Diver's Dream (JP: Dolphin's Dream) was an underwater exploration game localized and released only in PAL territories. For a game of its kind it has a very "game-y" bent, unlike the more free-roaming Aquanaut's Holiday or Endless Blue. Your mission is to explore sunken ships and wreckage and recover well over 100 unique treasures, as well as scraps that you can trade in for varying amounts of money. With that you can purchase better diving equipment (you start off with a pair of swim trunks) and weapons (to fend off sharks and dangerous fish). These are also customizeable by the player.
The whole process of venturing ever-father into the sunken ships and caves, only to surface with new treasure and buy even better equipment, is really addictive. There is also a Free Mode so you can explore to your heart's content though, and even during salvage missions you get to roam around very wide areas.
Though the game's cutscenes are pretty ugly and swimming animations are stiff and basic, it's still totally worth playing today. On the PS2, the sorely overlooked Everblue 2 would employ a very similar game structure of diving and salvaging, and I believe it was released in all regions.
The Firemen 2: Pete & Danny is a sequel to the SNES hidden gem which basically functioned like a top-down shooter, except you were shooting out pressurized water to put out the most malicious fire ever.
In this Japan-only sequel protagonist Pete returns, now joined by his buddy Danny for two-player co-op action. You go around putting out several mysteriously-started fires all around New York City on Christmas Eve, which for some reason was a very popular time and place among late-nineties video games. There's a lot more visual variety in the game's stages and the core gameplay remains the same.
Compared to the first game, The Firemen 2's sprite work is sort of bland and dull, but still totally serviceable, and it's also kind of needlessly text-heavy, which will especially be a slog if you don't speak Japanese. It's still a totally worthwhile adventure.
Forget Me Not was originally a home-made game designed by a hobbyist on a version of RPG Maker. It won a development prize and was remade for the PSX as Forget Me Not: Pallete.
This is a beautiful game in terms of art direction, the top-down perspective and small and but well-made sprites lure you into a nostalgic atmosphere. The game revolves around an amnesiac woman and the psychiatrist who is helping her recover her memories. The game has two modes: in the first you explore and interact with the setting, and in the second you shift into a sort of "astral projection" where you interact with objects to open new paths and recover memories.
Presentation is neat and distinctive, as the character move in small, closed rooms and hallways engulfed by darkness, but by opening new pathways you can help fill up the void, mimicking the protagonist's process of remembrance. It was also a clear and obvious influence on the similarly haunting Yume Nikki.
Sadly it was only released in Japan and knowledge of the language is essential to enjoy the game and progress. Hopefully it will get a translation someday.
This was a seriously unique game that tried to combine racing games with RPGs. It puts you in the shoes of a Japanese street racer over the course of ten nights in the city. Each night you can drive around challenging other drifters to street races (the game's version of random encounters), and if you win you get to take a part of their car to customize your own. You can end a night by going to an obligatory Climax Encounter and challenging a sort of boss, which you must win against to progress.
The progression is indeed RPG-esque, as there is a very involved storyline which can be explored to a greater or lesser degree if you pay attention to various event markers on the map. Driving up to these locations activates additional scenes which may lead to side-quests or simply character interactions.
Though it's Japan-only, it can be played once you memorize the basic menus and assuming you don't care about the story, as the map markers make progression fairly straightforward.
Jingle Cats: Rabupara Daisakusen no Kan (this may not be the full title, but it's almost universally referred to as Jingle Cats) is the kind of game that would've been a massive cult hit and internet favorite if it had been released today. The gist of it is that you take care of two cats in a home and try to get them to like each other. As the game adds more cats (each of them individuals with pre-set names and preferences), taking care of them and making them get along becomes more challenging. Apparently there is some kind of backstory or end goal about raising a cat choir, but I don't know about that.
You scroll around a first-person 2D view of the house's rooms where the cats will be doing whatever cats do. You can feed them, bathe them, pick them up and move them around, and have them interact with objects and each other.
The game's presentation is seriously charming, everything is a cartoony, scribbly, and almost Art Noveau in its style, including the endearing cats themselves. Obviously Japan-only, though once you get a hang for the menus and options (and memorize the cat relationship chart), it can be played successfully.
Hyper Crazy Climber is an excellent console remake of a Japan-only arcade classic, a 2D action game where you climb massive vertical structures while avoiding various objects thrown at you. This game added content in every sense, with three playable characters (a boy, a girl, and a cute bug-thing) and an exciting variety of stages (including a clocktower, a construction site, and a giant beakstalk), with a boss encounter awaiting you if you can make it to the top. There are lots of new obstacles and enemies thematic to each stage, and the levels are all very beautiful and visually inventive, but the challenging high-speed action won't allow you to stick around and take in the scenery. Obviously it requires no knowledge of Japanese to play, so get on it.
Boku No Natsuyasumi: Summer Holiday 20th Century is an isometric 3D adventure game that takes you back to nostalgic summer vacations of your childhood. You play as a Japanese child enjoying his break in his relatives' country home.
The game is divided into days of a month. Each day you wake up and go on adventures, whether it's exploring the environment, running errands for other characters, swimming, playing, capturing bugs, or climbing trees. At the end of each day you write down what you did in your diary, creating a lovely page of child scribbles and drawings.
As a twist, the game is really about the protagonist as an adult reminiscing about this idyllic period of his childhood, and at the end of the game you get to peruse each diary page of your vacation.
The game uses pre-rendered backgrounds based on real-world photographs which much look much more lush and inviting that you would expect, and it has an amazing sense of place and a great degree of charm. Japanese knowledge will be required if you want to get involved with the story to any degree, but otherwise it can be played with help from a guide.
It's amazing that there is no one working on translating this game considering the amount of praise it has received online over the past years, so hopefully someone will pick it up eventually. The series is successful in Japan and has spawned sequels for the PS2 and 3, as well as a PSP spin-off which has similar gameplay and visuals but puts you in the role of a parent raising a family.
Pop'n Tanks! is a very obscure Japan-only game published by Enix. It's a tank combat game, but with colorful environments, cutesy anime characters, and blocky mini-tanks to pilot around various arenas. You can create your own tank from scratch using various parts or play through a story mode with one of the eight characters. Obviously there is also multi-player, either with the story characters or with custom tanks you've saved to your memory card.
The game's lighthearted tone and visuals are unusual for the genre, and gameplay is tight and fast-paced, with battles usually over in less than five minutes. Though it isn't compatible with the later DualShock's control pad, the ability to strafe makes it so that combat is smooth and exciting regardless. Story aside, no Japanese knowledge is required to play.
Fuuraiki is a cult-favorite adventure which comes close to visual novel and dating sim games in terms of presentation. You play as a photographer traveling across Japan's Hokkaido region by motorcycle on a work assignment, but that doesn't mean you won't encounter a number of girls on your journey who you can interact with and perhaps romance. The dialogue-based gameplay and progression are pretty much the same as your average visual novel, but the game's enveloping warmth and sense of freewheling adventure have earned it a place around seekers of lesser-known PSX gems.
Obviously though, being the kind of game that it is, Fuuraiki is pretty much pointless to play without knowledge of Japanese. There was a very similar sequel for the PS2 where you travel around the Okinawa region instead. The PS2 game Kita E is also a travelogue type of visual novel where you travel by train.
Incredible Crisis is a weird Japanese game that was localized precisely so it could be marketed as a "weird Japanese game." It stars a very average Japanese family of five who, as they go about their day, find themselves in a series of increasingly bizarre and ridiculous situations. These play out as back-to-back mini-games where you have to do things like snowboard, survive a sinking ship, disco dance, or fend off alien invaders using one of the family members.
The game's frenetic pace and mini-game collection structure is reminiscent a less hyperactive WarioWare, but with a sort-of overarching storyline and pre-set mini-game sequences depending on which family member you're using. The presentation is pretty good since each mini-game is crafted in a very self-contained way, and the soundtrack, provided by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, is excellent.
On the other hand, it's a pretty short game that can nonetheless become tedious due to some annoying recurring mini-game sequences, and it's sort of lacking in replay value. However it's a total blast the first time around.
Rakugaki Showtime is a Japan-only, Treasure-developed beat-'em-up/arena fighter with a unique "living scribble drawing" aesthetic. A fourth-wall "hand of God" draws objects on an isometric arena, which you can pick up and throw at your opponent, using different kinds of throws to launch objects quickly, or in an arc, etc. You can also counter thrown objects and perform special, character-specific moves. There is an item that bounces around the stage and can be picked up after hitting it enough times, which then allows you to perform your character's super move, much like a Super Smash Bros. Smash Ball. Though the rules of combat may seem basic, it's actually very fun and involved.
There are several unlockable characters, including a walking Cloud Strife parody and Mischief Makers' Marina Lightyears, since this is a Treasure game after all. You can also unlock and play as the game's many mooks and generic enemies which appear in single-player mode.
Juggernaut is an all-but forgotten horror adventure game that was released in all regions. You play as a young man whose girlfriend has been possessed by a demon, and you must know travel into her soul to save her.
The gameplay is a very straightforward first-person point-n-click deal where you travel from room to room, examine objects, and solve an undending series of (mostly easy) puzzles. However, if you have the patience for the typically slow pace of such games, Juggernaut's atmosphere and unusual settings make it worth your while. The game's main gameplay gimmick is the ability to take control of other people's bodies, and certain areas or objects will require different bodies to enter or manipulate successfully. The dimension-jumping plot also leads to a lot of delightfully bizarre situations, like browsing the Internet in the 2550's or wandering into a village of undead residents who are all missing their eyeballs.
If you liked something like D (PSX), another horror adventure that revolves around puzzles, you'll like Juggernaut. Like D, it has a pseudo-realistic but somewhat "off" art style, and also features a lot of FMV scenes which in our time look weirdly (and interestingly) Uncanny Valley.
London Seirei Tantei-dan is a Japan-only JRPG that would be my top choice for a PSX fan translation project right now. This Bandai-developed hidden gem is visually gorgeous and strongly reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films such as The Castle in the Sky. It takes place in turn-of-the-century London, in the cusp of the steam age, and you play as a young boy who fancies himself a detective, going around town, solving mysteries, and participating in turn-based fights with hooligans, policemen, and stray dogs.
The game's presentation is a dream and the story goes in directions that you wouldn't expect once "the world of spirits" gets involved. It may be one of the most charming and comfy JRPGs ever released on the system.
Soul of the Samurai is a forgotten Konami-developed game that predates Onimusha's combination of survival horror gameplay and feudal Japanese setting. You can play as either a samurai or a female ninja and move through fixed-camera 3D environments while fighting mooks. Though it's not nearly as reliant on item conservation or stealth tactics as a Resident Evil game, like Onimusha, the deliberate design choices prevent you from being an all-out killing machine, and instead encourage you to employ strategy and fight enemies with caution. It has has a lot of puzzles to break up the fighting, and like many survival horror games, features two scenarios with minor difference depending on which character you choose to play as. It was localized and released in NA, so fret not.
Magical Drop F: Daibouken Mo Rakujyanai! continues the Magical Drop series of competitive matching puzzle games (like Puyo Puyo or Puzzle Attack) with cute cartoon characters. This entry redesigns the whole casts in a more realistically-proportioned nineties anime style and offers a more involved story with unlockable characters, but the core gameplay remains the same. The cast is large (each character represents one of the Major Arcana) and they all have their own special moves and attributes. The many character animations as they win or lose in matches are endearing and visually attractive.
Magical Drop F is probably the best game in the series in terms of presentation and single or multi-player gameplay, and was the last game in the series before the original developers stopped producing the games. It's Japan-only, but Japanese knowledge is obviously not required to play.
N2O, Nitrous Oxide is a scrolling shoot-em-up that was never released in Japan. The game featured music by The Crystal Method, and has some plotline about how aliens are trying to build a sub-atomic particle collider, and your job is to enter these colliders and destroy all the enemies or something.
The gameplay was fun as hell. You are constantly moving forward inside of a donut, and can move left or right along the inner walls as you travel forward. You start each level at a certain speed, and each enemy you kill makes you move faster. Also, if you take too long spikes start appearing on the wall. It makes for some high speed action. If I recall correctly there are about 40 levels, and a boss level every 5 levels. Great colorful visuals and the good electronic soundtrack work well together, and suit the gameplay. A fun shoot-em-up, and a great game to play at any party with hallucinogenics.
Yuuyami Toori Tankentai is a 2D horror adventure released by Spike, which included members of Human Entertainment, the studio behind the Twilight/Moonlight Syndrome cult games and Clock Tower, the originator of this type of experience.
It is presented in realistic and lovingly detailed environments that are in 2D but simulate depth, breathing life into the Japanese suburbs of 1999 where a group of children and a dog explore the various urban myths that have cropped around at school. Gameplay is divided between gathering info on rumors at school, exploring the city at night, and interacting with parents and classmates in dialogue scenes that advance the story.
During the game sections where you can actively move around and explore, the large and detailed character sprites, motion-captured to convey a realistic sense of movement, travel across a 2D plane in a series of screens, investigating rumors. The dog that accompanies often has to stop to pee on a lamppost or gets tired easily, but will warn you of incoming supernatural activity.
If you're obsessed with the Twilight/Moonlight Syndrome games or the original Clock Tower you should definitely look into this game, although it's JP-only and text-heavy.
Though JP-only, Korkoro Post Nin is a game that anyone can play and everyone should play, a simple but highly addictive puzzle title. The protagonist is a cute mail delivery girl who for some reason lives in a town made up of complex vertical mazes presented with 2D sprites and visuals. The goal of each level is to reach each of the red mailboxes in the stage, at which point you can advance, but there are also other optional collectibles.
You don't actually control the girl, though; rather you control the maze itself, which can be rotated left or right in order to guide the mail girl to her destination. (I'm sure there are other puzzle games with this exact set-up but I can't think of another one right now.) There are obstacles and enemies as well which will spell your doom if you run into them, but time limits will prevent you from planning out complex strategies and instead force you to improvise as you get a feel for the game's pacing.
It's supremely addictive and entertaining and you don't need to know a word of Japanese to play.
The Granstream Saga is a fairly unusual JRPG intended as a spiritual successor to the Soul Blazer/Illusion of Gaia/Terranigma trilogy of SNES action-RPGs. This is a top-down 3D adventure about a fairly cookie-cutter young hero who sets out to save his floating island world of evil. The downsides of The Granstream Saga are its ugly character models and totally by-the-numbers story which packs absolutely zero surprises for anyone who has played a JRPG before.
But on the other hand, gameplay aspects of the game make it stand out, such as the fact that combat is completely active-time, with a variety of useable weapons and spells, and while battles are always one-on-one and enemy variety leaves something to be desired, fights are generally very fun. Also, instead of buying new weapons or spells, the hero's magical artifact can "read" certain objects or metals and create new weapons or spells out of them, which encourages exploration instead of tedious grinding.
It was also developed partially by Production I.G., which means it has a lot of good-quality anime scenes for a game of its time.
Guardian's Crusade (JP: Knight and Baby) is a very innocent-looking and lighthearted JRPG where everyone looks like a living toy. You take on the role of Knight and go on adventures all across the land, but soon enough you come across a weird little monster (Baby) who introduces the game's monster-raising sim elements, as you can feed and pamper Baby in order to make him stronger and command him to transform into different monsters in battle. These two are your only members of your party, but instead of spells Guardian's Crusade features collectible toys, which can be summoned in battle for various different effects, and all have unique animations and attributes which are one of the highlights of combat.
While a lot of the environments look super basic and the FMV scenes look rather unfortunate today, Guardian Crusade has a lot of surprises in store, including a much more affecting story than you would expect, and a much more potentially complex battle system that you could possible have predicted.
A first person survival horror set in a school at night. A mix between Clock Tower and Echo Night. The game has 4 endings. Knowledge of the Jap language is recommended. The game is very text heavy, and there is a puzzle that's really hard to figure out (though I passed it after a couple of hours of trial&error).
I did a review of the game on a board dead blog called "thisshitaintscary" if you want to know more about it.
Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring was a pretty well-known 3D fighter whose main selling point was that it featured Final Fantasy VII characters in its roster. However the main reason why this game is here is because it has a massively overlooked single-player Quest Mode.
Quest Mode is basically a dungeon crawler with fighting game combat. It has randomly-generated dungeons, monsters, treasure, and even a hunger stat. Basically, Ehrgeiz may have accidentally turned out to be the best dungeon crawler on the PS1, or at least a very interesting experience for fans of the genre. It's worth playing solely for this mode.
Actually, only the first part of the game is survival horror. The game has 3 'chapters': Chapter1: survival horror, you have no means to defend yourself. All you can do is run from enemies (1 big enemy at a time), or push crates to block your path etc. Think of it like the action parts of Silent Hill Shattered Memories. Chapter2: the game becomes a more tradiotional 3D action game. It's kinda like other early 3D beat em ups you can think of, except the hit detection is very poor. Chapter 3: Never reached that because you need to have a good score in the rest of the game, and chapter2 sucked too much for me to care.
imo the game is worth playing for chapter1 and its very original take on survival horror (especially for the time)
So many great Jap exclusive games. Spike Chunsoft is one of my favorite weird/niche developers and I cannot enjoy most of their games due to a language barrier. Would pay/donate for a translation group focused on bringing those games into English.
Chippoke Ralph no Daibouken: The Adventure of Little Ralph is a side-scrolling 2D action game with varied and visually pleasant settings. You play as a young warrior who is turned into a small child by demons, but still ventures out to save his hometown armed with nothing but a sword and shield.
The game is a non-stop side-scrolling romp through waves of enemies, and Ralph can only take two hits before going down. Though the level of challenge isn't infuriating, it escalates at a good pace, and the game has a unique end-of-level scoring system based on picking up fruit which will keep more veteran players interested in retrying stages. The game is about three hours long, and playing it in Easy mode will prevent you from seeing the last three stages of witnessing the true ending.
This is overall a very fun and well-built title, similar in presentation and gameplay to another hidden gem, Moon Crystal for the NES, but with much more fun boss encounters.
Bakusou Dekotora Densetsu 2 is a game aimed at the dekotora or "decorative truck" subculture of Japan, a group of hobbyists who pimp out their trucks with outlandish parts taken from other vehicles and paint them with lavish designs. The scene became a national craze in seventies Japan due to a series of popular movies, but has now remained as a more niche interest.
In this game two decorative trucks raise against each other on the highway to deliver their package first. Since you're driving a truck your top speed is fairly low, but you can use dirty tricks and even run over hapeless motorists to slow your opponent down. And obviously you can customize and decorate your truck to your heart's content.
The game has a pleasant retro charm that harkens back to the golden days of dekotora, with an enka soundtrack that suits the tense but colorful races across the Japanese countryside under vibrant blue skies.
Suzu Monogatari is an obscure Capcom game developed by the director of the Breath of Fire series. It is an isometric sprite-based JRPG where you play as a girl tasked with recovering the Seven Bells of God, which have been scattered across the land. You accomplish this by exploring the town and speaking to its residents to obtain clues, and while you can do lots of life sim-type things such as fish and dig up treasure to sell, you also participate in card battles.
Instead of turn-based RPG combat, Suzu Monogatari is a card game-based JRPG. I'm unaware of the intricacies of the system, but based on what I've seen online it appears to be pretty basic and maybe inspired by hanafuda. You can tell that it was directed by the people behind BOF however, in the character and world design. Unfortunately it doesn't look like the kind of game you could succesfully play without knowing Japanese.
Ore no Ryouri: We Cooking is a frenetic cooking sim where you play as a child prodigy chef who is challenged by his rival to a great cook-off in eight different restaurants. The story is presented with cartoony 2D sprites in a unique style.
The gameplay consists of taking orders from customers and the occasional food critic, and cooking the respective dishes in a series of first-person activities such as cutting fish or peeling onions, exactly like in Cooking Mama. However Ore no Ryouri throws in the nerve-wrecking time element of having customers waiting in line, having to manage your resources in the from of cooking implements, and occasionally having to perform other tasks such as calling the police to pick up a drunk or stomping cockroaches in the kitchen. It's a very fun and fast-paced game that's easy to approach but hard to master, and requires no Japanese knowledge to play.
Before he achieved international cult success with Killer7 and No More Heroes, Suda51 had a great run of adventure games on the PS1, but perhaps his crowning achievement is Silver Jiken. This is a moody and noirish crime story about a series of gruesome murders committed in the 24 Districts, and the special detectives dispatched to solve them. The game has two scenarios: in the Suda-written one you play as a detective following the serial killer's trail, and in the other one you play as a journalist writing a story on the murders.
Silver Jiken's presentation is top-notch, from the moody soundtrack to the excellent environments which combine a sense of end-of-century dread with a weird Uncanny Valley plasticism to its character portraits and film reel-style storytelling. The whole thing is experimental in a way that is typical of Suda and obviously the story goes wildly off the rails at one point. However it is basically impenetrable without Japanese knowledge.
Finger Flashing is a puzzle-shooter hybrid presented with 2D sprites moving on vertically-scrolling 2D isometric levels. You play as a wizard girl or a bazooka-wielding boy and take on waves of enemies coming down on you with power shots based on rock, paper and scissors. Naturally I don't need to explain which one beats which. The rules of this basic children's game are applied here so you can chain shots and destroy whole groups of enemies at once while progressing through a handful of your typically-varied stages. Single-player campaigns are pretty fun and challenging, but the game really comes alive in two-player showdowns where you can mess with your opponent's performance to make it to the finish line before you do.
Though Finger Flashing requires no knowledge of Japanese to play, it has been fan translated. It is also available as a PSOne Import on PSN (in Japanese) as FLASHING-FINGER.
Time Bokan Series: Bokan to Ippatsu! Doronbo is a vertical 2D shooter based on the classic Japanese Time Bokan anime series, about time-travelling heroes. However in this game you play as recurring antagonist Doronjo and her two dimwitted henchmen. (They made an appearance as a playable threesome in Tatsunoko vs Capcom.) Instead of aircraft you ride colorful, oversized vehicles and go on a rampage destroying everything in your way in lush and colorful worlds. It's great fun to be had for anyone and obviously you don't need to know a word of Japanese to play. The sequel to this game, which is quite similar but features different characters, was actually released in PAL territories as Time Bokan Yattaman.
Kyuin is a bizarre horizontal "cute-'em-up" where you play as a young boy riding a magical vacuum cleaner that shoots energy pellets. The boy himself is a 3D model superimposed on 2D backgrounds and most enemies are detailed sprites. This is very similar visually and in spirit to other wacky PSX shooters such as Harmful Park and the Parodius games, which lots of unusual and unexpected enemy types, varied and strange settings for stages, and powers inspired by gags or mundane, everyday objects. The challenge level is low for shmup veterans, but that also makes it accessible to everyone, and you'll mostly want to play it for the ridiculous factor. If you enjoyed this, definitely consider trying Harmful Park and Sexy Parodius as well.
Skullmonkeys was a brutal hard platformer developed by the Neverhood, the same team that made The Neverhood. There is a password system so you don't have to play through in one sitting, but it's still a damn hard game. It has an old-school flavor, in that one hit kills you unless you have a power-up. The precision required for success gives the game an Adventure Island feel. I have never managed to beat the game, but I still consider it the best 2D platformer on the system. The game got mostly good reviews on release, but was largely ignored by most everyone. PSX gamers wanted 3D games for the most part, and Neverhood fans wanted another point and click adventure. The great claymation graphics and music and sound effects make for a pretty game. If you like challenging platformers, be sure and check this one out.
Critical Depth, from SingleTrac, the same people who did Twisted Metal 1 and 2, and wikipedia claims it was done with the same engine. It's car combat, except with submarines. This game was overshadowed by the Twisted Metal series, and promptly ignored. Then again, it really didn't do too much different than the TM formula anyways. That being said, it's a fun game if you liked TM1 or TM2, and the ability to fight in three dimensions I feel adds to the combat. Obviously not as great as the TM series, but a decent game that didn't deserve the cold shoulder it got.
Die Hard Trilogy. Made by the long-since defunct Probe, the game was a mixed bag. The game was divided into three games, each tied into one of the movies from the original trilogy. The first game was a fantastic 3rd person shooter, the second was an unremarkable light-gun game, and the third was a decent racing/action type game. While the game got good reviews, most gamers knew to avoid movie-license games, so the game was mostly ignored. It's a shame too, since the 3rd person shooter game is damned fun, and does a good job of mixing strategy with gunplay, and very good level design.
I'd recommend avoiding the sequel though, there the new developer decided the game would be more fun if you had to do all three game modes at random throughout the game. Unless you really enjoyed the other two game modes.
Wolf Fang: Kuuga 2001 is a really awesome scrolling shooter/run & gun developed by Xing. It's actually the sequel to the vertical shmup Vapor Trail that saw release over here a few years prior. Slightly customiseable mechs to suit different playstyles and some animu voice acting make for a pretty awesome arcade experience.
Oh No! is yet another of those supremely weird Japanese games. For some reason, the father of a typical Japanese family decides to go without clothes and starts walking around in his underwear. His son happily follows suit. Eventually the underwear craze seems to catch on around the neighborhood, so three underwear-donning men burst out of their homes and start parading down the street.
In Oh No! you control three characters who are constantly moving up a vertically scrolling 3D stage in urban Japan. You must change the formation in which the three characters move to avoid obstacles, nab tasty hamburgers (watch out for the dangerous puffer fish hamburgers), and eventually make it to the finish. The game also has a multi-player battle mode and a "Love" mode where boys duke it out with girls.
The whole game is presented in a likeable cartoon aesthetic and the characters themselves move like flat paper cut-outs, similar to games like Paper Mario or Parappa the Rapper, which is fitting for Oh No!'s whimsical sense of humor. It requires no Japanese knowledge to play.
Saiyuki: Journey West is a Koei-developed SRPG that is often forgotten when discussing the PSX games that exist for this somewhat small genre. It is based on the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, which has inspired unending amounts of pop culture, including Dragon Ball.
Play as a male or female protagonist and recruit several were-beast allies to accompany you in battle. Aside from your main character, all of your fighters can shift into more powerful beast forms in battle, and knowing when to transform (as transformation is temporary and greatly taxes the user) is essential to win. All characters also have elemental affinities which affect their strengths and weaknesses in battle.
The presentation is very similar to a game like Final Fantasy Tactics, with isometric sprites on 3D environments. Visually it's somewhat more colorful, and certainly has a more happy-go-lucky tone than FFT. Character skills and attributes are largely set in stone, and are not customizeable. Though the game does not put forth a huge challenge level, it's demanding enough to keep SRPG fans entertained.
Slap Happy Rhythm Busters is an excellent Japan-only 2D fighting game developed by Polygon Magic. Though the combat is 2D, characters are cel-shaded 3D models who drip style, designs obviously inspired by Shibuya fashion and youth culture, and the entire game is shockingly similar visually to Jet Set Radio (with shades of The World Ends with You as well). It has an impressive roster (21 characters, many of them unlockable) for a brand new fighter, and the basic array of modes that you would expect from this kind of game.
Combat does not stray far from the Street Fighter mold, with several basic characters taking on the roles of typical fighting game archetypes, but many others are more esoteric, like a pair of twin girls fighting by sitting on top of each other, or a man who, after losing a certain amount of HP, bows out and sends in his wolf to fight.
The "Rhythm" in the game's titles comes from special moves which every character can perform, which will introduce a short rhythm-based segment for the player which will result in maximum damage if performed right. Overall it's a very fun game for people who enjoy the funky-fresh style of games like JSR and TWEWY, or people interested in obscure PSX fighters.
Side by Side Special is a Taito touge racing game. Touge racers are Japanese games where you race cars along mountainside roads, much like in the Initial D franchise, which is its own sub-genre of racing titles in Japan due to its basis on real street racing and the sense of tension that comes from constantly making tight turns and moving along narrow paths.
Side by Side Special is similar to the Touge G Max games and features over 20 cars from various Japanese car makers with realism and fidelity as the main selling points. Races are exciting and stages are colorful in that nineties kind of way, including beach stages where you race past sunbathing tourists and blue-sky mountain pass races. Definitely worth looking into for genre fans who have maxed out everything in Ridge Racer R4 and similar titles.
Kuru Kuru Marumaru is a driving sim with a unique, cartoony visual style that is very well-realized. You play as a teenage boy who wants to obtain his driver's license to impress girls, basically. Unfortunately the seemingly normal-looking driving school that he signs up for is a hellish training ground that will put him through fifteen dangerous challenges such as driving along a mountainside while avoiding falling boulders, venturing into underground caves, or even driving along the sea.
The game puts you in the driver's seat from the first-person perspective, so it is indeed closer to driving sims than racing games, and you'll need to get a hang of the controls before you can successfully pass even the basic tests. Obviously there is a dating sim element as well where you romance many girls that the protagonist is interested in; these are presented in neat visual novel-style character portrait dialogues along the main character's colorful hometown. Deciding which girl to prioritize will determine your ending once you clear the game, so while it's not terribly long, it does boast some replay value. Aside from the dating sim portions, Kuru Kuru Marumaru is playable without knowing Japanese. It also has a surprisingly large amount of voice acting for a PSX game.
Sentient is one of the most bizarre, fascinating, and potentially engrossing games to be found on the PS1, a port of a Windows game of the same name. In Sentient you are a technician sent to a space station orbiting an alien sun that currently has two problems: its orbit is failing, bringing it ever close to the sun, and its crew is suffering of radiation disease, which is lethal. The game has an unseen time limit during which you must fix one of these problems to avoid a faster Game Over.
However, Sentient goes far beyond that. In a space colony with 62 different characters, all of which you can interact with and befriend, the possibilities are infinite. The game is full of possible plot lines or side-quests (many of which are red herrings), you can experience twelve different endings depending on which aspects you prioritize, and the combination of NPC actions and interactions is basically infinite in its scope.
The character models leave much to be desired, looking like digitized real-world faces pasted on stocky polygon models, and the whole game looks kind of washed-out and dingy compared to the Windows original, but this also gives it an interestingly surreal feel. Interaction is handled through classic adventure game text parser dialogue commands, which can seem unnecessarily long-winded at first but clearly allows you to interact with Sentient's world to a fuller degree. This is a potentially obsession-causing game if you can get past its clunkier aspects and see into the mind-boggling array of possibilities it offers, as a sort of outer space social survival sim.
Battle Konchuuden is a Jaleco-developed monster-raising RPG which revolves around capturing and training nearly 60 different species of common bugs, which is a very popular pastime among Japanese children. Indeed, you play as a Japanese boy in an overhead 2D sprite world reminiscent of Pokémon, and you start out with a single bug which you can then pit in battles against other critters. Once you defeat a bug, you can add it to your collection.
The battles in this game look a lot better than the overworld, with fully 3D models for the bugs which look quite detailed, as do the stages where they fight, such as patches of grass or dirt which are brought to life in an uncanny way. Battles are turn-based where bugs move along a grid on the floor like in an SRPG, but this is more about positioning than strategy, and once the bugs clash you can coordinate button presses or mash Square to defend yourself and emerge victorious.
Japanese knowledge is required to play. In many ways Battle Konchuuden seems basic compared to other similar games of its time, but it can be very addictive for bug enthusiasts or people who would like to reminisce about a childhood of digging around in the dirt.
Samurai Deeper Kyo is a 2D weapons-based fighter, based on the anime/manga series of the same name. It plays out in the Tokugawa period of Japan and features a host of swordfighters, ninja, royal soldiers, and many other less orthodox characters of the time. Visually it can be somewhat reminiscent of The Last Blade, but the characters are a lot more anime-ish and boast modern touches, and while there are some nice-looking stages, they don't really reach the level of detail and beauty of the Last Blade games.
Still, this is a very entertaining fighter with a good amount and variety of characters, certainly a huge treat for fans of the franchise. It features an assist system like the Marvel vs Capcom games and also has a Sudden Death mode, which is exactly like it sounds, and can actually be pretty exhilarating with a friend.
Aconcagua is an incredible adventure game with a unique premise and great production values. It begins when a plane crashes into Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America and part of the Andean mountain range. The survivors of the crash are all people who in some way are another were following Pachamama, another survivor, a revolutionary woman who is headed for her home country of Meruza to spark a revolution that will hopefully topple the brutal dictatorial regime. But now that said regime has made sure that Pachamama never reaches Meruza, the survivors must pool their skills to survive and make it off the mountain with their lives.
Aconcagua is a third-person 3D adventure game where you can switch between your playable characters at any moment; each have different abilities which will come in useful at different points. The game mostly consists of solving puzzles and finding items, and interestingly the characters feel like they have real agency in how the game progresses, as you need to make puzzle solutions make sense to them--not just to you--by having them communicate. This makes them really feel like virtual characters with thoughts and emotions.
Released late in the console's life, Aconcagua still looks pretty great for a PS1 game, which some particularly amazing setpieces and a rousing orchestral soundtrack. Its plot is refreshingly mature and told in a relatively level-headed way for a video game, but still sporting an action movie bent, making it a spiritual predecessor to games like Uncharted (but without going into full-on fantasy toward the end).
Though the game is JP-only, the voiced cutscenes were done in English (and occasional Spanish) for realism's sake, which can help players figure out solutions to puzzles with occasional help from a guide.
>>2082384 Granstream Saga actually throws a one-two punch of pretty shocking revelations right at the end of the game. The way it's played off makes it pretty memorable and the game itself has a pretty fascinating setting and kind of strange plot progression. Everything is by the numbers but it has a certain charming character to it and resonates with a very intentional direction to the scenes and it's overall message.
Little Lovers - She so Game. It's a mixture between a board game and a dating sim, every player is a student in high school and the objective of the game is getting the heart of the girl you pick at the start of each game.
Like other board games, it features minigames, although they are not that good like the ones in Magical Date. Most of the fun in the game comes from making the other players fail in getting the girl spreading rumours or using cards to impress the girl.
Alright from what I understand Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is a game about the player of a typical jRPG who ends up getting transported into the game world after it's beaten. The drive of the game is that you're left to clean up the mess left by a stereotypical hero who went through the world ransacking people's houses and destabilizing the ecosystem and economy and causing other sorts of trouble on his way to defeat the ultimate evil.
I've heard nothing but good things about it from people who have the capability to play it, but much of it's worth is lost without the ability to read moon runes.
Probably my top pick for games I want desperately to get translated right now
Umihara Kawase Shun is the second game in the Umihara Kawase cult series of platformers, where a schoolgirl has to navigate surreal platform worlds by a using a fishing rod to grapple onto higher ground or swing across chasms. She will also have to negotiate fish-like enemies wandering around the stage, and the whole game has an odd but endearing fish theme.
The series is best known for its tether-based gameplay and grappling physics, which are very original for the genre and fun to master, though they also provide a high level of challenge. Stages have multiple exits and there is a variety of paths to uncover. Compared to the first game, the amount of enemies is lower to allow the player to engage more with the platforming aspects, and the graphics have only been mildly improved, but retain their oddball charm.
Upon its original release this game was sponsored by the Mitchell fish company and features commercials in between levels. The latter Second Edition, also for the PSX, adds a handful of new stages and removes all Mitchell branding from the game, so it may be preferable.
Fire Woman Matoigumi is sort of a distant predecessor to Persona 3 in its combination of school life/dating sim aspects with turn-based RPG combat. You play as a male transfer student who gets beat up on his first day trying to stop a group of abusive ruffians. However this incident gets him the attention of the Matoigumi, three schoolgirls who use their magical fighting skills to protect the weak and vulnerable, and he is asked to join the group for his courage.
As a member of the Matoigumi, it's your job to wander around the school grounds after class checking if anyone is in trouble, and confronting bullies, stalkers, and ruffians in simplistic turn-based fights. The whole game is presented in a top-down 2D view with expressive sprites for the characters.
You improve your stats by joining various different clubs and after school activities, and there are 11 different date-able girls in school. The dating sim aspect of the game is pretty barebones, with few options beyond walking girls home from school, giving them presents on their birthday, and saving them from harrassment. Though you can romance multiple girls at once, you'll have to choose one to get her ending, accompanied by an FMV sequence. There's even a character called Otaku Joe who holds the stats on every girl and can tell you how much each of them likes you at the beginning of every month.
Though every aspect of this game is fairly shallow and simple, they combine to create an original and entertaining experience that would be more developed by games in the next generation. However, it is JP-only and there is no translation effort planned as far as I know.
Addie no Okurimono: To Moze from Addie is a JP-only puzzle-adventure similar to latter titles such as the Professor Layton series. The story is about a young girl named Addie who is given a broken music box by her friend Moze, who will be moving away tomorrow as his parents are divorcing. After falling asleep while playing with the music box, Addie wakes up in a strange resort town populated by people who look exactly like the residents of her hometown, but they all go by different names and don't seem to recognize her.
The game has wonderful watercolor-style portraits and scenes, and the general atmosphere is very nostalgic and dreamlike. Unlike in Professor Layton, where puzzles are unrelated to the overarching story, each word puzzle in this game serves directly to solve a problem encountered during the game and move the plot along. The game's story has clearly done its research in terms of psychology, and many concepts from the field will be recognizeable to people who are familiar with them.
Recently, a translation group has taken up working on this game, so let's hope that turns out smoothly.
Vanark is a 3D rail shooter very similar in style and gameplay to Star Fox 64, where you control a group of spaceship pilots defending the human Mars colony from an alien invasion. In each stage you play as one of the characters and shoot your way through 3D stages full of monstruous alien combatants, and the occasional boss.
Vanark also features a few deep space free-flight missions which put it close to a type of space combat sim, though the core gameplay remains the same. You can also control the pilots themselves in between missions, moving through the inside of the mothership, interacting with other characters, triggering cutscenes, and engaging in occasional action sequences doing things like disarming bombs.
The story is very involved and developed for a game of this genre, and while it's not exactly the most riveting thing in the world, it's entertaining and definitely feels like a bonus to all the rail-shooting action.
This thread wouldn't be complete without mention of Germs, a legendary "lost" game that was unearthed a couple years ago by a Japnese online seller and then uploaded online by the combined efforts of /vr/. Germs is a first-person adventure/shooter similar in style and presentation to LSD: Dream Emulator (but not as outright psychedelic) where you play a reporter investigating a strange series of incidents in a city and eventually encountering mutant monstruosities.
The game received an extremely limited run, which is why it was believed to be lost, and in some ways it feels unfinished, especially in the occasional faceless character model or nonsensical dead end. It is however worth playing for its unique sense of atmosphere and general "off" quality if you're the adventurous type.
Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushido Retsuden is a turn-based RPG based on SNK's Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown) fighting game series, which features various warriors and monsters duking it out in medieval fantasy Japan. This game was notoriously delayed many times, originally announced at the height of Samurai Shodown's popularity, and eventually released with only two of three planned scenarios, which would have covered the three main SamSho games.
At the beginning of the game you can choose to play as one of six characters--Haohmaru, Nakoruru, Genjuro, Galford, Ukyo, or Cham Cham--and progress through a 2D sprite-based overworld of towns, monsters, and turn-based battles, complete with equippable weapons, armor, and accessories, which is to say it is a traditional RPG modelled after Final Fantasy. The story only has minor changes depending on which character you play as, and eventually you can recruit secondary party members, which may be other protagonists you didn't choose or additional characters from the series.
The game's story, presentation, and gameplay were well-received especially by series fans, though long load times were cited as a problem. The PSX version (it was originally released for the Neo-Geo CD) features an active-time bar for battles, which keeps them from being strictly turn-based.
For a while there were rumors that Working Designs would bring this game to North America, but this never materialized and it stayed in Japan. Multiple translation groups have considered tackling the game but as of today no-one has completed an English translation.
NEUES it's a rising sim where you have to help a robot girl to become human. Every week you have to decide a schedule for you and for the girl, you can investigate the forest, collect plants, teach your robot girl about religion, singing, dancing, etc..
The story is presented like a visual novel and there are many characters whose story will be revelead as you progress within the year that lasts the game.
It can be quite hard and unforgiving without a guide (it has some hidden stats), but it's worth a shot because it's quite unique and darker than the Wonder Project series.
Click Medic is a zany take on hospital simulation developed by GameFreak of all people. You take on the role of a fresh young doctor on his first day on the job. Gameplay is divided into two sections: first you meet and diagnose patients based on their symptoms, and secondly you take them to some sort of futuristic machine where you can use micro-tools to enter the patient's body and eliminate the virus responsible for their illness. (Viri are represented as cartoony little critters that need to be zapped away.)
The entire game is played like a visual novel or adventure, including the virus-zapping gameplay segment where you have to choose which routes to take inside a patient's body to succeed in curing them. The hospital staff consists mostly of cute girls who will interact with you in large anime-style portraits. There are other activities that can be done around the hospital which revolve around general management and equipment improvement as well. Knowledge of Japanese is required to play.
The Refrain Love series is a quite interesting take on the dating sim genre. Unlike most games in the genre, this one takes place in college. Your character will have the whole city to explore, only with a map, but there a many places to visit and lots of characters to meet, the sequel has some first person mechanics for the students residence.
On the downside, the first game only has three heroines, but they are quite fleshed out and have some animated events here and there.
Taidama Wakusei Kaitakuchuu! is a Japan-only take on stategy games like Age of Empires, but heavily simplified into games that last about 15 minutes. Choose one of four teams, each one made of three color-coded robots, and set off to colonize a planet in seven days, planting trees, building houses, and interfering with the opposing team's progress as well. You can view the entire planet's surface at any point, scrolling across it to see your robots hard at work doing whatever it is you've commanded them. Games last a period of seven in-game days and are over pretty quickly in practice. There are also several different planets for you to conquer, each one with different terrain, weather condition and special features that will force to adapt.
The game is pretty cute and very intuitive, so it's not hard to get a hang for the controls and menus even if you don't speak Japanese. Multi-player is also a blast.
>>2084795 if yours is nicer than feel free to go right ahead
>>2082152 Contributing this game, Odo Odo Oddity. It's an on-rails shooting sort of thing where you are tied to some balloons and float through the levels. The soundtrack and spritework are great, but the game really does control like you're tied to a bunch of balloons (i.e. you have very little control). Requires no knowledge of Japanese so if you manage to track down the .iso definitely give it a try.
Love Love Torokko (Love Love Truck) is a minecart-racing game with... dating sim elements? A group of people are looking for a legendary treasure inside a mine and you play as a boy who wants a piece of that pie. It takes two people to operate a minecart by pushing the lever like a see-saw, so you get to pick one of several different girls to accompany you, which will apparently determine which ending you get.
The story is very silly and lighthearted, with 3D anime-style character models and fairly basic but colorful environments. You race your minecart across the railways by rhythmically pressing buttons, jumping or switching rails to avoid falling off dead ends or to jump over obstacles or shots from enemy minecart-riders. There's not much else to the game beyond the single-player story mode, I'm not sure if multi-player exists but it does seem to be available.
Torneko: The Last Hope is a modern roguelike much like the Mystery Dungeon or Shiren the Wanderer games. It stars the chubby merchant Torneko from Dragon Quest IV and was surprisingly localized, under the subtitle "World of Dragon Warrior." The gameplay is very straightforward if you've ever played a game of this type: you travel through procedurally-generated dungeons, fight monsters in turn-based battles, and lose everything if you die. Torneko is a bit more forgiving in the last case, but will still provide as much challenge as any classic Dragon Quest game. It has a good variety of enemies to fight and items to find or craft, but dungeon environments are a bit repetitive.
The game is presented from an overhead view with somewhat compressed-looking sprites, but it has occasional claynimation scenes in place of FMVs which are absolutely gorgeous and a total joy to watch. If for some reason you're a big fan of Torneko or just appreciate roguelike games, be sure to pick this one up.
Bealphareth is an isometric, third-person dungeon crawler with fairly well-drawn sprites and consistent but nicely-realized medieval fantasy environments to explore. Gameplay is seriously addictive because unlike other games of its kind, battling is completely active-time and you can switch between characters in your party at any time instantaneously, all of which have different skills pertaining to their battle class. The sheer amount of available weapons and monsters to be found makes it a great experience.
And obviously there is a dating sim aspect as well, in that every character who joins your party will be a girl, and you will be able to interact and romance with all of them. Obviously depending on which one you go for you'll get a different ending for them. Even if you're not interested in this aspect of the game it's very much worth playing for fans of dungeon crawlers or action-RPGs. Unfortunately it's Japan-only, and attempting to play it blind would be quite the effort, though it's certainly possible.
Happy Diet had WiiFit beat by nearly decade at the time of its release. It's a diet management and weight loss sim. However, it has a pleasant cartoon presentation and a main character who is a kid in a racoon suit to make things more palatable for the player. There are three modes: in Diet Story, you help the titular main character manage his diet in order to lose weight in time for various events. In Own Diet, you input your own data (height, weight, BMI, etc.) and then manage your diet with the game's helpful knowledge of nutritional balance.
This game was also compatible with the Stepper Controller peripheral, which came into play during Walking Mode, which set your user-created avatar (another kid in a racoon suit) to wander around 3D environments while losing weight thanks to physical exercise. However this peripheral is optional and the mode can still be played while... sitting in front of the screen. Happy Diet may not help you lose weight, but it's an interesting curio for those fascinated by game history.
Tail Concerto is a 3D action-platformer starring a furry police offer chasing a group of pirate kitties while riding a mech that looks and moves surprisingly similar to Tron Bonne's. The whole game has a Mega Man Legends sort of feel and takes place in a world of floating islands populated by cute anthropomorphic animals. You run around on your bipedal mech capturing felons in bubbles and jumping across great chasms. Unfortunately the game isn't D-pad-compatible and the analog controls can sometimes lead to frustrating platforming hell, especially in the last stages.
However it's a cute little game definitely worth a look for Mega Man Legends fans, with a couple really cool stages but mostly bland boss fights. It's the kind of game you could probably 100% in a day, so don't spend too much money on it if you're not going to emulate. Solatorobo: Red the Hunter for the NDS was a spiritual sequel set in the same world.
Soukyugurentai is fairly well-known among shmup fans but deserves to be tried by everyone. It starts off hovering over amazingly detailed futuristic Earth cities, with 3D models and layering providing a fantastic illusion of depth, and travels ever-farther into space where even more visual wonders await. It's a very attractive-looking game, cinematic in a way that current AAA titles aren't, almost telling a story without words.
Choose from three different ships and take on a space invasion with the game's trademark homing laser web which lets you destroy multiple enmies at once with correct timing. It's a fairly challenging game for shmup novices but once you get a hang of the homing laser range it becomes a total blast to keep playing until you succeed.
This game got an arcade release and near-perfect Saturn port as well, which was localized as Terra Diver. In either case you don't need to know Japanese to play a shmup.
Sonic Wings Special is a vertical console shmup that combines aspects of the first three Sonic Wing games, bringing together a total of 14 pilots, each with an extra unlockable aircraft. Co-op multi-player is also a possibility but the second player can only pick someone from the same team as the first player's character. The game is fairly zany and light-hearted, with characters such as an American cyborg and a talking dolphin. Different characters and combinations have different endings, as well.
The stages and planes in Sonic Wings special can look somewhat dated, as they are basically taken from games that were mainly from the previous console generation, but the variety in characters and stage paths, not to mention secret characters with alternate versions of stages, makes it worth playing. It also has a pleasant sense of humor and a number of instances of entertaining Engrish.
Velldeselba Senki, this one it's quite unique and a lot of people will curse over it not being translated yet. I would say it's a steampunk action RPG, the game is divided in two parts: the adventure part in classic 2D topdown RPG from the 90's and the air battles in 3D. You can custom your ship with different weapons and parts to improve it as you progress through the game.
And there is more... the game isnt linear, there are multiple routes and missions according to your choices.
Gakkou Deatta Kowai Hanashi S is an enhanced port of a Super Famicom game. It's a visual novel in a pure sense of the term with very little direct interaction; you just click through dialogue and scenes, continuing the story. It is a compilation of fifty different scary stories and urban legends set in and around Japanese schools and featuring students, though the stories have recurring characters.
The reason why this game may be worth playing to someone who doesn't know a word of Japanese is because it's so hilarious to just look at. It features a full cast a real-life actors who were motion-captured for the scenes of the game, with incredibly cheap-looking special effects tacked on. The resulting reaction is usually humor as opposed to horror. In that sense it is similar to the cheesy FMV games of the early 90s like Night Trap, which haven't aged well at all. The fact that this game is divided into bite-sized, manageable stories also helps it be accessible to a non-Japanese speaker.
Tobal 2 was the sequel to Tobal 1 which was released in all regions. Tobal 2 is an extremely complex fighter rpg under the guise of a typical 3D party fighter. The art was designed by Akira Toriyama which adds nice flair to the game. The graphics are top notch for the ps1 and there are 2 soundtracks for the game. One for the Quest mode and one for the Arcade mode. In game combat plays with the speed of Virtua Fighter and the technicality of Tekken.There are literally over 200+ characters although some are just pallette swaps, but still many characters have just frames and their own movesets. EVERY character you meet is playable. In the Quest mode you play in a dungeon crawler type setting and descend dungeons while managing stats like stamina and defense while managing inventory space and the most useful equips. You unlock characters pokemon style by throwing gems at enemies near death. There are even random encounters in some dungeons. The arcade mode plays like any typical fighter. You take on all the main characters and view an ending.
Suzuki Bakuhatsu is a game where you play as the daughter of an explosives defusal expert. Everything in her life is rigged with explosives, and the core gameplay consists of disassembling literally EVERYTHING in order to access the bomb while the timer ticks down. By rapidly searching for screws to unscrew and bolts to unbolt, you strip away layer after layer until the bomb is revealed, culminating in a pulse-pounding wire-cut with seconds to spare.
Or something. I still haven't played the game but it looks cool and you could probably figure it out.
Rising Zan: Samurai Gunman is essentially the missing link between the clunky 3D beat-em ups of the 5th gen and the fast paced beat em ups of the sixth generation that started with devil may cry.
Speaking of devil may cry, this game came out two years before the first game, yet has an almost scary number of elements that feel like they were taken directly from that game (and later title godhand, made by many of the same people). A hero in red wielding a sword and a gun at the same time fights his way through a wacky and anachronistic wild west, interrupted by cut-scenes where people say silly stuff and minigames and set pieces where people do silly things.You have a powerup mode that makes your character very fast and changes the background music to his themesong, you have arbitrary ratings at the end of every stage to rate how "sexy" and "cool" you were (instead of stylish) and the character even has a tendency to yell LETS ROCK before kicking ass.
Speaking of the game itself, this is where the "missing link" moniker comes in. Put simply, while the controls make a valiant effort compared to how jank ps1 3D beat em ups were, they still have some issues. You move via tank controls because ps1 game, the lock on is pretty finnicky and the camera has a tendency to not cooperate. However besides that most of the elements that made devil may cry such a hit a few years later are there. You can freely combo between a variety of sword, gun and jumping moves, and while the game starts out pretty easy it ramps up the difficulty fast, with multiple playthroughs on a harder mode or to get a better ranking is encouraged.
While the combat is a little clunky, the game oozes a very specific kind of charm, best personified by the goddamn original theme song they made for the game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCSfmVvHg8k
there's a game (I think it might be by square?) with the gimmick that you're a voice in the head of some japanese girl and need to give her advice in situations. aparantly if you give her enough bad advice she can start ignoring you
the game is nothing but japanese text and voice acting so it's unplayable because of my critical case of gaijinits, but it sounds like a cool concept
PoPoRoGue is a Japan-only JRPG and the direct sequel to PoPoLoCrois Monogatari for the same console. This is a series of isometric, sprite-based JRPGs with a great fairytale style of art design, a classic Western fantasy setting, and very memorable, light-hearted characters from all walks of life. In PoPoRoGue, protagonist Pietro has already defeated the Ice Demon from the first game, and is welcomed home as a hero. However, he soon gets bored of a normal boy's life and sets out in search for adventure once again.
PoPoRoGue has the same turn-based tactical combat system as the first game, where you move around a grid-based area and attack with skills or magic. It has no random encounters, as enemies are present on the overworld and can be avoided. Enemies will even chase you if you flee a battle! Also, dungeons are procedurally-generated, and interestingly, all your secondary party members can be hired out as mercenaries to carry out missions and return to you with rewards.
PoPoLoCrois II also exists for the PSX, but it is actually the third game in the series.
Nekketsu Oyako was a Japan-only PSX launch title intended almost as a tech demo to demonstrate the console's capabilities for handling a traditional arcade beat-'em-up game. However it's also a very fun game on its own right. An evil organization has kidnapped the mother of a family of four; now the father, son, and daughter set out to fight hordes of enemies on very colorful, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure-esque city streets on their quest to save her.
The gameplay is nothing surprising for fans of beat-'em-ups and the three playable characters (sadly, Mom does not become playable after rescuing her) sport good variety and are all totally viable. It was ported to the Saturn some time later, but surprisingly the technical differences aren't so great as for there to be a truly superior version, and the PSX original handles transparency better. It's definitely one of the beat-'em-ups worth hunting down for the PlayStation, along with titles such as Panzer Bandit and Captain Commando, as the console didn't receive many other arcade ports.
Night Striker is a Japan-only scaling "3D" shooter with a presentation and layout similar to F-Zero, where you pilot a high-speed futuristic vehicle through a future metropolis. The game is entirely sprite-based and uses scaling to simulate 3D as you move through sci-fi cities, open fields, and over water in different stages. Overall it looks like a high-end SNES title, but if that doesn't bother you the special effects and sprite art are competent.
The daughter of some important scientist has been kidnapped and a special task force is dispatched to recover her. You shoot down enemies while strafing or drifting to avoid damage; your striker vehicle has shields which collisions or damage will chip away at, but are recharged at the end of every stage. You can also find shield power-ups and recovery items.
Here's a work in progress from the compilation of all the great recommendations in this thread. The file is getting quite large, so I'm thinking of splitting it up in multiple pages. http://afternoon.heliohost.org/temp/ps1.pdf
If your addition didn't get included, that's most likely because the written description wasn't long enough. It's unlikely that people will play every game here, but are interested in reading about every one of them. If your game can't be missed, add a couple of lines to be extra descriptive and then repost it. I'll be sure to include it in the final version.
>>2086952 It's a sandbox game where you literally just walk around and try to not bump into a spooky raincoat man. You could call it shitty if it was trying to emulate real life I would personally love a game like that, but alas it portrays a psychedelic dream world and this dream world is exactly what makes it interesting.
>>2084454 >>2086952 if you go into the game expecting to accomplish a set out, strict, defined goal you're unfortunately mistaken. people are still finding new stuff in the game every year probably because so few of the details or events later in the game are actually documented anywhere. on day 320 and still finding new things every few days in the game. >>2086938 >not really obscure (anymore) true. physical copies valuable as fuck though. >>2086267 >Book of Watermarks what a name. need to try this.
My Garden is a very simple JP-only simulation game similar to the Harvest Moon series, but instead of being in charge of a farm you play as a girl who must grow flowers on a garden. These can be sold for a price depending on their beauty and uniqueness and the money can be used to buy new seeds and useful items. The gameworld is largely restricted to the protagonist's grandma's home and the titular garden, which one must water and tend to while planting seeds and managing various tasks. The game is friendly to beginners and non-English speakers, with very intuitive menu options and actions helpfully illustrated by icons. It's an entertaining diversion for Harvest Moon fans or people looking for a casual and relaxed game.
Charumera is a loveable and laid back game where you take on the role of a traveling ramen salesman, wheeling your cart around town and setting up shop wherever it seems that customers might be interested in a tasy bowl. It is presented with delightful pop-up storybook graphics and tries to evoke a nostalgic pseudo-seventies Japan with flute melodies and somewhat anachronistically-dressed customers.
While wheeling around town, you can stop and offer food at any point, and customers will gather. By combining ingredients obtained you can come across dozens of different recipes (mostly through trial and error), and you may find that a new recipe is a hit with customers and makes you tons of money on the first couple weeks, but quickly they'll grow sick of it and start demanding something else.
Every once in a while one of your customers will strike up a conversation, which may be an opportunity for someone to sponsor your brand, which will help in making money. Money is usually spent buying more recipes or expanding your operation, and in this sense it simulates managing a small, one-person business. Ironically the game is perfect for unwinding after a long day of work thanks to its presentation and slow pace.
Gunbare! Game Tengoku 2 is a video game set within a video game. More specifically it's a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up where each level takes place inside a video game in an arcade. Thus you will find yourself shooting your way through a child's bedroom, a racing highway, an ominous haunted building, and other, even stranger locales, coming upon naturally bizarre bosses in the end. The game is a sequel to a Saturn-only release that was actually a port of an arcade title. Compared to that game, Game Tengoku 2 has fully-3D presentation, from the various ships you can pilot to the surprising backgrounds and enemies, but the core gameplay remains the same.
Though there are many PSX shooters with unorthodox or cutesy settings out there, Game Tengoku 2 is one of the most out-there based on the sheer audacity of its concept, and the shock factor continues to escalate with each passing level. In terms of difficulty it's fairly accessible for novices to the genre and veterans may not find a lot to challenge them, but it's worth taking on for the presentation.
Yakiniku Bugyou is a... BBQ sim. You are presented with a top-down view of a grill where different cuts of meat (plus fried melon slices) are placed in an order you can't control. Above, you will see the portraits of demanding and hungry BBQ-goers showing which cuts they want. Your job is to watch the grill like a hawk, making sure that the meat is cooked at its best possible point before dragging it to the character portraits in order to feed it to them. Their reaction will indicate whether you did well or not.
The characters' portraits, which are varied and represent people from all walks of life, will usually clue you into their general tastes, and you'll also need to consider how well-cooked they like their meat. It's a very simplistic puzzler without many variables, but as more demanding and varied customers step up and you start placing a lot of pieces on the grill, the tension begins to mount and you'll really need to be a master griller to succeed. The game was successful enough to be re-released as part of the Best of the Best collection and was considered for being brought over as a PSOne Import on PSN.
Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha is a rather unique action/tactical RPG hybrid. It was developed by Game Freak and published by T&E Soft in 1997, as one of the last titles released on the system.
The story takes place in a fantasy version of medieval Japan. In the beginning, you take on the role of a young hero, named of your choosing, who is a young swordman in training. His sister Nami is kidnapped by the monsters of the Ocean God while he is on an expedition, so he decides to take revenge and save her. He is joined by Wokuu (who can also be renamed), a little floating beast who appears to be a transformed girl - she joins the hero in order to find a way to revert to her true form. Later you also come across Miko, another beast like Wokuu who was once human. She acts as a sage and guard the island of Mikajim, which acts as the central hub to the numeround sub-worlds.
Bushi Seiryūden utilizes numerous perspectives, which is largely what makes it so unique. During exploration, the perspective looks similar to the average Legend of Zelda-style overhead RPG. You visit towns, cut grass, pick up treasures and search for new dungeons. Whenever you talk to somehow, it changes to a first person perspective, and even lets you look around the immediate area. However, whenever you get into a battle or enter a dungeon, the game switches to a side-view perspective. It looks like an action game, but it's actually entirely turn-based, as you can move one space or attack every turn, while the enemies take their turns in conjunction with yours. These sequences forego the standard command menu, and you control the hero directly with the d-pad and the buttons. Enemies are visible on the overhead field, and you can either attack them to gain an advantage or be ambushed so the enemies get first strike. If your level is high enough, you can take them out on the map without even going into combat.
>>2087941 Marvelous's translation is finally out? Holy shit! Thanks! >This type of relaxing vacation game is very popular in Japan but almost never makes it abroad. Yeah, these are my favorite types of games (Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, etc.) so I'm sad there are so many I'll never be able to fully enjoy.
>>2087962 >If your level is high enough, you can take them out on the map without even going into combat So like Earthbound? It's a shame that mechanic isn't in more JRPG's. It makes them a lot less tedious when having to backtrack.
Not really, even in Japan there are not many games like Boku no Natsuyasumi, I mean you can count them with your fingers.
Famicom Bunko Hajimari no Mori (Super Famicom) Inakakurashi (PS2) And there was another one on PS2... IIRC it was Bouken Shounen Club. Houkago Shounen (DS) Attack on Friday Monsters on 3DS that was made by the same people that made Boku no Natsuyasumi, that one was localized...
I'm gonna post a couple essential RPGs and then I'll move on to games you can actually play without knowing Japanese.
Ningyo no Rakuin is a strategy RPG developed by the elusive and largely forgotten Highwaystar. It's a bit like Lost in video game form. While on a vacation trip with his girlfriend, a high school student's plane crashes into a mysterious island with a native population that seemingly performs human sacrifices. Him and some other survivors will have to fight their way out of this predicament in turn-based, grid-based, isometric SRPG battles.
The odd thing about this game is that it combines a somewhat mundane and down-to-earth scenario with the traditionally fantastical combat of SRPGs. Characters move along the grid and attack each other with weapons or more esoteric means. The combat stages are very basic-looking, but the character portraits are nice, there's frequent fully-drawn story scenes, and the story is pretty great. The fights themselves can drag on because some enemies are only vulnerable to weapons, and weapons are few and far between, but in general it's not so bad as to bring the game down.
Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke (roughly translates to "Over My Dead Body") is one of the most original and in my opinion best RPGs for the PSX. It combines traditional, turn-based RPG combat with a generations system that has been explored in games such as SaGa Frontier and Fire Emblem 4. A demon has placed a curse on you, which makes you age 50 years every year; this gives you, in practice, two years to live. Your descendants will suffer from the same curse.
Gameplay is split between a family-raising sim where you sire children, raise them, and manage your household (the basic unit of time for this part is one month), and RPG combat, where you take a party of four into a labyrinthine dungeon on a mission to kill the demon who cursed you. The whole game has an almost poetically tragic feel to it, knowing that all your children and their children will only know a brief life of strife as they try to free your bloodline. It has gorgeous, traditional-style character and enemy designs that evoke an Okami RPG.
It got an enhanced port for the PSP, but it also stayed in Japan. This port was advertised with two very poignant commercials in Japan: http://youtu.be/Cq3cqsPw_Iw
Linda3 Again (Linda Cube Again) is a deeply weird port of a monster-collecting JRPG. The premise is that an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth (actually, "Neo Kenya"), and a man and a woman are chosen by the military to gather one of every animal in order to load them unto an ark. Thus you go off to fight all sorts of creatures real and mythical in first-person, turn-based combat, with the goal of capturing one of each. Captured creatures can also be sold for money, or turned into weapons and equipment. Though the graphics look rather dated, the character portraits are fresh and stylish, and the game has frequent anime cutscenes.
However what I mentioned previously is only Scenario A of the game. Once you get into Scenario B and C, things get weird and twisted: a Santa Claus death cult appears, characters get killed off, and a dark god gets prayed to. The whole game has a weirdly cheeky and dark sense of humor that is unusual to find in a game of this time, but is never too in-your-face about it. Though the gameplay itself may come off as somewhat basic, in terms of story and tone, it's pretty much an RPG like no other.
>>2090673 translation of psx games, especially rpgs, requires a massive dedication. pic related. working as a team only results to more confusion and mis-direction so a single-person hack is preferred.
Lup Salad is a fun and addictive puzzle game where you play as the titular Salad, a little girl who is taken all over the world by her globe-trotting parents. Each level is thematic of a different country or region of Earth, and the small details give these a lot of personality, such as the fact that Salad's outfit changes depending on the climate, as does her sprite (like how she dons a parka when they go to the Arctic).
The game's rather basic story is told through nice and charming pixel art, but the gameplay is the real meat. You are presented with a side-view of a puzzle and must push blocks of different colors in order to match them and make them disappear. Salad is fairly agile and can jump up blocks or gaps, but the game's real difficulty is that you'll always need to plan ahead and keep some blocks around in order to reach higher places later. By clearing all the blocks you get a full view of the panorama behind you, which is representative of the location where you currently are. Though the game is aesthetically very homey and almost retro, it can quickly become puzzle hell for novices.
It was ported to NDS as Lup Salad: Lupulupu Cube. The PSX original is available on PSN as a PSOne Import as well.
Running High is an on-foot racing game by Rex Entertainment, which generally didn't do games but were responsible for production of Satoshi Kon's classic film, Perfect Blue. This futuristic sci-fi game puts a spin on modern racers by featuring cyborg characters who compete, as mentioned, on foot. There's about a dozen characters available from the start and several unlockables.
Obviously, each character has different cybernetic augmentations that define their strengths and weaknesses. Compared to the variety of available racers, the amount and variety of stages leave something to be desired, but the stages that do exist are very nicely detailed, with sharp, defined graphics and logical design. The fact that you're not racing vehicles but people gives you a weird sort of connection with your chosen character, almost like a fighting game, and while the gameplay isn't particularly competitive, it's definitely very fun and well-thought out.
UFO: A day in the life is a cute puzzle-adventure developed by the legendary Love-de-Lic, also responsible for MOON: Remix RPG Adventure, and L.O.L. (Lack of Love) on the DreamCast. As per usual, UFO is more about exploring your environment and interacting with virtual characters than it is about any sort of game-y score system or stat growth. You play as a cute little alien sent to Earth to retreat its brethren, which were scattered when a previous mission went awry.
The aliens are invisible to humans, but can still be detected by watching closely when they interact with objects. Each level consists of a small and very detailed 2D area like a room or a street where you must play close attention to patterns and objects to finally pin-point the hiding alien's position and photograph them with a special device. Humans often feature in these stages, walking around as outlandishly-designed cartoons, perhaps to emphasize how weird they must look to the alien protagonist. Though dialogue clues will help you locate the aliens, it can be played easily enough through visual hints and trial-and-error.
>>2084580 >a legendary "lost" game that was unearthed a couple years ago by a Japnese online seller and then uploaded online by the combined efforts of /vr/. Damn, how did I miss this happening here on /vr/?
>>2083918 this game is a lot more like Vandal Hearts, than FFT. you have a small team that you keep for the entire story. I wish I still had it, or I would fire it up and give a better impression. I remember the graphics looked a little cheap, for something that came out so late in the system's life, but the design was decent and the music was beautiful
>>2090915 this must not be well known, anymore, but SOA once famously hated all things 2D. they also hated all RPGs, but FF7 blew the doors open for that...
I don't know the entire story, but IIRC, Konami had to fight to get Castlevania: SOTN released in the US, because of Sony's ban on 2D games. I think the success of that game loosened things up, somewhat...
In retrospect, it wasn't such a bad idea, since the Playstation could do 3D much better than the Saturn. once Sony made such a huge deal about 3D, Sega started (stupidly) scrambling to play catch up and shoveled games out for the Saturn that looked hopelessly inferior. Don't hate Sony for spitting on 2D. Hate Sega for not playing to their strengths and sticking to 2D
>>2091021 I got all the way to the last level, with those platforms that constantly disappear and reappear. I got to the last part of the level, and just could no do it. You had to have your timing down to the millisecond. Those blocks had to reappear under your feet exactly 1 pixel below you in order for you to make it. Shit was ridiculous. I must've tried over a hundred times, then caved and used a lives cheat, because I couldn't stand doing the whole level one more time. I will always fear that level.
>>2090674 >However what I mentioned previously is only Scenario A of the game.
Actually, scenario A and B are kinda like tutorials scenario C is the real game and it doesnt work in the same way as the first two, since there are events you can miss. But that scenario it's also the one with the real and complete ending for the game. The PS and Saturn remakes had a free scenario too where you can roam the world and just capture the different creatures.
>>2090915 >>2091034 Bernie Stolar is the guy generally held responsible for SCEA's early policy of no 2D games.
eventually he got fired for being a fucking asshole that was threatening to have developers boycot sony and he ended up working at sega instead
this policy IS the entire reason megaman legends exists however (sony literally wouldn't let capcom make 2D megamans unless they made a 3D one first), so I guess even douchebag company wrecking suits have their silver lining
Ok guys had to use my scanner on this because google had never heard of it. Would be nice to find someone else who have played it. Aironauts. basically is a third person flying on which the character had some kind of hang gliding with turbines or propellers (depending on the character) and firing weapons, including bullets and rockets. Based on a fictional tv show with Aironauts on the competition the cut scenes are funnies as weird. Must complete a series of challenges like air races, stuff destroying/protecting etc. after which you'll facing the stage boss to proceed to the next level. Graphics are astounding good IMO, same with the music, sports reporter speech, and control.
Whenever a thread like this comes up most people link "LSD: Dream Emulator" but I feel like they are skimming over other Osamu Sato games just to go for the one that is common knowledge. Another OSD game that I think is pretty cool in terms of concept is Rhythm'N'Face.
In Rhythm'N'Face, Osamu Sato attempts to combine early computer art (think using tangrams) with a Rhythm game. That sounds like a complete disaster, but it's actually pretty fun. You control a tiny dot that can resize itself and change shape, and follows in line after the computer shows you where to go. You can do slight deviance from just copying what the computer does to a very minimal damage to your high score, allowing you to create all kinds of wacky faces by changing a few shapes. If you like the weird instruments and synth in LSD, you'll likely like the soundtrack to Rhythm'N'Face, as it's mostly recognizable music remixed in true OSD fashion that amps up the bigger combo you get. Despite all this though, the game is brutally hard for a rhythm game, and there aren't many stages. Also, while customizing the faces you draw is a feature, you can't do too much to change them from what the game wants you to make.
Overall, A really cool concept that should be checked out, I just wish somebody or possibly even Osamu himself looked at the idea and made a even better game out of it
Gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN7spVgAJF8 (The guy really sucks at this game but it's good quality and commentary free)
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