Believe it or not, there is a small group of people who enjoy, and even sometimes prefer, to play Japanese games on their Microsoft consoles. Yes, we are a weird group — a niche within a niche, if you will (and perhaps even a niche within a niche within a niche), but nevertheless we exist and become ripe with joy any time the Xbox gets some Japanese games, especially exclusive ones. Now, you might be wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to play Japanese, or Japanese-influenced, games on a Microsoft platform when Sony and Nintendo already have, and will continue to get, fantastic games from Eastern developers. While I can’t speak for everyone — nor can I identify all the reasons why someone would want to play Japanese games on a predominantly American system — I can, however, speak for my own preferences (and let it be known, I still play my Vita, PS3 and PS4 for Japanese games all the time — in fact, I’m poring hours into Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence at the moment.)
First off, my love of Japanese gaming on the Xbox brand dates back to the original Xbox. Sure, that giant, hulking black box of a thing is remembered mostly for its western games: Halo, Jade Empire, Crimson Skies, Fable and the like; however, what many people don’t know is that, despite all of those first-person shooters and typical western endeavors, the Xbox is known to hardcore Japanese game enthusiasts as something of a second birth for the Dreamcast. Due to Microsoft and Sega partnering up to release several exclusive games (some of which are classics and considered the best of their kind), the original Xbox was a powerhouse for obscure yet timeless titles such as Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jet Set Radio Future, Shenmue II, Otogi, Sega GT 2002 and the list goes on.
As someone whose favorite system of all time is, in fact, the Dreamcast, one would not have to make too much of a jump in logic to see why someone like me would have fallen in love with that massive “X” shaped system. Of course, that love was only furthered deepened by the 360 years, when the system played host to a number of cult favorite Japanese games (i.e. every shmup from CAVE, MOSS, Triangle Service, 5pb., and G.Rev, along with more Sega-centric games like Chromehounds, Phantasy Star Universe and Virtual-On Force). It became easy to have a sense of loyalty to Microsoft, if for nothing else than for helping give developers a home and chance to make those games, when perhaps they may have not been made otherwise.
That brings us to today and the Xbox One. Yes, we all know the Xbox One is posting laughable numbers in Japan. We get it. We also get that there are fanboys out there that throw a temper tantrum any time they feel slighted by having a Japanese game release on a Microsoft system (just do a search for this month’s announcement of JRPG developer Experience Inc. working on two Xbox One exclusive titles and read the comments section). Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that — despite Microsoft not supporting Eastern developers well at all these days and despite their not knowing how to market their systems to anyone but Americans — there are still Japanese exclusives coming down the pipeline for Xbox One.
So, this is piece is meant to look at those games (note that we may have left out indie and Kickstarter-tier projects that have not yet come to fruition) waiting in the wings for Microsoft’s latest home console. This article has been divided into two distinct sections for easy reading purposes: multiplatform titles and exclusives.