'Cool Japan' is term that was coined in 2002 which describes goods and culture developed in and representing Japan capital and country's culture. During the 80s and 90s, the culture of Japan was developing to where it was considered very trendy and having the competitive edge compared to many other nations in the world. With video games becoming increasing popular and ever more powerful to run the graphics and worlds wanted, it has allowed Japan to experiment with video games to the point where they have allowed themselves to placed locations inspired by Japan itself into a video game and to offer players, the kind of lifestyle that is made and accepted in Japan.

The entries on this list was chosen because there is a line between making something look interesting on screen which is interesting to look at to be part of and something that is made in Japan and interesting to look at. Almost everything and anything the Japanese made is cool, but I want to focus more on what the Japanese from cities to cars, to lifestyle to it's superpower and the amount of things Japan has to offer and to put in a video game which I've exported to the rest of the world. This is a list of the titles I think allows the player to explore the most out of Japan.

One rule I have is that if it wasn't released in North America or Europe, it doesn't get any higher on this list.

If anyone is interested in the Mecha anime series that were around during the 80s and 90s and wanted to know where these games went, it ended up in a serie for the Playstation 2 called Another Century. During the 90s, many of the popular anime went it into video games however they were text/kenji based games where most of them were only sold in Japan.

After the 90s, the mecha genre died down and so did the game with it. That's when many developers wanted to revive the mecha genre and reuse most of the popular mecha series and it's mechanical designs. This is when developers made Another Century and it selected popular mecha animes and selected their designed and placed them in the game.

As far as the stories goes, the game features an original story and the other anime inspired mecha which appeared in the game have small parts of their story in the game as they featured why their mechas are part of the world.

The Another Century series maintain popular in Japan for the Playstation 2 and enjoyed it success in Japan and there's even alot of people who've imported this title aswell. It's success has spawned it to a trilogy of games, a spin-off titled Another Century Episode R and a game for the Another Century Episode Portable for the PSP.

As the series grew and popularity of the games grew, so did the entitlement of which anime would have their manga featured. It's got to the point that Another Century Episode 3 featured over 100 mecha which the players can take control off. These mecha have all the details featured from their manga and anime. The main character design of that Episode was designed by Shigenori Soejima, the same person who also designed the characters for Persona 3.

With all the years Capcom has ever developed video games, this is Capcom first racing game and it's the first Cel-shaded racing game, which game the vehicles a hard drawn, anime like appearance. It's worth putting on this list because Auto Modellista only features Japanese cars featured on various racing circuits.

The Japan tracks says alot about Japan, which is why I've placed this game on the list. There the all popular and most talked about mountain racing where drifters race, to the highways around Tokyo. There's also a rain course in the game, which shows off the cars physics on wet surfaces. Finally the official Japanese track, the Suzuka circuit is also featured aswell.

However while I respect Capcom for making this a Japanese anime type of racing game, the game didn't appeal so well and therefore didn't sell because many players and reviewers complained about poor controls and the lack of other vehicles from other countries.

Capcom released Auto Modellista US Tuned in America, which added American vehicles in the game, such as the Shelby Cobra, Dodge Viper and Ford Mustang as well as one new track, in an effort to appeal to American audiences to purchase the game.

The Simple Series is a label line, where the developers make budget games for various consoles. The Playstation 2 had the most titles developed for the system. Among the list, were titles that were your standard fantasy or historical adventure, however if anyone would look closely, there were a few games that were representing Japan at the time.

The Simple Series 2000 were games for the Playstation 2 that were being sold for 2000 yen. The Japanese company D3 Publisher created and published these games and over 100 of these games were being made for the Japanese market alone in various themes to make the games different and worth the play.

Some of these games made it's way towards Europe and outside Japan which has captured some interest and they were published under different and more appealing names. Yakuza Fury was a beat-em up like Fight Fight, but with the players taking control of a person who joins the ranks of the Yakuza. There a few Japanese board games that were being made into a Playstation 2 game to the released of the most popular and most talked about game The OneeChanbara (boxart pictured) where the main character is a lone woman who lashes attacks against the undead, which has spawned sequels and spin offs.

The more you'll look at the list of games, you'll find what the Japanese designers thought it was cool at the time and placed it into a video game, hence why this entire series label is on the list.

Gran Turismo Tokyo Show is a spin off racing game from Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 3. It features concept cars from Japanese car companies. Like many concept cars, these cars have their way of looking appealing and trendy, which makes them cool.

Gran Turismo Tokyo Show was only released in Japan however that didn't stop Polyphony Digital from going to Seoul and Geneva to add more concept cars and releasing it in Europe and Korea, by adding more vehicles from these territories and sold them.

To top it off, the Tokyo Show had Toyota pod racing, a fun race where people got to drive Toyota Pods in a mini circuit course on the Special Stage 5 Route, just for the fun of it and that was good enough to be noticed and I think that's cool. These Toyota's had trendy design work and were made for fun for it to have an entire mode for these vehicles.

The game does lot of new things for the game at the time. There was a convertible that can be driven, which is the first in the Gran Turismo series, considering that the following game Gran Turismo 4 didn't allow convertibles not to take part in races. It also makes better use of some of the elements found in the game is has used materials from, Gran Turismo 3, such as the filters synthesizing to the music during replays to take the extra step of making these vehicles look really cool as they're being driven.

For some reason, this game wasn't released in the North American markets despite the fact that some American concept vehicles made it into the game such as the Dodge Viper Concept.

SNK's strong attempt to take advantage of the Dreamcast and many of it's features that not many other games used. It was only released in Japan, and it's location release being one of the main reasons I didn't push this higher on the list despite being a decent high level video game. It has an innovate uses the analogue stick of the Dreamcast controller to point in the direction and to hit some buttons to what the screen instructs the player to do for the gameplay.

The game takes place in a town called Cool Cool Town where you can play as one of two character in the game. You end up journeying across town and dance against competitors using the rhythm controls and unlock other characters and costumes thought out the game aswell as completing the story.

The more interest features is that with the SNK Neo Geo Pocket around, Cool Cool Jam was released which was an entirely different game for the handheld released by SNK. It's a more RPG based game where you have to go around town to impress people enough to allow them to join your band. The Neo Geo Pocket version of the game allowed the player to link the Pocket to the Dreamcast and to unlock features from Cool Cool Jam to be used in Cool Cool Toon, hence why I've joined this entry.

This game appeal has relaly colorful graphics and really anime looking characters and looks this on Sega's Dreamcast. The Dreamcast still held the appeal of being a cool must have console at the time with it's success of the past and being made from a company that produced powerful arcade hardware of it's own, the Neo Geo. I think the Cool Cool series really wanted to take everything what was cool in Japan and make a game from it all and it's provided in these games.

An RPG on the list? Disgaea has alot to be considered influenced by Cool Japan. While it may look like a generic RPG to some and having alot of features going for it, I actually think there's a good mix of what was cool in Japan fused with the fantasy element.

The main character is your standard hero with spiky hair, while the other characters and their designs are brightly manga colored. If that's not enough, the games story has alot of bantering between characters as the story processes and has alot of good humor in the games story, while the characters meet each other and take each of the characters on board and become much more serious about it as the game progresses. One of the some common words used thought out the game, is the word 'dood', which sounds like dude, but with a different spelling. Something some of the characters say during the game which is also interesting and almost trendy in the game universe.

The most noticeable feature in the game are the monster named Pinny, it's a blue penguin which wear pouchs and have alot of other brizzare features like bat wings and pigs legs and are the common servants and enemies in the game. Prinny became one of the most lovable and featured mascots, which was considered by many of it's fans to have the same amount of detail and appeal to other major gaming mascots like Mario and Sonic. Prinny has spawned it's own series of games on the Playstation Portable, the first title being Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero followed by Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!.

There an interesting story of how Sonic came about. During the time when mascots were big at the time during the 80s and featured mostly on daytime television, anything from Godzilla, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty to some talking Sushi. Gamers were also joining into the fun of controlling Mario on the Nintendo or Alex Kidd for the Sega Master System.

While Daytime television was trying to be trendy and appealing during the early 90s, it's gave inspiration for Sega to develop a new character to show off it's Sega Genesis console and how powerful it hardware was at the time. They created a blue hedgehog named Sonic to show off what the power of the Sega Genesis capabilities and to represent the Sega Genesis hardware and released it in the game Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. The campaign was a massive success for Sega and they continued their success from there.

It wasn't the end. While Sonic was created in Japan, one of the main creators and programmer Yuji Naka later moved on America to continue the Sonic series while the Sonic Team are headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The Sonic Team continued making the games to show off the Genesis, doing everything they can do make the most out of the console, which many fans enjoyed.

Sonic the Hedgehogs success has spawn a generation of gamers that think Sonic is cool and it was worth owning a Sega Genesis. It was said a survey in the 90s found that young boys admitted they owned Sega Genesis because it was cool. Sonic popularity has allowed the developers to keep producing Sonic games. Many fans express lack of interest to the games because Sega was using Sonic's image to market their games while the games didn't represent Sonic in any way or there in poor quality however further Sonic titles tried to maintain the cool that sonic offered such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors and Sega doesn't seem to want to stop the Sonic series as of 2014.

The Shin Megami Tensei series has always been around, representing the dark horrors in a Japanese high school which has it's dark mysteries which haunt the location of the game. You play as a unnamed and quiet school teenager who gets enrolled in high school and joints the team of devil hunters who make an effort to uncover the mystery and defend the evil forces that posses their high school during the dark hour after midnight name Tartarus.

I selected Persona 3, while the first persona games may of not appealed to some with it's really blended and boring dungeons, While the most of Persona 3 takes place in Tartarus, a place which is from the transformed high school during midnight, the character attend during the day, most of the other locations become the exploring ground for the player to explode and interact with. This is helpful for the main game because depending where the player explores, it's helps boost the main characters stats, which helps him fuse much more powerful personas. The game had a good mix of elements to help it be on this list.

It's worth mentioning the success of Persona 3 led to a re-release called Persona 3: FES, (FES meaning Festival) added another chapter and a few elements to the game. The games setting in this Japanese district is very memorable and it's serves a good contrast to the games setting at day to the battle gameplay set at night in Persona 3. The PSP port of the game featured a female lead character which the player could select.

A sequel was released, titled Persona 4 uses the same format found in Persona 3 but removes all the bright, cute, cool and appealing elements and gives it a more rural down-to-earth approach to the game and it's makes Persona 3 and Persona 4 stands on it own.

Yu Sukuzi was well known for making really appealing and cool games during his career. Games like Outrun which allowed the player to drive a Ferrari and to also impress the characters girlfriend and Hang On which allowed the player to ride a motorcycle, which both games even had a model arcade after their vehicle counterparts.

Yu Sukuzi set off to create a more expanded experience for the players to use the environment in the game for the Dreamcast. This game becoming Shenmue. The player takes control of Ryo Hazuki in the mid 1980s in Yokosuka, Japan, where his witnesses his fathers death and Ryo vows to find his fathers killer and to investigate why this situation occurred.

Ryo combat is Karate, (Karate and hand to hand combat was cool at the time and originated in Japan) which was taught to him by his father, there are times when Ryo is confronted with a situation where he's has to fight. The game introduces alot of mini games, Yu Sukuzi tries to stuff as much Japanese cultured moments in the Shenmue game. There are times when Ryo walks around his district and can enter arcades to be able to play other Yu Sukuzi classics such as Hang On and Space Harrier. Ryo can also collect collectible Virtual Fighter characters figures during this journey.

In the later part of the game, Ryo works at the Harbor as a forklift driver and what better way to use these fortlifts as racing vehicles, as there are times when the workers have races using the forklifts. (They really do races like this in Japan). At one point, he able to ride a motorcycle to the Harbor during his adventure.

There's a reason this game was named Shenmue but I'm not going to reveal how and it appears in the sequel of the game Shenmue 2 and if players want to know, they should play the game to find out (or find some other way). Shenmue 2 was set in Hong Kong where Ryo sets off from the first game.

Many fans (include myself) have expressed interested for Shenmue 3, it may not be set in Japan but I am still interested to continue seeing the journey in Shenmue

Sega still uses Ryo's image and the other appearances of items like the forklift and motorcycle in the Sega Sonic All Stars racing games to appeal to gamers to play the Sonic All Star Racing games.

Going by the name Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, which means Like a Dragon while this game it's been named in the West 'Yakuza'. The Yakuza series aimed to present in-depth stories from the Japanese underworld. The character the player takes control of, Kirya Kazuma learns his way and fighting skills during the course of the game and encounters other rival gangs.

Taking the trip into the Japanese crime world. Yakuza (Japanese gangsters) is still in a district of Kamurocho, a realistic recreation of Tokyo's Kabukicho where you get to play as Kiryu Kazuma, a Yakuza member who has a heart of gold, who got released from a 10 year prison term, he returns to Kamurocho to find that the place changed. While the game is set in the Japanese underworld and some may thing it's about some men in some dark world with a goth setting, the game doesn't come across like that.

What makes this game featuring Cool Japan isn't the fighting or violence. It's the game use of using Cool Japan as a backdrop to help the game present it's ideas of the Japanese world surrounding the Yakuza.

Being from Sega, it uses many of the elements from Shenmue and puts them into this game, such as going into stores to buy items to help Kazuma state and also loads of minigames which represent Japan and how fun the Japanese have it.

The games funded itself from alot of sponsors from Japan where these sponsors were given advertising space in the district presented in the game which helps with the realism in the world that Kazuma explore in.

The game featured mini games found all over the district, from Baseball, Karaoke and even has Sega placing their own arcade venues and a few Sega spoofed arcade machines along with the Sega UFO Catcher for the player to interact with.

The Yakuza series has spawned many spin-offs such as the Yakuza Dead Souls, where the Yakuza members finally get to be armed with guns to shoot and taken down zombies and the Japanese only released Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan, which is set in an era of historical Japan where the Yakuza are Samurai and make many of the natural elements found in the game a bit more cooler and interesting to look like, which is worth mentioning that it's worth the import.

Worthy Mention: Hello Kitty.

It started of a TV series aimed at the female teens audiences, it features a really cute cat to represent it's shows and games. Cute is a big deal in Japan and represents how well Japan makes cute products. The Hello Kitty franchise has made early attempts to place their cuteness into video games for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance to the PlayStation 2. There's also an MMO titled Hello Kitty Online. The Hello Kitty series has always been around before the Nintendo and I do think it's interesting that these games were being made during the time when the industry was entirely male dominated. Hello Kitty stands out from many of the titles because of this and there is a market out there where games like these are being produced.

While it may be too early to say that Cool Japan is almost becoming a mainstream theme in itself to be placed in video games. It's nice to know that Japan have become a distinctive culture on it's own in being cool and are will to present to the world that they are having a fun time being trendy.

A shame that half of the games on the list wasn't released in North America, while a few others was just released in Japan in Kanji form. I do think there are games are represent Cool Japan culture out there that will represent Cool Japan and it's worth looking into. Is it too early to say that other countries should try to adopt what is cool from their nations into their video games.

List by 91210user (07/23/2014)

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