Although more and more games developed in Japan have been localized to other territories in recent years, there are still many that are exclusive to the country. A handful of these titles are also Nintendo Switch console exclusives, likely due to their popularity.
Some of these games are enhanced ports of games that were previously launched internationally but were not re-released due to poor overseas sales, while others are new entries in long-running Japan-exclusive series. Some are even new IPs that never left Japan for some reason. Many are great, but only a few can be considered the best.
8/8 Momotaro Dentetsu: Showa, Heisei, Reiwa Mo Teiban!
The first Nintendo Switch exclusive entry in Konami’s Japan-exclusive Momotaro Dentetsu series, Momotaro Dentetsu: Showa, Heisei, Reiwa Mo Teiban! lets you travel by air, land, and sea to gather wealth from successful business deals while grappling with any possible rivals you might encounter.
Momotaro Dentetsu series games are best known for their board game-like gameplay. To those outside of Japan, this gameplay may seem similar to Monopoly, to which the series has often been compared. It has also been compared to the Japanese board game Sugoroku that inspired the Mario Party series and mini-games in the Dragon Quest series.
7/8 Power Pro KunPocket R
Power Pro Kun Pocket R is a 2021 remake of the first two games in the Power Pro Kun Pocket baseball video game series, originally released on the Game Boy Color in 1999 and 2000 respectively. The series also grew out of Konami’s Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyu series, which recently changed its name to eBaseball: Powerful Pro Yakyu.
Power Pro Kun Pocket R includes a story mode with three separate chapters where you recruit and train players, a survival mode and a co-op multiplayer mode for up to four players, as well as several other game modes including various mini-games.
6/8 Buddy Mission BOND
Buddy Mission BOND is a game by Ruby Party, Koei Tecmo’s mostly female development team. It’s a visual novel mystery adventure game where you choose two out of four characters to investigate cases by searching for clues and talking to NPCs. Once you’ve gathered enough intel for a case, you can infiltrate the prime suspect’s base, with the clues you’ve found affecting how you infiltrate them.
Since the main character, Luke Williams, wants to be a hero like his late father who died in the line of duty, there is also a hero meter that increases or decreases depending on selection, resulting in a score after the mission is completed.
5/8 Per Yakyuu Famista 2020
Pro Yakyuu Famista 2020 is a baseball video game developed by Bandai Namco and part of the Famista or Family Stadium series mainly available in Japan. Exclusive to Nintendo Switch, Pro Yakyuu Famista 2020 features 12 professional baseball teams and select players from nine additional teams.
However, the most notable feature of the game is its story mode. This includes the Namco Stars team, which exclusively has Namco characters like Pooka from DigDug. In story mode, the team must save Earth from an alien invasion by playing against them. There is also a mini-game mode for up to four players.
4/8 Yo-Kai Watch 1 for Nintendo Switch
An enhanced port of the first Yo-Kai Watch game for Nintendo 3DS, literally titled Yo-Kai Watch 1 for Nintendo Switch, was released for the console in October 2019. This was four months after the base version of Yo-Kai Watch 4 launched.
As the platforms changed from Nintendo 3DS to Switch, this expanded port adds a number of changes and improvements to the series’ debut title. These various improvements include updated graphics, voiced dialogs, some in-combat touchscreen controls changed to the left stick, and online combat against other players. A mobile version, Yo-Kai Watch 1 Smartphone, was launched in July 2021.
3/8 Medarot Classics Plus
Medarot Classics Plus is a collection of eight games from the Medarot series, known outside of Japan as Medabots, originally launched on Game Boy systems between 1997 and 2002. Since most of these games had two versions, the Kabuto version and the Kuwagata version, the collection does too.
The collection adds digital versions of the original manuals, a meda album where you can see what you’ve collected in each game, recorded game time, saves, a game speed feature that lets you double, quadruple or eightfold the speed of a game, and a Robattle Skip feature that lets you win battles automatically.
Do you remember the anime Fighting Foodons from the early 2000s? Conceptually similar, Tabe-O-Ja is also available exclusively in Japan, like the video games Fighting Foodons or Bistro Recipe. Tabe-O-Ja is a unique monster fighting game where successfully cooking dishes from different kitchens using the Joy-Con motion controls allows you to summon Tabe-Gami, the creatures that live in each dish.
The better you perform cooking actions, the better the resulting tabe-gami will be, allowing you to add them to your team and compete against other cooks using the same cooking actions to call them into battle. Tabe-O-Ja also came with optional Joy-Con peripherals called the Ouja Gear and the Extract Potion Pepper Ripper for added immersion.
1/8 Dragon Quest Monsters RETRO
While the Nintendo Switch-exclusive spinoff Dragon Quest Treasures has released worldwide, it’s not the only console-exclusive Dragon Quest title. Dragon Quest Monsters RETRO, an enhanced port of Dragon Quest Monsters for Game Boy Color, also known as Dragon Warrior Monsters, was launched on the Japanese eShop in September 2019, two months later with a smartphone version.
Dragon Quest Monsters RETRO is interesting in that it’s more of a port of the original game than a port of the Japan-exclusive remake for Nintendo 3DS and mobile. New features in RETRO include static backgrounds, the ability to play in monochrome or color, and overlaying informational text so you can always see your monsters’ stats.
NEXT: Each Nintendo console rated for innovation