51 Reviews liked by julii

A cold damp wind flows across town, invading the pores of your skin. To walk the streets of Kamurocho is being subjected to a freeze frame every 10 seconds as you move across streets, you will listen to the same whispers on the streets looping in the span of a blink or two. Which is why it speaks volumes that Yakuza is still able to envelop you inside itself; the combination of the thick atmosphere and the blaring soundtrack makes every fight feel like a battle for survival. It’s something that I feel has been lost from this franchise, with only 2018’s Judgement being able to replicate that feeling to some capacity. No doubt a million praises have been sung for this game’s atmosphere but every single positive comment is earned.
This is exactly the reason why every gesture of worship I offer the original Yakuza becomes nothing more than another point in a long list of reasons why I don’t like Yakuza: Kiwami. It’s easy for new fans of the series to look at the remake and make a false assumption that it must be better due to the fact it shares 0’s shiny combat as if the combat of the original game is something broken, something “outdated”. People will throw out the statement that the original’s combat “aged badly” as if it was something that needed to be fixed but actually playing the game it’s laughable at how this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every punch every kick has an oomph to it, and each heavy attack has this satisfying sound when your hits connect; although it’s more a question of if your hits connect because despite crafting up a combat system that’s still very enjoyable, there are inevitably a few shortcomings which hold it back from reaching the heights that it can, although maybe I’m just spoiled by later entries as even Yakuza 2 was a step up in this regard, with every entry after it slowly perfecting the combat, and subsequently elevating the legend of the Dragon of Dojima itself, and that is exactly why Yakuza is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s easy to look at the bombastic stories of later entries like 0 and think the first game is tame by comparison but what Yakuza lacks in its set pieces, it more than makes up for with a narrative that’s just as enthralling as today as it was in 2005. It’s this game’s very simplicity that raises this entry by a significant margin, it’s a tale about two men who are done running from their problems. This is their destiny, any regrets they carry is baggage that will always weigh them down yet they keep moving onward, they keep moving towards each other. The Koi will shed everything to become the Dragon, even if it means hurting what it once held close. There’s no going back. They can only go forward.

Been meaning to write about this game for a while, but it just wasn’t coming to me. It’s a shame because I really do enjoy Conquest, and I actually have a mildly entertaining personal history with it, so writing about it was a no brainer. So today I think I’ll sit down and give my thoughts on this incredibly divisive game. I should also clarify I have ONLY played this route of Fire Emblem: Fates. I have no comment on the Birthright or Revelation routes respectively.
This is another game that dates back to my Smash Brothers era, and believe me man I wanted to play Fates sooooo bad because of the characters that were spirits in the game. Obviously there was Corrin, but I was more interested in Elise because her hair was so cute and looked like cinnamon rolls lol. Most of the Fates spirits just looked extra cool to me, and this was also in my “admitting things were cute” denial arc but I was still interested because of some of the characters on display. Around the time I had a My Nintendo account, which actually would offer pretty significant discounts on 3DS games, one of which being Birthright, so it was like everything was lining up for such an opportunity to finally get into Fire Emblem. THE PROBLEM… was this was back when I didn’t have a debit card so I had to get full permission from my parents to buy shit, and they gave the thumbs down on it which left me devastated.
I still find it funny to think what I would’ve been like if I had started this series with Birthright, however, but that’s not really a focus for this review as it’s about Conquest. Not too long after this whole charade happened I learned online that fans DID NOT like this game… mostly. It was a real love it/hate it affair depending on who you asked, but in the end it gave me a false impression of these games for a good while. After properly starting to play Fire Emblem in October until taking a slight break before January, I had discovered that there was one game of the fates trilogy that people seemingly loved, that being Conquest. The map design and mechanics were the most highly praised factors, with the story (lol) being the main detracting point. This really peaked my interest, as I had heard similar things about Engage, which was a game I actually really liked. After ordering a copy of Conquest, I started playing through it IMMEDIATELY once finishing Engage.
Ok first things first, yes, the story is bad. For multiple reasons. Some of it stems from the actual writing feeling immature as hell even for a T rated game (although seems to be a carryover from Awakening judging by what I’ve played of that game so far), some of it is most of the characters being complete idiots, and some of it is ALSO the shitty purposeful lack of answers of several plot points as a way to force players into buying each route to experience a full story. Let’s discuss the route thing first. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, Fates is an extremely greedy game in regards to its routes. While I’ll give these games points for not trying to be Pokemon by selling identical games, splitting the story into 2 games and 1 priced DLC would’ve cost you about 100 DOLLARS if we are going by USA MSRP for each game. Making the Revelation route DLC only is also scummy as hell (and thanks to the eShop being closed now you can’t even purchase it anymore!!!).
I’m not against games having multiple routes involving choice, in fact it’s done pretty cool with plenty of games. But unlike all of those games, every route was included in a single package, not sold separately. Take 2004’s iconic visual novel Fate/Stay Night, an extremely lengthy game that told a story through three whole routes, but the difference was it was ONE game. Hell, even a future game from THIS SERIES would put multiple routes into a single cartridge, although with mixed results as well.
Onto the story itself, the Conquest route falls completely flat on its face the mere second the route split occurs because of how an absolute dumbass Corrin is. “Noooo I’m going to solve things from the inside just give me tiiimee!!!”.... shut up bruh. Your dad is LITERALLY EVIL. The entire game Corrin and her siblings just refuse to admit this fact and it’s honestly embarrassing. Their excuse is always “but he’s our father we can’t disobey him!” but there has to be at least some point where they know he’s too far gone and he has to be stopped. It does happen though….. AT THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE GAME, when Azura and Corrin’s incredibly stupid and drawn out plan finally comes to a close. Did she… NEVER consider telling her siblings about this plan?? Like, deadass?? Not once? Corrin herself is a terribly written character within the context of Fates, she is def redeemed in Heroes and such but in this game it’s unbearable. Her siding with Nohr is dumb and she constantly whines about wanting peace for everyone. Wanting peace is admirable (and… y’know humane) but the game decides that it’s her defining trait. Remember why I said this story fails because of her decision at the route split? This is why. If she wanted peace, why wouldn’t she just side with the obviously more tranquill region, instead of opting to continue with the corrupt kingdom of Nohr. The game was even seemingly marketed as “morally gray” when it’s so painstakingly obvious that Hoshido is the good guys and Nohr is the bad guys. There’s also several moments where the game feels like it’s just talking down upon it’s player, explaining why “war is bad” and stuff that most sensible people would know... it’s just so incredibly juvenile. I think I’ll stop the story discussion here because I’m sure 800 other people on this site have already elaborated on why this plot sucks for you.
While failing in story I actually really enjoyed the characters in this game when outside of the actual plot, Supports are hit or miss but I found several of them pretty cute, especially ones regarding Forrest and his parents :) the characters themselves aren’t half bad either. While many can be summed up in very basic categories (i.e. Elise is the “youngest sister” which is kinda self explanatory) I found them mostly enjoyable and the really awesome character design helps. I’d say Fates is up there in having some of the coolest character designs in the franchise, especially with the differing Hoshido and Nohr clothing aesthetics. It goes to show that these games had a lot of potential to worldbuild with it’s route format but it’s all never given time to flesh out let alone an actual name for this region the game takes place in.
But enough of this “story” and “worldbuilding” nonsense, we all came to play this game because of the actual game itself. Many fans consider Conquest to have some of the best map design in the franchise, and after playing it I honestly really agree. Conquest is a tough game, even on normal casual, but is also (mostly) a fair game too. I think the tweaks to the pairup mechanic from Awakening is very cool, because now enemies can use it which makes the game significantly tougher. Unbreakable weapons from Gaiden return, which is something I surprisingly never had too much trouble adjusting to. You’d think it’s extremely busted but the game feels very well designed around stronger weapons being rather rare purchases you can only get if you’ve saved up just enough cash. Money is extremely scarce in Conquest. I’ve never played an FE where I constantly felt broke more than this one, and it made acquiring good items feel REALLY gratifying. Some of that goes to the arena no longer offering cash, instead being used to earn more resources for forging and making food. I forgot to mention this game also has a castle you can chill out in between chapters. It’s not as expansive as the stuff in later games but I’m not the biggest fan of it as I sorta just prefer immediately going to the next chapter and having a prep menu. It doesn’t needlessly pad out the game though, and I think it gives the player a good time to wind down in between these brutal maps.
I’m not an FE expert so I’m not gonna leave an elaborate analysis on the map design, but yes, the maps are very hard. They’re also really good! There’s a good variety of objectives and setpieces alongside some really infamous chapters (wind lol!). It’s kinda like Engage where the maps are straight fire for quite a bit and then they shit the bed for a chapter or so occasionally. The final boss is also just plain bad.
I think if you really liked Fire Emblem Engage you should try this game, because they’re actually pretty similar in many ways. I still think the latter tells a much much better story than this game of course, but they are both games that have some great gameplay that is held down by pretty shoddy storytelling (however Engage is pretty damn funny at points so it gets a pass). If you’re a veteran of this series, it’s also worth checking this out, because the game is pretty damn hard! I had a good time with Conquest, and at some point I’ll try out the other two routes because honestly I just really desire to see how much worse the story could possibly get. That’ll be fun. Really, really fun….

I don't really know how to start this review. It's hard for me to put into words how I feel about this game, it's perception given by others, and my already strong feelings for the source material it's based on. I should preface this review by saying I don't think Yakuza Kiwami is a bad game, but I think it's an absolute failure as a remake and several other things. Everything about the original game that made it so unique is... simply gone. The fantastic atmosphere, stellar soundtrack, rock solid pacing, it's not present anymore.
Visually this game is just extremely bland. The aesthetic is simply copy pasted from Yakuza 0 but now without the 80's flair from that game, making it look so bleak and uninspired. The game still looks good, sure. But none of it's original vibe is even close to being present. The dingy, lived in streets of Kamurocho, filled with a nasty underbelly hidden from the average citizen... missing. Everything feels just a bit too sterile. The residents of Kamurocho no longer feel like individuals who live here and have their own lives to attend to, it's just generic NPCs transiting.
The combat is "technically" better than the original, but I also don't care. It's the exact same as Yakuza 0 with some slight enhancements, that's great! Maybe make your enemies better designed around this. I won't act like Yakuza 1's bosses were particularly amazing, but they were fun and quick. Now these bosses have became absolutely loaded with health, even having the ability to entirely regenerate full bars if you don't have the correct heat action to stop them. Everything is so much more bloated for NO reason. All of these enhancements to 0's combat would be perfect in a game that ISN'T THIS ONE. Every boss is worse than the original, the only one even being close in quality is the final boss... yeah. I'm being serious.
Even the music is worse. They're not exactly bad remixes I guess but they're so much less interesting and several tracks are flat out missing. It doesn't help that this game doesn't ever USE any of the music it has for normal battles aside from like, 3 themes. The remix for the chapter 10 boss, Turning Point, is horrid. It maintains nothing that made the source so atmospheric and emotional, now becoming a lame trap remix pretty much.
Pacing was another major strength of Yakuza 1. While I still managed to finish Kiwami in a similar length of time, everything generally felt more drawn out for no reason. For example, in chapter 3 you pick up this one item pretty quickly and move on. Kiwami, however, decides to slightly draw this out by adding a couple extra steps after finding the item and like - literally what is the point. SERIOUSLY. Thanks for wasting my time, I guess?
Majima everywhere is another detriment to both the pace and tone of the story. Majima in og 1 only appeared like three times, and I a story context it made sense. For some reason in this game however Majima has gone full cockstalker mode and will stop at nothing to fight you in both scripted events and random battles. Now, to be nice for a second, I like the scripted events! They're charming. But why are they in this game? It's extremely inconsistent with his presence in the main story, now being this goofball of a character compared to his gritty maniacal self in the main narrative. Who is this even trying to appeal to? Majima didn't act like this in 0, nor did he in 1. It's like RGG thought the original game was too mature so they needed the game to be sillier like 0, so they threw in a popular character from that game and wrote up a bunch of wacky scenarios. I don't get it man.
And that's sort of just what my problem is. I don't understand what this game wants to be. Is it trying to turn Yakuza 1's story into a sequel to 0's? Well, I'm sorry but... the game wasn't written like that. It was meant to be viewed in it's original context with no future retcons or whatever. Then is it trying to be a remake of 1 that preserves what the original intended to be? Well it surely didn't do that either! Copying 80% of the content and assets from 0 alongside even cutting a couple substories, cutscenes, and songs from the source material is a major red flag and a sign that your remake isn't working. The game is simply just lazy.
I'm tired of this whole common mentality that Kiwami is better than 1 because it has new things to tie into 0, because Kiwami doesn't improve upon... ANYTHING from it's source. I genuinely can't think of a single thing this game did better than the original. "They added Nishiki backstory cutscenes!!" They're superfluous. They elaborate upon things we didn't need to know and isn't enough to warrant a full blown remake of a perfectly solid game.
I don't really know how to structure or end this review at all, because quite honestly I'm just writing off of pure instinct. I'm sorry this review has been so negative but like, I'm just disappointed. It's a pointless remake that isn't worthy of replacing Yakuza 1. At all. Easily the weakest RGG game I've played so far, being ""okay"" at best. And that does not cut it for this studio period. Skip this one. Play the original instead.

So, after playing all of the mainline Yakuza titles prior to this in release order, I’ve finally arrived at Yakuza 0. I do like this game, but I don’t really get it like most others. People online and my friends had kept telling me about how good this game is, but I didn’t always see it. For a while during my playthrough, I was skeptical of all the praise Yakuza 0 had received, although now that I’ve reached the end, I understand it a lot better now.
Starting with the combat, I found myself enjoying it as it feels very arcadey and flows well. Heat actions did feel overly long at times, which isn’t a problem exclusive to this game, however it felt particularly annoying here. Overall, I didn’t have as much fun with Kiryu’s new styles as I did in Yakuza 5. For the record, I didn’t bother with any of the Legend styles. I thought the grinding for them was a bit too much. Majima is simply fantastic though, with a varied moveset that’s very fun to experiment with. As for the bosses, most of them were pretty solid, with only a few that were… just okay. Kuze especially was a fun boss to repeat. Like I said, I had a good time with the gameplay, but I definitely prefer Yakuza 5’s or even Yakuza 2’s.
Moving onto the story, it was great and serves well as a prequel without needing to retcon past stories for fanservice. The pacing in the beginning is a bit slow, though I can look past that since the rest of the story is so engaging. Each of the new characters are also al interesting in their own right. I really love Tachibana and Makoto’s roles in the narrative. Characters are killed off in a meaningful way, which similarly reminded me of Yakuza 1 in ways. And oh boy the finale. It’d be difficult for me to put my thoughts on it into words, so I’ll just say it’s done extremely well.
Looking at the presentation, it is insanely colorful and stylish, much like the previous entries. I was wholly surprised at how consistent it performs on PS4 due to this too. Yakuza 0 doesn’t have my favorite aesthetics in the series, especially compared to Yakuza 2 and 5, but damn is it amazing nonetheless. The music has prominent electronic and dubstep, with some great themes on top of it. Although I would still say it’s not as memorable as 1-3’s to me.
In summary, I really do owe this game a lot in the end, as it’s the entire reason I even got interested in this franchise in the first place. Yakuza 0’s popularity is what sparked my interest initially, and it’s led me to this point where I absolutely fell in love with the series as a whole. While I may not have appreciated this as much as others have, it was still a blast to play through. It’s an excellent Yakuza title all the way through. Next I tackle Yakuza Kiwami. And boy, do I have some things to say about that fucking remake.

there’s dignity and honor in fighting, depending on who you ask. old men obsess and cling to this ideology, and in some ways it blinds them. blinded from ways of change; ideas that sprout anew in a time of economic boom and societal maturity. the old men consider it noble to defend their decaying ways, yet all the young want to do is break away from such. they fight not out of pretentious beliefs, but out of the need for expression, even if frequently careless. fighting becomes a common resolve between generations. both sides, young and old, fight unbeknownst of the weight they carry, merely knowing they need to fight back. fighting is their lifeblood, fighting is what defines who they are.
but fighting also turns into work. working towards self-righteous pursuit of a measly three squares obviously, but also towards money. money rests as less of an objectified obstacle and more as fuel that drives people’s spirits. in 1988 japan, money does actually make people happy, apparently. though despite what could be inferred… money can’t buy you everything. greed knows no bounds, and thus blurs the line between the economy and violent criminalized pavements. sure, you can pay, but it may only be your fists that let transactions sail, and the cost deadly.
yakuza 0’s ambitious nobility is arguably its defining characteristic. a sublime display of the series’ themes at birth. kamurocho and kansai suddenly become retro, and their industrialized features vanish. the cities proudly wear their grassy riversides and primitive slums on their sleeves. the usual trouble still familiarly runs amok though! style-switching a la DMC lends itself well to the series’ staple combat. always keeping the sense of urgency and energy pulsing throughout the veins of every battle.
fighting is the founding postulation of yakuza’s society. political disputes, romantic conflicts, street confusion, hell even entertainment; all act as open air for violence to spread its wings. y0 paints these outlets similarly to its brethren but in a fresh new-age way. i think some of the praise has been wildly misplaced but it holds weight in where it roots. yakuza 0 is a damn good yakuza game and stands proud as one the defining titles for its generation. not sure what else to say really, everybody gets what makes it so good. one of the only prequels i know that branches out to become a significant starting point for its series. definitely deserves the various titles and acclamation it’s received over the years.

Ultrakill feels like it was developed entirely in one night by a dude who snorted a bunch of cocaine, kept saying "you know what would be really sick?" and was right every time

I used to be 6'5 and ripped, now I'm 5'4 and wear thigh highs... this game changed my life.


very conspicuously rushed; steals a lot of beats from the first game’s narrative in what locales we entangle ourselves into. kamurocho is largely the same, but variety shows itself in the new kansai, featuring more crisp camera angles to gaze upon. especially love walking along the boardwalk behind the buildings on the river - framed skyscrapers emerge from the background as the damp and clouded sky tries to push its way through.
i can forgive the ‘rushed-ness’ though, partly because it wasn’t exactly the dev’s fault and the game’s ambitions do end up paying off in a positive way. retreading upon previous areas does feel fresh with how different they are now, highlighting the changes over a year’s time that catch kiryu off guard.
there’s a thicker high stakes (yet semi-chaotic) narrative compared to the first’s, and i prefer it despite how messy it can seem. a long thread frequently paced with knots of “what the fuck just happened”s that eventually tie up at a later point. imagining the writers at their desks cursorily adding in whatever details and events that initially strike them with “wouldnt that be crazy?!” where i would normally criticize the story for this, i can’t bring myself to it - the scattered mysteries had me genuinely intrigued. everything is so interconnected with inceptively flabbergasting cliches and coincidences that eventually seem to impress in the end. the character writing in general is also a major step up and actively connects with its audience’s emotions. sayama is a great contrast to kiryu in how she’s basically the opposite of him in her work ethic. in the first game, the police were presented as this outside force who couldn’t do much in yakuza affairs aside from date’s involvement. here we see more active pursuit from them with sayama keeping kiryu’s reality in check, always making sure to let him know he’s not above the law. kawara, bessho, and date act as key players as well into revealing the police’s flaws in its ever-mingling fate alongside the inflammatory yakuza world.
and that’s an interesting subject, ‘fate.’ it’s mentioned only a few times throughout the game, sometimes offhandedly at that, but i’m willing to stretch at it and say its handling here makes sense and proves to be an underlying theme as a makeshift excuse for all the bullshit that happens along the plot’s rocky path. it’s tackled with acceptance rather than the common display of it being something to triumph over and take control of. in the criminal underworld, shit happens. what’s done is done and all people can do is adapt and move forward. kiryu willingly accepts his place as a soldier of fate, destined to be the one cleaning up the relentless warmongering that never ceases its chase on kamurocho.
anyway, i’ll try not to divert from the gameplay for much longer. i put a focus on the story because i think that’s what the game very clearly did too lol. cinematically, a ton of care and consideration was put into the construction of every scene too. the smug camera work that romanticizes the cityscapes transitions over into the cutscenes with dynamic framing and tracking, feeling like a japanese film of its time. the accompanying score follows suit and indulges into uniquely moody territory. different sounds and beats coalesce to enhance the spirit of every moment, even some that last just for a brief time.
now jumping into the game side of things, the combat system finally has spacial awareness! our fists recognize the enemies around us and always try their best to connect. stringing together attacks between multiple enemies is now fluid, feeling less robotic than before and more naturally interwoven. you have a whole arsenal of moves at your disposal as well, slowly evolving battles into the archaic brawls the series is now known for. some suspenseful QTEs also shove their way in, having some really hype clashes but ultimately faltering in how strict the timing for button presses can be. the soundtrack yet again acts as motivation to push forward. noticeably more aggressive and wild in many aspects, utilizing some heavy hitting guitar riffs that can sting just as much as your aggressors.
wanted to write something a bit longer than usual because i think yakuza 2 deserves it. desperately and honestly tries to be everything the original game was and more. yet it sadly remains largely unrecognized by the community it seems. cool ass game and is deemed worthy of its yakuza lineage. at any rate, to all the men reading this, you oughta be a little stupid.