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My First Import

posted on June 2nd, 2008 by christian
Now Playing: Your Mom

As much as I love this hobby, the truth is I have never bought import games before. I’ve been given one (as seen in picture), and played quite a few, but never did I lay out my own cash. The main problem was finding a way to play them. I just didn’t want to spend extra money for a Japanese console/fliptop/Freeloader disc in addition to premium price for the game itself. As for the Dreamcast, I didn’t realize its import friendliness until it was too late. It hasn’t been much of a hindrance, as localizations for worthy games have become more common (even for fighters).

This weekend I finally brought home my first import game, Salamander Portable. It was a nice and easy choice. The game was apparently imported by at least a few non-specialty retail outlets (including Fry’s), and was common enough that some shooter fans talk about it like it received a US release. It is also on the PSP, which continues the tradition of handhelds being the friendliest grounds for import gaming. I probably could have payed less if I shopped around or bought it earlier, but chalk it up to being an impulse buy.

I am glad to say it will be worth it in the long run, as the game is a grand slam. I had never played anything in the Salamander/Life Force series, but I find them to be very enjoyable, more so than even some of the Gradius games. In addition, the collection includes two “bonus games”, likely so that the disc has the same amount of content as Gradius Collection. One of them is the MSX game Gradius 2, which is not the same as Gradius II.

The other is Xexex, which is fairly unknown but pretty incredible, especially considering its age. It is also nice to see that the compilation is laid out exactly like Gradius Collection is, complete with the same menus and options. It is even entirely in English. The only Japanese comes from the games themselves, from the title screens and Xexex’s story scenes. I know many Japanese games are said to be “import friendly”, but this has nothing to localize (aside from packaging). In fact, the only reason this probably didn’t come out here is because not all the games on the disc had a western release.

Between this and my observations of some of Jay’s import collection, I am considering doing an article comparing East VS West in regards to packaging and even in game presentation. There are some marked differences, and contrary to what some might think, Japan isn’t always better. My only fear with this idea is that I’m not knowledgeable enough to do the topic justice. Perhaps a collaborative effort then? Maybe the readers might have some good ideas.


  1. jay said on June 4, 2008:

    There are a handful of Japanese DS games I’ve been meaning to import. For example, Tinkle’s Rose Colored Rupee Land.

  2. chris said on June 4, 2008:

    I can’t give you a whole lot of info with regards to this, but I have imported several games. I really like the no-region-encoding on DS and PSP, since it means no extra effort is required to get the few gems we still don’t see stateside.

  3. TrueTallus said on June 5, 2008:

    I don’t know much at all about importing (though I’ve considered dabbling in it on several occasions), so from that angle it’d be nice to have someone in the same boat doing write ups on the subject. You don’t necessarily have to be knowledgeable about a topic beforehand to be informative; an earnest and evolving look at the import scene seems like it would be just as useful as the calculated insight of a battle hardened import fanatic.

  4. DeeMer said on June 5, 2008:

    I’ve imported three games myself. Rhythm Tengoku, Densetsu no Stafi 2, and Mother 3. I’ve only really played the first one, but I went through the whole thing twice.

    It’s very nice just to be able to pop it in the DS and turn it on, without any complications.

  5. jay said on June 5, 2008:

    DeeMer, Rhythm Tengoku is one of the games I’ve thought about importing (though at this point I may wait for the DS version to import) along with Band Bros. Is RT worth it? Also, if you play Stafi let me know how it is. I’ve read it’s mostly a dumbed down Kirby but confirmation would be nice to have.

    I guess this is a good time to mention my imports. For some reason I keep buying Japanese RPGs assuming I will be able to read them. Japanese can’t really be a whole different language, right? So I’ve got Shining Force 3.2, 3.3, Ringlord Saga 2, Terra Phantastica, Sakura Taisen 1 through 4, Seiken Densetsu 3, Ys 4 and 5, Bahamut Lagoon, Fire Emblem 2 and a few others.

    My brother modded my Saturn for me (he knows things, like how electricity works), the DC can be done with a simple boot disc and the SNES by clipping the plastic nubs in the cart slot. Other consoles seem harder to mod so I haven’t attempted it yet. Oh and I bought my PC Duo in Japan so there’s no need to mod it. If only I could figure out the error message that pops up every time I try saving Dawn of Ys.

  6. DeeMer said on June 6, 2008:

    I did play Stafi a bit. Calling it a dumbed down Kirby isn’t too far off. It’s not bad, but it is pretty easy. It’s been too long since I played, so I can’t say anything more on the subject.
    In regards to RT, my advice is to watch some videos and ask yourself whether or not you’d like play what you see. That’s what I did.

  7. pat said on June 6, 2008:

    i know you say “a few others” jay, but i think shenmue 2 deserves to be mentioned by name.

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