The PlayStation Network has gotten a fair share of great games as of late. We’re talking about superb indie games like The Unfinished Swan, Dyad and Journey, as well as more contemporary arcade releases like Castle Crashers and PS2 classics like Psychonauts and Maximo: Ghosts To Glory. But if you like the offerings on the U.S. version of the store, you might be interested in what else is out there.
Yep, through your PlayStation 3 system, you can actually set up a Japanese account and browse through the PlayStation Store without the need of a converter. It’s rather easy to do, and with the assistance of Japanese yen cards (available through Play-Asia.com or eBay auctions), you can actually provide funding to your account and buy these games, adding them to your library.
Now, some you can pretty much skip (like the countless sing-along games or the RPG’s that don’t have translation), but there are quite a few that are playable – and enjoyable. As such, we have to give them a recommendation, because, hey, we may never see them in the U.S. store.
So set up your account and follow our suggestions below to build your import library…
Gate of Thunder/Lords of Thunder (Turbo Grafx 16)
The U.S. Turbo Grafx library isn’t half bad, with Bonk’s Adventure and New Adventure Island ripe for the picking, but we can’t figure out why Konami/Hudson Soft wouldn’t want to bring these two great CD-based shooters to the store. Anyway, they’re about 800 yen apiece and well worth it, especially Lords of Thunder (named Wings of Thunder in the Japanese store) with its hard rock soundtrack, challenging boss encounters and exquisite, fantasy-based art style. Gate’s good too, if you like classic 16-bit shooters…
Ghouls n’ Ghosts (Super Grafx)
Yes, there are Super Grafx (the successor to the Turbo Grafx, only had seven game releases in all) titles on the Japanese PSN store, but out of all of them, we have to give Capcom’s arcade port of Ghouls n’ Ghosts the nod. It’s as perfect as ports get, with all its graphics intact, as well as the classic weapon-throwing gameplay that the series became known for back in its heyday. It’s a bit expensive at 800 yen, but worth it, especially for Capcom connoisseurs.
Devil’s Crush (Turbo Grafx 16)
Another Turbo game that’s worth recommending is Devil’s Crush. This demon-loaded pinball game is still a classic after all these years, with its twisted bonus rounds, high scoring opportunities and continuously changing table. Better still, there are barely any language translation problems to speak of, so you can jump right in and play.
Rival Schools (PS One)
Capcom has released a number of fighting games for the U.S. store, including Darksiders 3 and the Street Fighter Alpha series. However, one that’s in high demand is the PS One classic Rival Schools, and while it doesn’t have a U.S. date, you don’t need to wait for one as a perfect translation of the PS One classic is intact and ready for buying. Despite a few language-filled menus to skip, the fighting feels as fresh as ever, and the numerous students you can control in each battle bring a lot of variety.
Contra: Shattered Soldier (PlayStation 2)
PlayStation 2 games are starting to trickle in through both the U.S. and Japanese PlayStation Stores, but if there’s one that we think our audience is missing out on, it’s the “hardcore” shooting favorite Contra: Shattered Soldier. This is easily one of the most challenging Contra games to date, with various weapons to choose from, bosses that take a whole lot of damage to bring down, and two-player co-op support (sorry, local only). Maybe Konami will give this consideration for a local release in the future. For now, though, it’s worth importing.
Dynamite Cop (PlayStation 2)
Remember the arcade game Die Hard Arcade? Well, in Japan, it doesn’t have the Bruce Willis franchise tagged onto it – it’s merely known as Dynamite Cop. Sega managed to re-release the game with graphical touch-ups and a couple of new mini-games for the PS2 a while back and last month, it re-released it digitally on the Japanese PlayStation Store. Despite the somewhat slow fighting controls and the very short gameplay time (you’ll be at the final boss in 15 minutes), it’s a blast when you play it. Bring a friend!
Treasure Box (PlayStation 2)
Even though Sega did give Gunstar Heroes a domestic release on the PlayStation Network a while back, other games didn’t get to follow suit – which is a shame, because they’re fun as well. The Treasure Box, originally released for PS2 years ago, consists of three of the company’s best games in a compilation. These include Gunstar, along with the zany cartoon-style Dynamite Headdy and the action romp Alien Soldier. All three are worth playing, especially if you’re a fan of the developer.
Flight Control HD (PSN)
Not too many original PSN games came out that we didn’t get on the PlayStation Network, but for some stupid legal reason, Firemint was unable to release Flight Control HD on our shores. But there’s no need to fret, as you can get the game on the Japanese PlayStation Network store for a relatively cheap price. The game has Japanese menus, but the gameplay is easy to understand. What’s more, it’s equally fun whether you play it with a controller or the PlayStation Move. How often do you see a game doing that – especially one where you just land planes?
Einhander (PS One)
Finally, though there are other games we can easily recommend – especially in the “shmup” department, like Rayforce and Thunder Force V – we have to give credit to Square Enix’s Einhander. This was one of the most original – and thrilling – shooters to come out for the PS One, and while the company may be balking at a U.S. release, you can spend some yen and add it to your collection today. It’s still a thrill ride, even after all these years.