Japan Review Check: Puppeteer, DOA5 Ultimate

A quick look at the most interesting games coming out in Japan next week, as reviewed in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine.

- Puppeteer (9/9/9/9, 36 out of 40 points): SCE Japan Studio's latest earned major praise for the novelty of its visual premise. "The characters, music, and sound effects are all done up as if you're seeing a stage show, creating a play atmosphere I can only describe as mysterious," wrote editor Reona Ebihara. "The way they depict changes in scenes is particularly innovative. Also, while the action is set at a pretty challenging level, it gets a lot easier in co-op, making this a great game for families or couples."

"The scenes change one after the other," added writer Jigoro Ashida, "and all the objects that make them up are totally unique, meaning that the experience is always fresh and new as you go on. The controls are spot-on, and starting up co-op anytime you want is just a matter of pressing something on controller two. Very easy."

- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (9/9/8/8, 34 points): Not quite as innovative as a Puppeteer, perhaps, but according to Famitsu, the new DOA delivers on exactly what it promises. "There are new characters of course," Ebihara wrote, "but there's also team battles and a bunch of other modes, making for a surprising amount of volume. The Skill Info section from the PS Vita version, letting you check move data on a frame-by-frame basis, is also back, and in powered-up form no less."

"I like all the additional characters, stages, and costumes, not to mention the team battles that add a new type of fighting style to the game," Ashida said. "The fighting takes place at a frenetic pace, but once you understand the rock-scissors-paper balance between strikes, throws and holds, you'll be able to fight well enough. I like how you can also fight against people using the free-to-play version."

- Splinter Cell: Blacklist (9/9/9/9, 36 points): Tied for the best-scoring game of the week with Puppeteer is the latest in this franchise, one that Famitsu's always seemed to have an affinity for in the review pages. "The stylish visual displays match with the game's setting, giving you all the more drive to finish up the missions in style," Ebihara said. "There's more freedom in tackling these missions, allowing you to play the way you want, from gunning it out to stealthing your way through. You can also customize your weaponry and suit for your play style, which I like. The story's also really deep and Splinter Cell-like; it's worth a look."

"The Japanese dub is excellent and really brings out the atmosphere," added Morrigan Osada. "You get different mission results depending on your play style, which made me want to try out older missions with new weapons and approaches. There are lots of sub-missions, too, as well as areas you can only tackle in multiplayer for extra variety."

- Killzone: Mercenary (9/8/9/8, 34 points): Yet another major franchise doing pretty well in the review ratings this week. "You run into a lot of really hot battlefield situations as you play," Ebihara said, "so it's easy to get caught up in the game. The touch controls for close-quarters combat also provide a lot of nice atmosphere. There are a lot of weapons, but it's hard to save up money, so I imagine it'll take a while if you want them all. Wi-Fi support is also nice to see."

"The touch controls add a nice accent to the game," commented freelance writer Giichi Totsuka, "keeping things from being too run-of-the-mill. However, while there are checkpoints at regular intervals, each mission is pretty long and you can't save midway, which was a bit bothersome to me."

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