You remember when most of us were little and Japan was considered, 'the enemy’? Much like how Russia was going to bomb us all in the middle of the night. Maybe you don't and I'm really just letting everyone know how old I truly am. Oh well. However somewhere along the way America came to huggle Japan and really started to become interested in their, 'kawaii' culture. Maybe it was, 'Gung Ho' since that movie rocked.
Whatever has happened (nintendo, pokemon, anime, etc) there seems to be a certain group of hardcore gamers and journalists that do nothing but rally about how great Japanese games are. The odd thing though is that most of the games that they are celebrating Japanese consumers are ignoring. Games like Katamari, Ico, etc are talked about how great they are and yet they are failures in Japan also. I think Ico saw its greatest success in Europe. Unfortunately I honestly don't know if hardcore gamers/journalists in Japan talk about how great these games are or if it’s just an American thing.
The latest example of an original Japanese game that got the old message boards excited is Loco Roco for the PSP. I downloaded the Japanese demo as soon as I could (even upgrading my PSP to do so) and while I loved the artwork, the music, etc the game itself felt like it could have been better. I still have yet to play the full release but I hear it's already selling for a discounted rate in Japan (1980 yen).
I think games like Loco Roco and Katamari seem so exciting to us is because they are an example of a different style that is unfortunately very common in Japan. This style has infected everything in Japan - the whole damn country has been saturated with this stuff. Japanese consumers have become acclimated to it where as American consumers think it's the greatest thing ever. While Loco Roco and Okami are not out yet in America I am willing to bet they will both sell more in America than they have so far in Japan. I've already heard people consider Okami a flop in Japan.
And it's not even just these games - Viewtiful Joe's anime has done much better in America than Japan. Hell, I think the games have also (has anyone actually played part 2? I own it and have never even turned it on).
So here in America where most of our games are nothing but gore and violence having something different is a welcomed change. However...the same cannot be said for in Japan. You would think that with Japan's love affair of America - everything from Hollywood to Starbucks to Hip Hop to Fashion have taken over Japan. I read somewhere that Vice City is the best selling game in Japan with only like 400,000 copies sold. Maybe one of these days I’ll do some real research before writing a blog post, but I guess that’s what keeps this as a blog post and not a real article.
I won't even attempt to try to figure out why American games don't sell in Japan cause i have no idea either. However the games that are being touted as the greatest thing ever by fanboys aren't selling in Japan as well. Although it seems like nothing outside of Square/Enix and Nintendo DS sell in Japan so maybe it's just their market right now.