Japan. Land of the Rising Sun. Land of black-suited ninjas doing their ninja-ing, a land of people who live to unbelievably long ages, and a land of crazy TV shows. But it is also a country with some very talented developers of iPhone games. A lot of which have now made the jump to English.
My job requires many sacrifices, and for this article, I had to spend several hours playing Japanese iPhone games. Well, someone had to do it. Here are the free games I enjoyed the most, in no particular order.
I only played ones which are available in either the US store or the European stores. Since I don’t have a Japanese App Store account, anything there was off-limits to me.
I never thought for one minute that I would be telling my mother on the phone that I was playing Pokémon as part of my job. I don’t blame her for not believing me, and for accusing me of slacking off.
This game is seriously addictive. I could easily see myself spending hours on this, and I had to stop only because I had to also test the other games. But it is easy to play. Just line up the same kind of Pokémon to fire at another Pokémon which you are intent upon capturing. You only have a finite number of moves, so you need to choose wisely. Then capture them in a magic ball, collect hearts and jewels, and of course points.
The whole thing reminds me a lot of Bejeweled, where you have to line up the different jewels. Except this one is MUCH more fun. As an amusing aside, there are a group of people on YouTube who have filmed themselves playing this game. There are hundreds of video uploads if you’re into that kind of thing.
In a game which is very similar to Tamagochi, Neko Atsume enables you to lure pets into your yard by leaving out goodies and toys. Then you wait for the cats to appear.
That is basically everything there is to Neko Atsume. After setting things up for the first time, come out of the game using the Home button and wait a while. It will be a while before any cats come sniffing. And when they do, you will need to persuade them to stick around with more snacks and nice toys. Check back on a regular basis to make sure they are purring contentedly.
Look upon this game as owning a cat, but without all the not so attractive parts, such as cleaning out the litter tray or finding a dead mouse on your doorstep each morning.
Heavenstrike Rivals reminds me a lot of chess. You fight your enemy on a squared board, and you must move your pieces of various strengths into the right places in order to triumph.
There is a slight learning curve involved with this game with a few rules to memorize, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. And you’ll find it difficult to stop playing.
Along the way, you build a squad (200 different kinds of manga-style characters), collect valuable items that will give you an upper hand in battle, and battle online, in real time, with players all over the world.
You should note that when starting this game for the first time, it will download a large amount of data needed for the game. Indeed, the game goes to great lengths to tell you not to use your data plan, but wifi instead. On a fast Internet connection, the download only takes a couple of minutes.
Terra Battle is another game set in a desolate apocalyptic-like land, where the fittest fight to survive (man, the Japanese are so depressing!). You build up a team from a group of volunteers (think “Fellowship of the Ring“), who will then follow you on a journey to battle the enemy, which are little round green blob thingies.
You move your team around a grid-like map, just like Heavenstrike Rivals. You use each character to surround the enemy, whom you then attack with overwhelming power.
Obviously it gets more difficult as you progress through the levels, but you can pick up various skills and bonuses which will help you out there in that dreary land, where green blobs are out to get you.
HungryMaster is an enjoyable arcade-like game, where you are Delica, a girl who needs to eat in order to survive. To do this, there are little monsters roaming around outside with pillowcases on their heads. You need to use your finger on the screen to move Delica around to capture the pillowcase-wearing monsters and turn them into fruit.
Then when she has bagged enough to pass the current level, she needs to run towards the log cabin, where she will be safe from the bed linen brigade, and she can safely eat her fruit.
The game has a very simple plot, but I guarantee you will spend ages on it. It’s very addictive, and you will constantly keep muttering “just one more turn. Just one, I promise….”
The Legendary Blacksmith also has a pretty simple, straightforward plot to it. Hammers will fall down from the sky, and it is your job to tap on them all before they hit the molten steel at the bottom. The more you progress, the faster they will come raining down, but still keep tapping on them. Look upon this as an equivalent to Whack a Mole or Fruit Ninja.
Then when all of the hammers have been tapped on, a sword blade will be formed. The size and appearance of which will depend on how fast you were with those hammers. Once you have two blades from the Easy and Normal levels, you can then progress to Difficult.
There are many Japanese games in the App Store, but I deliberately stayed on the free options, as I think there are more than enough games to keep you entertained without having to break out the cash. Some of the games may suffer from sub-optimal “all your bases are belong to us” English translations, but nevertheless the games themselves are very enjoyable, and most importantly, extremely addictive.
Did you try out the games here? If so, what do you think of them? Do you have any other Japanese favorites you want to tell us about?
Image Credits:Sneaky Looking Ninja by DesignWolf via Shutterstock