Hey, Gamers! This week, I wanted to talk about some key differences between the ‘first’ two Yakuza games (in the timeline of events they’re the first but they were not the first released). I’ve been playing Kiwami quite a bit lately so I wanted to talk about it. I’ve not finished it completely (I’m on chapter 12, I think), but I’ve played enough to notice things. Yakuza 0 was my first Yakuza game, and I think it’s also important to mention that the Yakuza series has been Josh’s (my partner) favourite for about a year now. Let’s get on with it!
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami.
- The intensity of the plot
So when I was playing Yakuza 0 (from now on it will just be referred to as 0 for simplicity), I did a whole ton of cabaret club stuff and a whole bunch of real estate stuff because… you’re meant to, I think. But in 0, I didn’t feel the need to progress the plot until I was ready. With Yakuza Kiwami (from now on it will just be referred to as Kiwami), there’s a constant need to progress the plot. It just feels so much more intense and quick-paced than 0 did, which I think might be because Haruka is a child and she keeps getting kidnapped. I know I can go bowling or do karaoke but why would I when my friend has just been shot and I need to tell his girlfriend?
- There’s less to do
So in 0, there were the cabaret club czar and the real estate side quests to finish. There was also the telephone club, which I spent a whole lot of time in because I was bad at it. In Kiwami, there feels like there isn’t as much to do. I get why, like 20 years have passed, things obviously change. I think if there was a side quest like real estate in Kiwami, it would be odd. Even though there is less to do, it suits the game. Kiryu has just gotten out of prison and he’s very involved in things that he shouldn’t be, but his main focus is finding Yumi and protecting Haruka. He has something – someone – to focus on and having more to do would be an unwanted distraction.
I miss the bubble economy from 0. I miss having billions of yen. I miss Mr Shakedown.
Okay, so I know this isn’t a huge deal, and it might just be me but I hated playing as Kiryu in 0 because he was just so slow in comparison to Majima. However, now that I don’t have Majima as an option, I’ve gotten used to Kiryu’s combat a whole lot more and I think I prefer the combos now. It’s really fun and I feel so powerful. I feel like the more you spend points to get new abilities, the more fun you can have during combat. I’ve never been one for levelling up (Josh always nags me about it) but I am pretty good at it in Kiwami. I think the only one I’ve neglected is the one for heat actions, but I’m working on it now that everything else is like 85 points. Another interesting thing, and again this is personal, is that in 0 I was solely using rush. Now, I use brawler and beast because Josh told me that they’re closer to the dragon style used in the other games and they’re fun. I’m also using the block button a whole lot more, which is something I don’t think I ever did outside of the tutorials in 0 (I literally forgot what button was used to block).
It’s very clear when playing that 0 is a prequel that came out after the original game. This meant that the developers, knowing that they were going to make Kiwami (it was probably already in the making if you look at the release dates) and that would increase the popularity of the series, got a chance to look at the characters from the original game and re-establish them. They got to paint Nishki as a loving, loyal brother to Kiryu. They got to paint Majima as… not obsessed with fighting. They got to give characters a deeper backstory than they originally had the chance to. Even Dojima, who only shows up at the beginning of the original game to be murdered, got to be much more fleshed out because of 0. It’s clear to me that a lot of characters in 0 showed up because they were easter eggs if you will. Little nods to other games in the series. I don’t think 0 was ever meant to be someone’s first Yakuza game. I always think that if a prequel is made, it’s because the already established fans wanted to know more and that prequels are for an already established fan base. I know that I played 0 first but that’s because I am not the smartest person and I value story and character development over experiences games can give me. In Kiwami, even though it is a remaster, there isn’t that feeling of ‘I’m meant to know who this is’ apart from maybe Fighter who was originally in 0. Everyone is introduced as they should be for a first game, despite its prequel.
When comparing the characters that are in both games, it gets super interesting. Something I loved about Majima is seeing this pretty well put together young man descends into absolute chaos and not give a crap. You see that so much in Kiwami, especially with the Majima everywhere mechanic that wasn’t in the original game (Josh likes to tell me a lot that Majima was only in the original game 3 times). Just his love of chaos showing so much, and knowing where that came from is a powerful thing and I think the writers did an amazing job with Majima in both games.
I am incredibly thankful that I played 0 before Kiwami for one thing and one thing only: Nishiki. Just being able to spend time with him and get to know him before everything kicks off is something that I think benefitted me a lot. I’ve said before that I sometimes get over emotional and overly attached to fictional characters. I was lucky that Josh moved on to Kiwami so quickly so I knew Nishki was the antagonist due to the image on the menu. I had that in mind while playing the latter part of 0, but I love how everything played out and how you can see the difference and the changes and why they happened. It’s something special. I feel like there’s a lot of games that don’t give this much consideration as to how their characters turned out the way that they did, and I’m always happy to see good character development.
So, that’s it for this post, Gamers! Are there any differences that you want to talk about? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to reply ASAP! If you liked this post, give it a ‘like’ and follow my social media to stay updated! If you wanna watch me (and Josh) stream, then check out 2nerds_1game on Twitch, where we stream games nearly every day (Saturday is Yakuzaturday, where we are playing through all the games starting at 0). See you next post, Gamers!