The Mysterious World Of Oriental Gaming: An Introduction

The-Mysterious-World-Of-Oriental-GamingWhile we're all accustomed to the wonderful treats Japanese and Western game developers have given us over the last few decades, did you know that there is actually a healthy supply of video games hailing from elsewhere around the world? In an attempt to detail and discuss these obscurities, an all new article series opens up on RetroCollect today - The Mysterious World Of Oriental Gaming.

Chinese game” - got a sort of derogatory ring to it hasn’t it, almost as if it’s become a euphemism for “bootleg”. It’s understandable when you consider games like these...

Poor-NES-Chinese-Pirate-Games

I bet you can think of plenty more titles like the ones shown above too; there are NES “ports” of Final Fantasy 7, Phantasy Star 4, Resident Evil, innumerable bad Pokemon hacks and/or clones and on the PC side of things countless free to play MMOs that are shut down by the time you finish signing up for them… but if you simply left it at that you’d be missing out on over twenty years of original quality Chinese gaming.

So with that in mind would you like to see what modern Chinese games really look like?

Xian-Jian-Gu-Jian-Xuan-Dou

How about some older Chinese arcade games?

PGM-Games

I don’t want to pretend those bootlegs I mentioned before don’t exist – of course they do – but the balance between “hilarious” 106 SUPA GAMING IN ONE!! carts and legitimate Chinese games is enormously skewed in the west simply because it’s a heck of a lot easier to get some NES/MD/GB ROM running than it is a set of Chinese DOS floppies or to navigate through the occasionally hair-tearing experience of registering a new Chinese game online. The payoff’s more immediate too – anyone can laugh at Mario running through a poor facsimile of Sonic’s Green Hill Zone, but trying to explain the intricate plot or character motivations in a 40 hour RPG that’s not in your native language? That’s a tough call even at the best of times!

So with all this against them why should anyone put the effort in?

That's easy – because these games are fantastic. Gamers should feel as annoyed about missing out on Xian Jian Qi Xia Zhuan 5 as they are about Mother 3. They should pore over Gu Jian Qi Tan 2’s latest teaser movie the same way they do a new Atlus RPG announcement. These games are great, and while it would be ludicrous to claim that every one was a lost treasure just waiting to blow our puny western minds gaming would be a lot richer if these titles were brought into the fold and not thrown out with the naff Soul Blade "demakes" or Pokemon clones.

The next obvious question is how to play these games, and I have some good news and some bad news there. Let’s start with the good news – top Chinese indie RPG Rainblood: Town of Death has an official English translation and can be legally bought here for a mere £4.95. Super Fighter Team’s Beggar Prince and Legend of Wukong were also original Chinese games, so there’s two Mega Drive examples to play if you can stomach paying their current resale prices (or don’t mind buying the new three-in-one digital pack). Some Chinese arcade games have an English language option too – Knights of Valour: The Seven Spirits (Atomiswave) and Martial Masters (PGM) to give two examples – but for these we’re talking early SNK style “Engrish” that generally does more harm than good. New MMO Age of Wulin/Wushu is also developed by and for a primarily Chinese audience, and as it’s free to play it wouldn’t do anyone much harm to at least try it out. The bad news… is that’s just about your lot as far as English translations of Chinese games go, official or otherwise.

If you like living dangerously you can dive in at the deep end as both Yesasia and Play-Asia stock Chinese games; the selection is limited (especially when you take into account just how many Chinese games there are) but ordering from them is as easy as ordering from anywhere else online so you can at least spend more time wondering how on earth to get them installed than wondering how on earth to buy them. iOS also has a few of Softstar’s excellent DOS RPGs available to buy without any region switching, although tackling those as a first taste would be rather like recommending the MSX version of Hydlide to someone new to Japanese RPGs.

For those with some Japanese fluency the ever-loveable Falcom localised a few for that region – look out for Genso Sangokushi 1 and 2 as well as their translations of Korean RPGs Arcturus and The Rhapsody of Zephyr. There’s also a Japanese port of the legendary Xian Jian Qi Xia Zhuan on the Saturn (known in Japanese as “Senken Kikyouden”), but I really can’t recommend it as it’s a terrible port of a game that was already old when the Saturn version came out.

Glorious RetroCollect leaders permitting (hey it’s my first post, I’ve got to suck up to the boss!) I’ll be diving into various Chinese and Korean games in more detail in the coming months – are you ready?


Last Updated ( 27 June 2013 )  

Comments 

+1 (Link to this comment) Tepid Snake 2013-06-29 09:29
Really looking forward to this series! It's an area of games I don't know much about, so it should be educational. Recently I've been interested in playing Xuan Dou Zhi Wang- that fighting game that's a bit like The King of Fighters (with officially sanctioned Terry and Benimaru heading to it soon, or are they in it already?) and there's a screenshot of that one above, so will that get covered in this series?
+1 (Link to this comment) Kimimi 2013-06-29 09:37
The plan is simply to cover as much as anyone's prepared to read so yes, I'll get around to Xuan Dou zhi Wang at some point :)
+1 (Link to this comment) DemonicNinja 2013-06-29 18:12
I'm really looking forward to this too!! :D
+1 (Link to this comment) Travesty 2013-06-30 12:45
I am very intrested in these articles, facinating subject to cover. :)
+1 (Link to this comment) Loch and Quay 2013-07-01 17:23
Enjoyed reading that, looking forward to future articles. Thank you Kimimi.
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