Yakuza Kiwami

Yakuza Kiwami
 
 

There’s a reason only a small number have played the Yakuza series. The original released on PS2, and the story’s so charmingly convoluted that playing a newer entry and getting yourself up to speed was never a friendly option. Hence SEGA have taken Yakuza to the earlier timeline with a prequel, Yakuza 0, and now a remake of the first game set thereafter, Yakuza Kiwami.

Even still, I haven’t heard of many playing Kiwami or even expressing their interest to. That’s probably because it sounds like another sequel or spin-off. They could have done what Square Enix have and put “remake” in the title, simply called it Yakuza, or Yakuza: The Master Chief Version. Kiwami on the other hand, means “extreme” – as in an extreme edition of the original Yakuza. As in, an extremely good version.

 
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For those with no experience, you’ll probably envision Yakuza as a brutal brawler, and you’d be kind of right – but that’s only part of the picture. The Yakuza games are actually JRPGs that happen to include brawling. Your 25 hour cultural introduction will be spent knee-deep in cutscenes and old school text-box conversations. The rest will have you helping random passerbys with often peculiar tasks, either embracing or avoiding street altercations, stocking up on sushi because the bosses are hard, and indulging Tokyo’s nightlife.

Yakuza has always been as much an RPG as a theme park of Japanese culture. This is probably the most Japanese game you’ll ever play – like an interactive presentation of every quirky fetish and fad you could ever find in Tokyo.

There are hostess clubs for those who like to practice their romantic wiles on virtual women. If you want something a little more practical, you can visit the arcade for Battle Bug Beauties, an insect-themed female wrestling game based on rock-paper-scissors. It’s as pandering as it sounds, but that’s the point.

Half-naked women rolling each other to the ground isn’t surprising enough for a Yakuza game. What’s surprising is the side-quest framing it. The mini-game is facilitated by kids hanging out in the arcade who appear to think they’re playing an innocent card-game. Needless to say, being the only adult participating in such a blatant perversion amongst players too young to know better creeped the shit out of me – and I later realised the game had done its job.

Yakuza – for all its sexual anomalies – doesn’t always perpetuate perversion. Sometimes it subverts it.

Battle Bug Beauties is actually a new addition since the PS2 release. Kiwami is a balls-out remake in the style of the recent Ratchet and Clank or the upcoming Final Fantasy VII. This is not just a remaster. Kiwami will be recognisable to anyone who’s played Yakuza 0, as they share many of the same systems. There are now four battle styles, whereas the original only had one.

Goro Majima, a playable character from the prequel, now actively hunts Kiryu for fisticuffs. The two had somewhat of an unspoken rivalry during the 2005 game, and SEGA have capitalised on their adversarial relationship. Waiting to see what contrived and clever excuse Majima would concoct as a pretext for fighting Kiryu was a constant joy.

I should mention this is my 6th Yakuza game, which isn’t important in itself. It’s important because the majority of these games take place in the same square-mile. Some people might argue otherwise, but this series isn’t an open-world one. It’s a small, confined space. Each street looks different because each street has different shops, replete with a variety of neon advertising. The space is small enough that it can be filled with characteristic detail, instead of vast generic spaces with little of note in-between.

The small scale is also part of the problem, as is the repetition, because walking the streets of Kamurocho is something between nostalgic joy and deja vu. Only in later games do other cities begin featuring, but even then Kamurocho is always among them. This will be a non-issue for anyone starting their Yakuza career with Kiwami. For the more initiated, the issue is more apparent.

Kiwami proves itself the better version of one of the most endearing stories I’ve experienced. Sometimes you don’t want to revisit old flames because you’re afraid your fond memories will be crushed by the new lens of adulthood. Yakuza Kiwami didn’t really do that. It showed me I was right to like this game to begin with. I’m right to like it now, and so are you.


Ben received a digital copy of Yakuza Kiwami from Sega for review.


Yakuza Kiwami
"Another remake, but a damn good one. The perfect place to begin if you’ve never played Yakuza before."
- Yakuza Kiwami
9.0
Excellent
 
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 1 Hour


 

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Comments Comments (19)

 
Posted by kniteowl
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 3:37 PM
2
Excellent. It's great to have a position for newcomers to start that is modern enough for today's audience.

I'm actually hoping that 3/4/5 get updated versions to run on PS4 too. Would be excellent to have the whole Kiryu saga on one console.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 4:24 PM
-2
Nice, Maybe Sega will port it.
 
 
 
Posted by Syn-Ryn
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 4:36 PM
7
21 September 2017, 04:24 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Nice, Maybe Sega will port it.
"Maybe Sega will port THIS one" - PC Gamers every Yakuza game for the last six years.
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 4:57 PM
2
21 September 2017, 04:36 PM Reply to Syn-Ryn
"Maybe Sega will port THIS one" - PC Gamers every Yakuza game for the last six years.
Gettin' that Yakuza Online though! Which I'm sure will be totally great, and not at all hobbled by the fact that it's also a mobile game.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 5:10 PM
-4
21 September 2017, 04:36 PM Reply to Syn-Ryn
"Maybe Sega will port THIS one" - PC Gamers every Yakuza game for the last six years.
Well excuse me a gamer for wanting to play a game, without needing to buy an extra piece of plastic,
 
 
 
Posted by kniteowl
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 5:54 PM
2
21 September 2017, 05:10 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Well excuse me a gamer for wanting to play a game, without needing to buy an extra piece of plastic,
Some gamers buy one of each "piece of plastic" so they don't have such boundaries...
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 6:02 PM
2
21 September 2017, 05:54 PM Reply to kniteowl
Some gamers buy one of each "piece of plastic" so they don't have such boundaries...
Others think the world revolves around them.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 6:35 PM
-3
21 September 2017, 05:54 PM Reply to kniteowl
Some gamers buy one of each "piece of plastic" so they don't have such boundaries...
Others don't have a spare $1000 to spend on said plastic,
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 6:56 PM
2
Great review thanks Ben.

The Yakuza series is one that I never got into so I'm glad to hear this is a great jumping point to have a crack at the series origin.
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 8:10 PM
1
21 September 2017, 06:56 PM Reply to drunk_monk
Great review thanks Ben.

The Yakuza series is one that I never got into so I'm glad to hear this is a great jumping point to have a crack at the series origin.
^ what he said +1
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Thursday 21 Sep 2017 9:46 PM
-2
21 September 2017, 06:02 PM Reply to AdamC
Others think the world revolves around them.
If the world revolved around me, id have a all teh consoles. :P
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 7:01 AM
2
My order of playing this series is a bit munted

1st game played: 4
2nd: 0
3rd: 5
4th and current: kiwami
 
 
 
Posted by kniteowl
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 8:46 AM
3
21 September 2017, 06:35 PM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
Others don't have a spare $1000 to spend on said plastic,
Good thing that a used PS4 can be easily found for under $400 then huh? Don't have to spend all of that $1000 after all...
 
 
 
Posted by Blackfox
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 9:36 AM
-
Cheers for the review, I'm really keen to get into story of these games as I've heard many great things. Definitely a justifiable remake considering localisations barriers, glad they pulled through for us though.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 9:42 AM
-2
22 September 2017, 08:46 AM Reply to kniteowl
Good thing that a used PS4 can be easily found for under $400 then huh? Don't have to spend all of that $1000 after all...
How much does a Ps4 xbox and switch cost together?
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 2:00 PM
-
22 September 2017, 09:42 AM Reply to ThatUndeadLegacy
How much does a Ps4 xbox and switch cost together?
You only need a PS4 and a Switch. You can play Xbox on pc :p But yea, its close to 1k
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 2:02 PM
-
22 September 2017, 02:00 PM Reply to AdamC
You only need a PS4 and a Switch. You can play Xbox on pc :p But yea, its close to 1k
I have no problem with Console manufacturers making exclusives for their consoles though. I just dont like the waste of money timed crap they do.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Friday 22 Sep 2017 5:24 PM
-2
22 September 2017, 02:00 PM Reply to AdamC
You only need a PS4 and a Switch. You can play Xbox on pc :p But yea, its close to 1k
xbox still has exclusives, and should i get a ps4 pro and xbox one x and a sega genesis, just in case?
 
 
 
Posted by kiwibadboy
On Sunday 24 Sep 2017 12:29 PM
1
It's really encouraging to see non-Japanese reviews being fair to the series these days, unlike the likes of IGN when they were reviewing previous games (3,4,5). I've been loving the game so far, would highly recommend it to anyone!