10 great Japan-only PSN games and how to download them


In Japan, Yakuza 3 was a critical hit, scoring 38/40 in Famitsu when it released in February this year. But despite its success in Japan, there are no official plans for a western release. Luckily, the Japanese PSN features a great demo for the organized crime thriller. The Yakuza 3 demo is gigantic and offers at least three or four hours worth of gameplay. Best of all, it’s free!

In addition to the story missions, which introduce the player to the world of Yakuza 3, players can chat with girls in a hostess bar, sing karaoke, and play games in a virtual Club Sega. At the arcade, players can choose between a fast-paced shooter game, a quiz game, and a UFO catcher (a Japanese crane game).

Yakuza 3’s vivid and true-to-life version of Tokyo’s red light district, Kabuki-Cho (called Kamuro-Cho in the game), makes this demo a must-play for those who haven’t had a chance to see the famed nightlife spot in person. Since this download may be your only chance you get to play Yakuza 3, make sure it’s the first thing you download once your account is properly set up.

Policenauts is a PlayStation adventure game by Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima. Similar in style, gameplay, and tone to another one of Kojima’s cult hits, Snatcher, Policenauts has been coveted by collectors for over a decade now. Although an unofficial English patch for the original PC-9821 version of the game can be found on seedier sites on the web, Policenauts is so obscure that an official western release seems unlikely. However, with the game available through the Japanese PSN there’s no reason not to play it today (save for the years of Japanese study it would take to understand the story).

It’s the PlayStation version of everyone’s favorite muscle-bound, homo-erotic, 2D shooter! Okay. Well, maybe it’s not everyone's favorite. For those of you who haven’t heard of the series, Cho Aniki is a side-scrolling shooter in which the player controls one of two body building brothers. The first title in the series was originally released for the TurboGrafx-16. In the version available on the PSN, hand-drawn sprites have been replaced by digital photographs, giving the game an extremely 90s feel (think Area 51, Primal Rage, or Mortal Kombat). The game isn’t what we would traditionally call “good” but, the camp and humor of the title easily justify the ¥600 ($6) price tag.

Above: How many phalluses can you find in this screenshot?

Poor Lammy. She always seems to be stuck under Parappa the Rapper’s shadow. Um Jammer Lammy features the same Simon-says gameplay of Parappa, only based around a guitar and rocking out instead of rapping. The North American version of the game suffered from some subtle censorship, when it released for PlayStation in 1999. Casual references to deforestation and trips to hell were removed.

Still, whether you’re playing the North American version or the original Japanese one, Um Jammer Lammy still oozes charm. The characters are surreal, yet endearing, and the stylized visuals help the game look fresh ten years after its original release. As an added bonus, most of the game can be played in English with the exception of a few Japanese words in the game’s menus.

Above: Um Jammer Lammy is less about kung-fu kicking and more about guitar picking

What can we say? We’re suckers for games from Square – and for little more than the price of a quick lunch, you can download one of the best tactical role-playing games ever released on the PlayStation. Unfortunately, due to the game’s detailed menus, and complicated class system, the language barrier will prevent many players from enjoying this classic. Strangers to the series should consider hunting down an English copy of the original version or Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, an updated version of the original for the PSP. Still, many collectors will enjoy the pure Japanese version of this classic.

Above: If you can’t read the text on this image, consider grabbing Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on the PSP instead


  • james-tillett - November 5, 2012 11:28 a.m.

    Its not as hard as it looks apart from the Japanese zip you can fake the rest make sure you leave yourself signed in had quite a few download since opening it even the ps2 titles are region free wouold strongly recomend watching the you-tube tutorial on how to do it. Best place to buy Japanese network cards is Play-asai available as a digital download so many compliments !! as they say in Japan and happy gaming to you all
  • Darkhawk - January 13, 2011 4:30 a.m.

    OMFG when is Einhander getting a NA release? Cho-Aniki has made it over, but not the greatest PS1 shooter ever?
  • elys - September 17, 2009 8:23 a.m.

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  • HMXsean - September 16, 2009 2:36 p.m.

    Wouldn't mined playing some Lammy.
  • katoy toy - September 16, 2009 1:46 a.m.

    I love this site, but the best reason to get an JPSN is Adhoc Party, a free download that allows adhoc PSP connections to occur over the web through the PS3. With a lot of fiddling that is basic, visual, forgiving and easy. Seriously, go!
  • key0blade - September 15, 2009 11:35 p.m.

    Lottsa Japanese stuff goin on these past few days, huh.
  • marty20000 - September 15, 2009 11:35 p.m.

    you can put settings to be in english once your in the username creating thing.... why dont you just put it in english instead? i know because i have a japan account in english
  • Cyberninja - September 15, 2009 8:51 p.m.

    can this work on a psp? i dont have a ps3 yet
  • rockstarsean - September 17, 2009 11:37 a.m.

    Its so much easier if you put your place of residence as Hong Kong, all of the text will now be in english!! Yay!!
  • newton - September 16, 2009 6:27 a.m.

    I played through biohazard 2 in japanese when i was ten :D
  • Ninja-KiLLR - September 16, 2009 12:14 a.m.

    i will have to dig around and try to change it to english then so i can get more use out of my japenesse account
  • Terro - September 15, 2009 10:26 p.m.

    I just use the American PSN store, due to my lack of Japanese language. *Is English and uses the sucky Euro PSN"
  • saltyceadog - September 15, 2009 9:50 p.m.

    Dang, wish I could read Japanese... I want FF:T really bad.
  • Amnesiac - September 15, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    @lovinmyps3: RE2 is coming to the US store. You can hold out for that and not have to go through the hassle of making a JPN account.
  • lovinmyps3 - September 15, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    I'm definately doing this! I've always wanted to play Resident Evil 2 but couldn't find a hard copy. Yakuza 3 would be pretty cool too!

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