Japanese Video Game Obscurities Update: Games That Didn’t Make The Cut


In the last update, I posted the finalized list of games featured in this book. If you’re wondering what happened to some of the games on the tentative list, I wrote up small blurbs on the games that got cut and why, along with a handful of other titles I thought were interesting but weren’t able to include. The reasons are pretty typical, ranging from “it’s kinda cool but the visuals are ugly” to “it’s already covered on the site and I wanted to include stuff that wasn’t already covered” to “I wanted to but ran out of time or something else just took precedence”. There are a bunch of games here that I stuck on the list because they looked or sounded neat but just never sat down with.

Some of these I actually did write-ups for so I might post them up on the site. Hopefully if the first book does well enough some of these can also be included in a second volume.

Akudaikan

An real-time strategy game series for the PS2 sort of similar to Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper mixed with Tecmo’s Deception. An “akudaikan” is a stock character from a lot of Japanese feudal dramas that’s basically a corrupt magistrate. The whole concept is that do-gooders are trying to invade his fortress to arrest him, so you need to set up traps and other stuff to stop them. It includes a lot of ridiculous, low budget FMV with hammy acting too. Great topic, but I never got a chance to sit down and play them.

Azito

This word is also spelled “Ajito” and means “secret base”. Predictably, it’s about building a secret base to fight bad guys. It started on the PS1, with the second and third entries being published by Banpresto, so it features lots of licensed characters from assorted tokusatsu shows from the 70s and 80s. It actually continued relatively recently with a 3DS entry released in 2011. Just never got around to trying any of them.

Arcus

A trilogy of RPGs from Telenet. Originating on PCs, these were collected and revised for a Mega CD release. The action spinoff, Arcus Odyssey, was released in North America. This was actually one of the last ones that got cut, and got replaced with Tokyo Twilight Busters and Saziri for their Telenet representation.

Binary Land

A cutesy puzzle game where you control two penguins (or kids, depending on the version) simultaneously and need to navigate a maze. An excellent game, one that does need more exposure. Cut because there’s already an article on the site, though I had worked some of the research I’d done into the text of that piece.

Black/Matrix

An RPG series from Flight Plan, who also made the Summon Night series. (They’re now defunct but Summon Night has been carried on by another developer.) They were pretty prolific for awhile. This has an interesting biblical setting, where the idea of “virtues” and “sins” are reversed (i.e. greed is good, freedom is bad) and humans have colored wings, which divides them into classes. I’ve had the imports of these for forever and never really tried them, and this would’ve been a good opportunity, but I just never sat down with them.

Boogie Wings

One of Data East’s best games and an unsung classic, this wacky arcade shooter also already had an article on the site, and I went with Trio the Punch for the Data East representation (even though that is also already on the site, since we did a whole book about the company).

Border Break

A mecha shooter game from Sega. At the time this project was started, this was arcade-only, so even then, I wouldn’t have first hand experience writing about it (and definitely didn’t have the budget to fly to Japan to play it!). An artbook was released in English, somehow. I ended up cutting it pretty early on because of this, but more recently it’s been announced for a PS4 (after several years!) so more people will be able to play it eventually.

Cruise Chaser Blassty

A sci-fi themed dungeon crawler from Square, where you control a mecha. Apparently it’s quite poor, but the setting is cool and the battle animations are fantastic. I never got around to trying it though – this would make either a good Japanese Video Game Obscurity entry or a Dark Age of JRPGs entry. The mecha is referenced in a Final Fantasy XIV summon though, one of those times when Square pays homage to its more obscure heritage. You can read more about it at zimmerit.moe.

Daiva

A series of intergalactic strategy games with some action sequences. I picked this series because there are a number of them, but they were a little overwhelming to sit down and play. Also, and this is a recurring theme with some of these entries, visually the game is very boring, and would rather give space in a printed book to something that looks more appealing.

Dark Half

Really cool RPG from Westone/Enix where you play both the villain and the hero hunting him. Cut because there’s already an article on the site.

Densha de Go

One of those series that was extremely popular in Japan, with huge casual appeal, but just never made a dent elsewhere, largely due to cultural issues. One of the main aspects is replicating actual train lines in Japan, which obviously doesn’t carry well. Anyway, this is a really interesting one but I ended up cutting it at the last minute since screenshots of tracks aren’t very interesting.

Gokuu Densetsu – Magic Beast Warriors

A goofy fighting game for the PS1 featuring digitized characters. I swapped this out with Twin Goddesses, which is similarly themed, but didn’t already have a site article for.

Harakiri

At first glance, this looks like any old Sengoku-era strategy game, but it’s actually kind of silly, because it’s based on a foreigners interpretation of Japanese culture. So, every shogun actually has a “shame” meter based on their actions, and if it gets too high, then they become useless and must committ harakiri. There are a few non-Japanese characters, like Matthew Perry, but they have no shame because it’s (jokingly) inherently a Japanese concept. There are also anachronisms and other things that are goofy, like a few of the generals’ portraits are based on the actors who played them in movies rather than the actual figure, plus some warrior units include sumo wrestlers and other silly stuff. I cut it because, like Daiva, the actual screenshots are very ugly, and explaining why all of ridiculous was a little difficult tough to explain unless you’re familiar with Japanese history or culture.

Himitsu Kessha Q

A strategy RPG of typical tokusatsu shows, where you play as the bad guys instead of controlling the heroes. (In the first level, apparently, you need to terrorize a bus full of kindergardeners.) This was cut because I couldn’t find an ISO of the game and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the 3000 yen or so to import a copy, because I wasn’t sure if it would be any good.

Illusion City

A cool cyberpunk RPG that originated on PCs and received a Mega CD port. Cool game but I felt there were already a number of other neat RPGs that were already covered.

Keroro RPG: Kishi to Musha to Densetsu no Kaizoku

An RPG from Namco based on the Sgt. Frog series, this is actually a secret “Tales of” game (and apparently much better than the actual Tales games that ended up on the DS, maybe?) I just never got around to importing it.

Nemuru Mayu

A first person action-RPG with crazy visuals, that seems similar to Kings’ Field. Someone suggested this on Twitter and it looks awesome, but it came too late into the project, plus I also couldn’t find an ISO at the time, so I couldn’t squeeze it in. I still haven’t played it so I don’t know much about it beyond what I’ve seen in videos.

Joy Mecha Fight

A Famicom fighting game from Nintendo where you control different robots. Cut because there’s already an article on the site.

Juushin Rogus

This is another strategy-RPG, similar to Daiva, where you move units over a map, and then conflicts are played as side-scrolling segments. I picked this because the cover art was by Naoyuki Kato, who also did the designs for Digan no Maseki, which was used prominently in promoting the book project because the art is awesome. Unlike that game, though, he only did the cover here, and the rest of the game is kinda ugly looking.

Newtron (or Door Door)

These were early arcade-style action games from Koichi Nakamura, the founder of Chunsoft. Door Door is a little better known since it got a Famicom port. I couldn’t find much to write about these separately since they’re pretty simple, and ultimately there’s not much to say about them other than who developed them. The main draw of Newtron is the cute girl on the title screen, which doesn’t even appear anywhere else or have much to do with anything.

Numan Athletics

Track and Field with superheroes. Cut because as far as wacky Namco arcade games go, Dancing Eyes is more interesting.

Makyouden

A point-and-click adventure from Nihon Create. I actually don’t know much about this because I didn’t get to play it, but I think it’s a horror game in an urban setting. I ended up sticking in Telenet’s Tokyo Twilight Busters instead though, even though that’s technically a different kind of game.

Policenauts

Kojima’s adventure game follow-up to Snatcher. Ditched because it’s a little too well known, and also because there’s already a big site article.

Pulseman

An action-platformer by Game Freak for the Mega Drive. Made it to the US via the Sega Channel and eventually on the Wii Virtual Console but not at retail. This was one of the last games cut and this was entirely due to a spreadsheet tracking error on my part. Near the end, I realized I’d left it off a list at some point and had 102 games instead of 101, and this was the one that got the axe. I even had to have Thor remove him from the cover sketch! Poor guy. Maybe next volume. There’s also already a site article.

Rent-a-Hero No. 1

An RPG for the Mega Drive/Dreamcast featuring a superhero parody. Cut because there’s already an article on the site.

The Silver Case

Suda 51’s early adventure game/visual novel. This had just been released in English when the project had started. Cut because there’s already an article on the site.

Eastern Minds: The Lost Souls of Tong Nou

An adventure by Osamu Sato. Cut because the book also featured LSD: Dream Emulator, by the same artist. This is easily the more obscure of the two and maybe would’ve been a better fit, but I like LSD better. There’s also an article on the site.

Xak

An RPG series from Microcabin that’s an Ys clone. Cut because…it’s basically just noticeable for ripping off a more famous series (though it does what it does pretty well). It might be worth featuring its spinoff, Fray, at some point though.

Yaku ~Yuujou Dangi~

I discovered this game pretty late in the project. It’s a pretty terrible adventure game series from Idea Factory, but the trippy visuals seems like it would be interesting to feature.

Zill O’ll

An RPG for the PS1 (then later ported to a few other systems) from Koei, known for its open-ended scenarios and dark setting. One of the spinoffs came to North America for the PS3. Great topic but I never got to actually play it. As an RPG it would’ve required a significant time investment and the deadline was approaching on assembling everything.