Important Importables: 100 interesting games you must import to play

October 31, 2009 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: 100 interesting games you must import to play

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Japanese Imports, Lists, Consoles, GameCube, PS2, Wii, Xbox-360, Consoles-Other, PCs, Windows, Handhelds, DS, GBA, PSP, Genres, 2D, 3D, Action, Adventure, Board, Casual, Fighting, Shooter, Horror & Suspense, Music, Party, Pinball, Puzzle, Role-Playing, Sim, Strategy, CCG & TCG

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Hey everyone! This is a momentous day for Hot Japanese Imports. Today marks the 100th column. Who’d have thought, right?

Anyways, to celebrate today, I’m listing my 100 all time favorite games that you can only get by importing. These are titles that aren’t available in North America, and you have to import from either Japan or Europe if you want to play them.

Remember, this isn’t a comprehensive list and is based on my personal picks. It’s a general guide to some great games you should be aware of. It’s also a bit biased in terms of systems, because it was formed based on games that I’ve either played or taken an interest in over the years. So, since I’ve imported quite a few DS games and that’s one of my favorite systems, there’ll naturally be more DS games represented.

If there’s a great import game you know that isn’t on the list and should be, tell the world in the comments. Also remember, many consoles have region protection! If you have a Game Boy, Game Boy Color, DS, PSP or PS3 you should be region-free, and if you have a Dreamcast you can buy or make a special boot-disk which makes your console region-free.

Wind and Water Puzzle Battles


  • Bomber HehHe: It’s a puzzle game with some action elements. The goal is to place bombs to take down buildings.
  • Capcom vs SNK 2: A fighting game, of course. The first one did get a US release, but this one didn’t.
  • Cosmic Smash: It’s sort of like Arkanoid/Alleyway, in that you have to destroy blocks. Except you’re playing as a human trying to smash them with a ball, and racing against the clock.
  • DUX: A side scrolling shoot-em-up (the Dreamcast was known for them) that has the distinction of being one of the most recent DC releases. It came out in 2009.
  • Last Hope: Pink Bullets: Again, one of the more recent DC releases and shoot-em-up. It’s an updated and adjusted version of the Neo Geo game Last Hope.
  • Napple Tale: Arisia in Daydream: A platformer where a girl named Arisia is tasked with returning the lost seasons to Napple Town.
  • Pop’n Music: A fun, bright and colorful music game.
  • Princess Maker Collection: You get Princess Maker 2 and Princess Maker 3 in one game.
  • Rainbow Cotton: A shoot-em-up (cute-em-up) that’s the first 3D entry in the Cotton series.
  • Puyo Pop Fever: It was the last Sonic Team DC game, but was never released outside of Japan.
  • Any Sakura Taisen game: They’re all fun blends of visual novel, strategic rpg and dating sim games.
  • Shenmue II: Only Europe and Japan got the sequel to Shenmue. I recommend importing the European version, since it’ll be in English.
  • Shinseiki Evangelion: Ayanami Rei Ikusei Keikaku: Think Princess Maker, only with Rei Ayanami from Evangelion as the potential princess. Its also available on the DS, PC and PS2.
  • Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles: A recent Dreamcast puzzle release.

Arabian's Lost DS アラビアンズ・ロスト


  • 100 Classic Book Collection: Basically an e-reader program with 100 classic books built in and an additional 10 that can be downloaded. It’s available in Europe, but not North America.
  • Arabian’s Lost: An otome/RPG where the main character is an Arabian princess of a land filled with thieves, gamblers, assassins and crooks who must earn 10 million in 30 days to keep from being trapped in an arranged marriage. Its also available for the PS2.
  • A.S.H.: Archaic Sealed Heat: A strategic RPG from Nintendo that was supposed to come to North America, but never did.
  • Daigasso Band Brothers / Daigasso Band Bros. DX: A music game where you play songs using the DS face buttons. You can also create your own songs in both games and download songs in the sequel.
  • Dokidoki Majo Shinpan!: A somewhat-perverted game which has gained fame and notoriety for the fact that players touch girls on the touch screen to determine if they’re witches.
  • Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland: An RPG starring Tingle from the Legend of Zelda series and revolves around his quest to get money and get to Rupeeland. It received a Japanese and European release, but never appeared in North America.
  • Game & Watch Collection 2: A Japanese Club Nintendo promotion that includes the Game & Watch titles Parachute and Octopus.
  • Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou 2: The sequel to Retro Game Challenge. Since the first game wasn’t a huge seller in North America, we probably will never see an English version of the sequel.
  • Hirameki Action: Chibikko Wagyan no Daiki na Bouken: This is a side-scrolling action game where players guide a little dinosaur with a mighty roar through levels.
  • Idolm@ster: Dearly Stars: The first Idolm@ster game where players act as the idols instead of a faceless producer. It’s also the first game in the series with a male idol (though he’s in disguise as a girl).
  • Itadaki Street DS: A monopoly-esque board game from Square Enix starring characters from Super Mario and Dragon Quest. It also has Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support so you can play online.
  • Jump Ultimate Stars: A Smash Bros style fighting game with 300 characters from 41 Shonen Jump mangas. Unfortunately, it’ll never get a worldwide release due to licensing issues.
  • Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten: A Japanese-English dictionary that’s perfect for people studying Japanese. A few Game&Watch games are also hidden in it.
  • Katekyoo Hitman Reborn DS Flame Rumble X: Mirai Chou-Bakuhatsu!!: A 2D fighting game starring the characters from the manga/anime Katekyoo Hitman Reborn.
  • Ketsui Death Label: An impressive shoot-em-up from Cave.
  • Love Plus: A Japanese dating sim that’s gained a massive following in a short period of time. It takes place in real time and players are actually able to date, then marry, one of three girls they choose.
  • Meccha! Taiko no Tatsujin DS: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken: A Taiko no Tatsujin drum game that even has an adventure/story mode.
  • NANA: Live Staff Daiboshuu! Shoshinsha Kangei: A life sim based on the Nana manga/anime/movie where the player can make a life in Tokyo and try to get a job with one of the two bands from the series.
  • Ochaken no Daibouken: An adorable and enjoyable platformer starring the Ochaken dog and Ochaneko cat characters.
  • Otometeki Koi Kakumei Love Revo DS!!: A hilarious and occasionally touching otome simulation where the main character is a fat girl trying to lose weight so she can get a boyfriend.
  • Any Ouendan game: They’re like the Elite Beat Agents game, only better.
  • Sigma Harmonics: A Square Enix adventure RPG where players must time travel to prevent murders and preserve the present.
  • Slide Adventure: Mag Kid: An action/puzzle game where players attach a peripheral and slide the DS around to make the main character, Mag Kid, move.
  • Soma Bringer: A gorgeous action RPG from Nintendo that may never get a worldwide release.
  • Tales of Innocence: A good DS entry in the Tales of series that Namco Bandai never released outside of Japan.
  • Tales of Hearts: Again, another good DS Tales of entry. It’s available in two versions – one with CG cutscenes and one with animated ones.
  • Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1st Love and 2nd Season: These two DS games are otome life sims where players guide a girl through high school and hopefully help her find a boyfriend.
  • Vampire Knight DS: A DS otome simulation with visual novel elements that is based on the Vampire Knight manga/anime.
  • Xenosaga I + II: A DS adaptation of the first two Xenosaga games.


  • Doshin the Giant: a god/life simulation where players determine how Doshin interacts with island natives. It was available in Japan and Europe.
  • Kururin Squash: An action/puzzle game where players must navigate through mazes.

Mother 3


  • Any bit Generations game: They’re a nice variety of stylish, simple puzzle and action games.
  • Densetsu no Starfy: The first game in the Legendary Starfy series.
  • Densetsu no Starfy 3: The last Starfy GBA game and the first where Starpy is a major character.
  • Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi: The only GBA Fire Emblem game not released in English. It’s the first GBA Fire Emblem, but the sequel to the Fire Emblem GBA game released in North America.
  • Genso Suikoden: Card Stories: Suikoden II with card battles.
  • Mother + Mother 2: The original Mother and Mother 2/Earthbound in one cartridge.
  • Mother 3: The RPG Earthbound sequel. It’s main character, Lucas, appeared in Smash Bros Brawl.
  • Rhythm Tengoku: A music game and the prequel to Rhythm Heaven.
  • Super Mario Ball: A Super Mario pinball game.
  • Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 2: A Tales of mash-up action-RPG. It’s mainly about fetch quests and quick missions.
  • Tomato Adventure: An adorable Nintendo RPG designed for beginners. It has some elements found in the Mario & Luigi RPGs.


  • Any and every Touhou game ever released: They’re fantastic shoot-em-up (cute-em-up) games.

フェイト/ステイナイト Fate/stay Night Realta Nua PS2


  • beatmania IIDX 16 Empress: A fantastic music and rhythm game.
  • Bleach: Blade Battles 2nd: A fighting game with the Bleach characters.
  • Espgaluda: A Cave shooter that’s a prequel to ESP Ra.De..
  • Fate/stay Night: Realta Nua: An all ages version of the popular visual novel Fate/stay night.
  • GuitarFreaks & DrumMania Masterpiece Gold: The original guitar and drum music video game. This is one of the best entries in the series.
  • Melty Blood: Actress Again: A fighting game starring characters from the visual novel Tsukihime.
  • Namco x Capcom: An RPG with action and strategic elements that has characters Namco and Capcom games making cameos as either allies or opponents.
  • Nana: A life simulation game based on the Nana anime/manga where the player moves to Tokyo and gets to interact with characters from the series.
  • Tales of Destiny Director’s Cut: A PS2 remake of the PS1 classic Tales of Destiny, with additional content.
  • Tales of Symphonia: A PS2 port of the GameCube game with additional content.
  • Tian Xing: Sword of Destiny: A hack-and-slash game Devil May Cry fans would love.
Tales of VS テイルズ オブ バーサス


  • Audition Portable: A portable version of the PC MMO. The gameplay is similar to the Bust-a-Groove games.
  • Any Bleach Heat the Soul game: Great PSP fighters starring Bleach characters.
  • Breath of Fire III: A PSP port. It was released in Europe, so you can import it and play it in English.
  • Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable: A PSP port of a PS2 game with extra characters. It’s a monopoly-esque board game with characters from Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.
  • Hatsune Miku Project Diva: A Sega music game starring the Vocaloid Miku Hatsune that lets you import your own .mp3s and create your own songs and music videos.
  • Idolmaster SP: Available in three versions, Perfect Sun, Missing Moon and Wandering Star, it was the first portable version of Idolm@ster.
  • La Corda d’Oro: A PSP port of the PS2 and PC otome/simulation where players attempt to become a great violin player and win competitions while also making friends or possibly finding a boyfriend.
  • Macross Ultimate Frontier: An action game that lets players fight pretty much every battle in the Macross anime series.
  • Maplus: Portable Navi and GPS Receiver: turns your PSP into a GPS.
  • Parodius Portable: A port of the side-scrolling shooter.
  • Persona 3 Portable: A port of the PS2 game Persona 3 with a second storyline where the main character is a girl. It’ll probably get a US release, but for now it’s Japan-only.
  • Princess Crown: A port of the VanillaWare Saturn game that’s the spiritual successor and prequel to Odin Sphere.
  • Princess Maker 4 Portable: A port of a Princess Maker game that’s very similar to the cult classic Princess Maker 2.
  • Suikoden I + II: The PS1 games on one UMD.
  • Tales of Eternia: A port of Tales of Eternia/Tales of Destiny II. It’s available in English in Europe.
  • Tales of Rebirth: A port of the PS2 Tales of game that never made it outside of Japan. It isn’t available in English.
  • Tales of VS.: A fighting game featuring characters from the Tales of games.
  • Twinbee Portable: A port of the classic shoot-em-up.
  • Ys VII: The latest entry in the Ys action-RPG series. It may see a US release, but for now it’s Japan-only.


  • Der Langrisser: A strategic RPG with multiple endings based on decisions the player makes.
  • Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu: The fourth Fire Emblem game and regarded as one of the best. It introduced the romance/relationship element into the series and is multigenerational – if two characters get together in the first part, their child will appear in the second.
  • Live a Live: A Square Enix RPG with seven storylines that unexpectedly all end up being connected.
  • Sailor Moon: Another Story: An RPG inspired by Sailor Moon with an original storyline that has become a cult classic and is unexpectedly spectacular.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3: An entry in the Square Enix Mana series that was never released outside of Japan.
President Cat Sukeban Shachou Rena 女番社長レナ


  • 428: Fuusa Sareta Shibuya de / 428: In a Blockaded Shibuya: A highly acclaimed visual novel. It’s been ported to the PS3 and PSP.
  • Captain Rainbow: It’s an action/adventure game from Nintendo where a character named Nick, aka Captain Rainbow, goes around helping people on Mimin Island trying to either grant his wish or the wishes of islanders. It features many little known or forgotten Nintendo characters.
  • Disaster: Day of Crisis: An action/adventure game released only in Australia, Europe and Japan. Players help Raymond Bryce, who works for the government, survive and save people during natural disasters and stop a terrorist group called SURGE. It will likely never receive a US release.
  • Sukeban Shachou Rena: A mini-game collection featuring cats working at Cat Queen, Inc. Your goal is to start out as an entry level cat. You work your way up to the head of the company and earn respect of the CEO, Nekopunch mascot Rena.
  • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii: The Taiko drum game series comes to the Wii.
  • Zero:Tsukihami no Kamen / Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse: The fourth entry in the Fatal Frame series.
アイドルマスター Idolmaster Idolm@ster Xbox 360

Xbox 360

  • Idolm@ster: The original Idolm@ster game, where players help an idol, or group of idols, become a success.
  • Death Smiles: A new Cave shoot-em-up with a gothic theme.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports takes a one-week break, but will return November 13, 2009 to talk about Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last weekHot Japanese Imports looked at six Japanese gadgets that exist only to be adorable.

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