Five cool games from Japan that never came to the west

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When fans recently heard that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is not going to be released in North America, there was a huge outcry. 

While that might be the big focus, there are other reasons for fans to be upset. Part of the issue is that the fans feel like they're being betrayed by the developers that they've supported. Of course, it's never that simple, and can be pretty complicated.

There are lots of aspects that determine whether a game from Japan will make it west. Culture vs culture, licensing laws, money, criticism, and projected sales, just to name a few. But, no matter the reason, when you're looking forward to a game you like but then hear it won't be available in your country, it's going to be disappointing news. It's almost like hearing the game got cancelled, and that can be heartbreaking! (R.I.P. Silent Hills... *sniff*)

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 isn't the first game from Japan that won't make it to North America, and it won't be the last. Here are five great looking games from Japan that just didn't make it to the west.

I had to leave some other cool games off of this list, so if you think something else should be on this list, let us know!

Phantasy Star Online 2

If you remember the first Phantasy Star Online you might have been excited for this game. Well, until SEGA said it has been delayed "indefinitely."

Phantasy Star Online 2 was poised to be a massive improvement over the first game, and fans had good reason to be excited: It was the first direct sequel to the 2000 title - almost a 14-year gap between the two games!

Why it didn't come to the west

It looked like this game was coming to North America for the longest time. SEGA had advertised it to NA audiences, saying we'd be able to play it as soon as early 2013. But the only thing we got in 2013 was silence.

SEGA has been asked to comment several times on the state of the North American release but their only response is that the western version has been delayed indefinitely.

Part of the reality is the way they've worked merchandising into the game. There are in-game items you can get from popular animes like Attack on Titan and Fate/Stay Night. Figuring out the licencing for a North American release would be a nightmare, which is too bad because PSO2 looked awesome.

BS The Legend of Zelda / BS Zelda no Densetsu

Back when console attachments were as popular as JNCO jeans, Nintendo made an accessory called the Satellaview. The device functioned by receiving TV satellite broadcast signals and allowed players to update and download games.

While there were not a lot of notable games for the attachment, there was one that stood out from the rest.

BS The Legend of Zelda for the SNES Satellaview was a remake of the classic original title, with updated graphics, new puzzles and locations, and a clock that had events tied with the time of day. The game is often compared to other "master quest" Zelda games and it's easy to see why.

Why it didn't come to the west

Well, considering how the Satellaview worked, it would have been pretty difficult for Nintendo to get us this game. If you thought this would have been pretty cool to play, you're in luck! People have made English translations of the ROM and released them online for anyone willing to tackle this master quest.


Valkyria Chronicles III / Senjō no Valkyria 3: Unrecorded Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role playing series based loosely on Europe in the early years of World War II. The game takes a lot of inspiration from classics like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan and it makes for a uniquely awesome experience.

Why it didn't come to the west

Uh oh, here's another one from SEGA. At least they were honest with us this time and told us flat out why Valkyria Chronicles III never made it here.

Hiroshi Seno, SEGA's team manager of console sales mentioned in an interview in Singapore that the PSP's low sales in North America and lack of interest in Valkyria Chronicles II was the reason for no western release of the third game.

It's too bad we never saw this game come to the west, many critics say it's the best entry in the series yet.

Mother 3 / Earthbound 2

The third and final installment in the Mother series, Mother 3, or more commonly known as Earthbound 2 to western fans, is an RPG for the Gameboy Advance that follows the story of Lucas and his family.

You might remember Lucas from Super Smash Brothers as the kid with psychic powers, like Ness.

Fans have been asking Nintendo to release this one in North America for what feels like ages, and Nintendo has responded! By re-releasing it on the Wii U virtual console... in Japan only.

Why it didn't come to the west

The hardest thing going for this game was that it was released at the end of the GBA's life cycle. Nintendo was focusing on selling their new Nintendo DS handheld system (new at the time) and because of that some Gameboy games got left in the dust.

Combine that with the series' popularity never breaking into the mainstream western audiences, Nintendo felt like we didn't want Mother 3.

Nintendo might have been wrong about that, however, as there are fan translations of the game floating online, showing just how dedicated Earthbound fans can be. 


Dragon Quest X

If you haven't heard of Dragon Quest, it's a classic JRPG that used to be as big as Final Fantasy, at least in Japan.

Dragon Quest X, the only entry in the series not to be released outside of Japan, is an MMO that combines the traditional Dragon Quest RPG elements with modern MMO mechanics.

A multiplayer Dragon Quest isn't something we usually get, so missing out on this one was a big disappointment.

Why it didn't come to the west

Square Enix has made many comments about why we haven't seen a North American release. They've talked about how they don't have the infrastructure to host servers in NA and how the game series isn't as popular as it once was.

What it really comes down to is that entering the North American MMORPG market that's already dominated by World of Warcraft might be hard for a game like Dragon Quest.

Published Dec. 3rd 2015


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