15 Best NES Games Never Released Outside of Japan

Holy Diver

12. Holy Diver

Let’s say you’re a fan of Castlevania, but you wish the game was just a little bit harder and somehow more metal. Sure, Castlevania has you murder the Grim Reaper with crucifix boomerangs, but what if you got to play a game as a long-haired sorcerer named after Randy Rhoads who is the son of Ronnie James Dio: protégé of Ozzy Osbourne, and brother of Zakk Wylde? Also, it’s the year 666, because hell yeah it is. Welcome to Holy Diver.

Instead of whipping, Randy shoots fireballs and is capable of generating all kinds of magic spells. He can also walk on lava by summoning blizzards and transform himself into a dragon, just in case you suddenly found yourself questioning how metal he really is. This Japanese gem is a game that you can not only play but also paint its contents onto the side of your van.

New Ghostbusters II

11. New Ghostbusters II

In the US, if players wanted to recreate the events of the second Ghostbusters movie on NES, they were stuck with Imagineering’s lousy Ghostbusters II. In Japan, HAL Laboratory put together a very different, and way more fun, adaptation with New Ghostbusters II.

The game’s setup allowed you to select two Ghostbusters (including the option to include Louis Tully in your crew!), with one manning the proton pack and the other manning the ghost trapper. The ghost trapper companion would be controlled by the CPU, but a second player could take over. It’s such a simple (yet welcome) take on gamifying the Ghostbusters concept. Luckily, HAL Laboratory would create a Game Boy port that used the same engine, albeit with different level designs. That one at least got released in the US, as did a truly bizarre DOS adaptation of the movie.

Donald Land

10. Donald Land

In 1992, Virgin Games released the McDonald’s-themed MC Kids in North America and Europe. It was actually pretty good, but it had you playing as Mack and Mick: two boys too uncool to even make it into the Burger King Kids Club. Before that, in 1988, Data East made their own McDonald’s platformer called Donald Land which gave the people what they wanted. After all, people didn’t want to play as two “cool 90s kids;” we wanted to play as Ronald McDonald himself! We want to believe in magic!

Donald Land not only lets you play as Ronald McDonald (throwing apples for offense, probably because it takes too many years to give your enemies heart attacks via projectile burgers) but the whole golden age McDonaldland crew. Their appearance is actually some kind of miracle, given that those characters were at the tail end of being phased out of advertisements due to a lawsuit by Sid and Marty Krofft. As such, I’m pretty sure this is the only videogame to feature Grimace’s Irish uncle.

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