great games that unfortunately never made it out of Japan

We review some of the most important games in history that, due to various circumstances, never left the Japanese borders … unfortunately for Western players. Seven great classics that few users were lucky enough to enjoy in their day.

Although it is not going through its best historical moment now (despite the fact that it has fortunately recovered quite a bit in recent years), the Japanese video game industry has always been the cradle of video games . And as you know, he has left us countless masterpieces that will always be remembered.


However, and although in our days things have changed a lot (especially thanks to digital download services and stores), in the past not all the great games of Japanese origin ended up reaching the West . Problems and inconveniences of all kinds derived from the location, logistics, distribution, rights and other obstacles have deprived us of enjoying certain well-known titles.


Of the dozens of games that we could capture in this report (only focusing on the era of 8 and 16 bits would give us to write a book), we have selected these seven that, due to various circumstances, have seemed very outstanding. But, what has been said, surely many of you miss in this article the presence of several works that did not make it out of the Japanese borders either, so you can contribute everything you want in the corresponding comments.


Earthbound / MotherApe / Nintendo – Famicom (1987)

Of the many gems that appeared on the Famicom and were never transferred to the NES, Shigesato Itoi’s masterpiece , Mother (a saga known outside of Japan as Earthbound), is perhaps the most famous of all. This atypical role-playing game was unlike any other JRPG of the time due to a multitude of peculiarities, starting with its aesthetics and continuing with its staging, plot and development.


Although at the beginning it was going to be distributed in the United States (Europe never entered the plans) and the title was translated, finally Nintendo decided to cancel the landing of said work in American territory. Of course, the corresponding ROM (known as Earthbound Zero ) became very popular many years later on the Internet, being the only way to enjoy this authentic classic until the arrival of Earthbound Beginnings to Wii U in 2015, a launch that obviously only it was done in digital format. And as many of you already know, Earthbound 2 (Mother 3) ran the same fate , a great sequel that only Japanese GBA-owning players could enjoy.


PolicenautsKonami – PC-9821 (1994)

Long before he rose to fame as a video game creator back in the late 90s, Hideo Kojima already left samples of his incredible talents for the conception of unique stories and characters . And at least for the one who writes these lines, one of the best and, sadly, most unknown creations is Policenauts, an adventure as curious as it is impossible to leave it halfway once you got into it.


Originally programmed for the Japanese PC-9821 computer (although it was later versioned for other formats such as PSX and Saturn), this intriguing production presented a development and style similar to that embodied in the superb Snatcher , where the conversations between the characters formed the bulk of the proposal, although there was also room for various action scenes that took place in the first person in static backgrounds. A game that no fan of the popular Japanese creator should miss.


Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2)Squaresoft – Super Famicom (1995)

Despite the fact that, in its day, Secret of Mana was quite well received outside of Japan, the fact that this installment arrived so late to the Super Famicom (at that time 32-bit consoles were available) was the main reason for that this JRPG wonder never left Japan.


Beyond its beautiful story and charismatic protagonists, this Squaresoft production stood out for hosting one of the best visuals ever made for Nintendo’s 16-bit console . An imposing technical side that was accompanied by some excellent melodies composed by Hiroki Kikuta. Fortunately, and after the digital launch in the West of the Collection of Mana compilation on Switch, it is possible to enjoy this work under the name Trials of Mana in its original format … and in a few months in its remake version, a title that will appear on Switch , PS4 and PC on April 24 of next year.

Tobal 2Dream Factory / Squaresoft – PlayStation (1997)

Despite the fact that Tobal Nº1 did not end up receiving especially positive reviews from the specialized press and, either, the reception experienced by the players was not the warmest, the fact of including the Final Fantasy VII demo was more than enough reason to to be “eaten” in stores.

However, Squaresoft wanted to give continuity to its fighting saga, Rara Avis within its catalog, and Tobal 2 ended up appearing on PSX … but only in Japan. And it’s a shame, because the quality jump that this delivery gave in relation to what was registered in the first edition of this particular 3D fighting tournament was considerable. But it is also true that, in those days, the competition within the fighting genre on Sony’s console was extremely tough …


Sin and PunishmentTreasure – Nintendo 64 (2000)

This authentic Treasure masterpiece, one of the most iconic studios several decades ago, was considered one of the most brilliant in the entire Nintendo 64 catalog . That is why every time we think that said production never appeared, not even in the North American market, we put our hands on our heads.


This rail shooter had some really impressive production values, and also had a very attractive aesthetic and a spectacular graphic finish. With a frenetic pace of play , a handling as curious as it is frankly good (once you got used to it) and an exceptional setting, we still do not know what Nintendo was thinking to decide that this true marvel would only stay in Japan.


Jump Super / Ultimate StarsGanbarion – Nintendo DS (2005)

Although in this case we are not talking about an outstanding and incunabula classic, surely many of you were as stung by the fact that this atypical fighting arcade created by Ganbarion exclusively for Nintendo DS was not allowed. see in our borders.


For various reasons related to the rights of many of the anime sagas and characters that it included, unfortunately in these parts we are unable to enjoy the battles between characters from manganime franchises as famous as Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach and many others , battles in which up to four players could participate at the same time .


Dragon Quest XSquare-Enix – Wii (2012) (multitude of later versions)

One of the most surprising titles that are part of this report is undoubtedly this great and ambitious Square-Enix production. This unique chapter of the famous saga of JRPGs by the Japanese company made the leap to MMORG territory in 2012 on the successful Wii, a console that was not at all known for hosting productions of this same nature.


Thanks to its excellent reception in Japanese lands and to the good reviews obtained, little by little the title has spread significantly and, today, it has appeared in the vast majority of current game formats , including even the iOS and Android mobile devices. It seems to us a real madness that, at this point in life, Square-Enix has not even considered publishing this work in the West, especially after how well the fantastic Final Fantasy XIV is working out of Japan . Seeing is believing.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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