Japan: A Tale of Gaming on the Other Side of the World

Japan is well-known for its collectible hobby culture. From card games, such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, to the hundreds of gachapon machines you'll find spread out across the country. It's hard not to get enraptured in it all. The arcades, the idol culture, the anime and the epicenter of it all, Akihabara. Recently, two of our staff members set out to venture across Japan. And we're happy to say we've added a sizeable amount of imported games to our ever-growing library here at FTW Cafe.

Jenga continues to be one of the most played games in our library. But we managed to find a game that puts the plain, boring game of blocks to shame. Say hello to Oh! Sushi Game. Instead of brown wooden blocks, you have a wide variety of different types of sushi. It's a bright and playful take on the classic, and even offers 10 different modes of play. You can play the classic stacking tower mode. Or if you dare, you can bring wasabi into the fold. The sushi pieces are hollow and you can place wasabi tokens inside, which contain penalties such as "Do a robot dance" or "Have the person on the left blow into your ear". There's a mahjong mode, an ordering memory game, a puzzle game and much more. It's the type of game that won't fail to wow your friends. Oh, and it even comes with chopsticks. 

Many of the games we picked up were Oink Games publications. They come in these minimalist, tiny boxes that are really well-designed. Even the games we got that weren't from Oink were small-sized. Square-footage is a bit of a luxury in Japan and unlike game shelves in North America, they need smaller sized boxes to accomodate their living spaces. 

Hanamikoji is a head-to-head card game where players vie over the favour of seven geisha-masters. It feels like a mixture of Battle Line and Lost Cities. It's got a gorgeous aesthetic with these oversized geisha illustrations. The back-and-forth gameplay is tight and keeps every move feeling critical. It's easy to jump into for gamers of any level.

One of the more well-known Japanese games we've finally got a hold of (which was long overdue, I'll admit) is A Fake Artist goes to New York. First of all, I love the names of their games and this one definitely takes the cake for my favourite. In this party game, one player is assigned to be the Question Master and the other players will take on the role of the Artists. The Question Master chooses a category and word to give to the Artists. However, among the Artists is a fake! The Fake Artist is not given the word, and therefore has to fake knowing what the drawing is supposed to be. The Artists take turns adding a stroke to the drawing, as little or as big as they desire. If the Fake Artist is not caught, the Question Master and the Fake Artist are awarded points. If the Fake Artist is caught and cannot guess what the word is, the Artists are awarded points. 

It's a really neat implementation of a few popular party games in Telestrations and Spyfall. It's got unlimited replayability as the Question Master can freely decide to choose any word, and is not just restricted to a deck of pre-written cards. Oink Games have published a lot of amazing, small-packaged games, and A Fake Artist Goes to New York is definitely the coolest.


Image Factory is a funny cooperative party game; a bit of a rarity in its own genre. One player acts as the "answerer" and the rest are the robots working in a factory to complete orders. One day the orders are mixed up and the "answerer" has to sort out the correct orders. Robots receive 2 Order Cards and have 30 seconds to read and draw something that best resembles the combination of those two cards. All Order Cards are shuffled together and the "answerer" then must guess which Order Cards were originally paired together to their drawing. 

These are just a few of our favourites among the big batch of games we've added. If you're ever curious to try them out, just ask one of our staff members! Many of them have English instructions (English of the broken variety), but some don't. We've done our best to translate them and learn how to play them, so we can help guide you along the way. 

Earl OliverosComment