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The Best Games We Didn’t Get Last Year

February 21, 2012 Written by Heath Hindman

Every year, there are games developed in some regions that don’t make it into others. Japan in particular gets a lot of games that don’t give foreign publishers much confidence. Some games never make it, and others take months or years to do so. Here’s a short list of some fantastic games that came out in 2011 in Japan that haven’t yet made it to North America or Europe, along with their chances of doing so.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
System: PS3
JP Release: November, 2011
Localization Chances: Announced, last quarter of 2012 for NA, early 2013 for EU.

Thank goodness this got announced for stateside and European releases, because it’s an incredible game. Forgive me for using a phrase from when I eventually review this game: “If you have ever liked a Japanese RPG, you owe Ni no Kuni a shot.” Though players control a boy age 9 or 10 and take him through a fantasy world, this is not a game for kids. There’s a difference in being made for children and being enjoyable by children. Care Bears and iCarly are made for children; Spirited Away and Nausicaa can be enjoyed by children. The latter two, however, are far more than just “kids movies.” Ni no Kuni a game you can play with your kids in the room, yes, but the script is so brilliantly written, the game systems are everything JRPG fans have been wanting, and there is some real challenge here. Are you one of the million net nerds complaining about that certain special flavor that Final Fantasy has lost? Then Ni no Kuni is the pill for your ill, and if you pass it up, you waive your right to complain about the RPG genre.

Valkyria Chronicles 3
System: PSP
JP Release: January, 2011
Localization Chances: Very Low

Valkyria Chronicles 3 is better than part 2 overall, featuring a more streamlined advancement system, a much improved story, and characters that aren’t oozing cheese from their pores (most of the time). Fans of this tactical RPG series have every reason to be just a little bitter about this one not having already made it across the Pacific; I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than Valkyria Chronicles 2, which was already a good game in its own right. PSP games haven’t sold well outside of Japan these last two years, though, so the chances of Sega’s localization a full year after its JP release are decidedly low. On the bright side, VC3 is a game that I’d say you can probably enjoy without knowing much Japanese, so if you’re considering an import, give it a shot. The PSP is region-free, after all, and you can always email me if you need help with something.

Akiba’s Trip
System: PSP
JP Release: May, 2011
Localization Chances: Low

“Akiba” is short for “Akihabara,” a district of Tokyo famous for selling a wide variety electronics, of course with an emphasis on games, manga, computers, and other things that one might associate with people like…people like…well, me.
The title “Akiba’s Trip” is a play on words, because when you say it fast, it can sound like “Akiba Strip,” fitting of the game’s theme of tearing clothes off of passers by. You read that right. You see, there’s a vampire-zombie-thing problem in Tokyo, and everyone knows that when a vampire’s skin is exposed to sunlight, they disintegrate, right? Of course! Much in the spirit of the Salem Witch Hunts, your job is to yank people’s outfits right off their bodies and see if they die. If they do, good job; if they don’t, well then it’s a little bit socially awkward, but no harm done. The game is hilarious in its concept, so it’s a minor shame that it could go completely without international release. There are rumors that XSeed is showing interest in an unnamed Acquire title, so there is still a small chance it could make the swim. There’s certainly no guarantee there, though.

Final Fantasy Type-0
System: PSP
JP Release: October, 2011
Localization Chances: Very High

While we’ve all heard form a friend who quoted a guy who read Ultimania and told his buddy who said something online about this one’s destiny, there hasn’t been a real, solid confirmation from Square Enix USA about this one. It’s Final Fantasy, so I don’t doubt it will come over, but the fact reamins, it hasn’t officially been revealed as part of SE’s lineup yet. Regardless, Japan’s had it since October, and it’s a hell of a game. If you liked the combat of Crisis Core and don’t mind a story that uses a lot of made-up words, Type-0 is practically a must-buy. If there’s no official word soon, heck, find yourself some online guides and jump your butt into the import scene.

A Bunch of Vita Games
JP Release: December, 2011
Localization Chances: Various

Technically speaking, there were over 20 Vita games released in Japan in 2011 that are just now making their way out of Asia. Thankfully, it won’t be long till you guys are able to get your hands on BlazBlue, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, Shinobido 2, and others that Japan has been enjoying for two months now. Some Vita games, however, like pedophilia simulator Dream Club Zero, have no chance of making it stateside, so you’ll have to have to be creepy via import.

Community Addition: Monster Hunter Portable 3rd HD

System: PS3
JP Release: August, 2011
Localization Chances: Low
This slipped my mind at first because I was sticking to games with which I have at least some experience; I’ve never danced with the third iteration of Monster Hunter Portable, be it on PSP or PS3 (part 2 was fun though). The HD version of this obviously features huge visual upgrades that can further immerse the play in the world. It’s a shame more of these games don’t make it outside of Japan. With five months having gone by since its JP release and still no word, this one looks unlikely to break the international silence.

If you’ve played any of the above, share your experiences below!

Keep with PlayStation LifeStyle for continuing updates — including reviews — of the biggest imports for PS3, PSP, and PS Vita. I’ve stacked myself up with three right now, in fact. I’ll give you a hint: they’re Vita games that aren’t available with the US or EU launches.