Beginning last week, GungHo, the studio that recently acquired Suda 51’s Grasshopper Manufacture, have begun releasing a batch of previously Japan-only imports into the wilds of the PlayStation Store for your perusal. Continuing on that trend, here is a list of the six new PSX (or PSone if you prefer) imports that were added today, as provided by the official PlayStation Blog:
1) Sentimental Graffiti: This classic dating simulation was first released in the late nineties. It was popular enough to spawn various sequels, an anime series, and even a radio drama! The story revolves around a protagonist who was constantly moving about during his childhood, so he never had time to form deeper relationships with those around him. He receives a much unexpected letter from a mysterious paramour which simply states, “I want to see you.” He’s got it narrowed down to one of the 12 special women he met in his younger days, and it’s up to the player to decide how this tale ends…
Players control our hero by making use of his incredibly tight schedule. You’ve only got so much time to spend with these ladies, so you have to make it count! Carefully plan out each day by studying your calendar and preparing potentially romantic encounters with the 12 candidates. If you get it right, you might just figure out where that mysterious letter came from…
The game is very text heavy, but there’s a lot of great art and charming event scenes to enjoy. If you are a fan of visual novels, this is one you won’t want to pass up.
2) First Queen IV: First Queen is a classic RTS/RPG franchise that first introduced the “Gocha-kyara” (tons of characters) battle system. Players control several units by issuing turn based orders then watching the attacks unfold in real time. While the game starts with just a handful of units, your army will grow as your foes bend the knee or you seek out additional recruits via side missions. The ultimate goal is of course to unite (conquer) the entire area and ultimately bring peace to the land. Remember, when you play the game First Queen IV, you win or you die.
While the story contains a lot of Japanese text, the battle controls are pretty straightforward, and you should have little trouble conquering the world with your merry band!
3) Trump Shiyouyo! Fukkoku-ban: This classic card game pits players against a cast of cute, colorful animals in a bevy of classic card games including: Shichi-narabe (a variation of Sevens), Daifugou (Grand Millionaire), Page One, Dobon, Seven Bridge, Speed, Baba-nuki (Old Maid), Poker, Blackjack, and Shinkei-suijyaku (Concentration).
The game is light on text, and the only time you really need to be able to read Japanese is when you want to tweak the rules of the individual games. With a few quick Google searches, a player can easily find the rules to these classic card games as well as how they would be written in Japanese. Once in game, everything is fairly simple to understand.
4) Oz no Mahoutsukai ~Another World~ RungRung: This whimsical take on The Wizard of Oz features some incredibly nostalgic-looking, fully voiced CG cutscenes, lovely music, and about the cutest portrayal of the Tin Man I have ever seen! The classic tale of the little girl from Kansas who rode a tornado to infamy has been adapted to an almost absurd degree – with various musicals, movies, and video games. This particular adaptation is oozing with a quirky charm that’s sure to warm your heart.
Players take on the role of Dorothy as she (and her little dog too!) travels about the Land of Oz performing various tasks and collecting magical items. Her goal is to help out her new friends, and of course get back home (after all, there’s no place like home).
This game is fairly text-heavy, but its cuteness is universal!
5) Mahjong Uranai Fortuna ~Tsuki no Megami Tachi~: Affect’s Mahjong Uranai Fortuna ~Tsuki no Megami Tachi~ provides a rather delightful twist to the time-honored classic Chinese game, Mahjong. Players choose 3 of the 6 fortune-telling beauties to compete against in this ancient poker-like, tile-based game of luck and strategy. As you defeat opponents, you can unlock special event photos that can later be viewed at the image gallery.
Luckily for you, these ladies don’t just play a mean game of Mahjong. Whenever you wish, you can enter “Fortune-telling Mode” and have a nice little horoscope prepared. Be warned, once you see your future, it can’t be unseen!
The fortune-telling will of course require significant Japanese knowledge to understand, but the classic game of Mahjong can easily be learned over the internet. Finally, the image gallery needs no translation.
6) Favorite Dear ~Enkan no Monogatari~: Japanese RPGs are common enough, and the dating simulation/virtual novel genre is no stranger to the west. It is, however, quite rare to see the two genres so delightfully melded into a beautiful, character-driven gaming experience. For the first time (officially), the Favorite Dear series hits the US with its third installment – don’t worry, the stories aren’t exactly sequential, so you won’t have missed anything important.
Players must control their team of warriors in battle against various monsters as they bring peace to the land, but off the battlefield, the main objective is to promote and maintain harmony in the group by visiting with allies. Once you select your date and location, you are treated to an event scene where you need to make the right choices to keep everyone happy. People who like you tend to fight harder, right?! Before you head back to the battlefield, make sure you outfit your soldiers with the best equipment possible so you can smash your foes to bits!
Favorite Dear ~Enkan no Monogatari~ has a combination of anime event graphics and isometric, sprite-based battle sequences. Like any RPG, it’s very text heavy, so make sure to bring your Berlitz Japanese/English dictionary with you when you want to take Tia out for a walk about town!
Just to be clear, these titles are imports, not localized ports, meaning that they are left entirely as they were when originally released. So, considering many of these titles are RPGs or otherwise very text-heavy games, understanding Japanese is basically a requirement. The reasoning behind the decision to leave the games unaltered in their Japanese forms was explained by the original poster Antonio Cara in the comments below the blog post. According to Cara, “we figured we would give players a chance at these classics that would have otherwise never seen American shores.”
“GungHo Japan had all of these titles available in their backlog, so making them available in the states was really just a matter of paperwork. We figured we’d give them a shot for all the fans out there who may have been interested.”
I’m all for importing and localizing games whenever possible, as I think it’s important to let gamers get their hands on the widest assortment of titles available. I was a strong backer of Operation Rainfall and any other organized attempt at showing publishers we want as many games as possible. Variety is the spice of life, right? After all, titles that may fail to gain traction in the market they were specifically designed for always have a chance at garnering a cult following in a separate region entirely. Unfortunately for me personally, I’ve yet to get around to learning Japanese despite my desire to do so which leaves the majority of these titles difficult to enjoy. Still, I’m absolutely in support of imports and the like.
Do any of these PSX imports strike your fancy? How many American/European gamers out there took the time to learn Japanese specifically to enhance their video game experiences? If you have a story about the courses or languages you’ve learned just to benefit your gaming hobby, share your tale in the comments below.