Go West! The top import games of 2012


It was a great year for games.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a very special edition of Go West!.

It's the holiday season, which means it's time for me to drop a list of the top five import games of the year. 2012 hosted a massive list of Japan-only games, many of which were quite fantastic. Trying to cut things down to ten titles was no easy feet, but after a long and hard battle, I'm ready to present you all with the top five imports of the year.

Follow me after the break as I drop some phat beats in the form of a list. A phat list.

Top five import titles for 2012:

Number 5:

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f (Playstation Vita)
Publisher: Sega 
Online Price: 6,750 Yen ($84.90)

For fans of the rhythm genre, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f was a must-have title in 2012. Featuring a list of new songs and modules for your favorite Vocaloids, Project Diva f is a game full of content. Visually, it's the best looking game in the series and the Vita screenshot feature means you can capture every stunning moment. I put quite a few hours into this beast, but don't take it from me, our resident Project Diva fan, Chris, reviewed the game in full. 

In a year that featured two Vocaloid rhythm games, Project Diva f comes out on top and deserves your import bucks. There is a PS3 version hitting Japanese store shelves early next year, so if that's your preferred console of choice, feel free to wait it out. Either way, you can't go wrong with Sega's latest.


Number 4:

Time Travelers (Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS)
Publisher: Level 5
Online Price: 5,080 Yen ($71.90)

While the rest of the games on this list were about as excellent as I had expected, Level 5's Time Travelers came as a something of a surprise. Coming from the mind of Jirou Ishii (428), Time Travelers tells the story of a group of five unknowing heroes who come together to save the world from an insane group of terrorists. The game plays out much like a visual novel, though with 3D models and many more dialogue branches.

The game can be completed in a brisk ten hours, but in that period of time you'll laugh, cry and feel all the feels. There are some odd moments of Japanese humor here and there, but Jirou Ishii once again proves himself a fantastic storyteller. The only bummer? Time Travelers is text heavy, meaning if you dont have a solid handle on the Japanese language, you might want to steer clear for a bit. 


Number 3:

Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta (Playstation Vita)
Online Price: 6,550 Yen ($82.90)

Look, if you haven't already experienced the awesomeness of Falcom's Ys series, I don't know what to tell you. These are some of the best action RPGs on the market, and Foliage Ocean in Celceta carries on that tradition. Fast paced action, beautiful visuals and amazing music are the order of the day, as Celceta delivers on pretty much everything you've come to expect from a great action game. 

Seeing Falcom's take on the story of Ys IV is also fascinating, as we finally get our first real look at Adol's childhood and his reasoning for becoming an adventurer in the first place. Unlike the excessively wordy Ys Seven, Celceta does a a solid job of reining things back and letting players explore the gigantic ocean of trees on their own. Each section of the world is interconnected not unlike a Metroid game, which gives Celceta a different sort of feel from its precursors. 

Falcom proves once again that they're the masters of the action RPG.


Number 2:

Nayuta no Kiseki (Playstation Portable)
Publisher: Falcom
Online Price: 5,700 Yen ($72.90)

What? Two Falcom games on one list?! Blasphemy!

I know, I know. While it seems unfair, at the end of the day, Nayuta no Kiseki hits all the right notes, telling a personal story of a group of friends coming together to overcome their differences. Beautiful music, bright visuals that push the limits of the PSP, and fantastic replay value make for an unrivaled action experience. To be honest, if it weren't for the game below, Nayuta would have been a fairly easy pick for the top import title of 2012.

The development team behind Nayuta had hoped to create a Kiseki game that would give new fans a chance to experience the signature storytelling style of the franchise, thus providing a good entry point to the series. As far as I'm concerned, they succeeded. An action RPG at its core, Nayuta puts a heavy focus on combat, which makes it feel more like the Ys series at times. By bringing in the simple ability to jump, the way levels are designed changes entirely. If you were a fan of Ys VI and Oath in Felghana, this is your game.


Number 1:

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (Nintendo 3DS)
Square Enix
Online Price: 5,760 Yen ($72.90)

If you've read my Bravely Default review from a few weeks ago, then you know exactly how I feel about Square Enix's latest Nintendo 3DS RPG. Developed by Silicon Studio with a scenario penned by the excellent Nataka Hayashi (Steins;Gate), Bravely Default is an old school JRPG featuring turn based combat and an elaborate job system that allows for a deep level of character/party customization. The music, handled by the talented Revo, is a refreshing take on the sounds one expects from an SE RPG.

Beyond the excellent gameplay and production values, where Bravely Default truly shines is its story. Subverting many genre tropes and cliches, BD is game that at first appears to be the standard, predictable JRPG fluff. As the layers begin to unravel, Hayashi's influence becomes increasingly clear. It's not a stretch to call this Bravely Default: Steins;Gate. Saying anymore would be a spoiler, but just know that you're in for one hell of a ride.

Bravely Default is an incredible RPG in a year of magnificent Japanese games. It wasn't easy picking a single game for this spot, but if any of the top five deserve it, it's this one. I don't care how you do it, but please just find a way to play this game. 

[That's all folks! What import titles did you enjoy this year? Get any Japan-only games for the holidays? Want some more recommendations from moi? Sound off in the comments below!]

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Elliot Gay
Elliot GayContributor   gamer profile

Elliot is an associate editor for Japanator and can be found contributing to Destructoid on occasion. He lives in Japan and can be found on Twitter @RyougaSaotome. more + disclosures


Filed under... #Go West! #import #Japanator Original #top stories #Video games



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