The Japanese eShop is a weird and wonderful place

Alex Phillimore Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-08-03 09:09:53

The Japanese eShop is a weird and wonderful place

I have come into the possession of a Japanese 3DS. This was partly because there was a great deal going on the beautiful golden Xerneas Pokemon model and also because I was curious about just how different Japan's eShop might be to ours here in the UK. I already knew the US eShop has a few games we don't (*coughShovelknightcough*) but I figured that Japan probably gets copious amounts of games that never see the light of day in the west. That was my assumption, anyway.

Turns out, I was completely right. After a bit of difficulty setting up my 3DS and payment method in Japanese I became a witness to an enormous assortment of games the likes of which western minds cannot comprehend. There are dozens upon dozens of games featuring big chunky letters and brooding anime characters on the front of them. A good portion of them seem to be visual novels, although there are plenty of other games to whet your appetite, including this cool Samurai furry game:

It's hardly a surprise that Japan gets a lot more games on its 3DS systems than we do. What shocked me is how much of this stuff they get that we in the west do not. If we think a release schedule of two or three new games a week is good, that's nothing - Japan is boasting a good 8 or 9 a week, from what I can tell, and they're extremely well-priced as well. That game up there, Shinobi Spirits, cost under 3 British pounds to download - I'm sure it would cost more if it was on the European eShop. Some of the smaller games are priced around 400-500 yen, which is about the same, coming to two or three quid to purchase. I'm willing to take a risk on these games because they're so weirdly exciting - it's almost an entirely different console, especially when it comes with way more demos and free content than ours. I downloaded the NicoNico channel for free and a variety of other services too, including Japanese Hulu.

I would highly recommend getting a Japanese 3DS to anyone who has a bit of extra cash and wants to see the kind of games Japan gets. I had to scroll through a good 15 games on the eShop the last time I went on to find anything I even remotely recognised, and the chance of any of the games I scrolled by getting released in the west is tiny. For an exciting window into an entirely different culture of gaming there's not much better on the market right now - and hopefully I'll be reporting on my findings over the coming months.

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