GungHo recently released six classic PSOne Japanese import games that you can download on PSN and play on the PS3 in the US! But since they’re all in Japanese, even the in-game instruction manuals, it may be hard to know which ones are worth getting and which ones can’t get around the language barrier. So I’ll take you through all six and you can find out which ones are download-worthy!
Art Camion Sugorokuden
This one is probably the worst of the six, mainly because the language barrier is so steep that you can’t figure out what to do. From what I could tell, it’s a board game featuring big rig mac trucks and you move on spaces on the roads to pick up cargo and such. But the game is very text heavy, and after two turns I just couldn’t figure out how to end my round. Only get this game if you are fluent in reading Japanese.
This is a mech robot battle game that reminds me of a fast paced version of Atari’s classic BattleZone. The basic gameplay is easy to figure out, just move about in the 3-D battle arenas and use your radar to find and shoot other mechs before they get you. Graphics are pretty rudimentary 3-D PlayStation fare, but they get the job done. Only problem is that between battles, you can visit shops to buy upgrades for your mech, but the text is all in Japanese so it’s hard to tell how and what to upgrade your mech with.
Makeruna! Makendo 2
This is a one on one fighting game featuring silly characters like a super hero teen girl, ballet dancer, disco zombie, soccer pro, giant robot, etc. Since it’s a pretty early entry in the genre, the controls are a bit clunky and the moves are rather simplistic. But it also makes the game pretty easy to figure out and the language barrier is almost non-existent.
This is a unique puzzle game where you clear out advancing monsters with a game of rock-paper-scissors. Each enemy represents one of the three symbols, and you must press one of three buttons that will counter it (rock beats scissors, etc.). But be careful because if you choose the wrong one, more monsters will appear on the playfield. It’s a bit difficult because it’s hard to tell which monster is which, and how the chain reactions work. Plus they move down the screen pretty fast!
This is a block pushing puzzle game where you must match three of each color block to make them disappear. Clear the whole board to finish the level. Blocks are affected by gravity and can squish you, so be careful when planning your moves. Your squeaky-voice girl character can only jump one block space high, so keep that in mind, too. Fiddling through the Japanese menus is a bit tricky at first, but it’s easy when compared to the difficulty of the actual levels, which start out pretty tough.
Zanac X Zanac
YES! Of all the games featured here, this is the best one. You might not have ever heard of the game company Compile (which has since gone out of business), but you may remember some of their games. On the NES, they made some memorable and fun 2-D shooters like Zanac, Gun-Nac, and the cult favorite The Guardian Legend (the latter mixed Zelda style exploration with vertically scrolling shooting). More recently, Compile was responsible for the popular puzzle series Puyo Puyo, which featured characters from a RPG series they made in Japan. Sega now owns the Puyo Puyo license.
Anyway, right before Compile went out of business, they went out with a bang with Zanac X Zanac for PSOne. It had the original Famicom (NES) version of Zanac, with some new features and options. Plus it had Zanac Neo, an updated version of the game with new graphics, ships, and other features. And now you can play them on PSN, which is good since the actual import of the original game goes for a super high price now. The language barrier is almost non-existent, as most of the menus are in English already, and the rest of the game is pretty easy to figure out otherwise. The shooters hold up well even today, and I even caught my brother Jeff playing Zanac X Zanac, and he hardly ever plays the games I like. So yeah, if you enjoy old school 2-D shooters, get Zanac X Zanac on PSN!
I don’t THINK any of these games are rated by the ESRB, but I would imagine they would all get an E or E-10 rating. Some characters in the fighting game may be mildly suggestive, and there’s violence here and there in some of the games. Although you just punch and kick silly opponents in the fighter and shoot mechs and spaceships in the other games. I would say reading skill is needed, but since they’re all in Japanese, everyone will be on level ground unless you can read it.