Japan was often known as the video game capital of the world. All the technology and all of the best games used to come from Japanese companies but unfortunately there has been a decline in Japan recently which has limited the games. There is a lack of the innovation that we used to see coming from Japan in the recent years and the Japanese people seem to be less interested in games now. However we can always hope that the gaming industry returns to what it was in Japan and until then we can look at the 5 best video game series’ to come from Japan.
5. ICO series
Now arguably this isn’t really a series but any mention of Japanese games has to contain the amazing games that are Shadow of the Colossus and Ico. In a list of the best games of all time they would undeniably be near the top but since I’m not entirely sure it should be classed as a series they remain lower than games they are better than here. They are both amazing games that strive away from what other games do. They both try and provide a different experience, a magical experience that keeps players amazed from start to finish. Shadow of the Colossus in particular. There are 16 colossi in the full game and each one is a boss fight. The fights are so perfectly created though and are the basis of the full game. Each one is a completely different experience but every fight will blow you away.
Without a doubt Mario is the most iconic video game character ever. Everyone has heard of him and everyone has played at least one Mario game, be it the revolutionary Super Mario 64, the classic 2D Super Mario Bros or one of the many, many spin offs that’s he’s been in. There are plenty of amazing Mario games but truth be told there are just too many bad ones too. He pops up everywhere. Yeah, I do like his games but I don’t like how he seems to be in a new game every month and half of them turn out crap anyway. I don’t want Mario to go, he’s a gaming icon who has been in some incredible games but he should definitely be cut down on. Keep making 3D games every so often e.g. the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy 2, the occasional 2D one for the DS or Wii and throw in a spin off like Mario Kart every now and then and I’ll be happy.
3. The Legend of Zelda
Like Mario, The Legend of Zelda is another great series that Miyamoto made for Nintendo. Ocarina of Time is often considered to be the best game ever and is definitely up there with the best of them. What makes Zelda so good though is the great world and sense of adventure. It always feels like you’re in a fantasy world, particularly when the games went 3D and the worlds had a lot more detail in them. The core gameplay of puzzle solving and combat, along with a few RPG elements in there, works very well and often provides an engaging experience. The Zelda series is another really iconic series that had definitely lifted the bar for adventure games quite a few times.
2. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy is a huge series that is known as one of the best gaming series ever made. Despite its heavy Japanese culture influence it still manages to sell really well outside of Japan, especially compared to other Japanese RPGs. There is a good reason for its popularity though. The main games in the series tend to have great stories combined with a great cast of characters and extremely polished gameplay. Each one is able to be very different since they are all based around different events. Whether you like the highly detailed sci-fi world of Final Fantasy VII, the true fantasy world of Final Fantasy IX or the mixed world of Final Fantasy X there is always something about the games that manages to keep players hooked for hours on end. Of course once you get past the 12 main games (13 if you include FFX-2) you have plenty of spin-offs to appeal to different tastes and expand the games even more.
1. Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid is quite often known for its incredible storytelling through heavy use of cutscenes. Now, I’ll admit that the cutscenes are long and not everybody will want to watch them all but they tell a story like no other game does. Each game has a story that hooks the player from start to finish. As well as the engaging story there is a great set of interesting and well developed characters. Hideo Kojima is a master at storytelling, not just through his use of cutscenes but also through immersion and his handful of effective techniques (e.g. Split screen story telling in MGS4). Metal Gear Solid has always been about the story for me but the stealth gameplay has always been a joy to play. Snakes various techniques to remain hidden often come in to play for the stealthy players and provide a fantastic experience. As well as the stealth gameplay, each boss fight is incredible and the series is home to some of the most innovate and clever boss fights ever.