RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 6th 2014 at 12:00:00 AM by (Fleach)
Posted under SNES, RPG, Japan, Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, North America, Import, Repro, Fan Translation

Source: Kotaku

If you play Super Nintendo games you know what to expect. A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy III are fantastic games, which many of us hold close to our hearts. Perhaps these were games you played as a kid or during your teens, but you at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you've experienced these essential pieces of gaming history. What we played in North America is only the tip of the iceberg though. There are so many great role playing games that we never got to see because they never left Japan. Here are five games that, thanks to translators and/or repro developers, we can finally add to our backlogs.

Bahamut Lagoon
Published by Squaresoft, Bahamut Lagoon is a tactical RPG using squad-based mechanics. All combat happens on a two dimensional grid and the player can move or attack once per turn much like in the Fire Emblem games. However, in close combat, the scenes play out more similarly to what you've come to expect from the Final Fantasy series. This varied approach to gameplay keeps things fresh and requires you to come up with strategies on the fly. What many people will notice first is that this game looks gorgeous. Everything is very colorful, sprites are expressive and unique, and the monster design is just so cool. Considering this is a tactical game, it is slower than most RPGs and this could be why it never saw a North American release. Thankfully, the success of other strategic role playing games proved that there is a market for these kinds of games in the West.

video couortesy of Lewis Hay

Gunman's Proof
This isn't really an RPG, but any fan of the Zelda series will appreciate this game. Imagine combining the quirky humor of EarthBound with the real-time combat and dungeon exploration of A Link to the Past. That's pretty close to what it feels like to play Gunman's Proof. Because this game was released in 1997 and the Nintendo 64 had already replaced the Super Nintendo in North America, it never made its way outside of Japan. It's unfortunate really, because this could have been quite popular. The bright and cheerful artwork and the familiar game design would have made it very accessible to North American gamers. And who doesn't like some rowdy Spaghetti Western action? Get your six-shooter ready and blast some baddies!

video courtesy of lordbrunskog

If you've played Illusion of Gaia you owe it to yourself to play Terranigma as well because it's part of the same trilogy of games. We never got to play this one, but Europe, Australia, and Japan were fortunate enough to have been graced by this classic action RPG. The story of Terranigma is everything you'd expect from a Super Nintendo game; the world needs to be resurrected and it's your job to do it. The events of the game follow the evolution of life to its current state in present time. The balance between Light and Dark is overthrown, and only you can bring the world out of chaos. Sounds familiar? Sounds like fun!

video courtesy of World of Longplays

Treasure Hunter G
What does the G stand for? Probably "Great." This game was developed by Sting Entertainment and released by Squaresoft in 1996, yet another late Super Famicom title. This is why we probably never heard of Treasure Hunter G, until fan translations starting floating around online. The game is very similar to Bahamut Lagoon in that it features a tactical grid-based combat and town exploration. While it doesn't deviate from the cliche stop-the-bad-guy-from-destroying-the-world trope, this game should be rewarded for a deep combat system and incredible art design. In fact, the sprites are derived from 3D models, which is evident in the final result of the character design. The backgrounds are a little bland, but that only makes the sprites stand out more.

video courtesy of defunct32

Treasure of the Rudras
Turn-based combat? Fantasy meets industrial art style? Sign me up! Treasure of the Rudras is yet another Square RPG that was locked away in Japan. The game's themes borrow from Indian religion, specifically the wheel of time and the destruction of the Earth. The plot follows the three main heroes' final 15 days before the deities wipe out civilization in order to "reset" the planet. What's so interesting here is that the three plots interwoven in this game can impact each other in tangible ways. For example, if one character doesn't pick up a relic, another character in his own story arch can find that item and take it. You're not obligated to stick to one plot either; you can drop in and out of a character's story as you see fit and the game even features a day/night cycle. That's pretty incredible for a Super Famicom game! Upon completing the three main story arcs, you take on a fourth plot and confront the major villains to settle things once and for all.

video courtesy of Primeevi

Were we on Nintendo's Naughty List? We don't know, but thanks to translators and repro cart makers, we can finally play these gems. If any of the games listed here sound interesting, most can be found on Nintendo Age. Let's just hope that Japan will stop hogging all of these great games because that's what gaming is all about - sharing the stories, the adventure, and the fun.

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I've been looking into buying some repro carts for months now, but haven't pulled the trigger on it yet.  I've got a laundry list of games that I'm looking into getting, but there are a couple here that I wasn't aware of, so thanks for the recommendations.  Maybe after all the holiday madness settles down I'll finally order something.

It's crazy to see how many awesome looking RPGs were released in Japan for the Super Famicom that we never got in North America.  It seems that for every awesome RPG we got, there's another that we never had the privilege of playing.  I can't wait to start diving into some of these!
Final Fantasy V, Seiken Densetsu III, Dragon Quest V and VI, and Star Ocean are also big SFC games that we never saw on this side. FFV is fantastic which is a shame, but thankfully there are great versions to play now.

On the Famicom side of things there were also some goodies we missed out on like Mother, Lagrange Point, Final Fantasy II & III (although II is debatable to be sure), Mōryō Senki MADARA, and Chronicles of Radia War.
Just a nitpick but Terranigma was released in Europe, published by Nintendo of Europe. Enix America had gone through a crazy downfall from 1993-95 and was closed by the time localization was done. Their last few games in North America sold terribly (E.V.O. and Ogre Battle were big reasons, with Ogre Battle being their last game). North America got 0 Enix games between 1995-1999.

Before reproductions got common people who really wanted to play Terranigma on a real SNES would import an English copy from the UK. I considered a few times myself but now the repro cart is the better and cheaper option.
While I was very aware of what Square was and wasn't publishing in the West as far as the PSX was discovered as early as 1997 (due to a Game Informer article), I really didn't know what we missed on the SNES until 2000, when I imported Dragon Quest VI and Romancing Saga.  But seeing that I've never heard of Rudra and Gunman before it seems I have quite a bit more to learn.  Thanks, Fleach.
Hey now,

Although they were almost all action games, there were several Japan-only titles that the Kacho played on GameCenter CX that looked so fun, I was bummed that they were never released stateside. Thanks for reminding me, thus bumming me out even more. ;P

On a completely unrelated note: happy Pearl Harbor day, everybody.
I've been very tempted to grab a Bahumut Lagoon for myself a few times now. It looks really great!
@Zagnorch: Kacho Arino is responsible for me spending quite a bit of money, that mug.
I feel like there's so much we missed out on and I wanted to share some of the games that interested me the most. Hopefully this article helped anyone who was debating importing a game or buying a repro.
@Fleach: I just started importing games a few years ago, and it was something I had been on the fence about for a while (now about 130 famicom titles later...). With some titles, it's easy to understand why they were never exported to North America, but for a vast majority of others, it's mind-boggling. There are so many great and mostly cheap imports out there that anyone who really loves gaming should do their due diligence and check out. Sometimes imports of rarer NA games can even be much cheaper, and if there is no language barrier (as in most shmups, platformers, etc.) then it's usually a worthwhile grab.

Great article!

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