Gaming in Japan

IMG_1137It’s appropriate that I’m writing this from Kyoto, which is the home of Nintendo.  The card gaming company which became a video game powerhouse in the mid-80s.

There was no way I was going to Japan and leaving my Nintendo 3Ds or my Playstation Vita at home


My 3DS because of all the Street Passes, and believe me you get a lot here. I’m averaging about 30 Street Passes.  a day and could go for more if I were constantly clearing them out!

Sadly, Nintendo region locks the 3DS (and the WiiU), where they had not done so previously. There are ways around this, but still, it’s a pain, and there are some great games to be played in the 3DS which are simply not available in North America or Europe.  I’m definitely not a fan of region locking.

If you’re die hard, then you can definitely pick up a Japanese 3DS, and they have different colours available and face plates which are not available in the rest of the world although the “New 3DS” (smaller version) is coming out in North America soon.

Amiibos from Japan will work with North American hardware, and are not region locked.  I picked up the Green Yarn Yoshi (available individually in Japan along with Pink and Blue), and Pac Man and they work well with the 3DS.

Remember Nintendo Zone where you can go places like Best Buy, connect to their network then you can download stuff for your console or StreetPass?  Well it’s alive and well here in Japan, and Japanese Nintendo gamers can connect and download stuff for the 3DS at 7-Elevens, Tsutaya or Pokemon Stores!  Even McDonald’s is in on the action.


On the other hand, despite the fact that Sony states a region and “For Japan Only” on Vita and PS4 games, they will all play anyway on hardware outside of Japan. I’ve picked up four games, at the recommendation of friends

  • Puyo Puyo Tetris for both Vita and PS4.  I’m a sucker for Tetris and games like Dr. Mario, the latter which borrows heavily from Puyo Puyo.
  • Hideboh Hero – A dance/music timing game
  • IA/VT Colourful – Another music timing game
  • Taiko no Tatsujin – A music/beat timing game

You can take advantage of Tax Free Shopping at stores within Japan, as well they had a deal where if you paid with a Visa card, you can get 6% off, on top of the 8% saved from the taxes.  A great deal, stock up!

If you’re looking for hardware, Japan is the place to be. You can get different coloured Vitas (admittedly the colours of the first generation Vitas are better than the second)  and special edition PS4s as well.

There are a lot of games here, mostly RPGs which require you to understand a fair bit of Japanese.  It could be worth your while learning the language.


If you’re looking for used hardware, then I do recommend Akihabara.  Places like Super Potato have retro gaming consoles, and places like Sofmap also sell newer used hardware like the original Vita.

All in all, Japan is a geek’s wet dream when it comes to arcade and system gaming.

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