The case is made time and time again: what sells in Japan doesn't necessarily sell in North America and Europe. There's no lack of curious titles that never escape the Japanese market, from trucking adventures to the many flavors of dating simulator. It's the way of the industry, after all.
Yet there are several standout series that become powerful forces within the Japanese game industry, all while staying largely unknown in overseas markets. Some of them trickle out into the West, and others never even get that much of an opportunity. And the following four examples aren't just overlooked games, they're long-running franchises that shaped the industry in some way, and they were seldom seen on these shores.