Japanese PS Vita Gaming – Taking A Gamble

Winning Post 8

When it comes to gaming, there probably isn’t a more fascinating nation to look at than Japan. Home to some of the world’s most well loved gaming franchises and the birthplace of the PlayStation, it’s also something of a contradiction when it comes to video games. The diversity of titles on offer is astonishing – from family friendly games found in the classic Mario and Sonic franchises, to the graphically violent survival horror Resident Evil you’d think that there were no limits to what gaming could offer.

In fact, when you look at the range of Japanese exclusives available for the PS Vita this is even more evident. The plethora of somewhat risqué visual novels and JRPGs would struggle to appeal to a typical Western audience, let alone justify the costs of localisation! It’s not that hard for Vita owners to import these games – and it’s a subject I’ll cover in a future article – and there are a few games that you wouldn’t find in the EU oe NA territories. Strangely, these are games that don’t even seem to have Western equivalents which is all the more bizarre considering the history and cultural differences involved…

Unlike many countries, there is a ban on gambling and casinos in Japan. There’s nothing physical or even online so while you could easily view a list of new online casinos in the UK, that’s simply not possible there. While there have been calls for the law to change by many, I doubt that this will happen any time soon. Even the humble slot machine is nowhere to be seen. Instead the Japanese have a fascination with the pinball/slot hybrid pachinko. With parlours all over the country dedicated to this prize based game it makes for a popular alternative.

While slot machines in the West have only made an appearance on the Vita as part of the casino themed game Vegas Party, pachinko has been much better represented. Despite making its debut on earlier PlayStation platforms the Slotter Mania series has continued to thrive on the Vita blending the modern pachinko gameplay with games based on well known manga and anime franchises. Mixing gameplay with video footage, several have been released which have help their value extremely well considering their niche nature,

It’s not just casinos that are currently banned in Japan though – for the most part, betting of any sort is illegal as well. Although under strict regulations it is allowed for four sports, all of which are types of racing including horse racing. But what has any of this got to do with the PS Vita? Surprisingly, both of these have been represented on the Vita in game form. Not just once, but countless times over the last few years with some degree of success…

Another long-running series that’s been present on the Vita for several years is Winning Post from Koei Tecmo. The horse racing simulator has giving budding racehorse owners the chance to breed, train and race their chosen thoroughbreds. Sadly this is yet another in a long line of Koei Tecmo titles that failed to make it outside of Japan. Whether it was felt that the PS Vita market in the West was too small for such a specialist game is unknown. Fortunately, with the PS Vita being a region free console, we may still be able to give this – and other games like it – a try.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the more unusual Japanese games out there. However, most of them lacking English translations and were never officially released in Europe or the US so how can we go about enjoying them? I’ll cover that next time…



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About Simon Plumbe 1066 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe