As I've said in previous entries on this blog, I took a break from gaming between 2015 and 2017 or so, which is the time period where Yakuza Zero was released and thus kicked off The Great Yakuza Games Boom of the Late 2010's (working title). So when I picked up a used PS4 in 2018 and started looking at the "So You Just Bought a Used PS4 After a Few Years of No Gaming" articles, people kept talking about this game series that I'd never heard of. It was described by some as "GTA in Japan" and described by others as "Extremely Not GTA in Japan", with fun minigames and an affecting crime melodrama story. Fast forward to 2022, after having played all 7 of the Yakuza games starring the GOAT protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, I was ready for more.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a reset for the franchise. After hundreds of hours of the stoic and reserved Kiryu, a new main protagonist by the name of Kasuga Ichiban steps on the scene. In contrast with Kiryu, Ichiban is fun, outgoing and extremely gullible. After taking the fall for a crime committed by a fellow Yakuza family member (where have we heard that before?), Ichiban emerges from prison 20 years later, only to find that he isn't exactly welcomed back with open arms, becomes homeless, and meets a whole crew of new friends who will comprise the traditional JPRG party in the game. The switch from the classic beat 'em up combat to turn-based JRPG combat is the other major diversion in the game, and it's mostly successful while also suffering from some of the same pitfalls that the genre is known for. The game also excels, not surpringly, in all of the goofy and heartfelt ways that every Yakuza game before it did.
Joining me in episode 34 of Tales from the Backlog is a returning guest, Rick Firestone. Rick was a guest on Tales from the Backlog before (episode 13- Disco Elysium), and he is one of the hosts of Pixel Project Radio, which is one of the best video game club style podcasts out there. Each week, Rick, his co-host Ben, and sometimes a guest or two talk in-depth about a game. It's an excellent show that I highly recommend everybody check out. Find Pixel Project Radio on Twitter, Instagram, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts!
You can listen to episode 34 (Yakuza: Like a Dragon) of Tales from the Backlog in the player below, or you can follow the links to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts or search "Tales from the Backlog" in your favorite podcast app!