on Mar 27 by Mr Random
Japanese games make up a massive part of my gaming collection. Naturally, there a few games and game companies that have become my favourites. While I may not have been gaming for as long as many others, I still feel that the companies contained in this article are, for me, the best of the Japanese gaming market.
Over the last couple of years, Japan has been on the receiving end of many critics – stating that creatively Japan is in decline – perhaps this list might make people think otherwise…
10. Arc System Works
If you couldn’t already tell from my other articles, I love JRPGs. However, I have been known to play the occasional fighting game from time to time. BlazBlue was probably the first fighting game that I ever truly got into, and also the first that I feel I don’t suck at. My (somewhat limited) success with the BlazBlue series is the reason that I continue to play them now, with Skullgirls being the current fighting game that I’m failing at. With Persona 4 Arena’s European release date slowly getting closer, I’ll soon have another quality ASW fighter to dig into.
Capcom have created many of my favourite non-JRPG franchises. From Ace Attorney to Devil May Cry, they have managed to keep me entertained throughout my gaming years. Even though some people may feel that Capcom have lost their touch recently, games like Dragon’s Dogma prove that they’re still great developers.
8. Nippon Ichi Software
I recently started replaying Disgaea 3 on the Vita, and I’ve been reminded why Nippon Ichi is so great. While their games are easy enough to get into, they’re able to suck many hours of your time away easily (I’ve managed to spend hundreds of hours on the first Disgaea alone)! While Nippon Ichi’s games may not have the production values of other beloved JRPG series, each game has enough charm to make spending ages on them a joy.
Even though Sega may be most well-known for their spiky blue mascot, it’s Sega’s other games that make them one of my favourite companies. The Yakuza series is an amazing brawler/RPG, which feels like a natural progression from the Shenmue series, another of Sega’s great games. Each Yakuza game manages to contain so many things to do aside from the main story, usually many times more than the main story. I’m also fond of the Valkyria Chronicles series, which is why I’m still waiting for the third game to somehow make its way here .
The PS4 was just announced this month, marking the fourth generation of Sony’s console. The PS1 was the first console I ever owned, but I didn’t really own many games for the system. It wasn’t until the PS2 when I started to play games regularly, and it was my system of choice. Games like Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper made up my childhood, and I still love them even now. Even though I’m not really liking the look of the PS4, my love for the PS2 is enough for this to have a place on this list.
5. Nihon Falcom
While i’ve known about Falcom for a long time, it wasn’t until a couple of years back when I finally played one of their games. Said game was Ys 7, and I’ve loved the series ever since. Since then I’ve managed to play most Ys games, thanks to the fact that many of them have received remakes for the PSP and PC.
Falcom are also the creators of another amazing game, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. You may have seen it in my ‘top 10 JRPGs of this generation’ article, and it deserves its place there. With Ys: Memories of Celceta being released soon in the West, I can only hope that the rest of the Legend of Heroes series makes its way here in the near future.
4. Namco Bandai Games
The Tales series is second only to the Shin Megami Tensei series for me. Each Tales game I’ve played has been an amazing experience, and I find myself returning to them many times after they have been completed. It’s one of the few series that have managed to keep me engaged during the entirety of their stories.
Namco Bandai also made another series that, while not particularly well known, is another favourite of mine: Klonoa. As well as being fun platformers, I really like the look of Klonoa himself, with his long ears and Pac-man hat.
Atlus are without a doubt my favourite JRPG developer. While the Shin Megami Tensei series and it’s spin-offs are their most well-known games, they still have many other games that are consistently great. The Etrian Odyssey series is an amazing throwback to retro RPGs, and Trauma Center manages to make surgery fun (even if it can get a little frustrating later on).
The only reason why they’re not higher on this list is because many of their games don’t make it to Europe. While this was less of a problem with portables and the PS3 being region free (well, usually region free for the latter), with the 3DS and possibly next gen consoles being locked, we’ll have to hope that Atlus releases are more consistent in Europe.
2. Platinum Games/Clover Studio
I guess this could be considered cheating, but there’s no way I could include one company without the other. When Clover Studio closed down, I was pretty disheartened. However, as soon as I heard the Platinum Games had been formed and I saw footage for Bayonetta, I knew that they were back in business. Creators of insane brawlers God Hand and Bayonetta, Platinum Games and Clover Studio are the best when it comes to intense action games. They’ve even created some amazing games in other genres, with Okámi being one of my favourite games for the PS2 (make sure to grab the HD ver. On PS3. It’s gorgeous).
Even though Sony’s black box took up most of my time back when I was younger, I still have a soft spot for Nintendo. Hailed as the company that kickstarted the videogame industry after the US videogame market crashed in 1983, their influence can be felt even today. Nintendo has been my company of choice for portable gaming (not that there was much competition early on). I’ve owned every Nintendo portable except for the original Gameboy, and I’m planning on getting the awesome looking Fire Emblem 3DS XL next month. As for their consoles, I only own the Wii which is home to many good games if you look hard enough.
Nintendo are extremely impressive on the software side, with the Mario and Zelda games being some of my favourite series ever. Even though support for the Wii U has been pretty mediocre at best, hopefully Nintendo manage to push on and continue to release great games for years to come.