I am Mr. Hoffmann, the grandson of Reinhold Hoffmann and a gamer now since around 1987.
Some of my favourite game series are Mortal Kombat, Borderlands, Tekken, King of Fighters, Monster Rancher, Bust A Groove and basically too many more to count them all.
Beside gaming, I like writing about it and video game culture.
You might have heard or read about http://www.game-art-hq.com a website which features over 15 art collaborations by gamers and is also the home of a growing video game character database.
Currently we have a League of Legends Crossover Project in Progress, are working with Overclocked.Remix on a big tribute for Final Fantasy IX and are mostly expanding the database sector which covers around 1500 video game characters now.
C-blog series on Destructoid
The Beautiful People - A series of blogs where I feature outstanding cosplayers and their works every monday
That Yakuza Zero announcement this week made Hoffmann thinking about that series and a few other damn great video games he encountered in the past which were sadly never released outside Japan and difficult to enjoy as much as if they would be in English.
After the last blogs from me which were more like forum threads where I asked you a question to start conversations I thought its time for something else which includes some rarely talked about games. Simply because they never made it to our regions.
Giant Gram 2000: All-Japan Pro Wrestling 3
The third game in a series of wrestling games by Sega. It had a lot of Japanese wrestlers I never heard about it had some American guys like Big Van Vader as seen in the video and it even had the grapplers from Virtua Fighter.
But okay..its a damn wrestling game you might think and it can not be so difficult to figure out how to do all the body slams, tackles and finally the pin.
And thats right. But this game delivered a lot more than the pure wrestling game at the time. It had a mode similar to the History of Wrestlemania one in WWE 2K14 but with everything written in Kanji and the commentary and the really well done yells and cheers from the crowd it was more a guessing game. Translations about that mode were done years later.
The game also features a interesting career mode where your wrestler can learn moves but with everything being in kanjis, you don't know what move means except you tried to draw the kanji and try out every move to translate the menus.
Till today I believe this is one of the best wrestling video games ever done, and beats the complete WWE Smackdown /2K series from 1999 till today in the pure gameplay element. It was a damn fine Dreamcast game.
Tobal No 2
You might know the first part and heard about the 2nd one.
This game is a 3D fighting game for the first Playstation and was released by Square.
It has a damn good fighting game, it had one of the smoothest animations during the 32bit era, had well done graphics and a nice soundtrack ..in short it was a sure 8 or 9/10 game.
But it also had a very big quest mode which was around as 5 times as big as the one in the first Tobal game, had a story and some dialogues. But what made it difficult to play through as a non-Japanese speaker are the many items in the game and what they do. Some foot items shrunk your life instead of giving you energy, some gems had effects you won't be able to understand without knowing the kanji.
This game had actually menus in English already which were "unlocked" though some guy who made a patch to have the English menus already but the main stuff remained Japanese. A damn shame..this game really deserved a worldwide release.
Heavy Metal Thunder!
Just watch the video and you know why it sucks that we did not get this game from Square-Enix either. he game pits futuristic robots against one another in wrestling matches. The player controls a robot during battles using a four-icon menu.
Three actions: strike, guard and grapple can be executed at any time and augments the player's "beat meter". The fourth action, called "beat attack", can be performed once the beat meter is filled and inflicts special damage according to how hard the button is pressed. Icons sometime shake to indicate that they are recommended, but the player must react quickly as each turn is timed. A rock-paper-scissors set of rules determined the winner of each pair of actions.
Anime cut scenes and fictional sponsor information are displayed before the start of each match. The player's robot can be customized to alter its appearance.
This game looked super cool, and I tried to understand it but really failed.
Lets jump to 2014. Sengoku Basara 4, Playstation 3. Capcom.
I played the SB series since I downloaded /pirated SB2 many years ago, tried it out (I downloaded like crazy at the time, burned the games and never played many of them..it was a weird collectors thing) and was surprised by this super fun game which was like Dynasty Warriors but with the fighting similar as in Devil May Cry and crazy Samurai Characters which reminded me at character designs from fighting games.
The Sengoku Basara games have big stories and character interactions during the stages and since everything is in Japanese without any English subtitles its just half the fun playing it without knowing what it means when Ieasu screams something at Mitsunari and vice versa. You can guess the meaning of some dialogues but meh.
This game has also relative many options to change the weapons ..without the translation set online by fans you can get lost without knowing how to increase the elements etc of the weapons.
I bought SB4 and unlocked almost all characters and it was still fun but without knowing the most from the story and the funny relationships of some of the characters it lost a lot of its fun value.
These are just four of probably hmm....300? 500? Good-Awesome but Japan-Only video games for game platforms which were released worldwide.
Today, we miss some really cool games like the Yakuza ones, especially the Yakuza Ishin games look very interesting but if you thought its bad today..than you really don't know what we all missed during 1985-2006. Its crazy how many great games were / are only available in Japan.