5 Little-Known Japanese Gaming Gems You Need To Play

Ah, Japan: Land of the geek and once home to the greatest computer game developers the world had ever known….

Rich Thompson



Ah, Japan: Land of the geek and once home to the greatest computer game developers the world had ever known. During the mid-late 90’s, the Japanese game industry was an unstoppable Tour-de-force of brilliant innovation, bizarre concepts and all round weirdness. Western games frequently appeared bland in comparison to their crazy eastern counterparts.

Over the past decade, the Japanese market has stagnated and slowly declined. Developers from across Europe and the United States are now churning out games of exceptionally high quality and innovation (yes, we know there’s also a ton of military-minded shooters).

Here’s 5 Japanese games you may have difficulty finding but are definitely worth tracking down.


5. Money Idol Exchanger (Gameboy) (1997)

The title alone screams Japan. Money Idol Exchanger (released as Money Puzzle Exchanger in the U.S) is a cute n’ quirky puzzle game released for the Neo-Geo Arcade back in 1997. The gameplay is similar to the well known puzzle game Bust a Move, yet, Instead of matching coloured blocks, you’ll be using Japanese currency.

That’s right: Finally a game for wannabe accountants everywhere! Placing five ¥1 coins in a line will create a ¥ 5 piece, two ¥5 pieces create a ¥10 coin ect ect. The objective is to remove the coins from the game area before time runs out and your character is crushed under an avalanche of money. Perhaps the game is a subtle play on the Japanese debt bubble?

No. It’s simply an incredibly addictive puzzler that sadly never found a large audience outside it’s native land.

I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to this game. I watched a split-screen game between two Gamers escalate into an all or nothing aggressive face-off that made all previous video game clashes seem tame in comparison. ‘Mario Kart rage’ has nothing on the pure blood-lust that Money Idol Exchanger can bring out in people — And you’ll love it. It’s puzzle gaming at its finest.

The good news: The game is now available to purchase via the Japanese Playstation Network store. So if you have any friends who love the idea of competitive money counting and who you don’t mind falling out with, you really can’t go wrong with this game.