While GungHo Online Entertainment America may be a relatively new company, its parent company has some incredibly extensive backlogs filled with cult classics and esoteric hits! Today, for the first time ever, GOEA has brought six of these old-school Japanese PlayStation games to America. This post will discuss what these games are all about, how they play, and how accessible they are to the non-Japanese speaking crowd!
ZANAC × ZANAC
Zanac is a classic shoot ‘em up that was originally released on the MSX and later ported to the NES. It was later tweaked, revamped, and made ever-more-awesome in its sequel, Zanac Neo. ZANAC x ZANAC contains three different versions of the original Zanac, as well as Zanac Neo in one neat little package.
While rail-shooters and bullet hell games are nothing new, Zanac represents a level of polish and style worthy of being considered a true classic. Its appeal lies in its use of eight different sub weapons and a main shot that can be charged up for some serious damage! Enemies will assault you from all angles, and you will have to keep your wits about you as you strategically dodge and blast your way to victory.
In terms of accessibility, ZANAC x ZANAC is easily the most playable game on today’s list. With virtually no Japanese reading skill required, you can get a very fulfilling (and incredibly challenging) shoot’em up experience!
Originally released on the Super Famicom, this 2D fighter was given new life and revamped graphics in its PlayStation iteration. This quirky fighter is filled to the brim with wacky, charming fun.
With character archetypes ranging from magical schoolgirls to zombie comedians, it’s hard to ignore this game’s unique style. Each character has his/her own set of super moves (utilized in the familiar down forward punch [DFP] style) and crazy backstory. Unlike most fighting games, you can also make use of magic through your MP (Makenki Power). These spells can make you stronger, weaken opponents, or even heal you in a pinch!
Not much Japanese is required to play, but you will miss out on the event text and may need some assistance navigating menus. Once you’re all set up though, beastly punches and kicks are NEVER lost in translation!
This crazy vehicular combat game takes place in a dystopian future where conflict is decided in the only logical way possible: MECHA COMBAT.
Customize your giant robot fighting suit and go toe to toe against the toughest foes in the land while you complete a series of missions. All eight characters have a unique story to explore, but that’s only if you can survive! Earn some cash as you crush your enemies, then head back to the garage to transform your mech into the mightiest machine in town.
There is a ton of customization involved in loading out your mech, and with 300 weapons to choose from, your options are virtually unlimited. The combat is accessible, but for non-Japanese speakers, Google Translate will definitely come in handy while navigating the menus.
This adorable match-3 puzzle game is loaded with brain-busting puzzle goodness. To clear a stage, you must move your disturbingly cute hero, Salad, as she attempts to remove all colored cubes by matching up three in a row.
The game’s challenge stems from the hero’s very limited movement capabilities. Players are able to push blocks and fall from any height, but climbing back up is a different story. Salad can climb up a single block and jump the space of a single block. If two blocks are stacked on top of each other, she can push the lower one, but the block on top will ultimately fall – resulting in crushing defeat.
No Japanese is needed to push the blocks around, but there is a great deal of event text between chapters. You might not be able to fully experience the story, but you will certainly be able to enjoy two hundred levels of challenging puzzles without having to master Japanese.
ART CAMION SUGOROKUDEN
If you are unfamiliar with the Japanese subculture of Dekotora (or Art Trucks), you are certainly in for a treat. While America was rockin’ out to the one-hit wonder trucker song “Convoy,” over in Japan trucks were being overhauled with garish and awesome accessories and designs. The more ridiculous your truck looks, the cooler you are! It’s kind of like the custom car scene here in the States!
Art Camion Sugorokuden captures the decorated truck phenomenon with classic board game style. With a roll of the dice, you cruise all over Japan to pick up and deliver packages. Each delivery will earn you points, which you can spend to trick out your gigantic ride. When you aren’t hard at work, you can take your special lady out for a little ride, but watch out for your rivals because they will stop at nothing to see you fail!
The game is relatively text heavy, and without some handy translation (or a bilingual friend with whom you can enjoy the game’s multiplayer mode) you are in for a bumpy ride. If you can muscle your way through menus and event text, you will be truckin’ it up with the best of them. Just remember – the crazier your truck looks, the better you are doing!
If you have never heard of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” “Janken,” or “Roshambo,” then I’ve got no idea how to introduce this next game. That being said, Finger Flashing is a challenging and addictive take on a centuries-old classic.
You play as the hero Poi (or her friend Cikke) who is on her way to an important wizardly exam. Her plans to graduate on time seem thwarted when a herd of monsters invade the town and block her path to success. The only way to fix this mess is to destroy all invaders with the almighty power of the Rock-Paper-Scissors School of Magic.
Players march down an ever-moving path as monsters approach from the top of the screen. Each monster will be decked out in the regalia of rock, paper, or scissors, and to defeat them, you have to blast them with their opposing hand. As easy as this sounds, it gets pretty tricky and complicated as monsters begin attacking in groups.
Luckily, you can take them out by matching up chains of the classic Rock-Paper-Scissors formula. If you see monsters of the scissor and rock variety walking down the road side by side, you can combo them by shooting paper at the rock. This will set off a chain that makes the rock monster destroy his scissors-wielding friend. If you had just shot a rock at the scissors monster, it would have been destroyed, but it would have left the rock monster barreling down on you. Combos are the key to your survival once you face up against bigger and bigger monster groups.
While you may get a little tripped up in the bare-bones menus, the only thing you will miss out on in this game is the brief story event text that pops up when you aren’t puzzle-fighting.
So there you have it. Six classic Japanese delights available now for American consumption, at just $5.99 a pop! Hopefully after reading this post you’ve got all the info you need. With a little patience and some free translation software, you’ll be all set to enjoy some imported goodness.