Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Globetrotting with PSN

The great thing about this new, digitally connected world we live in is that importing video games isn't the expensive chore it was in the 1990s. Take Sony's Playstation Network service, for instance. Since the Playstation 3 is region free and has support for multiple accounts, you're not limited to the titles available in the United States, and you don't have to wait a week or more to get software from other countries. Those games come right to you thanks to the magic of the internet, without the wait or the markup. 

I wish I could tell you that box art
made more sense in context. It doesn't.
(image from Hardcore Gaming 101)
In way of example, PSOne games in the Japanese Playstation Store cost 617 yen, about the same as the six dollars you'll pay here, but the selection is vastly more diverse. You won't be finding Rakugaki Showtime, Slap Happy Rhythm Busters, or Harmful Park in the US store any time ever, that's for sure.

I couldn't miss deals like those, so after fumbling through menus loaded with impenetrable kanji, I signed up for a Japanese PSN account, and picked up about thirty dollars of credit from an online retailer. It took a little trial and error, but I eventually found the game that convinced me to get a Japanese account in the first place. I also learned a couple of things about gaming in the land of the rising sun, including...

 Games for the original Playstation are very reasonably priced, and almost always 617 yen ($5.65 at today's exchange rates). There's a little more variance in the price of Playstation 2 games; they're generally 1000 yen ($9.16) but can sometimes be 1200 yen, 1500 yen, or even the peculiar price of 1234 yen. 

Ha ha ha ha NO.
That's not too bad so far, but then you get to the PSP games, which still command a hefty price. Games marked with the Best label (the Japanese equivalent of our own Greatest Hits) usually cost 1300 yen, but other titles can set you back 5000 yen or more! That's almost $46 in US money. Evidently the PSP is still big in Japan, despite being succeeded by the Vita years ago. (In all fairness, it is a better system.)

 What's known as Playstation Classics here is called the Playstation Archives in Japan, and there's even a series of videos called Game Diggin' which promotes the best titles available. I don't know if the videos are genuinely entertaining in the way that Game Center CX is, or if they're just shameless advertising to move product, but it's nevertheless heartening to know that the retro scene in Japan is strong enough to justify shows like this.

○ Japanese PSN sales don't seem to be as generous as the ones on these shores, with a small smattering of discounted baseball titles. Then again, all we're getting in the United States this week is Tom Clancy, and that's not much of an improvement. It's unclear if Japan has monthly flash sales like we do, although if Sony celebrates Golden Week in America as it did last year, it stands to reason that Japan will too.

Ooh, shi-knee!
(Image from
○ The first game I purchased on the Japanese store was King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Regulation A. It's not a fantastic game, but I own the previous two titles, and this one has the Dan Hibiki-esque Mizoguchi, so why not? The good news is that the Max Impact series finally offers the same three on three battles that defined the 2D games. It looks pretty sharp for a PS2 release (textures are blurry but it seems like the characters themselves have been uprezzed) and it's a lot of fun when it remembers it is, in fact, a King of Fighters game. 

The bad news is that all too often, Regulation A forgets. The action has been supplemented with attack reversals, dial-a-combos, and the ability to nail foes on the ground, all of which benefits the computer more than yourself. You'll often be juggled to death by aggressive opponents, which is perfectly fine for Tekken but doesn't really belong in this series. Also, the walled stages are kind of restrictive, with barriers that hold fast even after taking damage. Beyond that, the new characters are kind of dumb. They actually make freckle-faced, infuriatingly smug newcomer Ash Crimson look appealing, if such a thing could be imagined. I still don't regret getting it, though. If anything, it offers a taste of what we might be getting with the fully 3D King of Fighters XIV.

Anyway. I've got 2000 yen left in my account... you guys have any suggestions about what else I should pick up?

1 comment:

  1. So does this mean you bought Harmful Park or not? $6 or so for that game is a steal, BTW--at least when you compare that cost to what folks pay for the CIB physical version of the game. Same with Rakugaki Showtime.

    As for recommendations, I'm not all that knowledgable about what's available on the JP PSN at the moment, so I don't have anything for you in that regard. I'm sure there are some great JP-only PS1 games to be had, though!