As the birthplace of Sony and Nintendo, Japan is home to some of the most brilliant game developers and designers in the world. Many games and game consoles are first developed in Japan and if popular enough, are then brought to overseas markets.
However, for one reason or another, many of these amazing game consoles were exclusive to Japan and never made their way to other countries.
In this list, we will talk about some of our favorite Japanese exclusive game consoles that didn’t make it off Japanese shores. Many of these consoles can still easily be bought today, so if you fancy yourself a collector, this article is for you.
Japan Exclusive PS Vita Consoles
Contrary to popular belief, the PlayStation Vita is not dead.
At least, in Japan, it is alive and thriving.
Even in 2020, new games are still being released and with a big visual novel market in Japan, Sony’s mobile handheld still sees a lot of love.
The PS Vita is one of my favorite consoles of all time, and it is downright criminal that other countries didn’t get 90% of the console variants released in Japan. Not only did the Japanese market get exclusive color variants, but they also got numerous limited edition consoles with art design from different franchises.
Rest assured, the PS Vita is not region locked.
This means you can play games from any country on Japanese PS Vitas.
Below are just a few of the coolest ones.
1. Japanese Minecraft Limited Edition PS Vita Console
For Minecraft fanatics, this console is a dream come true.
This bundle came with the Minecraft game for the PS Vita, as well as a carrying case. You can buy the Minecraft PS Vita [Here]
2. God Eater Limited Edition Console
Full disclosure, I’ve never even played God Eater, but this is the coolest PS Vita design I’ve seen so far in Japan.
This one is definitely on my to-buy list.
You can buy the God Eater PS Vita [Here]
3. Final Fantasy X | X-2 Japan Exclusive PS Vita Console
It’s a shame we didn’t get any themed PS Vita consoles in The West.
While the demand for PS Vitas was relatively low in North America, I’m sure that any Final Fantasy variant of the PS Vita would’ve sold like hotcakes.
With Final Fantasy X being one of the most popular titles in the franchise, this console is a great piece to add to the collection for any Final Fantasy fan.
You can buy the Japanese Exclusive Final Fantasy X PS Vita [Here]
4. Pikachu N64 Light Blue and Orange Japan Exclusive Game Consoles
The Nintendo 64 is one of the most beloved game consoles of all time.
For many, it was the first time they experienced a decent first-person shooter game with Goldeneye 007.
For others, Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap are games that bring on great bouts of nostalgia.
Many different color variants of the system were released in English-speaking countries. However, Japan was the only country to receive the best limited edition N64 variants, the light blue and orange Pikachu N64s.
With these variants, a full-bodied Pikachu is on the face of the system and Pikachu’s foot is used as the restart button.
Other countries received the same system as a dark blue variant, but Japan was the only country to receive the light blue version.
It should be noted that Japanese N64 consoles can only play Japanese games unless you do a simple hard mod. However, that requires you to remove parts of the plastic near the cartridge slot of the system.
5. Sharp Twin Famicom
Most retro game enthusiasts know that the Famicom is the name for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Japan. The design and cartridges were different and the Famicom had many exclusive games that weren’t brought over to the NES.
However, a lesser-known exclusive Japanese retro gaming console that no one really talks about is the Sharp Twin Famicom System.
I’m willing to bet most of you reading this never knew that Nintendo once partnered with Sharp to make a game console.
It is called the Sharp “Twin” Famicom because it includes both a cartridge slot for regular Famicom games and a floppy disk-like slot for the Famicom disk system games.
In Japan during the Famicom/NES era, Nintendo released a disk system add-on compartment for the original Famicom. It played games that came on yellow floppy disk-like cartridges.
Interestingly, these disks were re-writable.
This meant that when you finished the game, you could simply walk up to a Nintendo game kiosk, buy a new game, and write the new game onto the disk.
This kept costs down both for Nintendo and for consumers. People could rewrite games onto existing disks for a fraction of the cost.
The Twin system came in a variety of color variants, including two red-black variants and one blue-green-black variant.
While it is nearly impossible to find these in the wild outside of Japan, you can still purchase them on second-hand auction sites like Yahoo Auctions and even on eBay. [Click here to get yours]
6. Wonderswan and Wonderswan Color
The Wonderswan is a handheld gaming console that was invented by the company of Gunpei Yokoi, the fabled inventor of the cross-shaped directional pad, the original designer of the Nintendo Game & Watch and the Nintendo Game Boy.
With such an impressive résumé, you’d assume that anything this man touches would turn into gaming gold. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the Bandai Wonderswan.
Released in Japan in 1999, one year after the release of the Game Boy Color, the Wonderswan had to compete both with Nintendo and SNK’s Neo Geo Pocket Color.
While the Wonderswan had a cool design and a decent library of games, unfortunately, it couldn’t match the popularity of Nintendo’s Game Boy systems and didn’t even make it off Japanese shores.
However, with a little searching, you can still find Wonderswan and Wonderswan Color systems today on various auction sites.
If you live in Japan, you may even be able to find them at your local Book-off or other used game shops.
7. The Frozen PlayStation 4
It isn’t often that we see a Disney-themed limited edition game console.
It turns out that the blockbuster hit Frozen was popular enough in Japan to warrant its own limited edition PlayStation 4 game console.
The system features a subtle yet elegant design with Elsa and Anna on the face of the console. This one is rare enough that in my three years of game hunting in Japan, I have yet to see this console in the wild.
Hopefully, with the imminent release of the PS5, Sony will release more of these amazing console variants outside of Japan.
These were just seven of our favorite Japanese exclusive video game consoles. Hopefully, we introduced you to a few you had never seen before.
When searching for these consoles online, be sure to use ZenMarket as your proxy delivery service, if you come across a seller that doesn’t ship to your country from Japan.