A quick look at the highlights among the games coming out in Japan this coming week, courtesy the review pages of Famitsu magazine:
Game & Wario (8/8/7/8, 31 out of 40 points): This Wii U minigame complication came out on March 28, but — as with a lot of WiiU titles — Famitsu didn't publish their review until pretty well after the game hit stores. One wonders if that has anything to do with the general disappointment that seeps through most of the reviewers' text blurbs.
"Only four out of the 16 games included are multiplayer," wrote editor Atsuhiro Fujiwara, "which may not feel like enough for some people. However, each game gets harder and offers up new gimmicks the more you get into them, so it's all pretty enjoyably. The game where you have to draw pictures based on topics and have people guess them is particularly exciting."
"Each game is engaging yet deep, making you want to try them again and again," added Urara Honma, the female writer among this week's review staff. "The multiplayer games are intricately balanced with just enough of a luck aspect to get things exciting. I really wanted more game types, though, especially some more games with that Wario-style silliness to them."
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (9/9/8/8, 34 points): This one was always going to appeal to Japanese gamers more than Westerners-apart from full Japanese voices and one new location, all the additions from the original Dragon's Dogma are on the scale of fine-tuning.
Still, Famitsu appreciated it. "The Japanese voices and small improvements here and there make it seem a lot easier to play," Fujiwara said. "The additional content itself is a bit too little for my tastes, but the new aspects to the gameplay make it easier to get fully into the quest."
"The action is fun and packed with variety," chimed in Jigoro Ashida. "You can latch on to foes or climb up them to attack, get things really exciting in battles against large monsters. The new content is pretty eerie and features strong new enemies, making exploration fun. There's a lot of other stuff, too, so if you haven't played this yet, it's a great deal."
Tomb Raider (10/10/9/9, 38 points) This just edged out Bioshock Infinite in the competition for best overall score this week; interesting since it was Bioshock that usually outscored Tomb Raider in the West.
"The visuals and gameplay system have been totally revised from previous games," Fujiwara wrote, "and the adventure you get to experience is more addictively attractive than ever before. It's really amazing to see how the young Lara Croft grows as the game continues. The way you learn new skills and turn your weapons is easy to follow, and the whole package is a breeze to play while retaining a perfect amount of suspense throughout."
"The strong, tough Lara of the past is replaced with a much more human figure, one who experiences pain and anxiety and is a lot more approachable as a result," Honma added. "The survival aspects to the game are pretty fresh, too. The action bits pack a lot of punch, but aren't too taxing either, which I like. There may not be anything super-innovative, but the game's still been reborn nonetheless."
Bioshock Infinite (10/9/9/9, 37 points): Meanwhile, "The intricately-built world is amazing," Honma said. "Seeing this neat-looking city in the sky makes the horrors that lurk inside all the more stark in comparison. I also like how thorough the localization is. There are some pretty gory visuals when you're in close-range combat, though, so some people should be warned."