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TGS 2012 - Yakuza 5 Impression
09.20.2012

SAM MARCHELLO
PR ASSISTANT
MICHAEL BAKER
JAPANDEMONIUM COLUMNIST


Yakuza 5

In the annals of Japanese kickbutt heroics, there is a spot reserved for Kazuma Kiryuu. Too bad he doesn't want it. He's hidden himself as Suzuki, a taxi driver in Fukuoka City's (fictitious) Nagasu-gai. There's a war brewing in the criminal world, however, and it threatens all five major metropolises of Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sapporo.

The game is Yakuza 5.

Like its setting, the game's story is split five ways, with different protagonists taking the spotlight at different times. In Fukuoka, Kiryuu deals with the fallout of a vanished crime lord. In Osaka, Akiyama delves into the dark recesses of the entertainment world when young Haruka's manager comes up dead. In Hokkaido, Saejima has been convicted of murder and must survive gang violence in an isolated prison before making his way to Sapporo. And in Nagoya, a former baseball player laid low by scandal, Shinada, is given a chance against the men who destroyed his career.

That's most of what I got from Sega's video presentation plus the nice eight-page newspaper that was printed for TGS. I'm a little hesitant to comment on the gameplay, since I've never touched this series before. I had Kazuma punching, kicking, and swinging punks by the trouser legs, but I couldn't manage one of the flashy new finishing moves that were shown in the video.

I can comment on the setting, though. Kazuma's demo area was Nagasu-gai, a copy of Fukuoka City's Nakasu district. I lived in that city for three years. I know the area in question, and except for some of the shopfronts, it was damn near exact (if a bit flashier). I even found the spot where my favorite bar should've been. Unfortunately, that spot was For Rent in the game. The limits of the demo zone kept me from checking to see if the Mr. Donuts on the corner was still there.

A few other things mentioned in the demo include tons of mini-games. I think every form of gambling common to Japan has been included, as well as the usual flirting with the club girls, visiting the hot spring baths with girls, fishing, sports, and beat-rhythm idol events. There are even two real-life video games, Virtua Fighter 2 and Taiko no Tatsujin that are fully playable in the Sega arcades in this game.

See more screens here.

In addition to all this, each of the five main characters have his or her own special background scenario, called "Another Drama", that is sort of separate from the main game. For example, Kazuma Kiryuu's scenario involves high-speed taxi delivery and insanely impossible stunts, showing that the source material for his role probably came from a Luc Besson movie. Saejima, on the other hand, is out hunting in the snows of Hokkaido. The presentation featured several shots of him blasting a bear in the face with a shotgun. Haruka's scenario is full of beat-rhythm dance contests against rival idols.

Oh, and Haruka doesn't actually fight. Instead, she has random dance-offs with people on the street. These "dance battles" are also beat-rhythm games, but in plain-clothes. Something for everyone, I suppose...



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