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15 Best RPGs That Never Left Japan

While Kaga won the court battle, that legal spat got in the way of localization issues. Still, Tear Ring Saga is a polished experience with a deep narrative, well-written characters, and challenging difficulty. 

4. Racing Lagoon

Many racing games let players trick out and tune their cars, motorbikes, or other vehicles in a variety of ways. Half the fun of Mario Kart 8 is testing out different combinations of racer, vehicle, wheel, and paraglider. However, there’s a huge difference between vehicle customization and RPG mechanics. Once upon a time, though, Squaresoft bridged that gap with Racing Lagoon.

On the surface, Racing Lagoon looks like a racing game with RPG mechanics, but it is actually the opposite. As players explore a world map, they get into random “battles,” but instead of fighting enemies, gamers challenge rivals in street races. If gamers win, they get to upgrade their car by stealing car parts. If they lose the race, they also lose advantageous components.

This risk vs. reward system, combined with the sheer number of options and builds players can use for their car, produces a unique racing experience that quite frankly needs to return for the modern gaming era.

3. Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho

The Yakuza franchise (which will now go by its Japanese title “Like a Dragon”) has finally received the attention it deserves outside of Japan. The entire mainline series, and most of its spin-offs, have slowly been localized for overseas audiences. The only games that have yet to be properly translated are the Kurohyo: Ryu Ga Gotoku Shinsho titles.

Think of Kurohyo: Ryu Ga Gotoku Shinsho as a fighter RPG, even more so than Tobal 2. Unlike other Yakuza games, Kurohyou is less about exploring the bustling streets of Kamurocho and more about leveling up the game’s 20 fighting styles, each with its own combos and perks. Battles play out in 2D arenas and resemble the fights from the Def Jam series, mostly because they were made by the same studio.

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