Monday, October 03, 2016

Five overlooked Japanese PlayStation games you need to play as soon as possible

Most folks who love the original PlayStation know all about Japan-only gems like Harmful Park, LSD: Dream Emulator, Rakugaki Showtime, Slap Happy Rhythm Busters, Vib-Ribbon and Umihara Kawase Shun.

There are a lot of other PSone imports that are worth picking up and playing, though--and many of them are far more affordable than the titles mentioned above. Here are five such games. (Bonus: all of the following can be enjoyed without knowing a lick of Japanese.)

Engacho!--I know why people ignore this game even after they become aware of it. It's gross--and not in a Mortal Kombat kind of way. No, this colorful puzzler is gross in an "it's full of boogers and spit and smelly armpit hair" kind of way. The thing is, the brain-teasing gameplay that surrounds all of this grossness is not only fun and challenging, but unique. To learn more about it, read my Engacho! review. (If you'd also like to get a glimpse of this game's outer case, disc and manual, check out my post, "What in the hell does Engacho! mean, anyway?"

Gussun Paradise--Although I can understand why a lot of Westerners shy away from Engacho!, I'm completely flummoxed that they treat Gussun Paradise in the same manner. For starters, the latter game was made by the masters at Irem. Second, it's a single-screen platformer à la Don Doko Don and all kinds of other Taito releases. Third, its graphics are so cute and colorful it's hard not to grin like an idiot while basking in their glow. For more information on this Gussun Oyoyo spinoff, and to see some snapshots of its packaging, peruse this old post about it.

Lup Salad: Loopop Cube--If adorable games tend to give you toothache, you may have to see your dentist for a root canal after playing this puzzler-platformer from 2012. Not only are its sprite-based characters, blocks and backdrops as precious as can be, but the same can be said of its ear-pleasing soundtrack. You'd do well to try Loopop Cube (or Lupupu Cube or Rupupu Cube) even if the description and screenshot above give you pause, though, as the block-pushing and -matching gameplay at the center of this title will entice even the biggest haters to waste many an hour on it.

Mad Panic Coaster--All of the Japan-only PlayStation games that have been discussed up to this point are unquestionably enjoyable affairs. The same can't be said of Mad Panic Coaster. So why on earth have I included it here? Because it's so damn weird--it's basically an on-rails racer that's set on a bunch of themed roller coasters--that it's worth playing even if it can be maddeningly frustrating and difficult at times. If you're a collector of import PSone titles, by the way, do yourself a favor and hunt down a complete-in-box copy of Mad Panic Coaster. Its instruction manual (ogle scans of it here) alone will make you appreciate your purchase.

Susume! Taisen Puzzle-Dama--For whatever reason, Konami's long-running Taisen Puzzle-Dama never made waves outside of Japan like other match-two and -three titles from the same era. You know the ones I'm talking about: Columns, Magical Drop, Puyo Puyo and their ilk. That's too bad, as the various iterations of Taisen Puzzle-Dama I've played--including this one and one that features the company's TwinBee characters--are a blast. That's partially because of its frantic puzzling action, of course, but it's also because of its wacky cast (see above) and sense of humor.

Can you think of any unfortunately overlooked or ignored Japan-only PSone games that people in other parts of the world really need to play? If so, share them in the comments section of this post.

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