UNDER MY THUMB
Yakuza is a GTA- esque open- world crime drama that makes no compromises to Western tastes. Consider the first mission of Yakuza 5 (mobster-turnedcabbie Kazuma Kiryu must apologize to a competitor with a gift of spicy fish roe) or the ramen mini-game and Suntory vending machines dotting the neon-soaked streets. There’s plenty of violence, but because it was created for an adult Japanese audience, it doesn’t pander to action or pretend to be universal. There’s a calm confidence in its methodical storytelling and painstaking world building — even after expanding to more cities and playable characters, including a J-Pop idol and a baseball player. This is also why it’s just reaching our shores now as a PS3-only download after originally coming out in 2012.
MARIO & LUIGI: PAPER JAM
The quantum physics-based alternate-reality conceit that has ruled comic books and sci-fi makes its way to the Mushroom Kingdom as Nintendo mashes up a pair of its role-playing properties. The 3D characters from the mainline Mario & Luigi JRPG series meet the 2D flat folks from the Paper Mario universe in this colourful, comedic turn-based title where the plumbers must (sigh, yet again) rescue a pair of Princess Peaches. They spend the next 20-odd hours battling their way to Bowser’s castle. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam’s strategic combat system is deep and well-executed, there’s amiibo support and some decent meta jokes along the way. But while it’s always nice to see these iconic characters jump out of their usual platformer wheelhouse, this game doesn’t reach previous heights and is probably a better bet for full-blown Mario nerds.