Hype can often be a deterrent if you’re late to the party. If you have someone screaming at you to watch The Wire for months on end, then chances are you’ll either bounce straight off it or come out the other end thinking it was lesser than it actually was. During Yakuza’s second go around of capturing the imagination of those in the West, I had plenty of pals bigging up Yakuza 0 and its mix of melodrama and silliness. “You have to play it,” “you’d love this game,” “you can bring a chicken in to manage your property business”; stupidly, I let all this praise turn me off. Sometimes, it turns out, people are right.
As soon as I jumped into the wild world of Sega’s open-world brawler I knew I was playing one of my favourite games of all time. Its hefty street punch-ups reminded me of Streets Of Rage, the earnest yet ridiculous story brought me back to the first time I played the original Metal Gear Solid, and the mini-games… well, those are just Yakuza, aren’t they?
As you get older, there isn’t as much time to fully immerse yourself in something. You enjoy whatever it is and then you move on, because you have to put on a wash, or make the dinner. But this introduction to Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima struck me so hard that I felt compelled to learn more about the Tojo Clan, Kamurocho and everything else Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio had to offer.
I’m not going to try to persuade you to play Yakuza 0 with a bellowed call to arms. You likely already know if you want to dip your toe into the crime-filled world of Yakuza.
But, you probably should watch The Wire, to be fair. It’s very good.