A Look Back At The Heisei Era’s Console And Game Releases (Part 2)

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Here we have the second part of the Heisei era retrospective, covering Heisei 11-20 (1999-2008). With the transition to 3D graphics almost complete on home consoles, these years also marked the trend of Japanese gamers moving to favor handhelds instead.


Note: The dates listed are by Japanese release date. You can check out Part 1, covering the first 10 years of Heisei from 1989 to 1998 here.)


Heisei 11 (1999)

Notable releases:


January 21 – Super Smash Bros. (N64)

January 28 – Digimon World (PS)

March 4 – WonderSwan released by Bandai

March 4 – Silent Hill (PS)

June 7 – Oreshika (PS)

July 1 – Dino Crisis (PS)

November 18 – Chrono Cross (PS)

November 21 – Pokémon Gold / Silver (GB)

November 25 – Growlanser (PS)

December 16 – Space Channel 5 (DC)

December 22 – Valkyrie Profile (PS)

December 29 – Shenmue (DC)


Heisei 12 (2000)

Notable Console Debut: PlayStation 2

Debuted: March 4, 2000


Sony released the PlayStation 2 on March 4, 2000, with large droves of people coming out to buy it thanks to the popularity of the PlayStation. Apart from being a game console, it was also highly valued as a cheaper DVD player, a tactic Sony would copy in marketing the PS3 with Blu-Rays later on. The PS2 launched with Take the A-Train 6, Eternal Ring, Kaki no Shougi, Kessen, Stepping Selection, Street Fighter EX3, drummania, Mahjong Taikai III, Morita Shogi, and Langrisser V as available titles, the most out of the console launches introduced in this retrospective.


Other notable releases:

January 7 – Kanon (PC)

February 24 – Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (Arcades)

April 27 – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)

May 25 – Super Robot Wars Alpha (PS)

June 22 – Boku no Natsuyasumi (PS)

July 7 – Final Fantasy IX (PS)

November 21 – Sin and Punishment (N64)

December 21 – Phantasy Star Online (DC)


Heisei 13 (2001)

Major Console Debuts: Game Boy Advance & GameCube

Game Boy Advance Debut: March 21, 2001


The Game Boy, which released way back in Heisei 1, finally gets a full successor with backwards compatibility. While it is plagued by some issues like no backlit screen, it launches with a killer launch lineup of 30 titles, including Super Mario Advance, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, ChuChu Rocket!, Fire Pro Wrestling A, Mr. Driller 2, Megaman Battle Network, and more.


GameCube debut: September 14, 2001


The Nintendo GameCube came out on Heisei 13, and was the first optical disk-based console system by Nintendo, although it used smaller proprietary disks instead of regular DVDs. The console didn’t really take off with third-party developers or the audience, and became the last time Nintendo tried to compete on the specs front. It ended up being home to a small but refined lineup of games. The console launched with Wave Race: Blue Storm, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Monkey Ball.


Other notable releases:

January 31 – Sega announces end of Dreamcast production and shift to third-party

February 27 – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Ages (GBC)

March 1 – Zone of the Enders (PS2)

March 22 – Sakura Wars 3 (DC)

March 29 – Segagaga (DC)

April 14 – Doubutsu no Mori / Animal Crossing (N64)

June 21 – Gitaroo Man (PS2)

June 23 – Sonic Adventure 2 (DC)

July 19 – Final Fantasy X (PS2)

August 23 – Devil May Cry (PS2)

September 13 – Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies (PS2)

October 12 – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (GBA)

October 26 – Pikmin (GC)

November 21 – Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC)

November 29 – Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)

December 6 – ICO (PS2)

December 6 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs Zeon (Arcades) begins the popular Gundam Vs. series

December 13 – Fatal Frame (PS2)

December 20 – Sonic Advance (GBA) becomes the first Sonic game released as a third-party game

December 20 – Bomberman 64 (N64)


Heisei 14 (2002)

Notable releases:


February 22 – Xbox released in Japan, three months after North America. While it didn’t end up being very popular, it launched with games like Genma Onimusha, Jet Set Radio Future, Silent Hill 2, and more.

March 28 – Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

April 25 – Disaster Report (PS2)

April 26 – Mega Man Zero (GBA)

May 16 – Final Fantasy XI (PS2) begins service

June 20 – .hack (PS2)

July 19 – Super Mario Sunshine (GC)

July 20 – Gungrave (PS2)

August 16 – Higurashi When they cry (PC) released at Comiket

November 21 – Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire (GBA)

November 22 – Super Robot Wars OG (GBA)

November 26 – Square and Enix announces merger

December 13 – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC)


Heisei 15 (2003)

Notable releases:


January 23 – Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (Xbox)

January 30 – Disgaea (PS2)

February 14 – Game Boy Advance SP launches, adding a front-lit screen and an iconic clamshell design that would carry over the nearly every other Nintendo portable console afterwards.

February 14 – Metroid Fusion (GBA)

February 27 – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)

February 28 – Metroid Prime (GC)

March 21 – Warioware (GBA)

May 2 – Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA)

July 17 – R-Type Final (PS2)

August 8 – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (GBA)

August 29 – Tales of Symphonia (GC)

November 6 – Siren (PS2)

November 21 – Pokémon Coliseum (GC)

November 21 – Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

December 11 – Resident Evil: Outbreak (PS2)


Heisei 16 (2004)

Notable Console Debuts: Nintendo DS & PlayStation Portable

NDS Debut: December 2, 2004

nds 2

The first dual-screened console which also innovated with its use of the touch screen, having an in-built microphone, and more which would later become standard features. While the original DS did okay, it was the Nintendo DS Lite revision that would send the console into orbit. The console launched with games like WarioWare: Touched!, Jam with the Band, Zoo Keeper, Puyo Puyo Fever, Pokémon Dash, and more.


PSP Debut: December 12, 2004


Sony’s first portable system, meant to fight Nintendo on what was essentially already their home turf after the GameCube’s okay sales. The PSP utilized a new disk format called the UMD, and had one flat joystick, as well as Ad-hoc and wireless LAN compatibilities for local play and more. The PSP launched with 6 titles – Hot Shots Golf Portable, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, Mah-jong Fight Club, Ridge Racers, Lumines, and Armored Core: Formula Front.


Other notable releases:

January 30 – Fate/Stay Night (PC)

February 20 – Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (PS2)

March 11 – Monster Hunter (PS2)

March 18 – Katamari Damacy (PS2)

April 28 – CLANNAD (PC)

May 27 – Atelier Iris (PS2)

June 24 – The Legend of Heroes VI: Trails in the Sky (PC)

November 3 – Shining Tears (PS2) takes the Shining series in a vastly different direction, with Tony Taka as character designer

December 16 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)

December 22 – Metal Wolf Chaos (Xbox)

December 25 – Gurumin (PC)


Heisei 17 (2005)

Notable Console Debut: Xbox 360


The only really relevant console Microsoft released in Japan, the 360 was a time where Microsoft actively courted Japanese game companies, securing releases like Blue Dragon, Tales of Vesperia, and Infinite Undiscovery. Sadly, early batches were plagued with the dreadful Red Ring of Death syndrome that damaged its reputation somewhat. The Xbox 360 launched with Ridge Racer 6, Perfect Dark Zero, FIFA 06, and more on launch day. The shift to HD development began with the 360 and left many Japanese developers playing catch-up.


Other notable releases:

January 27 – Another Century’s Episode (PS2)

April 11 – Hudson announced to become Konami subsidiary

June 6 – Trauma Center: Under the Knife (DS)

June 9 – killer7 (GC/PS2)

July 28 – Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (DS)

September 13 – Game Boy Micro released

October 27 – Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

November 23 – Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)

December 1 – Monster Hunter Freedom (PSP) is the first game in the series to release portably

December 8 – Yakuza (PS2)

December 22 – Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)

December 29 – Brain Age (DS)


Heisei 18 (2006)

Notable Console Debuts: PlayStation 3 & Nintendo Wii

PS3 Debut: November 11


A console that would end up defining a generation, especially as real-world factors like the economic downturn led to a longer life cycle. It introduced Blu-ray drives into gaming consoles, and was plagued by shortages upon release. PS3 launched with Ridge Racer 7, Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight, among other games.


Nintendo Wii Debut: December 2, 2006


Ah, the Wii. What could be described as a lightning in a bottle effect occurred as regular casual people began to play video games thanks to the platform’s motion mechanics. The Wii was the last console to stay in the Standard Definition era, and featured a remote control-like controller. The Wii launched with WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Wii Sports, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as a dual release with the GameCube.


Other notable releases:

January 26 – Ar tonelico (PS2)

March 2 – Nintendo DS Lite launches

April 20 – Mother 3 (GBA)

May 15 – New Super Mario Bros. (DS) has Mario return in a mainline platformer for the first time since Super Mario World

June 23 – Cooking Mama (DS)

July 13 – Persona 3 (PS2)

August 24 – Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS)

September 14 – God Hand (PS2)

September 28 – Pokémon Diamond / Pearl (DS)

November 6 – Elite Beat Agents (DS)

December 14 – Mega Man Starforce (DS)

December 21 – Lost Planet (360)

December 28 – Dragon Quest Monsters Joker (DS)


Heisei 19 (2007)

Notable releases:


January 8 – Etrian Odyssey (DS)

January 25 – Idolm@ster (360)

February 15 – Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)

February 22 – Monster Hunter 2 Freedom (PSP) sells truckloads

March 1 – Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (PS3) is the first game in the series to feature other IP

April 12 – Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (DS)

June 21 – Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)

July 27 – The World Ends With You (DS)

November 1 – Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

November 1 – opoona (Wii)

November 6 – Mario & Sonic at the Beijing Olympic Games (Wii)

December 6 – No More Heroes (Wii)


Heisei 20 (2008)

Notable releases:


January 31 – Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

January 31 – Devil May Cry 4 (PS3/360)

March 8 – Corpse Party Blood Covered (PC)

April 10 – Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

April 24 – Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)

April 25 – CHAOS;HEAD (PC)

June 12 – Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

July 3 – Nanashi no Game (DS)

July 10 – Persona 4 (PS2)

July 18 – Street Fighter IV (Arcades)

August 7 – Tales of Vesperia (360)

September 11 – Infinite Undiscovery (360)

September 24 – Mega Man 9 (Wii)

December 18 – Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)

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Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!