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Japan Review Check: The Legend of Heroes, Dishonored, Fable: The Journey

A recap of the most interesting games coming out soon in Japan, courtesy of the reviews section in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine:

- The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki Evolution (8/9/8/8, 33 points out of 40): The original Zero no Kiseki, released in 2010 for the PSP, solidified Falcom's position as one of the standard-bearers for Japanese RPGs over there. This Vita port features perks like higher-res graphics and fully-voiced cutscenes, as well as a few extra story scenarios here and there.

"The graphics are higher-res, and the new voices help you get into the story more as well," one editor wrote. "It's easy to get a little frustrated at how slowly things move storywise at times, but it's still a really unique and charming game world laid out for you."

That comment about sluggish story development was echoed by several other reviewers. "The pace is on the plodding side and it drove me nuts at times," one said, "but I suppose it just reflects on all of the detail Falcom threw into the game setting and characters. Things have gotten a lot more engaging, though, thanks to the refined visuals and voices. The battles are are easy to 'get' as ever, too; I like how much of an advantage you get if you're able to take the first move in battle."

- Dishonored (9/8/9/9, 35 points): The highest-scoring game of the week in Japan, and one that scored high points despite getting an 18+-only rating in that country (Japan is notorious for being much harsher on heavy violence over sexual innuendo in their media).

"There are tons of different ways and routes you can take to reach your objectives, so this is really a game that tests out your creativity," one editor wrote. "It's really fun using all the weapons, powers and gadgets at your disposal to build your own style for playing the game. A lot of the supernatural powers, in particular, are pretty useful, and taking best advantage of this game makes it an exhilarating experience."

The praise wasn't universal, though: "The painting-like characters are pretty unique and bring a lot of atmosphere to the picture, but I think it's a pity how they start looking pretty rough whenever the camera zooms in on their faces."

- Fable: The Journey (8/8/8/8, 32 points): The US reviews on this game have been a tad on the disappointing so far, but the fact that the new Fable got outscored by Dance Central 3 in Famitsu's eyes (34 points to 32) may only be adding insult to injury.

"Using different spells on your right and left hands as you fight and solve puzzles is neat," one editor began. "There's a lot of variety to what you're asked to do, from attacking enemies hiding in the shadows to controlling your horse and wagon, but all the controls are explained well and the guides are really easy to follow. I wish there was some more excitement or variation to the horse-cart scenes, though."

Another editor was a lot more pointed in his criticism, one echoed by several Western reviewers as well: "There isn't much of the intense freedom that was kind of the hallmark of the Fable series for me, but I suppose that also lowers the hurdles for light users a fair amount as well."