We know - a lot of Japanese game publishers are getting better at bringing their games over to the West in a timely fashion. These days there's often only weeks rather than years between the Western and Eastern releases of major titles - but in spite of that there's still a handful of titles RPG fans will have to wait for if they want a Western release. We also know there's a handful of you lot who positively hate waiting.
The other option, of course, is to import - so we've put together our picks of some of the top Japanese Holiday 2011 titles that won't be arriving in the West until 2012 complete with links to preorder them. This is our official reminder and guide to things you might want to think about importing rather than waiting for!
Final Fantasy XIII-2 - Out Dec 15th
[image="import2011_13-2.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]With Lightning nowhere to be found and many of the old heroes either out of action or busy with other things, Final Fantasy XIII-2 catapults Lightning's sister Serah into the limelight. Accompanied by newcomer Noel, a transforming Moogle and the help of other allies in the form of old friends and recruitable monsters, Final Fantasy XIII-2 sees the universe of Final Fantasy XIII explored in-depth with revisits to familiar places in the past, present and future through a new time travel mechanic.
We've interviewed the game's Producer and Director, Previewed it not one, not two, but three times, and have a pretty packed Media Vault full of Screenshots, Videos and Artwork from the game... but checking all that out isn't really going to compare to checking it out for yourself by actually playing it!
With a Western release slated for late January or early February depending on exactly where you are in the world, Japan will get to find out exactly what's happening to Lightning around a month and a half before those in the West.
If you want to set up an Import Pre-order for Final Fantasy XIII-2 the guys at Play Asia have the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions both up for Pre-order as well as an all-new figure of Lightning's new costume from the game. There's a special edition PlayStation 3 available, too.
Final Fantasy Type-0 - Out Oct 27th
[image="import2011_type0.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]Final Fantasy Type-0 has had an interesting life over the past five years, but now it's finally ready for release. Announced as Final Fantasy Agito XIII alongside Final Fantasy XIII, it was initially conceived as a game for cell phones that'd only launch in Japan. As the project ballooned it became a fully-fledged PSP title and eventually became Final Fantasy Type-0, dropping the association with FF13. It's now grown to be so large that it actually stretches onto two UMD discs, meaning players will have to swap discs mid-way through the game. That's a hell of an upgrade from a cell phone game.
Disc swapping isn't the only similarity to old-school Final Fantasy titles in Agito - it'll feature a fully-fledged world map, traditional style summons and a school of mercenaries set against a backdrop of a world at war that is more than a little reminiscent of Final Fantasy VIII. This is clearly a game quite deliberately aimed to be a little more similar to the PS1 era of Final Fantasy than anything in the main-line series since.
Developed by many of the same staff who made Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, there's a staff pedigree and feature set here that is leaving many old-school Final Fantasy fans very excited. It's no surprise our Tokyo Game Show hands on was rather positive. You can see Screens, Videos and Artwork over in the Media Vault.
Sadly, though, it hasn't been announced for the West at all despite the Japanese launch being mere weeks away! But have no fear - the PSP is region-free and Play Asia have the Asian and Japanese versions of the game available for preorder. In addition to that, two versions of the soundtrack by Crisis Core composer Takeharu Ishimoto are also available for Preorder.
Tales of Xillia - Out Now
[image="import2011_xillia.jpg" game=0 nomark][/image]Although Tales of Xillia has since seen its release in Japan, that doesn't mean importers should ignore it this holiday. Crafted by both Team Symphonia and Team Destiny, ToX lets players take on the role of two separate characters: Milla or Jude. Through these two, the plot intertwines, but you'll have to complete each one to understand the full story of the game.
Our own current hands-on time with the game has been quite positive so far. Fans will definitely enjoy the fast-paced battle system, and new Link mechanics. You yourself can check out Screens, Videos, and Artwork over in the Media Vault! Unfortunately, the game has yet to be announced for the west, so if you're looking to secure a copy of your own, the choices are simple.
Play-Asia is offering both the Japanese and Asian versions of the game for purchase. Those looking for a little more can also purchase the game's soundtrack. Sakuraba Motoi's score is available in two sets: standard and Limited Edition.
Ni No Kuni - Out Nov 17th
[image="import2011_nino.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]Ni no Kuni: Shiroku Seihai no Joou is a very interesting title. Level-5 has teamed up with Studio Ghibli, creators of movies such as Princess Mononoke, for not one, but two full games. Last year saw the release of the Nintendo DS version, which came with a giant spell book. Quite an interesting addition for a video game. Now this year, Level-5 will release the PlayStation 3 version, featuring a retelling of the story, complete with breathtaking animated visuals.
The story of Ni no Kuni focuses on a young orphan boy named Oliver. His mother, who tried to save him, is dead, and now it's up to him to try and save her. Oliver follows a fairy named Shizuku to the world of Ni no Kuni to defeat the evil magician, Jabo. The fairy gives him a magical book, which he must use on his adventure as he encounters a reality paralell to his own.
We had our own hands-on time with that game at Tokyo Game Show, so look out for that soon. In the meantime, head on over to the Media Vault for Screens, and Videos to see what all the fuss is about!
Ni no Kuni has been announced for a western release sometime in early 2012. Those looking to get their hands on it sooner will be happy to know it will be releasing in Japan on November 17th! Play-Asia has started preorders for the basic game, and will be opening orders on the limited Ni no Kuni Magical Edition PlayStation 3 bundle shortly.
Grand Knights History - Out Now
[image="import2011_grandknights.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]While it has just been announced for North America and Europe, Grand Knights History's Western release is still a little bit out. If you can't wait to get your hands on a high quality, really old-school styled JRPG, you can have this shipped today - it's available in Japan right now.
The game tells the story of a world where Kingdoms war with each other, and comes with both on and offline options for battling. Player choice will effect the abilities characters can learn and unlock, adding to already deep character customization options allowing for the customization of voice and appearance of characters.
Coming from Vanillaware, the team behind popular niche JRPGs Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire and Muramasa: The Demon Blade. If you're looking forward to PS Vita, this PSP title is an ideal lead-in and preparation for Vanillaware's next title, Dragon's Crown, which is a cross-platform Vita and PS3 title. You can order the Japanese version of the game right now.
Monster Hunter 3G - Out Dec 10th
[image="import2011_monhun.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]Yes, the news is true - Monster Hunter 4 is coming to the Nintendo 3DS. That news shook the internet's nation of armchair analysts to their core, but if you're a fan of the series and are waiting for your handheld fix of Monster Hunter in 3D, Capcom are also putting out an expanded and enhanced port of the Wii game Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) for the 3DS too.
At its core this is the same game but portable and in 3D, but they're also including new monsters, weapons, control options and even whole new locations for this new 3DS version of the game. Play-Asia have the title up for import pre-order.
PlayStation Vita - Out Dec 17th
[image="import2011_vita.jpg" game="0" nomark][/image]While not strictly an RPG, we think it'd be pretty crazy not to mention this particular hot item for this holiday. The PlayStation Vita's Western launch hasn't even been officially confirmed yet, but the Japanese are lucky enough to be nabbing it before the year's end.
The Vita is set to be region free and we think it's going to be something of an RPG powerhouse - as well as access to a chunk of the PSP's awesome back catalogue digitally there's titles like Dragon's Crown, Final Fantasy X and Persona 4 The Golden all heading to the machine.
In terms of RPGs in the launch line-up there's Disgaea 3 Returns from Nippon Ichi and Lord of Apocalypse from Square Enix available on day one. Both the WiFi and the 3G models are available for import pre-order - we'd suggest you order the WiFi model - which is also cheaper - if you're importing.