Sunken Treasures Games

Yakuza: Dead Souls

My love of SEGA’s Yakuza series has been well documented ~ through the good times and the bad. I remember the disappointment I felt when I heard Yakuza 3 would be coming to America without Hostesses; and the man-tears that were shed during the climactic finale of Yakuza 2. I remember playing through Yakuza 1 and laughing at (with?) the hilarious voice acting, then being blown away by how far the series and it’s characters had come in Yakuza 4. Hell, I even played through about half of the import only Kenzan and Kurohyou despite my limited knowledge of the Japanese language. I loved the Takashi Miike live action Yakuza movie – Like A Dragon – a crazy fun companion to the games that would confuse the bejeezus out of anyone who hadn’t played them. I own expensive soundtracks that I listen to while playing other games — and I’m currently drooling over the thought of the in-development Yakuza 5 – which I pray will find it’s way to our shores.

Kamurocho!  Wha-happened!?

So why all this gushing over the Yakuza series? Because as I wrap up my initial playthrough of the most recent game in the series, the zombie infested spin-off Yakuza: Dead Souls (I prefer the Japanese subtitle “of the End” but oh wells! xD) I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that this series has become my favorite of all time. I can’t think of a series I’ve invested more into. Dragon Quest is a close second, for sure, and Final Fantasy isn’t far behind, but man… THESE GAMES.

Yakuza: Dead Souls is a non-canon spin-off (much like Kenzan) that thrusts my favorite characters and the iconic city of Kamurocho into an undead apocalypse, complete with mutant zombie behemoths, unbelievably hilarious karaoke, and even a machine gun arm (think FFVII’s Barret).

The game steers a different course than it’s predeceessors and plays more like a shooter than a beat ’em up, though some fighting elements still remain. As horrible as what I’m about to say may sound, it reminds me of a third person Dynamite Cop or something, gameplay wise. xD The shooting controls feel very unconventional for this day and age, but after an hour or so of gunning through the zombie quarantine zone it’s pretty easy to get the hang of.

Throughout the game (much like in Yakuza 4) you take control of 4 different characters, all of which are from previous games. You progress through each of their stories, leveling up along the way, until everything culminates with the group working together to conquer evil. One of the characters who I was most excited to play was Goro Majima, a mainstay in the series since the very first game! He’s always been such a prominent character, so it was great having full control of him and getting to explore the usual Kamurocho hotspots and hear his unique take on everything.

Kamurocho!  Wha-happened!?

While the game does have moments of seriousness, for the most part it’s just hilarious. I love how the devs managed to capture the same silly side quests and mini-games from previous installments amidst the chaos. For example, after you liberate various shops and restaurants within the quarantine zone, you’re then able to make use of their services. So when you save a “Club SEGA” from the undead hooligans outside, you enter to find the employees wearing army helmets and sporting baseball bats — still happy to replace the prizes in the crane game should the need arise.

One of my favorite substories puts a film director and his trusty camera man in the position to create an incredibly realistic zombie action movie free of charge due to the world falling apart around them. Your character of course is the star of the show. ^_^

The next game in the series — Yakuza 5 — is set to debut a brand new graphics/in-game engine which is probably a good thing as Dead Souls still uses the same engine introduced with Kenzan in 2008. It’s definitely not the prettiest on the system, but the fantastic attention to detail is still there. Zombies look appropriately gory, and buildings look appropriately destroyed.

I kind of feel like this game is a swan song of sorts for the developers, as it’s their last game with an engine they’ve invested so much into. What better way to so goodbye than blowing everything up, I guess?

Kamurocho!  Wha-happened!?

Before I picked up the game I’d had the opportunity to play the demo when it was released on the Japanese Playstation Store nearly a year ago. At first I’d questioned whether or not I’d be able to work around the controls, or whether the spirit of the brawling heavy Yakuza series would still be able to thrive in this world of guns and guts. Well I’m happy to report that the spirit of these games is alive and well. It’s certainly a different experience but not in a bad way. And while it definitely benefits from knowledge of previous games, there’s a little something for everybody.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a date with a hostess and there’s a massive swarm of nasties that I’ll need to take care of along the way. If I don’t hurry and take her to the hot springs, WE MAY NEVER GET TO PLAY PING PONG TOGETHER. o.O;

4 Responses to “Yakuza: Dead Souls”

  1. Hahahaha! LOVE it!

    This game series is incredible! I would have to agree with you about it being the all time favorite. Sooo many wonderful moments, incredible fights, and inspiring story telling.

    Dead Souls has been a blast to watch you play. And even the few times I’ve picked up the controller to kills zombiez, I didn’t have problems getting the hang of the controls and fighting.


  2. I love the Yakuza series too! Haven’t checked in to this one yet though. Oh, I plan to but with so many games stacking up…

    Nice to hear you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to it in my future.

    Cheers =^.^=

  3. Ever play any of the Yakuza games on PSP?

  4. @Erik – I’ve dabble in the first Kurohyou on PSP – but not the second.

    @Hayley – As a fan of the series I’m sure you’ll love the game. It’s not without flaws, but there’s just too much to enjoy to ruin the experience. 😀

    KAMPAI! ^_^b

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