It wasn’t very long ago… Perhaps 4 years at most. Where getting
your hands on a legit copy of a Japanese game that was never released in
the USA was extremely difficult.. In fact, it was much easier and
safer to pirate the game than it was to buy a legit copy of it.. In
some cases, people trying to get their hands on these hard to find games
have resorted to trusting complete strangers and shady websites that
charge ridiculous fees for exporting Japanese games and music to the
On top of that, when it comes to console games, people will run into
one frustration after another in that they need to buy a Japanese
console in order to play their Japanese game.. Indeed, Region Code
locking adds one more painful headache to the huge ocean of barriers
that have existed for years..
Years ago, when iTunes hit Japan, I was ecstatic.. I was SOOO
excited about being able to purchase top Japanese music the day it came
out.. The Internet has made the world so connected on so many levels..
When I first logged into the Japanese iTunes I felt like a kid in a
candy store again.. Thousands upon Thousands of songs I’ve never heard
before at my finger tips… I built up an iTunes shopping cart that was
packed with over $200 worth of Japanese albums that I’ve always wanted
to have the opportunity to buy (legitimately)…
When I was at the very last step in the purchase, I ran into a
serious problem….. I had a credit card that is accepted all around
the world, however, I didn’t live in Japan with a legit Japanese
address, so the Japanese iTunes store blocked me from being able to
complete my $200 purchase… I nearly exploded with frustration.. I
found hundreds of people trying hack after hack to get around it with no
success… People were begging the Japanese iTunes store to take their
money, and it simply would not… Upon contacting Apple, people were
simply pointed to the "Terms Of Service" that said International
purchases were not allowed.. You MUST use the iTunes store for your
region… Dumbest thing ever…
I just could NOT believe they would open up iTunes to Japan and then
not let us people from the USA buy the songs!! That was by far one of
the frustrating things I’ve ever seen happen.. I could easily pirate
the song but trying to buy a legit copy of it was downright
The vast majority of Japanese songs released to the Japanese iTunes
store every day, never make it to the USA iTunes store… It’s not
just a huge frustration, but a down right tragedy…
Right around that time is where I lost a lot of hope in
companies being able to deliver products internationally.. I went back
to under-the-table dealings who I paid extra to buy the product for me
in Japan and ship it to me here in the USA..
I completely gave up on any bit of hope I had of being able to get Japanese games / music on demand (legitimately)… Until Today…
For most people, today is just today.. For me, today is an epic day. A dance in the street kind of day….
On a forum for translating scripts of Japanese games into English, I
saw a one-line post telling somebody in the USA to buy a game that was
never released in the USA.. Actually, that’s quite normal…
What’s not normal… Was the part that they also mentioned they could buy it and be playing it within hours. Whoa now..
Hang on a second here!! This person must not know what they’re talking
about!! You can’t buy Japanese games in the original Japanese language
and have them delivered to your PC on the other side of the world
legitimately within hours… Or can you???
Pardon me, but I’ll keep my finger on the "BS" button…
But I’ll give this guy the benefit of the doubt… The guy links to a
website that I’ve never even heard of before… Doesn’t seem to be a
popular website at all, but let me tell you that I’ve had to deal with a
LOT more shady websites to get Japanese music / games delivered from
Japan and have made it through one way or another…
So let’s see how far I can get through the purchase this time….
Account Registration e-mail:
With a little help from Google translate here and there… That was easy enough….
Moving on… Looks like Canvas2 is on sale.. Quite a steal, I
remember when this game was 8000 yen (~$80 US) Always wanted to play
this game… Too bad it’s not on Steam [:D]…
Adding the game to the cart:
Order COMPLETED!!! Received purchase confirmation!!
My Credit Card Company sends Fraud Alert.. [flushed]
Within seconds of making the purchase, my credit card company calls
my cell phone at 11:49PM with an automated message and tells me they are
seeing suspicious activity on my account. They say if I don’t contact
them within 24 hours, the card will be locked out automatically…
That’s just… lovely…
So I called their 1-800 number… They go through all the
transactions I’ve made in the past two weeks (gas station, bread, etc.)
and record me saying that they were legit transactions… And then ask
the same thing about the purchase I just made in Japan (lol?)… And
again record me saying it was a legit transaction…
Sooooo… They thank me for taking a moment to verify my
transactions and hang up… Minutes pass.. Don’t know what to do..
Checking my account it looks like I should have been provided with a
download URL, but I was not….
Received Download URL!!
Within about 10 minutes, the Japanese store sends me my download URL for my game.. YAY!
Downloading in progress…
Hrm, looks like they’re not using Unicode fonts in the titlebar.. The poor downloader is programmed wrong. If the game is the same way, I will be one unhappy camper… However,
it’s not that big of a deal to change my region to Japan and charset to
SJIS and then log out / log in again.. So even if the game was using
SJIS instead of Unicode, it’s no big deal… The one thing Microsoft
did right is allowing international apps to run on Windows
Microsoft does NOT believe in Region code locks
Thank you Microsoft.. I don’t say it much, but there’s at least one
thing you have done right.. It’s your support of international software
This means that any piece of software that requires Windows made in
any place in the world should be installable and runnable on Windows
anywhere in the world… So long as you install your font sets and IME,
of course!! No problems there…
This also means that any of the applications in that Japanese store
made for Windows PCs will work on my Home PC out of the box.. Or in
this case I should say…… "It should work out of the .zip" ^-^
Locale issues on Windows…
the garbled text and square boxes tipped me off that this game is not
programmed for Unicode and was made with SJIS charsets / fonts.. An
inconvenience, but really, no big show stopper…
Just change the locale and reboot….
up GIMP which is one of the best Internationalized apps on Windows, in
my opinion… Confirms locale switched correctly by displaying correct
charset & font for the Windows locale..
OK, easy enough… Install the game and start it up!!!
so now we have a game that was programmed on the other side of the
world in a different language and a different locale, runnng on a
regular vanilla installation of Windows Vista that you can pick up
anywhere in the USA…
Now if only it were so easy to run native NTSC-J Japanese games on a USA PS2..