As new generations of consoles launch and technology advances, it's hard not to think of what's left behind. There might be some new games on the horizon, but the relaunch of a game can be pretty exciting too—especially if it's one that never came over to Western shores the first time around.
Over the last year or so, a number of games that were previously only sold in Japan have been set up for North American localizations. The original version of the first Fire Emblem is coming to Nintendo Switch this December, though it will only be on sale for a limited time; infamous anti-RPG Moon got a Switch launch too, and in 2019, the long-awaited Seiken Densetsu 3 came to the Switch as well.
Even with all these ports and localizations, there are still some favorites missing. We're wondering: what classic Japan-only games are you still waiting on?
I'm quickly running out of answers, to be honest. Seiken Densetsu 3 was my answer for a very, very long time, but Square Enix finally translated that last year with the Mana Collection and The Trials of Mana remake. Then there was Phantasy Star Online 2, but that also launched in the West this year. So I guess that leaves me with Yakuza Kenzan? I'm a recent convert to the Yakuza series, but Kenzan is the lost title that never made it to the West, so I'll go with that.
Time to unfurl my great list. As y'all might know, I am a Fire Emblem fan, and while that series has made great strides, important portions of its back catalog remain only in Japan. Specifically, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and its successor, Thracia 776, which fans have translated but have still not found their way over here just yet. These are both easy fodder for the Echoes treatment.
For all the love that Metal Gear Solid gets in the U.S., Policenauts still hasn't seen an (official) English localization. Another of Kojima's early games, Snatcher, did eventually come to the U.S. on the Sega CD, though obtaining a copy remains prohbitively expensive, even when the Japanese version made it onto the TurboGrafx-16 Mini. With both, fan translations and other solutions remain just about the only options for playing either one.
But to pivot right at the end, here's a more modern game I'm eagerly awaiting: Gnosia. It's essentially a single-player werewolf game, where individual runs reveal new truths and build up the overarching narrative as you continually loop through time and uncover more mysteries. Petit Depotto's game initially launched for just the PlayStation Vita in Japan in 2019, and gained so much acclaim that it came to the Switch in Japan earlier this year. It should be on any narrative fan's radar, and I'm really, really hopeful it finally comes to the U.S. soon.
Looks like it's time for me to write another mini Twin Peaks rant for USgamer: the game I need to see get an official Japanese-to-English translation is Human Entertainment's Mizzurna Falls. Heavily inspired by David Lynch and Mark Frost's show, Mizzurna Falls pretty much lifts the Pacific Northwest setting of Twin Peaks wholesale and presents its own small-town mystery. It came out in 1998, years before Swery made his Lynch tribute band turn with the original Deadly Premonition. Waypoint did a couple articles on it last year—a fan translation patch was released to the internet and then quickly taken down after a feud between its developers.
Like Deadly Premonition, Mizzurna Falls had an open world and time passed in-game, which was still quite ambitious for a PlayStation title at that time. I love that kind of stuff, and while there’s no shortage of Peaks-inspired games now (Remedy's Alan Wake is still the best of the bunch, I think), I have to imagine it'd be really fun to go back and play Mizzurna Falls. There's something about the blocky, pixelated PS1-era 3D striving for realism that I think would play really well off of the show's dreamier qualities.
This will never happen in a million years, but I've been streaming Super Robot Wars Z over on Twitch, and it's still very, very good. Unfortunately, it's only available in Japanese, and it's stuck on the PlayStation 2, which is region-locked. It's too bad because Super Robot Z has it all: great original units, a huge lineup of shows, and some of the best graphics on the PS2. Alas, any English release will rely on the work of fan translators, barring a surprise HD remaster by Bandai Namco. Until then, it will remain a good opportunity to practice my Japanese.
Gimme Terranigma. I mean, I guess we already have an official English language version of the game, but we're lacking in a widespread release. Heck, do me one better and release Quintet's "Souls" trilogy as a collection. That'd be Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma. It's more than a collection! It's culture, baby!