Plenty of Nintendo games have never made the U.S. journey from Japan. I’m hoping that they can also get the localizations that they deserve. And these days, why not! Tons of games that we used to think would never leave Japan have been making the trip overseas. I’m talking about titles like Trials of Mana and Phantasy Star Online 2.
These days, it feels like anything is possible! So hopefully we’ll see these five games available in the U.S. soon.
Famicom — 1988
Fire Emblem isn’t the only tactics game for the NES (or Famicom, rather, as it was called in Japan) that needs an English translation. Famicom Wars came from the same team, Intelligent Systems. It started a franchise that we didn’t see until the 2001 release of Advance Wars for Game Boy Advance. Just like that game, Famicom Wars is a turn-based tactics affair with soldiers and tanks. Is it as good as the newer games in the series? Probably not! But neither is the original Fire Emblem. It’s just fun to see how these franchises started.
Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland
Nintendo DS — 2006
Tingle is a creepy side character from the Zelda series. He’s a middle-aged man who thinks he’s a fairy. He is so ugly and weird that you can’t help but love him. [Oh yes you can — Ed.] After appearing in big Zelda games like Majora’s Mask and The Wind Waker, he got his own adventure on the DS. Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland never made it to the U.S., probably out of fear that Tingle was just too much for North America. Considering the disgusting characters that star in many of our most popular shows and movies, I think Nintendo underestimates our constitution. The infuriating thing here is that the Tingle game did come out in Europe … with English as a language option. The hard part is done! Just find a way to put it on Switch. Rupeeland also has a sequel, Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love, that never even got a European port. Let’s get on that too, Nintendo.
Mario & Wario
Super Famicom — 1993
This was a game I learned about from a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For years, I had no idea what Mario & Wario was. Now I know that it’s a puzzle game in the Lemmings style. Characters never stop moving, and it’s your job to interact with the level and keep them safe. The game actually requires the same mouse peripheral that you probably only ever used for Mario Paint. This style of play would eventually evolve into the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. But guess who made Mario & Wario: It’s Game Freak, the Pokémon team. They just about always make good stuff, so it’s a shame to have one of their games — a Mario game, no less — unavailable. Put it on Switch and let us use that console’s touchscreen in lieu of the SNES mouse.
Game Boy Advance — 2004
It feels like forever since we’ve had a new F-Zero game. But did you know that the last installment in the racer series never left Japan? Granted, by all accounts, F-Zero Climax isn’t anything that special. It’s just like the other two GBA F-Zero games, which themselves are a lot like the original SNES game. But Climax does have a track designer, which is neat. And, come on, it’s an F-Zero game! You can’t keep that to yourself, Japan!
Game Boy Advance — 2003
Nintendo fans would probably murder me in my sleep if I didn’t include this one. Mother 3 is the sequel to Earthbound, the beloved SNES RPG. Now, here’s a big confession: I don’t love Earthbound. I want to! But every time I start the game, which I have done several times, I somehow bounce off after a few hours or so. My own bad tastes aside, Mother 3 is supposed to be a worthy and emotional sequel. Earthbound has so many fans in the U.S. that it seems almost criminal that Nintendo hasn’t brought this one over yet. Yes, having a fan translation out there is great, but Nintendo needs to step up here.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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