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randombullseye avatar 7:57 AM on 12.10.2009  (server time)
Old School Games: Yakuza series

For those that don't know, Yakuza is essentially River City Ransom 3D. That might be a bit silly and reviewerish of me, but that's instantly what I got from playing it. It's no where near as popular as it should be. Considering how amazing the first two games I are, I'm very angry at everyone who likes the genre and doesn't buy them. I myself had no clue how good these two games are so now, without talking much about the plot, I want to talk about the two games. Sequels. And the series as a whole.


The basic plot is fairly simple. You're the dragon of the Dojima clan, that is to say the most mean man they happen to have. At least that was what I got from it. Your guy, Kiryu Kuzuma has a tattoo that is so amazing on his back. See above. It's the symbol for the covers and I feel is one of the cooler things stylistically in the game. Rarely do you fight with it shown, but its there. Now the reality of these types of tattoos is that they're done prick by poke with needles and ink in the old ways. So imgine this guy sitting there like this. Looking around the internet I found photos of real ones, the game captures it perfectly. I also want to mention that in that same research I did about his tattoo, I found out about pearling. I won't tell you what that is. It has nothing to do with this game other than some Yakuza according to an article I read, do that. And certain women of ill repute in africa don't accept pearled men.

So anyway, you're this really tough guy. You were and orphan, but you had two friends. A man, Nishiki, and Yuki, a lady. As luck would have it you walk into an office to see the boss of the clan murdered by Nishiki. Yuki was being attacked by the guy, and Nishiki kills him. So your guy decides to take the rap for it. So ten years are spent in Japanese lock up. I imagine this making the character who was already tough, tougher. Like Robert Duvall level grizzled and cold. When you get out of course everything is changed. You're out of the yakuza, but somehow involved with them. Murder, betrayal, a kid, buddy cop stuff, guns, asskicking, a scene where people yell, all the good storyline elements are there. This is a fun storyline that goes all over the place quickly. Forgive me if I left out a few things or spelled names wrong, but thats the basic plot elements. You're let loose on the world ten years later.

And you deal with a vegence. Your character has in his repitor of beat em up moves some amazing abilities. Stomps, kicks, throws, combos, a power up gauge, all the prerequisites are there. But what makes it great is how vicious this combat can feel. And how silly. For example, you can use weapons in battle. So you pick up a bike and beat someone with it. It was cool on the nintendo with cartoon graphics, but here in 3D with cartoon graphics its all the more cool. Maybe its the bloodshed. Maybe its the way you can dodge and gaurd moves. Your opponnents are usually just smaller guys and bigger guys, with lots of outfit swaps. I enjoy this. You level up your guy too, meaning even more faces busted.

Now for the part that makes this like River City. You can explore the town at your liesure instead of rushing off to the next story segment. Occasionally the storyline asks you to do something stupid like go buy dog food, but for the most part its point A to point B. So you can explore. Buy items to help you out. Fight bad guys in random fights. Side quests that let you fight weirdos. Hostess bars where you flirt with ladies and drink. Those machines that let you win stuffed aminals. Lots of things to do. I love this!

So that's the first game. This one is dubbed in english. Its pretty silly, but I like that. Other than the fetch quest missions, I have nothing negative to say. I like this a lot and reccomend it to you.

Japanese box

Japanese re-release

American box

European box

Yakuza 2

More of the same, but improved. More combat moves. More stuff to do in the city. More more more, more more! And I will say its much improved. Not that it strays too far from the formula. At the start of the game you and a character from the first visit a grave. Here you're asked if you want to review part one's story. For three hours, maybe, I was there watching this fascinated. All in Japanese. I bought two before one, as I couldn't find one. So I saw this storyline evolve and go all over the place. And then the storyline picks up in two. Its contintued from the first, so I won't talk about it. Just know that you do not, DO NOT, have to play one first. If you can only buy one of these, I prefer the second.

One storyline element that has improved is your new rival. He's blonde. He's big. And he also has a dragon tattoo! Uh oh! Things move at about the same plot twist crazy pace too. Locations seem to change as well, but I'm such a gaijin I walk up one street and down the other it all looks the same. I wouldn't know what brands were fake game brands and which were real advertisers. I mean would anyone here know what boss coffee was? I read about it and don't know anything more than that its a brand of coffee advertised in the games. My real life trip to Japan will hopefully not leave me as lost next year. I picture myself going to an arcade and never leaving it. Much like in Yakuza 2. I'll be distracted by something and forget that I'm doing something else.

Your combat moves are even more crazy. Your power "heat" gauge lets you do all sorts of finishers now. In the first finishers were there, but it seemed like I do one every few battles. Here every fight can have multiple ones. Each move looks like deathblows. For example, one move has you grab a guy and push him into a wall skull first. It sounds and looks like this guy might have some brain damage, or worse. Another move, the part that made the game really stand out in my mind was a park bench. You can drag enemies around to objects to use the heat move on them. So I saw the bench. I thought maybe he'll make him kiss it or lay him on it, well my character does a backbreaking manuever onto this thing that made me say ouch. In my mind, I never would thing to break someones back on a park bench like this. I immediatly did the move again.

In the cities you now have mini games! They're actually interesting to go too as well. Golf and batting are similar games that have you trying to hit targets. Of course winning helps you get items that hurt people. Bats, knives, that sort of thing. Oh how I love this game. I also have a bar that I manage here. I don't know if thats in the first or not, but I'm having fun with it here. This is a great game to just wander about in.

While walking around I stumbled into a quest. I don't know how. I just walked into a guy. Well I'm taken into a bar with women. And things, well, here.

If this made you laugh and you like kung fu beat em ups, please buy this. But it right now. It's an excellent scene that I had no clue was there. It just happened. I'm curious what else is in there. Yakuza 2 is a major improvement over the first and I'm so anxious to play the next three games.

Japanese box



As for sequels to the first two games, there are THREE. One has yet to be released in Japan, but is coming out next year. We only have one and two. The next two games are both playstation 3 only.

Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan! aka Like A Dragon Arrives

Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan! is the first sequel. This one involves Samurais and hip hop music, but with Yakuza gameplay. I want this game so bad. I will import if I have to, and I never import. I'm sure I will be lost not speaking Japanese, but if thats what I have to do to play this. I will. Dear Sega, please localize this.

If you'll notice he uses two swords. Your main hero is Miyamoto Mushashi. The same samurai whose famous two sword style inspired many games, like Brave Fencer Musashi and Kenzen here. I'm very anxious to play this. Even if I have to make a storyline up myself with the samurais yelling at each other. Please SEGA, don't let me motivate these samurais with ballet and chocolate cream pie discussions.

Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 - aka Yakuza 3

This game seems to continue the story from where 1 & 2 leave off, but in glorious playstation 3 HD. So the load times aren't as bad, I hope, and violence will be even worse. I sure hope its great! I watched this and every hyperbole for action I could come up with fails to fully explain how excited I am for this. Once again I hyped myself up for a game.

Ryu Ga Gotoku 4 -

All I know about this is that instead of just playing as one guy, you can play as four. I'm anxious to play this too, but I can wait another year. Or two. Or..

A final note is the name Yakuza, Japanese Mafia. A cool title often used in America for movie titles, American Yakuza, Yakuza Wives, Full MEtal Yakuza. Silly names like that. The japanese name of our Yakuza series, isn't actually Yakuza at all. It's Ryu Ga Gotoku. Which translates to "Like a Dragon." Makes sense to me since you're the Dragon of Dojima with that Tattoo. Anyway, here's a trailer for you.

In 2010 not only with America recieve Yakuza 3, but we'll also recieve Like A Dragon the movie. Seems to be a version of the first game, which I think will be a cool movie. Not that the movies in the game weren't cool to watch already. Also worth noting about the film is the director. His influence on the games themselves I should mention, but his noteworthy here more for his horror/revenge movies than his yakuza ones. Yes, Takasi Miike, director of Ichi the Killer and Audition is making this. He's also done movies like the three Dead or Alive movies, which are you guessed it, Yakuza movies. He's done tons of movies and I'm excited to see his version of a game version of his movies.

Have any of you guys played these?

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