The Best Japan-Only Games Of 2013

The Best Japan-Only Games Of 2013

Japanese games can be quite at odds with their Western counterparts. They can be strange. They can be sexy. They can be horrific and brutal. They can also be pretty much similar to what we’re used to, crafted, of course, with love and great care. This year, it was no different.

Here are, in no particular order, seven of what we consider the best of Japan’s offerings for 2013.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns is a game we’ve had a lot of fun with; from costume editing to musical easter eggs, it’s an all-around impressive RPG, and its open world is a welcome deviation from the more linear level design of FFXIII. A must play for any Final Fantasy fan. Do make sure to grab the Cloud costume, though.

Western Release Date: Next year on February 11, 13, and 14 in North America, Australia, and Europe, respectively.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus

Incredibly raunchy and lots of fun to play. Even though it’s unmistakable that the actual point of Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: The Girls’ Proof is pure, unadulterated fanservice, it still manages to be an entertaining game (albeit with a large focus on breasts). Definitely one of the better spectacle fighters out there.

Western Release Date: N/A

Macross 30

Not only is Macross 30 the best Macross game ever, but it is also a very competent arcade flight sim/action-RPG in its own right. Flying around and doing quests on planet Ouroboros is an addictive experience, and with an engaging storyline featuring many, many familiar characters, Macross 30 should keep any Macross fan (or action-RPG fan) busy for a long time.

Western Release Date: N/A

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD

The news that the HD re-releases of Final Fantasy X and X-2 would be coming to the West made a lot of people very happy. And with good reason — both X and X-2 were massively popular in their time, and with updated visuals, menus, and a re-arranged soundtrack, they’ll be ready to be enjoyed by a whole new generation. (Not that the soundtrack needed an update, mind you. That stuff was already amazing.)

Western Release Date: Next year on March 18, 20, and 21 in North America, Australia, and Europe, respectively.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Exciting, engaging, and at times disturbing, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a murder mystery that shouldn’t be missed. And since the version coming to America is the 2013 PS Vita remake, we can expect to see many improvements to the already great PSP visual novel.

Western Release Date: Next year on February 11 in North America, and on the 14th in Europe and Australia.

Akiba’s Trip 2

A premise so insane it just has to be shared: you walk around modern-day Akihabara, Tokyo’s otaku mecca, tearing clothes off vampires, exposing them to the sun and killing them. The actual brawling gameplay a bit flawed, sure, with combat often devolving into button-mashing sessions, but the incredibly original and oh-so-meticulously detailed setting simply cannot be overlooked.

Western Release Date: N/A

Arcadias no Ikusahime

Colourful, pretty, and with great gameplay and an excellent soundtrack to boot, brawler/RPG Arcadias no Ikusahime is straight up fun. While the slightly repetitive combat is certainly a drawback, the game’s humorously lighthearted story can very easily make you forgive that particular flaw. All in all, a well-rounded and well-presented title.

Western Release Date: N/A

Now that you’ve read our selection, which Japan-only games do you folks want to see localised most? And for the ones confirmed for the West — which ones are you personally looking forward to? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Questions? Comments? Contact the author of this post at andras-AT-kotaku-DOT-com.


  • I really don’t think you can count them as “Japan only” if they have English release dates.

    • I was thinking exactly this. There are some fairly good 2013 games with no localizations announced. Off the top of my head, Tales of Hearts R, God Eater 2, Exstetra,, Sen no Kiseki and Project Mirai 2

    • Whaat, but… but… glorious nippon?

      Arcadias seems pretty interesting, and Lightning Returns should be HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

      • Bravely default is amazing, best final fantasy game in ages. Lightning returns is going to suffer from how much the other two games blow and how boring her character is.

        • FFXIV:ARR is also a pretty damn good Final Fantasy game to come out recently (good enough to put the franchise in a good light again). The story and gameplay in that game are definitely more interesting and funner than FFXIII’s.

          Have some music:

          • Played ff14 and I do like the ff aesthetic in it. It is in no way a bad game, but the main story quest is mainly let down by disjointed long stupid quests with boring badly voice acted characters as well, better than ff13 though IMO.

  • I’m pretty hyped for Danganronpa. Can’t get enough visual novels (especially murder/mystery).

    • I watched some of the anime and found it pretty immature, with pretty cliche characters. The violence was something I would have been all like “wow so hardcore” if I was a lot younger. Reminded me of like higurashi or future diary, if that’s what floats your boat.

      What I’m looking forward to next year in the mystery crime genre next year is the next season of psycho pass.

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