Top Japan Only 3DS Titles - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Top Japan Only 3DS Titles

by Danny Bivens

The best of the best for one of the greatest Nintendo handhelds.

The Nintendo 3DS is/was a great system. After a rocky start in 2011, the system played host to numerous games that will go down as unforgettable classics. From original titles like Super Mario 3D Land, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Bravely Default to remakes of beloved games like Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Dragon Quest VII, VIII and more - there are a ton of amazing games on the system. There were, however, a few pretty high profile games that did not see life outside of Japan. Here is our list of the top five Japan only 3DS games that you should try to get your hands on.

5 - Dragon Quest X Online
Having the ability to play one of the most popular online MMOs in Japan on the go is kind of a novelty. Obviously, with the game being online, you will need to have a persistent internet connection. Not just because of playing online with friends, but because this game is actually possible on the 3DS because it’s actually streaming from the cloud. The same team, a company called Ubitus, that brought Resident Evil 7 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to the Switch via the cloud were responsible for Dragon Quest X on Nintendo’s handheld. Released in 2014, this version was compatible with all other versions of the game - Wii, Wii U and PC. It offered all of the same things that could be found on other platforms and despite some technical hiccups early on, this was another valid way to be able to get into the MMO. While there are clearly better ways to the play the game, it was a cool addition to the 3DS library.

4 - Time Travelers
Level 5 went ham on the 3DS by releasing a number of different games and series that proved pretty popular with gamers in Japan and in some cases all over the world. As interesting as Time Travelers was on the 3DS (and Vita and PSP), the game never really took off like the company had hoped. Released in the summer of 2012, this visual novel/adventure game  puts players in the role of Mikoto Shindo. During a catastrophic event that destroyed central Tokyo and killed many, the game takes place in 2031. Shindo uses a time travel ability to try to prevent another upcoming disaster from crushing Tokyo once again. With music composed by Hideki Sakamoto (Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, Ultimate) and an ensemble voice acting cast, the game is truly something special. The game did score highly in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, earning a 36/40 from the reviewers. Sadly this and the sales weren’t enough to garner a release outside of Japan.

3 - Dai Gyakyten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken (Great Ace Attorney)
Although the series originally started out on the Game Boy Advance in Japan, the Ace Attorney series has a strong connection to the DS. Sure, it’s true that not every title from the GBA/DS made it over to the West, but for the most part, the series has a great representation in Western markets. Enter Dai Gyakuten Saiban, aka Great Ace Attorney, which hit store shelves in July 2015. It’s a different take on the established games, with a different setting and different characters. This time around, the game takes place in the 19th century and focuses on Ryūnosuke Naruhodō, an ancestor of Pheonix Wright. The game has players both in Japan and England, following Ryūnosuke as he tries to become a defense attorney. You’ll meet characters like Sherlock Holmes, John Watson’s daughter and of course, all of the other crazy kind of characters that you would come across in games in the series. As of right now, Capcom is aware that there are quite a few gamers in the West that would love to see the game localized. Unfortunately, “circumstances” are getting in the way of that. Whatever that means. At any rate, Capcom is still plugging away at this side series in Japan - the sequel released on the 3DS in August 2017.

*Note* Since this list was published, Capcom finally got around to getting this game set for release in English. Have fun with this and the sequel in July 2021 and beyond!

2 - Daigasso Band Brothers P
The Band Brothers series has a bit of a weird relationship with the West. The first game in the series appeared on the Nintendo DS in Japan as a launch title back in 2004. A sequel was put into production and released in 2008 in Japan, and then later in 2010 in Europe as Jam with the Band. The title never saw a release in the North American market. Fast forward to late 2013, and here comes Daigasso Band Brothers P, the latest release in this music series.

This version of the game doesn’t come with a packed lineup of songs right out of the box, however, there are tons of songs that you can download and play. Up to 3,000 songs can be downloaded to give you tons of content. Not only that, but players are also able to create their own tracks and share them with others. Online play is also an option here. Oddly enough, even after all of these years, the game still gets some recognition as Barbara (the bat-like girl character) often does collaborations with other Nintendo titles such as Wario Ware Gold. Band Brothers P is a must own - just make sure that you pick it up before the servers all go down otherwise, there won’t be much to do.

1 - EX Troopers 
If you are itching for a third person shooter on a handheld, look no further than EX Troopers. Originally released on the 3DS on November 22, 2012 (and later to the PS3 in January 2013), the game is set in the Lost Planet universe. Players take control of the main character Bren as he makes his way across a variety of locales taking out monsters and other baddies. Combat focuses mainly on gun-play, however some elements of melee combat also make their way into the game. The game also features a local multiplayer component (online play is only found in the PS3 version) that allows up to three players to play co-op and six players to duke it out in team death match or a capture the flag style mode.

It kind of goes without saying from seeing screenshots or videos, but EX Troopers sports a very clean cel-shaded look. It is also full of quite a few cutscenes and voice acting. It’s also super anime/Japanese. Perhaps the biggest reason why we never saw it had to do with how the game was created. For the speech bubbles and text, all of this was ‘hard coded’ into the game - the text was made as an art asset basically. While localization would still be possible, there would have to be some significant changes made to the game in order for it to work in the West. Changes that Capcom was not willing to throw down the cash for.

It’s certainly a bummer that EX Troopers never left Japanese shores, but despite the Japanese, it’s not that difficult to get into and can be had for relatively cheap.

And there you have it. The top five Japan only Nintendo 3DS games…according to me. What do you think? Was there anything that we missed? Sound off in the comments below and let your voice be heard!

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