Three years ago, shortly after I started working at PC Gamer, I wanted to write something big about Japanese games on PC. It was an exciting time. There were Final Fantasy games on PC! Dark Souls 2 had just come out with a PC port that looked and played better than it did on consoles! It seemed like the unthinkable was happening, and I wanted to write about this seeming turning point for Japanese games on PC. So I started talking to developers in Japan and the US... and then I got sidetracked. For about two years.
Thankfully, the story has only gotten better since then. A lot has happened for Japanese PC gaming in the past three years: old RPGs have found a new audience, new action games have sold just as well as on consoles, once-niche genres like visual novels have gotten more official translations than ever before and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Even SHMUPs are back. 2017 has broadly felt like the year the Japanese industry gets itself back on track, recovering from the challenges of expensive HD console development and a shrinking audience at home. But on the PC, things have been great for awhile—Japanese games have already been on the upswing for years.
Here are all the features we wrote during Japanese PC gaming week. Enjoy!
How Japan learned to love PC gaming again (opens in new tab) — This is a big one, with tons of insight from the developers who made this trend a reality over the past seven years. It's part recent history, and part deep dive into all the reasons PC gaming took this long to catch on.
Phantasy Star Online will never die: how the nicest fans in gaming keep a 16-year-old MMO alive (opens in new tab) — What is it about Phantasy Star Online that keeps multiple fan servers alive? It goes beyond nostalgia, to the deep impact this game had (and still has) on the lives of its players.
The forgotten origins of JRPGs on the PC (opens in new tab) — The little-known history of early Japanese PC RPGs like 'Seduction of the Condominium Wives' and how they set the stage for the likes of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.
The story of the bizarre Mega Man DOS games (opens in new tab) — The weird story of the Mega Man NES 'ports' to DOS that were actually whole new (pretty bad) games.
How Steam brought shmups out of arcades and into a new PC renaissance (opens in new tab) — The shoot-em-up has found a new life on PC, with ports of Japan's arcade classics and a vibrant scene of new indie creators.
The bright life of the MSX, Japan's underdog PC (opens in new tab) — The story of the only Japanese PC to find success outside Japan, with videos of some of its most interesting games.
The surprising explosion of RPG Maker on Steam (opens in new tab) — A few years ago, RPG Maker was a fan tool. Now it powers more than 100 games released on Steam every year. We talked to developers about how it happened and the stigma that still surrounds RPG Maker games.
Bayonetta is out on PC and we talked to Platinum about it (opens in new tab) — "If it were up to us, we’d port all of our games to PC, but it all depends on the publishers," says Platinum. Well, Bayonetta is a great starting point. Here's how it happened.
Bayonetta PC port analysis: Durante's verdict (opens in new tab) — Durante gave Bayonetta a spin and found great performance, resolution options, and keyboard/mouse support, with an anti-aliasing oddity.
How a fantasy RPG addressed the horrors of World War 2 better than most war games (opens in new tab) — An analysis of how Valkyria Chronicles (and Wolfenstein: The New Order) tackled a heavy topic head-on instead of ignoring it.
Putting together animated video puzzles of Japanese women is a weird thing to do (opens in new tab) — It really is. Also: hilarious.
It's time for Monster Hunter on PC in the West (opens in new tab) — We make the case for why Monster Hunter and the PC would go together like monsters and... monster bait. Look it would definitely be great and sell like hotcakes, okay?
Resident Evil 4: Otome Edition is a dating sim played from Ashley’s perspective (opens in new tab) — Who hasn't wanted to date Leon Kennedy, really?
This is an amazing collection of retro Japanese pixel art (opens in new tab) — Seriously, check out the Noirlac tumblr and lose an hour or two scrolling through a blissful archive of pixel art.
Japanese games we want on PC (opens in new tab) — More games are making their way to PC than ever, but there's still a back catalog of underappreciated Japanese games that deserve a second day in the sun on PC. Plus, you know, Persona 5.