SEGA Venture: Yakuza 3 [Part 1/3]

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SEGA Ventures is a series at The SEGA Source where one of the members plays through a SEGA game that is longer than just a few hours long, giving a summary of our thoughts along the way in a three part set of articles, a diary of sorts. This time we will be sitting down with Yakuza 3 on the PlayStation 3.

Loser

With almost every big franchise SEGA has made since 1990, I have been there to show my support or at least great interest in every step of the way. The Yakuza series (known as Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, roughly translating to “As Though A Dragon”) is the only exception. At the time the original game came out to the PlayStation 2 in America, I was tired of the game console to the point I just got rid of it entirely. Due to the poor sales outside of Japan, the series’ future seemed bleak in my territory, so I chose to not get into it and be disappointed in the future.

I was about to start what I now consider my favorite RPG series of all time.

After Yakuza 2 was announced for a release outside of Japan I cracked and finally decided to pick up both games. Another year passed and Yakuza 3 was finally announced for an English release, but I am not the kind of person who buys platforms just for one game, so it took the English language release announcement of Yakuza 4 and a few other games to finally get me to realize I needed to start putting money aside for the PlayStation 3 to continue playing arguably SEGA’s highest quality franchise from recent years.

Within under a month, it has totally been worth it.

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for the story and settings of Yakuza 3 and spoilers for the prequels. Stop reading now if you do not want to know what happens.segaventures

Like A Dragon

For those new to the Yakuza series, they are a set of RPG games that have a “Beat Em Up” style battle system. It is designed with a somewhat retro appeal to it, where nothing is really taken too seriously, it is just made with having fun in mind.

And Yakuza 3 was no slouch in this. Early on you can tell the staff really was making this just with the fans in mind, no one else. Even if in some parts later on it makes the story less spectacular than it could be, if you are a fan of one of the previous games you will definitely enjoy this.

The game is rated for mature audiences, and it is true that the game is designed with adults in mind, but I feel that anyone who enjoy what I already mentioned will like the game. The combat is hard hitting and there is blood, but it is almost exclusively from the noses you break and the like. Characters die, but none of it is carelessly done or could be deemed gross. Anything that would be considered gorey is only hinted at in the story and with the own player’s imagination. You can throw people off of buildings and stab them, but they will talk to you right after, apologizing for starting a fight with you.

If anything, you could learn your manners! Kazuma is really tough and manly, but he always does the right thing and always tries to help people out if they need it (no matter how ridiculous their desire is), but if they step out of line or wrong someone he knows – Even if he just met them – he will go out of his way to teach them a lesson.

I guess we’d better start cooking

Yakuza 3 starts off years after the ending of Yakuza 2, with Daigo Dojima the new head of the Tojo Clan after Kazuma Kiryu (the main playable character) steps down from his chairman duties to run the orphanage he grew up in with his adopted daughter, Haruka Sawamura in Okinawa.

Before long, he is dragged back into the life as the Tojo clan falls into chaos when Daigo is met by and shot by a group of mysterious people who are lead by a man who is the spitting image of Shintaro Fuma, Kazuma’s foster father who died three years prior, in the first game.

Yakuza 3 is not the only release in the series to start out slow, but in here I can definitely see why some people would be turned away from the first few hours, as most of it is just you getting to know the orphans you raise. This initially turned me off from the game, too.

Each of them have very diverse personalities and they all get their time to shine, but I really did start to love every one of them before the end of the story. Once Kiryu does return to Tokyo I actually felt bad that I had to leave the kids in the care of Haruka and some of the people you get to know early in the game.

The first few hours of the game take place a few days before all of that happens though, and are devoted to solving small mysteries inside of Okinawa with a fight here and there, but the story really starts to kick off when you help a small yakuza family in the area who originally wanted you to give up your orphanage. After a few misconceptions, you gain the trust of the entire Ryudo family, with Rikiya and Mikio quickly becoming very respectful of Kazuma, but it is very apparent that there is more to your land than just them originally wanting you to leave Okinawa.

Nakahara, the old man at the head of the Ryukyu yakuza in Okinawa has taken it upon himself to take in a young girl named Saki who has lost her voice after she has witnessed her father commit suicide. Her terrible mother, who only uses her comes back out of nowhere after years have passed and wants her back, but you soon find out it is just so she can live with Tamashiro, a scumbag who wants nothing more than to own Okinawa for himself.

He was only using her to take Saki away from Nakahara and crush his spirit.

Tamashiro and his thugs are the first tough fight in the game, and he uses incredibly dirty and unethical strategies to attempt and get ahead of you in battle. Once you pound him, he moves operations out of the town of Ryukyu and Saki’s mother wants nothing to do with her daughter anymore, while Nakahara is more than welcoming to her.

Kazuma’s kids over at Sunshine Orphanage all have a new group of people to play with and have watch over them, and it is just in time, as Nakahara is visited by the same group of people who had shot Daigo, which Kazuma just finds out about. He and Haruka are shocked to see that Saki’s sketch of the man who visited him is the spitting image of Shintaro Fuma.

Even though he has swore to move away from his previous life, he has to find out who that man is, if he could be his foster father and why he would want Kazuma’s friends dead.

—————–

Join us for the next part as we start putting together the pieces of the story and discuss some of the extra features of Yakuza 3!

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