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The PS1 was my first console, and the PS2 was my second. The latter had most of my favorite childhood games on it, and I’ll continue to hold a huge amount of love for it. While that probably means I’ll be spending way too much money trying to rebuild my PS2 game collection (apologies to my future bank account), it also means I’ll be looking for a similar experience with current-gen consoles.
I skipped over the PS3 because I thought the Xbox360 had better exclusives, and the PS4 didn’t really give me anything extra as far as I was concerned. I think those years were primarily won by PC indie games, but that’s a story for another time.
As I ponder my future console purchase and seem to be completely bombarded by them any time I go into a Japanese HardOff, it got me wondering what Japanese games would find their way into my hands first. Turns out, quite a few!
So, here are 6 of the coolest Japanese PS5 games I’ll be buying when I grab the console, and the games I think you should play too!
1. Elden Ring
100% Completion Time: 133 Hours+ (Unless you snap the game in half and rage quit. Highly likely, I won’t lie)
From the company that brought us Dark Souls, the first on our list of the best Japanese games is Elden Ring. While this isn’t a video game set in Japan, it’s still one of the greatest Japanese games ever created. Though, it’s not for the faint-hearted. And with a completion time of around 133 hours, it’ll be a pretty hard game to speedrun.
I’ve had the pleasure, or perhaps misery, of playing Dark Souls 3 and I’ll tell you now that it isn’t the game for you if you don’t have patience. Elden ring follows much the same path and requires you to learn every mechanic of the game from the ground up.
If you’ve not played any soul-like games before, this is gonna be a huge challenge. You won’t be able to go into every fight waving your sword around and expecting to win, instead, you’ll have to consider the game more like a turn-based JRPG.
Poke your enemies gently, and then retreat. Watch how they respond, their attack style, and their technique. Now, hit back at the right time, and repeat until they (or you) die. Congratulations! You’ve learned how to fight one out of over 140 unique monsters in Elden ring. Good luck with the rest of them!
With an absolutely enormous map, a huge roster of enemies, practically endless side quests, dungeons, and secret spots, Elden Ring is the Japanese video game you won’t want to put down. …Well, it’s either the game you won’t want to put down or the one you’ll want to throw in the bin after your 1,000 attempts at beating Malenia Blade of Miquella, and failing…
2. Tales of Arise
100% Completion Time: 73 Hours+
If you’re looking for a decent JRPG for the PS5, definitely take a look at Tales of Arise. As the 17 entry into the Tales series, you can tell they’ve refined it well. The game will see you fight against the oppression of the Dahnan people, one of the two protagonist’s home worlds.
This is definitely a more forgiving game than Elden ring, and certainly the Japanese PS5 game you should play if you’re looking for that classic JRPG feel. IGN’s Kat Bailey suggests that Tales of Arise is more of a refresh than the reboot Yusuke Tomizawa, the game’s producer states.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s clear that it’s aimed at both newcomers and series veterans. That’s always nice to see with game genres like JRPGs, which do have a certain air of exclusivity to them.
The graphics have also been given a massive improvement over any previous titles, as you’d expect with a PS5 release, as well as a complete overhaul of the combat system. If you’ve got any of the previous generation consoles I’d recommend checking out earlier titles in the ‘Tales’ series beforehand, but if not then this is a solid stand-alone Japanese game on the PS5.
3. The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
(Currently completely sold out on amazon as well, I’ll update when it’s back in stock)
100% Completion Time: 130 Hours+
Known in Japan as Eiyū Densetsu, The Legend of Heroes first started its life as part of the Dragon Slayer series in the 1980s. Games that have been released since 2004 are part of the Trails subseries, and Kuro no Kiseki is one of the newest.
Think classic JRPG style, but with better resolution and high frames per second on the PS5 version. Several familiar faces return for Kuro no Kiseki, each of them with their own special arks and character progression. Combat has also undergone a big change from previous games with both turn-based and constant action-style fights practically interchangeable.
It’ll take on average just over 55 hours to beat the main story, 97 hours to beat the main story and side missions, and 130 hours for 100% (Source: How Long to Beat). A decent enough playtime, though not the longest on our list.
4. Ghostwire: Tokyo
100% Completion Time: 37 Hours+
I’m going to be honest, I’d never heard of this game until I saw it in the shop the other day. After seeing just a couple of screenshots, and rampantly researching it when I got back from Tokyo, I knew it was something special.
‘Ghostwire: Tokyo’ sees you playing as Akito Izuki merged with his sometimes unwilling counterpart ‘KK’, a spirit who used to be a detective. Together, the pair of you strive to defeat Hannya, the antagonist who’s turned Tokyo into an apocalyptic nightmare, and rescue your sister.
In my opinion, the game features one of the best recreations of Tokyo in videogame format. Its streets are densely packed, the atmosphere is astounding, and the dance between tradition and modernity is one that’s been done exceedingly well.
The quality of graphics in a Japanese PS5 game is expected to be high, but one look at Ghostwire: Tokyo will reinforce the fact that we’ve definitely moved up a generation in consoles.
Combat and character progression haven’t been given the best of reviews, with people claiming it’s a little one-dimensional. So while it is an open-world game, you may not be happy if you like in-depth control of everything.
The Verge puts it best: ‘Ghostwire: Tokyo is a paranormal love letter to the city’. So if you’re looking to explore Japanese folklore, spirits, and the biggest city in the world, this is the game for you.
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
100% Completion Time: 102 Hours+
We’ve spoken a little about that Yakuza games before, and for good reason. If you love exploring Japanese cities, fighting enemies with ludicrously hilarious abilities, and living out your days playing a wealth of mini-games in Yokohama, this is the game for you.
Let’s talk a little more about those mini-games. All the previous Yakuza games have been known to have a huge amount of extra activities alongside the main storyline. ‘Like a Dragon’ is no different.
Arcades, shogi (A Traditional Japanese board game), can collecting, karaoke, slot machines, mahjong, darts, golf, batting cage, karting, and even business management are all things you can try out as well as the main storyline.
So what about the enemies? This is my favorite part about the game. While you won’t be fighting the terrifying creatures you’ll find in the Japanese PS5 game ‘Elden Ring’, or the ghouls you’ll encounter in Ghostwire: Tokyo, they’re equally as memorable.
My favorite encounter is the man you come across in a digger. I mean, have you ever fought a digger?? I know I haven’t!
Combat is also completely changed from the previous versions and now features are more JRPG-like turn-based combat style. While that might seem slow and boring to those used to fighting in other ways, it’s actually done in quite a compelling way. Enough for me anyway, someone who’s not used to playing JRPGs.
6. Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 5
100% Completion Time: 40 Hours+
We started this list with one of the most ruthless Japanese PS5 games, and we’re going to end it with one of the most wholesome. Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is the sequel to Doraemon: Story of Seasons, and it does the game franchise proud.
The story is set up with Noby and Doraemon jetting off in their spaceship to another planet to take a break before school starts again. That’s pretty much my reaction when faced with the threat of homework, so I completely understand the logic there!
Long story short, you land on a planet, help restore a farm to its former glory and try to regain the trust of a queen. All before school starts again, easy!
Daily errands, farmwork, and other cute tasks make this one of the most wholesome Japanese PS5 games I’ve seen. It’s not quite animal crossing as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll certainly be putting a few hours into it over the coming year.