Importing games has traditionally been a niche activity in the US, with few consumers willing to deal with language barriers, bypassing regional lockouts, and finding a good source to buy games from just to play games from other countries.
But things are changing. Language barriers can still be a concern, but regional lockouts are becoming less common, with the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo DS all being region-free systems as far as games go. (Regional locks on the Xbox 360 are determined by the publisher.) The availability looks to be getting better as well, if GameStop's product listings are any indication.
GameStop is currently accepting preorders for a pair of Japanese DS games that it expects to ship this month. The more prominent of the two is Jump Superstars, Nintendo's crossover fighting game featuring more than 150 characters from 27 manga and anime series that have appeared in Shonen Jump magazine. Among the properties included are Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. In the past, games specific to those franchises have been released in the US by Atari, Capcom, Namco Bandai Games, and Konami.
GameStop is charging $49.99 for Jump Superstars and expects it to ship December 27. The game was originally released in Japan last year and has already spawned a sequel there, Jump Ultimate Stars.
Also on offer is Naruto: Saikyo Ninja Daikesshu 4, the latest DS fighting game based on the anime and manga series. The game costs $39.99, and according to GameStop's product page, it was expected to ship today.
As of press time, a GameStop representative had not returned GameSpot's request for comment on the company's importing plans.
Please note, while retailer listings frequently give gamers a heads-up on unannounced news, they should not be taken as final confirmation of a game's release date, platform, or even its existence.