Hey, Gamers! Welcome back to my series where I defend things that most people feel like they didn’t need defending but I’ve heard bad stuff about, so I go on the defensive. I’ll link my other two posts at the end of this one, just in case anyone reading this is interested in the defence of Jaehee’s route from Mystic Messenger or Haru Okumura from Persona 5. Doubtful, but I’ll still do it. This post will cover Yakuza 3. Yes, instead of defending branches of games or a character from a game, I am jumping straight into defending a full game from a pretty well-known franchise. I thought this was a good idea until I started writing, but now I’m realising the issues. We’re still doing this because of course we are. Let’s go!
For reference, I’m a new Yakuza player. I started with 0 back in 2021, then Kiwami took me a super long time to complete, then I feel like Kiwami 2 took me longer but then I walked into Yakuza 3 fully expecting my journey with this series to end. I can tell you right now that this did not happen. I’m currently playing Yakuza 4. My partner has played all of the Yakuza games apart from the ones that were not brought out in the West (so including Judgment, but not Ishin). He’s going to check over this post before I post it… just because I know if I say something wrong, I’ll get attacked and quite frankly, I’d rather Josh make fun of me for the rest of my life than some random people on the internet in one comment. Regardless, my start to the Yakuza series was clearly modernised. That’s why I was so worried about 3. When I finished Kiwami 2, I went on the subreddits and all I saw was about blocking. The blocking is so bad, the normal enemies’ blocking is ridiculous, Majima is the most difficult boss fight… that’s all I can remember.
There are far worse things in Yakuza 3 than the blocking- like the chase sequences!
Okay, okay. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: blocking. Yeah, it’s annoying. But it’s not like in the Dragon engine where Kiryu spends like 5 seconds recovering from the shock that someone dared block him. To be completely honest with you, I barely noticed the difference in terms of gameplay. Even when it comes to Majima’s boss fight… it’s not as bad as it’s made out in the community. Yakuza 3 is not the worst Yakuza, and the ones who believe it is are clearly getting more frustrated about the gameplay and are ignoring the story.
Because you know what? Yakuza 3’s story is probably my second favourite so far, just behind Yakuza 0 (because Majima is my favourite character and therefore 0 will probably always be my favourite). It’s beautifully written, complimented by the side stories that the Yakuza games are known for and some that carry over from previous games. It’s a wonderfully crafted masterpiece that deserves some respect for what it is.
The Yakuza series is an old one. Whatever game they didn’t remake would automatically be seen as the ‘worst’ just because it’s the oldest and in this case, it’s not really fair. I know there’s always some people who will comment that they always thought Yakuza 3 was great, but from my experience in the community, they’re usually the quieter ones (or just drowned out by the love for Yakuza 0 and other, newer games). Just because there are newer, cleaner, better-looking games, that doesn’t mean the game is bad. It just means it’s old. Bad is not old, it’s just bad.
Of course there are bad parts of every game… like the chase sequences. But in Yakuza 3, the bad parts aren’t prevalent enough to overshadow the good parts. Yes, the combat is blocky but it’s a Yakuza game. The combat is such a prevalent part of the game that you get used to it… as long as you are willing to adapt. I know that might sound weird, saying the bad parts aren’t prevalent enough to be a big thing and then saying that the combat is a vital part of the game. It’s almost like the combat isn’t a bad part of this game… because it’s not. It’s just something you have to adapt to. I know that adapting to new things can be tiresome and frustrating (as an autistic person, I get very easily frustrated when I have to change my playstyle for the game I’m playing, so I get it) but when the game is as good as Yakuza 3 is, it’s worth it. It’s completely worth at least trying to adapt. The story is phenomenal.
I think that’s really my main point. If a game’s story is good enough, trying to adapt to the older gameplay is 100% worth it. In the case of Yakuza 3, the story is worth it. The characters are great, the story is well-paced and the side stories are as hilarious as always.
The Majima boss fight happens pretty early in the game. If you’re used to Yakuza games, even newer games, you’ll be fine. Yes, it’s hard but it’s a boss fight- it’s not meant to be easy. It might be annoying, and it might take you a couple of times. I’m not particularly good at these games; my biggest problem was that I didn’t think about getting healing items before it. So, get some good healing items and you’ll be golden. It’s not the hardest or most annoying boss fight in the series (in my opinion), there are at the very least equally difficult and annoying bosses than Majima in Yakuza 3.
But the fact that the Majima boss fight is so early in Yakuza 3 kinda helps you to adapt to the game. It helps you “get ready” for the blocky regular enemies. They’re not half as bad as the Majima boss fight that wasn’t as bad as everyone says it is, so it’s fine, right? There are so many enemies in Yakuza games that randomly make you fight them; you get used to it. It’s such a big part of the Yakuza games that when you really get into it, it’s fine. Especially after the Majima boss fight. I fully believe that the Majima boss fight was strategically placed to help people get used to the combat of the game. By the time his second boss fight comes around – still early on in the game – you’re used to the combat. He goes crazy defensive, yeah, but it’s not like there are little to no openings there. I repeat, there are much more annoying things in the Yakuza series than either of Majima’s boss fights in Yakuza 3. Majima everywhere, for one (that being said, I enjoyed Majima everywhere sooo).
I feel like this post has gone from “defending Yakuza 3” to “it’s fine, just play it, trust me, ok?” and while that wasn’t the intention, it’s hard to defend a full game to people that might not have played it. This game is so special and the idea of people being put off it because it’s the oldest without a remake makes me sad.
Lastly, let’s just take a second to appreciate this game for what it is. Yakuza 3 came out in 2009, on the PS3. That’s 13 years ago, and two console generations ago. It was the first Yakuza game to have Karaoke – a mini game that has become an iconic part of the series, to the point where people who haven’t played a Yakuza game still know Yakuza karaoke songs – , it brought so much of what we love about Yakuza games to the Yakuza series. I repeat and will continue to repeat: old does not mean bad.
Talking about what it is now, though, is just as important in this conversation. Yakuza 3 is the bridge between Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 4. Kiwami 2 was made in the Dragon engine (maybe not the best use of the Dragon engine, but it’s still a huge difference) and Yakuza 4 came out in 2010, again on the PS3. The jump between PS3 and PS4 games are massive and should never be overlooked. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone complain about the combat in Yakuza 4 because it’s such an improvement on the combat in Yakuza 3; I’ve not long started playing it and I already see so many quality of life improvements. But we see those improvements because we have Yakuza 3 and not Kiwami 3. They were never going to remake up to Yakuza 5, because each game has so many quality of life improvements that there is no point. Yakuza 3 is just the game that drew the short end of the stick. It’s a bridge game, but it’s still such a great game in itself and that should be talked about more.
That’s it for this post, Gamers! If you liked this post, give it a like. Follow this blog for more gaming content. Check out my socials if you want to be social. Remember that Josh and I stream over on Twitch @2nerds_1game (linked on my homepage) if you want to watch something chaotic. See you next post, gamers!
Some links you might like:
In defence of Haru, Persona 5: https://eleanorreesgaming.com/2021/09/06/in-defence-of-haru/
In defence of Jaehee’s route, Mystic Messenger: https://eleanorreesgaming.com/2020/12/20/in-defense-of-jaehees-route-mystic-messenger/
A previous Yakuza series post: https://eleanorreesgaming.com/2021/08/30/why-i-believe-kazama-ruined-everything-for-everyone-yakuza-series/