Five Tokyo Game Show titles you may never see

The Tokyo Game Show used to be filled with eccentric Japanese titles, destined to be locked away from all but the most hardcore collectors. Those days are over. Almost every major upcoming title on show this year was confirmed for release outside of Japan.  But despite all the talk amongst corporate big wigs at panels about changes in the “global games market” and “reaching out to western audiences,” there were still tons of titles that may never make it to store shelves this side of the Pacific. Here are the five most Japanese Japanese games we witnessed at this year’s TGS. Some seem awesome and some just seem odd. But none of have been confirmed for release outside of Japan yet.


Ryu ga Gotoku 4 (Yakuza 4)

In Japan, the Yakuza series is bigger than Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, or any other popular western franchise. It’s also a vital console exclusive for the PS3. So it’s no surprise that Sega made Yakuza 4 the center of its booth at this year’s TGS. The large display came less than a year after the company displayed Yakuza 3 at last year’s show. This year, the elaborate booth featured not only the game, but many booth babes acting as hostesses. Hostesses are women who are paid to talk (among other things, if the establishment is shady enough) with customers, lavishing them with attention at special hostess bars.

Above: The face we make when contemplating the possibility of learning Japanese so we can play Yakuza 4 

Above: Hostess booth babes at Sega’s Yakuza 4 display 

The game is set in a fictional version Kabuki-Cho, Japan’s largest hive of scum, villainy, and drunken salary men. Yakuza 4 will feature four separate campaigns that can be tackled in any order, each with their own protagonist. The game’s climax will weave these stories together. As expected, the gameplay will feature a mix of brawling, exploration, and minigames, much like the first three titles in the series. Yakuza 4 will also introduce the ability to groom a young hostess. You’ll need to train her in the fine art of hosting and select outfits, but details on this new feature are still sparse.

Above: Don’t expect to explore Yakuza 4’s virtual version of Kabuki-Cho anytime soon 

Sega has yet to announce any official plans for a western release of Yakuza 3. So it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing Yakuza 4 at your local game store anytime soon. In the meantime, our best advice for you is to check out this guide, which will help you log into the Japan PlayStation Network so you can download the Yakuza 3 demo for free.

Above: The Yakuza 4 TGS trailer posted by

Ni no Kuni: The Another World

Ni no Kuni is a collaboration between Level-5, the developers of Professor Layton and the Curious Village -  and Studio Ghibli, the animation studio famous for films like Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro.

Above: Ni no Kuni is Studio Ghibli’s first videogame project 

The game itself is a turn-based JRPG about a young boy who discovers magic powers through the use of a book of runes, and gains the ability to pass into a parallel world. Players cast magic by drawing runes with the stylus. From what we’ve seen of the demo at TGS, Ni no Kuni delivers lots of eye candy with loads of lush hand-drawn art and smooth cutscenes that make you feel like you’re adventuring through a colorful and picturesque world from one of Studio Ghibli’s finely polished films.

Due to the popularity of Level-5’s Professor Layton and Disney releases of Studio Ghibli films, we wouldn’t be surprised if a western release of Ni no Kuni was eventually announced. But for now, Ni no Kuni has only been confirmed for a Japan release on Nintendo DS.

Above: The gameplay footage for Ni no Kuni is most impressive for a DS title

Winter Sonata

The Korean drama that swept the world is now available in videogame form on DS. Alright, unless you live in Asia or you’re a rabid fan of Korean prime-time soap operas, you’ve probably never heard of Winter Sonata. Suffice it to say, it’s the biggest drama show to come along in East Asia this decade. Now D3 Publisher has turned it into a “visual novel.”

Above: We’re still waiting for the visual novel genre to explode here in the West 

Visual novels are a genre that has never made much headway with western audiences. The titles most resemble western adventure games, except they tend to use static as opposed to animated images. The games also tend to be told from the first-person perspective. The Ace Attorney series is probably the closest thing to a visual novel that most of us have seen. Visual novels are major hits in Japan, particularly on the PC. Earlier this year the best selling game for Wii was 428 Fusa Sareta Shibuya (428: Blockaded Shibuya).

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  • dreamgor - October 16, 2009 8:07 p.m.

    (sees the okami sequel and the studio ghibli rpg on the list) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! "takes gun and shoot myself"... ... ... i'm dead of disappointment i won't say anything recaptcha: bore ing ... that is what my life will be if i don't get either of those games...
  • crumbdunky - October 8, 2009 8:43 p.m.

    Don't worry then stormy! Y3, contrary to what GR say IS coming west-according to Sega-and is widowed for a March2010 release. Every other Yakuza pre Kenzan has gone west so why not Y3 and 4? Sega have let this out even if it wasn't done with a fanfare-trust me Yakuza3 is coming to the US and EU next spring. Fact. Dunno why people want to feel it isn't coming when it clearly is doing. Sadly, they could have done it earlier and more cheaply by utiliaing the region free games on PS3. Just do another production run and sell as imports to the west and release localised translation patches over PSN. The only fly in that ointment is that the western version(which apparently isn't coming even though it clearly is)is having to have the "pimping" game cut out of it for "cultural" reasons-though if sold as an import as I suggested it would have avoided both that cut and lots of the localisation(ie voice actors etc)costs-but, for some odd reason Sega won't return my messages! Anyway-it IS coming out and they said so about two weeks ago which is where I got the date and the news of the cut from too.
  • stormrider777 - October 7, 2009 7:52 a.m.

    i love the yakuza games. i want 3 bad!
  • Sabtos - October 7, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    I'm with Conman and Awesome, Okamiden not coming to the states will cause bloodshed.
  • FlyinMX - October 6, 2009 11:52 p.m.

    I'd like Okamiden as well but what I really want is an english release of Tales of Vesperia PS3 version. Guessing I'll have to import it when I get a PS3.
  • Awesomeforthemasses - October 6, 2009 10:09 p.m.

    If Okamiden isn't released here, the full extent of my rage will be unleashed!
  • FrozenImplosion - October 6, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    :O!!! I have always wondered what would happen if Miyazaki made a game! I am REALLY hoping to see that in the US now!
  • CH3BURASHKA - October 6, 2009 9:16 p.m.

    I take that back: Okamiden isn't yet confirmed as a US title??? WTF???
  • CH3BURASHKA - October 6, 2009 9:15 p.m.

    Whatever they turn out to be, it's bullshit! Frankly, as long as Last Guardian is still set for the US, I couldn't give less of a shit.
  • Cyberninja - October 6, 2009 9:05 p.m.

    i think the another world is coming out in america because it was in nintendo power
  • NotSteve - October 6, 2009 8:54 p.m.

    I actually just got my hands on a used copy of Yakuza 2 and would kill to see 3 and 4 released stateside.
  • Conman93 - October 6, 2009 8:52 p.m.

    We had better get okamiden or someone will pay!! Im serious ( aids serious )