Eight 3DS Games Nintendo Needs to Bring to the West

Nintendo wants to bring more Japanese third-party games over to North America, but what could it have in mind?


During a recent financial results briefing by Nintendo, company President Satoru Iwata pledged Nintendo's dedication to bring more Japanese third-party 3DS games to North America and Europe, and there are, in fact, a handful of exclusives deserving of attention. We've compiled a list of eight games that are currently being held captive by the usual suspects: sales numbers, cultural differences, manpower, and budgets. You might imagine that a few of these games could be localized without Nintendo's assistance, but since none of them have been officially announced, Iwata's statement can be seen as a glimmer of hope for hungry 3DS owners. We may be getting a translated version of Project X Zone, but not everyone is as crazy…er, intelligent, as Namco Bandai.

1. Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, Square Enix 2012

This attractive role-playing game was released in Japan on October 11, 2012. It was the best-selling game during its initial week of availability, topping out at 140,000 copies sold. That figure has since doubled, and Bravely Default is considered a hit by Square Enix's standards, prompting the series' continuation in the PC game currently under development, Bravely Default: Praying Brage.

With a deep job system, a wealth of social features, and the art of Akihiko Yoshida (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII) behind it, Bravely Default has a lot to offer to fans of RPGs, particularly those with a soft spot for Yoshida's past works. There's an outspoken group of journalists and RPG fans knocking on Square Enix's door, but the company either doesn't hear us, or doesn't want to. Apart from the number of voice-overs in the game, it's not clear why Square Enix wouldn't jump at the chance to localize Bravely Default for Westerners. Theoretically, it could scrap the voice-overs and rely on text, and I bet plenty of people would feel perfectly content. Kick Square Enix's butt into gear, Iwata!

2. Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Level-5 2012

With both series garnering favorable reactions in the West, it's surprising that Capcom hasn't announced an English localization of this potential hit. Professor Layton and Ace Attorney games may not play alike, but the mixture of puzzles and virtual trials might be crazy enough to work.

We haven't seen an Ace Attorney game in English since 2010's Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, and we missed out on the Japanese-only sequel from 2011, unofficially known as Miles Edgeworth 2. That also happened to be the worst-selling Ace Attorney game in the past five years. Professor Layton, on the other hand, has always found its way to Western shores in a timely manner. Unfortunately, initial sales of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright were worse than Miles Edgeworth 2 in Japan, and if that's preventing Level-5 or Capcom from making a move, it may take Nintendo's involvement to get this game into the hands of Westerners.

3. Time Travelers, Level-5 2012

Time Travelers isn't the sort of game that would have been localized in the past, but after games such as Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward were released to resoundingly positive reactions, there's a better chance that visual-novel games might start to find their way to Western shores.

After a mysterious incident ruined large parts of Tokyo in 2013, the city was rebuilt, and its technology advanced considerably, due in part to a mysterious tower (referred to as the "space elevator") and its ability to generate large amounts of energy. The game takes place 18 years after the incident, in 2031, following the paths of five different people. As the game's title implies, you can manipulate time within the game, which lets you reverse previous decisions and alter the future. The story's conflict stems from Yuri, an exceptional high school student born at the time of the incident, who must keep her origins a secret. The game was released on the PSP, Vita, and 3DS, but considering publishers aren't jumping at the chance to release it in the West, Nintendo has the chance to kill two birds with one stone: publish what looks to be a fantastic visual novel to further diversify the 3DS library while also preventing another publisher from releasing the game on a Sony platform.

4. Dragon Quest VII, Square Enix 2013

Dragon Quest VII's release on the PlayStation (as Dragon Warrior VII) didn't make much of a splash back in 2001, but it was the first game in the series to arrive on Western shores since Dragon Warrior IV landed on the NES in 1992, and the series' popularity has grown considerably over the last 12 years.

Although you might expect Square Enix to be the most suitable publisher for the remake, don't forget that Nintendo published Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS in North America and Europe back in 2011. It went on to become the second game in the series to sell more than 1 million copies outside of Japan, following the trend set by Dragon Quest VIII in 2004. Back in 2001, Dragon Quest VII landed on the PlayStation a few months after the PlayStation 2 launched in North America, and realistically, it never had a chance to find a new audience. The game has been completely remade in 3D and looks fantastic, unlike the rather crummy mix of 2D and 3D found in the PlayStation version. Now that the series is relatively fresh in people's minds, Nintendo would do well to encourage Square Enix to publish Dragon Quest VII in the West. If Square Enix opts out, don't be surprised if Nintendo eventually picks up the slack.

5. E.X. Troopers, Capcom 2012

This Lost Planet spin-off series takes the battle between snow pirates and the monstrous akrid into the realm of anime and manga, featuring brightly colored characters and an emphasis on highly stylized cutscenes.

E.X. Troopers on the 3DS is very similar to the Japanese exclusive PlayStation 3 version of the game in terms of visuals and gameplay. There's the third-person action that the series is known for, accentuated by the main character's personal jetpack, but the cel-shaded presentation really lightens the mood. True, you're still on a distant planet fighting giant bugs for survival, but E.X. Troopers doesn't attempt to deliver gritty and stressful combat. Instead, it's a colorful, fast-paced shooter with enough personality to charm the pants off anyone who isn't completely cynical or wholly opposed to cartoony art styles. Capcom has repeatedly made it clear that it has zero plans to localize the game, but that doesn't mean Nintendo can't fix its mistake.

6. Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime 3, Square Enix 2011

Speaking of charm, Rocket Slime 3 has one hell of a charming mascot, the immediately recognizable Slime enemy from the Dragon Quest series. The first game in the Rocket Slime series was released in the US back in 2006 on the Nintendo DS, but its sequel remains exclusive to Japan. Maybe, just maybe, Nintendo can prevent that from happening again.

You control the iconic Slime on his lighthearted adventure to find magical orbs strewn about his world, flinging yourself into enemies and collecting items while exploring environments from a top-down perspective. Any items or enemies you gather can then be used during naval battles. "How?" you ask. Well, by firing them out of cannons, obviously. As in the tank battles in the original Rocket Slime, you'll go head-to-head with the Plob opposition in epic contests of might, firing debris and monsters at each other in an attempt to weaken defenses and board your opponent's ship. Rocket Slime games wear their goofiness on their sleeve, and based on the positive reactions to the original game from the few who actually bought it, such untempered wackiness works regardless of region. If Nintendo opted to publish Rocket Slime 3 and marketed it for what it is, I bet they'd find that 3DS owners are surprisingly receptive to whimsical worlds and creative experimentation.

7. Beyond the Labyrinth, Konami 2012

Konami partnered with Star Ocean developer Tri-Ace to develop a slow-paced, dungeon-crawling RPG, and the result is a beautiful game that injects personality into the otherwise somber experiences typical of the subgenre.

Beyond the Labyrinth is played from a first-person perspective, but you won't find yourself constantly staring into the void of a dungeon. Instead, you're partnered with a young girl who frequently engages you in conversation and convincingly reacts to the world and events around her. Dungeon-crawling series such as Etrian Odyssey have found success on the DS in North America, and as a game that tries to take the genre in new directions, Beyond the Labyrinth could find its own following if Konami or Nintendo decides to publish it outside of Japan.

8. Super Robot Wars UX, Namco Bandai 2013

The last game on this list might give potential publishers a licensing headache, but that doesn't mean it won't be worth the effort. Super Robot Wars pits giant mecha from a multitude of anime series against one another in a turn-based strategy game reminiscent of Fire Emblem and Project X Zone, and though the story bringing these disparate characters together may be a tad contrived, the variety of characters and combat abilities is where Super Robot Wars shines.

Unfortunately, considering the number of properties that go into a Super Robot Wars game, the chances of UX becoming available outside of Japan are slim. The only games in the series to receive localizations were from the Original Generation subseries, because of their exclusive use of original characters and mechs created by Banpresto. Precedents exist that make it not completely foolhardy to hope for a Western release, though. Many people thought Tatsunoko vs. Capcom on the Wii wouldn't make it out of Japan due to similar concerns, but that didn't prevent its eventual release, thanks to Tatsunoko's assistance in negotiating regional licenses on a per-character basis. Convincing Namco Bandai to work with its North American and European partners to secure new licenses for the game won't be easy, but Nintendo might be able to pull it off.

So there you have it: eight games that, if the stars (and Iwata) align, might one day go on sale outside of Japan. If you peruse the list of releases for gaps between regions, there aren't many games besides these eight that feel like logical conclusions in Nintendo's search. These are all high-quality games that, despite their undeniably Japanese personalities, have plenty to offer fans of their respective genres. Hopefully Nintendo sees that, and the gaps between regions can continue to shrink.

What say you? If not these, what other Japanese-exclusive 3DS games would you like to see localized for other regions?

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144 comments
HyouVizer
HyouVizer

i know #1 is being localized now 

but I'd personally love for #3, 4, 5 & 7 to be localized 

LastLaughLol
LastLaughLol

Yes please. Gimme dis games. I gibe u lots of dollas mi tomodachi's.

rey2
rey2

I think the only Super Robot Wars series that has a chance of making it is the Original Generation Saga.  Already have a GBA version in the past so why not a 3DS one now?  Most of the stuff this time can be moved over from the PS2 version.

Naikoru105
Naikoru105

Please?  All of these look spectacular.  I WANT THEM SO BADLY.

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

Why is Ni No Kuni NOT on this list?!!

Flame30
Flame30

One of the problems is that most of these games require a greenlight on their localization, THEN can be brought over. Nintendo can have a say on it, but it's not completely up to them if a game comes over or not.

baxwam
baxwam

ZOMG #1 needs to come over here IDC about the rest 

leamusbeamus
leamusbeamus

I would love to see Level 5's "Fantasy Life" get released outside of Japan as well!


moncealyo
moncealyo

This is why I don't have a 3ds.  It is stupid to not publish these 3ds games in the U.S.  Nintendo needs new leadership in Japan.  They are stuck on stupid practices.  Nintendo is no longer the king of casual games.  Why pay 200 bones for a 3ds whose games cost 40 bones when you can get a kindle fire hd or ipod touch?  Most of those games are super cheap and you can do a lot more than just play games.  If they want to make a system just for their country then stop selling 3ds's over here.  I'm not going to wait and hope.    

bgranli
bgranli

The Professor Layton games have been extremely successful in the west, especially in Europe where they have sold more copies than in Japan and North America combined! And considering the fact that Ace Attorney games have done OK as well, I just don't get why they haven't announced Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney in the west! Are they afraid of making money?

Sojiro_Blue
Sojiro_Blue

C'mon Japan, let's be best friends again! The 90s and early 00s were great, right? C'moooooon!

FF Type-0 PLEASE?

GeekyDad
GeekyDad moderator

Not a game on that list I DON'T want to see released here in the States.

gundemwing
gundemwing

Reading this makes me quite angry... I always thought that everyone who bought a Nintendo 3ds got screwed over because of the lack of 'good' games. Turns out Japan actually has them, and I never realised that... It angers me to know it's going to take a while before we'll get these games.

Metroidalert911
Metroidalert911

Bravely Default will be a success for sure. Bring it please.

Tangsta03
Tangsta03

I'd love to see them all ported to real consoles. Fricken handhelds...

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

I'd love to see a Dragon Quest 3DS game! I'm currently playing through DQIX for the first time and I'm having a lot of fun. 

Articuno76
Articuno76

I played through Time Travellers on the Vita and have to agree that the game should be localised.  It only runs around 12 or so hours (and most of it is watching more so than reading).  It has plenty of likeable characters and funny moments and the story twists in the last hour or two of the game are great.  It also helps that the developers really researched time-travel for the game (including theories, movies, books).

badboy
badboy

I really hope so.

sardakaur04
sardakaur04

There is a symbiotic relationship between selling new games and the used game industry.  Some people only feel comfortable buying a used game if there is the chance of selling it back for a bit of cash (or credit) after they are done with.  If you kill one or the other in the market, the other will suffer and possibly crash.  

If the developers and publishers want to increase their sales, they need to focus on releasing QUALITY COMPLETE games.  Not releasing something, to then a week later put up DLC for that game that should have been included with the launch.  Gamers are smart, they know when they are being nickle and dimed.  The quality of "AAA" titles in the last 5 years is downright embarrassing.  Games that only have a few hours of single player content, games that require constant online connectivity to play said content, rehashed multiplayer from the COD 3 years ago put in a new box and called "revolutionary".  All this crap is what is killing the sales, not people buying games used.  If anything, used games are the only thing keeping the console gaming business from crashing hard.

poppen695
poppen695

Nintendo won't do it though...they will keep feeding stupid American kids crap titles like Super Mario 4738453867..or Metroid 3453212 or Zelda 57 a link to the Geriatric clinic.  Until American gamers stop buying this shovelware repeat crap we will never have some of the masterpieces that are created from overseas.  Send Nintendo a message and tell them shove Mario up their pie holes and send us some real games...

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Way to copy IGN's article, GameSpot! Good job!

singhellotaku
singhellotaku

I would buy every single one of these games too

LAnoirFAN
LAnoirFAN

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy & Beyond the Labyrinth, please nintendo i was wating for them for a LOOOOOONG TIME

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

Bravely Default is being teased for a western release, I think Layton vs Pheonix Wright will get a western release along with Dragon Quest VII. Time Travelers bombed really badly in Japan, not sure if they would invest more money into localization or cut their losses. I think EX Troopers is in a similar situation.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

apparently bravely default is getting localized after all, so that's one game off the list. 7 more to go!

Stardust7
Stardust7

What did he mean ??  >> " We may be getting a translated version of Project X Zone, but not everyone is as crazy…er, intelligent, as Namco Bandai." ... I didnt get it ...my english is not good..

telaros
telaros

THE HELL IS YOUR PROLEM!? OF COURSE A SQUARE GAME WILL RELEASE! NOW PUT  Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Level-5 2012 BACK UP TO #1!

 lol But, anyways, I'm personally looking forward to Beyond the Labyrinth myself as well. Time Travelers would be pretty cool. Given the success of the Super Robot Wars series, I can totally see that coming down here as well.

Layton  and Ace need more support, Nintendo seems to be a bit mentally deficient if they think that game isn't going to sell down here!

A lot of the games here are no brainers and didn't need so much signal boosting. Slap Final Fantasy one Fairy whatever and it'll sell like hotcakes, going for 10 bucks more than other rpgs cause you're paying for the Final Fantasy logo :P

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

A definite 'yes' to DQ7 -- I've got the PS1 version collecting dust on my shelf, completely unplayed. A graphics update and the ability to play while taking in a baseball game or something will definitely let me get that one off of my 'backlog' list.

pik-ku
pik-ku

Great games! Please do so Nintendo...

logicalfrank
logicalfrank

Glad to see Bravely Default at number one on this list. I have been following in anxiously since it was announced. 

Maybe my perspective is skewed by too much time on video game forums but it seems like Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS has been a runaway success. I am hoping this encourages Japanese developers to bring more RPGs of all stripes to the West. Similarly, I am hoping that the success of Virtue's Last Reward brings over some more visual novels.


Also, assuming Nintendo does actually go and help localize and publish some third party titles in the West, that is a truly huge service to fans. I think it makes good business sense for Nintendo too. It will give them some diversity in their publishing line-up and provides more incentive for people to buy their hardware. I hope they go through w/ it.

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

Great article... I am looking forward mainly to Bravely Default, DQ VII, DQ:RS III and Beyond the Labyrinth. The other titles are really interesting as well. Good thing they are localizing Project X Zone ;)... can't wait for that either

wicked_laugh
wicked_laugh

If fans were able to convice the localization of Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower; these games will come over as well as long as there is a big enough demand.

DeerhunterIA
DeerhunterIA

I will be heartbroken if Dragon Quest VII doesn't make it to the US.

Stardust7
Stardust7

Nintedo I Buy a 3DS if you do that.

timdogg42069
timdogg42069

Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney should have been a sure thing to release worldwide as soon as the idea came to someone's head.

Naikoru105
Naikoru105

@SuperDutchy Dude, cause it got ported here.  I mean not on DS, but it's still in the US.  These are unreleased in any form.

Naikoru105
Naikoru105

@moncealyo That's stupid reasoning considering all the fantastic games that are already coming overseas/are already here.  Ipod and kindle games don't compare to console/handheld quality games.  I say that as a big advocate of mobile games.  And to me the games that come from Nintendo are more than enough to warrant a DS purchase.  You strike me as stupid.  Have you even looked through the current and planned library?  Cause it's awesome even without these titles.  Ya derp.

TheMatrixCBC
TheMatrixCBC

@gundemwing Not only does Japan get the games we'd love to have, but the 3DS is basically spanking every other console/handheld on the market every week in sales, as a result.

Now...just imagine what might happen if they sent some of those games over here...*cough get rid of Square Enix leadership and replace them with people willing to localize cough*

Naikoru105
Naikoru105

@gundemwing lack of good games? lol, I don't think we own the same system, cause there are quite a few worthwhile games for the 3DS.

TheMatrixCBC
TheMatrixCBC

@Defy_The_Fallen I actually ended up bidding and winning on an Ice White Japanese 3DS, and purchased Dragon Quest VII from the eShop.  Having played the game when it was on PSX, the remake is absolutely gorgeous, and more than worth the money.

DQIX...after the glory that was DQVIII, it was something of a (massive) letdown, especially after the far superior ports of DQs IV-VI.  It's a good game, don't get me wrong - but, the score is just awful, and the gameplay feels like they just took Dragon Quest Monsters and slapped "IX" at the end of it.

Play Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2 - it's an absolutely masterpiece.

Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@sardakaur04 I agree with your arguments except where you say "gamers are smart". There are a lot of gamers who want to see new ideas and innovations but the average gamer is probably more interested in a repetitive experience that offers variation in that repetitiveness. Developers (I can't think of any big developers that are entirely innocent of this) are making more money just updating a repetitive game to keep people interested, with CoD being probably the most obvious culprit. Nintendo is very guilty of this as well, especially with super Mario bros, but they are making original titles and the ones that are very successful do come over to PAL and North America regions, although a bit later on, like Xenoblade Cronicles (though that one took a big fan led campaign to get localized versions). I'm sure the very successful ones from the list above will turn up in the other regions eventually as bravely default apparently is according to some earlier comments.

UponADarkThorne
UponADarkThorne

@poppen695 

If it wasn't for Nintendo, we never would have gotten Dragon Quest IX in the first place, since they published it here rather that Square Enix.   It a lot of cases, it isn't ~Nintendo~ that doesn't want to release these games stateside as much as other companies who don't want to release something that won't make them a mint.   Remember, while it took a while, we did eventually get Xenoblade Chronicles - largely do to fan demand.  

Blame the other publishers, not Nintendo.   

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

@FLEEBS You'll have to enlighten me. I can't find any article on IGN related to this topic apart from a news article.

Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@TheMatrixCBC @SuperDutchy It would still be nice to see them localize the DS version. I really want to play Ni No Kuni but can't afford to invest in a PS3 (Fingers crossed for a price cut with the PS4 release!) .

TheMatrixCBC
TheMatrixCBC

@UponADarkThorne @poppen695 Square-Enix has made it clear that their priority is Japan, even going so far as to say it outright (as it pertains to the Dragon Quest series).  If only Enix had gotten sold to a better, more worthy developer.