|The box art for the North American release of Yakuza 3|
What is the Yakuza Series of video-games? Basically your a Yakuza named Kazuma Kiriyu (the guy on the cover) who is ridiculously strong and good at fighting (although the later installments have multiple protagonists). For those of you who don't know; Yakuza is essentially a term used to describe Japanese organized crime groups and their members. It is uncountable and can be used to describe a single member (a Yakuza) or a collective (of Yakuza). The games all have very complicated and in-depth story-lines featuring a plethora of characters many of whom are voiced and modeled after real A-list Japanese actors! Talk about production value. At its core, a Yakuza game will have you running from plot point A to B fighting all manner of people with a combat system that is ridiculously fun as it is violent as all manner of objects can be used as weapons. In the fights you have a "spirit meter" which once filled up allow you to use a brutal object specific special attack which is often very cinematic and violent but also TOTALLY COOL AND OVER-THE-TOP!
|Kazuma Kiriyu utilizing what appears to be tank of some-sort in a brawl against some nasty characters.|
|Tokyo as depicted in Yakuza 3|
To sum it up, I would say that the Yakuza series represents the evolution of the beat-em-up games done right. It seems that in the past decade a few game developers have tried to capture the essence of the old arcade beat-em-up games from the 80's and 90's (Remember those? There's a screen shot below if you don't know what I mean) and bring it into the 21st century. But until Yakuza came along no one really got it right (except for Shenmue; more on that later...). Yakuza mixes all kinds detailed story elements hand picked from the best crime dramas and Japanese manga with addictive brawler game-play! It's awesome to live the life of a badass, Yakuza who fights like a beast, drinks, smokes, get's all the ladies, and is still a chivalrous admirable dude, in the comfort and safety of your own home! GOOD TIMES! Now all they gotta do is make a version called Bancho where you play as a Japanese bike gangster with a heart of gold. Common Sega! You know you want to!
|A screen shot from the NeoGeo classic Burning Fight, probably what Yakuza would have looked like 20 years ago.|
|SOMETHING LIKE THIS! BAD ASS!!!!!! (That's Akira from Rival schools.)|