As the holiday season begins and people begin to consider what the best gift would be to get for friends and family, video games are always a popular choice! If you are leaning toward getting a fun piece of software for someone you know, why not give this article a look? We have included a list of games that enjoyed great success with Japanese audiences this year! In addition, we have featured some of what we are calling the ‘weirdest games in Japan’, that capture the unique spirit that can make big cult classics out of so many of Japan’s games! Give that special someone a taste of games that have become ‘Big in Japan’!
The Top 5 Hit Japanese Games of 2020
Here is a list of the 5 games that we felt made the biggest impact in Japan during 2020. Although 2020 has been an unpredictable year thus far, the popularity of these games is strong enough to overcome this feeling, or even become popular due to how their playstyle matches the current environment!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)
Although the Animal Crossing series has been popular worldwide since it began nearly 20 years ago, this newest entry has reached an unprecedented level of success! It is said that its open, independent game design that has the player build a home and friendships in a virtual world has been especially popular with people wishing to escape the frustrations of the current year. Its online mode also provides a way to socialize with other fans regardless of the real world situation!
This is a unique kind of exercise-role-playing game that uses its packed-in physical attachments (the Ring-Con and Leg Strap) to enable easy exercise at home while enjoying light story and action gameplay. Frequent lockdowns that caused many exercise facilities and gyms to close in 2020 have led to an incredible surge in demand for this game, making it one of the most popular games on the Switch.
Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo Switch)
Fortnite (2017 – Various Platforms)
Fortnite has been released on many platforms, from handhelds to home consoles to mobile phones, since its successful launch in 2017. Its Battle Royale mode in particular has gained an enthusiastic worldwide fanbase, and Japan is no different! You can find many popular Japanese gaming personalities who dedicate much of their time to Fortnite matches!
Soccer is a very popular sport in Japan, and while this has led to multiple successful locally-made franchises such as the Inazuma Eleven games or Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, FIFA still has many fans. The gameplay is easy to get into casually and hard to master, making it an addictively fun experience that boasts a huge worldwide fanbase, even during the uncertainty of 2020.
FIFA 21 (2020 – Various Platforms)
Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
A remake of the 1997 classic, this long-in-development PS4 exclusive managed to exceed expectations to build its own separate identity and become a hit in its own right! It has found many fans in Japan who still have fond memories of the original version.
5 Weird Japanese Video Games!
For those who wish to find something a bit out of the ordinary for this holiday season, please give this next list a look! These ‘weird’ Japanese games are not all necessarily from this year, but their unique qualities have a life long beyond their time on store shelves! They would be perfect for that person in your life who wants to try a game that would give a very new kind of experience!
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (2020 – Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC)
This recent Japanese release may have gained notice from its pleasing combination of farming-simulation and action game genres, but its intense focus on an extremely detailed depiction of rice cultivation, which took 5 years to develop, is what gives it that uniquely Japanese quality. The kind of game that will remain a topic of conversation for years to come!
This experimental game for the original Playstation comes from creator Osamu Sato, who saw his games as a way of exhibiting art. LSD is based on a years-long dream diary of an employee at its developer, and its surreal design has become a topic of conversation in recent years among online Japanese game enthusiast communities.
LSD: Dream Emulator (1998 – PS1)
Mister Mosquito (2001 – PS2)
Just from the Japanese cover which you can see to the left, you can tell that Mister Mosquito (Known as Ka in Japan, or just ‘Mosquito’) may be the perfect game for this list! In fact, Eidos Interactive, which published it outside of Japan, specifically stated that they were attracted to its ‘odd’ and ‘quirky’ qualities that are normally not available in games outside of Japan! Perhaps too strange for audiences outside of Japan, its 2004 sequel ended up only being released in Japan. However, dedicated fans held out hope that Sony would eventually localize it at the time.
This Japanese video game is legendary for its uniqueness in design. Players raise a fish with a human face in one of the oddest experiences to ever be made for a major home console! It even makes use of the Dreamcast microphone attachment to achieve its strange goals, allowing you to have limited conversations with the creature as it grows to adulthood. Truly a game like none other!
Seaman (2001 – Sega Dreamcast)
Kuma Uta (2003 – PS2)
When it comes to notable ‘cult’ Japanese games for the Playstation 2, Kuma Uta (Bear Song) is among the strangest! This game stars a polar bear who gets into enka, a traditional Japanese genre of singing. The bear will ask questions, and you answers will inform the custom lyrics of the songs that it sings in the game!
Buying Japanese Video Games Online
Have you gotten more interested in looking for Japanese video games to build up your collection or give to others during the holidays? If so, we recommend using the many stores on Buyee as a way to get normally Japan-exclusive games delivered to your door through the power of proxy shipping!