At last, PS4 in Japan

Finally! The PlayStation 4 is getting its long-awaited Japanese release. The PS3 successor is Sony’s most popular game console to date and was released in the West last fall, leaving Japanese gamers to wait until February. It’s sleek, quiet and packs a mean punch — and it isn’t just the graphics that have changed. One of the biggest advances on its predecessor is the console’s new controller.

The PS4’s DualShock 4 controller is a complete redesign from the previous gamepad. It features a touchpad, is more ergonomic and has better, more tactile buttons and triggers.

Besides the controller, the PS4 has a redesigned camera, which picks up where the PS3′ PlayStation Eye left off. The new PlayStation Camera, which actually features two cameras in the hardware, can be used for motion controlled and augmented reality games and enables facial recognition.

The PS4 launched on Japan on Feb. 22, priced at ¥41,979. For ¥46,179, you also get the console and the PlayStation Camera.


“Ryu ga Gotoku” gets into the samurai spirit

In “Ryu ga Gotoku: Ishin!,” contemporary Tokyo yakuza member Kazuma Kiryu goes historical — thanks to a little artistic license. Set in the late Edo Period, “Ishin!” allows players to be Ryoma Sakamoto and Hajime Saito, two samurai icons from Japan’s past. This latest entry in the “Ryu ga Gotoku” series (known as “Yakuza” in the West) is a spin-off, but it’s not the first time a blast from the past has been offered. In 2008, “Ryu Ga Gotoku: Kenzan!” took players to early 17th-century Kyoto.

Besides the brawling gameplay that the franchise is famous for, “Ishin!” lets players do more than slice with samurai swords and shoot pistols: Players can farm, serve noodles, dance with geisha and even bet on chicken races.

Those overseas excited at this prospect though, be warned: Considering how 2012’s “Yakuza 5” still hasn’t had a Western release, it seems even more unlikely that this will either. “Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin!” is also a PS4 launch title, so those picking up the new console should give this game a close look.

“Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin!” was released this week at ¥8,190 and is available for the PS4 and PS3.


A “Pocket Monsters” buildup

Thanks to Nanoblock, Pocket Monsters get to live up to their name of being literally pocketable. Nanoblocks, created by toy company Kawada Co. Ltd., are “micro-size” building blocks measuring 8 mm across — half the size of other typical toy bricks — and the company specializes in making kits of blocks that allow users to build tiny, detailed sculptures.

There are already kits to make “Pocket Monsters” characters, but now you can create Pokemon scenery.

There’s Pikachu’s Battle Field, Fennekin’s Coffee Shop, Froakie’s Yacht Harbor and Chespin’s Tree House. Each set comes with a collectible Pokemon figure and all the bricks needed to create a themed stage. The kits go on sale March 21. Froakie’s Yacht Harbor, Fennekin’s Coffee Shop and Chespin’s Tree House are priced at ¥2,940, while Pikachu’s Battle Field is ¥3,150.


Time for “Metal Gear Solid”

This spring “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes” is “sneaking” out, and to mark its release, Konami is teaming up with Seiko for an official Ground Zeroes watch.

Limited and serialized to 1,300 units, the watch is part of Seiko’s Wired series and fittingly features a prominent “0,” where the number 12 should be. In place of the hours are exclamation marks, which often appear as alerts throughout the Metal Gear Solid games.

The watch also features the iconic designs of Metal Gear Solid art director Yoji Shinkawa, and is packaged with a small metal plaque emblazoned with Shinkawa’s illustrations.

“The Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes” watch is ¥36,750 and will be released on March 20.


One killer box set

“Assassin’s Creed III” may take place in North America, but it’s fans in Japan who’ll get the new ACIII box set. “Assassin’s Creed III” is set in Colonial New England and stars the assassin Conor. The game spawned a spin-off game in 2012 with the subtitle “Liberation,” which is set in New Orleans during the 18th-century French-Indian War.

This “Assassin’s Creed: Conor Saga,” bundle comes with an “Asassin’s Creed III”” for PS3, downloadable content, the PS3 version of “Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD,” the newest edition of the “Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia” and soundtracks for both games. A limited edition of 5,000 units, “Conor Saga” goes on sale on March 20 for ¥9,975.


Brian Ashcraft is a senior contributing editor at Kotaku.com.

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