Spirits). 
 
One thing that I do like about this is the default controls. You use the D-Pad and Control Stick to move and shoot as if it was a dual stick shooter. Z is for your super attack, and L switches between your two shots. The control stick isn't analog, as you can only aim in 8 directions, and you can also shoot by pressing the C buttons. But I was perfectly fine with just using the control stick. And because the shooting and aiming are independant, there is no lock on. 
 
And another thing, there are only 44 levels in Bangai-O, and you have to complete them inorder. Whether or not this was because of my familiarity with the gameplay, but the first few levels in the game were super easy. It only took until about 10 levels or so for the game to start killing me, and last I left off was on level 21, which was already getting even more hard. So the game does get challenging, and the difficulty is actually progressive, instead of all over the place like in the DS game. 
 
Definetely a fun game. Tons of explosions, it's challenging, I like the dual stick shooter like controls. Good game. Treasure's pretty much on top when it comes to their SHMUPS. 
 

Custom Robo


This one's pretty easy to compare to the animes that revolve around a popular game with kids, like Yu-Gi-Oh or Beyblade or whatever. This one isn't based on anything in real life. Basically take Pokemon, and instead of capturing other creatures, you customize your robot with different parts and participate in battles with people who also have their own robots. That's Custom Robo. And like Pokemon, the RPG text and stuff isn't the focus. 
 
I know that there are localized Custom Robo games that came out on Gamecube and DS, but what I particularly like about this one is how the polygonal look of the Custom Robos seems to make sense. They are pretty much toys, customizable action figures that fight. Kinda like Star Fox 64, the official art is made to better reflect the actual look in the game. When you aren't in battle though, everything else is just sprites with polygonal backgrounds.
 
It's an interesting game. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find a FAQ for this game, where as the sequel Custom Robo V2 has some. Oh well, it didn't take to long for me to grasp how the system works. It's fun, though I'd assume it gets better as you progress and unlock more parts to use on your Robo. 
 
I'll probably check out the DS game or something, but I definetely like the blocky look they have here, and a very simple and fun combat system. 
 

Neon Genesis Evangelion


Okay, going into this, I knew it had to be a bad game. Why did I bother with this then? Well, because the interesting this about this game is that it pushed the system it was onto to do things that would've been easier on something like PSX. Cutscenes and voice work from the anime, something that the N64 isn't necessarily known for doing well. 
 
They did get the VAs from the anime in this game, and it works. As for the cutscenes, they are a mix of polygons and sprites. However, alot of these are shorter than the actual scenes, and much like everything else in the game, they aren't FMVs. Just large sprites and what not. 
 
The main game though, the gameplay...well, it's rather sucky. The game is basically a 2D fighter, a very clumsy and boring one. The only way you can make it not boring is if you input specific commands that make sequences play out like in the anime. For instance, in the first battle, when Shinji first uses the Eva, if I recall, you rotate the control stick about 360 degrees and you can make him trip. Then, you let the angel break his arms, detach the cable from Unit 01's back, and then stab him in the head before throwing him into a building. Then he goes berserk, you have to tap the A and Down C buttons rapidly to break the AT field, before pressing A+B while running inorder to tackle the angle and stab him to death. Just like in the anime. 
 
Unfortunately, the stuff you need to do to pull it off isn't even done well. Not a whole lot of the various commands are explained, the only specific one you are told is how to break the AT field. Other than that, it's just slow and clunky. 
 
Not every level is like that though. Alot of them are more like minigames that more easily replicate a scene from the anime, and even though it isn't frutstrating like the main fighting, most of them are super easy. I would've much prefered the whole game be just context minigames, but it would probably take even less time to get through it, since most of the time spent is just struggling with the sub-par gameplay. If Evangelion wasn't an anime, then I think making a Dragon's Lair esque game with the series story and scenes would've been much more acceptable. Besides that, the game is kind of a waste. 
 
I do applaud the devs of this game though for putting this on an N64 cartridge, when it would've been much easier to replicate the scenes from the anime on a disc based system. Then again, if they did, I doubt the gameplay would be better. It's weird, because I somehow enjoyed my time with the game, even if I was frustrated with how bad parts of the game played. Probably worth owning just for the novelty factor. 
 

Wonder Project J2


This is the game that I unfortunately was unable to really play. I could only see a little bit of story segment before the ROM froze on a black screen. So I just stuck to watching a few Youtube videos. Out of all the Japanese games I checked out, this was the most intriguing. 
 
This game is in a genre that's more exclusive to Japan, known as Virtual Life Simulators. In this game, a girl robot jamed Josette is told by her creator that she has been entrusted into your care, as he's grown quite old and shortly after telling her passes away. She moves to a new island, and it's your job to take care of her, and teach her to be more human. You have a list of tasks, known as achievements, and you need to do stuff on this list that will help Josette in her interaction with other humans. Kind of a modern Pinochio, only with a girl robot, who already looks human enough that she doesn't need a transformation, just lessons. 
 
It looks neat. In a way, I guess this serves as a good excuse for a character to not be intelligent when it comes to behavior, since she is only a robot. It's not really like Western games that try to make everything dynamic and interactive or something, like the game changes based on your decisions. Maybe that's what I like about this game, that there is actually an end goal to it, unlike virtual pet games or things of the Animal Crossing variety that don't really have an end. It's got more of a JRPG vibe to it, as in there's always a plot you're gonna follow that will be the same.
 
Now, the previous games I checked out because I heard of them one way or the other. So how did I find out about Wonder Project? Well, it was in the N64 Top 10 on GameFAQs for a few days, and it piqued my interest. From what little I saw, the people who played and liked the game were very passionate about it. Heck, there's a translation patch for it as well. I'll probably understand it more if I can actually find a way to play it, but until then, I think this is a genre I could get behind. Could be fun. 
 

Perfect Dark


Okay, so this isn't a Japanese only game, but this particular version of the game is interesting. 
 
The game was originally gonna be called Red and Black, or Aka to Kuro, in Japan, however, it was changed to make it look like every English game title that is pronounced by the Japanese. So, it went from Aka to Kuro, to Pafekuto Daku. 
 
However, when the game boots up, after seeing the Nintendo and Rare Logo, when the N64 logo starts spinning and turning into a metallic PD, instead of a bluish color, it turns red. And when the title appears, the screen flashes red as the Japanese logo zooms out into view. Very flashy intro. Aka to Kuro should've been the title over there, definetely. Also, Joanna's face in the Japanese version is different, most likely to make the game appeal more to Japan. But then again, FPS games and Japan don't necessarily go together. And I prefer Joanna's original face. 
 
Short stuff on this game, not a whole lot, but there aren't any super massive changes beyond that. It's still PD. 
  
----------- 
And that's it. I'll say, this experience has piqued my interest in import games alot more. Something I'll probably think more about in the future.

#1 Posted by Hailinel (24436 posts) -

Many years ago, Nintendo Power actually ran a short article on Wonder Project J2 and made it sound very interesting. I was disappointed that it was never released over here, but I've seen Youtube videos of the game in action, and it indeed looks like fun.

#2 Posted by Pepsiman (2470 posts) -

@Hailinel: A translation patch for that game was actually released a few years ago, the page for which can be found here. Given how N64 translation patches are very far and few between (I actually don't know of any besides this one and a vague-ish attempt at translating the original Animal Crossing game), it's not surprising that word didn't really spread all that far and wide. I've never played the game in that state nor in the original Japanese, so I can't attest to what it's like, but at least there's a means for non-Japanese speakers to play one of the N64's more unusual games.

#3 Posted by ArclightBorealis (1563 posts) -

Christ, I did not expect to see this resurrected.

#4 Posted by nohthink (1223 posts) -

It would have been better if you provided photos

#5 Posted by John1912 (1862 posts) -

@Alaska_Gamer said:

Christ, I did not expect to see this resurrected.

LOL!

#6 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Alaska_Gamer said:

Christ, I did not expect to see this resurrected.

Neither did I, especially from people who have written quite a few blogs before. All I can say is "Custom Robo's pretty cool" and "Pepsiman stole my translation patch point (although I am curious if there is a Japanese translation patch of Conker's Bad Fur Day, since that never got a Japanese release)".

#7 Posted by Hailinel (24436 posts) -
@Pepsiman Thanks for the link. I've never messed with translation patches, but if I can find the time, I'd definitely like to try getting it to work for this game.
#8 Posted by Pepsiman (2470 posts) -

@Hailinel: The format the patch comes in is very straightforward. You'll need a separate program to actually apply it to the game, but the readme included provides instructions on how to apply it, including which patch to use on what version of the game you find. Very easy stuff to accomplish. Shouldn't take more than a few seconds.

@Video_Game_King: To my knowledge, the Japanese game translation scene tends to not be so big since most Western games that have a remote market in Japan do usually end up getting localized. That being said, I did a quick search anyway and didn't find anything of the sort for Conker's Bad Fur Day. It doesn't surprise me all that much, but yeah.

#9 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Pepsiman said:

That being said, I did a quick search anyway and didn't find anything of the sort for Conker's Bad Fur Day. It doesn't surprise me all that much, but yeah.

Damn it. Just as I'd expected. Go tell Japanese gamers that they're missing out. Yell at them, "Conker's Bad Fur Dayを遊びなさい!今!すごいよ!" (Or something like that.)

#10 Posted by jewunit (1056 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

Many years ago, Nintendo Power actually ran a short article on Wonder Project J2 and made it sound very interesting. I was disappointed that it was never released over here, but I've seen Youtube videos of the game in action, and it indeed looks like fun.

I remember that article. I also remember being really excited about the Nintendo 64 DD and was trying to figure how much Earthbound and Doshin the Giant would cost. I know Doshin the Giant got a release and a sequel on the Gamecube, but not much else.

#11 Posted by Pepsiman (2470 posts) -

@jewunit: The sequel was actually a 64DD-exclusive whose gameplay... doesn't resemble much in the way of the original game, I'll say. The original game is what actually got ported to the GameCube and was even localized into English for Europe. It's a really strange saga those games went through in general, but that's probably fitting when considering their overall premises, I suppose.

#12 Posted by jewunit (1056 posts) -

@Pepsiman: Ah, thanks for the clarification! It did indeed have a weird development cycle.

#13 Posted by Hailinel (24436 posts) -

@Pepsiman said:

@Hailinel: The format the patch comes in is very straightforward. You'll need a separate program to actually apply it to the game, but the readme included provides instructions on how to apply it, including which patch to use on what version of the game you find. Very easy stuff to accomplish. Shouldn't take more than a few seconds.

That's all good to know. Though it'll probably be a while before I can really give the game a shot. My first stop is getting an adapter or controller to work on my PC. From what little I know and have seen of the game, I can understand why the game has the cult following that it does.

@Video_Game_King said:

@Pepsiman said:

That being said, I did a quick search anyway and didn't find anything of the sort for Conker's Bad Fur Day. It doesn't surprise me all that much, but yeah.

Damn it. Just as I'd expected. Go tell Japanese gamers that they're missing out. Yell at them, "Conker's Bad Fur Dayを遊びなさい!今!すごいよ!" (Or something like that.)

I'm not entirely sure whether or not the humor in Conker would really find a wide audience in Japan. Jokes can be difficult to translate effectively.

@jewunit said:

@Hailinel said:

Many years ago, Nintendo Power actually ran a short article on Wonder Project J2 and made it sound very interesting. I was disappointed that it was never released over here, but I've seen Youtube videos of the game in action, and it indeed looks like fun.

I remember that article. I also remember being really excited about the Nintendo 64 DD and was trying to figure how much Earthbound and Doshin the Giant would cost. I know Doshin the Giant got a release and a sequel on the Gamecube, but not much else.

Doshin the Giant has such a strange history behind it. For a while, it seemed as though the game would get a U.S. release, and then it didn't, and then there was the 64DD sequel, which obviously didn't fly anywhere but Japan, and then the GameCube version, which I didn't even know about until this thread.

And having seen screenshot comparisons of EarthBound 64 and Mother 3 on the GBA, I'm amazed at how much was apparently adapted straight from the canned N64 version into what was eventually released. That's some serious dedication to the concept.

@Alaska_Gamer said:

Christ, I did not expect to see this resurrected.

Hey, it caught my eye this morning!

#14 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Hailinel:

True, but I still want Japanese gamers to know what they're missing out on, just as I imagine テレビ_ゲーム_王 wants non-Japanese gamers to know that they're missing out on Shin Monshou no Nazo (OK, not the Japanese equivalent of Conker, but I needed a game).

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.