Source: Pexels by Stas Knop

The man who I considered a father-like figure is murdered in front of me

His killer, a masked man, makes short work of my brother and disappears into the night – leaving me to take the blame. In order to seek vengeance, I commit Dappan – becoming a ronin – and seek the killer.

My search leads me to Kyoto, looking for the user of a sword style known as Tennen Reshin. Finding that this style is used by only a handful of samurai in the Shinsengumi, I join their ranks hoping to find the masked killer.

But, yo! Lemme just tend to my garden real quick!

A bizarre concoction of yakuza cinema-style stories

Honestly, the Like A Dragon series (formerly Yakuza) is often a bizarre concoction of yakuza cinema-style stories – often peppered with a great deal of betrayal – and absolutely random mini-games, activities, and side stories. In the main series alone, this has run the gamut from:

  • Managing a hostess bar, where beautiful women keep you company- and keep you paying.
  • Being a taxi driver – the fun kind, not the Travis Bickle kind
  • Collecting trash on a tricycle, while avoiding fellow collectors, in order to earn money.
  • Using telephone chat lines to meet women- with often sexy results

And this list goes on and on

There are the Sega arcades where you can play Virtua Fighter or Space Harrier. That time you had to make friends with cats- in order to help a cat café owner. In the most recent remake of Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin!, there was a side story about a child who loved vegetables, and our protagonist would oblige him every time he passed. There’s so much to do!

Wait, wasn’t there something I was supposed to be doing?

Oh, that’s right.

The main story (Sorry about that)

So, I’m in Kyoto – the capital of Japan. In order to figure out who killed my master, I’ve decided to join the Shinsengumi – a sort of samurai death squad formed by the Bakufu. You see, for the personal journey I’m currently on, there’s a political situation on the verge of exploding. Samurai from different parts of Japan are coming together in an effort to end the Tokugawa Shogunate. Something to do with the black ships that rolled in and…

Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I just had to feed this hungry Sumo.

I mean, if it’s not him I’m helping, it’s the frail old woman who isn’t quite up to walking much these days. It’s a nice change of pace from the weird guy who keeps asking to look at my swords- like he has some kind of Samurai fetish. Seriously, it feels like I can’t walk around a corner without either entering a fight- or meeting some peculiar person that I’ll end up developing a relationship with.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Like a Dragon in it’s entirety.

The ultimate selling point of these games.

You can complete the original Sonic The Hedgehog pretty quickly if you try hard enough. Seems like a Modern Warfare campaign will only take a few hours before you’ve seen everything. This damn series, however, seems to delight in saying :

“Listen, there’s some Yakuza stuff going down that’s pretty heavy duty with lots of masculine shouting and posing… but never mind that stuff, go out into the world and see all the weirdos that inhabit these places!”

This is ultimately the selling point of these games. They’re jam-packed to the rafters with just about everything you can think of, that you can possibly do.

God forbid they add in Forklift racing as they had in Shenmue. I’d never see the light of day again.

Published by AJ Toothill

Creative Writing and Music student with the Open University. Fond of writing in a comedic tone known as 'Absolute lunacy'.

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