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Japan Review Check: Yakuza 5, Paper Mario 3DS

A recap of the most interesting games coming out soon in Japan, courtesy of the reviews section in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine. There are only two games coming out next week over there (and Famitsu hasn't printed their Wii U reviews yet), but they're two big ones:

- Yakuza 5 (10/10/10/10, 40 out of 40 points): The first game in this holiday season to earn a perfect score from Famitsu's reviewers, although a lot of other titles (including nearly all of this year's big-budget Western-developed titles) came pretty close.

"In all aspects, this game has powered itself up from previous ones in the series," one editor wrote. "There's a ton of volume, and the storyline is excellent, especially the 'Another Drama' feature that lets you enjoy the plot even further. All the sidetracking you wind up doing is so much fun, you don't know when to stop."

Yakuza 5 may not have the hype of a Grand Theft Auto, but it's definitely at that level in Japan, in part because it's kept a consistent, chronological story going across the entire series, including spinoffs. "Yakuza 5 really is the culmination of everything the series has accomplished up to now," another editor put it. "The story is getting pretty deep, too, what with Haruka (a child in the first game) now all grown up. Fans should get it, of course, but I think this is a game I'd want anyone with a PS3 to play."

Another reason Japanese gamers go nuts for the series: Much like how the Liberty City of GTA4 was filled with little details and stuff that only New Yorkers would pick up on, Yakuza's depiction of the red-light districts of assorted Japanese cities is getting seriously realistic. "The amount of attention paid to detail in making the assorted pleasure districts you're going around is worth noting," Famitsu said. "There are a lot of shops you'll know the name of or even pass by in real life, so just snooping around is a lot of fun. There are tons of sub-events and minigames as well, and really, I give this a huge recommendation!"

- Paper Mario: Sticker Star (9/9/9/9, 36 points): This game doesn't have the hype of Yakuza in Japan, but it's still a well-made RPG, Famitsu says. "The unique characters are still there," one reviewer began, "not to mention the sort of dialogue that you really only get in the Paper Mario series. The new sticker aspect is fun since it's used in all sorts of different ways, from attacks to solving puzzles. The graphics, being that mix of 2D and 3D, are well-suited for the system and fun to look at."

"Sticker Star is a game I have no problem with recommending," added another. "Whoever came up with the idea of bringing stickers into a world made out of paper is brilliant, because not only did it result in some neat new features; it expanded on what makes the game fun. The unique characters that have been part of the series as a whole are still as charming as ever, too."