Despite Nintendo’s international presence, it’s still a Japanese company through and through. Nearly every single game published by Nintendo comes from Japanese developers, save the few exceptions like Retro Studios. Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo of America are left with the lofty task of bringing these games from Japan to Western territories. It’s a long process that involves translation, tweaking, licensing, and distribution. America and Europe are much larger than Japan, both in population and geographical size, so releasing a game in each territory is no small task.
Of course, the vast majority of releases from the Big N go on to become hits around the world, but there are many games that never see the light of day outside the Land of the Rising Sun. Why is this? Some games are deemed “too Japanese” for Western release, some games don’t get the sales to justify a wide release, and others are just left in limbo for what seems like no reason at all. The popularity of many Nintendo series and the rise of downloadable games have helped bring some Japan-only games out of the country, but many others remain stuck in their country of origin. And we weep. And then we import, we emulate, and we translate. Let’s take a look at some games which have still never had an official release outside of Japan to this day. Behold, the Top Ten games to never leave Japan!