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Japan Review Check: Ace Attorney 5, Dragon's Crown

Here's a quick recap of the biggest games hitting the Japan market this week, courtesy the review pages of Famitsu magazine.

- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (10/9/10/8, 37 points out of 40): The series is back on the 3DS, and apparently it's a winner because Famitsu's editors couldn't stop raving about it.

"The characters and such are in 3D now," wrote editor Reona Ebihara, "making their movements a lot more smooth while still retaining the comical qualities of the Ace Attorney series. It's really exciting to see unfold, and the animated segments that appear here and there ramp up that excitement to feverish levels. The new 'Mood Matrix' that you use to spot emotional contradictions fits into the game perfectly, too, and is fun to use."

"The 3D characters really feel a lot more alive and charming," added Urara Honma. "What's more, they still retain their full image from the 2D days, which is incredible. There are some helpful features added, like the ability to see optional hints, and overall the game is easier to play. What's more, the unexpected twist at the end was really shocking. Definitely the best of the series!"

Freelance writer Rolling Uchizawa was the 8/10 guy, by the way. "Some of the courtroom scenes seemed a little forced, I felt," he wrote. "But the back-and-forth between the characters creates a really nice sense of tension."

- Dragon's Crown (9/8/9/9, 35 points): Vanillaware's latest action game - which has gotten as much press coverage for its skin-tastic fantasy pinup art as for its gameplay - is finally out on PS3 and Vita in Japan. "The unique graphics and world setting are really charming," Ebihara wrote. "From the random equipment drops that give you assorted effects to the freedom you get in learning new skills, there's a ton of gameplay depth to explore if you're into it. Controlling the finger cursor is a bit annoying in the PS3 version, but it's a lot easier to keep track of where you are, even if there are tons of foes around."

Multiple reviewers complained about having to use the PS3's right stick to control the cursor, suggesting that the Vita may have been the lead platform for Dragon's Crown. Honma didn't let that bother her too much, however: "The high-fantasy story almost has a nostalgic feel to it, but the action you get to experience is really cool and the controls are top-notch. The narration also provides you with this experience like you're playing a table RPG or a gamebook, which is strangely novel. Multiplay is chaotic and you tend to lose your character a lot, but as a party game it's a great package."

The Vita version received the same score, even though it had some of its own issues. "In the PS Vita version, it's easy to lose track of your position if you're surrounded by enemies, but the touch controls are really comfortable," Ebihara said. "It does take some time before multiplayer is made available, but once you're in, you'll definitely want to gather up stronger equipment and keep playing."