Top Ten: Games That Never Left Japan

They’re big in Japan! Here’s some of the best games that still haven’t gotten Western releases.

By Kyle England. Posted 03/05/2013 10:00 8 Comments     ShareThis

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!

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8 Responses to “Top Ten: Games That Never Left Japan”

  • 192 points
    Robin Wilde says...

    While the Satellaview would have been cool, I think placing it above Mother 3 might be giving it more praise than it perhaps deserves.

    GiFTPIA and Homeland have both intrigued me for years. There are fan translations available for at least GiFTPIA but they’re online only and you have to keep scrolling as you play. They’re perhaps overdue for an attempt at localisation.

    Mother 3 is my second favourite game ever. So that’s that.

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  • 192 points
    Robin Wilde says...

    I just checked and it seems a translation for Captain Rainbow is available by rather grey-area means.

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  • 15 points
    Crit Hit says...

    A VC release of Fire Emblem: Geneology of the Holy War would be most epic and appreciated. If they were to bring over the FE games, I’d rather they have fans translate the names. I was playing Awakening’s first Outrealm map and I still refer to “Deirdre” as “Diadora”. And it’s Celice, not Seliph.

    But I’m splitting hairs. The FE and Mother series need international release.

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  • 325 points
    Marc Deschamps says...

    I’m not surprised about the lack of translation in regards to the earlier entries in the Wars and Fire Emblem series’. The amount of localization probably means that the older titles just aren’t worth the effort. The lack of a port for the 2010 Fire Emblem game is confounding, though. Wonder what happened there?

    As a teen, I was so mad at Nintendo for not bringing over the Game Boy sequel to Pokémon TCG. That’s another one I never understood. Seemed like printing money, to me.

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  • 144 points
    Kroisos says...

    Couldn’t find a place for Tingle’s Freshly Cut Rupee Land? Poor guy never gets any love.

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  • 1230 points
    lukas85 says...

    that stellaview thing sounds pretty amazing, also captain rainbow

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  • 273 points
    Nicolas Vestre says...

    I like the honorable mention to the Legend of Starfy series! Some years ago I imported Starfy 2 and 3 (the original wasn’t available on Play-Asia) and have since completed them. I also have Starfy 4, but I haven’t even turned it on…

    The only complaint I have about importing Starfy games is the massive amount of text. Every level is overflowing with lengthy discussions; and even though it’s entirely possible to find your way through the games without knowing Japanese (even I did it :P), the sense of loss is still there.

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