The Import-ance of Being DS Earnest

I’m not a one-console-girl, but it is the DS which always comes with me. From the moment I first got my hands on a DS, it has been one of the constant gems of my console collection, doubling as both a geeky and a girly accessory. Say anything you like about consoles being made in certain colours to target specific (female) groups, but I like the colour pink, and I like accessorising. Which is why I bought a lovely shiny purse-style holder for my red DS lite, and more recently, the limited edition hot pink DSi although the Style Boutique game that came with it was immediately traded in for cold hard store credit.

My collection.
My collection.

It’s pretty, you can’t really deny that. But apart from that, it does its job wonderfully. When it’s not underneath my pillow (I play games before bedtime) it tends to travel with me in my bag. It’s useful for long tube journeys and also bitesize lunchtime gaming. But the other thing I love about the DS – which is sadly no longer to apply when DSi-only games come out – is that it’s region-free.

Gamers used to eyeing the gems that can be found overseas will know that it isn’t always easy to purchase and play a game from another region. It isn’t impossible, but with some consoles it can be a lot of trouble. With the DS, it’s easy to enjoy foreign games, and even to get games before their UK release. Importing games for a region-free system such as the DS opens up a literal world of possibilities. What I generally use my DS for is playing Japanese games, so let’s take a few of them as an example:

The best alien frog there is!
The best alien frog there is!

The language barrier can be difficult to overcome, but with some games, it’s not entirely necessary to be able to read all of the text. It’s much like skipping reading the manual, which quite a few of us do most of the time. Story-wise, with anime spinoff games for example, if you’re familiar with the source material then you probably have a good idea of what’s going on. For example, playing Keroro Gunsou’s spin-off games and seeing the cut scenes still made me laugh even if I couldn’t understand them completely, because I already knew the anime and recognised the storytelling patterns. If all else fails though, there are English guides on the internet for foreign games, and unless you’re playing a substantial JRPG, then you probably don’t need to follow the story too closely anyway. However, if you want a bit of foreign language practice, then maybe you could give a foreign language game a try. It could be a good way of learning how a language works in practice.

Dance with the fish, kiss the squid.
Dance with the fish, kiss the squid.

Then there are just the gems that you can get by tapping into another country’s game collection. Take for example, the fantastic rhythm-action game Taiko no Tatsujin, which comes with two styluses to simulate taiko drumming on the DS screen. Some of these wacky games were eventually picked up for translation, such as Starfy no Densetsu, which became The Legendary Starfy, a fun little underwater platformer featuring a starfish prince which reminds of Mario’s platformers. More recently, Rhythm Tengoku Gold was translated into Rhythm Paradise, endorsed by Beyonce on television adverts if you’re into that kind of thing. Rhythm Paradise is one of the strangest and funniest rhythm action games I’ve ever played. Each mini game is wacky and wonderful, whether you’re singing along in a choir, using your lizard tail rhythms to snag a mate or shaking up bottles to create the perfect love potion.

ds games

Aside from foreign language games, there are one or two games that were released in English elsewhere but not in the UK. Chibi Robo: Park Patrol was translated into English and released in the US, specifically retailing only at Wal-Mart, but it never hit shelves in the UK. It doesn’t matter, since you can import a copy that will play on your UK machine! Power up your little environmentally-conscious robo and get to work reviving the park! It sounds silly, but it’s very cute and absorbing when your little robo makes flowers grow with his water dropped and magic stereo.

This is the kind of thing that’s available when you look at games from other parts of the world. The DS is not just for little kids or brain-training adults after all, although you can find many of those kinds of games too if you wish. Region-free consoles make exploring your gaming options both easy and fun, although you may have to fork over some extra cash for certain titles and for importing in general, which is definitely a downside. Still, for some rare titles, it can be worth it. The problem I have is storing all of these games…







5 responses to “The Import-ance of Being DS Earnest”

  1. Snozzeltoff avatar

    KERO!.. kero…kero…kero

    Awesome little game and i’m one of those who imports Japanese games also. I have a second X360 that i imported from japan, it’s a pain to do these things with consoles as you have to have a NTSC compatible TV, a AC power transformer to work allow it to work with UK wattage and thats before you get to the language barrier.

    Though saying that i dont regret it one bit, i’ve only imported 4-5 japanese games but i’ve enjoyed every minute of them.

  2. James avatar

    Oddly, the one game I really want to import shouldn’t really need to be imported in the first place: the God of War Collection for Ps3. Why oh why has this not been given a European release? I want to kick upscaled mythological ass dammit!

  3. Danny avatar

    Snozzeltoff: From what I understand, you could just buy a compatible power brick and it should work. I say ‘compatible’ as I brought my first-gen PAL 360 over to Japan and I can’t find any first-gen power bricks, so I’m using a hefty step-down converter to run it. The ends of the cable that plug into the 360 vary y’see. Do you have DoDonPachi Daioujou Black Label Extra? I picked up a spare by accident.

  4. Snozzeltoff avatar

    I was unsure about the power bricks, so i played it safe and bought a step down convertor when i bought the NTSC-J xbox.

    I don’t have DoDonPachi Daioujou Black Label Extra. I’ll happily take that off your hands, name a price or i’ll donate to the site, whichever.
    Could do this through XBL Gamertags, mines the same as posting my name.

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