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22 Wonderfully Japanese AF Video Games

List RulesVote up the games that weren't simply developed in Japan, but are so quintessentially Japanese.

A lot of amazing video games (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Final Fantasy, Contra, Resident Evil, etc.) were made in Japan. While those games were very accessible to a Western audience, there are some games that are, let's say, uniquely Japanese. These video games are either deeply Japanese in their style and story or they simply don't really translate to other cultures. These are some super Japanese video games here, people.

The most Japanese video games represent a difference in aesthetic, taste, and mindset that reflects the idiosyncrasy of the weird island nation that we all love. Many of these video games find niches in Western markets simply because they are so "Japan." Others make it because, hey, they are really good games. Whatever the case may be, these are some Japanese video games that are well worth checking out.

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  • Video: YouTube

    Words cannot fully describe that which is Katamari Damacy for PS2. As the son of the rainbow-vomiting King of the Cosmos, it is your sole duty in life to take a sticky ball called a Katamari and roll up every item in the world into it. Naturally, most things in said world are as absurd as you are. While it starts out the size of a thumbtack, you gradually roll your ever-expanding ball until it is large enough to consume entire cities!

    As weirdly Japanese as the game is, it just works. It is a really fun game. There is something strangely comforting about it, just rolling everything up into the Katamari. The experience is very zen, despite the screams of children and old women as they are consumed by the ball.

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    40 VOTES

    Ōkami

    Video: YouTube

    Ōkami is as Japanese as enjoying a glass of nihonshu while you watch the cherry blossoms bloom on a warm spring day. Bursting with Shinto (a traditional Japanese religion) symbolism, you play as the honorable (Ō) god (kami) Amaterasu, embodied as a wolf. The "celestial brush" tool evokes shodō, and the entire game is styled like a beautiful ukiyo-e print.

    Originally released for the PS2 and subsequently for the Wii and PS3, the game is as fun as it is beautiful. The gameplay is solid, and the story is enthralling. The dialogue is witty and engaging, really drawing the player in and giving personality and dimension to the characters. Simply put, this is a must-play.

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  • Video: YouTube

    The Mii universe is a strange and random place, and you are the cold and distant God that runs it. This game basically involves the user making and importing Miis (basically a chibi human avatar) and then following them through their absurdist existence. Random news flashes announce the opening of new parts of the game, played out by the Miis themselves. The Miis also date, get married and make baby Miis. The strangest part is probably the dreams the Miis have, which take the surrealistic absurdity to the next level.

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    Video: YouTube

    The Fatal Frame series is absolutely terrifying. It isn't just that you are playing as a petite Japanese girl whose only weapon against malevolent spirits is a camera. This PS2 game manages to be as terrifyingly atmospheric as the best horror films. Named Zero in Japan, the game takes you through Japanese settings and lore as you use the "camera obscura" to exorcize the spirits of the dead.

    At times, the game struggles with the usual survival horror pitfalls, such as tricky camera angles and the sheer masochism of the genre. When your nerves are shot after several hours of creeping dread, you do start to question the "fun" level. Despite this, it is actually a really well-made game that shouldn't be overlooked by anyone who enjoys the style. It's immeasurably better than some of the Resident Evil games, at least, and if you want to get scared, this will do the trick.

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    #58 of 382 List of Games With Girls in the Lead & Female Protagonists#15 of 104 The Greatest Survival Horror Games of All Time#16 of 113 The Scariest Video Games of All Time

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