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


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.


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.

-Kuro Matsuri

Friday, August 7, 2009

Interesting Import Video Game #6: Time Leap

Import Video Game: Time Leap for the Xbox 360


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


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!


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!

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.


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.


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!

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!
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