My experience with Importing Games/GO GO NIPPON EN-LEE-CAKE KAWAII DESU

Let me lead off by saying I love Region-Free consoles. What I mean by that are consoles that can play games from another region without having to be altered in some form. Like how I can play games I've imported from Japan using my North American PS4. Currently I'm waiting for a game to come in the mail that's been popular in Japan. The version I bought comes with all the text translated in English with subtitled dialogue scenes and all the DLC included with the game!

It reminded me of how much I busted my butt just to play some games in a different language. Like memorizing certain characters in the menu or trying to patch my game with a fan translation if the community was large enough. The import community wasn't always big enough for some of those games so I would just hope they'd make it stateside somehow. That rarely panned out due to a number of reasons: fan size wasn't large enough, some companies weren't willing to give out the rights for that series, publisher wouldn't bother bringing it overseas, etc.

Growing up, I had access to a few imported games from whatever my Dad found in his travels. The game that brought me into importing and all the shenanigans that came with it was a brawler series similar to Super Smash Bros. called Jump Super Stars and the sequel Jump Ultimate Stars on the DS! The games were a handheld version of Smash Bros with the roster comprised of characters from Shonen Jump, a popular magazine series that contained multiple series under that publisher.

My favorite part of both games was the deck system. You would set up "decks", which were a single comic page, that you used to select your "battle" (playable character) panel  and customize with "support" (assist character) panels and "help" panels. These panels are taken from various scenes in their respective mangas, which I thought was really cool as I read some of these series. I remember spending a ton of time consulting guides because both games had mission modes with unique win conditions like: Only use X attack to defeat your enemy, or break all the walls of the arena without getting hit by the enemy team. It's not as big of a problem thanks to smartphones but back then (ew), it meant going to war with your siblings because you were kicking them off the PC. Not a very family-friendly method if you catch my drift.

The above picture is from a charming side-scroller beat-em-up from one of my favorite game devs, French Bread! It's called Ragnarok Battle Offline(RBO), a spin-off beat-em-up based off the MMO Ragnarok Online. Fortunately, it brought over  RPG elements like stat points, skill points and skill trees that unlocked special moves.

Unfortunately for me, everything was in Japanese and I still was unable to read Japanese. Although I could have gone the same route as Jump Super Stars and consulted guides, the community actually developed a fan-translation patch and were able to translate almost everything! It was my go-to method towards playing imported games. I recall finding a partial English translation of a well received action-RPG (Soma Bringer). Not every encyclopedia entry was translated but everything you needed to enjoy the game was, like menus, dialogue and abilities. I'm both thankful for the games that large enough community backing to produce fan-translations and sad for the ones that weren't.

Lastly, I'll highlight another option I choose with import games: PRAY TO ALL YOUR SALTY GODS FOR AN OFFICIAL TRANSLATION. This happened with three games I've had my eye on: J-Stars Victory Versus (ew), Melty Blood and Gundam Breakers 3!

Incidentally, Melty Blood was also developed by French Bread and is one of my favorite fighting games of all time! I don't remember having any issues with navigating through Melty Blood but that could be my brain playing favorites. A friend of mine imported J-Stars Victory VS and I recall him bringing it over during one of our hangouts. Everyone had trouble navigating through the menus that night, part of it was impatience and the other was the language barrier.

The game I'm waiting on in the mail, Gundam Breakers 3, is a heavily detailed action game. It plays similar to Armored Core or Custom Robo where you're in playing as Gundam models and offered a ton of customization options. The above picture is taken from Gundam Breakers and shows all the information you're given highlighting one weapon. I jumped at the chance when I found out there was a completely translated version of this same game. Like I mentioned in the intro, it comes with all previously released DLC on disk. Normally, I'd have to create a PSN account from the same region to access the DLC. I'm not certain I could use a PSN card from this region to buy goods with an account in a different region.

So what I'm saying is follow your dreams and don't let anyone stop you from doing what you want! Even if that means NOT learning a new language to play a game you bought overseas!!
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