Japanese RPGs have become very popular all around the world. Recently games like Persona 3, Final Fantasy XIII, and Dragonquest IX have been very successful not just in Japan, but in North America, Australia, and Europe. Many Japanese RPGs are met with positive reviews outside of Japan and still fail from business perspective. This has unfortunately stopped some of the best Japanese RPG games to be translated and shipped to other countries. I'm sure anyone living outside of Japan has had a game they were looking forward to never get an official release in their country. Many of the games and series in this list have had North American, European, and Australian release dates planned and then canceled. Even when some these games were remade the remakes were also not released outside of Japan. In this top ten I point out the best RPG games that are Japan exclusive. This means no remakes or later ports of these games were released outside of Japan.

I'm sure many of you know series in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise called Persona. Revelations: Persona for the Playstation was the first Shin Megami Tensei game to be released in North America back in 1996. Revelations: Persona had an amazing soundtrack, great cut scenes, and an original combat system. Despite Revelations: Persona's high production value the game didn't sell well. The poor sales of Revelations: Persona led Atlus to make the decision not to localize Revelations: Persona's direct sequel Persona 2: Innocent Sin to North America . many fans of the series probably aren't even aware of this because the third game, in the Persona series, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment was released in North America. Both Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment are called Persona 2 and share the same graphics, characters, and battle system, but their stories are completely different. Believe it or not a localization of Persona 2: Innocent Sin to North America and other regions is still possible. Recently a remake for Persona 2: Innocent Sin has been announced for the PSP in Japan. Still, the chances of North America or Europe seeing localization for the PSP remake of Persona 2: Innocent Sin are slim because of a certain historical character in the game. Those of you who played the Persona 2: Innocent Sin know who I mean.

Front Mission 5: Scars of War takes after the previous Front Mission titles by delivering great tactical role-playing combat with an incredible amount of depth. The combat is similar to Front Mission 4, but with improvements. More importantly though Front Mission 5 has improved in Front Mission 4's weakest areas, plot and graphics. Even with all these improvements Front Mission 5: Scars of Wars was just as massive as the previous Front Mission games.

At first when this game was not released outside of Japan it was no surprise to anyone. The past two Front Mission games were released outside of Japan, but all the Front Missions games before 3 were Japanese exclusive. Now, Front Mission has a DS port/remake out in North America and Front Mission Evolved, the latest entry in the series, has just been released in North America. Still, even when compared to the newer Front Mission games, Front Mission 5: Scars of War remains arguably the best game in the Front Mission series. It's sad that so much of the series has been localized yet Front Mission 5: Scars of War remains a Japan exclusive.

The fact Shining Force III Scenario 2 was not released outside of Japan is tragedy for fans of the Shining series. So many games in this series have been localized in North America and Europe yet Shining Force III Scenario 2 was not. Many people might not even realize there's a scenario 2 to Shining Force III because Shining Force III Scenario 1 was released in Europe and North America as Shining Force III. If scenario 2 of Shining Force III were to have been localized in Europe and North America the Dreamcast would have already been announced making the Saturn obsolete. Shining Force III Scenario 2 along with it's sequel Shining Force III Scenario 3 were some of many games that fell victim to the Saturn's poor sales and short life span. The Shining series still has new games being released, but the developers of Shining Force III have moved on to develop games outside the Shining series like Golden Sun. Hopefully the developers of the original Shining Force games will go back to their past and remake or port Shining Force III Scenario 2 so North American and European fans can play this sequel they've been waiting over 12 years for.

Many people might be surprised when they hear that this game was not only and RPG but also a horror game. The basic premise is you're trapped in a mansion and need to get out using items to solve puzzles while monsters attack you. This might sound familiar and that's because this game was made by Capcom the same developers who went on to make Resident Evil year later. Many of the game play elements put into Sweet Home were seen again in Resident Evil. For instance the door opening cut scenes in Sweet Home are also featured in Resident Evil. Although Sweet Home isn't as popular as Resident Evil it is still good enough to deserve a place on this list. What made Sweet Home good was it's originality. In Sweet Home unlike most RPGs when one of your party members die they're dead for good and unlike most RPGs you have to split your party into two groups. Which group each character will be in is a big part of the game because each character has his or her own special item that helps you progress through the mansion. The other thing that's really cool about this game is it's based on a movie of the same name making this game arguably one of the best video games based on a movie. The movie like the game was only released in Japan which is unfortunate because the movie is also pretty good.

In the first half of the 90's the Shin Megami Tensei series was only released in Japan. In 1996 that changed when Revelations: Persona was localized in North America. Now the Persona series is extremely popular overseas and pretty much every Shin Megami Tensei game that's released in Japan gets released in North America and Europe. Still, many of the games released in Japan before Revelations: Persona have yet to be localized to any other region of the world. There were Shin Megami Tensei games for SNES, NES, Gameboy, and Game Gear, but Devil Summoner is the one that made this list. Why? Because, Devil Summoner was the best and still is arguably the best of the whole series. Devil Summoner was just like previous titles of the Shin Megami Tensei series. It had 3D dungeons with 2D first person battles, but this game was better than the previous titles in every way because the Sega Saturn was much more powerful than any previous console. The Sega Saturn may have been powerful system, but it had a short life span and a small library of games for its North American, European, and Australian customers so it's sad to know this great game was never localized for Saturn owners outside of Japan. What's even more disappointing is that this game was remade in 2005 for the PSP and once again was released to anywhere outside of Japan. Perhaps one day we will see remakes or ports of the Shin Megami Tensei games that were never released outside of Japan, but for now this game along with several other Shin Megami Tensei games remain Japan exclusive.

This game is probably one of the most known games on the list because of the long wait fans of Earthbound had to endure. Mother 3 was originally planned for the SNES, but was eventually moved to the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive. Mother 3 had been in development for the 64DD and even had game play footage released for the world to see. However, since the 64DD was a commercial failure in Japan this game was never released. Several years later, in 2006, Mother 3 was released for the Gameboy Advance as a 2D game. It was a great game even if it wasn't in 3D as previously planned. Mother 3 had a really great and original approach to story telling with lovable characters to back it up. Not only that but the combat system was improved with an innovative new system that incorporated the games music into the battles. Unfortunately, the game was never released outside of Japan. Mother 2 (known in North America as Earthbound) was released in the mid 90s and had a strong cult following. Suffice to say many people were very let down when it was announced Mother 3 would not be released in North America. Despite Mother 3 being a Japan exclusive, in 2008 the main character of Mother 3, Lucas, would be featured in Super Smash Brothers Brawl as a playable character for every region Brawl was released in.

Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest V were both recently remade for the DS and localized to North America, Europe, and Australia. Dragon Quest VI ,the last game in the Dragon Quest Zenithian Trilogy, still has never been released outside of Japan. This game is easily the longest Super Nintendo RPG I have ever played. The combat system is standard Dragon Quest combat, but the class system was brought back from Dragon Quest III with new classes This game did however take away some of the features in V like recruiting monsters, but Dragon Quest VI has a high production value making it a worthy predecessor to Dragon Quest V. For instance the story and characters in Dragon Quest VI were given more depth than any previous games in the series. With all the Dragon Quest remakes that were released to the world in the last decade it's hard to believe the recent remake of Dragon Quest VI will not get localized outside of Japan. Still, even though the DS remake of Dragon Quest VI is out in Japan it has yet to have release date announced for any other region.

Gamers outside of Japan might not be able to tell from the title, but this game is the sequel to Secret of Mana. Secret of Mana was the sequel to a game for Game Boy known as Final Fantasy Adventures in North America thus making Seiken Densetsu 3 the third in the series. Seiken Densetsu 3 was planned to be localized in North America and PAL region in 1995, but instead only Secret of Evermore was localized to those regions that year. Secret of Evermore was a good game, but still it would have been great to also have Seiken Densetsu 3 released in the North American and PAL region. What made Seiken Densetsu 3 a worth sequel to Secret of Mana is it left the battle system almost unchanged, but improved the game in every way. A class system, daytime and night time, and more characters were just some of the improvements Seiken Densetsu 3 added to the series. What really made Seiken Densetsu 3 great was the replay value since all the characters and classes made each play through unique. This is arguably the best game of the Mana series and yet remains one of the two games in the series that has never been released outside of Japan.

During the late 80s and all of the 90s Fire Emblem games were never released outside of Japan. Not until 2003-2004 did North America and PAL region get a Fire Emblem localization. Since the release of Fire Emblem for Game Boy Advance North America and PAL region have had a localization of every new Fire Emblem game and a remake of the first Fire Emblem which was released to DS in 2009 as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. The third Fire Emblem has just been remade in Japan for DS and hopefully will get released to other regions of the world. Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu is the 4th game in the series and was a huge improvements over the previous Fire Emblem games. It was released in Japan for SNES in 1996 and by then the Nintendo 64 was already out. The graphics of Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu were a huge improvement compared to the other Fire Emblem games. Other features not seen in previous Fire Emblem games were featured in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Kefu like a romance system and player controlled castles. With no remake in sight it's doubtful Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu will be released to any other region in the near future. Even if Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu was remade there are still several other Fire Emblems that are Japan exclusive for the NES, SNES, and GBA. It's unfortunate that it took Nintendo so long to localize this great tactical role-playing series to other regions.

Before there was Earthbound (Mother 2) for the SNES there was Mother for the NES. This game deserves to be on the top of this list for a number of reasons.For starters, the RPG genre was full of dragons, swords, and castles. This game threw all that away and put the player in modern times where they would fight hippies with a baseball bat, but originality wasn't the only thing that made this game great. In fact, every aspect of this game is great. The graphics were impressive, the combat was balanced, and the characters were lovable. As for the music, there is no doubt Mother features some of the best music ever seen in a video game. A lot of the music from Mother was remade and put into future Mother games and Super Smash Brothers games, but I think the original Mothers version of each song sounded the best. The best part about Mother and the Mother series is the humor. Earthbound is most known for it's humor and trust me Mother is just as funny. The characters in Mother say some of random stuff had me laughing out loud on a few occasions. This is honestly the most random and funny game I have ever played.

Mother sold reasonably well in Japan, but was released when the SNES was already out so Mother was never localized outside of Japan for that reason. Later in the mid 90s this game was going to be localized to North America to support it's sequel Earthbound which was released in North America. However, Mother was never released in North America even though the sequel had been released in North America. There was still one more chance for Mother to be released in North America and that is when it was ported in a bundle along with Earthbound for the Game Boy Advance. The GBA version of Mother had improved features such as the ability to run and a new ending, but unfortunately once again this game was never released outside of Japan making this game remain a Japan exclusive.

Keep in mind there are plenty of other great Japanese Role-Playing games that are not on this list, but I felt the ones listed are the most sought after. I'm sure after reading this list many RPG fans have found at least one new title they want to try out. I was fortunate enough to live in Japan for several years and be able to play these great games, but most gamers will never get that opportunity. In the near future some of these games might be released to other regions. With the amount of remakes and ports being made for systems this generation the chances of these game being localized to other regions of the world are looking more and more likely.

List by iliveforffandwo (12/02/2010)

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