Jetsetter: Britannia, the golden land of Nintendo import games

Bravely Default

Let’s talk about the United Kingdom. England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland represent a peculiar domain in the Jetsetter pantheon. There are countless storied British game developers: Psygnosis, the late, great creators of WipeOut and Colony Wars; Argonaut, the keen minds behind the FX Chip for Super Nintendo and Star Fox; Media Molecule, Lionhead, and so many others have made the United Kingdom a jewel in the international video game world.

As for import gaming, the UK is an odd duck. Back in the day, American gamers got by the better deal, especially when it came to consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Almost all the top games developed in the UK saw international release, but many of the Japanese classics we enjoyed in the US never made it across the pond. For example, it took more than 15 years for Chrono Trigger to officially come out in the UK. Many of the games that did make the trip appeared in a bastardized form, painfully slowed down to adjust for the PAL format. There were occasional exceptions. Games like Mega Man: The Wily Wars, the Sega Genesis remake of Mega Man 1 through 3, and the crown jewel of Mega Man collectibles, found a retail release in the UK and Europe but not the US. Quintet’s great Super Nintendo RPG Terranigma skipped America too. These were rarities. More gamers UK gamers imported titles from the US and Japan than vice versa. 

Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy RupeelandIn the past decade though, the UK has become a treasure trove for English-speaking importers, and especially for modern Nintendo fans. Nintendo of America turned up its nose at niche audiences, refusing to release a number of great games for the Nintendo DS and Wii, even when complete localizations of these games were available. The UK received a far more diverse selection of games in the meantime.

Defunct adventure game developer CING offered a US releases of Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory, and both received solid reviews. Their respective sequels though, Last Window and Another Code R, respectively, both made it to the UK in fine form while skipping America. The same went for Freshly Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, the truly bizarre Zelda spinoff for Nintendo DS. Disaster: Day of Crisis, a unique Wii action game mixing Resident Evil-style action with Disaster Report-style natural disaster survival was another Nintendo game that got a UK release while Nintendo of America acted like it never existed at all.

The same would have been true of the Wii role-playing game trio Xenoblade, Pandora’s Tower, and The Last Story. If not for the work of Operation Rainfall, a localization lobbyist group, Xenoblade would never have gotten its limited release in the US. The latter two games were eventually released domestically by XSEED, but both were doubtful. 

disaster_posterNintendo of America’s insistence on keeping the Nintendo brand associated with only a narrow selection of family friendly titles during these years was lamentable, but luckily it was easy for importers to get their hands on these UK localized delights. Since the Nintendo DS was a region free device, anyone who wanted to play Last Window only needed to hit up a website like and they’d have the game in weeks. While the Wii was region locked, it was very simple to mod the system with a “soft-mod,” installing software like the Homebrew Channel via simple game exploits and a new SD card. Once the Homebrew Channel was installed, you could play Another Code R and Disaster all you wanted.

These days though, it’s trickier to enjoy such import fruits on Nintendo consoles in North America. Unlike all previous Nintendo handhelds, from the Game Boy all the way through to Nintendo DS XL, the Nintendo 3DS is region locked. What’s more, Nintendo and it’s publishing partners like Square-Enix have released a significant number of games in Japan that haven’t made it to the US and likely never will. Games like Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 3 are locked behind both hardware and language barriers for import gamers, and even the UK seems to be missing out on games like this. The golden age of great Nintendo imports from the UK may coming to an end.

UK Nintendo gamers appear to still be getting the better deal though, at least for the moment. Take Bravely Default, the Square-Enix made, Nintendo published role-playing game from the team behind Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light. Bravely Default was also looking like a game that wasn’t going to find its way to US shores, until Nintendo recently announced it for a 2014 release earlier this year. Bravely Default hits the UK in December, and not only that, they get this killer Deluxe Collector’s edition that comes with a beautiful hardcover art book, a statue of the game’s main character Agnes, the game’s soundtrack, and some AR cards for the few people that remember that 3DS feature. 

Thanks for nothing, Nintendo of America!


‘Fallout 76’ day one patch is 52 GB, bigger than the 45 GB game

Fallout 76 is a 45 GB download, but its day one patch is even bigger at a hefty 52 GB. The contents of the patch remain unknown, but it will likely incorporate feedback from the game's beta testers.

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.

From new fighters to DLC, here's all we know about 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lands on Nintendo Switch on December 7. We've compiled everything you need to know about the upcoming brawler in one easy to read place, from the massive roster and stage list to new gameplay mechanics and more.

Got an NES Classic? Here’s how to hack it to play more than 700 games

The NES Classic is terrific for what it is, but Nintendo's discontinued device remains limited in what it can play. Here's how to hack your miniature console and render it compatible with more than 700 games.

Fired Treyarch tester spills ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombies’ secrets

A former Treyarch employee revealed numerous Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 Zombies secrets. Among the unraveled mysteries were the Viking Boat puzzle in IX and the purpose of the Engine Room valves in Voyage of Despair.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

Sony could be working on a screen-equipped PlayStation controller

A patent recently granted to Sony seems to point to the company creating a controller with a touchscreen. The patent was filed in 2017 and granted in October 2018, which could mean it is planned for the next PlayStation.

Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Microsoft promised to work toward improving the frequently buggy experience with gamers in mind.

The plug-and-play PC Classic joins the retro console bandwagon

Gaming company Unit-e is creating the PC Classic, a plug-and-play retro console that will come bundled with around 30 of the best DOS games. The system will support gamepads and keyboard setups.

Everyone’s favorite Pokémon turns gumshoe in ‘Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The first Detective Pikachu trailer has arrived, and it looks like a video game movie could actually be good? Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pikachu is undeniably cute in what is shaping up to be a family-friendly buddy comedy.

Here are the best Black Friday deals you can get for Xbox One, PS4, and Switch

If you're in the market for a new video game console, there's no better time to pick one up than Black Friday. These are the best video game console deals for Black Friday 2018, including PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.