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Japan Review Check: Yokai Watch, New Super Luigi U

Here's a quick recap of the most important console games coming out next week in Japan, as seen in Famitsu magazine's review pages. Nintendo released a Mario game (sort of) and it's not the top-rated game of the week!

- Yokai Watch (9/9/9/9, 36 out of 40 points): This is Level-5's latest attempt to create a big-name kids' franchise in Japan alongside Layton and Inazuma Eleven. A manga's already underway, an anime series coming soon, and if Famitsu is any indication, the 3DS game - a sort of Pokemon which focuses more on story than battle - is more than worthy of supporting all this.

"The game gradually expands its feature set as you go, opening up this very unique world that's easy to melt into," wrote reviewer Reona Ebihara. "The 3D visuals work great, serving especially well to put you right there as you're searching for spirits in the grass. The battles proceed automatically but let you change formations and offer support in realtime, keeping things both simple and deeply strategic."

"The game balances collection, battle, and monster-raising in a really expert manner," added writer Urara Honma. "The battles use the touchscreen deftly to boost their strategic aspects; it feels really great to control. You won't run into much frustration playing this game, and while it does feel like one big fetch quest at times, the charms of the story more than make up for that."

- New Super Luigi U (9/8/8/9, 34 points): Despite scoring it two points below Yokai Watch overall, Famitsu seemed to like Nintendo's latest well enough. "Luigi's trademark high jumps and crazy momentum on the ground make the controls feel fresh and the game fun to play," Ebihara said. "Your time limits are generally strict and the stages pretty technical in nature, giving you a game that rewards concerted effort."

The other reviewers were also united in commenting on the boosted difficulty level, which at least one found a little offputting. "It's definitely harder than New Super Mario Bros. U," wrote Jigoro Ashida, "requiring technical skill and some brain power in many sections. If you're aiming for Star Coins, the challenge gets a lot tougher and engaging."

"There are a lot of neat tricks to the stages," Honma added, "but the difficulty really ramps up quickly from the beginning, so you may have to try a stage many times before you can get through it. In co-op, at least, you can use Nabbit to avoid taking damage, which is good if you're playing as a family and such."

- Dead Island: Riptide (9/8/8/8, 33 points): The only Western game release this week generated praise from Famitsu for the most part, with reviewers scoring the game well above their Western counterparts even though they seemed pretty bored of the concept in the review text.

"The unrelenting waves of enemy atacks are enough to make any zombie fan go crazy," Ebihara said. "There's a lot of RPG-like aspects to the gameplay, from searching for stronger weapons to customizing the skills you learn, and it's easy to get addicted to. I like how there are other methods of communication in co-op apart from voice chat, too."

Ashida provided this counterpoint, however, that sounds a bit like what U.S. reviewers had to say: "There's a fair amount of new features in this game, but the gameplay itself is by-and-large unchanged, which means in turn that the game itself isn't quite as fresh any longer."

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