I had heard a lot about the famed Yakuza series before starting out with Yakuza 0. Some sources said it to have an excellent story with a lot of action and drama, and then I came across videos of the famous karaoke minigame from the same game. Needless to say, I was confused, but intrigued at the same time. As it turns out, Yakuza 0, the best starting point for the series newcomers, is actually a lot more than just a brilliant crime drama. It’s an abundant collection of minigames and wacky side stories, but also an enjoyable fighting game with branching skill trees. Yakuza 0 offers A LOT and surprisingly doesn’t fall short in any of its offerings.
The protagonists, Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu. Yakuza 0 has three unique battling styles for the main characters. Beating up goons is a great money-making source, too!
Let’s start with the meat of the game, the brilliant story revolving around the two mainstays in the Yakuza series, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. Set in the late 80’s during the height of Japan’s financial economy, Kiryu is ousted of his Yakuza family (i.e. a Japanese crime syndicate) after being framed of a crime. Dealing with conflicts over a land within his now ex-Yakuza family, Kiryu fights for his name and glory in the seedy underground of Kamurocho, Tokyo. While in Sotenbori, Osaka, Majima, a renowned cabaret manager, is an ex-Yakuza desperate to come back into the family. His boss orders him with a one last mission before finally taking him back, a mission acting as a catalyst to further events in both protagonist’s stories.
The plot of Yakuza 0 is one of the most intriguing and fascinating video game stories I’ve ever experienced. It’s multifaceted and translates well to the audience not familiar with Japanese drama. It keeps the player on their toes and leaves them wanting more, just like a great game should. The Japanese voice actors do a great job of bringing their respective characters into life. The game also offers great character explanations in-game to catch up on the story, since it’s 25-30 hour-long game.
You can dance all night with Yakuza 0!
Besides the story, Yakuza 0 is all about the fun and eccentric side content. It has many outlandish side stories for the player’s amusement ranging from getting an adult magazine for a teen boy, protecting a knock-off Michael Jackson from zombies in the streets of Kamurocho, and to stopping a used undergarment business. These whacky side stories provide a great balance to the gritty crime drama and keeps the player coming back for more. The game also has a plenty of standalone minigames such as the famous karaoke, disco dancing (my favorite!), batting, fishing, eating at diners, running a cabaret club and real estate business, mahjong, pool, bowling, darts… There’s even a claw machine for collecting stuffed toys!
One of the sidestories introduces “Miracle Johnson”, the incarnate of Michael Jackson in Yakuza series.
All in all, Yakuza 0 exceeded every bit of my expectations. It offers so much and keeps the player entertained endlessly. I highly recommend this game to anyone interested getting into this amazing series!
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotuku Studio
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
Release Date: 24.1.2017 (Worldwide, PS4), 1.8.2018 (Worldwide, Microsoft Windows), 26.2.2020 (Worldwide, Xbox One). Released in Japan in 2015 on PS3 and 4.
The source of the first screenshot: https://www.sega.com/games/yakuza0. Other screenshots are from my own gameplay.
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