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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Review: Never Change You Silly Japanese Mob Sim

 by Jonathan Bilski

Last time on As Japan Turns... Even More Silly, our favorite Yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu had to serve time in jail for whatever shenanigans happened in the last game. He left his orphanage alone and his "daughter" Haruka dropped out of becoming an idol. We now continue in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, the crazy soap opera that only the Japanese think makes sense. Like walking into a surreal version of Japan made out of their TV shows cobbled together by some sort of oni comes the latest entry in the Yakuza series and it's worth your time and money checking out.

Yakuza 6 has you recently paroled and looking for Haruko in your old turf. Haruko somewhere down the line had a kid, Haruto. Babies having babies. And things have gotten really bad since you took time off to go to jail. You see the Triads (Chinese mob) are trying to take over the city your in with the Yakuza (Japanese mob) being taken out, the streets aren't safe, they're are roving gangs. Lucky, you have moves like a dragon.

A brawler, RPG and eventually a strategy game with gangsters, this game is so crammed with content it's hard to figure out what to do. I didn't know if I wanted to try collecting cats first for the cat lounge or figure out why my smart phone was gaining sentience. Yakuza 6 doesn't want you to stop playing it, it wants you playing it all the time. With mini games in it like karaoke, darts or trying to win over a hostess at a girly club, it's like the game is saying, "Sure, you could finish my main story, player-san. Or you could go the real gym we put in the game and make you character even stronger." Because, for some reason that put a real gym from Japan in the game and a bunch of real products, which blurs the line of reality until you glow blue, grab a bike and throw it at someone.

Other than missions and side quests you'll be leveling up your convoluted strength and skills by constantly getting into fights with whatever idiot crosses your path. The streets of the open sandbox city your in, which looks great, btw, has you knocking out foes all the time. Just really walk anywhere and you"ll be breaking heads. Trying to master moves and unlock them... and some are ridiculous like knocking someone into boobs or stopping someone with chop sticks, will make you try and earn enough points to power-up so you can pull those moves off.

You won't even question knocking someone out as a superhuman as you'll need all those powers for the main story about caring for a little baby boy as Yakuza's pure brand of overly done story starts to take shape. And that's only part of a story that just drops in Japanese celebs as characters and other weird stuff that shapes the world.

Yakuza 6 is a very detailed, strange place, that fans of Japanese culture will drown in. It makes fun of popular culture in it's side quests and has you starring as a Japanese soap opera protagonists who kicks butt, but still has time to find out about on-line dating for the first time.

It's a mad world and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the Napoleon of your psych ward. Don't miss out on this jam packed game.

Yakuza 6 is out now on PS4.

Game provided by publisher for review purposes.