A brief look at some of the over- looked

A brief look at some of the overlooked, underappreciated,
or Japan-only games for this
wonderful console.
2014, 4chan.org/vr/
/vr/ 2014
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 coop 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
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.
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.
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 lesserknown 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 minigame 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.
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Rakugaki Showtime is a Japan-only, Treasuredeveloped 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.
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-thecentury 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 turnbased 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.
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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 firstperson 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.
Soul of the Samurai is a forgotten Konamideveloped 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.
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.
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.
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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 textheavy.
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 goodquality anime scenes for a game of its time.
Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring was a pretty wellknown 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
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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
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 simtype 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.
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.
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.
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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.
Time Bokan Series: Bokan to Ippatsu! Doronbo
is a vertical 2D shooter based on the classic
Japanese Time Bokan anime series, about timetravelling 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.
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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 oldschool 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.
Finger Flashing is a puzzle-shooter hybrid presented with 2D sprites moving on verticallyscrolling 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 FLASHINGFINGER.
Die Hard Trilogy. Made by the long-since defunct
Critical Depth, from SingleTrac, the same peo-
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.
ple 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 subgenre 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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
Kuru Kuru Marumaru is a driving sim with a
unique, cartoony visual style that is very wellrealized. You play as a teenage boy who wants
to obtain his driver’s license to impress girls,
basically. Unfortunately the seemingly normallooking 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.
KUUGA 2001
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.
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
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..
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 turnbased 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 animeish 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.
/vr/ 2014
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.
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 washedout 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
/vr/ 2014
Addie no Okurimono: To Moze from Addie is a JPonly 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.
Hoshi no Oka Gakuen Monogatari: Gakuensai.
This dating sim is quite popular in Japan among
PS minor games.
Your character arrives to his new school during
the time of the cultural festival and he will have to
help the different girls in the campus with the decorations for their classrooms and
The production values might be kinda low for this kind of game, but it’s quite fun and
finding different materials for the decorations make the game a unique experience.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
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.
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
Love Love Torokko (Love Love Truck) is a mine-
Bealphareth is an isometric, third-person dun-
cart-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.
geon 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.
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 singleplayer 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
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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
Tail Concerto is a 3D action-platformer starring
Sonic Wings Special is a vertical console shmup
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.
that combines aspects of the first three Sonic
Wing games, bringing together a total of 14 pilots, each with an extra unlockable aircraft. Coop 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.
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 attractivelooking game, cinematic in a way that current
AAA titles aren’t, almost telling a story without
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
/vr/ 2014
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
PoPoRoGue is a Japan-only JRPG and the direct
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.
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.
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.
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 procedurallygenerated, and interestingly, all your secondary party members can be hired out as
mercenaries to carry out missions and return to you with rewards.
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.
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.
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.
/vr/ 2014
PoPoLoCrois II also exists for the PSX, but it is actually the third game in the series.
Night Striker is a Japan-only scaling “3D” shooter
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.
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.
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.
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
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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 pseudoseventies 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, oneperson business. Ironically
the game is perfect for
unwinding after a long
day of work thanks
to its presentation
and slow pace.
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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 BBQgoers 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.
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, gridbased, isometric SRPG battles.
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
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.
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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
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.
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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.
Koukidou Gensou Gunparade March. Well, this
one is quite a unique piece, kinda like every
game made by Alfa System.
It’s kinda hard to describe the genre, the game
mixes school simulation like Persona 3 with
SRPG battles where you control giant robots
against alien monsters that are destroying
Earth.While you dont have assignments your
character can roam freely in the city or the base/
school and meet NPC’s that will have their own schedules, the player can use those
moments to bond with the different characters and this will have differents effects
in the battlefield. It’s a pretty complex game so dont expect to play it without knowing japanese and even with that... you maybe will need to check a walkthrough, because there’s just a lot of things to do in this game.
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
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.
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
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LAYOUT: capey [email protected]
Mail me for the indesign file if you want to use
it as a template for your own recommendation chart
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