Having previously written about 7th Dragon 2020-II, I decided I should probably write a little about importing games from other countries. I will be mostly going over the ins and outs of importing, as well as giving out a few tips that I have accrued in my time.
Most of my overseas shopping comes from four sites J-List, Play-Asia, Amiami, and CdJapan, as well as the occasional gem I may find on Amazon and eBay.
J-List (or J-Box if you prefer the PG-13 catalog) It is a great place if you want Japanese merchandise like snacks, mosquito incense, figures, and a whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff, including Japan only games, as well as visual novels, up to and including eroge, you know, games that have some sort of sexual content, but I will go more into detail about that when I publish a similar guide for visual novels. I like the site, but they add a fair bit to the price tag, which is usually not a problem since a lot of what they sell is still fairly cheap, but figures and games can get quite expensive. So I recommend them only for visual novels that you absolutely must have, though to be fair, most sites and retailers won’t let you buy eroge at all if you’re outside Japan or don’t a Japanese card (and address) to make eroge purchases, downloads included. They also carry classics like Fate/Stay Night and the sequel Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, which you are then free to patch into English.
Play-Asia is the much more game-centric import site (though it also sells figures, DVDs and soundtracks) it sells just about any game, in almost all versions available (Japanese, U.S., Europe) and it sells them cheaper than J-list in most cases, unfortunately they sometimes take a while to get your stuff to you. It is also noteworthy that they will track stuff down for you even if it is out of stock.
Amiami deals in just about anything for otaku from figures, to games, to card games, to scale models. They are an actual Japanese retailer, so they will sell you stuff at market price (and sometimes cheaper) so it is quite convenient to use, but if something is out of stock, you are probably out of luck, I also don’t think it will ship eroge overseas, as I stated above.
Cdjapan mostly sells soundtracks and DVDs, though they also sell games and figures. When it comes down to soundtracks, these guys beat anybody. I have found and scored some pretty cool discs and even a few eroge soundtracks that my friend Franklin absolutely loved. The prices aren’t too bad either, though they usually are a little higher than Amiami for stuff they also have.
Now that we got the advertisement out of the way, I would like to offer some advice. First, importing can be very expensive, some stuff like special editions can cost you well over a hundred dollars dispensing on the current exchange rate, so be mindful of your money. Second, try to pick up games that don’t require much understanding of the Japanese language, like fighting games, I don’t recommend buying RPG’s or visual novels without knowing how to read Japanese, mostly because you will miss out on a great deal of the game by not knowing the story. Sure, I love the 7th Dragon games, but I still wish I knew what was going on.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section.