Japanese video games set in Japan


With the pandemic continuing to disrupt air travel, it’s gotten harder and harder to scratch that travel itch. But fear not as there’s still a way to explore Japan thanks to the help of Japanese video games.

Japanese video game developers tend to pay incredible attention to detail, which means that their games set in Japan pretty much offer a virtual tour through the city as you play.

Walk through the bustling streets of Shibuya, fight your way through Osaka, or just attend a Japanese high school – here are 8 Japanese video games to instantly teleport you to Japan.


1. The World Ends With You (DS, Switch, iOS, Android)


Japanese video games - The World Ends With You
Image credit: GamesRadar

You wake up flat on the road in the middle of the Scramble Crossing in Shibuya. You don’t remember how you got there, and all you have is this weird pin in your hand. Your phone beeps with a message. “Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure – The Reapers,” it reads.

Zap – a timer appears on your hand, counting down from 60 mins. Can you survive the Reaper’s Game? That’s the premise of The World Ends With You.

Japanese video games - The World Ends With You
Image credit:
Gematsu

The game, which sees a fully explorable 2D stylised recreation of Shibuya, features a unique touch-based battle system that gets your heart pumping as you frantically drag, slash, and tap on the screen. A unique RPG that is unlike anything else even 10 years after its release, The World Ends With You blends compelling gameplay, visuals, music, and story into a single game.

Price: USD49.99 (Switch), USD17.99 (iOS, Android)
Compatibility: Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, iOS & Android
Available on: Nintendo eShop (Switch), App Store (iOS), Google Play (Android)


2. Persona 5 Royal (PS4)


Japanese video games - Persona 5 Royal
Image credit: Engadget

Joker – a high school student by day, phantom thief by night. Don the mask of the phantom thief as you attempt to expose the growing rot in society. Spend your day attending classes in school, hanging out with friends, or taking up a part-time job for money. Don’t neglect your alter ego as a phantom thief for too long though, or you will find yourself caught by the police.

Japanese video games - Persona 5 Royal
Image credit:
VG247

Persona 5 Royal gives you the freedom to choose how you want to live your life each day. Featuring stylish designs, catchy music, and free-roaming gameplay, this game is guaranteed to get you hooked onto becoming a phantom thief in no time.

Price: USD59.99
Compatibility: PlayStation 4
Get it from: PlayStation Store (Digital)


3. Persona 4 Golden (PS2, Vita, PC)


Japanese video games - Persona 4 Golden
Image credit: Steam

Forced to live out in the boondocks of Japan, you soon find yourself at the centre of a series of serial murders in town. A weird rumour begins spreading around school – at the stroke of midnight, the television will automatically turn on to show the “Midnight Channel”, which gives you a glimpse of the next murder victim.

Japanese video games - Persona 4 Golden
Image credit: Steam

As it turns out, an entirely different world lies beyond the television screen. This revelation kick-starts your race against time before the next victim gets killed. Similar to Persona 5 RoyalPersona 4 Golden also features its own in-game calendar, giving you the freedom to choose what you want to do each day.

Persona 4 Golden’s whodunnit story will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next.

Price: USD19.99 (PC)
Compatibility: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Vita, & PC
Get it from: Steam (PC)


4. Yakuza 0 (PS4, XB1, PC)


Japanese video games - Yakuza 0
Image credit: bit-tech

Imagine this: you’re framed for a murder you didn’t commit and you soon find yourself at the end of your rope. Even your yakuza family has turned their backs on you. How will you get yourself out of this mess?

Japanese video games - Yakuza 0
Image credit:
Microsoft

Yakuza 0 plays out as a crime drama at the height of Japan’s bubble economy in the 1980s. The game allows you to explore the bustling districts of Dōtonbori in Osaka and Kabukicho in Tokyo.

What sets Yakuza 0 apart from other RPGs is its rich world filled with zany lovable characters. There are also plenty of mini-games, ranging from karaoke to racing Tamiya cars.

If you liked Yakuza 0, consider checking out Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2. These 2 games are remakes of the first 2 instalments of the series. Both titles feature updated graphics and improved gameplay.

Price: USD19.99
Compatibility: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, & PC
Get it from: PlayStation Store (PS4), Microsoft Store (XB1), Steam (PC)


5. Yakuza Remastered Collection (PS4)


Japanese video games - Yakuza Remastered Collection
Image credit: Dunia Games

In Yakuza Remastered Collection, you get to experience 3 of the franchise’s signature crime drama games – Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 – with upgraded graphics.

The games are set in the same world as Yakuza 0. Despite having retired from the yakuza, Kiryu, the protagonist, finds himself at the centre of one debacle after another.

You can even play Taiko no Tatsujin within the game

Japanese video games - Yakuza Remastered Collection
Image adapted from: 
Video Chums

Besides fighting off thugs, you’ll also get to explore 6 cities – Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa. Each location has its own unique side quests and mini-games. Become a taxi driver in Fukuoka, the biggest pop-idol sensation in Osaka, or a bear hunter in the woods of Hokkaido.

You can even play Taiko no Tatsujin – avid arcade-goers will appreciate the realistic recreation of the popular music game machine.

Price: USD59.99
Compatibility: PlayStation 4
Get it from: PlayStation Store (Digital)


6. Shenmue I & II (PS4, XB1, PC)


Japanese video games - Shenmue I & II
Image credit: Sony

After finding his father brutally murdered, Ryo Hazuki, a teenage martial artist, has to solve the mystery behind his father’s sudden death. The game is set in Yokosuka, a city in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Japanese video games - Shenmue I & II
Image credit:
Sony

Shenmue was the most expensive game ever developed back in 1999. It’s seen as the pioneer of open-world games. The game has its own in-game clock, and the characters, buses, and shops all operate on their own schedules as they would in-real life.

While the game moves at a much slower pace compared to its modern counterparts, it’s a classic game that bears testament to how far the genre has come.

Price: USD29.99
Compatibility: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, & PC
Get it from: PlayStation Store (PS4), Microsoft Store (XB1), Steam (PC)


7. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore (Wii U, Switch)


Japanese video games - Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Image credit: PC Mag

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore features real-life locations such as Shibuya and Harajuku, as well as a neon colour palette and peppy BGM. Players are thrust into the world of Mirages – other-worldly beings attracted to the creative energy in humans.

Mirages partner up with entertainers, such as idols and actors, and their strength increases based on the creative energy of said partner.

In this game, you take on the role of Itsuki, a boy who reluctantly joins an entertainment company. Defend the world against evil forces who seek to suck the creative energy out of everyone in the entertainment industry.

Japanese video games - Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Image credit:
BusinessWire

The game is a crossover between the Shin Megami Tensei series and the Fire Emblem series – it features gameplay from the former and characters from the latter. Players advance through the main story as they slowly delve into the character storylines of different entertainers from the same agency.

Price: USD59.99
Compatibility: Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Get it from: Nintendo eShop (Switch)


8. Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition (PS4, Vita, Switch, PC)


Japanese video games -Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth

Image credit: Gematsu

EDEN is a cyberspace that has become the centre of social recreation and communication in the world of Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. Players soon find that there is a seedy side of Eden inhabited by hackers who use Digimon to hack programs and systems.

Strangely enough, these hackers start falling into comas in the real world. As a Cyber Sleuth, you have to attempt to solve the mystery behind the mysterious illnesses.

Japanese video games -Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth
Image credit: Gematsu

Apart from the anomalies in EDEN, other weird occurrences have also been taking place in the real world. But it’s not all doom and gloom – you get to explore a faithful recreation of Nakano Broadway and go around Tokyo while solving these mysteries.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth lets you capture and build your own team of Digimon partners while also raising more on a DigiFarm. Mix and match your team to your liking in order to save the world from the brink of destruction.

Price: USD59.99 (PS4), USD49.99 (Switch, PC)
Compatibility: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, & PC
Get it from: PlayStation Store (PS4), Nintendo eShop (Switch), Steam (PC)


Japanese video games that let you live vicariously


If you’ve ever been to Japan, the thrill of re-visiting a place through these Japanese video games can add an extra layer of enjoyment to the gameplay. But if you haven’t been to Japan, that’s alright because the in-game locations are so rich in details, they’re almost as good as the real thing.

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Cover image adapted from: @SEGA_OFFICIAL and @saimika_japan