Ryu ga Gotoku 0 (PlayStation 4) Second Opinion Review

By Chris 16.05.2016 3

Review for Ryu ga Gotoku 0 on PlayStation 4

The Japanese economic bubble of the late 1980s was a time of money, extravagance and good times. At least, that is how it is remembered. It seems that Toshihiro Nagoshi is no different, having decided to set his follow-up to Yakuza 5 in the Tokyo and Osaka of 1988. Ryu ga Gotoku 0 (Yakuza 0) is the first prequel of the series, giving us a glimpse into the past of Kiryu and Majima. Over the years, both have become iconic characters in the game industry, but Ryu ga Gotoku 0 breathes new life into them with new fighting styles, mini-games and stories that illustrate just how much they have changed over the years.

The game begins in Tokyo with a youthful Kazuma Kiryu, aged 20, who does not yet know the way of the yakuza and is far from becoming the Dragon of Dojima. Having been tortured for disobeying his former gang, Majima Goro, complete with eye-patch, takes to the stage in Osaka as the manager of the most successful cabaret club in the area. The two stories are linked together by the most expensive plot of land in Tokyo. Everyone is looking to own it. Over-complex stories full of twists and turns have been a staple of the series since the beginning, and Ryu ga Gotoku 0 is no exception.

Screenshot for Ryu ga Gotoku 0 on PlayStation 4

However, compared with the satire-driven or overly serious plots that have become common place in the games industry over the years, the long cut-scenes filled with cheesy dialogue about justice, mixed with silly, but charming, side-quests, make the story a thoroughly enjoyable part of the experience. Now, though, it seems that so much emphasis has been placed on Majima’s transition from cabaret owner to the psychotic yakuza member we are used to that the producers are listening to the fans and giving him a status almost equal to that of Kiryu.

While fight scenes occur as they have in previous iterations - random encounters similar to JRPGs - the combat has undergone a huge change. The two characters now have four fighting styles each that can be swapped mid-battle, akin to Devil May Cry 3. Each fighting style focuses on strength, speed or dodging, and can be upgraded through the use of money or completing side-quests. Kiryu is younger and much less experienced in this game. This is apparent in his new sloppy, but powerful, styles. Majima, on the other hand, has a new dancing fighting style, reflecting the popularity of disco at the time. While the variety in styles is definitely a nice addition, it is too easy to find one style, or even one move, that works for you and abuse that until the game is finished. Unfortunately, even with the extra styles to choose from, the combat remains more akin to Streets of Rage than Bayonetta; while it may be fun, it never feels like it needs much mastering.

Screenshot for Ryu ga Gotoku 0 on PlayStation 4

Set during an economic bubble, Ryu ga Gotoku 0 centres around money. Upgrading characters is no different. The earnings made from fights are sufficient for your first few upgrades, but as the costs become higher, it is a lot more efficient to make a living through the mini-games that become available as progress is made through the story. Kiryu dabbles in real estate, purchasing an assortment of establishments and assigning staff that will increase their earnings. The staff available increases with the number of side-quests completed. Characters encountered along the way offer to help Kiryu, each with their own specialties that relate to the properties; amusement, dining and even more seedy establishments that may be removed from the upcoming localisation. Occasionally, Kiryu needs to clean up the thugs that may hurt his business. These fights allow for a refreshing break from the office.

Majima, on the other hand, starts managing a hostess club; a new style of business taking over cabaret club ground. Previous games were always played from the position of the patron. Now, you run the hostess club, matching the girls with the customers. It starts quite simple, but progresses, with more customers of different spending abilities introduced. Management becomes more complex as it involves calculating who is worth spending more time on and who would be profitable as a return customer. Alone, these mini-games may have the depth of a modern smartphone game, but the strategy involved offers an alternative to the street brawls.

Screenshot for Ryu ga Gotoku 0 on PlayStation 4

The main game lasts about 30 to 40 hours, but the real charm of Ryu ga Gotoku 0 lies in the side-quests. Be it winning crane games for a little girl who won't stop referring to Majima as an old man, sending letters to a radio station in hopes that they will read it on-air, or pretending to be a boyfriend for a girl whose father is worried about her being alone in the city, this is chockfull of stories that leave a smile on your face.

One such side-quest is where a young child is last in queue for Wild Quest 3 (this world's version of Dragon Quest) that is soon to be sold out, but has his copy stolen by some thugs. Kiryu fights the thugs to get it back, only to realise that they had it stolen buy an older gang. This repeats until Kiryu fights a middle-aged man who turns out to be the father of the child. To add to the sob-story, he hasn't seen the child much since his divorce. Being the nice person that Kiryu is, he doesn't tell the kid that his father was trying to steal the game for him, but instead makes a hero out of the father by telling the child that he helped in getting it back.

Screenshot for Ryu ga Gotoku 0 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Ryu ga Gotoku 0 does a great job of bringing the series to the late 80s, improving the combat system and including a huge selection of side-quests. The main game is a mix of overly dramatic story and fight scenes reminiscent of an old-school beat 'em up, but the world is so fleshed out that you will be lost in the world that SEGA has so carefully constructed. Although it is a prequel, it truly feels like part of the main series. The characters are as brilliantly written as ever and never fail to make the game feel genuinely fun, without any pretentiousness or overly serious tones. Thankfully, SEGA has already announced that it will come to Western shores sometime in 2017.

Also known as

Yakuza Zero

Developer

SEGA

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Between this, the remake of Yakuza 1 and Yakuza 6, there is a lot on the horizon! I hope the remake comes over, and I absolutely love the new look of 6. Hoping this will sell well enough to entice the remake to get a localisation, because I can't see a prequel doing as well as they hope. At the very least, we should get Y6...but will be a long wait.

What sort of seedy stuff is there in this game? I know they cut the hostess clubs from 3, but since then, I think things have remained in the localised versions. I don't think anything was cut from 5, anyway.

In Kiryu's management mini-game, you can own several 'health' parlors. A Japanese message parlor with a legal Tom Hank to finish things off... As the establishments are inaccessible in the regular game, there are no other the top scenes that would be removed, but I'm left wondering if they'll explain the meaning behind 'health' in the translation.

Looking forward to the western release a lot!

Hopefully SEGA see it fit to bring the remake out here too!

I play games... sometimes.

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