Content out the Yakuza!
[If there’s one thing I constantly hear about the Yakuza series, it’s how incredibly stuffed to the brim it is with stuff to do. For some, that much content habitually crammed into a series is great! For others, it can be just a bit much. Kerrik52 falls somewhere in the middle of that distinction. Join him as he guides us through the massive amounts of stuff to do in Yakuza 5, and remember that writing a prompt for Bloggers Wanted is a great way to get your work featured by Destructoid! – Wes]
The Yakuza games are near and dear to my heart due to their drama, silliness, and face-breaking fights. After struggling to both purchase and download it (46 GB Sega! On PSN! How’s that for overstuffed!?), I finally got my hands on Yakuza 5.
After playing 4 and Dead Souls, I was hyped to continue the story of the Dragon of Dojima and friends. And boy, what an odyssey it was.
There was a conspiracy, family troubles, Japanese quirkiness, betrayals, honour, and that special kind of shirtless final boss that always brings me back to the series. But that wasn’t everything, oh no.
As dictated by the title, there’s five playable characters, all with their own story, abilities, sidestories, and minigames. It’s an exercise in excess that I partook in fully. Since my gaming time is precious and I wanted to go for ”light completion” (do all quests) plus what else I could be bothered with so that I wouldn’t be tempted to replay it for years to come. Follow your own teachings, and whatnot.
First up, there’s Kiryu ”Disarmed & Dangerous” Kazuma himself, who has taken up work as a taxi driver. Playing as him is basically cheating, since he has Heat moves for almost every situation. And a drop kick that chains onto a backflip, can’t forget that. He’s more or less a god on the streets. Very fitting for the tutorial character.
Every character (besides Shun ”Dancing Feet” Akiyama) has a big sidequest that takes at least two hours, if not more. Kiryu’s is centered around his service to the masses as a taxi driver. It’s split between driving properly and engaging in crazy races. By playing both, you earn regular EXP and get the chance to pimp his ride. The races get samey, but they have a fully-developed story to go along with them. And that’s one of the appeals of the series – the writers went through much effort to give all side activities some flavour and context.
Taiga ”The Bear Whisperer” Saejima has a hunting minigame to his name. It’s quite layered, but still not that deep. You hunt animals with a gun, set traps, collect meat, and earn upgrades, all so you can earn a rematch with a giant bastard of a bear and punch it in the throat.
The survival aspect is very easy, since hunger does little to impede your health and the western release comes bundled with a golden gun that’s rather easy to earn and abuse. But shooting angry animals between the eyes is rather satisfying.
Changing gears, the game then let’s you play as Haruka ”The Japanese Pop Industry Is My Oyster” Sawamura, Kiryu’s adopted daughter, as she tries to win an idol competition and get her big break. This is accomplished by engaging in the game’s biggest timesink, as you must train her up and earn her fans in an idol sim. It’s a weird thing to do in a crime drama, but it’s fun for a while. Sadly, it does get tedious as you engage in yet another dance-off, listen to the same few songs or have to shake more sweaty hands than you’d ever want to. And she doesn’t even use the power of her singing to slash airships in half or parry tank shells!
Kinda makes me wish that this was canon:
To round out the cast, there’s everyone’s favorite washed out B-Baller, Tatsuo ”Kanada!” Shinada. He starts poor and weak, so random battles are actually a bit threatening. This soon fades as you level up and get involved with his batting minigame. It’s an extension of the normal batting cage, except you can make it much easier with some grinding.
Taking the main story, the sidestories and the big minigames together adds up to a lot. But this is Yakuza, where content rules and your free time doesn’t matter. Let’s go through all the other crap you can do!
For every character (certain exceptions apply, naturally, you can’t get Haruka to go on dates.) there’s the main story, sidestories, and big minigame, as previously mentioned. But there’s also the locker keys and town-specific collectibles to find plus tourist spots to photograph.
Then you need to scout out the restaurants for a chef for food buffs, find a master to train with, beat up Komato and his grandson in order to break the level limit, track down revelations, date a hostess, win enough encounters to earn the right to compete in Victory Road, compete in Victory road, and also do VR training with Japanese Doc Brown.
All of this culminates with a fight with the Amon family. The fight is a majestic marathon where you compete with each of the family members to see who can cheat the hardest. Filling your inventory with nothing but the best healing items is just enough to win, they are that evil.
I swear that Jo Amon has to be a Stand user, since he not only switches to the powers of the others, but also can summon and shoot exploding umbrellas! I call it Unchain The Rain (Power B, Speed C, Range B, Durability D, Precision B, Potential D,). Haruka even gets a dance-off with Jo’s niece!
That’s where I gave up, but you can go even further beyond! There’s the assorted minigames, like gambling, fishing, snowball fights, bowling, Virtua Fighter, and probably a dozen more I can’t name right now. And if you’re completely crazy, there’s also Heat move and food completion. Did I mention that there’s NG+ as well? Jesus ”Heffing” Chris almighty on a trampoline!
Even with all that said, Yakuza 5 is very engrossing. I feel like the 80 hours I spent on it could’ve been reduced to 60 though. Less is more sometimes. Then again, most of what I did was optional content, so the blame is on me. Still a good game.
And I still have an unplayed copy of Kiwami resting on my shelf! And my copy of 0 is on the way! 6 comes out next year and Kiwami 2 isn’t far behind! It really is a great time to be a Yakuza fan.
Loads of cinematics…
Dozens of minigames…
Hundreds of sidestories…
Thousands of collectibles…