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May 24, 2009 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I would like to purchase the Japanese version of some DS games. eBay, trouble friends/families in Japan/southeast Asia, or just bite the bullet and buy US versions?

I am getting myself a DSi and most of the games I like are originally made in Japanese. Games like Professor Leyton series, Square-Enix games (Final Fantasy, Front Mission, Dragon Quest), Zelda : The Phantom Hourglass and etc. Since I can read Japanese to a certain level I find it more fun to play the Japanese version. It is a way to keep my Japanese fresh as I will have to look up words/phrases I have forgotten or don't know at all. I am aware that getting the JP version may mean no interaction with other game owners. I would like to know if anyone here has obtained imported games and what was your experience like?

Possible Options:
1) Ebay- games run from $40~$80 from reliable vendors (not pirated version from HK/China). Fast but expensive as used games of English version are half the price if not less.

2) Have friend/family purchase them in JP/Southeast Asia - I have a couple friends living in JP and families in southeast Asia. The price on the games would be much lower but I have no idea how much the shipping will cost. The prices I've looked up on Amazon.jp for used games in decent condition are usually around $15~$25. This will take a long time and I have no idea how to transfer funds to my Japanese friends or how much trouble it will cause them.

3) Just bite the bullet and get US versions?

If you have any recommendation about games that are originally made in English I would love to hear them (or ones that language does not really matter.) I realize this question may be very specific but any comment, suggestion, or recommendation is very much appreciated. Thank you.
posted by jstarlee to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are a number of video game specific importers. Play-Asia is a popular one (I haven't ordered from them in quite a while, so I have no sense of their prices.)
posted by ecurtz at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2009

Seconding Play-Asia, they're regarded as one of the best video game importers.

NCSX is also pretty good, although I haven't ordered from them since switching to Play-Asia.
posted by yellowlightman at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2009

Best answer: Play-Asia is nice, you can keep an eye out for any sales they might have. For normally prices games I think $40-50 isn't uncommon, and I think you'll have that issue anywhere you buy new games.

I'd have a chat with some of your family/friends and ask them whether they have sent packages to the US, and what shipping costs are generally like. And while you're talking/mailing/etc with them you can ask them if they'd like to help you get your hands on some DS games. As for money transfer, something like paypal would probably be the easiest way.
posted by bjrn at 11:08 AM on May 24, 2009

Best answer: It's my understanding that the DSi is region locked, though the DS is not. So, and maybe you're implying this, you'll want to get a Japanese DSi as well. I imagine Play-Asia, etc. has these too. The region locking applies to the downloadable stuff as well.

I'm sure there are or will be homebrew ways around this, but that may be more trouble than it's worth for you.
posted by sevenless at 11:47 AM on May 24, 2009

If you're in the SF Bay Area, check out User's Side in San Jose. Here's their catalog of DS games.
posted by zippy at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2009

I have an American DSi, and it plays my Japanese import games just fine. I think any region locking has more to do with the DSiware/internet functions.

I've done both Play-Asia and asking my Japanese coworkers to pick games up for me when they went home to visit. Paypal is one option to pay friends & family. Or you can trade by sending them something they'd like from the US.

Also, if you live in an area with a large enough Japanese population to have supermarkets and restaurants, there may be a store that carries games. Whenever I visit my parents in Detroit I stop by a new/used Japanese bookstore & video rental place that sometimes carries used games dirt cheap.
posted by Caravantea at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's reply. I did not know that DSi will have region-specific software so I was going to get it here in the US through Amazon. I don't know any game that's been made to only work on DSi only but I havn't done much research on that part.

Also I have completely forgotten about the GBA compatible feature on DS/DSlite. I may end up just getting a DSlite instead...

Good information/recommendation nonetheless. Thank you everyone.
posted by jstarlee at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2009

you could look into game backups for a cheaper (if not ethically dubious) suggestion.
posted by nadawi at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2009

The DSi's region lock is apparently limited to DSi-specific software (i.e. software that works on the original DS will be region-free).

Play-Asia and the like are good sites, but they have to make a profit and rarely sell used stuff, and new games in Japan cost substantially more than in the US (well over ¥6,000 for Dragon Quest IX this summer, for example). About the best way to get good deals on Japanese video games is to find someone to track them down and send them to you for you.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:21 PM on May 24, 2009

Send me MeMail. I don't know much about DSi stuff yet, but I do hang out on a Japanese learning forum with people around the world getting around such nonsense. I've used Play-Asia, and there's another popular site that gets you a Japan mailing address for ordering online from places that don't ship outside of Japan, they repackage and ship for you, and a few places that will go out and look for things you can only get in Japan and ship them to you. Last I remember either PayPal or Credit card was fine (I US-ian didn't have any problems ordering). (one of these is friend of friend home business type thing. I have never heard anything bad about them.)

Anyway, ask and I'll point you to forums. If people in Sweden are getting JP games somehow... it's possible.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:28 AM on May 25, 2009

I don't think it'll be a big problem for your friends in JP to get games to you. DS games are fairly small and light, especially if you ask them to only send the games. Mailing stuff out of Japan is also pretty fast and cheap. A 300g package from Tokyo to Maine (the Eastermost state I could think of) via EMS (their express shipping) would cost 1200 yen and take 4 days. Japan Post has an English website where you can calculate shipping costs: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/ems/index_en.html

Sending money to JP might be a bit harder. Perhaps you could send them stuff from the US in return?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:26 PM on May 25, 2009

(Just for future reference, User's Side closed down the San Jose store--*SOB*--though there's another company around the corner with what looks like a smaller selection.)

Play Asia has nice sales sometimes, so just keep an eye on the site!
posted by wintersweet at 11:12 PM on May 27, 2009

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