Feature

Ten Japanese Games We Can’t Wait To Play

by Matt Miller on Aug 16, 2015 at 08:00 AM

Conventional wisdom suggests that Japanese development has been losing steam in recent years. And while we don’t see the same number of titles emerging from across the Pacific as we once did, some amazing titles are making their way stateside. With the big release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on the horizon, we pick ten titles that have us especially stoked.

10. Street Fighter V

Only a few characters have been announced for the latest iteration of this classic fighting game, but early glimpses show off a continued evolution of Capcom’s beautiful painterly style for the series, exhibiting familiar characters like Chun-Li and newcomers like Necalli. The new V-System promises to add a new layer of strategy to combat, letting players pull off new character-specific moves, or even counter certain attacks while blocking. We’re also happy to see that the game is doing more to distinguish its long-time characters from one another; in particular, Ken will now feel even more distinct from Ryu.

9. Kingdom Hearts III

If you’ve been following along with the story since 2002, then congratulations are in order. Your persistence will hopefully pay off when Square Enix’s Disney/Final Fantasy mash-up series concludes its story arc in Kingdom Hearts III. New attractions are set to make battles even crazier, letting you fling out everything from teacups to pirate boats into the midst of the fray. We’ve also been promised new worlds, like the premiere of the Tangled universe. It’s been a long wait, but Kingdom Hearts III is looking beautiful, giving us high hopes.

8. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Metroid helped premiere the genre, but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night refined the formula of the gear-gated 2D exploration experience. That’s why we are so enthused about Castlevania mastermind Igarashi’s latest project, a spiritual successor to Symphony at his new developer, Inti Creates. The new game follows a young woman named Miriam as she explores a demonic castle on a quest to end a curse transforming her into crystal. Early looks at the wildly successful Kickstarter project are very promising, leaving us eager to learn more.

7. Persona 5

The Persona series has always prided itself on tackling some weightier subject matter than many other JRPGs, and that trend doesn’t look to be changing in Persona 5. While the top level storyline follows a young man at a new high school, the broader themes of the game revolve around fighting against societal norms. The turn-based combat seems to borrow liberally from previous installments, which is great news, as we had few complaints about that structure. But for fans, the real excitement lies in meeting a whole new cast of unusual characters – the Persona 4 crew is ready for a break.

6. Final Fantasy XV

If you count back to when this game was originally called Final Fantasy Versus XIII, then we’ve had a very long wait for this installment of the iconic RPG franchise. At long last, Final Fantasy XV is steering towards an actual release, and our early play sessions have given us reason to be very enthusiastic. The story we’ve seen so far seems to focus strongly on the friendship between several young men, which is a departure from standard JRPG story content. The action-focused battle system and some awesome summons are just the tip of the iceberg as far as new mechanics to explore, but it’s the large explorable world that looks the most thrilling.

[Next Page: Two Nintendo games, and the atmospheric, challenging title at the top of our must-have list]

5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The missing puzzle pieces in the Metal Gear Solid storyline should finally be answered this September, as we learn about the links that connect the Big Boss of yesteryear and the Solid Snake of later years. Given the nature of the narrative, we’re sure there will still be plenty to debate once the credits roll, but story revelations aren’t the only reason to be paying attention to this project. A more open structure to the world means that players have far more choices about how to confront an objective. In addition, the prospect of a full-fledged numbered entry in the franchise expanding upon the base-building options of Peacewalker sounds like enormous fun, and a great opportunity for player creativity. 

4. Super Mario Maker

Other franchises have offered player creation tools, but no game as iconic as the Super Mario franchise has given complete control over to players to craft and share their levels. Not only does the game put control into the hands of players to extend the gameplay, but Super Mario Maker also lets players include tilesets from throughout the history of the franchise. The 100 pre-made courses included in the game are likely to just be a starting point to discovering other players’ masterworks and building on your own.

3. The Legend of Zelda Wii U

Speculation continues to run rampant that the upcoming Zelda game may make the leap to Nintendo’s next undercover gaming platform, but all we know for sure is what we’ve seen of the title in its current incarnation on Wii U. That game opens up Link’s world for exploration in a way the franchise has not yet allowed, with less defined entrances and exits to dungeons, and more free-roaming. The visuals have that irresistible nostalgic air, and we can’t wait to see what we can uncover in that lush open world.

2. The Last Guardian

You have to cast your memory back into 2005 to recall the stark beauty of Shadow of the Colossus, and even further to remember 2001’s emotionally charged Ico. For years, the same team teased us with images of a lonely boy and his monstrous traveling companion, but this year’s E3 brought news that The Last Guardian has made the switch to PlayStation 4, and is on the way in 2016. We’re already buying up Kleenexes; the loving bond between animal and boy is almost certainly to be tested in this stylistic and artistic project from Sony. 

1. Dark Souls III

Whether you came on board with the original Demon’s Souls, or you’re only recently converted to From Software’s challenging gameplay style with this year’s Bloodborne, you have to be excited about the reveal of Dark Souls III. Details are scarce, but series creator Miyazaki has described new weapon arts that are set to change the flow of combat. These attacks are specific to different weapon types, and can dramatically change the way players engage an enemy. The game seems to be shooting for a middle ground between the fast pace of Bloodborne and the more deliberate movement and pacing of Dark Souls II. We’ve also seen some beautiful dynamic lighting on display. We expect there are a number of other big mysteries to uncover about the Dark Souls III world, but its hardcore sensibilities and atmospheric world already have us hooked. 

What upcoming Japanese-developed games are you the most excited about? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This feature was originally published on August 10, 2015.