Saturday, November 7, 2009

Final Fantasy XIV Beta Key To Be Included in Final Fantasy XIII (sorta)

Final Fantasy XIV FFXIV Beta


Yeah, you read that right!


Reports (mainly leaked scans from Jump Magazine) are showing that a Final Fantasy XIV “Campaign Code” (which really means “Beta Code”) will be included in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XIII, which will be released December 17th of this year!


source



Japanese Game Source should have access to FFXIII by the end of the year, and we will continue to bring you updates on the both FFXIII and the FFXIV Beta. You can expect a full review by the end of January, so be sure to check back regularly.


If you’re interested in getting Final Fantasy XIII, and getting into the Final Fantasy XIV Beta, then you can buy Final Fantasy XIII now to enjoy the next upcoming Final Fantasy titles.


Update: The "campaign code" is a code that allows you to sign up for the beta, but it doesn't guarantee you'll get in. It's a pass that allows you to apply. Better than nothing, I suppose, but not all that great. It does still come with the free item when the full game comes out, though!

Have fun playing! -Kuro Matsuri

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Japanese Game Source is now open!

Kuro Matsuri Games has moved to Japanese Game Source. All of the content worth keeping from this site will be moved over, but all of the content here will still stay here. But, any new updates will be done there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Japanese Video Game Console: Wonderswan Color

Japanese Video Game Console Wonderswan Color

The Wonderswan Color was released by Bandai in Japan only at the end of December 2000. Bandai made several consoles that never made it out of Japan, including the predecessor to the Wonderswan Color, simply called the Wonderswan.

The Wonderswan Color was better than the Gameboy Color in many ways, but it was not quite as good as the Gameboy Advance. It did have one edge over the original GBA, though, and that's battery life. The Wonderswan Color could last up to 20 hours on a single AA battery, which is pretty impressive. It also debuted at a particularly low price, around $60 new. Thanks to the low price and it's one year lead on the GBA, it was ALMOST a threat to Nintendo!

But, the Wonderswan Color was somewhat lacking in games when compared to the Nintendo handhelds. It had a few excellent games, especially since Square Enix agreed to remake Final Fantasy I, II, III, and IV for the system. It did manage to exceed a total of 100 games, including, but not limited to, RockMan (MegaMan here in the states), Guilty Gear, Super Robot Wars, and Gundam games. So, in short, it's not the best library, but it certainly isn't bad. And that's before factoring in the backwards compatibility with the original Wonderswan!

Of course, since the console was only released in one region, region protection isn't an issue. Then again, you still have to import everything you play on it since none of it was released here.

Now, the console is more of a collector's item since most of the games were later ported to the GBA or other systems, but just to further entice the collector in you, there were a few limited release Wonderswan Color packages. There was the Final Fantasy I Limited Edition Box Set and the Final Fantasy II Limited Edition Box Set, compliments of Square Enix, provided that you are willing to pay the premium for it. Still, the console by itself is an interesting collector's item that can still be enjoyed for a pretty low price. It may even turn some heads if you play it out in public!

Play-Asia options:
Buy WonderSwan Color Console - Pearl Pink at Play-Asia.com (currently in stock)
Buy Wonderswan Color Console and Games at Play-Asia.com (for the others that might be in stock later)

Amazon options:



Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Play Asia Current Deals 10/11/2009

Pretty much the best place to get import games at this point. The second best option is National Console Support, but they honestly tend to be a little more expensive and they very rarely have sales like Play Asia does. So, this particular post is just to highlight a few sales going on at Play Asia right now.

Soldner X Collector's Edition Play Asia
Play Asia has the Soldner X Collector's Edition Box Set for PC for an excellent price. $9.90 plus shipping and handling. That makes it about the same price as downloading the game on your home console, but you get a nice limited edition physical copy instead. Not to mention that the game is honestly a lot of fun, so go buy S├Âldner-X: Himmelsst├╝rmer [Limited Edition] (PC CD-ROM) at Play-Asia.com =P

Final Fantasy XIII Play Asia
You'll have to import Final Fantasy XIII if you don't like the English voice acting or if you want Final Fantasy XIII before it comes out Spring of next year, assuming it's on time since GameStop seems to think that it won't be released until late June... not that GameStop is always accurate either... and here's your chance to get it for slightly cheaper than you would have otherwise. The game's price in Japan is over $90, but Play Asia is willing to sell it to those who preorder for $90, which will bump up to $95 right before the game gets released. So, if you were going to get it anyway, go ahead and preorder Final Fantasy XIII so you can save yourself $5.


If you would like to search for a few deals on your own, feel free to head over to Play-Asia.com and see what they have! ^_^

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tokyo Game Show 2009 PSP Games

The PSP got more love than anybody else this year, and it shows!



While I saw no more than 5 noteworthy new games on other platforms, I counted a total of 12 for the PSP! So, let's get down to it:

Valkyria Chronicles 2

The sequel to the PS3 title, Sega thought it would be better to put it on the PSP. Perhaps the third will be on the PS3 again? I'm not sure. Still, despite being on a significantly weaker platform, the graphics still look pretty nice.



The Last Ranker

Yet another new RPG, The Last Ranker finds itself on the PSP. It has the graphics to be great, but does it have the story? I suppose we'll have to find out and see.



Naruto Shippuden: Narutimate Accel 3

Naruto comes back to the PSP, and everybody loves Naruto! Well, you would think so based on the number of games he has, at least. Still, this impressive-looking-at-least-on-the-surface title might be something worth playing.



Minna No Tennis

Japanese for Everyone's Tennis, will this game live up to it's name? Not everybody likes tennis, especially in video game form, so it's hard to say.



.hack//Link

A new entry in the LOOOOONG .hack series. If you've been keeping up with it, you'll probably want this one, too, as the story does seem fairly epic. However, if you haven't been keeping up with them, this one might be too little too late.



Echochrono (or Echoshift)

It seems as though this game can't decide what it wants to be called. At it's announcement, it was called Echochrono, but a couple days later it was changed to Echoshift. Well, either way, it's the successor to Echochrome, a unique puzzle game that challenged your perception of space. This puzzle title chooses to challenge your perception of time instead with intriguing results.



Dynasty Warriors 6

There's not really much to say about Dynasty Warriors... more of the same, but it's on the PSP this time. Good for some, boring for others. Which category do you fall into?



Disgaea Infinite

Another humorous entry in the Disgaea series appears on the PSP, and flan seems to be a central theme for some reason... Well, it seems to me that this is one of those games that you'll either love or hate.



Darius Burst

A futuristic space shooter for the PSP... because you can never have too many futuristic space shooters. Classic gaming demands this to be true!



Danball Senki

Is it an anime? Is it a video game? I can't tell anymore, but it appears that every little kid now has miniature robots they can fight with. Challenge the other kids to a mini remote controlled fight so that you may have all of the glory!



Crystal Defenders

Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders has been available on the PS3 for some time, but now you'll be able to play it on your PSP as well! Hey, it's a fun tower defense game, so why not?



Angel Senki

An MMO on a PSP? Really? Well, that's what it claims... though it seems that it's also available on the PS3 via PSN. So, a PS3 title? A PSP title? Or both? I'll have to keep an eye on this one and let you know later.



Well, that sums up the new stuff from TGS this year.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tokyo Game Show 2009 PS3 Games

Here's one of the big 3 this year!



The DS, the PS3, and the PSP seemed to get all of the attention, with a heavy focus on the PSP, to be honest. But, here are some great new PS3 titles to look forward to.

Yakuza 4 (Ryu ga Gotoku 4)

Called Yakuza in the USA and Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, the 3rd one hasn't even made it to our shores yet, but the 4th one was recently announced for Japan at TGS this year. Thus the reason for importing. Who knows, though there are supposedly plans to release 3 on PSN, we may never get 3 or 4 in the states.



Star Ocean: The Last Hope: International

The international version of Star Ocean: The Last Hope has been announced as a PS3 exclusive, surprisingly coming straight to the US shores, unlike previous Square Enix International Versions (Final Fantasy VII International and Final Fantasy XII International, I'm talking about you). In fact, you can even pre-order it!



Resonance of Fate (End of Eternity)

Called Resonance of Fate in the US and End of Eternity in Japan, this ambitious RPG was actually announced a few months before TGS, but they released a nice new trailer for it at TGS. It's time to meet all of the characters, and they do look pretty! (also available on Xbox 360)



Nier Replicant

The PS3 exclusive version of Square Enix's new IP, Nier. With a decidedly avant-garde style to it, it looks like an exciting title. Let's see what else Square Enix does with it, especially since there is both a PS3 exclusive version and an Xbox 360 exclusive version.



Hustler King

I almost don't want to put this one in here. A pool game? Really? Oh well, pool is still fun... I just don't see how it could beat the real thing, which is generally pretty accessible for most people, at least in the US.



Other PS3 news from TGS!

Gran Turismo 5 has a release date for Japan. It's coming March 2010, assuming that you believe that they won't delay it.

Sony has announced a limited edition Final Fantasy XIII PS3 Slim! Too bad it's pink and white:

Photobucket

Sony's motion controller seems to be set for a Spring 2010 release, and there will be several PS3 titles that will be re-released with motion controller functionality, mainly Resident Evil 5, PAIN, Flower, and Little Big Planet, as well as some all new titles that feature the functionality like Ape Escape, EchoChrome 2, and Tower. We'll see how good it turns out when it's released.

Next up is the behemoth PSP post, which will probably have to wait until tomorrow due to time constraints. School + work + being sick + TGS can suck away your time like nothing else.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tokyo Game Show 2009 Wii and Xbox 360

Wii price cut and new Xbox 360 games



Well, the only real news on the Wii is the price cut. It's dropped down to $199 now, but there were no interesting games announced for the Wii. It's unfortunate because Japan often gets a lot of cool Wii exclusives, but not this year, unfortunately.

So, onto the Xbox 360 games.

Nier Gestalt

Square Enix has decided to do something interesting with Nier. There will be Nier Gestalt for the Xbox 360, and Nier Replicant for the PS3. The main difference seems to be who you play as. For Nier Gestalt, you will be playing as a father trying to save his daughter. The style is very avant garde, and it looks like a very fun game.



Ninety Nine Nights 2

The sequel to Ninety Nine Nights has been announced. I never played the first one, to be honest, but the sequel does look like it has some potential.



Mushihimesama Futari Ver. 1.5

An odd helf-sequel, this danmaku shooter (Japanese for Curtain Fire) is a niche release from Cave for those who just can't get enough of bullets absolutely everywhere. Actually, it's already available for pre-order!



That's actually about it for the Xbox 360. Some good stuff, but since it's Japan, most of the good stuff is for the PSP and PS3, which is coming up soon!

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tokyo Game Show 2009 iPhone, Mobile, and PC Games

2 of Each, Just How Interesting Are They? You Be The Judge



First, let's start off with the iPhone.

Sliding Heroes

In this "Action Strategy" game, you control a small troop of heroes, and you guide them through dungeons by using the tilt functionality of the iPhone. You tilt, the heroes slide, thus Sliding Heroes.



Hills and Rivers Remain

A strategy title with decidedly less action than Sliding Heroes, this one focuses on castle-like junctions that are there for the purpose of defending and attacking. Not bad for the iPhone.



Next, we'll move on to games that appear on other mobile devices, meaning, most likely, they'll never appear in the USA. But, as you might notice, it's probably not too big of a loss.

Kyaba Shoppi

Choose your outfit and becoming the most beautiful girl at the restaurant so creepy guys can stare at you with creepy sparkles in their eye! ... I'm not so sure about this one...



Danball Senki

A somewhat cheezy anime-styled game where you battle tiny robots against other kids' tiny robots. The cutscenes look pretty good for a phone app, but if you're going for looks, you might want to look into the PSP version anyway.



Last, but certainly not least, the PC games.

Crash Time 3

Because crashing is fun when you don't get hurt. This game is all about the crashing, so go out, crash, and crash some more. This one will also be available on PS3, Xbox 360, and the DS (because it makes sense, I swear!)



Gyromancer

Square Enix tries to leverage it's experience with RPG's and expand into puzzle games. This strange combo could very well be strangely compelling, especially since individually, these two genres probably eat up an average gamer's time more than any other genre. Combined, you will have no life at all! Well, only if it really turns out that good.



Next up is Wii and Xbox 360, but they'll have to wait until tomorrow, methinks.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tokyo Game Show 2009 DS Games

DS Games of Interest at TGS 09



These are the DS games that caught my eye. New announcements with debut trailers tend to catch my eye more than anything else, and that's what I would like to bring you today.

Okamiden

Not actually a new announcement, but Okamiden is an installment in the Okami series, but this one is for the DS. The gameplay for Okami seems almost tailor made for a touchscreen, so I have high hopes for this one.



Ninokuni

Miyazaki is doing games now? Well, sorta. Studio Ghibli has been contracted by Level 5 to provide all of the art for this game, and it looks beautiful!



Montessori Music

I have mixed feelings about this game. On one hand, I love music games... on the other hand, educational games tend to bore me (with very few exceptions). Combine them, and you get Montessori Music, which I will either love or hate.



Ghost Trick

Now, this game looks interesting. I usually enjoy a good puzzle game (which is what this appears to be), and I love the music in this trailer. This one will be one to keep an eye on.



Cross Treasures

Square Enix is arguably the king of the RPG, so when they join forces with someone, it's usually noticed. This time, Square Enix joins forces with V Jump, a magazine that talks about new manga and video games related to manga, to create a new RPG for the DS called Cross Treasures. Looks promising, as most Square Enix RPGs do. Not all SE RPG's actually turn out well, though, so we'll have to see on this one.



iPhone, Mobile, and PC titles are coming up next.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 2009 Started Today!

My Favorite Video Game Expo Started Today...



And due to being sick for the past three days or so, I am bogged down with work... but I will still be scanning all the news coming out of TGS to bring you any exciting information on import titles that I can.

Much like AWA (which I was actually able to attend, unlike TGS, unfortunately), I'll be reporting mainly threw my Twitter account: twitter.com/KuroMatsuriGame, and I will post a large summation post here when the event is over. I expect that this post will be extremely large... so it might be broken into parts, but they will be posted pretty close to each other.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter to get the latest news that I've been able to find! ^_^

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AWA XV 2009 Follow-up!

In short, AWA was awesome!



Now for a little more detail. Of course, AWA stands for Anime Weekend Atlanta, so it is focused on anime, not video games. But there are a couple vendors there that sell import video games, and the video game room has a few imports that you can play for free (provided that you are willing to stand in line for a turn).

Probably the best way for me to show off what I have seen at AWA is to show you pictures. There aren't a whole lot of them, but as I said, there wasn't a WHOLE lot of video game stuff... but certainly enough to keep my attention for a little while.

I saw an import console that I have never seen in person before... and it was for sale! Too bad I couldn't afford it ;_;

Bandai Playdia

Bandai Playdia 2

It's called the Playdia, and it's made by Bandai. Yes, that is a wireless controller. That console was released only in Japan in 1994, 11 years after the Famicom and 4 years after the Super Famicom. Considering that, it's 8 bit graphics were extremely dated, but the wireless controller is impressive! Also, the only publisher who ever made any games for it was Bandai. Nobody else wanted to, which is never a good sign. But what a collector's item! Too bad I didn't have $90 for a useless console. You can buy the Playdia console here if they have it in stock... which, honestly, they usually don't. You could always sign up for automatic email alerts to let you know when they do get one in stock, though.


The seller who had the Playdia also had two games for it.

Playdia DBZ Game
Buy Dragon Ball Z: Shin Saiyajin Zetsumetsu Keikaku: Chikyuu-hen (Playdia) at Play-Asia.com if they have it in stock.



Buy Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S: Quiz Taiketsu! Sailor Power Kesshuu (Playdia) at Play-Asia.com, again, only if they have it in stock... these games and console are really rare.


These two totaled to $90 as well. The seller was willing to offer a cheaper combined price, but seeing as how I couldn't afford one or the other separately, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford a bundle, even if it was discounted.

I did buy one thing from that seller, though! A rare, boxed copy of Mario To Wario (the "To" is pronounced like "Toe" and means "And") that was only released for the Super Famicom in Japan!

Mario To Wario

It's a puzzle game where you control Wanda (the fairy thing) by mouse, and you guide Mario to safety (and to Luigi) because Wario put a bucket on his head, and Mario just can't get the bucket off by himself! It's a silly premise, yes, but the game is pretty fun, and it's all in English! Very import friendly. You can buy the game without the mouse here or with the mouse here, but, again, they rarely have them in stock.



The same seller (again!) had a pretty nice selection of imported PS1 games.

Japanese PS1 Games
Buy Games for PSone™ at Play-Asia.com


"Who is this seller?", you might ask. It's Mad-Gear! He's lacking in import games recently due to the higher exchange rate, but he's still got a few golden gems, and it seems he'll occasionally take special requests if he can find the exact game you want.

In the video game room, there were a couple of import titles. Most notable was Melty Blood and Beatmania IIDX (shown below)

IIDX Gold
Buy Beatmania IIDX Gold in standard edition, Konamistyle Special Edition, or Konamistyle Special Edition Complete, once more, none of these are in stock right now. Go figure.

There were also a collection of different card games you could purchase, which is somewhat related to video games... sorta.

card games galore

Last, but not least (well, probably least to some... but not to me!), video game related cosplay!

Taokaka BlazBlue
Toakaka from BlazBlue

Sephiroth Final Fantasy VII
Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII

Jam Milia Rage Guilty Gear
Jam and Milia Rage (from left to right) from Guilty Gear. They made sure to inform me that they were not wearing all of the costume that they had brought along because it was just getting too uncomfortable... but it still looks pretty good as is!

Auron Final Fantasy X
Auron from Final Fantasy X

Ness Puala Jeff Poo Earthbound
From left to right: Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo, all from Earthbound. I actually know the guy cosplaying as Poo!

Well, I think that sums everything up. I'm already looking forward to next year, which I will undoubtedly be covering in my blog and on Twitter once again!

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

note: images now fixed

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) Starts Tomorrow!

The Second Biggest Convention In Atlanta Starts Tomorrow



And while that doesn't directly relate to import video games, it does relate indirectly to it. I will be keeping my eye open for any interesting import video game items available there, especially in the dealer's room.

I hope you look forward to the stuff I can find!

My personal AWA coverage will be available on Twitter HERE (feel free to follow my twitter account while you're at it ^_^)

For more information about the convention, visit the AWA Official Website

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, September 14, 2009

Learning Japanese

How do you go about doing it? Especially on your own?



Kanji Dictionary DS

Well, the best way is a combination of self-teaching, formal classes, and a native Japanese speaker to practice active conversations with. Well, the BEST way is to live in Japan for a while, but the above is the best way without actually leaving your home country.

Many of us do not have access to formal classes or a native Japanese speaker. If you don't have access to these, you'll have to rely on books and imported entertainment (like video games!) to help you learn Japanese.

For grammar, there are plenty of books that will teach you good Japanese grammar. The same is true of vocabulary. Where I had the biggest problem, personally, was learning Kanji, those really complicated pictograph-style characters.

The best book that I have found for teaching Kanji is Remembering the Kanji by Heisig. Well, it's actually a three part series of books. The first book teaches you the meanings of around 2000 Kanji... and you don't even need to know Japanese to learn them. The theory is that it's MUCH easier to remember all of them if you learn the meanings and the pronunciations separately. The second volume then teaches you the pronunciations of the same 2000 Kanji. The third book adds another 1000 less-used Kanji or so and teaches you the meaning and the pronunciations, again, separately.

On top of that, there is one tool that is almost indispensable when practicing your Japanese in video games, and that's an electronic Kanji dictionary. The cheapest way to get one that recognizes handwriting (very important for finding characters you are unfamiliar with!) is to get Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten for the DS. It is sometimes called Kanji DS Dictionary, and it is exactly that, an electronic Kanji dictionary for the DS. It's worth every penny, especially when you consider that dedicated Kanji dictionaries can cost several hundred dollars.

To buy Remembering the Kanji: Volume 1, try HERE
To buy Remembering the Kanji: Volume 2, try HERE
To buy Remembering the Kanji: Volume 3, try HERE
To buy Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten, try HERE

Have fun learning!
-Kuro Matsuri

Friday, September 11, 2009

Import Video Game News: Gundam 30th Anniversary PS3 Slim Bundle

Gundam 30th Anniversary PS3 Slim



Gundam PS3 Slim

Earlier I had stated that I hoped that Japan gets different colors of the PS3 slim like red, green, blue, purple, or other more interesting colors than black, white, and grey. Really, I hope either the US or Japan get that, but I think it's more likely for Japan.

Well, this is the next best thing. Well, kinda the third best thing since the second best thing would be a PS3 Slim with some sort of customization or something on it. It's a special Gundam 30th Anniversary PS3 Slim Bundle. While the PS3 itself is just a standard PS3 Slim, it comes with a First Print Edition of Mobile Suit Gundam Senki Avant and, of course, special box art. Mobile Suit Gundam Senki Avant is the Japanese equivalent of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Some hate it, some love it. I suppose this bundle is for those who love it.

If you're interested in the bundle, try HERE (THIS PRODUCT SELLS OUT QUICKLY!)

If you're interested in just the game, try HERE


Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

News: Final Fantasy XIII Japanese Release Date and Price!

Final Fantasy XIII now has a release date and a price!



Well, it does for Japan, at least.

A YouTube Flash-based ad was discovered that showed the release date, and with some careful URL editing, this exact image was discovered:

FFXIII Release Date

So, December 17th is the release date, and it has been confirmed by Square Enix already. When they confirmed it, they also announced the price. 8800 Yen, which translates to about $95... ouch. But there is only a general release date for the US (Spring 2010... at least that's what they're "aiming" for), so if you want the game months before your friends, or you just want it as soon as possible, importing it is the only way to do so.

The good news is that you can preorder the game for a little less than the launch price right now through Play-Asia.com. They have it available for $89.90, a price that will be available until Dec. 12, 2009, at which point the price will go back up to $94.90.

To pre-order Final Fantasy XIII, try HERE

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, August 24, 2009

Import Video Game Review: Keyboardmania

Import Video Game Review: Keyboardmania for the PlayStation 2



Keyboardmania PS2 cover art



I hope you enjoy the review!

If you like the game, and you're interested in buying it, try HERE, but keep in mind that it doesn't come with the controller, which you'll likely have to search eBay for.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coming Soon: Katamari Damacy Tribute

Import Video Game: Katamari Damacy Tribute for the PS3



Katamari Damacy Tribute

As the game title "Everybody Loves Katamari Damacy" points out, everybody loves Katamari Damacy! And here's a new entry in the series to prove it. Katamari Damacy Tribute (called Katamari Forever in the US) is already available in Japan, and it will be available in the US on September 22. What's more, this is a PS3 exclusive, and as such, the Japanese copy can be played on any American PS3! The game is rather import friendly as well, as long as you can understand the pictures that describe the controls and you can figure out what exactly you're trying to roll up (usually everything).

What's different about this one?
1) During at least part of the game, the King of the Cosmos is a robot. I'm really not sure why.
2) There are now power-ups in the game, such as an item that turns your ball into a magnet and draws anything that you can roll up directly to you from a fair distance away. Pretty useful, especially at certain times.
3) You can jump!
4) There also appears to be a 2 player co-op mode, which I believe is a first for the series (unless Beautiful Katamari included it, but I don't think it did).
5) True 1080p graphics! Though, with the admittedly simple style, that's probably not a huge deal.



However, possibly the biggest draw of this new one is the new graphical filters that have been included, allowing you to have everything cel-shaded, normal shaded, wood grain shaded, and more.



Pretty crazy stuff! If you don't have an HD Katamari Damacy yet, it's definitely worth picking one up. And why not have it now instead of a month from now?

To buy Katamari Damacy Tribute (Japanese version) now, try HERE

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Strange Japanese Arcade Games

Import video games aren't enough, lets look at some strange arcade games too!



Marine Catcher
(click the image for a closer look)

I'll be talking about 3 strange Japanese arcade games today. One called UFO Fisher, one called Funky Circus, and one called Sub Marine Catcher. Lets start off with UFO Fisher.

Catch Those Fish, Arcade Game
(click the image for a closer look)

I bet you recognize the fish in the circular thing at the bottom, don't you? Well, the fishing pole is attached to what would normally be a claw for a claw machine. You have to move the pole directly above the fish and press the button at the right time so that the pole goes all the way down, enters one of the fishes' mouths, so that the mouth closes before the pole comes back up. It's very, very, VERY hard! The reward? Anything you want that's inside the arcade machine!

Now on to Funky Circus. The game itself isn't anything particularly unusual, but what is unusual is the rewards! You win your choice of one of three items, two relatively normal items, or a porn VHS! Really? Really. In order to win something, you have to reach a total of 300 points, and the points for each slot at the bottom change each time you score points, and... and... oh, just watch the video below.



Now, last but certainly not least, Sub Marine Catcher! I've been told that this type of arcade game isn't exclusive to Japan, but it's still pretty rare outside of it. I think if you look closely you can find one in Vegas... maybe... But, anyway, it's a simply claw machine except that you are trying to catch live lobster. Yeah, really. Live lobster. What are you supposed to do with it when you catch it? Carefully take it home and eat it. What was my friend supposed to do if HE caught it? No idea. We were living in dorm rooms and had no way of cooking it... except maybe a microwave, but I truly fear the results of such an experiment...



Since you obviously can't purchase these, the usual purchase links will not be found here today, I'm afraid. If you REALLY want to buy an import game, though, you can search for something interesting here!








Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News: Playstation 3 Slim and price drop!

The PS3 Slim is REAL! And so is the price drop!



PS3 Slim

Yeah, I know, everybody and their mothers are talking about it, but it's such exciting news that I can't help it!

The Slim has been announced officially. It's new size? 33% smaller, 36% lighter, and has 34% less power usage. It does have a 120GB HDD, though! It's price? A surprising $299. What's more? If you don't want the slim and you can't wait, the fat PS3 is getting an IMMEDIATE price drop down to $299!



However, what I'm really hoping is that the Japanese release includes some unique colors to provide us importers with some options. I'm practically expecting black, white, and silver as colors pretty early on, but I'm hoping for some more interesting colors like red, blue, or green. I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, August 17, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #10: Melty Blood: Actress Again

Import Video Game: Melty Blood: Actress Again for the PlayStation 2



Melty Blood Actress Again PS2

Fast-paced, 2D, crazy comboes, what else could you ask for in a fighting game? Anime characters? Yep, got those too.

Most of the anime-styled fighting games are only available in Japan, meaning that if you want more choices in that genre, you'll have to look for import video games to satisfy your cravings. Melty Blood is one of those Japan only fighting games.

Opening movie:


This is actually the third entry in the series, but it is the only the second to be ported to a console. Each character has 3 different fighting styles that alter their moveset, meaning that while the number of characters is limited to almost 30 (which is a pretty impressive number as-is), there are nearly 90 different choices for fighting once you take into account Full Moon Style, Crescent Moon Style, and Half Moon Style (which represent Power, Speed, and Simplicity, respectively). It also provides many of mechanics that are similar to Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, both of which are really big games in this genre.

Here's a nice example of what the battles themselves are like:


What's more, this comes in either the standard edition, or the First Print Limited Edition for the die-hard collectors out there.

To buy the standard edition, try HERE

To buy the First Print Limited Edition, try HERE

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #9: Do Don Pachi Daioujou Black Label Extra

Do Don Pachi Daioujou Black Label Extra for the Xbox 360



Do Don Pachi Daioujou Black Label Extra

Everyone knows about the space shooter genre, sometimes called shoot'em ups. This is one of the extreme ones that exist only in Japan. This game is HARD! And it's supposed to be.

Games like this one have earned a nickname: danmaku. It means "curtain fire". And that's pretty much what happens. Enemy bullets FILL the screen! But, here's the catch, you only die if your cockpit gets hit (so you have a very small hitbox), and if you get completely caught without an escape, you can use a bomb to do lots of damage and make yourself temporarily invincible. Of course, you have a limited number of bombs, so you have to use them only in extreme circumstances. Below is a video of the FINAL BOSS in the game, so this is the hardest that this incredibly hard game gets, and it certainly gives you bragging rights if you beat it!



Now, the Xbox 360 port was released with a number of bugs in it, but there should be a patch available to fix the worst of them. If you simply can't stand the bugs, or don't own an Xbox 360 that can play import games (because this 360 game is completely region locked), you can get the PS2 version that is not quite as up-to-date, but still gives you a very good challenge.

To buy the Xbox 360 version, try HERE

To buy the PS2 version, try HERE

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #8: Doshin the Giant

Import Video Game: Doshin the Giant or Kyojin no Doshin for the N64 DD or the Gamecube



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Doshin the Giant is somewhat of a special case in the import world. First off, it was originally make for the Nintendo 64 Disc Drive, which was only released in Japan and never made it very far. It was later released for the GameCube with graphical enhancements. Also, the game was translated to English and released in the U.K., but it never made it to American shores, and is therefore an import game for us.

It's an cute, almost enigmatic game in which you play as a giant that can either be good or bad. When he's good, his name is Doshin and he looks like the giant on the cover of the game. During this time, is goal is to win the affection of the villagers that inhabit the randomly generated island. Doing so will make you grow larger for that day. If you get enough love from the villagers, they will build a monument for you, and that is the true goal of the game, to get villagers to build monuments to you.

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The catch, though, is that whenever you want, you can switch to the evil Jashin (pictured above). When you're playing as Jashin, your goal is to make all the villagers hate you, which will increase your size for the day. Making them hate you enough will get them to build a monument to how much they hate you.

When you get them to build all the monuments possible, you get sent to a final level in which you get one more monument built before you win the game.

The game moves slowly, but it's meant to be a relaxing game with an interesting twist for the time (the levels are randomly generated, and you play as both a good giant and an evil giant). Keep this in mind as you watch some gameplay footage shown below:







It's almost like it's a zen game or something! Very peaceful.

You can buy the Japanese GameCube version of the game HERE, for the PAL Gamecube version or the extremely rare N64 DD version, I'm afraid you'll have to look on eBay.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #7: PepsiMan

Import Video Game: PepsiMan for the PS1



PepsiMan PS1 front cover
PepsiMan PS1 back cover


So, did you know that, in Japan, Pepsi has a mascot? And his name is PepsiMan? And he drinks nothing but Pepsi? Ludicrous!

So, in this game, you travel down a set path collecting cans of Pepsi (100 per level) before the time runs out, and at the end of the level there is a Pepsi vending machine that PepsiMan uses for one last can of Pepsi. The moral of the story: in everything you do, you should drink 101 cans of Pepsi. Yeah... you try that... but don't, really.



Gotta love that theme music, though. PEPSIMAAAAAAAAN!

If you'd like to try to pick this one up, try this import video game store. Or eBay, but honestly, this store has the best price between the two at the moment.

DRINK!
-Kuro Matsuri

Friday, August 7, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #6: Time Leap

Import Video Game: Time Leap for the Xbox 360



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The entire genre of dating sim video games exist almost exclusively as import video games. One such game is Time Leap for the Xbox 360. The main protagonist is male, while almost all other protagonists are female, a very common occurrence for dating sims. You're often enticed to get along with several different girls, and eventually to choose one to have an intimate relationship with... and I'm not referring to sex. Console dating sim games avoid any explicit scenes, which are generally reserved for PC titles.

Still, the core gameplay doesn't change from PC titles to console titles. You interact with a girl, choose responses, and hope that you don't say something stupid, sometimes much like real life. The catch: unlike real life, you can always try again.



This particular dating sim game is the first to use fully animated, well, everything. Older dating sim games usually used static images during almost all interactions, and they tried to use very simple animations (such as shaking or alternating between two or three frames) combined with (admittedly impressive) audio to give the feeling that the events were occurring in real time. This one goes all out and actually fully animates all scenes, giving you the feeling of an anime that you can make decisions in to reach different goals.

As the title of the game implies, time travel is involved. There are two girls (as the image shows), one of which is a girl (named Yuu) that you've loved as a sister for a long time, the other is an older upperclassmen (named Ayumi) and one of the most popular girls in school. You don't seem to know Ayumi very well, but you want to. Well, a younger Ayumi suddenly appears in front of you because of a "Time Leap", and you try to get along with her to win her over. Rather convenient, but what happens with the current version? How does your interactions with past Ayumi effect the current Ayumi? How did this even happen? Well, you have to play to find out.

As a side note, though, Time Leap is well known, perhaps even infamous, for their cute para-para styled dances, which have appeared all over YouTube after being mirrored so that people can attempt to imitate them. Here's such an example:



Play-Asia offers this import video game in their catalog, but looking at their page, there is one important thing to note. This game is region locked and won't work on your stock US or UK Xbox 360.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coming Soon #2: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for DS



Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

So, this is probably a more well known game, but did you know this game has been available to import for over 2 months? It still has almost 2 months before it's released here. That means that you could have gotten this game 4 months sooner than all your friends, provided that you are willing to pay a little more and play the game in Japanese, which may or may not be a big deal to you. Still, it's very interesting to think about.

For those that haven't seen anything about this game yet, this game takes place in between Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II, just like Chain of Memories did. It could be argued that this happens at the same time as Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.



The great part is that it doesn't use the card system that Chain of Memories did, and it's in full 3D. It looks rather impressive for a DS game. The fighting really looks fun.



Not to mention the fact that there is multiplayer in it! This is the first Kingdom Hearts game that allows you to play with friends!



And you can buy Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days right now! Which is honestly pretty crazy.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #5: N.U.D.E.@

Import Video Game: N.U.D.E.@ or Natural Ultimate Digital Experiment for the Xbox



N.U.D.E.@

The Japanese market often gets really interesting and even experimental video games. This is one of those games. In N.U.D.E.@ (or Natural Ultimate Digital Experiment) for the Xbox, you are given a female robot, named P.A.S.S. (or Personal Assist Secretary System... I know, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense) who comes into the world with very limited knowledge. You are charged with teaching P.A.S.S. how to do a variety of tasks using voice commands. Of course, many will find P.A.S.S. to be a relatively attractive female humanoid robot... that's partially the point.

Unfortunately, this game is so rare that I was unable to find any videos of gameplay, but I was able to find the Japanese trailer, so you can at least see P.A.S.S. come to life in front of your very eyes! If anybody out there knows of a gameplay trailer on YouTube, let me know in the comments, and I'll add it in!

Edit: Well, I did have the Japanese trailer, but it was removed from YouTube. However, I did find the rare English trailer (admittedly in lower quality), and I think that will work just fine.




Where to find it:

Well, Play-Asia lists this item, but it's currently out of stock. If you would like to check their listings, go right ahead. Due to the extreme rarity of this game, it might not be in stock. Alternatively, you can try eBay, but honestly, the game is SO rare, that only a few copies show up on eBay per year. This is a real collector's item.


Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #4: Shining Force Feather

Import Video Game: Shining Force Feather for the DS



Shining Force Feather

Did you like the fights in Namco X Capcom, but you prefer an all original cast with an all original story? Well, there might be a game out there for you.

Shining Force Feather is part of the long standing Shining series that goes all the way back to the Sega Genesis. It spans multiple genres and even has an anime available called Shining Tears X Wind. So, if you pick this game up and enjoy it, there will be a fairly large backlog of games that you can check out next, a few of which were only released in Japan. To find out more about the entire Shining series, look HERE.

This game lands in the RPG section, and has a very classic JRPG feel to it, except that the fights themselves are heavily combo based. It looks rather exciting, but you don't have to take my word for it. Here's some clips of the fights themselves:







And if that intrigues you, here's a full trailer!



As of right now, there is no US release date. Will it ever be released in the US? Maybe. But there is not telling when, and it's quite possible that it will never be released outside of Japan. But you can get it right now if you want to!

Where to find it:

At the time of this posting, the best place to find it is Play-Asia because it's on sale for more than half off. After the sale ends, Play-Asia will remain the easiest place to find it, but eBay is also a viable alternative.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, August 3, 2009

Coming Soon #1: Afrika / Hakuna Matata

Afrika or Hakuna Matata for the PS3



Afrika case art

So, there's this interesting game that's been out in Japan for quite a while. It's called Afrika. It's a lot like Pokemon Snap, except that you can travel wherever you want, and you're taking pictures of animals that actually exist!

In the official Tokyo Game Show 2006 Trailer, you get to see how incredible all the animals look in-game. While, it's obviously not perfect, it's getting rather close to it!



Not sure if you're intrigued or not? Well, you can check out the nearly 9 minute gameplay video below. Be warned, though, this is the Japanese version being shown, so the beginning story won't be particular obvious unless you know Japanese.



Now, of course, non-HD YouTube videos hardly do any PS3 game justice, but you can still get a pretty good idea of how realistic it looks in full HD.

Now, admittedly, this isn't your average game. There aren't any guns, and it's more of a "safari simulator" than anything else, but it's still an impressive, relaxing, and enjoyable game!

This game should be coming to the U.S. sometime soon, but guess what! You can guess this game right now in English! It's actually the Korean version, but it is completely in English and works just fine on an American PS3! Check it out in the links below!

Where to find it:

To buy the English version (which is currently on sale!), try Play-Asia

To buy the original Japanese version (Best Hits version), try Play-Asia

To see all of the available versions, try Play-Asia

Or, alternatively, look on eBay. This one is likely fairly easy to find on eBay.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #3: Juushinden: Ultimate Beast Battlers

Import Video Game: Juushinden: Ultimate Beast Battlers for the DS



So, now that the How To Import series is over (at least for now), it's time to revive my favorite series, Interesting Import Only Games!

juushinden

So, what do you get when you combine a DS with a card game? Well, this. If you enjoyed the idea of Eye of Judgment for the PS3, then you'll probably like this game. Especially since this game is a LOT more portable then Eye of Judgment, and a LOT more people have a DS as opposed to a PS3.

Ultimate Beast Battlers 1

The basic idea is that you use a scanner to scan monster cards to do battle with either a computer player (something you definitely can't do with a normal card game) or against another player via wifi. It's a very cool, albeit very simple idea.

Here's the official trailer to give you a better idea of what's going on (admittedly with a few over the top special effects)



Please note, however, that this game is incompatible with the DSi due to the lack of a GBA slot.

You can buy a copy of the game (including the scanner) at Play-Asia (once they restock, which should be soon)

Have fun playing!
-Kuromatsuri

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How To Import Special: Handheld Consoles

Importing for the PSP, DS, and more!



Double post!

This one is so short that I didn't want to leave it for another day.

PSP

All Nintendo and Sony handheld consoles are COMPLETELY REGION FREE!!!!!!

One catch, though. For PSPs, which button is confirm or cancel is determined by the hardware. US; O = cancel, X = confirm. Japan; O = confirm, X = cancel. That can't be changed unless you hack your system, which I won't cover here since it's not necessary to play an imported game.

DSi

So, all you have to do is buy the game and put it in.

There are a few exceptions, unfortunately. A few Chinese DS games won't work on a DS from a different region due to language support issues. And then there's the matter of downloadable DSi content. DS cartridges are still region free on the DSi, but an American DSi will only let you access the American DSi download store. As of this post, there's no way around either problem. So, just in case you're interested:

Buy a Japanese DSi HERE

A Chinese DS is hard to find, but then again, so are good Chinese games that aren't available in the US or Japan. Just a matter of opinion, don't be offended if your favorite game is a China exclusive, please!

Have fun playing!
-Kuromatsuri

How To Import 301: Xbox and Xbox 360

Importing for the Xbox and the Xbox 360



First up, the original (and ENORMOUS) Xbox

generic Xbox

The only consistent way to modify an original Xbox to play import games is to install a mod chip. However, if you use Xbox Live, you'll have to find a mod chip that can be "turned off" or employs a "stealth mode" to avoid being banned for "cheating". One slip-up, and your MAC address will be banned.

Therefore, if you use Xbox Live on your original Xbox, then you might want to consider buying an imported console. Otherwise, look into getting a mod chip for it. Unfortunately, I have no experience with mod chips in Xboxes, so I can't tell you how hard it would be.

However, if you're interested in playing imported Xbox 360 games, you might be in luck! Or, conversely, you might not be... Microsoft decided to leave region protection in the hands of the game developers, so some games are region locked and others aren't.

generic Xbox 360

Some of the more popular online import stores will list the compatibility of each game on that particular game's product page. Play-Asia seems to be the best at it, so feel free to check them out.

If it just so happens that the game you want is region locked, the options revert back to the same options that the original Xbox has. Install a mod-chip and risk having the machine banned from Xbox Live or buy a Japanese console.

Buy a Japanese Xbox HERE (be warned, they are out of stock at the time of this posting)

Buy a Japanese Xbox 360 HERE (they have PLENTY of these at the time of this posting ^_^)

Have fun playing!
-Kuromatsuri

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How To Import 201: PS1, PS2, and PS3!

Importing for the PS1, the PS2, and the PS3!



Now it's time for a looooong overdue update. As such, to partially make up for it, it will be a pretty long post.

Generic PS3 image!

First, for the easy stuff. The PS3 is region free! You don't have to do ANYTHING AT ALL to your PS3 to play imported PS3 games! Furthermore, Japan and the USA are considered the same region for Blu-ray movies, so an American PS3 can play Japanese Blu-ray movies, and it works the other way around too! Not sure why they chose two countries on opposite sides of the globe to be in the same "region", but it can easily work to your advantage if you live in either of those countries. ^_^

Keep in mind, though, that if you have a PS3 that can play PS2 or PS1 games, the PS2 and PS1 games are still region protected. You'll still have to resort to another method to play those games, and it is VERY not recommended to try to do it through your PS3 as there are very few working options, they tend to require opening your console and messing with it, and some minor problems with the backwards compatibility (mainly lag) gives you a less than desirable experience for all your risks and expenditures on trying to make it work on your PS3.

Furthermore, mostly just as a note, the system usually determines whether O is confirm or cancel, and X is always whichever one that O is not. There are a number of games that force it to be one way or the other no matter what region the system is, but it can mess with your ability to but in secret codes, or it might force you to push a strange button for confirm (like in the case of Rock Band or Guitar Hero, where you might have to push Red instead of Green to select things).

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PS1 and PS2, however, are region locked, but there are a few options for getting around it. PS1 and PS2 have very similar options for playing import games. It breaks down into three main options: swapping discs or using a cheat device, installing a mod-chip, or buying a Japanese version of the console.

I'll start with installing a mod-chip. I've always liked this option, personally, but there are a LOT of risks that go along with it. It allows you to have one console that will play both Japanese and American games without any extra fuss, once the mod-chip is installed, that is. The problem is that installing a mod-chip can very easily destroy your console with one little slip-up, so it's best to get a professional to solder the mod-chip in, or just hope you get lucky and try it yourself. And then there's the grey-market problem again

My personal PS2 was destroyed with the first attempt at this, and it ended up being the most expensive possible option as a result. If you pull it off first try, it's the best option available, but that is a pretty big "if".

Then again, while PS2 mod-chips often had 30 or more wires that had to be soldered to tiny points, most PS1 mod-chips only had about 8 wires, and the solder points weren't nearly as tiny (if you have the original model). So, perhaps you should take the mod-chip plunge for a PS1, but maybe not for a PS2.


Next up is the disc-swapping methods. Very early PS1's (almost only the first few shipments) could be tricked fairly easily. By putting a spring on a particular sensor, you could trick the console into thinking it was still closed. Then you put in an official game from your region, and then when it just barely begins to load, you swap the disc with the one you actually want to play. If you have an old enough PS1, then it works for almost any game, but some of the later PS1 games had extra protection (such as Final Fantasy VIII) and won't work with this method. If you can get this method to work for you, then you're lucky, as it's the cheapest method by far for doing it.

Action Replay PS1

If you can't, then you'll have to go with a Game Enhancer like Pro Action Replay. You plug it into the I/O input and go through a series of menus. You'll still have to swap from a game from your region to the other game, but this makes it work for almost all the PS1 consoles, and even allows you to put in codes (which you'll sadly have to find on your own) that will allow you to play the games with extra protection. The catch is that later PS1 consoles (and all PSone consoles) don't have the parallel I/O port required for this method, so make sure you have one before investing in this option. You'll still need to put a spring in to trick the PS1 into thinking the case is always closed, though.

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The swap trick for the PS2 is very similar. The most commonly used swap discs are the Swap Magic series, which can be found online fairly easily. You put the disc in, follow the instructions, and then swap the disc out for the game you want to play. The catch is that you have to have a way to open the drive without the console knowing it, and that's where the problems come in. You can go with a flip-top (pictured above, will void your warranty, won't work on all models), a slide-tool opener (which can damage your drive with repeated use), or, only if you have the slim model, you can cover up some sensors to make it easy for you. The last option is the most favorable by far, but requires a slim PS2. Furthermore, you can either buy metal pieces that will work well for a long time, or you can jerry-rig it with random household objects to get a similar effect, but they're more likely to fall out of place randomly.

Red PS2

As always, the best option and most legal option is to buy a Japanese version of the console, but it's unfortunately also the most expensive option. However, if you're a collector, you can try to get an interesting color like the red one pictured above, or even a rare and super-cool (and super-expensive) PSX like the one pictured below! The PSX has a built-in hard drive, it can act as a media server, and it can even connect to your PS3 over a network to provide you with extra media server abilities! Mmmmm... delicious!

REAL PSX

Buy a Japanese PS1 HERE

Buy a Japanese PS2 HERE

Unfortunately, many sites that sell Swap Magic look a little fishy to me, but I'm sure you can find a decent-looking one if you look hard enough. I know a couple of friends who tried a couple random sites and it worked for them.

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri

Monday, February 16, 2009

How To Import 103: Gamecube and Wii

Importing for the Gamecube and the Wii



The Gamecube and the Wii have many similarities in the way you can play imported games. The easiest for both is probably the FreeLoader. The FreeLoader is a swap disk made available by Code Junkies, the creators of Action Replay, among other things. The Gamecube FreeLoader works almost flawlessly, with only a very few games not working quite properly. Even those will play, with stuff like Heads-Up-Displays not displaying properly.

The Wii FreeLoader is a bit of a different story due to firmware updates. If you keep your Wii updated, then there's the chance that any of those updates could break the functionality of the FreeLoader. Getting one means that you could run the risk of buying something that doesn't work. Hey, at least it's cheap (around $20 + shipping).

Wii Freeloader

The other method is by mod-chip, which requires soldering a chip to the internal circuits of your Gamecube or Wii, and sometimes installing an external switch along with it. It's a high risk procedure that can be expensive (especially if you break your console). Furthermore, since the Wii is a more recent console, mod-chips haven't yet been perfected for it, and there may or may not be a mod-chip with all the functionality that you want. Even further furthermore (I know, horrible grammar =P), mod-chips are a legal grey-market. Since mod-chips generally allow you to play burned games as well, and downloading a game you don't own (or circumventing any copy protection on a disc in order to have a copy) is illegal, the legality of the mod-chip itself is somewhat in question. Still, sometimes a mod-chip provides you the best functionality, and it's up to you to find the right chip and assume the risks associated with installing it.

However, the GameCube has a third option. The only difference between the motherboards of the two different regions is a single connection. If this connection was never connected, it is one region. If it is connected, it's the other. You can actually install a switch to switch the GameCube back and forth between the two regions. This still requires some soldering, but it's a relatively easy procedure.

And, of course, there is ALWAYS the option of purchasing a Gamecube or Wii from Japan to play your games on. This is generally the most expensive, most effective, and safest way to play any of your import games.

Buy a Japanese Gamecube HERE

Buy a Japanese Wii HERE

Buy the Gamecube Freeloader HERE

Buy the Wii Freeloader HERE

I'm afraid you'll have to search for mod-chips yourself, though ;_;

Have fun playing!
-Kuro Matsuri
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