Why Japanese video games are hard?

Why Japanese video games are hard?

Before I jump into this subject, it’s important to say that these are only my subjective opinions and consequences based on many years of video gaming experience.


I think, Japanese video games are hard but there is a trend that goes to a somewhat lighter direction in the past few years. It’s probably because altough Japanese people and therefore the companies are quite introvert and Japan focused they realized that there is an enormously huge market out there for more sales…and these gamers don’t like to suffer playing games. They want challenges and fun.

Good challenge and annoyingly painful almost undoable missions are not the same. In my experience Japanese games were closer to the latter in the past.

I don’t go back to the non PC/Console era because that was a totally different world, instead I just simply look back to the early 2000’s. Think about the Silent Hill series then the Resident Evil series, Devil May Cry, Dark Souls. These were really hard games. Some of them is hard because you were punched in the face and hit the floor as quick as a blink of an eye or saving was only possible only at certain points or both. Allowing saves at certain points only still trending, just think about The Evil Within, The Yakuza series, Nier Automata etc. but in these games difficulty can be set, at least.

In non-Japanese games Easy difficulty is really easy. It’s for gamers who just like to wander around and progress in the story quick without hassles. In Japanese games Easy is basically a Normal difficulty with some challenges.

Altough a large number of gamers enjoy playing hard as hell but most players give up quickly and never look back. It can be because of the fact they always lose and have to do the same thing over and over again. This is boring and annyoing. It can also be because we can basically swim in the sea of games and most people don’t want to waste time with one game that keep forcing them back, plus in these days not only kids playing video games but many adults who have busy schedules and not much time for suffering with a game that is just causing more stress instead of just the “sit down and play fun” feeling.

Important to say that in Japan, portable gadgets have a much longer history than in the Western World. Also portable gaming stuffs such as the Nintendo 3DS are more popular in Japan than console(s). More exactly they are more popular than the Playstation (Xbox is total loser in Japan).

Working Hours

The high popularity of portable devices is probably because of the Japanese working habits. While in Europe the average working hours in a week is about 40, in Japan it’s not unusal to work about 60 hours per week. Ocassionally they even don’t go home between 2 shifts because by the time they commute home they can go back to work. So no wonder why they like portable devices. Some of those empty hours can be used for gaming (and some sleeping). Altough you can buy Nintendo 3DS etc. almost all around the World but seeing anyone playing with that is very rare outside of Japan. This is a cool little gadget to turn off your brain and have some fun.

So they don’t have time to play because of working hours but also this hard working system grants them time to play (when they don’t sleep). Kids of course have a little bit more time but schools are very tough in Japan, too.

No wonder the games are hard too 🙂 They are basically used to this mentality and they might not even enjoy games set to Easy or Moderate difficulty.

I think, the latest and also a good example for a hard and challenging but still fun to play video game is Monster Hunter World.

I found it to be doable until I faced the Elder Dragons then I was just too weak to beat them with those skills and armor. I fainted 3 times or ran out of time. Nergi, Vaal and Kushi also had the skull icon so I wasn’t far away from success but finally I failed. If it was a single player game I would have said: Ok, that’s enough of this game! I just don’t feel like trying the elder dragon quests 3 or more times. But, altough there is no option to change difficulty but there is an option for online gaming I sent an SOS signal in all these quests and with online hunters the Dragons were taken down for the first try.

What I want to say with this is that if you fail, there is an option to move on without feeling frustrated and being pissed off by the game. This is an awesome solution in MHW.


The other reason of Japanese video games are hard can be tradition. I think everyone knows how important tradition is in Japan.

If we look back to video games history we see that Japan was totally dominant in this industry. Sega, Atari, Nintendo just to mention the classic ones. They released games for their own consoles and also huge gaming rooms were full with these arcade coin machines back in 1980’s and early 1990’s. Those games were hard, really hard…and this is the tradition of video games in Japan.


Japanese are determined, not just in real life but in video games, too. If they start something they have the invisible force inside them to finish it. This means they don’t really jump between games such as the rest of the World. Therefore video game makers can make their games harder to keep gamers longer.

Few in Game Information

This is another thing that makes Japanese games harder to play. There is a lot of secrets in the games and also parts that are not explained or directed well by purpose. This basically force the gamers to go to game forums and ask and chat about the games and solve the secrets and get tips for the missions etc. Basically this thing force the gamers to socialize more.


Simple stuff. Video games are usually quite expensive and they are even more expensive in Japan. I’m not saying, that they’re not worth the $60-$80. What I’m saying is that spending this amount of money for video games don’t fit to any household’s budget. If you purchase only one game at this high price you really want to play the last bit of it. Also if the video game makers set higher difficulty, the gamers will have the feeling that they received more for their money.

It can be basically the same for the rest of the World but because Japanese mentality is different that’s why this only works in Japan. Games are basically required to be hard.

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