HG101 Presents: Japanese Video Game Obscurities

101 rare, weird and important Japanese video games

Cover by Thor Thorvaldson

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Japan has produced thousands of intriguing video games. For any number of reasons, not all of them were ever released outside of the country, especially in the ’80s and ’90s. While many of these titles have since been documented by the English-speaking video game community – and in some cases, even unofficially translated – a huge proportion of the Japanese game output is unknown outside of their native territory (and even, in some cases, within it).

Some of these games are oddities, the kind of uniquely Japanese title that wouldn’t have been commercial viable outside of the country; others may have done well but were victims of circumstance. Plus, for quite a long time, the Japanese industry developed separately from American and European output, with their own landmark titles that created trends and inspired later games. Even the older games have a visual and aural style that make them distinct from similar games from around the globe.

Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents: Japanese Video Game Obscurities seeks to catalogue many of these titles – games that are weird, compelling, strange, cool or historically important. Some of these may be familiar if you’ve comprehensively read Hardcore Gaming 101 website archives (though the actual text for this book is completely original), but we’ve also included a large number of titles that aren’t (currently) reviewed, and in some cases, have little to no English-language coverage whatsoever. Most of these games are Japanese exclusive, though we’ve also picked some that are suitably obscure outside of the country, or were only localized many years after their original release. In some cases, they’re games that were hugely successful in Japan but barely made a mark in the West.

Beyond the individual selected games, we’ll also be discussing the history of any larger series a game might be part of and any subsequent games it may have influenced. We’ve also picked games that represent a large number of genres – platformers, shoot-em-ups, role-playing games, adventure games – across nearly four decades of gaming, among arcade, computer and console platforms. We’re covering titles from giants like Nintendo, Sega, Namco and Konami, along with smaller titles from long-forgotten publishers and developers. In other words, even if you’re fairly well versed in Japanese video games, you’re very likely to learn something interesting and new.


46 Okunen Monogatari
Abarenbou Princess
Asuka 120% Burning Fest
Battlemania Daiginjou
Bishi Bashi Special
Bokosuka Wars
Boku no Natsuyatsumi
Bulk Slash
Captain Rainbow
Chaos Seed
Chippoke Ralph no Daibouken
Dancing Eyes
Days of Memories
Dead of the Brain
Der Langrisser
Devil World
Dezeni World
Digan no Maseki
Emerald Dragon
Galaxy Fraulein Yuna
Gamera 2000
Ganbare Goemon 4 (SFC)
Garage: Bad Dream Adventure
Gekisha Boy
Geppy X
GERMS: Nerawareta Machi
Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
Great Battle
GunParade March
Hanjuku Hero 2
Harmful Park
Holy Umbrella
Hybrid Front
Jagur 5
Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru
Kowloon’s Gate
Kuma Uta
Laplace no Ma
Last Armageddon
Live a Live
Love and Destroy
Love Quest
Madou Monogatari
Maka Maka
Metal Max 2
Metal Wolf Chaos
Mizzurna Falls
Muchi Muchi Pork
Mugen no Shinzou II
Nanatsu Kaze no Shima Monogatari
Napple Tale
Nazo no Murasamejou
Neko Samurai
Noro to Koku no Koubou Kiri no Mori no Majou
Ore no Ryouri
Ore no Shikabane
Princess Crown
Psychic Killer Taroumaru
Sakura Wars
Segare Ijiri
Sengoku Turb
Slap Happy Rhythm Busters
Soma Bringer
Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti
Square Satellaview
Square’s Tom Sawyer
Star Cruiser
Super Galdelic Hour
Suzuki Bakuhatsu
Tengai Makyou The Apocalypse IV
The Screamer
Time Twist
Tokimeki Memorial
Tokyo Nanpa Street
Tokyo Twilight Busters
Trio the Punch
Twin Goddesses
Umihara Kawase
Venus and Braves
War of the Dead
Wonder Project J2
Yoake no Mariko
Yume Penguin Monogatari
Zwei: The Arges Adventure

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