If you’re a gamer, you likely already know that Japan makes some of the best titles around. However, there are several incredible series that didn’t really see major success in the west. Today, we’ll be paying tribute to these amazing franchises.

1. Danganronpa

Danganronpa 2 gameplay
Spike Chunsoft

Danganronpa is part visual novel, part dating sim. There are three main games in the series, but the plot is always essentially the same: you’re a student at a school of “Ultimates” – people who are the best in their respective fields. However, you’re locked in. Forever. The only way out is to be the last alive.

These games blend murder/mystery scenarios with all the drama of a legal game like Ace Attorney. It’ll take a fair amount of thought, cunning, and an in-depth knowledge of your classmates to see the closing credits.

2. Yakuza


Yakuza or Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, is simply exquisite. It follows an ex-yakuza named Kazuma Kiryu as he tries to escape from this lifestyle and protect the ones he loves. This series is exceptionally cheesy, melodramatic, and over-the-top, but that’s part of what makes it great.

One of the best things about the Yakuza games is their attention to detail: they’re set in a fictional version of Kabukicho, Tokyo, and you’re free to wander through the crowded side streets, entering tiny cafes and generally just exploring while beating up low-level punks as you go.

3. Persona

Persona 5 aesthetics
Dripping style. Credit: Atlus, 2017.

The Persona games are an exercise in nostalgia. They take place over the course of a year, and your character has to attend school, do homework, and somehow find time to hang out with friends while also saving the world. The battle system might be a little repetitive, but that’s honestly the worst part of these games; the real fun comes from getting to know your companions and just hanging out.

If you’re looking for a game where you put solving a murder on hold so you can catch a really big fish or get a moped license, Persona is exactly what you need.

4. Ni No Kuni


Ni No Kuni is something really special. The first game was animated by the staff over at Studio Ghibli, and as such, it has a very familiar aesthetic. Despite this, the story gets very dark, very quickly. You’ll play as a regular person from our world who was magically transported to a fantasy land full of wizards, monsters, and political struggles.

There’s so much to do in these games. You can scour the map for secrets, learn new spells, and even spend a huge amount of time helping people out. The second game gives you a kingdom to run too, so expect to spend a huge amount of time customizing your castle and shops.

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

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