Do you remember the days when you were young and idealistic? And could afford or borrow only a scant few games off your friends? By now I bet you've played them all! The obscure Koei simulations, Bobby's World for Super Nintendo, and the Game Boy version of Mortal Kombat. Or have you?

Under the auspice of English, I'll be looking at games that originated from my new home of Japan and never quite got the clearance to leap the pond, save for the assistance of a kindly troupe of modern-day philanthropists called "fan coders and translators." Yes, that's right! Remember Mother 3? A perfect example.

Remember, most fan-translated games were not selected for English localization for one reason or another. There are a few gems of course, some that are merely passable, and others that are horrible. Hopefully the ones I will choose for this column are not too horrible! To protect (or endanger) you all, there is only one personal condition: once I select a game and start playing it, I absolutely must finish it, damn the torpedoes, and at all costs.

This said, read on and be suddenly aware of the games you may have never known existed! Be aware of the games that will make you say...

How exotic!

In 1986 a show called Abunai Deka (Dangerous Detectives) starts to play on Japanese TV. In 1988, its sequel show, Motto Abunai Deka, hits the airwaves. Then, a movie based on it goes to theaters. In 1990, some wizards at Toei decide they need a game about it too and it's gonna be on the Famicom. So they hire a programmer referred to in the credits as "KAZZO," and he makes the magic happen: Mottomo Abunai Deka, (The Most Dangerous Detectives), an awful, charming waste of time.

I assume when it came out it retailed for around the equivalent of thirty or forty United States smackers, which would have equaled about one dollar for a minute of gameplay in my case. I started and finished Mottomo Abunai Deka in about the amount of time it takes me to lace up a pair of ice skates with my mittens still on.

Think Namco's old side-scrolling action game Rolling Thunder meets Lupin the Third meets Beat Takeshi meets Beverly Hills Cop in 1980s Japan and you'll about have it right. When you start the game you can pick between the similar but different personalities Taka and Yuuji, who are the same in every imaginable way except for the fact that Taka's suit is olive and Yuuji's suit is red. Also Taka is a womanizer.

You are police, and you need to go kill some bad guy, who is really bad, and then there is maybe a worse guy. The game has been translated into English just fine, but I find the letters more like a safety blanket, a comfortable idea—I know they are there, and so I am okay with barely reading them, and not paying attention to anything they say. I think at one point between levels, Taka and Yuuji have a philosophical conversation that goes something like this:

Taka: What happens if we have to kill a guy?
Yuuji: Then we kill 'im.

This conversation occurs after you have already shot at least a hundred men to death, and potentially infinity men, if, like me, you are prone to merely standing in one place and shooting until you think it is safe to continue, which it never is, because the men do not stop.

After you shoot holes into your first real resistance (an end-of-stage green version of the common thugs) you are told as he dies painfully in no certain terms that there is a hitman, and he is unstoppable, and he is going to get you, and then he starts trying to do this in the next stage by planting huge boulder traps and shooting at you with an enormous flamethrower that you can duck under, and then running away when you shoot him. He does this three times, before you brutally murder him on the street.

Mysteriously scattered around the teeming city streets and abandoned warehouses you will infiltrate are an assortment of weapons, like a machine gun and grenades. That is actually everything you can get, but where you are expected to throw the grenades with dozens of psychotic manbeasts hopping at you is anyone's guess. Luckily, they all go down in one shot to any part of the body; I preferred the crotch.

Enemies in later stages switch from their early-game complacence to mad-cap insanity, darting back and forth like spasmatic rats. They hop endlessly into concrete walls, gun arms outstretched, as though attempting to escape from an advancing nightclub fire or heavy artillery, unsure what to do with themselves, aware of the fact that you are over there on the other side and they just can't kill you. They will shoot anyway, into the walls, just to do something.

Interspersed with the normal, side-scrolling gameplay are a couple extra sections of less repetition: a first-person slide-the-cursor shooting gallery to replenish life, a "boss fight" that occurs in the same manner, and a direct rip-off of Konami's Road Fighter arcade game where you must race to the police station in 90 seconds in your squad car at well over 240km/h (and if you fail you instantly are issued a game over regardless of how many remaining lives you have!).

The music is repulsive, virulent—the final stage assault music is likely the worst audio of any sort that I have ever heard in my life, rivaled only by the giggles of an amused child or the main theme to the NES version of 1942. Kimio Nomura, you should be ashamed of yourself.

But it's hard not to like the game, for some peculiar reason. Despite this being a sprite-based game with no more than four characters on-screen at a time, it suffers from massive slow down that actually makes it pretty epic to leap over three bullets and shoot a guy out of a window in the face at the peak of the (untweakable) arc jump. You can even play the game in two-player cooperative mode, which could be awesome if you have another person around as stupid as me.

When you finally reach the last level, the flamethrower guy that you so brutally slaughtered earlier is magically back, standing behind a desk, shooting flames out at you. After he is pumped full of lead, you need to kill the real enemy: a scrawny grenade-tossing Yakuza salaryman who goes down like a bowl of Marshmallow Alpha-Bits.

As a reward for saving humanity, the police chief strips the dicks' only holiday from them, with which Taka was going to go to the southern island to sleep with "babes," and with which Yuuji was going to go north to give tender loving to the only woman for him. Oh well guys, work before life, just like in real Japan!

Thanks Taka and Yuuji!

This game was patched for English text by Gil Galad in 2009. You can read more about the game and his work here.