If you’re here, it’s because you love games from Japan. Maybe you’re a frequent importer. Perhaps you’ve never done it before. It doesn’t matter, as all are welcome! Especially if you like music games, because music games are the best.
Here’s why they’re so great. If you want to get a game from overseas, music games don’t have a high threshold to clear. It’s almost always about keeping time with the beat, and music is a universal language. You don’t have to understand Japanese to enjoy this genre.
Though, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to adjust to all 3DS music games. There can still be some language barriers. Which is why we’re going to go through a few of the titles you can get from Japan right now. You’ll be able to see just how challenging they could be, then decide for yourself if one would make you happy.
Rhythm Heaven: The Best+ is the simplest music game currently available for the 3DS, but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. It’s simply a game that anyone can enjoy, due to the way in which it relies on aural and visual cues to help someone find the beat. It’s bright, colorful and the fact that previous installments were localized means it’s easy to know exactly what you have to do. You’ll probably recognize most of the minigames! It usually costs $39.99.
Osawari Tantei Ozawa Rina Nameko Rhyme is another option, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You might enjoy it if you’re one of the few people hoping Touch Detective might make a comeback, but the track list is full of public domain music and unfamiliar songs. Also, the reliance on touch screen controls for mushroom tapping and swiping means it isn’t as precise as other music games. If you do get it, don’t pay over $25 for it.
AKB48+Me is easy in the more traditional sense. This game isn’t at all challenging, relying on simple taps to get by. It might be a little difficult to find your way, since you’re actually watching your Mii join the idol group and setting a schedule for it, but a ridiculously low price and plenty of icons with easy to understand images mean you’ll be a star in no time. You’ll usually find it for $6.99-$13.49.
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest is a fantastic music game from Square Enix. It takes everything the company learned from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and applies it to a title with tons of Dragon Quest music. There are stylus and button control options, as well as something of a board game. I would recommend some familiarity with at least hirigana and katakana, so you can enjoy all of its game modes. You can often find it for under $15.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Don to Katsu no Jikuu Daibouken is a fantastic music game that anyone can enjoy. It’s colorful, has touch and button control schemes and there are a few songs from anime series and games. (“Let It Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from Frozen were available as free DLC!) An RPG mode with music battles makes it even better. Now, since there are RPG elements, some familiarity with the language will help a player get by. It isn’t entirely necessary though, since it isn’t as though there are major quest and sidequest objectives to identify. This one is still pretty expensive, despite having been released in 2014, and will probably cost $49.99.
MahoCole: Mahou Idol Collection is a music game for people who love games like Animal Crossing. It’s not terribly challenging, but you also get to interact with a world of adorable, anthropomorphic animals in need of your assistance. So if it’s easy to play and kids are it’s target audience, why did I put it at the end of this list? Well, because of the missions. You’re running errands, creating specific outfits and backdrops and helping people out. If you can’t read and recognize some simple words, you won’t know what your objectives are. But if you do and love cute things, grab this game. It might cost you between $49.99-$52.99.
Daigasso! Band Brothers P is an installment in the Japan-centric Daigasso! Band Brothers series and is pretty great, but also incredibly complicated. Unlike other installments in the series, which included a certain number of tracks right away, P involves a tomato system where you get 100 to spend on songs from a catalog. You can spend real cash to get more. Finding tracks you’d enjoy and making your own music takes a lot of time. Also, though there are multiple input options, the button based ones use all of the buttons. I mean it when I say all of the buttons. It tends to go for $45.99, but sometimes stores put it on sale for under $25.
Nazo Waku Yakata: Oto no Aida ni Aida ni is the last music game on this list and the most daunting. Why? Because it’s also an adventure game where a player has to listen to what the characters in-game are saying and doing and respond accordingly. If you want to escape the haunted mansion, you have to actually speak to some characters in Japanese. At one point, you provide directions to someone to guide them through a maze. If you aren’t fluent, this isn’t the music game for you. If you are, then a $19.99 best price version is available.
Remember, if you want to play a Japanese game, you’re going to need to get a 3DS system from Japan or use some help to get past the region-lock.