Games and Gimmicks Reviews: Yakuza 0 (PS4)

Been a bit of a hiatus since our last review, but let’s be honest, ya’ll knew I would be back soon enough to review a few of my findings from the world of video games. We also have a lot on our plate with an upcoming review of Wrestlemania as well as a full breakdown of my thoughts about the Nintendo Switch. (Truth be told: my Switch was a few days late in arrival so I have only had the last week or so to sink my teeth into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’ll be sure to have some initial impressions of that game on the site shortly…)

So let’s get to it! What game has thepoorassgamer been spending most of his time with? Yakuza 0 may not have been the answer many a Playstation faithful would recognize, but after 10 or so chapters in this prequel title in the longstanding Yakuza series, I’ll get to it, I highly recommend this game.

To those of you just hearing about the Yakuza games for the first time, they have been a long running series of games in Japan. Westerners should be forgiven for not knowing about this series, as not many of these games have been widely promoted in the States. I was very surprised by this game as the strong action and worthy story really got me coming back for more.

Gameplay

There is something to the way that Japanese games are made that make them so uniquely Japanese. I liken it to seeing a Japanese watercolor, or anything culturally significant to that region of the world. This game is stylistically very much in that vain. Some observers may see the English subtitles and recoil, however let me sway you in saying that this story is really worth that minor inconvenience (Really though, I think you should get over yourself if you don’t want to read every now and again..).

What I love most about this game is how easily accessible it is. Call it a beat em up, or brawler type game, whatever it is, it’s fun. I won’t get into all of the wonderful moments of street fights, but the arcade style fighting mechanics in this game are always satisfying. I just can’t get enough of beating up other gangsters.

There is a lot to this game, it being full priced at $59.99, but you are getting a full story that will take some time to complete. In general, the game plays in some very repeatable, but solid ways. This is mainly carried out through larger cut scenes describing our main characters and their current plight, then followed through with random street battles and story driven boss fights. While the gameplay is solid, and the upgrade tree adds more variance to the fighting, what really carries Yakuza is the thrilling movie like story.

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lots of stuff to pay for….

There are also some larger elements to this game once your character starts buying property around their respective cities. Money is earned through various ventures, gambling, either on property or for real high stakes. It is also interesting that each fight encountered garners the player a large wad of bills. It’s funny to see bills flying through the air as Kiryu or Goro clobbers their opponents.

That money is pretty valuable to the above tree, players will need to earn upward of 100,000,000 yen to unlock some of the more devastating abilities. I think this was a really cool mechanic as it kept me fighting and fighting, and I rarely avoided any of the street battles as an extra incentive.

Story

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two crude dudes

The story is probably best left for the discerning viewer to describe, but here’s the gist: Two of our lead protagonists, Kiryu and Goro Majima both have something to lose and gain from their associations to the infamous gang, the Yakuza. Our story takes place in 1988 in Japan where crime is rampant and entire city blocks are controlled by competing families. First up is Kiryu, our dashing lion-hearted lead man. As the story begins, he is immediately embroiled in a murder that he did not commit and seeks to clear his name while dodging the Dojima family, his former bosses, who are out to kill him. Mid-way through our story, a second protagonist, a night club owning professional, Goro Majima, is revealed as another playable character with his own set of problems with the Yakuza. Goro is out to settle a score, but ultimately is revealed to be nothing more than a mere puppet of his former boss and also seeks retribution and acceptance back into his former gang. Oh yeah, and Goro had his eyeball horribly removed with a knife by a former gang member who, Goro is also out to kill. Whew, talk about a soap-opera type game! I don’t want to give away much more of this game (mostly because I haven’t finished it yet) but there are definitely a few twists and turns. What I found most interesting was the parallels between Kiryu and Goro. Kiryu strove to leave the Yakuza to clear his name, but it ended up making him their enemy. Goro, was basically imprisoned for his actions, yet desires to return to the Yakuza and to restore any prestige he lost from his prior mistakes.

What really comes through in this game is the handcrafted feel of it all. I really did feel like I was being transported back to 1980’s Japan, even though I have of course never been there. The feel of a SEGA arcade in the midtown, the quirky sub-stories and oddities, just the strangeness of it all, is hard to pull away from. What I got most from this game was the feeling I was watching Japans version of the gangland stories we tell in cinema and television so often here in the West. Turn on any weeknight TV channel and you are bound to come across some form of a “cop-drama” or gang type story. There are some plot points and tropes you can see coming every now and again, but even with that, I was still drawn into this story. In short, there is a constant feeling of unsteady ground with this story, and that leads to a lot of rapid change.

Final Thoughts

I’ll leave it with this, here are two different videos I captured during a playthrough, as well as screenshots from a series of tweets that shows how weird and bizarre this game can also be:

Here’s a casual reference to our main character pleasuring himself to soft core!

And for no discernible reason?!:

Truly that man is “a lust machine!”.

Honestly, what more could you ask for from a video game if you are not watching a grown man dance in his whitey-tighties.

There are a lot of moments like this scattered all over this game so you may wish to prepare yourself for something a little weird. But truthfully, that’s what I was looking for in this game, something off beat and odd and also action packed which I totally got in Yakuza 0. If you need a great story based single player game with fast paced action, please,

GIVE IT A SHOT!

-thepoorassgamer

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Games and Gimmicks, the podcast discussing Video Games, Professional Wrestling, and Everything In Between! Hosted by E_HUFFY and thepoorassgamer! Check us out! Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gamesgmmicks Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gamesandgimmicks Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkfQuuwZgDYQk1ZUvatb6kA?view_as=public

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