As one console generation transitions into the next and we start to slip into a nostalgic mode of discourse, it’s worth thinking about some of the games we missed out on. This is basically the point of no return – there’ll be no more Tokyo Jungles, no more Deathsmiles, or any of the other games we missed out on. No one’s going to take a risk on these weird quirky outdated games anymore, and we’ll never be able to grab them from the local EB. Let’s take a moment to think about some of the games we missed out on this generation.
Captain Rainbow (Wii)
Captain Rainbow was rumoured to be up for a European release after its 2008 debut in Japan, but unfortunately it never came to pass. The game apparently wasn’t all that great, but we would have bought it for the story alone – Captain Rainbow travels around an island making friends with old, unloved Nintendo characters, granting wishes and playing mini-games. You can help Little Mac become a beefcake, hang out with the Devil from Devil World, or help Birdo get out of prison after she is locked up for using a women’s bathroom by finding the vibrator under her bed, proving her gender identity. It’s not difficult to see, perhaps, why Nintendo didn’t think that would translate…but we would have played it.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2 (DS)
I will play every Ace Attorney game released in English on general principle, but I’ll never play this one. After the first game failed to light up the world, the sequel – which earned itself a Japanese special edition that came with a complete tea set – never made the trip over here. Yes, the 3DS is region-free – which is great, because the system’s very best games were the Japan-only Ouendan series – but this is the sort of game that absolutely requires a firm grasp of the dialog, because it’s about 85% reading. It’s a shame, because Edgeworth and Gumshoe have been sadly missed from the latest Ace Attorney adventures.
Boku no Natsuyasumi 3 (PS3)
This is a game about being a young boy and spending your summer vacation on your aunt and uncle’s farm. You catch bugs, you go swimming, you milk cows, you wonder why so many games are about shooting aliens in the face and so few of them are about reliving the carefree days of one’s youth. The third game in a series that perhaps wouldn’t have played so well over here, Boku no Natsuyasumi 3 looks like a game of serene beauty, the sort of game that Hayao Miyazaki might direct.
Aquanaut’s Holiday: Hidden Memories (PS3)
If you managed to play the (seriously great) Endless Ocean series on the Wii, you’ll have a decent idea of how fun it can be to explore a videogame ocean. While that series was largely focused on photography though, this one is about solving a mystery. Although there were copies available in parts of Asia that contained English subtitles, they’re long out of print, and the Japanese edition contained only their native tongue. Folks who managed to get their hands on the English version were full of praise, and it had some beautiful ideas – you could communicate with some fish by repeating the noises they made back at them, for instance.
Espgaluda II Black Label (Xbox 360)
While many of the games on this list are quite relaxing, simple experiences, Espgaluda II is full-on. While a lot of really great intense shooters made it to PAL Xbox 360s in English (Akai Katana, Dodonpachi, Deathsmiles, a lot of XBLA releases), this one – one of the most hardcore and revered of the lot – was only ever released in Japanese. On the plus side, if you do import it you can blame your inability to get a good score on not being able to understand the menus.
Are there any Japan-only games you’ve had your eye on for the last few years?