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 In the version available on the PSN, hand-drawn sprites have been replaced by digital photographs, giving the game an extremely 90s feel (think Area 51, Primal Rage, or Mortal Kombat).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