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Japanese Video Games of 2016: Coming Soon to a Console Near You!

If someone had to build a temple where video games and those who develop them are worshipped as Gods, then chances are it would probably be built somewhere in Japan. Ever since the fledgling days of early console gaming in the 1970s, Japan has been leading the way. First it was Nintendo, then Sega and today Sony that has shown the rest of the world the way forward in making great games that are enjoyed and appreciated by players of all ages across innumerate cultural barriers and national borders.

2016 promises to continue this trend as Japan once again leads the line in pioneering video games.

So today, for your consideration, I present the top 5 Japanese video games coming to consoles next year.

1) Starfox Zero

Photo : dalvenjah on Flickr

Back in the early 90s, it was a head to head battle for console supremacy between Sega’s Mega Drive (or Genesis as it was known in the US) and Nintendo’s Super Famicom (Or Super Nintendo Entertainment System, SNES, in Europe and the US).

Despite having a slight edge in graphical capabilities, by 1994, Nintendo’s console was trailing behind Sega’s in most markets. Colourful characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Shinobi and numerous other SEGA exclusive properties had left a brow-beaten Nintendo desperately looking for their own unique gimmick, as gamers grew tired of 80s icons like Zelda and Mario.

The gimmick eventually came with the “Super FX Chip”.

This new type of graphics processing microchip, which was to be installed in selected cartridges would, it was claimed allow fully realised 3-D, arcade-like graphics on what was then a 16-bit console.

In the end that claim was slightly hyperbolic, but the first game to utilize the SFX chip was Starfox, or Starwing as it was called in certain territories. This rather generic space shooter was a blast to play back in the day and the 3D, polygon based graphics were a technological marvel of the times.

Over the course of the next two decades a further 4 sequels followed, the high point being Starfox 64, for the N64 console back in the late 90s.

Anyway, now is time for the inevitable remake/reboot of the franchise, with Star Fox Zero coming to the Wii U in Spring 2016. The usual assortment of space laser battles, multiplayer, split-screen co-op modes, and a healthy dose of new features make this the most highly anticipated Starfox game since the original.

2) Street Fighter V

Another veteran of the 16-bit console days, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, was, upon its initial release for the Super Famicom back in 1991, credited with reviving Nintendo’s fortunes across Europe.

Bundled with the console in Europe, SFII went on to become one of the biggest games of all time. It was so popular it became one of the few big Japanese games to make the crossover from Nintendo to SEGA with the Mega Drive’s Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition in late 1993.

Numerous expansions and sequels followed and now here in 2015 Street Fighter V promises to be one of the most highly anticipated fighting games of 2016. After a few failed attempts at lurching into 3D, which is something the likes of Tekken and Virtua Fighter have always done far better, Street Fighter V is building on the “back to basics” approach of its predecessor Street Fighter IV. The characters and background are animated in gorgeous, manga-style, 3D, but the fights play out on a distinctly 2D plane.

This gives gamers the best of both worlds. The classic, combo-building, strategic combat, one gaming journalist famously described as “chess with fists” blends flawlessly with the modern day 3D animation that younger players demand.

3) Resident Evil 2 Remake

Photo : Inkd screenshot resources on Flickr

Ok, as a journalist and a gamer, and for today, I suppose, a gaming journalist, I am supposed to retain a certain degree of professional distance and impartiality. Sorry but when I heard that one of my favourite games of all time was finally getting an HD remake for the current generation consoles my inner-geek kicked into full-on obsessive fanboy mode. I cannot wait to experience all the excitement of dashing through Raccoon City again, desperately trying to avoid those horrible “lickers”, using what precious little ammo I have in reserve in some desperate attempt to takedown the seemingly indestructible “trenchcoat zombie” that was the source of so much terror and frustration laden game-over screens back in the halcyon days of the first Playstation console.

It also had, possibly the most involved and least convoluted storyline of all the Resident Evil games. New cop on the beat and sister looking for answers end up trapped in a zombie infested police station, whilst a brilliant scientist brings “taking your work home with you” to a whole new level. If you’d played the game you’ll know what I mean!

4) Final Fantasy XV

Photo : Rob Obsidian on Flickr

Ok, since we are now at number 15 in the main franchise and sitting at more than 20 titles if you count the numerous spin-off and remakes, I can say only one thing about this role-playing odyssey that spans 3 decades. The fantasy wasn’t very final after all was it!!

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of these kinds of games. I’ve always found RPGs to be a bit boring, formulaic and pedestrian. However, this franchise does have fans in all corners of the world and I know plenty of them wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t at least give it a mention on here. Is it highly anticipated? Yes it is. Am I even remotely interested in checking it out when it’s released? Not in the slightest. Sorry fanboys.

5) The Legend of Zelda

Photo : Colony of Gamers on Flickr

Ok, by this point in the article it’s getting more and more difficult for me to find anymore synonyms for “reboot”. But luckily I’ve got one left:

This re-tooling of one of the Nintendo Famicom’s greatest games of the 1980s has already been called, the most eagerly awaited game of 2016. Upon its unveiling at last summer’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) the game wowed both gamers and press alike with its open world environment, its innovative control system and its absolutely stunning visuals. The developers claim that this new instalment in the Zelda franchise will push the Wii-U console to its absolute limits.

Whether the game succeeds or fails, it certainly won’t fail through lack of effort.

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