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Japan Review Check: Wii U launch edition

The Wii U finally launches on Nintendo's home turf of Japan Dec. 8, and this week's issue of Famitsu magazine reviews the entire launch lineup. All except for Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U. Why the omission? Who knows Nintendo occasionally refuses to give advance copies of their big-name titles to the Japanese media for review, for reasons that are clear only to them.

Still, the rest of the lineup is reviewed scored. Here are some of the juicier highlights:

- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (9/9/8/9, 35 points out of 40): "The biggest selling point is being able to enjoy the hunt in full-on HD, and I have to admit, the larger monsters really have a presence now. The interface and sound packages have also been improved, and the Wii U GamePad controls work well and make things easy to play."

"There are no major changes, but just being able to take in these visuals makes me happy enough. The Wii U GamePad lets you fully customize the size and location of selections on the display, which is really great, and I'm glad you can bring save data over from the 3DS version."

- Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge (9/9/8/9, 35 points): "The game's a lot harder and more forceful than the original, with even minions on the first level actively attacking you. Hero Mode, which automatically launches guards and dodges for you, provides a nice safety valve for light gamers. The fact Ayane gets a lot of her own plot in this version is a big plus."

"The visuals are more rugged, and the action more intense, than in other versions. You can change in and out of Hero Mode at any time, which is great for when you just need that bit of extra help for a tricky part."

- Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition (9/10/9/9, 37 points): "The game's got mounds of characters and an extensive selection of modes, and it's easy to play, too, making it an exquisite fighting game. The modes built in collaboration with Nintendo offer action game of a pretty different ilk from playing other human beings; I like it. The way that skill commands are displayed on the GamePad screen was surprisingly helpful for me."

"This massive lineup is enough already, but there are also tons of features like Fight Lab to encourage you to keep on playing. The Wii U-exclusive additions, like the Nintendo costumes and Mushroom Battle, lend a pretty nice accent to things."

- ZombiU (9/8/9/8, 34 points): "The GamePad serves as a pretty neat survival kit here, serving as everything from a scanner to a gunsight. It's also unique how once your game ends, your character reappears as a zombie later on. However, the fact that your characters don't really change apart from external appearance seems like a wasted opportunity. "

"It's a very simple system, just seeing how long you can survive in a city crawling with zombies, and it's driven by a gameplay system that uses the GamePad ingeniously."

- Mass Effect 3 Special Edition (9/10/8/9, 36 points): "The intricately-built world setting and grand scale of the story are both just packed with charm. A comic is included that runs over the previous two games, and I like how you can see that as you start the game. The GamePad handles the map display and commands to your allies, which definitely makes exploration and battle go more smoothly."

"The ring-command you used to switch weapons and abilities functioned well enough before, but now you can launch things with a touch of the GamePad, which makes dealing out party commands a lot easier."

- Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition (9/9/9/9, 36 points): " It's pretty much the same as other versions. Previous DLC is all on the disc with this one, though, so it's a better value if you haven't played it yet. There are few neat GamePad gimmicks, but at times they seem to cut off the game's tempo more than anything else. Still, there's no doubt that it remains a high-quality action game."

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