A sad truth about the DS generation is that a lot of fantastic, import DS games never made it outside of Japan. There were just too many good games, some of them too weird or obscure, and not enough companies to take a chance on them. Which meant people had to resort to importing if they wanted them. It worked out well, as the DS was region-free and we’re in an age where it’s easy to find whatever you want and order it from online.
However, we’re reaching a point where some of these import DS games are getting harder to find. Which means it’s time to look to a new alternative. Sony’s PlayStation Store has a PSOne Imports section, where digital downloads of untranslated, Japanese games are released. I believe the 3DS eShop needs an import DS game section and have put together a list of 10 games that should be among the first to grace this non-existent, but truly essential section.
- Soma Bringer: The lack of Soma Bringer outside of Japan is a grave injustice. This Monolith Soft game is one of the best DS RPGs, especially since an unlockable character adds replay value. It’s a beautiful, well designed, 3D RPG and while it is text heavy, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to localize. The best part about a potential import DS eShop release is that there are already multiple guides and FAQs for the game online, so people could still navigate and enjoy the game without knowing the language.
- Duel Love: Duel Love is hilarious. It’s a dating sim for girl’s that’s a visual novel with mini-games tossed into the mix. The heroine becomes the manager for one of her male classmates that is participating in an unauthorized fight club. The story is only so-so, but the art is by Hana-Kimi mangaka Hisaya Nakajo and the mini-games involve giving massages, wiping sweat off of bare chests and blowing away shower steam so you peep on the guy you’re managing while he showers. Oh, and there’s a running mini-game as well, but who cares about that?
- Daigasso! Band Brothers DX/Jam with the Band: At one point, Nintendo did actually consider releasing the original Daigasso in North America, for a time, under the Jam with the Band name, but that never happened. Instead, Daigasso! Band Brothers DX, the sequel, was released in English in Europe as Jam with the Band. It’s a music game where it actually feels like you’re playing one of 60 instruments along with a song. It also allowed people to download up to 100 songs onto their cartridge from online and create their own songs, adding in each instrument’s part. Simply put, it’s the best music game on the 3DS and the European version should be among the first import DS games to hit the eShop.
- Jump Ultimate Stars: Even as an import DS eShop game, licensing issues would likely bar this Smash Bros. style brawler from an international release. It’s a shame, because it is the best DS fighter. It takes tons of Shonen Jump manga characters and has them fight it out in stages laid out like manga pages. Tapping the panels on the touch screen, which you arrange outside of battle, lets you swap characters or call in support help. It’s a glorious game and very easy to understand despite the language barrier.
- Ouendan 2: “Jenni! Why is Ouendan on this list? We already got Elite Beat Agents?” Bite your tongues. Though Elite Beat Agents is a localized adaptation of Ouendan, it is not the same thing. The original is far better and has a much better tracklist. As it’s a music game that follows a simple formula and a first-party game, it’d be great if Nintendo put it in the eShop among other import DS games.
- Ketsui Death Label: If you want to play a shoot’em up, it better be a Cave shoot’em up. That company will do it right, and Ketsui: Death Label is one of its best games. Admittedly, it’s a depressing, practically post-apocolyptic shooter where the the four pilots going in to take down the illegal arms dealer EVAC from the inside are imparting on a suicide mission. If they win, World War III will end, but they’ll still have to die. It’s a fantastic game with multiple difficulty levels and no Japanese language skills are required.
- Freshly Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupee Land: I suppose I could say this RPG starring the NPC Tingle from the Legend of Zelda games is a crazy, capitalistic RPG with pelvis-thrusting construction workers and leave it at that. In this game, which actually received an English release in Europe, players help Tingle collect rupees so he can reach the rupee paradise. It is really, incredibly weird, which means everybody would want it.
- Last Window: The Secret of Cape West: Did you love Nintendo’s visual novel-adventure Hotel Dusk: Room 215? Well, Last Window: The Secret of Cape West is the sequel. Amazingly enough, it also received an English, European release, but never found its way to North America. I know I can’t be the only one who wanted to learn more about Kyle Hyde and go on a second adventure with him.
- Inazuma Eleven: Since I’m harping (whining) about European DS games that never made it to North America, let’s go ahead and add Inazuma Eleven to the list of potential import DS eShop games. This Level-5 game is really intriguing, as it’s a Soccer RPG. Yes, you recruit people for your team, level up and such, but there’s also plenty of soccer fun. The goal is to make an actual school soccer club so Mark can compete and become a star goalie like his grandfather. In short, it sounds really neat and with Level-5 behind it, you know it’s high quality too.
- Tales of Innocence: There were three Tales DS games that never made it outside of Japan, Tales of Tempest, Tales of Innocence and Tales of Hearts. Since this would be sans-translation, I’d say Tales of Innocence would be a good pick for an import eShop section. It’s been around for a long time and there’s even a fan translation, so people wouldn’t have as much trouble making it through the game. Plus, it’s supposed to be a pretty strong game and you can’t go wrong with having another JRPG available.
COMING NEXT TIME: Important Importables goes over everything Hyperdimension Neptunia.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables talked about Conception: Please Have My Children for the PSP.