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Important Importables: 10 games to watch for in early 2011

Sections: 2D, 3D, Action, Adventure, Columns, Consoles, DS & DSi & DSi XL, Exclusives, Features, Genres, Handhelds, Japanese Imports, Lists, Music, Originals, PS3, PSP & PSPgo, Role-Playing, Sim, Strategy, Wii, Xbox-360

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It’s 2011, which means a whole new year of import video game options is approaching. The best part is, the first few months of this year are filled with great DS, PS3, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360 releases. Even if, for some inexplicable reason, all Japanese game companies decided not to release any more new games until Fall 2011, you’d still be set with what’s coming out in the next two months. To help you get your import wishlists together, I’ve collected a list of 10 pretty darn awesome games coming out in Japan very soon. I hope you saved up!

Now, I know the 3DS is coming out next month in Japan. But I’m not recommending it or its games. Word is, they’re region-locked. So it’d be silly to recommend an import 3DS game to people when they’d have to buy a Japanese 3DS just to play it, and then not be able to use that Japanese 3DS to play games from other regions.

Catherine PS3 Xbox 360 Atlus

Catherine (PS3, Xbox 360)

It isn’t even yet, but Atlus’ Catherine has people clamoring it. Probably because of all the provacative imagery. Vincent ends up in a relationship with two women at the same time, Katherine and Catherine. That alone would be troubling, but there have also been a rash of supernatural deaths and Vincent has been having these strange dreams where he has to keep climbing a tower while pursued by gigantic monsters and attacked by sheep. If he falls, he just might die. Look for it February 17, 2011. The PS3 version is region-free, so you can import it right away if you’d like.

Gyakuten Kenji 2 (DS)

Miles Edgeworth is back again, investigating more cases as a prosecutor. Dick Gumshoe and Kay Faraday return at his side, and once again help him investigate the cases. There’s a bit of urgency in this entry, as the legal department is phrasing out prosecutors they feel aren’t up to the job. So Edgeworth has to prove his worth as a lawyer. A new Chess Logic mode appears in this entry, where Edgeworth can try to expose weaknesses while talking to suspects while making his own case stronger. If you want a new adventure game, this is the one to go for. It’ll be out February 3, 2011. You may want to wait to import it though, as Capcom will probably release it in English.

Idolmaster 2 Idolm@ster 2

Idolm@ster 2 (Xbox 360)

Time for idol raising again! Players are a 765 Production producer and must work with the company’s 12 idols to make them singing sensations. You have to build up their skills, pick their songs, decide on outfits, organize interviews and send them off to auditions if you want your group to rise up the charts. Be careful though, as 961 Production is around as well and are promoting a male idol group – Project Jupiter. You can pick it up February 24, 2011. Make sure you have a Japanese Xbox 360 if you do!

The Last Story (Wii)

The Wii doesn’t have too many RPGs, which makes The Last Story all the more welcome. Players follow Elza and his mercenary friends, who came to Ruli City to try and find a way to survive and succeed. It’s an action RPG with a focus on dungeon exploration, with lots of quests and sidequests. It also will have two multiplayer modes, a Versus mode where you fight other players and a Raid mode where you work with other players to take down monsters. It’ll be out at the end of the month on January 27, 2011. Remember, it will only play on Japanese Wiis.

Persona 2 Innocent Sin PSP

Persona 2: Innocent Sin (PSP)

Atlus is continuing its trend of porting Persona games to the PSP. Since Persona 2: Innocent Sin was only released in Japan on the PS1, which was region-locked, there’s a good chance many people missed out. Tatsuya Suou, Eikichi Mishina and Lisa Silverman ended up encountering the Joker, who says they wronged him in the past and wants revenge. The three must team up to find out what’s going on and escape the Joker’s wrath. Oh, and they can summon personas. The PSP remake is an enhanced port with new art, extra difficulty levels, new music and a lot of other little extras. Check it out on April 14, 2011. Or wait. There’s a good chance Atlus will release it in English eventually.

Rune Factory Oceans (PS3, Wii)

Rune Factory is the wonderful Harvest Moon offshoot that blends dungeon-crawling with farming and relationship building. Rune Factory Oceans is unique as it’s the first to appear on the PS3 and to have a female protagonist. Azel and Sonia are the hero and heroine, who are childhood friends and somehow get stuck sharing the same body. They explore the world and its oceans on the back of a monster called Ymir, looking for a cure. And farming. And making friends with men and women who might just be willing to marry one of them. It’ll be out February 24, 2011. The Japanese version will work fine on any PS3, and will even support the Move controller.

Valkyria Chronicles 3 III PSP

Valkyria Chronicles III (PSP)

If you loved Valkyria Chronicles and want more, you’re in luck. You can see another side of the Second Europan War in Valkyria Chronicles III which follows The Nameless as they perform missions for the Gallian army. They must complete missions and fight against the Calamity Raven Darcsen Army. The gameplay is the same, but now players have more control over characters and their classes and abilities. You also level up the squad as a whole, so don’t worry if you use one or two characters a lot, then suddenly need to use different ones. It’ll be out later this month on January 27, 2011. You may want to wait a while before importing it, as all the other Valkyria Chronicles have been released in English.

Venus & Braves: Majo to Magami to Horobi no Yogen (PSP)

Hurray for another PSP RPG release. This strategic RPG from Namco Bandai is actually a remake of the original PS2 game, with lots of Tales character cameos. Follow Blood Boall the immortal and a goddess named Aria as they try to save the world from being destroyed in a hundred years. An interesting aspect of the game is the fact that time passes and non-immortal characters will eventually die. A mortal character’s age determines his or her effectiveness. The PSP version will also have strategic multiplayer battles. Since Namco Bandai is pretty bad about releasing niche games in North America, especially ones with Tales characters, you may want to import this after it comes out later this month on January 20, 2011.

Hero Yuusha 30 Second PSP

Yuusha 30 Second (PSP)

If you loved Half Minute Hero (Yuusha 30), then you’ll love the sequel, Yuusha 30 Second. Yes, it’s a little bit of the same, but there’s also lots of new content in Yuusha 30 Second to make it worth a second look. Like the new edit mode, which allows you to make your own maps and quests and upload them with infrastructure mode. If you finish the five new scenarios – all 30 second RPGs – with 90 quests, then go online and download some more! It’ll be available February 10, 2011.

Zombie Daisuke (DS)

Zombie Daisuke is equal parts “Aw!” and “Huh?” After a number of innocent farmers are gassed by an evil corporation, they turn into zombies. Which you then raise and manage. Once you’ve built them up and made them strong, you send them off into town on real-time strategic missions to recover lost items. While zombie games are getting a bit old due to the influx of them, the idea of being able to raise and manage some cute, blue little zombies sounds pretty fresh! Look for it later this month on January 20, 2011.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables looks at Axis Powers Hetalia.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week talked about Lucky Star.

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