Today, we are able to enjoy video games having an international release, as Nintendo is one of the prominent video game companies for their famous franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon. Back then, not everyone in the world got to enjoy the games Japan exclusively got from Nintendo.
There was once a time where Super Mario Bros. 2 was completely different in Japan and North America. The former got two versions of the game named Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. With the latter game being considered “too difficult,” it makes us wonder what could have been if Japanese exclusive titles had the chance to release outside the country. Here are 10 Nintendo games that absolutely should have gotten a western release.
10 Mother 3
It is kind of funny how EarthBound had intentions of being released in the west, but Nintendo of America thought it was too late as the SNES was just released. With the game finally being available on the Wii U Virtual console as EarthBound Beginnings, fans are still waiting for a localization of Mother 3.
The game has its recognition with Lucas being another EarthBound character in Super Smash Bros. It begs us the question of why, after six years of finally getting EarthBound Beginnings, must international fans wait for much longer? Even though there is an option to emulate it with an English translation, being able to support the series and Nintendo is definitely the smarter move.
9 Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
Released in Japan as Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, Mask of the Lunar Eclipse remains the only Japanese exclusive to the beloved survival horror series Fatal Frame. Europe was originally planned to have a release date, but the translation for it has been canceled. This would lead to the creation of a fan translation that went all out to provide an intriguing experience.
Despite having a complete translation and being able to bypass region locking, it remains unofficially released outside of Japan. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water got a western release for the Wii U, though it did face some controversy when the outfits consisting of lingerie and swimwear were replaced by Nintendo inspired costumes. There are plans for a Nintendo Switch game of Fatal Frame, so an uncensored and even better game might become a reality soon.
8 Custom Robo GX
Custom Robo was a contender to be a series released outside of Japan, but a change of plans made it impossible. The fourth title in the franchise, Custom Robo, was the first-ever to come out to North America. Before it would see the light of day outside the land of the rising sun, Custom Robo GX was planned by Nintendo themselves to release it to North America.
This title would have been the perfect gateway to get into the Custom Robo series, but we can only dream of what could have been. The only game that international fans, besides North Americ,a can play is Custom Robo Arena, becoming the first for both Europe and Australia to have a game from the underrated franchise.
7 Learn With Pokémon: Typing Adventure
For this entry, we’re going to cheat a little. Learn With Pokémon: Typing Adventure did get a western release, but never once got one for North America. The reason behind this may be due to next generation consoles coming out, including the Nintendo 3DS. A game like this would help kids from the United States, Canada, and Mexico in spelling and their words-per-minute.
The mere fact that this game features many Pokémon to spell out not only gives progress to those that play it, but it is also very rewarding as technology in the form of computers are essential tools for schools and jobs. If Pokémon gets a tooth brushing game for mobile devices, then something like this also should be released around the world and not be ignored in North America.
6 Captain Rainbow
Marvel’s Squirrel Girl might be one of the first superheroes to have an obscure name and power, but Japan has their answer in the form of Captain Rainbow, exclusive to Japan and Taiwan for the Nintendo Wii. In civilian form, Captain Rainbow is an average guy named Nick. To save his TV show, Nick has to go to Minmin Island, where dreams are said to come true.
With a bizarre, but familiar concept, the game also features obscure Nintendo characters and Nick has to help them fulfill their own wishes. The game was received well but considered a commercial failure, which could be the reason why this game didn’t get a western release.
5 Mario & Wario
Before the juggernaut franchise that is Pokémon, Game Freak worked on a couple of Mario games, with Mario & Wario being their second one after Yoshi. Not only is it the first Mario game to never be released outside of Japan, but it is also completely in English. The idea behind that is absolutely maddening because it did not require a translation to be localized to western players.
This game was acknowledged outside of Japan, and has been referenced in Game Freak’s future games, including Pokémon Red and Blue and the remakes FireRed and LeafGreen. With the Nintendo eShop offering classic games with membership, there just has to be another chance to for this game to have a digitalized released in the west.
4 Fire Emblem: New Mystery Of The Emblem
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon managed to get an English release despite declining popularity, but Nintendo and Intelligent Systems back then dug a deeper hole when they made the remake of Mystery of the Emblem a Japanese exclusive. New Mystery of the Emblem is far from different compared to the previous game, but it did feature many staples that remain the series today.
By introducing the avatar creation and casual mode, some Fire Emblem fans believed Awakening did this first. It would have been an awesome opportunity to experience Marth’s story after defeating Medeus for the first time, though fans will have to deal with an extended tutorial mode and the “filler” that is the extra story to focus on Kris and other new characters like Katarina. For now, fans can enjoy playing this game through emulation with a decent English translation.
3 Excitebike: Vroom! Vroom! Mario Battle Stadium
Before Mario Kart became one of the best-selling series in the Mario franchise, there was one Japanese-only title that did a crossover with Excitebike. Excitebike: Vroom! Vroom! Mario Battle Stadium is basically a remake of the first game but replaced with Mario characters. This is one of the few games that never got a console release since this version of Excitebike was available for a limited time as a Japan-only Satellaview broadcast.
So while Japan got their hands on this game, it was available for a limited time. As a way of being a spiritual successor, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has a course that has reference to the crossover. In 3D and with beautiful graphics, anyone with a copy of Mario Kart 8 can enjoy the Excitebike Arena course with Mario characters.
2 Bahamut Lagoon
Bahamut Lagoon is one of many Square (now known as Square Enix) games that could have gotten a release for western audiences. As Chrono Trigger remains a masterpiece in its own right by doing well in both Japan and the west, it was more than surprising that this JRPG did not make it outside of Japan.
Square in the 90s created fantastic RPGs outside of the Final Fantasy series, so maybe the company thought the west would think Bahamut Lagoon would be too similar to Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy? A fan translation has been created for wider access, so if you are up for more of Square’s hidden treasures, then this will be a great title to try out.
1 Jump Super Stars
Jump Super Stars is a Japanese exclusive title that anime fans around the world would love to try out. After 14 long years since Famicom Jump II: Saikyō no Shichinin, the third crossover fighting game featuring Weekly Shōnen Jump characters was a huge success in Japan. With a total of 27 series represented, there are many we recognize today, such as Dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Death Note, and Naruto, to name a few.
If anime was just as popular in the early 2000s as it is today, the possibility of having this game localized to the west would have been rather high. But today, we do have modern games that feature Shōnen Jump characters pitted against each other in the form of Jump Force despite its mixed reviews.
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