Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 are leaving Xbox Game Pass on 31st December. If you need time to absorb this news, please, take it. Back? Okay, so actually we don’t have much time left now. You must play these beat 'em ups before they disappear into the realms of non-free (sort of; you know what I mean). Here’s why.
Games like Mortal Kombat 11, Firewatch, and The Gunk are coming to Xbox Game Pass before the end of the year. All good news, all great, all gravy. But as we tick over into 2022, Yakuza 0 and Kiwami 1 & 2 won’t be available for Game Pass owners anymore. Just like that, three bangers erased. And I suppose there’s comfort to be had in the rest of the Yakuza franchise sticking around. That’s Yakuza 3, 4, 5, 6, and Like A Dragon all remaining on Game Pass for the foreseeable. Thing is, the ones they’re binning off are special.
So many people ask: “What is the perfect entry point into the Yakuza franchise?”. And I say, Yakuza 0. It tells the origin stories of himbo heart-throb Kazuma Kiryu and the Mad Dog Goro Majima as they sink into the criminal underbelly of an 80s Japan. Two opposites eventually attract, if you can call it that. You experience bromance, betrayal, and baka mitai. You have a cabaret club to run. And real estate to manage - that is, if you haven’t employed a chicken to do it for you. I remember watching the end credits in this weird haze. Both sad I’d finished the game and happy that I’d discovered Yakuza. This is Ryu Ga Gotoku studio at their peak, I reckon.
Then you’ve got Yakuza Kiwami 1. A remaster of the very first Yakuza that, granted, isn’t as good as its prequel but still has great importance story wise. Kiryu must put his feelings aside and do battle with his brother. Meanwhile, you see the Mad Dog truly emerge. No seriously, he’ll spring out of bins dressed as a police officer and yell “Kiryuuu channnnn!” before attacking you with a knife.
And last but not least, Kiwami 2. A total remake of the second Yakuza game, bringing it in line with Yakuza 6’s look and performance. Kiryu literally fights a tiger with his fists. Cabaret returns with a vengeance. And Majima reunites with an old flame. Easily one of the best stories in the series, period.
Of course, they all hold importance because they’re unmissable. Unless you’re some kind of monster, you can't eek the most of the remaining Yakuza game without all that backstory. Those many laughs and tears and rounds of baseball. These three games bolster the rest of the roster and it’s a shame they’re going. Still, you have time. Get them played.