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

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With the advent of the HD console age, we’re beginning to reach a much more recent era of games from Heisei 21-31 (2009-2019) which people are familiar with. In Japan, the rise of smartphones ended up being the reason handhelds began to wind down as a force, although they retained their appeal for developers as a way to experiment with new games without needing all the budget of an HD title. At the same time, more developers began to catch up with the HD era, and there was an increase in home consoles as the core gamer audience grew.


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, and Heisei 11-20 (1999-2008) here. This list, as stated before, is not comprehensive.


Heisei 21 (2009)

Notable releases:

love plus

January 29 – Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 (PSP)

February 5 – Demon’s Souls (PS3) begins the infamous Souls series that reintroduces the meaning of difficulty to a new generation of gamers and game journalists alike.

February 11 – Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS)

March 5 – Biohazard 5 / Resident Evil 5 (PS3)

March 5 – 7th Dragon (DS)

March 19 – Amagami (PS2)

April 9 – Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

May 28 – Half-Minute Hero (PSP)

June 18 – Tomodachi Collection (DS)

July 2 – Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA (PSP)

June 25 – Atelier Rorona: Alchemist of Arland (PS3) puts the series back on the map

July 11 – Dragon Quest IX (DS) launches in Japan on the DS, and its wildly popular Streetpass feature later becomes integrated into Nintendo’s next handheld, the 3DS.

July 30 – Puyo Puyo 7 (DS)

August 1 – Monster Hunter 3 –Tri- (Wii) remakes the series from the ground up with a small amount of returning monsters and many new ones, focusing on improving the AI and lifelikeness of monsters via different tells.

September 3 – LovePlus (DS) releases and soon becomes Japan’s most widely known dating sim.

September 12 – Pokémon HeartGold / SoulSilver (DS)

September 17 – Ys Seven (PSP)

October 15 – Steins;Gate (360)

October 22 – Rune Factory 3 (DS)

October 27 – Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (Wii)

October 29 – Bayonetta (PS3/360)

December 3 – New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) adds in simultaneous co-op for the first time in the mainline platformer series

December 17 – Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)


Heisei 22 (2010)

Notable releases:


January 9 – Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)

February 4 – God Eater (PSP)

March 11 – Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman (PSP)

April 22 – NieR Replicant / NieR Gestalt (PS3/360) releases with a generally similar story structure but wildly different protagonists.

May 27 – Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

June 10 – Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

June 19 – Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)

June 24 – Uta no Prince-sama (PSP)

September 18 – Pokémon Black / White (DS)

September 28 – Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. (Arcades)

September 30 – Final Fantasy XIV (PC) begins service

October 28 – Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS)

November 25 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PSP)

December 1 – Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP) releases and becomes the premium local multiplayer game in Japan.

December 9 – Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn (DS)


Heisei 23 (2011)

Major Console Debuts: Nintendo 3DS & PlayStation Vita

3DS Debut: February 26, 2011


The Nintendo 3DS was released in February 2011, with many unsure about its latest gimmicks of glasses-less 3D viewing and in-built gyro among other functions. The console kept its DS clamshell design and dual screens, and was fully backwards-compatible as well. It added in eShop functionality, as well as a Streetpass feature that traded data with other players while in Sleep mode. Despite it becoming the home of many classics, it never reached the popularity of the DS. The 3DS launched with nintendogs + cats, Winning Eleven 3DSoccer, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Samurai Warriors Chronicle, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, and of course, Ridge Racer 3D.


PS Vita Debut: December 17, 2011


The successor to the PSP, featuring two joysticks this time, and a rounder, sleeker design, and a touchscreen, gyro functionality, and a touch panel at the back as well. Marketed as being able to play home console-quality games, Sony ended up not really doing much for the console, leaving third-parties to help carry the system instead. Like the PSP, it used Sony’s own memory sticks, in contrast to the 3DS’ use of micro SD cards. The Vita had twenty games at launch in Japan, including Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Lord of Apocalypse, Army Corps of Hell, Touch My Katamari, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Ridge Racer (of course), Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, and more. It looked to be set for life, but ended up ending production this year in March, before the 3DS did.


Other notable releases:

February 17 – Catherine (PS3/360)

April 28 – El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (PS3/360)

May 26 – Pandora’s Tower (Wii)

June 2 – Phantom Breaker (360)

June 16 – Danball Senki / Little Battlers Experience (PSP)

September 18 – Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Arcades)

September 22 – Senran Kagura (3DS)

September 22 – Dark Souls (PS3/PC)

October 27 – Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (Wii)

November 3 – Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

November 23 – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

November 23 – 7th Dragon 2020 (PSP)

November 28 – Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls begins service (Smartphones)

December 1 – Sonic Generations (PS3/360/3DS)

December 10 – Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS)


Heisei 24 (2012)

Notable Console Debut: Wii U

wii u

The successor to the Nintendo Wii, the console marketed itself on being Nintendo’s first foray into HD home consoles, as well as the use of a GamePad that served as a second screen that could have different functionalities in games. You could also play full games on the GamePad by streaming games to it. Sadly, it suffered from branding confusion, as well as a general lack of third-party support. It launched with New Super Mario Bros. U, NINtendo Land, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate HD Ver., Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition, ZombiU, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition and a few more titles.


Other notable releases:

January 26 – Biohazard Revelations / Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS)

February 9 – Gravity Daze / Gravity Rush (Vita)

February 16 – Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)

February 20 – Puzzle & Dragons (iOS)

March 22 – Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

April 19 – Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)

April 26 – Ciel Nosurge (Vita)

May 24 – Dragon’s Dogma (PS3/360)

May 31 – GUILD01 (3DS)

June 7 – Tokyo Jungle (PS3)

June 14 – Persona 4: The Golden (Vita)

June 28 – Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3)

July 4 – Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC) begins service

August 2 – Dragon Quest X (Wii) begins service

October 11 – Project X Zone (3DS)

October 11 – Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (3DS)

November 8 – Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

December 27 – Fantasy Life (3DS)


Heisei 25 (2013)

Notable releases:

yokai watch1

February 21 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)

March 7 – Soul Sacrifice (Vita)

March 20 – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

April 23 – Kantai Collection (PC) begins service

May 16 – Summon Night 5 (PSP)

May 23 – Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)

May 30 – DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou (360) is Cave’s last console title.

June 20 – Sayonara Umihara Kawase (3DS)

June 27 – Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (PS3)

June 27 – Toukiden (Vita/PSP)

July 11 – Yo-kai Watch (3DS)

July 13 – Pikmin 3 (Wii U)

August 1 – Killer Is Dead (PS3/360)

August 24 – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC) begins service

September 14 – Monster Hunter 4 (3DS)

September 26 – The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PS3/Vita)

October 12 – Pokémon X / Y (3DS)

November 14 – PlayStation Vita TV releases

November 14 – God Eater 2 (Vita)

November 14 – Band Brothers P (3DS)


Heisei 26 (2014)

Notable Console Debut: PlayStation 4

PS4 Debut: February 22, 2014 (Released in 2013 overseas)

ps4 3

PlayStation 4 from its release had a lot to live up to thanks to the extended lifespan of the PS3, but it really secured its position as home console market leader for core gamers when both the Wii U and Xbox One failed to take off in Japan (moreso Xbox One than Wii U, as Nintendo still had the family userbase). Even now in 2019, the console is going strong. The PS4 launched in Japan with Knack, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition, Yakuza Ishin, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Creation, and more.


Other notable releases:

January 16 – Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day (PS3)

February 13 – Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

February 22 – Strider (PS3/PS4)

February 27 – Story of Seasons (3DS)

March 10 – Granblue Fantasy (Smartphones) begins service

March 22 – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4/PS3/360)

May 29 – Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

June 5 – Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)

June 19 – htoL#NiQ (Vita)

June 26 – Freedom Wars (Vita)

July 17 – Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines (Vita)

July 24 – Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Vita)

August 6 – The Legend of Dark Witch (3DS)

August 20 – Azure Striker Gunvolt (3DS)

September 4 – Xbox One releases in Japan

September 13 – Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS)

September 20 – Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) releases as an exclusive to some controversy

October 11 – New Nintendo 3DS / LL releases

October 11 – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

December 6 – Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U)

December 11 – Shining Resonance (PS3)

December 18 – Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)


Heisei 27 (2015)

Notable releases:


March 12 – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (Vita)

March 26 – Bloodborne (PS4)

April 23 – Bravely Second (3DS)

April 29 – Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

May 28 – Splatoon (Wii U) comes out, innovating the shooter genre, and becomes THE system seller in Japan.

June 4 – Stella Glow (3DS)

June 25 – Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

July 9 – The Great Ace Attorney (3DS)

July 11 – Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passes away

July 16 – Pokken Tournament (Arcades)

July 30 – IA/VT Colorful (Vita)

August 12 – Fate/Grand Order (Smartphones)

September 2 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC/PS4/PS3/XBONE/360)

September 10 – Super Mario Maker (Wii U)

September 17 – Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)

October 15 – 7th Dragon III Code:VFD (3DS)

October 29 – Yomawari: Night Alone (Vita)

November 18 – Monster Hunter Generations (3DS)

November 19 – Grand Kingdom (PS4/Vita)

December 26 – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)


Heisei 28 (2016)

Notable releases:

pogo 4

January 28 – Dragon Quest Builders (PS4/PS3/Vita)

February 10 – Shin Megami Tensei IV Final (3DS)

February 18 – I Am Setsuna (PS4/Vita)

March 3 – Dark Souls III (PS4/XBONE)

April 28 – Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)

June 10 – Project DIVA Future Tone (PS4)

June 23 – Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS)

July 21 – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Vita)

July 22 – Pokémon GO begins service in Japan, letting Japan also join in the social phenomenon, especially with how popular smartphones were in Japan.

August 4 – Etrian Odyssey V (3DS)

August 18 – Tales of Berseria (PS4/PS3)

September 15 – Persona 5 (PS4/PS3)

October 10 – Monster Hunter Stories (3DS)

October 13 – PlayStation VR released

October 27 – World of Final Fantasy (PS4/Vita)

November 18 – Pokémon Sun / Moon (3DS)

November 29 – Final Fantasy XV (PS4/XBONE)

December 6 – The Last Guardian (PS4)

December 8 – Yakuza 6 (PS4) ends Kiryu Kazuma’s story.

December 15 – Super Mario Run (Smartphones) is Nintendo’s first true mobile title excluding Miitomo.


Heisei 29 (2017)

Notable Console Debut: Nintendo Switch

Switch Debut: March 3, 2017


At long last, the final console to be announced and released within the Heisei era. This console was a hybrid that allowed for near instantaneous switching between playing on the TV and on the go portably, but loses the dual screens that the portable line was famous for. The Switch launched in Japan with 1-2-Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (dual release with Wii U), Nobunaga’s Ambition: Creation with Power-Up Kit, Super Bomberman R, I Am Setsuna, Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2, Puyo Puyo Tetris S, and Disgaea 5 Complete.


Other notable releases:

January 19 – Gravity Daze 2 / Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)

January 26 – Biohazard 7 / Resident Evil 7 (PC/PS4/XBONE)

February 2 – Fire Emblem Heroes (Smartphones) begins service

February 9 – Nioh (PS4) releases after a decade of development hell

February 23 – NieR: Automata (PS4) makes Yoto Taro even more eccentric.

April 13 – Kamiko (Switch)

June 1 – Tekken 7 (PS4/XBONE)

July 13 – New Nintendo 2DS LL released

July 21 – Splatoon 2 (Switch)

July 29 – Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PS4/3DS)

August 16 – Sonic Mania (PS4/XBONE/Switch/PC) brings Sonic back to his 2D roots and artstyle.

September 14 – Azur Lane (Smartphones) begins service in Japan

September 15 – Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

September 21 – Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite (PS4/XBONE/PC)

October 27 – Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

December 1 – Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)


Heisei 30 (2018)

Notable releases:

mhw 3

January 26 – Monster Hunter: World (PS4) brings open-world exploration in field maps for the first time, alongside many examples of streamlining.

February 1 – Japan eSports Union (JeSU) established

February 1 – Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4/XBONE)

February 15 – Makai Wars (Smartphones)

March 21 – Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4)

March 23 – Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PC/PS4)

April 20 – Nintendo Labo (Switch)

July 13 – Octopath Traveler (Switch)

August 2 – Etrian Odyssey Nexus (3DS)

October 4 – Mega Man 11 (PS4/Switch/PC)

October 18 – Soulcalibur VI (PS4/XBONE)

November 16 – Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! / Let’s Go, Eevee! (Switch)

November 24 – Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories (PS4) releases after cancellation in 2011 and a reboot.

December 7 – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)

December 13 – Judgment (PS4)


Heisei 31 (2019)

Notable releases:


January 17 – Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4/XBONE)

January 25 – Kingdom Hearts III (PS4/XBONE)

January 25 – Biohazard Re:2 / Resident Evil 2 (PC/PS4/XBONE)

January 31 – Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists (PS4/Switch)

January 31 – Dragon Marked for Death (Switch)

February 14 – Tetris 99 (Switch)

March 1 – Dead or Alive 6 (PS4/XBONE/PC)

March 8 – Devil May Cry V (PS4/XBONE/PC)

March 22 – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4/XBONE/PC)

April 25 – Umihara Kawase Fresh! (Switch)

April 30 – Emperor Akihito of Japan abdicates, ending the Heisei era. It is now the Reiwa era.


It’s eye-opening to see how in the span of a single emperor’s rule, Japan in terms of video gaming has gone from the 16-bit days to the current generation of 3D graphics. Apart rom the graphics though, it’s the series and games, and the characters that are recognized today which will become the legacy of the Heisei era to future generations. What are your favorite memories with Heisei era Japanese games?

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