Import Memories

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As we discussed in episode 257, we’re going to have a special import gaming retrospective next episode in episode 259. We certainly have plenty of stories about the subject, but we want to hear from you as well!

Share your import memories in this thread. What was the first game that you imported? What was the most recent? Have any of your imports ended up being worth a small fortune? Which game was totally worth those hefty import shop prices? What $100 title ended up sucking? Do you have a crazy system modding story? This is what we want to know!

So start sharing, and we’ll talk more about it next episode in two weeks.

Update: Although originally planned for episode 258, scheduling conflicts have forced us to push the import discussion back a week. That’s OK, though–it just gives everybody an extra week to get your stories in. We will now be having our import discussion in episode 259.

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Xenoblade is the first and only game i ever imported. Worth every friggin penny.

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Vib-Ribbon and Shenmue II are my most memorable imports. Probably because they're my only imports. I always found enough to play among the US releases so never felt compelled to import.

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You can have me on the show and I'll tell you the story of the time I imported the Saturn prequel to Beyond Oasis.

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When the Saturn died in the US, I started noticing Japanese games at Electronics Boutique. I was about to turn 14 and for my birthday I asked my mom to take me to EB to buy the Saturn "Ultra Madness 4M Turbo Key" cart. When we got to EB, there was a gang bangerish looking guy purchasing the last cart EB had in stock, so I was bummed out. Then, I started hearing the guy tell the cashier that he didn't have enough money. He also started asking his girlfriend for the cash, but she said no.

They left without the cart and I immediately tell the cashier that I want it. I started looking through the games and found Vampire Savior. So, my mom pays for the items and just as we get the receipt, the guy comes back with the money. He got furious and started yelling at the cashier. Telling him "I was only gone for a few minutes!" He then started yelling at his girlfriend, "you should have gave me the money before!" The cashier tells him that it wasn't his fault. That the guy left without even hinting that he would be back. The guy then said something towards me, I didn't hear what but my mom did. So my mom and the guy got into a yelling match before he stormed out.

This was at the Brickyard Mall in Chicago. As we walked through the mall back to our exit, we noticed the guy following us. He followed us all the way until we walked out into the parking lot before turning back. Nothing happened, but I remember we were both scared.

At first, I stuck to buying Japanese-only fighting games. Games like King of Fighters Collection, Marvel vs Street Fighter, Street Fighter Zero 3, etc. Then I started buying the Japanese versions of the US fighting games I had, just because the packaging was so much better. When eBay came, I started to search for "import sega saturn" and started buying whatever was under $15. This is how I got games like Anarchy in the Nippon, All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua, Initial D, Wipeout, Street Racer, Clockwork Knight, Sega Rally, Daytona USA, Enemy Zero, Fire Pro Wrestling S, Shinobi Legions, Sky Target, Sonic R, Steel Slope Sliders, Decathlete, Winter Heat, and Deep Fear.

Finally, after high school when I got a good job, I started to buy the good saturn import games. Games like Dungeons & Dragons Collection, Dragon Force 2, Grandia, and Castlevania: SOTN. I also sold my US Saturn and bought a Japanese one. My goal now is to buy Japanese versions of everything I have and sell off my US collection.

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My first imported games were Four Swords Adventure+ and Nintendo Puzzle Collection. Had to use the Action Replay thingie to get them to work. I remember paying a fair premium to get this stuff, but I don't think it was anything too extravagant. There were only two instances in Four Swords where it being in Japanese was a problem, but even the fully voiced Tetra's Trackers was perfectly playable with my friends and I banging our heads against it until we figured it out. I only ordered Nintendo Puzzle Collection for 4-player Panel de Pon, WHICH I DOMINATE AT OF COURSE. Dr. Mario and Yoshi's Cookie pretty much suck.

The only other import was Xenoblade, which I got for $50 and have clocked in at 103 hours so far with no signs of the end being near. Loving it. Other than a bunch of extra u's, calling cookies biscuits and other such Queen's English related nonsense, the game is perfectly playable in English. I really admire the British voice acting, actually. Don't get a lot of that for entire games.

Until Four Swords (which my friends and I couldn't wait for and knew that language would be no barrier), I always viewed importing as an extravagant luxury that could require some extra work or hardware to get right. While there was some stuff I knew of overseas that would have been nice to play, I never really felt the urge to import for a long while.

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I've actually imported more current-gen games than old-school games. The only ones I can remember from the past are Ranma ½ for the Super NES, (which was actually a rather good--for the time--2D fighting game), and the Super Famicom/Super Mario World/Pilotwings bundle that we imported at the game store where I worked in the 90s. We set that thing up on the big screen and charged kids by the hour to play it, which is almost certianly illegal.

Because I lack any sort of patience, I've imported a few games on the PS3: EyePet, Motorstorm Apocalypse (which got delayed everywhere but Europe, so that's where mine came from), and Hakuna Matata, which is what the game Afrika was called in Hong Kong. What a wonderful phrase.

Edited by mik
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I never imported anything before this gen due to me being a young lad and having no idea/desire to get any of my consoles to play imported games or where to purchase said games, but thanks to the region freeness of the ps3/psp and the internet I was able to get DJ Max Portable, Parodius Portable, Salamander Portable, and Aquanauts Holiday.

I also imported some games because they had better box art in other regions like Heavy Rain and MGS4

Edited by eg atol
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Xenoblade is the first and only game i ever imported. Worth every friggin penny.

i wasted waay too much time in holland last week looking for that game. fucking free record shop only has the most popular games.

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Xenoblade is the first and only game i ever imported. Worth every friggin penny.

Seconded.

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Most recent import is the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Limited Box, which I just received yesterday. I hadn't imported anything for a while - there were a few games that my friend and roommate during college bought when he went back to Japan every summer, mostly games which never got a US release, but I really hadn't imported all that many games period. I've thought long and hard quite a few times about importing hardware (PSX the PS2-based DVR, the Panasonic Q, the oh-so-sexy Ceramic White PS2, the Yakuza 3 PS3), but in the end usually couldn't justify the cost, even back when the JPY-USD exchange rate wasn't as awful as it is now.

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Dragonball Z Legends for PSX. I was a big DBZ fan as a kid, and importing was the only way to play a Dragonball game at the time. It was a thoroughly mediocre fighting game, but it supported 4+ characters fighting at one time, and had a HUGE list of characters. And really, that's all I wanted as a 14 year-old kid.

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I used the trusty swap trick, using a paper clip to keep the lid button pressed down, so the system always thought the lid was closed. To perform the swap, you start loading a US game, and when the Playstation logo appears, the disc stops spinning for a couple seconds. At that time, you rip out the game and shove in your import game. Easy peezy.

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I'm only 23, so I never really grew up in an age of importing. I didn't even on a console until the PS1, despite playing games since I was 2. Started at friends houses. However, in the 15 years I've been collecting games, I've really gravitated towards one series, Breath of Fire. I'm not sure why. I've loved the first four games, and especially number 2. When I had first got my PSP, I knew that Breath of Fire III was a remake coming out for it, but it looked like it wasn't going to come stateside. It ended up in Europe and just about the time I thought about buying it.......I sold my PSP for a DS.

But the thirst for Breath of Fire could not be quenched, so I continued to look for alternative ways to play the series while I was at University (you see back then, I was trying to be a good student, and didn't bring a single console along with me). I eventually came to find out that Breath of Fire IV received a release on PC in Europe and Asia. I purchased a brand new copy from some dude in England off E-Bay for about $20 (plus shipping, which was like, another 10), and now I can play Breath of Fire IV whenever I feel like it, so long as I have a computer around.

Edited by KnightAttack
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We set that thing up on the big screen and charged kids by the hour to play it, which is almost certianly illegal.

Yeah, you're supposed to do that in 15 minute increments. My local store did that with an import N64 and Mario 64, actually.

The only game I ever imported was Jam with the Band for the DS, and that was because I got it for the equivalent of $15 and got decent shipping from a hookup in the UK. It was a decent little rhythm game made more memorable by the fact that I unlocked the ability to play The Final Countdown with a pipe organ. In a word... awesome.

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Sadly, as an Australian, I am forced to import all my retail games from the UK thanks to the ridiculous standard prices in Australia. I also exclusively buy from the US PSN store for the same reason.

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I remember my first import game being Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for the DS. I loved Elite Beat Agents at the time so I had to import the Japanese version to check out the different tracks.

My most memorable import has got to be Vib-Ribbon. I was blown away by the ability to input music CDs and get different levels out of them. While I find that Audiosurf does a better job at making levels out of music, Vib-Ribbon still wins me over with its quirky graphics, fun character, and epic victory theme. This game is pretty much the reason I still buy music CDs.

My most recent imports are the portable collections of Twinbee and Salamander for PSP. Old school Konami shooters are worth owning on portables.

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This was at the Brickyard Mall in Chicago. As we walked through the mall back to our exit, we noticed the guy following us. He followed us all the way until we walked out into the parking lot before turning back. Nothing happened, but I remember we were both scared.

Man, that's pretty creepy.

My first import was the Japanese version of Phantasy Star Online, only so I could use it to set-up the Dreamcast broadband adapter to work with the US version. (The broadband options were blocked on the US disc to lure people to SegaNet.) I think I sold it on eBay after that.

My first import to play was Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, well before Elite Beat Agents was even announced. It was like magic playing that game for the first time, so simple and outrageously positive and foreign.

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Railfan - I imported it for PS3. I like operating the CTA Brown line in and out of downtown Chicago.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan - Maybe one of the most imported titles ever, but well worth it.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attourney: Justice for All - I finished playing the first one and felt I had to get this one right away.

My best importing memory is still finding all the Mega Drive games at a Value Village. A lot of shooters, Strider, etc. I think I posted about it here back then.

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My first import was that Dragonball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 game. I thought it looked so cool with the detailed character art. All I had were screenshots to look at since downloading movies were a bit hard with 56k. I received the game, popped it in, and came out disappointed. It was like playing Blazblue but without the awesome animation and with terrible polygonal backgrounds.

I did have a modchip installed and it felt so evil, I don't know why. I gave my dad the PS1 to give to a "friend" at work to mod it. Cool. Then Dino Crisis came out with that anti-modchip crap. So it was either play import games or play Dino Crisis. I took a pair of scissors and snipped the wires. Goodbye import days.

Most memorable import was Chrono Trigger for PS1. I was a Akira Toriyama fan at the time (hence the Dragonball import) and thought the anime cutscenes were worth importing the game. A year or two later, Square releases Chrono Trigger here. Oh well, at least I got to see the cutscenes before all my friends.

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I import too many friggin' games. I import from Japan, Hong Kong, England, Australia etc etc etc. The main reason is because there are games I will never get to play here or other regions have Special Editions which we will never see here in the States.

It really sucks that region-locking exists on some systems and games. That means I would have to import hardware or mod the systems to play them.

I do not remember what I first imported, but my most recent import is the Japanese LE for Ico/SotC which was just shipped today.

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The first game I ever imported was Sin and Punishment for the N64 at a local gaming shop. I hadn't intended on importing, and this shop rarely sold Japanese games, but I could see it playing in the store window and quickly fell hard for it. $75 for the game and converter cart wasn't a bad deal at all for a game that didn't make it stateside until about a decade later.

I'm not sure if it counts as "importing" if you're in Tokyo at the time of purchase, but I was teaching in China a few years ago and had two weeks of Spring Festival holiday time to spend in Japan. I didn't bring many games with me, so I was determined to bring back something memorable. After pacing through a bunch of Akihabara shops, I eventually settled on Rhythm Tengoku for the GBA and a huge lot of Saturn games (along with the console itself). Those last few months on my contract were made a lot more bearable thanks to nights of Puyo Puyo multiplayer and X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

Still holding out for the Xenoblade stateside release, but I'm going to cave any day now.

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After pacing through a bunch of Akihabara shops, I eventually settled on Rhythm Tengoku for the GBA...

Bloody effing brilliant choice.

I don't know how I forgot to bring this up in my post.

If any of you only know Rhythm Tengoku (Heaven) by its DS release, or if you don't know it at all, get a copy of the import GBA game ASAP. Best rhythm game I ever played.

I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't be making plans for importing the Wii game. That US version still doesn't have a date, and Nintendo has been getting off on being withholding lately.

lucille.jpg

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Awesome idea for a podcast! I bought quite a few imports back in the 90s, spending $80-90 on games like Final Fantasy 8 and Chrono Cross just so I could stumble through a couple of hours not knowing what the hell was going on.

I have a lot of rare import titles like Radiant Silvergun, Dracula X, and the Shining Force 3 Premium Disc.

Speaking of Shining Force 3, my fondest memories of playing imported games are related to that game. Modding my Saturn was an adventure in itself (with some help from my dad, I soldered a wire in one of those memory expansion cartridges), but I also wanted to actually know what was happening while playing the game. Using the "computer lab" at my crappy call center job, I printed out the entire translation to scenarios 2 and 3 (thankfully, I never got caught printing out the hundreds of pages that were the translation, complete with character portraits for each line) and brought the phone book-sized documents home. I don't think I ever made it through the entire thing due to the papers being scattered at one point and me being too lazy to put them back in order, but it was a memorable experience nonetheless.

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As big of a gaming maniac as I was back in the 90s, importing was seldom something I bothered with. There were always plenty of great titles coming out over here, and I didn't mind the extra time waiting for the locallization (although it was always a drag knowing we'd get stuff "a whole year later," this included consoles). Still, being an avid reader of EGM meant you would always be pretty teased by the insane amount of "coming soon.. maybe" coverage they'd get into, particularly in their offshoot specialty mags (Super Play and Mega Play).

If I'd had a TG-16 I suspect I would have gone the import route sooner, since their domestic support curled up and died just as the party was getting started. Otherwise, the idea of having to bust open hardware (taking circuit boards out of old NES carts, or doing I-don't-even-know-what to SNES games) was never appealing. However there was that one game that had me unscrewing the entire shell of my Sega Genesis..

EGM was a bastard about this "Sunsoft Batman" title for the Mega Drive, going on and on about how it was the hot business and "no one in the US would ever play it because of Nintendo licensing issues" (Sunsoft already had a successful NES Batman title available for 8-bit NES). Hell, they'd rant on about this stuff on the damned cover of the magazine! In those early days of the Sega Genesis, a Batman the Movie game by Sunsoft (who, in those days, were kind of a scrappy kid brother to the likes of Capcom and Konami, in a good way) was just about the perfect game one could imagine for their new brand-new (and software-starved) 16-bit monster. I ponied up the $100 to Die hard Game Club or whoever it was who always ran those exotic "get foreign games for only twice as much as they'd cost if you'd wait a year!" ads in the back of EGM and other mags. Sure enough, the package arrived soon after I coughed up my $100. The game case was much smaller than the typical Genesis packaging (barely big enough to hold the cartridge) and the game had this funky rounded lip, where the domestic ones had a hard edge. So exotic..

Of course the game cart was not formed to fit into the US Genesis, so I unscrewed the console lid and hastily plugged Batman right into my poor Genesis' exposed housing, feeling like some kind of a mad scientist of gaming. I fired up the cart, noting that all the text/cut scenes were in English (um, isn't this supposed to be a Japanese game?) and slobbering over how good the game looked and sounded instantly. Of course I plowed through the game in about 2 days, and sure enough the damn thing released properly over here a year later after all : P

Anyway, there is my only import story, except of course that GP32 handheld I bought (Korea by way of the UK) a couple of years ago..

Edited by headcaseGames
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I imported very little. A game store in a local mall brought in import copies of Super Mario 3, with some funky converter cartridge to play the Famicom cart in the NES, and that was my first exposure to a Japanese game -- friends of the family bought a copy of that.

After that it was a while until I got my hands on anything imported. I always wanted Batman for the Genesis (IIRC, there was some sort of licensing issue that long prevented it from being released here, but maybe Sunsoft eventually did?). Fact is, money was better spent on cheaper items and I didn't want to do any mechanical modification of my console (just shaving/cutting off a couple of bits, no?)

The first import *I* actually bought wasn't even a game. It was one of those CG Portrait things from the Virtua Fighter series -- Lau. I never really understood what they were, and the price seemed pretty reasonable at the time.

...sooooo worth it.

The other import I remember was Firepro Wrestling: 6 Man Scramble... a really fun game, and although I tried a couple of later games in the series, I'm not sure if it's just that it hasn't aged well (because it really hasn't advanced much) or that there was some secret sauce in the Saturn version, but they've never really done a ton for me since. I think most of the other import games I wound up playing on the Saturn were a friend's -- he had just about every fighter that Capcom released on the system.

Anyhow, the Saturn was the one console I really didn't have any issues about importing with, because while you could do it with a quick soldering job (sans-heatsink, naturally), there were also a variety of carts that emerged that would fit into the system's finicky cartridge slot and save you from the temptation of potential console ruin.

It worked out well for me, because it got me on board with buying from Tronix back in the day, and I had the very good fortune to put in a preorder for Panzer Dragoon Saga that was early enough that I actually received a copy. At that point, Sega had stopped any distribution in Canada, so online was really my only shot at a copy. I made a tidy profit on the game eight or nine years ago. I think it's probably worth somewhere around $150 more nowadays. I needed that money more back then :)

Veering off topic, I do wonder how much it would cost to do a re-release of the game... Even if it was essentially just the Saturn version reworked to run on a newer system and display the geometry in higher resolution (leaving horrendous textures and all)... I think it would sell quite well as a curiosity, if nothing else.

Edited by SickBoy
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