Yakuza 3 – Afterthoughts

There are games that get released that you don’t really hear about.  Perhaps they are suffocated by the release of much bigger games or the advertising was underwhelming.  With Yakuza 3, I’d say both scenarios were the case.  Sega didn’t put a lot of advertising effort into it and it just happened to be released on the same day as Final Fantasy XIII.  Definitely not the best way to get your game exposed.  I was lucky to even notice the game to be honest and the only reason I decided to give it a try was due to the wonderful Active Time Babble podcast.  All I can say is that I’m real glad that I found out about this gem.

If you don’t know what Yakuza is or haven’t played the previous games, don’t worry, you don’t really need to.  The story is easy to understand and the previous stories are included on the disc in video formats.  Nice touch!  The game itself is an open world action/adventure game with some RPG elements.  It’s an awesome mix to be honest and it does have shades of Shenmue (a personal favorite of mine).  Like Shenmue, you’re able to walk around the cities as you please and do things that you generally would in life.  Want to stop at a restaurant and grab some food?  Want to check out Club Sega and play an arcade game or attempt to win a Hello Kitty doll in the crane game?  Want to go check out some chicks at a bikini bar?  Want to find a hot date and take her bowling or to sing karaoke in hopes that you’ll eventually get laid?  Go for it!  This is something that sets a game like this apart, the interaction level.   You don’t see it often to this extent, to where it feels like life.  The city is full of it as well as you’ll walk around the streets filled with folks playing on their cell phones and doing their thing.  I love it!

But the game isn’t for everyone.  For one thing, it is entirely in Japanese so the ability to not hate reading subtitles is a must.  Since it takes place in Japan, it has a complete Japanese feel to it which I absolutely love, but it may not be for everyone.  And another thing, the game is completely cheesy.  It’s so cheesy that it makes it awesome.  I never found it to be that annoying cheese factor to where it’s horribly annoying.  No, it’s just pure fun and enjoyable. There is something that is crazy fun about walking the streets and some random guy comes up to you and blabs something like “Hey!  I don’t like you walking around here, old man!  I’m going to beat the fuck out of you!”  It’s so fresh!  It doesn’t hold back too much from its mature themes either.  It’s full of violence, obscenities, and just weirdness factor that I loved.  But it also does have a lot of light hearted and emotional moments.  You do run an orphanage after all, so helping kids out with problems brings that nicer side of it.

There is so much to do in Yakuza 3 that it will take awhile to get old.  One thing I liked was a sub story of sorts which had me searching for divine inspiration by taking pictures of odd things happening.  Just the way it played out made me laugh.  Kazuma would take the picture (you need to hit the buttons in the correct order) as something awkward was happening and then you choose the title for it.  Why?  Because he’s uploading it from his cell phone to his blog!  Ha!  It’s so classic.  It’s these little quirky things that make the game so different and highly entertaining.  I also really enjoyed just playing the mini-games such as the batting cage and the bowling alley- A lot of fun to be had away from the main story.

(Blogging for Inspiration, Yakuza Style.  Pass is yakuza)

Quirky, cheesy, and loads of fun, that is what I’ve taken away from my Yakuza 3 experience.  I understand there is some controversy over the fact that Sega took some things out before releasing it in the U.S (and it took a year to get here), but really, I didn’t miss anything and the game still offers so much.  It’s a fresh experience and I’m so happy that I didn’t miss this one.  Depending on your style of gaming, this may be one that you’ll highly regret if you pass up.

Check out my full review at gamefaqs.com


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