I’m continuing my slow journey through the Yakuza games, with Yakuza Kiwami 2 being this year’s stop. I’d actually played Yakuza 2 back when it came out (well, a year or two after it came out, but that’s close enough for me); reading through what I said back then, I like it more this time, though I’m glad I was a big Goro Majima fan a decade ago.

In particular, I like the settings of the games a lot more now than I did back then. Returning to Kamurocho and Sotenbori just feels like home; that kind of cross-game persistence is pretty special.

Related to that, I’ve pretty much given up on the idea that my play sessions with these games are in any way centered on the main plot. I mean, I’m not against the main plot, I’m glad it’s there, but the game is about a view of life in Kamurocho and Sotenburi; the side missions do a better job of showing that than the main plot does. It means that you have to free yourself of the idea that there’s any single timeline going on here, to avoid the cognative dissonance of pausing on urgent matters in the main plot to spend significant amounts of time helping random strangers, but that’s okay, by now I’ve liberated myself of the constraints of time. (And how could you possibly interpret the time scale of running a club in anything remotely consistent with the main plot?)


As to differences in the new edition: the club wasn’t there in the original, but I liked it in Yakuza 0 and I was glad to see it here. There’s something a little off for me about the pacing of that part of the gameplay, but still, I really was happy to see the club appear. I wasn’t as thrilled with the Majima Construction game, and I didn’t even quite finish all the missions there, but I did love the anthem

I don’t remember if you had all the Haruka requests in the original; I know you spent some time with her but I can’t remember how much? Those were hot and cold for me; Haruka is charming, and the random easy requests (eat food X at restaurant Y, buy item Z) were pleasant enough to fulfill. But then, with no warning, you’d randomly switch from that to a reqeust that you demonstrate some basic competence at a particular minigame, and those often took way too long.

I made it through all her Sotenbori requests (though I really didn’t enjoy the Virtual On one); but in Kamurocho, a lot more of the requests were minigame related, and I bailed fairly soon after realizing that. Though, before I bailed, I did finish the poker one, and my understanding of poker significantly increased over the course of that request, so I’m actually grateful for that one.

Oh, and the bouncer missions were new; I only did one of those, I’m not that into the combat in this series.

And I kept on expecting to visit one other location, but then the game ended and we hadn’t gone there? I assumed that was just my memory playing tricks on me, that it must have been a different game, but nope Shinseicho did exist but was cut in the remake. A pity, and I wonder what was going on there; if I had to guess, probably they had enough of a foundation of hi-res assets to give them a good leg up on the other parts of the game (and, of course, it’s not like they could have cut Kamurocho or Sotenbori!), but Shinseicho didn’t show up in any other games, so they would have had to do a lot of work from scratch, and there wasn’t enough meat there for Sega to be willing to make that investment?


The other thing that, honestly, kind of surprised me when replaying the game was the way a bit of an overt romance plot developed towards the end of the game. It’s not something I’d particularly noted on my first playthrough, but, having gone through Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, I think of this series as being all about the Kiryu / Majima romance.

I mean, romance isn’t quite the right word, because (at least from Kiryu’s side), the game plays it in a way that, if you want, you can see Kiryu as simultaneously asexual and also having one true pairing. (It reminds me a lot of Phoenix Wright in that regard.) So it was a little jarring to see the Kiryu / Sayama pairing handled in a way that attacked both of those aspects of Kiryu’s presentation? Having said that, I liked Sayama quite a bit, in other contexts I can imagine becoming a fan of her, it was just a surprising interaction to see in this series.


And, by now, I am pretty firmly in the camp of thinking that Yakuza is a great series. Which makes it rather odd in that, every time I finish a game, I need to come up with a 1–4 rating, and I keep on writing down 3 as my rating for these games instead of 4, whereas my rating for the whole series would be pretty definitely a 4 right now?

Which comes back to what I was saying at the beginning: I love the series because it feels like home. Kamurocho and Sotenbori feel like home; Kiryu and Majima feel like family. But that doesn’t have anything to do with any individual game in the series: for me, the whole is greater than the individual parts, and while the individual parts are quite solid, the whole is really special for me?

Though, to be honest, I can also totally imagine that, a decade from now, after having finished the whole series, I’ll just start over again, that I’ll end up rerating every game as a 4. Right now, my memory of Yakuza 0 feels more like a 4 than a 3 to me…

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