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Video games set in Japan
Japan has undoubtedly contributed extensively to the video game industry, but are there any games set in Japan?
There certainly is!
Video games don’t only pay incredible attention to detail, but also allow the person to immerse themselves in a situation or culture that they otherwise couldn’t.
So if you’re looking to live a day in the life of a feudal samurai or be part of a group of friends fighting the supernatural, I’ve got you covered!
Here are 8 of the best video games set in Japan.
Platforms: XBOX One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Best for: People who love Japans crazy side
If there was any game to show the utter lunacy of Japan, it would be Katamari Damacy REROLL.
As a game set in modern Japan, Katamari Damacy REROLL is the HD remaster of the original ‘Katamari Damacy’.
The king of the Cosmos has accidentally destroyed all the stars in the sky and he’s ordering you, his son, to get them back!
So, obviously the best way to do this is to roll up katamaris (clumps/balls) big enough to become a star. Of course!
Take a look at this PS4 launch trailer to understand what I mean:
Japan has some absolutely crazy things going on, from robot restaurants and cat cafés to Capsule hotels and High-Tech toilets. So it seems fitting then that there would be at least one game to embody that side of Japan, and boy does it not hold back.
Think about what the weirdest thing you’ve ever controlled with your joystick is. I bet it’s not as strange as a prince from the cosmos controlling a giant katamari! haha!
Looking for a game set in Japan that’s damn right ridiculous?
Katamari Damacy is it!
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Best for: Those who want to learn about Japanese mythology
ōkami translation: 大神 “great god” or “great spirit”
In what might be the most highly praised switch games set in Japan on our list, ōkami sees the player control Amaterasu (The goddess of sun) in the form of a white wolf.
Set in classical Japan, ōkami takes reference from Japanese mythology and folklore to spin a compelling and engaging story for its players.
According to GameXplain, you should allow yourself at least 60 hours on your first play through and even longer if you’re hoping to achieve 100%.
Because of such time devotion, I would advise playing it on the Nintendo Switch if you’re able to. This not only allows you to play it out and about but also gives you access to a port that might better suited than the original PS2 release.
Players can use learn fighting techniques, found weapons, or even a celestial brush to destroy enemies making combat a particularly varied aspect of the game.
Take a look at this run down of the game if you’re interested in playing it. He gives a much better explanation of the game than I ever could!
As far as I’m concerned it’s one of the most beautiful depictions of ancient Japan in general, and only increased with it’s addition of mythology and unique watercolor based art style.
If you’re looking to give some time and devotion to an extremely well put together game, Okami is absolutely for you.
Platforms: PC, MAC, Xbox
Best for: People who have a death wish and love to be challenged
Ever played dark souls?
Or do you just enjoy the pain and suffering that comes with an almost impossibly hard learning curve?
Well let me introduce you to one of those games set in the heart of Feudal Japan, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
From the creators of the bloodborne and Dark Souls series, Sekiro is enough to challenge even the most hardiest of gamers.
The story is based on you, a Shinobi, bound to protecting a young lord. This of course means you inherit many of his enemies and a lot of the struggle that comes with it.
Soon your lord is captured and you must do everything you can to regain your honour.
Sekiro is set in 1500s Sengoku period Japan and will see you explore all corners of the country. Your quest will also see you face perilous enemies and overwhelming circumstances for both your character and you.
Even though throughout your journey you will upgrade your characters abilities, you won’t upgrade any stats until defeating specific bosses. This takes the ‘Get Good’ ideology from Dark Souls to a whole new level and seriously tests your stamina and resilience.
This game is absolutely not for the faint hearted, but if you are willing to undertake such a cruel learning curve the game will not dissapoint.
Best for: Those who like feudal Japan
Sometimes you just want a chilled out gaming experience.
Whilst I wouldn’t necessarily call Ghost of Tsushima ‘Chilled out’ It’s certainly a more casual game than Sekiro and for that reason I think it will appeal to a wider audience.
Ghost of Tsushima is to me, one of the most beautiful open world games set in Japan.
Players will have the chance to roam around feudal Japan and explore it’s vast countryside and numerous landmarks as well as participate in one-on-one combat or expansive ancient battles.
Jin, the protagonist is on a mission to protect what’s left of his village by any means necessary. This means breaking away for long standing tradition and making friends with unlikely allies.
Gameplay is packed with rich character development and numerous ways to upgrade your character.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like looking cooler than the enemies you slaughter!?
This is one of those games that will truly make you feel like you’re in Japan. So if you’re into roleplaying games this should be a strong contender.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Best for: The creative souls among you
Ahh, now this is what I would call a chilled out gaming experience.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a Japanese made game that allows you to build your very own island and curate the inside of your house too.
There are some absolutely stunning island designs for pretty much any topic you could think of, but most importantly you can design it based on Japan.
I recently wrote an article about the very best Japanese islands in the community, so make sure to check it out when you have a spare moment.
Fancy building your own onsen garden? You can!
Want to create an entire town filled with Japanese vending machines? You can do that too!
With custom designs and massive amounts of space, the only limit is your imagination.
6. Persona 5
Platforms: PS3, PS4
Best for: Those who want to explore supernatural Japan
Persona 5 is a Japanese role-playing video game set in Tokyo.
The game incorporates dungeon crawling, social situations, and turn based combat where school kids battle demons using their own psyche.
I’ve never played this game before, but I’ve heard many times it’s a game you shouldn’t rush.
But also don’t take too long…
Each dungeon you attempt to clear will give you a countdown clock until something bad happens. In this case it’s game over for you!
So take your time; enjoy the Japanese supernatural in all it’s glory, but don’t forget there are some hard deadlines, too.
7. Yakuza 0
Platforms: PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox One
Best for: Those who want to see Tokyo’s underworld
Yakuza 0 is an action packed open world game set in Japan that sees you playing as Kazuma Kiryu and Goror Majima, switching at specific times during the story.
The games takes place in the late 80’s and will have you wandering around Kamurocho (a take on Kabuchiko, Shinjuku) and Sōntenbori (Based on Dōntonbori, the entertainment district of Osaka).
Players can walk freely through these rickety populated locations and willl often find themselves in the middle of gan warfare on most corners, so keep your wits about you!
Yakuza 0 also has a number of extremely interesting side quests for when you’re looking to take time away from the main story.
These side quests include:
- Eating every dish at a restaurant
- Out Run- Sega game (Fully playable)
- Super Hang-On- Sega game (Fully playable)
- Space Harrier- Sega game (Fully playable)
- Fantasy Zone- Sega game (Fully playable)
You can even play Taiko no Tatsujin within the game, so if gang fights aren’t your thing there’s always that! HA!
Top tip: If you find ‘Mr Shakedown’ just run! He’s far stronger than you and will likely steal all your money.
Set in modern day Tokyo, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a role playing game quite similar to Persona 5 in that it tackles the supernatural.
In the game, you’ll be playing as Itsuki to defend the world from evil mirages who seek to completely rid the world of creative energy.
You’ll also get the opportunity to play in real life locations such as Harajuku and Shibuya and as you can see from the photo above, it’s quite life-like!
The Japanese game is playable on the WII and Nintendo Switch but I would advise playing it on switch for the improved gaming experience. If thats something you’re interested in you should look for the game title with ‘Encore‘ at the end. This means it’s playable on the switch.