The 16-bit era was a great time to be a gamer. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or Super Famicom in Japan) had a plethora of games that were never released outside of Japan. While some of the games we’re going to talk about are great, others are not so great and no, we won’t be talking about any games that are pornographic. While there are still a few games out there that have never been localized, the list has gotten smaller and smaller over the years. Here’s our list of the best Japan-only SNES/SFC games that never left Japan.
There are many great games from the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom era that never made the jump to America. Most of these games were brought to the West by Nintendo for their Wii Virtual Console service. However, some of the best games never even made it that far. If you’re a fan of retro Japanese games, you’ll definitely want to check these titles out.
As a fan of retro gaming, you probably know that many of the best games of the 16-bit era never made it to the West. The most famous examples include games like “Super Mario RPG” and “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.” Some games, however, are more obscure than others. Most of these Japan-only games are RPGs, so I’m going to narrow down the list to the RPGs that never left Japan.
15. Macross Super Size Fortress : Coded Valkyrie (1993)
Released in 1982, Super Dimension Fortress Macross is one of the most influential mecha anime of its time. And this shooter is up to the task, with some of the best gameplay on the Super Famicom. based on the timeline of the parallel world of Macross: Do You Remember Love, this game lets you choose one of three pilots with unique shooting patterns to pilot the variable VF-1 Valkyrie fighter jet. It’s challenging, but compelling enough for anyone with no experience in shooting games. Provided they have stamina.
14. Magical Pop’n (1995)
If you like Castlevania-like gameplay but can’t do anything with the dark, dystopian gothic aesthetic, you should play Magical Pop’n. This action platform game shines with attractive interactive backgrounds and vibrant graphics. The controls are fast and the battles are exciting, making the game hard to put down. And that’s just as well, because the game mysteriously has no save function. Depending on the weapons you acquire, you unlock new ways to progress through the game, increasing the value of repeated play.
13. Tales of Phantasia (1995)
Tales of Phantasia holds a special place in my heart, as it is my favorite JRPG franchise of all time. This old-school RPG already had everything that makes the Tales series so appealing, including a typical high-fantasy setting, a fantastic story, and lots of Japanese anime/manga style characters. The battle system was also very dynamic, even if the AI of the allies was downright stupid. Try it if you like this kind of game.
12. Laguna Bahamut (1996)
Named after the most famous boss/sommelier in the Final Fantasy series, this tactical RPG from Square lets you raise dragons to command in an ongoing campaign against the invading Granbelos Empire. Each dragon can evolve into different forms depending on the items, weapons, armor or accessories you give it. Despite relatively good sales in Japan and praise for its creative gameplay and likeable characters, the game remains stuck in Japan to this day.
11. The Great Battle V (1995)
Banpresto’s The Great Battle was a very popular series on the Super Famicom. And his fifth may be the best part. In the game, you can choose one of four playable characters, each of which is a super deformed version (aka Chibi) of a giant robot or anime superhero like Gundam and Kamen Rider. In addition to the action-platform gameplay the series is known for, TGV has added shooting segments in the gallery, similar to Wild Guns, that fit well into the Wild West setting. With colorful graphics and a fantastic two-player co-op mode, this game is a joy to play even if you can’t read Japanese.
10. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (1996)
Audiences around the world were introduced to the strategic battles of Fire Emblem in the 2003 GBA game of the same name. But this was actually the seventh volume in the series, which has only been released in Japan so far. One of the best from this old era is Genealogy of the Holy War, the fourth installment in the franchise. The game combines fantastic tactical gameplay, an exciting story and engaging characters. If you want to experience it for yourself, I recommend this translation patch.
9. seriesFront plate: The Danger of Guns (1996)
As a kid, I always loved the swordplay in the classic Mega Man X games. So when I saw Gun Hazard for the first time, I was excited, to say the least. This game offers an immersive experience that replaces most of the tactical elements of the original Front Mission game with action on the ground aboard your Wanzer. By destroying enemies and completing missions, you earn EXP and money to upgrade your two-legged walker. You can choose the weapons and defenses you want to equip your mecha with to bombard the enemy your way.
8. Rockman & Forte (1998)
There were a lot of great MegaMan games on the SNES. But the best MegaMan game on Nintendo’s 16-bit machine never left Japan. Graphically, Rockman & Forte is very similar to MegaMan 8, but in terms of gameplay it’s a completely different beast. In addition to being able to play as two completely different characters, the game also changes the approach to boss fights. In the past, you could easily remember their patterns and plan accordingly. But in this game they are much more chaotic and unpredictable, forcing you to adapt quickly. The game was eventually released abroad under the name MegaMan & Bass (2003) for the GBA. The Super Famicom version, however, is the better of the two. Especially when it comes to the visual aspect.
7. Ocean of stars (1996)
The Star Ocean franchise was introduced to Western audiences in 1991 with the second volume, SO : The second story for Sony’s PlayStation. Unfortunately, the original game for the Super Famicom was never released abroad. And we had to wait for the remake for PSP, Star Ocean: First Departure (2008) – to get to know this fantastic JRPG. His contributions to the JRPG genre include Private Action. These events, rich in dialogue, allow you to get to know each member of your group better. It was a great way to give their companions a sense of purpose, and soon other series picked up on the idea. If you want to experience this game in all its 16-bit glory, check out this translated patch.
6. Super Bomberman 5 (1997)
If you’re a fan of Bomberman, you probably remember Super Bomberman 3 on the SNES as one of the best games in the series. But it was the last SNES game to be released abroad. It’s a shame, because Super Bomberman 5 blows everything out of the water: more maps, more characters, better graphics, etc. It features a fantastic single player campaign with two different endings depending on your completion level. Moreover, the game offers the possibility to play in multiplayer mode: 13 different levels with great tricks and the same high playing pace. In addition to the nine basic characters, you’ll find a character creation game exclusive to SB5. Probably one of the most fun Bomberman games in the entire franchise. If you can find the translation, you should definitely try it.
5. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing : Duel Without End (1996)
Endless Duel, based on MS Gundam Wing (1995), is a great action movie with fantastic gameplay that would be an absolute hit if released outside of Japan. In this game, a number of tough Gundams with large, highly detailed sprites compete against each other in a fast-paced Marvel vs. Capcom. The story mode is pretty good, even if it gets pretty damn hard towards the end. And the multiplayer is a real asset that will keep you hooked for hours. Whether you’re a fan of Gundam Wing or have never heard of the series, this game is one of the best action games on the Super Famicom.
4. Pistol: Proof of fire (1997)
Gunple combines the adventurous spirit of a Legend of Zelda game with the thrill of a top-down shooter: Gunman’s Proof is one of the most attractive games from the Super Famicom. The game can be classified as a quirky western, similar to Wild ARMs on the PlayStation. It combines the classic appeal of the American Wild West with futuristic technology and a science-fiction story featuring aliens. There are a few puzzles in the game, but the main thing is to shoot bad guys left and right. With eight dungeons to explore and many weapons to try out, this game is easy to pick up, but almost impossible to put down.
3. Seiken Densetsu III (1995)
If there’s one thing I’ll never forgive Square for, it’s that the third volume of the Mana series remained a Japanese exclusive for so long. The game is very similar to its predecessor, the SNES RPG Secret of Mana. But for some reason, they decided to reduce the number of co-op players in this game from three to two. But it’s still one of the best multiplayer options in SFC. And now you can play this game in English as part of the Collection of Mana on Nintendo Switch. There is also a remake of this game, Trials of Mana, with charming 3D graphics and the same excellent gameplay.
2. Dragon Quest V: The hand of the heavenly woman (1992)
The Dragon Warrior game series was also very popular outside of Japan during the NES era. However, when it came time to switch to the 16-bit version, Enix simply couldn’t invest in localization – and the series was lost to Western audiences for years. Dragon Quest V is the second game in the Zenithian trilogy. This is an adult story that follows the main character through most of his life, from birth to adolescence to fatherhood. In addition to the bright and colorful graphics, the game has added some interesting new elements to the traditional Dragon Quest formula, including the monster-catching mechanism. This was the inspiration for the Dragon Quest monster series. And if you want to try Dragon Quest 5 without learning Japanese, you can find the English patch here.
1. Live A Live (1994)
If you’re a little tired of the classic, almost dogmatic gameplay of games like Dragon Quest and the early Final Fantasy games, Live A Live is a game you should definitely try. In this unusual JRPG, you’ll experience seven unique scenarios, each focusing on a new character in a different time period – including prehistory, the Japanese War Festival, the American Wild West, and the distant future. Sounds kind of strange, doesn’t it? These heroes have different skills and challenges to overcome, meaning the gameplay and battles in these campaigns are very different. By completing each campaign individually, you will witness the true ending and be able to bring down the hammer of justice on Odio, the main villain of Live A Live. If you’re a die-hard Super Nintendo fanatic, you should definitely check this out. And even if you don’t like Japanese, there’s always an English patch you can play with.So you’ve been saving your money for months to buy that re-released, fully-loaded, 100% authentic Japanese Super Famicom Classic Mini but it’s currently out of stock everywhere in your country. What do you do? This is a common dilemma for gamers looking to pick up a console from outside of their own region, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. (In this case, literally.) Inside, we’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best-looking, most interesting, and highly-desirable Japan-only Super Famicom games that you’re guaranteed to love if you can actually track them down.. Read more about super famicom games you can play without knowing japanese and let us know what you think.
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