Back in the days of cartridge converters and illegal modifications all for the purpose of playing imported games, most American gamers only heard about elusive Japanese games and could only find out about them from rare magazine articles or word of mouth. With the internet and a greater interest in gaming, not only is more information making it to western gamers by way of individual user created videos, but there is a greater number of games being published here as well. Although that is the case, people still import games – and for good reason. Here are at least five reasons why to import a game instead of waiting for it to come overseas.
Japanese Voice Acting
This isn’t much of a knock against English voice acting, really. It has been done successfully before and games like the Metal Gear Solid series (which originally has Japanese voice acting) and many American games, since it is the game’s native language. However, let’s not forget the horrible translations that make it over without any Japanese audio option: Final Fantasy, the Dynasty Warrior series (before the free godsend DLC), and many others that I have probably blocked out from my memory. Just like with movies, lackluster acting can easily take the audience out of the experience and turn any potential blockbuster product into a dud. Here’s to those of you lucky enough to understand Japanese – your Final Fantasy experience will be infinitely better than others who are subjected to emotionless cries of characters’ names as they fall in battle.
While this may not apply as much to general gaming as much as it applies to any work that is translated. Anyone who’s familiar with more than one culture knows what I’m talking about. Some phrases and aspects of culture just can’t be translated. Cultural ideas like saying “gochisoosama” after a meal and speaking to employers or older classmates in the honorific speech, keego, that Japanese people use would be awkward if translated directly into English. Of course, there are acceptable replacements for the most part that localizers manage to think of, but purists can never be satisfied. But hey, that’s on them and they’re perfectly justified in spending about 50% more for an import copy![youtube http://youtu.be/nXYSsL0S_XA&h=450&w=450]
This is an odd one. Some games, despite being brought over, are not given to western gamers in their entirety. As much as I loved Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 and will ooze everytime I destroy entire squads of Zakus, it will always sting knowing that I won’t be doing that to tracks like “Unicorn” or “Turn A Turn.” In Yakuza 3, fans were unable to take part in the hostess clubs or Japanese history trivia in the domestic release. Of course, this is a small price to pay compared to not having the game published at all, but it does take part of the experience away, which is a shame.
Waiting is Not an Option
I’m not talking about getting the jitters to play the latest niche RPG just so you can show off and tell others about it. I’m not talking about running through Final Fantasy XIII-2 with a complete disregard for the story just to be able to troll the internet with a spoiler screenshot. I’m talking about competitive gamers who can’t lose the edge to the competition and needs to get any release on day one. For some games, it’s a minor problem. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift’s Japanese release was only about a month before the US release but a full five months before the European one. Arcana Heart 3 took about three months to hit the US and another seven before European gamers got a chance at it. This isn’t only a dilemma for fans of niche genres – Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in Japan a good two months before it did in the US and five before Europe. That’s a lot of practice and tournament time for a competitive player to give up.[youtube http://youtu.be/QTAu4qdRkCA&h=450&w=450]
It Won’t Go to Your Country. Ever.
Many times, those niche games just won’t make it to countries outside of Japan. As hardcore as some of the games’ followers might be, the Super Robot Wars series simply requires too much licensing to be considered a viable release in the states. Due to the original anime’s lack of popularity in the US, the upcoming Saint Seiya Sanctuary Battle will likely never make it to America – although it will still have a European release. Let’s not even get ourselves started on the obscure releases that westerners are unlikely to take to, such as dating simulator Love Plus+, and games that failed the one time a publisher brought it over, like the Taiko series. If you like these games, your options look grim and bank account empty. Yeah. You’re going to have to buy it.