My game of the year so far: Yakuza 0
I'll be honest with you guys: I haven't played a lot of the great games that have come out this year. I am still catching up on my backlog whenever I have the chance (which isn't often), and that includes games from the last three years. I feel like video games are like laundry; they just keep piling up and I can't get caught up.
I did manage to play one incredible game that was released this year (well, in North America & Europe, anyway) - Yakuza 0.
I've been a fan of the Yakuza series since I discovered it in 2010. When I first played Yakuza 3, I was instantly hooked. I love the way the Yakuza series tells a story, and I love how long the games are; I usually dread playing games that I know are going to take me weeks to complete, but I enjoy everything about the Yakuza games. Even if you feel like taking a break from the main story, there are an endless number of things to do.
I was super stoked when I found out Yakuza 0 was coming to North America. It came out this past January, and I picked it up digitally on day one. Yakuza 0 is perfect for someone like me who never played the original Yakuza for PS2, as it is a prequel to the series. The game follows the adventures of Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, who the player switches between throughout the game. When I first began playing, I was very excited to be playing as Kazuma again; I had missed him. To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to playing as Majima. The "Mad Dog of Shimano" was a character that had left a bad taste in my mouth after playing bits of Yakuza 4 and 5. To my surprise, playing as Goro Majima before he went "mad" was insanely fun. In fact, sometimes I found myself enjoying playing as him more than Kiryu, who is my favorite character in the series. I also really enjoyed Majima's crazy fighting styles. It was really cool to get to know Majima, and it helped me to understand just why he kind of lost his mind after the events of Yakuza 0.
Let me just say that this game is weird, and I mean that as a compliment. Only in Yakuza can you try to run down the street to get some ramen, only to be confronted by a group of "hooligans," as the game calls them, who are ready to slam your head into the pavement. Only in Yakuza will you have to complete a mission that involves spending an hour furiously trying to collect a damn pink alien-looking stuffed animal from a claw machine. The most addictive, stupidly fun part of Yakuza 0 for me, though, was the Cabaret Club Czar mini-game. It involves recruiting hostesses to a cabaret club you've acquired, and trying to become the best cabaret club in town. I am embarrassed to admit that I spent over 10 hours recruiting hostesses and dressing & leveling them up. I ended up completing the mini-game, which is anything but mini, and still going back to play it. A few months ago, I had fallen in love with being a cabaret club czar, and I may have been addicted to it.
I can't possibly write about everything I love about this game. It's quirky, it's weird...it's authentically Yakuza. I am now fully prepared to jump into Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the first Yakuza game. Yakuza Kiwami comes out on Aug. 29, and I cannot wait.
If you've ever thought about trying a Yakuza game, start with Yakuza 0. It's the perfect starting point, plot-wise, and it's a solid game from start to finish.
What was your favorite thing about Yakuza 0? Talk to me on Twitter: @gottosaurus