Top 25 best Japanese games for Android
Land of the rising thumbs - best Japanese games for Android
Updated November 23, 2021: New entries added, updated with download links
If you are a fan of eastern culture, then our list of best Japanese games for Android will tickle the right nerves!
To misquote Monty Python's Life of Brian: What have the Japanese ever done for us and our hobby of video games?
The by-no-means exhaustive response might include: Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Taito, Konami. And that's just some of the companies.
Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Sonic, Metal Gear Solid, Space Invaders. Those are a few Japanese gaming properties.
SNES, PlayStation, Mega-Drive... look, you get the point. Japan's influence on the video games medium is as profound as any other country's. Indeed, many of the specifics of gaming culture are tightly bound up with The Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan hasn't had quite such a profound influence on the world of mobile gaming. But it's still given us some truly classic Android games.
We've rounded up some of our favourites in the following feature. Can't see your own pick in there? Let us know in the comments below.Original list by Jon Mundy, updated by Pocket Gamer Staff.
Super Mario Run
It took a while to land on Android, but when it comes to Mario, we were willing to wait. Nintendo has cracked this mobile gaming lark at the first attempt with a supreme autorunning platformer.
No matter where you come from, Mario has been one of the staple Japanese creations to really have a breakthrough in the market through its Nintendo release, ages and ages ago. Nowadays... we have Japanese games for Android such as Super Mario Run as top contenders for the best games ever released, and if you're eager to learn more about it, take a look at our Super Mario Run review!Download Super Mario Run
Downwell splices together elements of a classic Japanese shmup with that of a classic Japanese platformer - and then shoots it all through with a hefty roguelike structure.
You might expect to see games such as this one in old-style arcade machines, but no - you get to experience it right at your own location, on your very own mobile device. And yes, it is a premium game, but the premium price is truly nothing compared to the amazing experience while playing it. As we've mentioned in our Downwell review, it's a brilliant roguelike that is only worthy of praise.Download Downwell
Final Fantasy IX
Which Final Fantasy games is best? It's usually a choice between VI and VII, but on mobile we'd have to go with IX. Not only is it arguably the last great classically styled entry to the series, but it's also a brilliant conversion job.
There was quite a bit of backlash from players eager to dive into the game, only to find out it doesn't, in fact, work. That's why you might see some surprisingly negative reviews on Google - but don't let that discourage you. In the meantime, things have been fixed and improved, and it's a clear winner in the Japanese games for Android creation categories - just take a look at our Final Fantasy IX review. We've covered every aspect of it.Download Final Fantasy IX
Dragon Quest VIII
Just like FF XI, Dragon Quest VIII takes an already brilliant JRPG and judiciously tweaks it for mobile play. It's a popular pick for a while for a number of reasons, and one of the leading ones is that this brilliant game has all the key elements to make it a timeless choice.
Players can run through fields, exploring all the corners of the (slightly outdated) world, all the while encompassing the role-playing flavours that are not often seen in recent releases. It's worth your time, and if you want to learn why, read our Dragon Quest VIII review!Download Dragon Quest VIII
Space Invaders Infinity Gene
This is no lazy port of an established classic. Rather, Space Invaders Infinity Gene is total revamp built especially for mobile. It remains one of the best Japanese Android shooter games.
Read the Space Invaders Infinity Gene review we've prepared if you think you've got what it takes to dive into this classic masterpiece. We know it's a game like no other, that will lure you in through well-assembeld retro shooting action. It's absolutely brilliant!Download Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Part Time UFO
HAL Laboratory is usually hard at work making games for Nintendo consoles, but its first mobile game is an absolute triumph. Part Time UFO is a brilliant take on arcade grabber Japanese Android games, with a range of inspired tasks and bags of charm.
Just one look at this adorable UFO and you'll know it's a game that will eat hours upon hours of your time. Highly addictive gameplay and great looking graphics cleverly combined with the spot-on audio grant it a clear spot on this list. Read our Part Time UFO review if you're curious why we instantly fell in love with the game.Download Part Time UFO
The World Ends with You: Solo Remix
Oddball DS JRPG The World Ends With You: Solo Remix finds a comfortable second home on mobile. The game might be old, but its modern-day Shibuya setting and left field touch-driven mechanics to ensure that it still feels fresh as a daisy.
Did we mention that we have a review for The World Ends with You: Solo Remix? Make sure to give it a read, because we've listed all the reasons why this game is a solid winner in our book. From a unique gameplay approach to choosing the right gear and combos, you have a thorough JRPG to fill all your spare time.Download The World Ends with You: Solo Remix
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The game that put the 'vania' in Metroidvania (alongside Super Metroid), now playable on iOS courtesy of Konami. This is one of the finest, most ambitious, and just plain meatiest action-platformers ever made.
If you have not heard of Castlevania, then all I have to say is... have you been living under a rock? The brilliant Japanese mobile game is done in such a manner that it can compete with some more recent creations from every single point of view. Pixel graphics? Check. Engaging platformer action? Double-check. A story to tie everything together? Triple-check. The list goes on, you get the point.Download Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Layton's Mystery Journey
This is the first of the Layton games to be made with mobile at least partially in mind from the start, and it shows. Layton's Mystery Journey offers a slick series of touchscreen puzzles, bound together with the usual Layton panache and a brand new protagonist.
If you love the other Layton creations, you will absolutely adore this one. We know that firsthand - just read our Layton's Mystery Journey review and you'll know exactly why.Download Layton's Mystery Journey
Aka to Blue
Aka to Blue is the next best thing to having an actual Cave shmup on your phone. It's a faithfully Cave-esque bullet-hell shooter from a company headed up by a former Cave employee.
The hardcore shooter approach is not often seen in Japanese games for Android, but Aka to Blue makes that possible in a unique way, one which spot-on controls and engaging interactions. Read our Aka to Blue review! - oh, and as a side note, did you know that you're constantly getting waves and waves of coins that become oddly satisfying to collect? Just give it a try!Download Aka to Blue
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition provides the complete FFXV story, but with a completely new chibi graphics engine and simplified gameplay mechanics. The result is a uniquely bespoke mobile RPG.
It's true though, it's not a game that will necessarily appeal to the old-time dedicated FF fans. It offers all in all the same story, but with a lot less interactive battle system. If you want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the game though, you should read our Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition review.Download Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
Unlike some of the Japanese games for Android we've already listed, Chrono Trigger isn't a perfect port. However, the core game remains one of the finest JRPGs of all time, with a stunning time-bending plot and real-time(ish) battles.
Read our Chrono Trigger review if you haven't done so already. We have criticized all the aspects of the game, including why we don't see it as a perfect port. And while Chrono Trigger doesn't stand out as much as it did back in '95, more than a decade later it's still a pretty solid choice - only adapted to different devices.Download Chrono Trigger
Football Manager 2021 Touch
Football Manager 2021 Touch is very much a British-made game, but it's published by Japanese titan Sega. And any chance to squeeze this comprehensive footy sim into a list is gratefully received.
You probably know FM21 from PC or console, and if you thought it's not as exciting on mobile, you'd be wrong. Console-quality graphics, immersive gameplay, and smooth controls with a managing sim mechanic at its core merge perfectly in this creation.Download Football Manager 2021 Touch
Shin Megami Tensei Liberation
A finely judged mobile spin-off from the beloved Shin Megami series. You get the same demon-collection impetus and anime-inflected presentation as the core series but achieved with a striking sense of immediacy.
We loved every part of the game - the anime graphics, the music and audio elements, as well as the action-turn-based-card-battles in each round. Check our Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 review to see what we've got to say about it.
Short answer? Play it! It's worth it, especially if you love JRPGs.Download Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2
Final Fantasy VIII
We couldn't finish our list without mentioning at least a bunch of Final Fantasy games, correct? With a fresh lease of life for this occasionally overlooked JRPG, FF VIII Remastered presents a polished take on one of the more melodramatic entries to the series.
The graphics and controls feel a lot better than one might expect, and that's exactly why we chose FFVIII as a feature. It's a game that many grew up with, and to give you a quick answer - no, it never gets boring! It's got massive replay value and if you haven't tried it yet, make sure you do so!Download Final Fantasy VIII
SaGa Scarlet Grace
Co-developed by Square Enix and Studio Reel, this twelfth entry in the sprawling SaGa series comes to iOS after debuting on PS Vita in 2016. It's a lavish JRPG with a tight battle system and some unusual text-based exploration.
The game has a fairly unique approach in terms of graphics, but the gameplay fits right in with the other JRPGs from the developer. It's true, nothing stands out per se, but it's a game that does what it does extremely well, and that's what we like to see. It's not that well-known, but it still lands a spot on our best Japanese games for Android list.Download SaGa Scarlet Grace
Forget Sonic 4. This port of arguably the finest Sonic game ever (though probably the least played) is all you need, with super-slick platformer gameplay and the same ambitious time-travel mechanic that made the original so special.
There's nothing we love more than good ports, controller support and genius retro Android Japanese games. Sonic CD features all three, and that only means one thing - it's a brilliant and timeless game that is worth playing at least once in your lifetime. Read our Sonic CD review if you're curious about some more elements that make it stand out, to help you decide whether or not it's a game for you or not.Download Sonic CD
Fire Emblem: Heroes
Considering Fire Emblem Heroes is a turn-based strategy game based on one of Nintendo's deepest franchises, it works remarkably well as a bite-sized mobile experience.
In FEH (as it is often called), you have a constantly updated game, where new features make an appearance regularly. With a player base that is only growing day by day, this 2017 creation is as fresh in 2021 as it could be. In our Fire Emblem Heroes review we've mentioned how it combines all the right elements that make a free-to-play RPG great, and if you're also a fan of the genre, make sure to check it out.Download Fire Emblem Heroes
This must be awkward for Nintendo. KartRider Rush+ from South Korean-Japanese publisher NEXON arguably plays a better, more fully-featured game of Mario Kart than Mario Kart Tour. At least, in our books, it clearly comes out on top.
It's thrilling, exciting, fun, and competitive enough to kickstart your minikart and urge you to kick everyone's bum out of the race. Similar to Mario Kart Tour, players have a number of collectibles - karts, pets, racers, and so much more. The main difference is, you guessed it - it's KartRider Rush+.Download Kartrider Rush+
Raiden Legacy bundles in a huge stack of brilliant 2D shmups, and Raiden Fighters Jet, in particular, is considered by many aficionados to be one of the finest examples of the genre.
This premium shooter with retro shoot 'em-up elements is a fitting title for the list, alongside some JRPGs from back in the day. Read our Raiden Legacy review to learn why we consider it a must-buy, because it indeed is a must-buy.Download Raiden Legacy
Dragon Quest Tact
Ah, yes. The monster-filled strategic mush of a battler meets RPG. Dragon Quest Tact is no safe port of a traditional JRPG. Rather, Dragon Quest Tact is an impeccable tactical RPG with a laser-like mobile focus and bags of gacha.
It's an old game concept that plays as well as any new one does. In the Dragon Quest Tact review we wrote that it's a fresh breath of air from the monstrous-looking enemies, when you play as these adorable monsters. However, it's also rather... uncomfortable at times. Don't forget though - down at its core, it's still a gacha.Download Dragon Quest Tact
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
A port of one of Square Enix's almost-forgotten RPG gems, Valkyrie Profile is an oddball delight. Mixing side-scrolling platforming with deep combo-driven combat and a massive dose of Norse mythology, it's pretty unique.
We also have a Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth review! Have you managed to read it yet? It's worth a look because the game is clearly worth purchasing and playing. The graphics and narrative are enough to make it stand out from the rest of the Android Japanese games.Download Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Talking of classic Capcom DS ports, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies brings the company's beloved courtroom whodunnit to Android. No objections here whatsoever.
We've got an Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies review for iPhone, so if you're curious to learn how it played out for us, don't hesitate to check it. We could say that we were thrilled to be able to give it a complete playthrough, because similar to the other Ace Attorney games, this one is just as exciting.Download Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Disgaea 1 Complete
Arguably one of the finest strategy RPGs of all time, we gave the first Disgaea game a full 10/10 Platinum award in one of its earlier pocket gaming guises. Now, this complete (re)package comes to both iOS and Android devices, and it's still ruddy lovely.
Yes, yes, it's a little bit pricey - but is it really worth it?
The truth is... yes and no. If you would do anything to play and unfold the story in Disgaea and Laharl, Etna and Flonne in their adventure, then go for it. Otherwise, there are other titles that play just as well and are completely free-to-play. It's all up to you!Download Disgaea 1 Complete
eFootball PES 2021
Similarly to Football Manager 2021 Touch, eFootball PES 2021 is another football managing simulator that has amassed millions of downloads. Players really love their football games, eh?
In this stunningly realistic sim players can gather their favourite players and team them up to form the ultimate dream team. And while there is not so much actual football going on (it's a managing sim after all), you do get to watch realistic replays featuring some of the best football players in the world, and you get to make up un-thinkable scenarios. It's brilliant, and a proper choice to close our list of Japanese games for Android!Download eFootball PES 2021