A bit before the Xbox Series S and Series X launch, Xbox started improving their support of Japan-developed titles. According to James Mielke of IGN, Xbox’s support in Japan got particularly bad in the latter days of the Xbox 360 and the early days of the Xbox One. As the Xbox brand started to get more support in the West, Microsoft started focusing on that portion of their consumer base more as well, making Japanese Xbox exclusives a thing of the past. Another huge blunder was the Xbox One not launching in Japan until almost a year after its North American release. According to Famitsu Xbox 360 Editor-in-Chief Matsui Munetatsu, many Xbox 360 owners in Japan were purchasing PlayStation 4’s since it had come out earlier and didn’t want to have to wait to play on a next-gen console, and it also was a hundred dollars less than its counterpart. Additionally, many Xbox One games did not include Japanese language support at the time, which may have been yet another factor in Japan’s smaller player base. 

I first noticed Japanese game support improving during Xbox’s E3 2018 showing, which highlighted a handful of Japan-developed third-party titles such as Devil May Cry 5, Jump Force, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and more. Although the selection of Japan-developed games was a little smaller during the E3 2019 Xbox briefing, it still included notable titles like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Phantasy Star Online 2, and Tales of Arise. Just a year later, Phil Spencer stated in an interview that, while satisfied with more Japanese games showing up during their presentations he knew that Microsoft would have to work to rebuild trust with Japanese creators. Phil Spencer has also talked about wanting Microsoft to acquire a Japanese studio. With the recent acquisition of Bethesda including Tango Gameworks, that dream is now a reality, although it has not yet been clarified if Microsoft is looking to acquire any other Japanese studios.

The relationship Xbox has with a number of Japanese publishers and developers seems to have been improving a lot as well, and it’s important to keep an eye on those relationships to see what could happen in the near future. Between promoting several Bandai Namco titles at their events, to having Square Enix titles like Final Fantasy and even Dragon Quest on their platform, and even being the first to get a next-gen version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Xbox looks like they’re on the right track to regaining the trust of Japanese developers (if they haven’t already done so).

Because of features like Game Pass and Backwards Compatibility, this support just keeps getting better, and looks even better when compared to the weaker effort PlayStation has been making lately. With a large variety of titles spanning through different genres, it’s nice to know that fans of Japanese games can now be more comfortable on Xbox than ever before.

Japan-developed Games Available Through Game Pass

Between nearly the entire Yakuza series, several mainline Final Fantasy titles, almost every Kingdom Hearts entry, and some notable titles from Capcom and Bandai Namco, Game Pass consistently shows off how it’s one of the best values in gaming. The only downside of this is that unlike with PlayStation Plus, Game Pass goes with the streaming service method of having games for only a limited time and once they’re gone they can’t be redownloaded unless you buy them. Luckily, these time windows seem to be relatively long for most games, hopefully giving players plenty of time to try and even finish them, and maybe even purchase them if they enjoyed playing them enough.

The Japan-developed games currently available through GamePass as of writing this article include:

Yakuza 0

Yakuza Kiwami

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Remastered (3,4,5)

Yakuza 6

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered

Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remastered

Final Fantasy XII

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

Kingdom Hearts 3

Nier Automata

Dragon Quest XI S 

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Octopath Traveler

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite

Monster Hunter World

Resident Evil VII

Code Vein

Tales of Vesperia

Soul Calibur VI

Ace Combat 7

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Disgaea 4 Complete +

The Evil Within

Backwards Compatibility

Backwards compatibility is one of the most notable features of the Xbox Series S/X, particularly when compared to other current generation consoles. Additionally, the ability to play a large list of older titles also helps make the future of game preservation look a little less bleak. While the list of backwards compatible games from the original Xbox and 360 is far from complete (still hoping to see Eternal Sonata and Blinx 2 be available someday), and quite a few of the available titles now have HD remasters, there are a handful of Japan-developed titles that can also be purchased digitally (around 108 total). This list includes but isn’t limited to games such as:

Blinx: The Time Sweeper

Blue Dragon

Lost Odyssey

Infinite Undiscovery

Resident Evil: Code Veronica X

Asura’s Wrath

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate

Sonic The Fighters

Sonic Adventure

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Unleashed

Metal Gear Solid HD Edition

Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker HD

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Silent Hill HD Collection

Silent Hill: Homecoming

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII

Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Soul Calibur

Soul Calibur 2 HD Online

Galaga Legions DX

King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match

Earth Defense Force 2017

Earth Defense Force 2025

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

Enchanted Arms

Shadow Assault/Tenchu

Space Invaders Infinity Gene

And so much more!

Plenty of Other Japanese Games Are In The Xbox Library

Of course, Game Pass and Backwards Compatibility are features exclusive to Xbox, but there are plenty of other Japanese games you can purchase on Xbox without the need to use either of those. For example, whether you enjoyed playing Monster Hunter: World via Game Pass or a full purchase, then you’ll probably like the Iceborne expansion even better. You can look on the Xbox marketplace or Microsoft Store for a more comprehensive list, but other notable titles include most of the Resident Evil series, several Dragon Ball games, Okami HD, Final Fantasy XV, and more.

The Future Looks Bright for Continued Japanese Game Support on Xbox

Looking towards the future, we can see that Xbox’s improved support of Japan-developed titles will continue. Between promoting upcoming games such as Scarlet Nexus, Tales of Arise, Phantasy Star Online: New Genesis, and likely even more to come (with some, if not all, hopefully appearing on Game Pass in the future), there’s plenty to look forward to.

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Erroll Maas
Erroll is a writer with an enthusiastic love of Japanese monsters and the games which feature them, from Pokemon to Power Rangers to Pacific Rim and everything in between. You can learn more about this and plenty of other games and nerdy things by following @errollm

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