More Unorthodox, Japanese Games, Please
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We need more genre diversity in this country; our games are too straightforward and conventional. Catlateral Damage and Mew-Genics aside, most titles tend to fall into the same mold, especially on consoles. It's time for Western developers and publishers to open up their minds and either start being more creative, or begin localizing some of Japan's more unorthodox gems.

The thought occurred to me as I was playing @Simple DL Series: Vol.7: Assault the Cheating Boyfriend! Caught You Red Handed on my Japanese 3DS. It's an unorthodox twist on the typical adventure game, as the heroine is the victim of a cheating boyfriend, and must explore his room to find enough evidence to throw it in his face and prove he's scum. Literally, you actually get to "throw" it at the boyfriend by shaking your 3DS. It's quite cathartic. It also would have been easy to localize and, I think, a perfect impulse-buy game for the 3DS eShop. Alas, it's only available in Japan.

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We don't realize how many of these wonderfully strange and unorthodox games are out there, waiting to be played, like the Kobito Zukan series. Think of it as an anti-Pokemon life simulation. Players are tasked with capturing the most grotesque little dwarves that are also part food. It capitalizes on Japan's kimokawaii (ugly-cute) fad and the two 3DS games allow players to capture more of these freaks and raise them as pets. Best virtual pet ever? Probably, and you can bet I'm going to try and get a copy as soon as possible.

And you'd think some company would have tried to capitalize on the vampire craze by localizing one of the Akiba's Trip games. This is an open world game set in Akihabara, Japan. Players control a young man tasked with exploring the city, searching for Kageyashi, which are basically vampires. What do you do if you find one? Battle it out, attempting to rip off enough of the human-shaped monster's clothing to expose it to the sun. Once enough skin is showing, the creature bursts into black flames, then disappears. Also, you can explore the sites of Akihibara, engaging in otaku activities like stopping at a maid cafe for food, or dressing up in the finest cosplay armor available.

Of course, any article on strange games that really should have been made available to everyone wouldn't be complete without LSD: Dream Emulator. It's a game only in the loosest sense of the word (Just like Gone Home is!). Players begin a dream and wander around surreal, and sometimes scary, environments. Walking into walls, people, or objects makes you travel to a different dream. All things must end, and someone "wakes up" naturally or after "dying" in a fall. Did I mention there are also creepy figures, like the Gray Man, who will keep you from being able to remember a dream if you touch him? Slender Man has nothing on him. I'm still very disappointed that MonkeyPaw Games hasn't found a way to bring it to the PlayStation Store as a PSOne Import.

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Fortunately, there are some companies that realize the value of these unusual games. Carpe Fulgar went out and got us Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale. Namco Bandai took chances on Katamari Damacy and Muscle March. Sure, one did better than the other, but it happens. And of course we can't ignore the wonderful weirdness of Hatoful Boyfriend and Alpaca Evolution, two games that will keep us from looking at rather ordinary animals the same way ever again.

Probably the most recent "success" in this field goes to Atlus, a company that decided to go ahead, take a chance and release the RPG/dating sim Conception II outside of Japan. It only sounds strange when you break it down to its most basic concept. Really, it's a typical, save-the-world, dungeon crawler. The only difference is that your party members are made up of space-magic children that were made because you got close to one of your classmates. Okay, it sounds strange and is strange, but people are going to be drawn to it because of that.

Really though, we do need more of these unusual games. Japanese developers have been thinking outside the realms of what we consider normal for years, and we need more of it. I think we've reached a point where we're all more accepting of what games can be and do, and are ready to seek out things that are unorthodox because they'd provide such a different and imaginative experience. Open your minds, people! And please, somebody consider localizing Kobito Zukan: Kobito Kansatsu Set so I don't have to pay an exorbitant price to import it.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada
@JMariye

Contributing Writer
Date: 01/23/2014

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