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How to play the best Japanese games on your PS3

Here's how to import this generation's hidden Far East gems at the best prices

Good news. Your PS3 and PSP are 'region free', so you can import games from any country. While Japanese games present obvious language difficulties, the editions sold in Korea, China and Singapore (known as 'Asian' versions and often released not long after their Japanese equivalent) often include the option of playing the game in English.

That means that all you need to worry about is which website to order it from. Play-Asia.com used to be the go-to site for this kind of thing, but it's recently stopped shipping to Europe. Your first stop should be renchi.com, which ships everywhere and clearly labels the languages of the games you're looking at.

Once you know exactly what edition you're after you can then shop around at ncsx.com and yesasia.com for a cheaper price, though they tend to offer less in the way of choice. As always, the lowest prices are to be found on eBay, though that's a risky business.

As a closing point, these sites also sell Japanese PSN point cards which let you enter the code on the back for instant credit on the Japanese store. There aren't any exclusives we could comfortably recommend, but it's a nice thing to have lying around. For a guide on how to get access to the Japanese PSN on your PS3 (without ditching your European PSN account) check www.tiny.cc/psnwoo.

Aquanaut's Holiday
Explore the sea and gaze at the stars in this 'relaxation' game

Format? PS3
How much? £18 plus shipping from ncsx.com
English available? Yes
What is it? An exploration game set under the sea
Why do I need it? There's nothing else like it available in the West

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Did you know there's a whole genre of games in Japan that are designed to do nothing but relax you? Games which are less about challenge and more pure enjoyment? It's an idea that probably peaks with Boku no Natsu Yasumi 3 (My Summer Holiday 3) for PS3, a game where you play a child during their summer at their grandparents' place. Your days are spent making friends with locals, catching insects, stargazing - basically having a magical experience.

There's slightly more stuff to do in Aquanaut's Holiday (the latest in the Summer Holiday series). You play a journalist in search of a missing scientist who's vanished somewhere off an island atoll in Polynesia.

Tucked away safely in your MiniSub you're free to poke around under the waters looking for clues, and adding various fish, wrecks, reefs and rock formations to your database where you can read about them at your leisure. As you push deeper and deeper you find and activate broken sonar buoys, unlocking further chunks of the map.

It's worth noting that the translation in the Asian version is pretty inconsistent. The database entries for marine life are all fine, but the dialogue when you return to your research facility is occasionally poor.

Import Rating: 3/5

Afrika
The infamous safari sim, now in English

Format? PS3
How much? £18 plus shipping from ncsx.com
English available? Yes
What is it? A photography-sim set in sunny, smiley Africa
Why do I need it? It's very refreshing to play a game concerned with sneaking up on things without killing them straight afterwards

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We reviewed this back in issue 110 and gave it 71% - not too shabby for such a niche title. It's a game about shooting things with a camera instead of a gun. It's got plenty of depth though - your shots are rated on technique, distance and angle, and your rating determines how much cash yet get for each one.

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