Gaming is a worldwide phenomenon. From great franchises to one-off experiments, there’s so much to offer in gaming. And there’s not enough time in the world to play every good game.
For whatever reason, there are some games that have never received mainstream localization or exports. They remain trapped in the region of their creation, despite how excellent they are. Hopefully, soon these ten classics will finally come to worldwide markets.
JRPG’s were one of the most daunting challenges to localization teams in the 90’s. But nowadays, classics from that era are finally coming to the western markets after a long delay. Radical Dreamers and Live-A-Live, both classics from that time, are finally getting worldwide releases. So it’s time for the Illusion of Gaia series and its unimported gem Terranigma to get that courtesy.
Terranigma does have an English translation, as it was released in Europe and Australia. But this game about one boy’s quest to recreate the entire Earth never made it to American market. Terranigma is the third game in that series, which did otherwise receive worldwide release. It would be a great time to rerelease the entire trilogy to the world, as some may feel it needs recreating.
Ace Attorney Investigations 2
The Ace Attorney series was full of memorable characters, but none more memorable than rival prosecutor Edgeworth. Miles Edgeworth was the opposition in the first game, but came around in the sequels. His massive redemption arc set him up perfectly for a spin-off. But unfortunately, only the first of the duology made it out of Japan.
Ace Attorney Investigations 2 and the two Great Ace Attorney games were long lamented by fans for never being localized. But that ended when the Great Ace Attorney games were localized last year. Investigations 2 is now the only remaining untranslated game.
L.S.D. Dream Emulator
Despite its name, L.S.D. Dream Emulator has nothing to do with drugs. This Playstation game is often called one of the most experimental games ever made. The game is a 3D exploration sandbox that randomly populates its environments, making every session unique. These exploration sessions are called dreams, and the player can interact with some objects in them.
However, goals in the game are extremely obtuse. As to mimic the psychedelic nature of dreaming, graphics can change often and nothing is ever explained to players, with few elements even reoccurring between rooms. As the player experiences more dreams, they become more bizarre. While the game has become famous for its extreme uniqueness, it remains a Japan exclusive.
Valkyria Chronicles 3
The Valkyria Chronicles series are strategy RPGs made by SEGA. The game puts players in an expertly designed fantasy world, in charge of a platoon of soldiers. The series has been praised for its alternate universe world-building and its aesthetic, which reminds players of fellow SEGA RPG Skies of Arcadia. Unfortunately, the third entry in the series never got localized.
This is a shame, as there’s a ton fans are missing out on. The story takes place in parallel to the plot of the first game and features an excellent new soundtrack. The game also received plenty of gameplay tweaks and downloadable content. Fortunately, the next game in the series did get localized, but III is still a sore spot for fans.
Policenauts is a space-fairing visual novel with roots in cyberpunk and science fiction as a whole. It balloons out into a strange buddy comedy with some twists in its narrative revolving around astronauts. This all sounds appealing so far, but the biggest draw to this game is its director. Hideo Kojima was the director on this project, and the auteur brought his bizarre charm.
The game isn’t without its flaws. The game is slower-paced and unfortunately, has sexist and transphobic moments. But players are intrigued by the game’s world, which can be read about extensively through an in-game encyclopedia. The game’s fans eventually hope the game will be officially translated with those problematic elements removed.
Typically, when gamers talk of unlocalized games, they mean games that never came to the West. But Monster Tale is a case of the opposite; a great Nintendo DS game that never left America. Monster Tale is a great Metroidvania that’s set to return on Nintendo Switch soon. Hopefully it’ll come to other regions, unlike the Nintendo DS original.
This game sees protagonist Ellie and her monster pet Chomp adventure through Monster World. She’s not the only kid with a monster companion though, as other kids and their tough monsters rule the various levels. So Ellie must feed her monster to grow him into forms to defeat these kid kings. The game was received favorably for its great Metroidvania action.
The Yakuza series of video games has been a staple of SEGA’s console lineup for almost 20 years now. The series receives almost annual releases to big success in both Japan and the west. But it wasn’t always that way; the series was once far more niche in America. Which is the reason why several games, including the samurai themed Yakuza Ishin, never made it over.
This was one of two spinoffs, with a similar game called Yakuza Kenzan released on PS2. But this PS3 title ultimately wins out for its depiction of the life of Sakamoto Ryouma. The game recasts Yakuza‘s main cast in the roles of various historical figures, and sets it in a more traditionally Japanese setting. This is such a welcome departure from the series’ more urban plots.
Clock Tower 1
Clock Tower is one of the earliest franchises in the survival horror world. The series did see further releases in America, but the SNES original has never made it to American shores. And that’s a shame, because the original Clock Tower is perhaps one of the best survival horror games of the 1990’s. Jennifer Simpson finds herself adopted by a wealthy lady who owns a large manor with a maniac on the loose.
The series is more of a point-and-click game than the action games the genre would become, but a lot of the tropes are here. Jennifer must hide from her assailant who can appear at any time. She also must solve puzzles while being chased. The Scissorman himself may not have the same pizzazz as other pursuers, but the game’s an important part of the genre’s history.
MOTHER 3 is the biggest foregone conclusion on this list. Fans have been hoping that this, the third entry in the Earthbound series, would finally get some kind of acknowledgement or release from Nintendo. This RPG is often considered the franchise’s best, and is beloved for its story, gameplay, and soundtrack. It hurts that it never saw a big release.
This game is about an small village that is suddenly uprooted by the arrival of an army with their own plans of consumerism and modernization. It’s about loss of innocence and it’s also strangely funny.” It’s one of the most mystifying and lovely games Nintendo’s ever made. There is an excellent fan translation, but an official release would still be great.
Super Robot Wars Franchise
Super Robot Wars has had a few games released outside of Japan, like the recent Super Robot Wars 30. Some of the games even come with full English translations in the default. But the series features dozens of untranslated strategy RPG’s and more that have never come worldwide. And the reason why is that Super Robot Wars is one of the largest crossovers in the world, and licensing is often prohibitively expensive.
Bandai-Namco publishes one of the largest crossovers in gaming, as listing all the franchises would be impossible here. But it includes such classics as Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam, ULTRAMAN, SSSS Gridman, Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, Mazinger Z, and many more. It’s an all star cast, and as proven popular enough for several original characters, games, and anime to be created based on it. And yet the backlog of untranslated titles remains the largest of any major franchise in gaming history.
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About The Author
James Potvin (65 Articles Published)
James W. Potvin is a freelance writer for Screen Rant. This is is his first professional writing job, but he’s been making infographics about nerd culture interests for years. In the past, James has worked in education. He loves video games, and his favorite is Kirby.