Nintendo is one of the longest-standing names in gaming history. Entering into the arcade industry after various other business ventures, the gaming giant helped save the entire industry. With seven home consoles and five handheld ecosystems, the Japanese giant has been making varied gaming experiences across multiple generations for the entire world to enjoy.
Yet, with all of that in mind, not every game comes to North America. In fact, many titles for Nintendo games don't make it out of Japan. Not all of these are made by the house of Mario, of course, however their ties to Nintendo hardware give them an association with the platform maker to many fans. We want to focus on both first party and third party experiences in this list. Here are 10 Japanese Nintendo Games We Wish Came To North America.
10 Dynamic Slash
The Wii has a pretty bad reputation in North America. Despite boasting a pretty decent library of strong exclusives from Nintendo, it's lack of power and quality control really besmirched its reputation. That's what makes Dynamic Slash —a title published by Nintendo — frustrating from a fan's perspective. As an M-Rated title made with Wii Motion Plus in mind, Dynamic Slash also supports four-player co-op through Nintendo's WiFi service.
With a focus on Norse Mythology, players hack and slash their way through hoards of enemies with precision. In many ways, it's like a deeper Dynasty Warriors experience, and it would have been embraced in North America.
9 Digimon Story Lost Evolution
The Nintendo DS has a robust library that, for many players, is overwhelming enough to tackle without getting into titles that never made it to North America. Still, despite the overflowing of quality titles, we still wish Bandai Namco's Digimon Lost Story Evolution came stateside. Taking control of one of two possible protagonists who just moved to a new town, players are transported to the Digital World where they're forced to overthrow a group of villains looking to, well, do bad guy stuff. While the plot isn't necessarily groundbreaking by any means, Digimon Story Lost Evolution is a solid RPG on a handheld console known for some of the best of its time.
8 The Firemen
You know, outside of 1994's The Firemen and 2016's Firefighters: The Simulation, there aren't a lot of video games focused on this profession. It's kind of strange too, since one would assume a disaster like a fire could make for some captivating gameplay. Still, at least we got something, but we're going to focus on the former in this entry. Developed by Human Entertainment, this disaster-title was released in Europe, Japan, and Australia — but not North America.
After a fire breaks out in a chemical plant, it's up to players to run to the rescue equipped with a hose to put out the flames and save civilians along the way. It's a pretty cool concept for a game, and it's a shame it never came to North America, but it's even more egregious that it didn't become a bigger franchise.
7 Disaster: Day of Crisis
Monolith Soft almost defined the Wii with their classic title, Xenoblade Chronicles, but in many other regions, they made another prestigious console exclusive in Disaster: Day of Crisis. Playing out like the corniest 1980's action flick, players take control of former US Marine and professional rescue-person Raymond Bryce. Following the on-the-job death of his partner, he's given an antique compass that he was meant to give to the partner's sister when they returned. Stricken by guilt, our hero never managed to build up the courage to do so, but when she goes missing, he makes it his responsibility to find her.
It's an interesting premise for a title, and with a heavy emphasis on action, players will never stay bored. Not only that, but it's one of the best looking games on the Wii. We know, that's not a huge accomplishment, but it gets some bonus points from us for that feat.
6 Captain Rainbow
Captain Rainbow is so weird, and we wish it could have come to North America for that reason alone. Playing as a washed-up TV-Superhero, players are taken to a faraway island where other Nintendo characters are living. With a mix of action and Animal Crossing-inspired downtime mechanics, players are tasked with helping B-Level characters from popular Nintendo franchises. These characters include, but are not limited to, Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2, Little Mac from Punch-Out, Tracy from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and the Devil from Devil World.
While the crossover aspect of the game gave the title notary outside of Japan, despite being region-specific, it's a really great game published by Nintendo that should have come to North America.
5 Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei
Shin Megami Tensei is a historic RPG franchise dating back to the 1980s, and while titles have been spread across multiple platforms from the PC to the PlayStation, for some reason, it just feels like home on a Nintendo platform. That might be thanks to the more recent titles staying exclusive on the 3DS and, eventually, the Switch, but for a while, the franchise was console-exclusive to the Famicom.
Developed by Atlus for the PC and Famicom, players are thrown into an underground labyrinth following the creation of digital versions of God and the Devil, along with a plethora of other demons. They're tasked with battling, building their party and exploring a massive dungeon.
4 Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
While we have mentioned this before, the Wii's content droughts were a big problem in the mid to late 2000s, so it's really annoying that a new entry in the Fatal Frame series never made it stateside. Simply put, Fatal Frame is one of the great horror franchises of our time, and Mask of the Lunar Eclipse only furthered that notion. Putting players on a haunted island full of evil spirits, players are equipped with their trusty camera, the only thing keeping them safe.
Developed by Grasshopper Studios, with Sudo 51 at the helm, this game is really well made, but don't expect the game maker's trademarked absurdity here. This is a grounded horror game inspired by Japanese ghost movies. It's a shame we never got this stateside.
3 Mario & Wario
Mario is the face of Nintendo and is easily the most recognizable character in gaming history. Yet, despite this, he's the star of quite a few games that never left Japan. Mario & Wario is just one example. Released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993, there were plans to bring the game to North America, yet, for one reason or another, it just didn't happen.
With a focus on puzzle-platforming, the game will conjure up feelings of Mario vs Donkey Kong as players are tasked with guiding Mario, Peach, or Yoshi to the end of the stage to meet up with Luigi. Along the way, however, the dastardly Wario will try and thwart you. It's up to the player to use the fairy, Wanda, to protect them.
2 Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of The Holy War
Fire Emblem may be a household name in North America these days, but back in 1996, it was a pretty niche franchise with a new entry on the Super Famicom. As a hardcore tactical RPG, this game is the first in the series to implement the "weapons triangle" battle system, that essentially turned battles into rock-paper-scissors encounters, and while that was a breakthrough for the game, it has so much more to offer. Decisions made in earlier maps can impact later battles, and character relationships are at the heart of the experience.
1 Mother 3
We here in North America have begged for more of the Mother series, but Nintendo has been a little shy in bringing it over. Outside of Earthbound, Mother 2, the region has actually been pretty baren regarding the franchise. Yet, things looked promising when Nintendo released Mother 3 for the DS in 2006, but it never moved across the ocean.
Putting players in the shoes of Lucas, a boy with telekinetic powers, they must try and stop an alien invasion that will corrupt the town. With a top-down perspective and that classic Mother humor, this game is everything fans of the series ever wanted.