New ‘Yakuza 0’ rewinds to Kazama’s roots

By: Jason Smith ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Initially released in Taiwan and Japan in 2015, Sega’s Yakuza 0 was recently released in North America and Europe on Jan. 24. This action-adventure game serves as a prequel for the series.

The Yakuza in Japan is equal parts criminal organization and justice department for those in desperate need. Sega has put out a long-running series, since the days of PlayStation 2, that tells the tale of Yakuza member Kazama Kiru.

Kazama has cleared his name from numerous situations in the past series. He quit the Yakuza to run a daycare and even drive a cab. Yakuza 0, exclusively on PlayStation 4, takes place before all those events and functions as an origin story for Kazama Kiru and Goro Majima.

Set in the booming 80’s in a neon Japanese city, cash is king, and excess is celebrated. Experience is earned through money, and money is earned by fighting in random street battles. This money can also be used to enjoy classic Sega arcade games like Outrun and Space Harrier. Other in-game activities include playing UFO catchers, batting cages, bowling, singing karaoke and having a dance battle.

These activities are set against the backdrop of Kazama being framed for a crime he didn’t commit. In Goro Magima’s story, he’s asked to commit a crime in exchange for acceptance back into the family, but Goro realizes that he can’t and goes against the orders he’s been given. Both Kazama and Goro sit on the fringes of organized crime and have their own senses of justice.

As with all Yakuza games, the characters are anti-heroes due to their criminal association, yet they have clear senses of right and wrong.

Their fighting styles also differ greatly. Kazama’s style is mostly straightforward, beat-em-up style while Goro’s is over-the-top, ridiculously cool.

When playing through Majima’s story in the game, his charisma shines on the screen.

The game starts with Kiru’s story, and after a couple of chapters it switches to Majima’s. The story continues to move back and forth between them.

While working hard to redeem themselves, both characters can help random characters around town. Some tasks are protecting the weak from bullies while others, such as pretending to be a girl’s boyfriend or getting a specific tow from a UFO catcher machine for a girl on the street, are stranger.

If that’s not enough, the game offers fine cuisine for the character to eat, battles to increase skill and items to collect.

The Yakuza series is equal parts drama and action. In America, the games have a loyal dedicated fan base. For someone new to the series, Yakuza 0 is the perfect place to start.

The next few months have many exciting titles getting released. Yakuza 0 is a game that would be a shame to miss.