My Japanese Sony PlayStation Network Store PSP and PS3 Recommendations

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PS1 Classics

  • Final Fantasy VII (1500 yen)-- The game that made the Sony PlayStation is now available in the Japanese PSN store. Yes, it's a little more expensive than the other PS1 games, and it's also a larger-than-average download, at almost 2GB. But this game is so long and so fun I'm confident you'll get your money's worth. Japanese level: There are relatively few kanji and lots of furigana, so 2kyuu level should be sufficient. Of course, if you've played FF7 before (and who hasn't?), even if it's a little above your level you will still probably be able to enjoy the game.
  • Metal Gear Solid 1 (600 yen)-- At this price, Hideo Kojima's masterpiece is a steal. The game includes several hours of top-notch voice acting and a complicated plot full of twists and turns. Whether you play it on the big screen with your PS3 or on the go with the PSP, you can experience Solid Snake's first 3D adventure all over again- in Japanese. Japanese level: The kanji are difficult (1kyuu level), but everything is voiced, so 2kyuu level is probably sufficient for you first-timers. For those who have already played Metal Gear Solid, you know that the story alternates between easy-to-understand casual conversations and complicated pseudo-scientific explanations; if you don't worry too much about the backstory, you can probably get a lot out of the game even if you're not at the 2kyuu level.
  • Policenauts (600 yen)-- This somewhat obscure adventure/action game features a great story by Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear Solid fame). Only about one third of the story is voiced, so if your kanji aren't up to par it's going to be tough to enjoy this one. Japanese level: fluent or close.
  • Xenogears (600 yen)-- This classic PS RPG has consistently been at the top of the Japanese charts for more than a year, and with good reason- the plot and action are fantastic. Although it's not as well known as FF7, and it includes more than a fair number of off the wall Christian references (think Evangelion), it's an enjoyable game that for the price is easy to get your money's worth. Japanese level: there are only a few voiceovers in this one, so if your kanji aren't up to par it's going to be a little tough. advanced 2kyuu/1kyuu prep level.

Practicing Japanese

The "simulation" games include many digital novels, which may not be the best games but are excellent for helping you improve your Japanese.

To find these,

  1. Log in to the Japanese PSN store.
  2. Select "ゲームアーカイブス" (Game archive) from the left menu.
  3. Select "ジャンル別" (Search by genre).
  4. Select "シミュレーション" (Simulation).
The list of games that appears is a bit of a mess, including flight simulators, fishing games, and dating sims. As the dating sims are very text heavy, I recommend them. Many even include voice, though unfortunately usually only for the girls- the protagonist's narrative is silent (to get you more into the fantasy, perhaps?)

Simulation recommendations

Disclaimer: most of these games, despite being "digital novels," have really ridiculous stories. However, they are great ways to practice reading natural Japanese with a heavy conversational component, as many of them include voice acting in addition to the text, but the format is less visual than manga.

  • 後夜際 (600 yen): a "love at school" dating simulation with voice acting for the girls.
  • SIMPLE1500シリーズVol.71 THE恋愛シミュレーション2 (600 yen): a 19-year-old ronin who screwed up his university entrance exams, you spend the summer studying with a bunch of beautiful women in the woods in this love simulator.
  • NOEL NOT DiGITAL (600 yen): Enjoy four months at the beach with the girls you meet. 17+
  • Prismaticallization (600 yen): One of the original "loop-until-you-make-the-right-choice" games, there's no voice but the story is better than most. It's especially a good fit if you're running out of memory on your PSP.
  • 幻想のアルテミス (600 yen): A "light" horror mystery with lots of fully-voiced girls.

Reader Recommendations

  • Final Fantasy Tactics- the PS1 classic is now available exclusively in the Sony Japan store
  • Saga Frontier (PS1)
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders- according to a reader, this game is entirely in English

What do you think?

Do you have any recommendations for PSN games? Any thoughts on what I've written here? Add your comments!

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