Nintendo Switch imports guide: the best Japan-only games to play

The Nintendo Switch has made it easier than ever for Western Nintendo fans to enjoy import-only games, and it’s a good thing, too, because there’s some fun stuff to check out! (Even if, at this point, the options are still a bit slim.) Here’s your guide to what you should be playing that hasn’t made it to Western eShops.

Before we get too far, here’s what you need to know about importing on Switch:

Physical games are totally region-free. So if a game’s released at retail, you can just buy from somewhere like Amazon Japan and get to playing!

Switch systems support multiple accounts for digital purchases. So you can create a Japanese Nintendo Account the same way you created your American one, then log in through the system and download games! Some Western credit cards work (with a small foreign transaction fee, usually), but you can also grab credit online. Once you have the game on the system, any account can play it, but you may need to use that region’s account to access DLC.

If English is available, it’ll just show up on your system. The Switch uses universal releases, meaning that all regions get the exact same version of the game. That means that, at least most of the time, games will serve up English text to you if available, regardless of which eShop you used to purchase it. It’s convenient, for sure! (And a great way to get games a bit early without sacrificing language in the long term.)

Okay, that’s done! Let’s get to it.

Chiki Chiki Boxy Racers

There’s something about Japanese quirk that makes for a really fun party game, and Chiki Chiki Boxy Racers is certainly that! It’s an import-friendly bash that supports up to eight players, and does more than just racing with its nostalgic voxel cars and RC Pro-Am-style camera. There’s some fun single-player stuff, too, if you want it, and it’s at least good for getting used to how the game works. Chiki Chiki Boxy Racers is definitely deserving of the strongest recommendation on our list. (For now, anyway!)

Choju Giga Wars

If you like games like Swords & Soldiers and The Battle Cats, you may want to check out this strange-at-times little take on the formula. There’s a fairly high language barrier here at first, but once you’re able to learn the units, you should be okay.

The Snack World: Trejarers Gold

This port of the 3DS game that we also didn’t get is another example of just how good of a developer Level-5 can be. It’s a little more action-oriented than Fantasy Life and Yo-kai Watch, but it’s no less charming, and while we’re crossing our fingers that this one makes its way Westward, for now, it’s a great option if you’re looking for something deep and engrossing.

Dragon Quest Heroes I & II

Both Dragon Quest Heroes have made their way to the West, but not on the Switch, so if you like your musou on the go, this unlocalized launch title is your only option. It has some, well, really very troubling frame rate issues, but there’s still some enjoyment to be had. (In fact, if you’re looking for more Warriors games on Switch, there’s a whole bunch of them on the Japanese eShop if you don’t mind the language stuff.)

Sumikko Gurashi: Sumikko Park e Youkouso

Okay, so you know how Mario Party is a series of minigames in which you don’t always know what’s going on and that’s not always a problem? Imagine that, but with just the most soothing aesthetic you’ve ever seen in your life. What you have in your head may be very close to the Sumikko Gurashi game for Switch, which slows down its board game a bit to make sure all its animations are very cute and all its challenges are as pastel as is possible. Is that a weird pitch for a game? Most definitely. But many of you are here for weird, so we’re trying to deliver.

Gal Metal

It doesn’t always succeed at its goals, but Gal Metal delivers on the feel of its weird anime drumming game, and there’s certainly nothing else like it. Floor Kids comes close, maybe? It’s not a rhythm game in the traditional sense, but more based on performance. And… yeah, that’s a bit nebulous and it becomes a problem. But Gal Metal gets by for a while on its peculiar charm.

We’ll keep updating this guide as more great Switch games release! For more helpful advice for importers, check out our Guides section!

Questions? Comments? Talk to us on Twitter or Facebook!