It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Nintendo 64, and personally feel that it is up there with the best consoles ever made. That being said, there were plenty of games that never made it to the international market and remained exclusive to Japan.
Of the ~400 games that were made for the console, around 100 of them were solely released in the Asian market. Here, we investigate which of these are the best. Read on for the 5 best Japanese N64 games.
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5. Dezaemon 3D
In Dezaemon 3D, you get to create your own levels. It’s a fun space shooter design game that requires a fair amount of creativity and a little bit of patience, but once you get into it, you can easily sink hours into the game.
You don’t really need to have a strong understanding of Japanese to play this game, but you do need to have a creative mindset, and to make the best of it you’ll do a bit of modelling, texturing, music, and game design.
There is a Tutorial mode that is pretty much useless if you don’t speak Japanese. Instead, you’ll likely want to get straight into it with the Edit mode, and with a bit of trial and error you can end up creating some pretty cool games.
It’s not for everyone, but Dezaemon 3D is up there with the best Japanese N64 games.
4. Sin and Punishment (2000)
Sin and Punishment is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to Japanese imports for the N64. Developed by Treasure and Nintendo R&D1, this rail shooter is set in the (then) futuristic time of 2007, when a new species revolts against humans after being developed by scientists to solve world hunger.
Many consider it to be a spiritual successor to Star Fox 64, and while it may not have received the same exposure, it certainly holds up in terms of gameplay. The action is rapid, the intensity is exhilarating, and the overall aesthetic is just downright cool.
If you’re in the market for the best Japanese N64 games, it’s hard to overlook Sin and Punishment.
3. Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 (2000)
The N64 had some of the best wrestling games ever made. With the likes of Warzone, Wrestlemania 2000, and No Mercy, it would have been easy to miss the Japan-only wrestling game, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2.
Made by the same developer of many wrestling games of the era (THQ), the gameplay mechanics will feel familiar to aficionados of the genre. Where the game really stands out, though, is the huge roster and multiple wrestling attires that you can choose from.
A lot of the roster were from the Japanese pro wrestling scene, but there are some internationally known wrestlers for those not familiar with much of the roster.
VPW2 is easily one of the best Japanese N64 games, and not just one for the grappling fans, either.
2. Bangai-O (1999)
This is one of the rarest games on the list but it’s easily one of the best Japanese N64 games around. Developed by Treasure, this multidirectional 2D shooter was praised by critics and gamers alike, with particular praise being given for its unique blend of retro aesthetics and chaotic shoot ‘em up action.
A Dreamcast version was released internationally subsequent to the N64 release, and perhaps this is the better known of the two. In either version, you control a weaponized robot which is being controlled by Riki and Mami, the two protagonists of the game.
The aim is to stop criminals from smuggling illegal goods, and to do so you must defeat each of the game’s 44 stages in order to complete the game, with a new boss being presented at every stage.
The story is very much secondary to the gameplay, though, and if you’re just looking to have some good ol’ fashioned action-packed fun, Bangai-O could be the N64 Japanese exclusive for you.
1. Animal Forest – Dōbutsu no Mori (2001)
Animal Forest is the very first Animal Crossing game to be released and is the cog that got the wheel turning in the hugely popular and addictive franchise.
Many people don’t even know that it was released for the N64 and believe the GameCube version to be the first in the series. In reality, the GameCube version is an enhanced release of this N64 title.
As with all the other games in the main series, this is a life simulation game in which you play a human character in a town with anthropomorphic animal inhabitants. There are some notable differences to the other main games in the series (no museum, some different animals, fewer house upgrades, etc) but overall the N64 version is a great game and there’s a reason why it received such critical acclaim on initial release.
If you’re a fan of the series, it’s also fun to see how far the game has come to its most recent iterations. Animal Forest is most definitely one of the best Japanese N64 games ever made.
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