7 Best Nintendo Games Never Released Outside Japan

best nintendo games japanese exclusive

Nintendo is pretty good about localizing their games around the world these days. You can rest assured that if they’re developing a new game, you’re gonna have access to it (and likely in your language).

But there was once a time when Japan was greedy and wouldn’t export their Nintendo gems to everyone. The world missed out on several fantastic games that never got the localization treatment for one reason or another.

Take for example these 7 Nintendo games that the world never got to play when released.


7. Captain Rainbow (Wii)

Straight outta the minds that brought you a plumber on mushrooms, Captain Rainbow is about children’s TV superhero and a guy who washes up on a deserted beach. I bet Nintendo figured no one would get it, so they never even bothered exporting this title.

6. Marvelous (SNES)

What do you get when you mix an RPG with a point’n’click adventure? You get Marvelous for the Super Nintendo. Something tells me that developers didn’t think it could survive outside Japan, but I would’ve totally played it.

5. Custom Robo (Game Cube)

This game combined RPG elements with robot battle-arena battles. Weird, sure, but it looks really awesome. In Custom Robo for the GameCube, you get to customize a robot warrior to fight others in a 3D battle arena. We lost out on something unique with this one.

4. Fire Emblem (SNES)

Nintendo screwed up with this one. The original Fire Emblem was made for the NES, but developers thought no one outside Japan would be interested in turn-based combat systems. They were wrong. Seven games into the series they wised up and have been releasing them internationally since.

3. The Mystery of Murasame Castle (FDS)

What’s this “FDS” all about? In the mid 80s, Nintendo stopped making cartridge games and switched to the Family Disk System, an add-on to the Famicon that ran on freakin floppy disks! Lots of popular games, including Zelda and Metroid, were first made on the FDS. It eventually failed and we got most FDS titles overseas on cartridge. Except The Mystery of Murasame Castle. This one came out right after Zelda and is kinda its spiritual successor…

2. Mario & Wario (SNES)

I never thought Nintendo would make the mistake of withholding a Mario game from the world, but they did. Mario & Wario never saw the light of day outside Japan. The peculiar puzzle adventure has Mario running around with a bucket stuck on his head. You have to direct his movement using the SNES mouse, which literally no one owned! (…okay, I did.)

mother 3 package art1. Mother 3 (GBA)

Thanks to development hell, this title nearly never became a reality. Mother 2 was a smash hit around the world (as Earthbound) and Nintendo planned its sequel immediately after… also for the SNES. Then they switched to the N64. Then the N64DD add-on. Finally, they managed to finish Mother 3 in 2006 (!) on the Game Boy Advanced, 12 years later. And. They. Never. Ported. It.


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