Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A guide for the aspiring import gamer: Part 1

Gaming is an activity enjoyed by many Americans. Some of those that are more active in the gaming community are probably well aware that there are games that never make it out of Japan, which is a disappointment, as there are many great games that are never seen in American stores. However, thanks to places like Ebay and Play-Asia, import gaming has become much easier to get into. But just because it is easy to acquire the games, it doesn't mean it is easy to play them. Many game consoles have some form of regional lockout, keeping people from playing games that weren't released in their country. Some are easy to bypass, some aren't, and some have no region protection whatsoever. Over the next few days, I'll be showing how to get around these lockouts, and even highlighting some games that you should play.

"But MrNelson, I don't know any Japanese!"

Neither do I! But thankfully, there are plenty of games that require no knowledge of the language to play.

Now, let's get started, shall we?
Alright, we'll start this off with a relatively easy one

The entire Game Boy line
Every single Game Boy ever made is capable of playing any cartridge from any region (including PAL). Just put the game in the system and turn the system on. Simple as that.

Titles of interest:
Rhythm Tengoku
Rhythm Tengoku was the prequel to Rhythm Heaven, a DS game that was released here in the US. Very simple game mechanics combined with an awesome soundtrack make this a must buy for any importer. If you can keep a beat, then you can play this game. If you're not sure about it, try out Rhythm Heaven first.

The Densetsu no Stafy series
Densetsu no Stafy (Legend of Stafy) is a platforming game where you control a little star by the name of Stafy as he tries to defeat the evil that was unleashed upon the world when he trips while carrying a vase that contained the evil spirit (such a clumsy hero, isn't he?). The game plays in a style similar to the Kirby series, but instead of sucking up foes, you swim around and spin to attack.There are three Stafy titles available for the Game Boy Advance, and all of them are relatively cheap on Ebay (about $20).

Kuru Kuru Kururin
Now first of all, this game is different from the other two in that it did receive an English release, but it was in Europe, not the US. In Kuru Kuru Kuruin, you attempt to navigate your stick shaped aircraft, the Helirin, through a series of mazes without touching the walls. Sounds simple, right? Nope. The whole time, the Helirin is slowly rotating, and you have to adjust its speed constantly to avoid colliding with hazards, and sometimes you have to use the environment to change the direction you're rotating. In all, it's a decent puzzle game, and worth checking out if you have a few bucks to spare. The European release has English in it, but the Japanese version is easy to navigate without knowing the language. The only part you will miss in the Japanese version s the story, and don't worry, you're not really missing an edge of your seat thriller here if you decide on that version.

There are plenty more games out there that would be great for importers to try out, but you just have to do a bit of digging to find the ones that will be easiest to play without any knowledge of Japanese. There are titles for the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color that would be great, but I can't think of any off hand (and I'm too lazy to go searching), so I just listed these few that I could remember.

Come back tomorrow for some more tips!


  1. Ahh... intriguing... "pero señor Nelson yo no se inglés"

  2. Ha, fortunately great gameplay has no language barriers

  3. yeah, its like with dvd players that block PAL or NTSC

  4. Very informative, looking forward to future posts!