Yoko Taro is a video game writer and director best known for his work on Square-Enix's Drakengard and spin-off Nier franchises. His latest work, NieR:Automata, was developed in collaboration with PlatinumGames, and released in 2017 to critical acclaim. You can find him on Twitter at @yokotaro.
*The platforms mentioned are those that Yoko Taro purchased and played on, and do not represent all of the platforms that the titles have been released on.
Playdead’s previous title, LIMBO, was an artistic title that mixed high difficulty gameplay with philosophical questions. I cannot help but purchase a new game from them. That game made me think… while I may be busy every day, I want to make sure to set aside time to play games that are important.
That being said, in the end I wasn’t able to make the time. So although I purchased it on Steam, I haven’t been able to play it even once. Regardless, I am sure that it is a masterpiece. Not only because it is a game developed by Playdead, but also because everyone’s reviews are great as well.
9. Undertale (Steam)
This game has been a hot topic for gamers in the West for quite a while now, and I have been anxious to play it. The game was first localized to Japanese in 2017, and so, I was finally able to play it. I don’t really need to re-introduce the game here, but I think that it is a masterpiece studded with complex sarcasm and love.
By the way, I was greatly surprised that Undertale had a similar gimmick in its staff credits to the one in NieR:Automata that I created. Undertale was of course released before NieR:Automata, so I wondered if people would think that “NieR copied Undertale” but… since NieR is a game that I made by taking from many other games, I don’t really care. Yeah, not a concern at all.
8. Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
As the Western gaming industry becomes more and more polarized to AAA titles and indie games, Japan, at a loss for what to do, reached the conclusion to create games that “exist between AAA titles and indie games.” Within that scope, I feel that Gravity Rush is a unique title where its core idea, game balance, and the world it creates are all much different from others.
By the way, I go drinking with Keiichiro Toyama, the director of this game, from time to time, and when he’s drunk he becomes extremely funny.
This is the latest title by Kazutaka Kodaka, who continues to create quirky text adventure games. I can’t really say much about it, but the challenging, large-scale gimmicks that he creates throughout the series made me feel like “they got me!”
I feel like this is a title that deserves much more attention, considering its different destination in the evolution of games, with its art style, gameplay, and more.
6. DoDonPachi Resurrection (Steam)
This is a game from the “vertical shooters” genre that I love. This title, known as DoDonPachi Resurrection in English, first appeared in the arcades in 2008.
The studio behind it, CAVE, is one of the leading shooter developers in Japan that created “bullet-hell shoot-‘em-ups”… well, one of the few shooter creators that survived. However, they stopped releasing games on consumer platforms after releasing the Xbox 360 version of this title in 2013.
This Steam version was released in 2016, but looking at this makes me feel sad as I wonder, “what could the Japanese vertical shooter industry have done to stay alive?”
5. Alienation (PS4)
4. Nex Machina: Death Machine (PS4)
3. MatterFall (PS4)
I’d like to introduce Housemarque, a developer that I love, with my top third, fourth and fifth titles.
With these three releases, we were able to enjoy games with great craftsmanship and gameplay. However, Housemarque has recently released a statement that they are going to stop developing arcade style games.
Just as it is for CAVE, whom I mentioned earlier, this makes me really sad. I do want to believe that “a new era will be born, and I want to be excited for new styles of games that will come out of it.” However, I’m 47 already, and I can’t really imagine a future in which I’m devoted to a new genre.
This was an incident… that made me think that us, the players, will also fall and be left behind by the times as well.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
As you may already know, this is a super masterpiece from Guerrilla Games. Their release date was extremely close to NieR:Automata, it was a sci-fi genre title, an action game, and it featured a female protagonist. So much overlap. I thought, “Are you trying to kill me? Give me a break, seriously.”
By the way, the Machines in this game are different from more conventional Western designs of machines/robots, and they are constructed with a delicate physique and detail that Japanese players might like.
Guerrilla Games’ artistic sense has always been superb, even since Killzone, but I felt that their artistic sensibilities have reached a point where I wouldn’t be surprised if Horizon became an animated series.
1. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Smart Phone)
I have been immersed in it for about two days now and it really is a great game. It is difficult to explain how I’m enjoying it, but I’ll leave a link here* to a page where someone has translated my posts.
(*I’m not sure if the translations are correct.)
From the 3DS title, I have felt that the Animal Crossing series has a weird strangeness, or many gaps, in it. What lies beyond that strangeness is never explained in the game, so we have to imagine it for ourselves. But that made me think of how Nintendo really is a great developer for being able to create a game that lets us imagine many things for ourselves, when the current trend in gaming is the sense of obligation to “explain everything” within the game.