Lucky Bag 2014 - 4

Happy New Years from Japan! If you have been with us since last year, you might remember a bit of an annual tradition I’ve started. The “Japanese New Year’s Video Game Fukubukuro!”

Just a reminder, a “fukubukuro” or “lucky bag” in Japan is a mystery bag containing secret items sold every year throughout Japan from during the New Year’s shopping season. People line up to buy them from early in the morning in hopes of getting a good deal. Think Black Friday but a lot less violent, and that’s your typical January 2nd in some of the bigger cities.

Retailers cram clothes, jackets, cookies, and even iPads into one of these red bags and sell them for 10,000 to 20,000 yen each, or roughly $100 to $200!  In theory, they are a lot of fun, but in reality, they are a kind of dirty sales tactics in which companies can dump their unwanted goods off onto unsuspecting customers. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t. I got about 1,300 yen worth of Lush soap products for the wife at the price of 2,500 yen this year! What a rip-off!

Lucky Bag 2014 - 1

Myself though, being a connoisseur of video games, am more than happy to drop a few extra bucks on a bag of video games and be surprised with what I get. Last year was a little bit of a bust since I dropped 1,000 yen on the Xbox 360 bag and got some lame games, so I decided to go a little more hardcore this year and snag up the Nintendo 3DS bag for 3,000 yen!

Typically, I judge success on if it’s a good value, if the game is available only in Japan, and if it is genuinely something I would want to play. I like weird obscure Japanese games, and I like JRPGs.The PSP is the best option in Japan to find these kinds of games, but sadly no PSP bags were available this year. Only PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS.

Without further adieu, let’s see what luck has granted us in 2015 for the “Japanese New Year’s 2015 Video Game Fukubukuro!”

Lucky Bag 2014 - 2

First up is the big dog of the bunch. We have Mario Golf World Tour. Joey is a big fan of this game, but I haven’t played it yet. I’ve been spending a lot more time on my PS Vita these days than my Nintendo 3DS, and I think Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is a perfectly acceptable cartoonish golf game to hit a few rounds with.

Not complaining too much because it looks like a really gun game, but it is available in English and doesn’t exactly have the exoticism you think of when looking for video games in Japan. Nintendo is always kind of off in its own world, and I was just discussing with Eric how Nintendo always seems to avoid the umbrella term of “Japanese developer.”

Too nice of a game to call it a bust, but not really what I am looking for in these bags.

Lucky Bag 2014 - 5

This is a little more up my alley. I’ve never played the Inazuma Eleven games despite them becoming available in America just recently, and I’ve always had a fondness for developer Level-5. The company is all kinds of successful in Japan, but it hasn’t been the same as its PlayStation 2 days ever since the emergence of the more lucrative Nintendo DS handheld business.

This Inazuma Eleven GO is a sequel to the original series, and it is still not available in America. It’s funny how I got a soccer game last year too, but I am more thrilled to play this goofy one instead. These RPG soccer games have an English localization available, but only in Europe though, where more people actually care about soccer.

American stereotypes of anti-soccer is holding this back from release stateside.

Lucky Bag 2014 - 6

Last up, we have… ugh… Brain Age. Can this even be considered a game? I think we all got over this one once smartphones stole the idea. Isn’t it hard to remember that back before Apple and Samsung were doing their things, Nintendo was dominating the touch screen market. Even grandma wanted one to play games like Brain Age. Now we can’t even bother with it. My how times have changed in just a decade.

So yeah, not an entire bust, but not exactly the best either. I would love to open a bag and find any Legend of Heroes game or something like Metal Gear, Hatsune Miku, or Summon Night. We’ll see how my fortunes wind up next year