Yakuza 0 is a great way to get into Sega’s outstanding series

The myth goes, you’ve doubtless heard before, that Sega doesn’t make games like it used to. Not its Japanese arm, anyway, where the style and strut of its 90s and early 00s output can feel like a distant memory, as can all that grand ambition that was once fuelled by naked madness. The truth, however, is known by too few in the west. Sega is still capable of greatness. It still possesses an unhinged genius. It just pours all of it into one series.

At this point in their lives the Yakuza games are hardly unsung, unloved or underappreciated – after a long hiatus they even make their way over outside of Japan fairly regularly, even if localisation remains agonisingly slow – but they’re certainly not played by anyway near enough people. Maybe it’s the story that’s staggered and swayed its way through each game like a drunken Kamurocho businessman on the long walk home, or maybe it’s the intimidating sprawl that had accumulated by the time of Yakuza 5, the last mainline entry to make its way over here back in 2015.

Yakuza 0 feels like the perfect answer to both those concerns. It’s a prequel, for starters, shearing away so much of that flabby lore, while elsewhere it’s been trimmed down to the essentials. That might seem counter-intuitive when other open world games feel the need to go bigger, but Yakuza 0 proves the hoary old idiom of less is more. There are now just two protagonists and two districts to be explored here – Kazuma Kiryu stalks Kamurocho, the series’ long-running pastiche of Tokyo’s Kabukicho area, while Goro Majima runs the nightlife in Sotenbori, an analogue of Osaka’s own Dotonbori. It all amounts to a renewed sense of focus.

Yakuza’s PS4 remake is coming to the west

Yakuza Kiwami, the PS4 remake of the original 2005 game, is coming to PS4 in the west summer 2017 via publisher Deep Silver.

“Kiwami” means extreme in Japanese and this remake is not a remaster, but an entirely new game built from the ground up. As such, it will be in 1080p with 60fps and even the audio will be completely redone with largely the same voice actors reprising their roles.

It will also have roughly 30 minutes worth of new cutscenes. Plus your nemesis, the stylish Goro Majima, will pop up everywhere. So you can run into him at random locations, like convenience stores, and brawl with him.

Yakuza 0 release date set for January

Yakuza 0 will launch on 24th January in Europe and the Americas, Sega has announced.

It will be available both physically and digitally, exclusively on PS4.

Set in 1988, Yakuza 0 will let players assume the role of two different protagonists. There’s series stalwart Kazuma Kiryu and everyone’s favourite fashionable one-eyed mobster Goro Majima, before he became known as the Mad Dog of Shimano. This will be the first numbered game in the series where Majima is playable, as he was previously only a controllable character in the zombie spin-off Yakuza: Dead Souls.

Yakuza 0’s E3 trailer shows more mobster madness

Yakuza 0 has received a new E3 trailer showing us more of the game’s English version ahead of its “early 2017” release on PS4.

Set in 1988, this prequel serves as an origin story for series stalwart Kazuma Kiryu and fan-fave mob boss Goro Majima. Both will be playable. This will be the first time Majima, the Mad Dog of Shimano, will be playable in a numbered Yakuza title. He was previously only playable in the goofy zombie spin-off Yakuza: Dead Souls.

This latest trailer shows us some more of Yakuza 0’s distinctly Japanese pastimes, like talking to a sex worker at one of those “Telephone Clubs” where all you do is talk to women on a phone who you observe behind glass (like visiting someone in prison), because that’s a thing over there. Look carefully at the 1.07 mark of the trailer and see a flustered Kiryu ponder if he should ask this woman about baby ferrets, your blue feathers, your bath faucet, or your best feature. No one said being a gangster was going to be easy.