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Games Purchased in Japan- Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 Semesters

Much like the last time I was in Japan, this current outing in Japan is for relatively serious business, what with it involving a study abroad gig and all. I'm here primarily to make my language skills more competent and lay the groundwork for what will probably be a career revolving around international, particularly Japan-centric, work. That doesn't mean I'm left lacking when it comes to time for fun and games, though, and that's what this list is for: detailing my purchases made while overseas, as well as any and all impressions I might have. I never come to Japan with the particular intention of buying a lot, but invariably, whether it's because I find something that's just absolutely difficult to track down in the States or is just plain dumb/cheap/both dumb and cheap, I wind up expanding my collection far more than I ever initially expect. Let's watch together and see how bad things end up getting by the end.

List items

  • This was my very first game purchase in Japan this time around, although it's for the expanded edition that's aptly titled Love Plus+. (Two plusses!) There are a few reasons for this, most of them having to do with morbid curiosity, but I also just wanted to see first hand what makes the games so compelling to certain types of Japanese men. Unlike pretty much every non-Japanese gamer who can only stare at it from afar and (pretty justifyingly) wonder why it exists, my Japanese skills are more than good enough to actually dive in and find out what's actually what with the game. I came away actually learning quite a bit and while I don't think the game itself is actually compelling, there are reasons why it has the following that it does. I want to spend some time actually detailing my thoughts about it and what lessons more mainstream games, both Japanese and Western, can take from it. There's more to it than the hyperbole might lead you to believe.

  • The first of many games bought on a whim because it was dirt cheap in a random bargain bin. I haven't actually gotten around to playing the game and I don't expect it to have actually aged particularly gracefully, but 70 yen wouldn't otherwise nab me much else in this economy either, so no big loss.

  • This one was 100 yen (so cheap that a currency conversion isn't really necessary), complete with the box and manual. My attitude towards the series in general has been pretty apathetic, but I'm slowing making an effort to try and find what other people see so highly in the games. I might not get a delightful localization out of it, but I'm willing to pay that price if it means I get a cheap classic in another language I know anyway.

  • Another 100 yen game. My interest in Kirby games in general has risen again thanks to Mass Attack and I always wanted to see the interesting technical feats the NES game pulled off first hand, since I heard HAL got the system to do things it was certainly not designed for seven or eight years prior to the game's release. My Famicom collection is also in dire need of good games that aren't just Yoshi's Cookie, so this beggar won't be a chooser.

  • When I bought Final Fantasy IV, I was intending that to be a one-time purchase because, again, I'm generally not keen on Square/Square Enix games. But then I found copies of V and IV that were also 100 yen each with the box and manual and I figured, "Well, I already went down the rabbit hole. Might as well go further down and have the entire SNES set." And so I did. Considering that the games retailed for something like 9000 yen even back then, 300 for a set of games that would probably take me 100-plus to complete isn't a half bad deal.

  • See the entries regarding IV and V. I swear, it was an accident that I wound up just getting all of them. My Atlus allegiance hasn't shifted one bit. No sir.

  • God dammit. Those bargain bins. Every time. Every time.

  • So the real story behind Chrono Trigger, Nights, and the next couple of games on this list is that while roaming around a random town that's more or less in the boonies, I stumbled across a tiny book store that was selling off its entire game stock. Nearly everything, regardless of age, was 10 yen (no more than 20 cents) and much of it, like Chrono Trigger and Nights, still came in the boxes and manuals. I wound up doubling my collection of games here in Japan for no more than 120 yen as a result. It felt great to find such a boon of classic games going for so cheap, but reminded me of how bitter I'll be at myself once it's actually time to pack all of them up and get them hauled back to the States.

  • Sadly enough, I already owned a copy of this for the Saturn because I found it for cheap back home and was like, "Well, that PS2 one that came out in English wasn't terrible." As will soon become clear, this might have started another inadvertent buying trend of sorts that might persist in future purchases. This was one of the 10 yen games that was complete with box and manual.

  • Yep. Found this in the same 10 yen bin and was like, "Well, this won't be a bad, unproductive idea to start up a collection for another series I'm apathetic towards." I can't wait for when I finally cave in and buy the legitimately terrible horse-riding PS2 spinoff action game!

  • I'm personally more fond of F-Zero X on the N64, but after seeing the originally turned into surprisingly amusing drama on Game Center CX, I figured that, for 10 yen, it might not be a bad idea to get it. My SNES collection is also in extremely dire need of being expanded, having inherited it from relatives that didn't really have a clear sense of what made for good games. I need to make up for the fact I own a Bubsy game through that as much as possible.

  • In my experience, if you're looking for cheap N64 games that you already know how to play, even if you don't understand the language, chances are pretty good you'll get the Japanese edition for significantly cheaper than you would back in the US. This remains true with Diddy Kong Racing, which, while I only got the cartridge out of it, was another game that only cost me 10 yen. My weird fondness for N64 imports that legitimately started with Sin and Punishment and has since grown to include such localized games as Mario Tennis continues with this.

  • Another native English game that's way cheaper in Japan. I remember both enjoying and loathing the hell out of this back in the day, so I figured I'd buy and see where I actually stand now that I've had a good decade or so to distance myself from it. Once again, cartridge only, but also 10 yen only. A win in my book.

  • Most Westerners that actually know about Custom Robo are probably only familiar with the GameCube game, but the series actually started back on the N64. This was yet another 10 yen game that I couldn't resist buying and, beings as it's legitimately a non-western game originally, it's a rare Japanese game that's actually Japanese-developed in my obtuse import N64 collection. I also remember finding the gameplay significantly more accessible than similar games like Virtua On, which I greatly appreciate.

  • Darkstalkers is a series I've always meant to give a whirl since getting into 2D fighting games through Guilty Gear. I have no idea which entry is actually considered the best by fans, but, again, 10 yen for the game, package, and manual kind of makes it moot point.

  • Long before 999 on the DS got its Western following, Chunsoft had long since been known for its engrossing visual novel-like games in Japan, with Kamaitachi no Yoru kicking off that legacy back in the early 90s. The premise certainly interests me personally, but the main reason I bought it (again, for 10 yen) was because I wrote a guide on this very site about how to look up Japanese release dates that used it as a random example. Impulse purchase indeed.

  • This one was certainly not 10 yen, but the 2000 yen I did end up paying for it was pretty worth it. While the gameplay and underlying story are pretty simple, the game is certainly not lacking for charm and the book it comes with is just gorgeous to hold. If nothing else, the game deserves to be remembered for both that and its fantastic soundtrack. I hope to actually finish this over Christmas break. Much like Love Plus, expect more thoughts on this game specifically in the future, since at this point, it's almost certainly not getting localized.

  • I have no idea what I was actually expecting from the game when I paid 800 yen for it, but it was certainly not a point-and-click adventure.

  • My fondness for Zelda games more or less died upon the release of Twilight Princess which, while well-constructed on a gameplay level, just lacked the same sort of soul that I was looking to find from it after enjoying Majora's Mask and Wind Waker so much. Knowing that Spirit Tracks' price had infamously rock bottomed pretty soon after its release in Japan due to various economic factors, I figured that buying it would probably be a pretty safe gamble, since I wanted to see whether I had just gotten cold towards the Zelda formula in general or if Twilight Princess was just an off day for the series. Turns out it was mostly the latter, since Spirit Tracks retains much of what I cherish so much in my favorite Zelda games while also mixing things up in terms of the narrative. Still haven't finished this one, either, but I hope to when I have substantial vacation time next month.

  • 200 yen in all for the case, manual, and game. This had actually been legitimately on my to-do list for quite some time, not the least of which is that amazing box art disclaimer on the front, which more or less says, "This game isn't about some cool hero. Stay calm and read the back!"

  • While the Japanese history buff in me is naturally amusingly miffed at the general concept of the Sengoku Basara series in general, no amount of crazy historical butchering could make up for the fact that I just can't get into Dynasty Warriors-type games and I wound up thoroughly bored with the PS3 game quickly. However, I've been interested in the PS2 fighting game spin-off primarily because I think the premise has potential in that sort of space and it was developed by Arc System Works, who I trust to at least turn in solid work. While I never expect to actually get good at the game whenever I finally play, at the very least, I hope to get more out of it than I ever could from the main entries in the series.

  • I don't frankly expect this game to get localized in a timely manner, if ever, and since I'm in a position to enjoy it without needing to rely on a translation FAQ, I figured I might as well nab it while I'm in Japan and don't have to pay exorbitant import fees. I'm also a pretty big fan of the few games from the Tales series that I have played in general, though, and the mechanical additions made for Xillia make it sound like it might well be the most solid entry yet. No guarantees on when I'll be able to play it since I don't have a PS3 with me, but if the game still doesn't have substantial editorial coverage on here by the time I get back, which I'd say is very likely, I might well pop this game in first thing when I return and review it. We'll see. No guarantees. Catherine sure made me keen on reviewing more import games that still matter in this day and age, though.

  • I saw the Atlus logo on this box. It was 10 yen. It's not even from the Atlus I actually like, historically speaking, and yet I still bought it. I have no integrity.

  • To my pleasant surprise, it isn't difficult to find Japanese Club Ninendo-exclusive games in used game shops for cheap at all in Japan. While I was originally tempted to either get one of the Game and Watch Collections or the Tingle Balloon Fight game first, I ultimately wound up going with this one because it's a rare multiplayer-centric Nintendo game. As the back of the box clearly states, you actually can't play this solo. You need at least one other person to play with you. Because of that, I actually haven't had a chance to give it a whirl yet, but given how you yell into the microphone like the Power Rangers that the game is supposed to be parodying to perform special attacks, I look forward to playing it eventually.

  • I'm like the one die-hard Tetris fan who didn't own a copy of the Game Boy edition, so I finally rectified that when I found a cartridge for 100 yen in one of this city's few legitimately good game shops. Finally glad to have atoned for that sin.

  • Much like my "accidental" Square and Sakura Taisen collections that have started since my arrival in Japan, Kirby Mass Attack fever has kind of resulted in me buying up cheap Kirby games, too. Naturally, I've played Dream Land before, but never owned a copy of it. While it's not my favorite in the series, it was also only 100 yen, so it was cheap enough to pick up without thinking twice. It also continues my very odd trend of buying only Japanese editions of Kirby games, which began with the N64 game. I try not to think about my purchasing habits.

  • I had no idea this game even existed, but, again, Kirby fever caused me to nab this when I also saw it going for 100 yen or something. I'm actually way more interested in the vaguely golf-esque SNES game, but at least this is a start.

  • I've long since resigned myself to the fact that I'll buy more games than I'll ever actually play and/or complete, so knowing that, it's pretty easy for me to justifying purchasing something like Mizzurna Falls where I'm in it more for the historical value than anything else. Indeed, as other people have pointed it, it has more than a few similarities to Deadly Premonition, what with an open world with time that passes and individual characters having schedules, but with even more jankiness than SWERY's game. But given the game's almost prophetic nature in some places with regards to gameplay mechanics, especially in its depiction of how open world games would operate pre-GTA 3, that was reason enough for me to buy it when I found a used copy for cheap.

  • I have a pretty long history with the Vib-Ribbon series, having first been intrigued with the PS1 original as a result of a magazine article years before finally getting my hands on a copy and being subsequently charmed by it. That game left me a lasting impression for a number of reasons, so when I stumbled across a copy of the photo-centric PS2 sequel Vib-Ribbon a few years ago while in Tokyo for academic work, I decided, "Well, now's as good of a time as any to bring in the whole family." I had hoped to nab Mojib-Ribbon that year, too, but never managed to track it down. Two years later when I'm back in Osaka this time for more academic stuff, I finally found a copy at a reasonable price and finished off the collection. Vib-Ribbon will probably continue to be my favorite of the bunch if my actual experience with Ripple is any indicator, but I still look forward to playing Mojib Ribbon when I get back. If nothing else, I'm really fond of the horizontally laid out instructional manual written in the old-timey Japanese style the game is supposed to evoke.

  • The reason I got this should speak for itself.

  • In another case of "this isn't going to get localized and I don't need to wait anyway," I decided to pick this up since it's a cheap game and is the one game aside from Dead Souls that actually tries to make an effort at changing up the overall theme. I'm ultimately not sure how easily it'll be to play this after having played and enjoyed 4, but what's done is done. It had been on my to-do list as a Yakuza fan for quite some time anyway.

  • I bought this mostly because of the delightful box art on the Japanese edition. I really love the original game and still play it to this day when I just need to zone out for a few hours and really uncouple my stress, but I've only played that game out of the series to completion because I know the rest tend to be pretty similar. Knowing that, I expect the game itself to be fine and enjoyable for what it is, but man, it sure is incredible that they actually got a giraffe on the roof for that box art.

  • The original No More Heroes is one of my personal favorite games of the current console generation and is what got me really interested in Grasshopper Manufacture as a development studio. After seeing footage of this game, I realized that it seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to the No More Heroes games and so I decided to pick up a copy to see where the roots of the series started from a gameplay perspective. I also happen to quite like the anime series of which the game is based off, but that came well after discovering the game.

  • In my book, Atlus has never gotten remotely close to its best work when its decided to make action games. While I'm told Devil Summoner 1 on the PS2 is actually all right, Devil Summoner 2 bores me to tears no matter how often I attempt to actually play it and, likewise, the original Maken X for the Dreamcast rubbed me the wrong way. It has some interesting mechanics that are still generally hampered by issues that you can tell result from having a team inexperienced with action games helming it. One of the biggest issues was the lack of good camera control, something which I bought the PS2 port for in the hopes of seeing resolved, what with how that system lets you screw around with two analog sticks. It probably won't elevate the game to great heights or anything, but it was also cheap, so I'm okay with paying a little just to see my curiosity filled.

  • Remember how I, shall we say, "inadvertently" started a Sakura Taisen collection? I had no intention of buying any of the other games aside from V, which was localized and brought over to the States in 2010, but I ended getting most of the other main installments simply by virtue of how plentiful and cheap they are to the extent that I figured I might try some of the others to see if earlier games were executed better. This game, however, was bought mostly because of how terrible and unnecessary it is. While Gemini was one of the more enjoyable characters to interact with in V, she wasn't outstanding enough to justify any sort of spinoff game, let alone one that revolves around swordfighting on horse back. I've played it before and <i>thoroughly detested</i> the experience, but knew that if I wanted a Sakura Taisen collection that was truly complete in my eyes, this game was going to have to be purchased at some point. I intended to pay no more than 500 yen for it and that's how it worked out, so I'm content.

  • The first of what I'm sure will be an <i>extensive</i> collection of Japanese 360 games, I bought this mostly out of love for not only Tetris, but the Grand Master series specifically. I know that Arika was forced to make some pretty major changes to the formula as a result of The Tetris Company tightening its overall guidelines for any and all games bearing the Tetris name, but when considering that my options are either a copy of this game or an arcade cabinet of one of the original games, I'm probably going to go with the former while I'm still a college student without a large enough income to even think about owning the latter.

  • I found a boxed Japanese copy for 100 yen, complete with the microphone. The game was never on my to-do per se, perhaps because I had gotten my fill of microphone-driven pet-raising sims with Hey You, Pikachu, but the sheer exoticism of the experience coupled with the price was enough to compel me to grab it when I saw it and go about on my merry way.

  • I bought a copy of this game less because I thought it was particularly fun (it's middling at best anymore) and more because of the sheer historical significance of it. This was a game that proved that hardware as modest as the Game Boy could actually handle rendering polygons in real-time, a feat that Nintendo never designed the portable to do. If you want to figure out the origins of Star Fox and its obsession with doing polygons on another distinctly sprite-driven system, this is probably the game to turn to, having been designed by the same man, Dylan Cuthbert. All that being said, the song that plays during <a href="">tunnel sequences</a> is some of the finest music on the Game Boy.

  • All I need is 4 and then my collection of the main Sakura Taisen games, and hopefully the series as I care to acknowledge it, will be complete. I know I inflicted this obsession with buying them all in the first place, but thank god the end is in sight. I was getting worried for a while there.

  • I bought this game for a multitude of reasons. Chief among them were circumstantial ones; while I know that a localized edition will be released in the States in February, I'll still be in Japan at that time and, price-wise, it was simply cheaper to buy locally than import an English edition and go through all the legal and shipping hoops of getting it into Japan. I may still well buy an English copy to experience the story in my native language, but I knew I could play the game and understand the majority of what was going on without needing outside help, so I figured I'd go ahead and get it early to indulge myself and my enjoyment of SMT games as a whole. Should I actually find the motivation to sit down, push aside my general busy-ness, and finish it, you'll likely hear me say plenty more about it sooner rather than later, though.

  • Knowing that Sega has (understandably) gone on the record saying it won't localize this game, I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy so that I can at least be up to speed on how the series is progressing as a Japanese speaker. I actually got the rereleased edition that packed in the game's DLC, but that's a minor point. I look forward to sitting down and playing this game, even if Devil Survivor 2 will probably have me all SRPG'd out for a while after completing it.

  • Much like certain other purchases, most vividly Pepsiman and that horse riding action Sakura Taisen game whose name I can't be bothered to actually remember, I know exactly what I'm getting myself into in owning a copy of this game. I don't like the TV series and I know that this game, as one of the few Evangelion licensed games that isn't just a pachislot sim, is not particularly well-regarded either. However, I was always interested in it for certain technical reasons since it's an N64 game with a surprising amount of FMV and I like playing those sorts of games myself just to have that sort of historical perspective. However, what really pushed me over the edge into buying this game that I know I totally won't enjoy was <a href="">this video</a>, which all but ensured that the thoroughly low-budged nature of it would make the terribleness laughably enjoyable to at least a limited extent. I'm a sucker for buying games ironically and this is certainly among the cream of the crop in that regard.

  • By sheer virtue of being the only Shin Megami Tensei game of any sort to be released on the original Xbox, Nine inhabits a bit of fascinatingly weird place within the overall spectrum of the series. Not particularly well-known by anybody by die-hard fans of the series while also generally not being all that well-regarded by those same people, Nine basically might as well not exist to most people. As someone who enjoys the series, though, I always like taking the time to see and play the weird tangents it's gone through over the years and make a point of collecting them when I come across them during shopping trips for games. I don't expect this one to be particularly good, but it may actually be the one game aside from, say, Metal Wolf Chaos, that could actually get me to go through the hassle of setting up my original Xbox to play Japanese games. If nothing else, I bought it for next-to-nothing brand new, so there's that consolation, at least.

  • Another cheap Club Nintendo-exclusive game, Tingle's Balloon Fight is basically what it sounds like in the title. It's fundamentally a reskinning of the original Balloon Fight for the NES with some added visuals and music accompanying the original modes, as well as a new multiplayer one. The gameplay itself is about as thrilling as the original Balloon Fight, which is to say, not particularly. That being said, it is more thematically fitting game for Tingle's characters than those point-and-click adventures that I weren't actually aware were point-and-click adventures until I bought one. It's a dumb novelty for a dumb character and, even if the gameplay continues to bore me to high hell, it's enough for me to at least like it on a conceptual level.

  • The original Megami Tensei games have been on my to-own list less because I still believe that they're playable RPGs (the Shin Megami Tensei line for the SNES is already rough enough as it is) so much as it just because I'm a fan of the series. As such, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a copy of this complete with the box and manual for 200 yen, which is significantly less than usually what the cart alone tends to command. I'll still probably give it a whirl simply because my Famicom is in dire need of attention, but if nothing else, I love the manual it comes with, as it details at the very end how to make your own map to navigate the game. Really shows its CRPG heritage.

  • I also got a boxed copy with an instructional manual for 300 yen at the same time as the original game. Again, I don't expect it to be a great game at all, but I still enjoy having it for the sheer novelty of it all. The manual for this game is also morbidly enjoyable to look at; the status effect section in particular gives paralysis the classy name of (in English characters, no less) "palsy." Nice.

  • Like everyone else, I became interested in this game after seeing it get prolonged exposure on a Giant Bomb stream. As one of the cheaper Super Famicom games you can get, it's definitely not hard to track down; the only reason I didn't get one sooner was mostly because I always prefer to price out multiple stores before buying a given game in Japan simply because a game's value can fluctuate wildly in the used games sector. Looking forward to indulging in the insanity with a friend.

  • I've thoroughly played both the original game and Elite Beat Agents, but had never gotten around to playing Osu 2. Like Tetris Battle Gaiden, it's a pretty cheap game to find and only decided to buy it when I found it for a price that I knew would be really difficult to beat. It should make for a pleasant pallet cleanser after doing a lot of Japanese SRPGs lately.

  • The game has been on my to-do list after being told and seeing footage that makes it look like the game fulfills the potential of the original game. I mostly only bought it in Japan because it's cheaper than buying a copy of the American edition, but since I also keep meaning to buy a proper Japanese PS2 before I leave, I figure it would be a good impetus for me to actually use it, unlike a lot of the other Japanese PS2 games I've bought thus far. Very much so looking forward to playing this game.

  • Also purchased mostly because it's a cheaper game in Japan than in the US. I've always been curious about it general, so I figured it was as good of a time as any to purchase it. It's somewhat likely I'll pick up the Japan-only sequel as well, if only because the Engrish subtitle, Let's Go Hawaii, makes it sound <i>exciting</i>.