Well, I’m back after a week off. With “May Madness” over, its time to delve back into video games. I thought what better post to start with than with one about the games I missed out on growing up. Obviously, this is a very broad topic as I missed out on a tonne of great games, from Illusion of Time to Castlevania Symphony of the Night but I wanted to narrow this down to games that weren’t released in PAL regions. Some of these games would see releases much, much later as either remasters, rereleases on newer consoles or digital downloads through the likes of PSN or the Virtual Console. There is one exception to this rule but because it’s so broad, I felt it merited inclusion (much to my shame). Oh, and the list will be dominated by RPGs. Enjoy!
Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross
I felt it would be best to lump the Chrono games together. They’re both JRPGs with traditional turn-based combat. Chrono Trigger would be released on the Super Nintendo in 1995 in both Japan and North America. It also saw a rerelease in both regions on the original PlayStation. It wouldn’t be until 2009 when it would see a PAL release on the DS. The DS version contained some new extras for us to sink our teeth into. Chrono Trigger follows the events of a group of time travellers as they traverse different time periods. It’s a charming game with stunning visuals and a relaxing soundtrack. I’ve included this as we never saw the original SNES cart in Europe. Instead, we either had to import it or obtain a reproduction (I have a reproduction). The NA SNES version of Chrono Trigger now fetches quite a high figure these days, especially if you want a complete in box version. Sadly, this is a common theme among a lot of the SNES era’s JRPGs.
Chrono Cross, unlike Chrono Trigger, has never seen a PAL release. This is one of the games that has me on the lookout for a NTSC PlayStation 2. Originally released in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in North America, this PlayStation JRPG has you exploring Parallel Dimensions. What makes this one stand out among the gluttony of JRPGs on the original PlayStation is its wonderful art style and large array of characters to recruit. The game has a total of 45 characters to obtain, each with their own abilities and stats. Some are useful, some are not (a common theme among games with a large cast). Similar to Chrono Trigger, the game also has multiple endings and a New Game + mode for you to enjoy. Although I have this on my Rasperry Pi, I would like to obtain a PlayStation copy some day as I’ve never played this one.
Grandia III and Grandia Xtreme
Another two-for-one entry and another pair never released in Europe. The original Grandia is one of my favourite games of all time. The combat stye, the story telling, the excellent world design, the enjoyable cast of characters, all superb. It’s sequel, Grandia II, is another masterpiece. It takes place in a different world with a different set of characters to interact with. Both games are nothing short of JRPG classics. That’s why I was so disappointed Grandia III and Grandia Xtreme never got PAL releases. Even when the first two games were rereleased as HD editions, both Grandia III and Grandia Extreme were absent. I remember in a copy of PlayStation World, they had a preview of Grandia III. It looked more of the same but I loved it. That was the only time they mentioned it and I thought it was cancelled. It wasn’t until much later, and with easier access to the internet, that I discovered Grandia III, and another sequel titled Grandia Xtreme, had been released in Japan and North America. I know very little about these games outside of the fact they both received generally positive reviews. Looks like I’ll have to step up my hunt for a NTSC PlayStation 2…
From a two-for-one entry to a three-for-one entry, we have another JRPG series, Mother. Unlike the previous two entries though, North America would not see a release of Mother or Mother 3 either. The one entry they did get was renamed Earthbound. Mother would eventually see a worldwide release on the Virtual Console as Earthbound Beginnings and Earthbound would also make its way to Europe through the Virtual Console. Mother 3, however, still has not got a worldwide release. Similar to Chrono Trigger, I have gotten all three games through reproduction copies. The series spans a number of consoles, starting life on the NES, moving to the SNES for Earthbound, and releasing the third entry on the Game Boy Advance (although it originally started production on the Nintendo 64). Of the three, I’ve only played Earthbound. It’s a wacky adventure. You take control of a group of children as they explore the strange nation of Eagleland. The game looks wonderful, even to this day, and its music superbly compliments the game’s art style. The enemies range from crows to caterpillars to strange aliens called Starmen. It’s a cooky, crazy game that’s a blast to play through.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Aha, you thought you were getting away without me mentioning Final Fantasy. Well, you’d be wrong. Although Europe didn’t see a numbered entry until Final Fantasy VII, we did eventually get the rest through PlayStation rereleases (Final Fantasy Origins, Final Fantasy Anthology, Final Fantasy VI), Game Boy Advance rereleases (Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI), PSP releases (literally all of them) and DS remakes (Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV), we never got Final Fantasy Tactics. For many, this is the pinnacle of the whole series. Tactics is set in the world of Ivalice (a world that returned in Final Fantasy XII) and takes place after the events of the Fifty Years War. The Ivalice Kingdom is thrown into turmoil after the death of its king, which leads to the Lion War. The game is a tactical RPG, where you move characters into position across a chequered board. It’s a game I have on my to-play list (once again its on my Rasperry Pi) so when I eventually get a NTSC PlayStation 2, I’ll finally be able to see what the fuss is all about.
This is probably the most frustrating entry on the list. In Europe, we received all the other entries in the series except Suikoden III (this happened again with Wild Arms 2). We did eventually get a PSN version in 2015 but never got a physical release. Suikoden is a series I was very late to (I still haven’t played it) and as such it was a pain to find. The games have shot up in price, especially the first two entries, and so they took time to find. Unlike Final Fantasy or Grandia, the series takes place in the same world. Suikoden III takes place 16 years after the events of Suikoden II. Carrying on with the series tradition, Suikoden III has a large cast of playable characters (108 in total). The game is technically the latest entry in the series’ timeline, with both Suikoden IV and Suikoden V taking place before it. Still, it would be nice to play the entire series. I know very little about the series as a whole. It’s one I’ve held off playing until I get the third entry (it’s not like I’m short for games). I did in fact pick this one up three times in California with the intention of buying it but because I couldn’t guarantee a PlayStation 2 would make it back in one piece, I kept putting it back. One day I will get to play this in all its PlayStation 2 glory… one day…
For my final entry, rather than talk about a single game, I thought I’d talk about a whole console. The Sega Saturn was originally released in Europe in 1995, competing with the PlayStation and, later, the Nintendo 64. The system was a master of 2D graphics but could also pull off some astounding 3D ones too. I was very, very late to the Saturn party (I got mine in 2015). As I’ve mentioned before, the system wasn’t exactly everywhere here and, honestly, I wasn’t that bothered by it. I had my PlayStation and Nintendo 64 to keep me going. As a result, I missed out on a lot of great games. Many games were released here, such as Burning Rangers and Panzer Dragoon Saga, but the system did have a lot of games that never made it overseas, such as Policenauts, Shining Force III Scenario II and Scenario III, Castlevania Symphony of the Night and Grandia. Of course, Castlevania Symphony of the Night and Grandia did see PlayStation releases here. The reason I’ve included this isn’t so much because of the games that weren’t released but because of the current price of some of the biggest games that were. Both Burning Rangers and Panzer Dragoon Saga, along with the likes of Shining Force III (Scenario I) command ridiculous prices now. I’m lucky to own Shining Force III but the other two are just out of my budget. The system is also notoriously hard to emulate for. Luckily, you can get reproductions fairly cheap. As a result, my Saturn collection is bolstered with reproductions of Albert Odyssey, Linkle Liver Story, Policenauts and Shining Force III Scenario II and Scenario III. I am hoping to pick up a legitimate copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga one day but as I wait, the price keeps climbing…
I hope you enjoyed my post. I know it’s very JRPG heavy but these are always the ones that stick out to me as other games, such as platformers, are easier to bring across due to having little or no text to translate (its also because I can’t think of any that stick out). What games do you wish had of been released in your region?