Although most video games are released worldwide, there are some games and video game consoles that are exclusively released in only a certain region. Some of these games may receive some slight changes, but at least they're released worldwide. Japan is one country that often gets exclusives. Whether they're exclusive consoles or exclusive games, there are many games that are never officially released in other countries.
Although many of these games have gotten fan-made translations into other languages and are now playable by gamers around the world, that doesn't change the fact that the developer and publisher never actually gave them a real release anywhere outside of Japan.
To see 10 games that were never released outside of Japan, keep reading!
10 Sweet Home
Sweet Home is a game that was released for the Famicom, Japan's version of the Nintendo Entertainment System, back in 1989. Sweet Home is a survival horror game that served as the inspiration for future survival horror games that became famous worldwide like Silent Hill and Resident Evil.
The game follows a group of five filmmakers who have traveled to the abandoned mansion of a famous artist named Ichirō Mamiya who hid several paintings in his home before disappearing without a trace. Players can control one to three characters at a time and take them through the mansion to find its secrets.
9 Dōbutsu no Mori
Even though Animal Crossing has become a huge deal around the world, there's one game in the Animal Crossing franchise that was never released outside of Japan. Considering Japan actually got a movie based on the games and has gotten tons of exclusive toys based on it too, this isn't all that shocking.
Dōbutsu no Mori, also known as Animal Forest, is a game that was released on the Nintendo 64 exclusively in Japan in 2001. Even though Dōbutsu no Mori was never released anywhere outside of Japan, animal crossing fans don't have to worry about missing out on this game! The game was remade and released worldwide on the GameCube as Animal Crossing in 2002.
Even though Policenauts never saw a release outside of Japan, this game has still become super popular with video game fans all over the world. This game was released by Konami for the PC-9821 in 1994 and was re-released on other consoles, including the 3DO, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn in Japan. This game is a visual novel with a point-and-click style.
The game follows a character named Jonathan Ingram who is a "Policenaut." In the game, Policenauts are astronauts that are also police officers who have been assigned to Beyond Coast, the world's first space colony. The game begins in 2013 and follows Jonathan over 2 decades later, following his accidental disappearance.
7 Captain Rainbow
Captain Rainbow is a brightly-colored action game that was released in 2008 for the Wii console in Japan. Despite the fact that there were initially rumors that this game was being translated into English by the developers, this game was never released with an official translation anywhere outside of Japan.
This game follows the main character, Nick, who is a totally normal person. But when he dons his Captain Rainbow suit, he becomes the TV superhero that many people once loved. Nick wants to become popular again. In order to do so, he travels to a mysterious island where people believe that their wishes and dreams become reality.
6 Mother 3
Even though Mother 3 was never released outside of Japan, this game has become pretty popular all over the world. Nintendo fans occasionally start rumors that the game is going to be given a worldwide release and Nintendo even features characters from this game in other games. Despite this, the world outside of Japan has yet to see a full release of Mother 3.
This game was released in 2006 on the Game Boy Advance and is the final game in the Mother series. The Mother series is known in the rest of the world as the EarthBound series. This game follows Lucas and Claus as they explore the world. Although this game was put on the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2016 in Japan, the rest of the world is still waiting for Nintendo to release the game.
5 Deep Fear
Deep Fear is a game that was released in 1998 on the Sega Saturn. Technically, this game was released outside of Japan because it made its way to Europe. But retro gamers trying to get their hands on this game are incredibly unlikely to find anything but Japanese versions on the market these days. That means that this game is widely considered a game that was never released outside of Japan.
This survival horror game follows John Mayor through a research facility deep below the Pacific Ocean known as The Big Table. This game has fixed camera angles and a unique oxygen mechanic, making the player's exploration through The Big Table challenging.
4 Shining Force III
Shining Force III is a game that was released almost exclusively in Japan on the Sega Saturn between 1997 and 1998. Three volumes were released and a special extra disc was released by the developers for fans that collected the entire set of volumes for this game. Unfortunately for fans outside of Japan, only Scenario 1 was released in Europe and North America.
This game is a turn-based role-playing game with a really unique grid system. Battles happen on this grid system and each item and character has a certain number of squares on the grid. They also have certain moves they can make along the grid and certain actions they can take to become more powerful against enemies.
3 Phantasy Star Online 2
Phantasy Star Online 2 is a unique game in that it may actually be seeing a non-Japanese release in the near future. This game was initially released in Japan on the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo Switch between 2012 and 2018. But, it was recently announced that this game is scheduled to be released in North America on the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows in Q4 of 2020.
In this game, players create and customize a character known as a "Ship." Everything from the race, gender, class, and appearance are available for the player to customize. This means that players can make their Ship totally unique! This game is an action game in which players collect energy in the form of Photons in order to keep the battles going.
2 Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a survival horror game that was released in 2008 for the Wii in Japan. Although other games in the Fatal Frame series were released worldwide, this game was a Japanese exclusive. This is also notable because it was the first Fatal Frame game to be released on a Nintendo Console. A European release was announced but canceled but luckily, an English fan translation was released in 2010.
This game is set in 1980, 10 years after Yō Haibara, a suspected serial killer, was accused of abducting five girls. The girls were rescued but had lost all their memories. At the start of this game, two of the girls have lost their lives in mysterious ways. This inspires two of the others to seek out the truth about their past.
1 Jump Ultimate Stars
Jump Ultimate Stars is basically the manga version of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. It was released exclusively in Japan on the Nintendo DS. This game features over 300 different characters from 41 different Shōnen manga series.
The player uses manga panels to create a grid. Each panel has a different size and represents a single manga character. The panels fit into one of three different battle mods: Battle, Support, and Help. Players must combine these panels and characters in order to create the optimal team for each battle.