Video game

Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Favourite Japanese video games –

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – the best of Japan (pic: Nintendo)

GameCentral readers discuss their favourite Japanese-made video games, from Resident Evil 4 to Deadly Premonition.

The question for this week’s Hot Topic was inspired by reader John and covered every era of gaming, as long as the game was developed by a primarily Japanese team.

In the end the suggestions ranged from well-known classics like Sonic The Hedgehog to more obscure picks like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, but everyone seemed to have a favourite.

Celebration time
Between Nintendo, FromSoftware, PlatinumGames, Square Enix, Sega, Capcom, and all the rest I think I’d be perfectly well served if all my games were Japanese only. I’m glad they’re not, because I like the variety, but I will say I follow the top Japanese developers a lot closer than I do any Western counterparts and even if they do let me down they usually come up with something interesting anyway.

But for my number one? It’s got to be something from Nintendo. For me that company is video games and everyone else is just rushing to catch up. But how do you pick their best? Super Metroid? Super Mario Galaxy? Zelda: Breath Of The Wild? There’s literally too much to choose from.

For the sake of the Hot Topic though I’ll go for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate though, just because it celebrates everything I love about the company and, through the many third party cameos, everything I love about Japanese gaming in general. Roll on Fighters Pass Vol. 2!

The best
My favourite game of all time is Japanese, it’s Resident Evil 4.

It’s such a masterclass in pacing, constantly throwing new enemies and scenarios at you, making it a thrilling ride no matter how many times I’ve played it.

To me it’s the definition of bottled lightning, which makes me question the point of remaking it.

My gaming collection is about half and half Japanese and Western, I don’t care where it comes from as long as it’s good! I do find a lot of Japanese games have a quirky charm to them which gives them a unique flavour.

New favourite
I always used to enjoy traditional Japanese role-playing games, with Skies Of Arcadia being one of my favourite games of all time. This generation though I’ve discovered the Yakuza series and this has overtaken the Japanese role-player as my favourite Japanese game franchise.

It started with Yakuza Zero and I’ve recently finished Kiwami and Kiwami 2. I’ve got the remaining four games, and Judgment, on the ever-expanding backlog.

One thing I love about them are the completely crazy side stories that somehow manage to sit well with the deadly serious main theme. Some of the side quests, e.g. hostess clubs, property tycoon, construction site, etc. are bigger than many full price games on their own.

Even the more questionable content, such as photoshoots, phone dating, and video collections seem less sleazy than similar aspects in GTA due to the fact that they’re always played for laughs!

In the end the games are played with a big grin on your face from start to finish and you can’t really ask for more than that. Can’t wait to see what Sega come up with for this series next gen!

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Games with attitude
I’m going to say Sonic The Hedgehog, for the simple reason that if this game didn’t exist I probably never would’ve got into games at all. I distinctly remember looking at a demo in a shop one day and having my young mind blown away by the graphics.

The thing is the graphics still impress today, which is not something you can say about most games that old. There’s something in their simplicity and elegance that is just timeless and the same goes for the gameplay as well, which is just as playable today as it was then.

Sonic Mania has been the only decent game since then but that was made by Western fans, which shows that the Japanese approach to making games isn’t based on where you live but your attitude and point of view. There’s definitely a Japanese style to gaming and it’s always been my favourite.

Wrong answer
Surely this should be more like: what is your favourite game that is so unmistakably Japanese? Because, my answer would have automatically been Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. And surely the usual suspects will all get name-checked: Mario, Zelda, Metal Gear, and SoulsBorne. And… none of them feel very distinctly Japanese.

My absolute favourite right now would be Persona 5. A joyous celebration of Japan and Japanese culture if not the current government. And certainly not the brutal, academic year that Japanese kids have. School? On a Saturday?! I would have fought you. I love all the mini-games, the bizarre maid café with a racing game soundtrack, that my teacher will do my laundry, the bar that lets me talk to a frazzled journo with a serious drinking problem and more besides!

The teacher giving me a massage… that’s weird. That’s just too weird. Which is both the strength and weakness of the Japanese method: it’s so bonkers it’s hilarious when it works. And when it doesn’t, like Ann being made to paint nude by her bone-head teenage boyfriends after her ordeal with Kamoshida. Eww.

But boy, do I love all the crazy stuff. Like that Yakuza role play game that’s coming up. Sign me up for that nonsense!

GC: But that wasn’t the question.

Easy import
I never really used to think too much about whether a game was Japanese or Western but that changed when GC reviewed Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and I decided to give it a go and import it. I love that game with its chirpy J-pop soundtrack and bizarre but really charming sense of humour.

You don’t really have to import games anymore, which I kind of secretly miss, but that’s good because it means everyone nowadays has access to all but the most obscure Japanese releases.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Zach approves
Obviously a ton of Japanese made video games could have been used for this Hot Topic, but Deadly Premonition on the Xbox 360 is one I always go back too now and again.

The game was very much inspired by Twin Peaks and was developed by Hidetaka Suehiro (SWERY). The gameplay and graphics remind you of a PlayStation 2 era type of game. From the sounds, blocky looking visuals, and cumbersome controls, how could this be good! The storyline for one and the interesting characters you interact with. You’re in the town of Greenvale in Washington state to investigate a murder. Little do you know that this, like Twin Peaks, opens up a strange and surreal world of paranormal and strange local habits from the various townsfolk.

Your character is endearing and makes you want to learn more about him, as well as the wider storyline and local lore. The game runs in real-time and if you’re not in time to complete certain side quest events then they will never be completed.

If you want to get absorbed in the game version of a good book and interact with memorable characters and explore locations which makes you think of Twin Peaks, or just a community cut off from normal civilisation – like the earlier Silent Hill games. Why not have a go.

It was a big hit with GameCentral and its viewers and will always be remembered most fondly. A classic game which did not need the best in graphics or gameplay to make a huge impression on my gaming life.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE: Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Favourite Japanese video games

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