I have always loved Nintendo games. This all started with the first NES that my father gave me as a present. To the latest sleeper-hit console the Wii U. This does not mean that I am blind to the missteps that Nintendo has made in the past. Quite the contrary, in spite of my adoration for the brand; I do not excuse their behavior, and in fact, outright condemn them for clinging to their antiquated (if not foolish) ways at times. Starting from the Virtual Boy, all the way to the terrible naming convention utilized for the Wii U.
During the mid-90s to mid-2000s there was a period which could be called the darkest age for Nintendo. It was at this time in which Nintendo released a new console called the GameCube, it had a fantastic controller design, it looked fun and had the killer app known as Super Smash Brothers Melee. It was a great console, but it had one huge flaw… Nintendo failed to secure a large quantity of third-party exclusives for the GameCube. This meant a constant shortage of games to play, while the PlayStation dominated the market with countless exclusives in their console. You would think at that point, Nintendo would have been throwing money at the third-party developers to sway them in their direction. But, instead they just released their own first-party titles in the hopes that it would be enough to garner the sales they wanted. Sadly, this moment never came for Nintendo. Yet, all was not grim at the Mario factory; it was during this era that many great exclusive games and IPs were born.
The GameCube brought to the world many fantastic games such as: Animal Crossing, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness, Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Metroid Prime, Naruto Clash of Ninja 2, Harvest Moon Magical Melody, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Smash Brothers Melee, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker/Twilight Princess, and countless others. But, despite all of this Nintendo did not manage to sway the hearts and minds of those players who were needlessly bashing the system. This meant that in spite of their best efforts, Nintendo still came in last in the console race of that particular generation. But, I didn’t care about all of that silly console war nonsense. All I cared about, was playing some awesome games on my GameCube with my friends. What truly made me angry, was the games that Nintendo launched exclusively in Japan without ever considering porting them to the United States.
Games such as: Giftpia, Zoids VS I/II/III, Battle Stadium D.O.N, Naruto Clash of Ninja 4, Doshin the Giant (released in PAL regions as well), Donkey Konga 3, DreamMix TV Fighters, Gundam: The Ace Pilot, Mario Puzzle Collection, Bleach GC, Multiple Shoot-‘em-ups, and other titles which never saw a release over in the west. These (titles) truly made me upset, I am aware that bringing games to the U.S. is not always cost-efficient, and Nintendo has obligations to the shareholders (and employees) which forbid them from acting against their best interest (something that can happen if they start porting games that are completely unsuccessful). But, Nintendo has had a really good streak with some of these niche titles, who would have guessed that Animal Crossing would have become the titan it currently is? The west has spoken, and it has stated that these games are genuinely fun. Nintendo should have taken a bigger risk with their games in this era, but instead they decided to remain in their spot (dead last). This is something which will always upset me about Nintendo. It’s unavoidable though, at the end of the day all that matters to a corporation is the bottom line.
Despite all of this, ever since I moved to Japan; obtaining these games has been a piece of cake for me. I have amassed a small collection of games which only came out in Japan. I will be discussing some of these games, along with my opinion on their gameplay, fun factor, play-ability in spite of the language barrier. I will not be reviewing these games; these are simply first impressions for games that we should have at least gotten a chance to try.
For reference here is a picture of my Japanese Games (not all of them were exclusives):