North American PlayStation 4 cover art
|Developer(s)||Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio[a]|
Yakuza 0[b] is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Sega. It is the sixth main entry in the Yakuza series and a prequel to the original game. It was released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan in March 2015, and in North America and Europe for PlayStation 4 in January 2017. It was released on Microsoft Windows on 1 August 2018.
Yakuza 0 is an action-adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The game takes place in December 1988, in Kamurocho and Sōtenbori, fictionalized recreations of Tokyo's Kabukichō and Osaka's Dōtonbori areas respectively. The player controls series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and recurring character Goro Majima, alternating between the two at predetermined points during the story.
Players can freely walk around Kamurocho and Sotenbori, interacting with people they meet to trigger side-quests, battling enemies who attack them on the street, or playing one of several minigames, including fully playable versions of Sega arcade games such as Out Run, Super Hang-On, Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone. Completing certain objectives, such as eating every dish at a restaurant or reaching a target score in a minigame, will also grant the player special Completion Point currency; these Completion Points can be spent at a shrine to receive additional bonuses, such as special items or character upgrades.
Character customization and growth is similar to the system from Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin!, with abilities earned by buying them off of a skill tree that is gradually unlocked during the game. Instead of using experience to buy skills, the player uses money acquired from fights or via Kiryu and Majima's side businesses. Money is more liberally awarded in Yakuza 0 than in previous entries, with every heavy attack causing enemies to drop cash. The player can lose their money if they encounter a special enemy called Mr. Shakedown, huge men who are far stronger than normal. If the player is beaten, they will lose all their cash, but can beat the enemy again to earn back their money and extra.
Kiryu and Majima also have side businesses that they run during the game to earn money: Kiryu invests real estate in Kamurocho, while Majima runs a cabaret club. Completing side-quests will often result in characters they meet offering to help with side businesses, allowing them to more easily and quickly progress. Progressing in side business sequences or training with specific masters will unlock additional abilities for purchase on the characters' skill trees.
A major innovation of Yakuza 0 is the addition of fighting styles for both Kiryu and Majima that can be switched in the middle of battle. Kiryu utilizes the balanced Brawler style, similar to that of previous entries; the powerful but slow Beast style, which allows him to use heavy weapons; and the fast boxing-based Rush style, which emphasizes mobility. Conversely, Majima uses the balanced Thug style; the weapons-oriented Slugger style, primarily focused around a baseball bat; and the tricky dance-based Breaker style. Completing Kiryu and Majima's side businesses will unlock an additional "Legendary" fighting style for the characters, the "Dragon of Dojima" and "Mad Dog of Shimano" styles, respectively.
In December, 1988, two unlikely figures from the Yakuza world, Kazuma Kiryu of the Kantō region and Goro Majima of the Kansai Region, have suddenly found themselves getting involved in the terrible events of the so-called "Empty Lot" dispute, which is the centerpiece of power struggle for all the dark organizations across Japan. In order to find out the truth behind such a power struggle, as well as maintain their own innocence and safety, they set out to investigate all the events surrounding the Empty Lot incident.
In Kamurocho, Tokyo, Kiryu is suspected of murder after the man that he has collected money from winds up dead in the Empty Lot. Kiryu's boss, Sohei Dojima, offers a promotion to second-in-command of the Dojima Family to whomever can find the deed to the land, and thus the most ruthless members go after Kiryu. Forced out of the family, Kiryu meets a man named Tetsu Tachibana, who owns a real estate company and promises to help Kiryu clear his name. Kiryu learns that Tachibana was hired by his then-incarcerated foster father, Shintaro Kazama, in order to assist him in preventing the Empty Lot from falling into Dojima's hands. While waiting for Tachibana to gather information about the lot's owner, Kiryu is hired by Tachibana as a real estate agent. Kiryu's involvement with Tachibana Real Estate causes him to be targeted by members of the Dojima Family, particularly his three lieutenants: Daisaku Kuze, Hiroki Awano and Keiji Shibusawa. Kiryu decides to sever ties with his associates, including his oath brother, Akira Nishikiyama, and Kazama Family's captain, Osamu Kashiwagi, in order to protect them from Dojima's wrath. After a brief showdown against Kuze on the streets of Kamurocho, Kiryu is rescued by Tachibana, who later reveals his true identity as a former Chinese mafia member. Tachibana later takes Kiryu to the Tojo Clan's headquarters, where they negotiate with the Acting Second Chairman, Takashi Nihara, and reach an agreement to protect Kiryu from the Dojima Family. Later on, Tachibana reveals to Kiryu the identity of the Empty Lot's owner: a psychologically-induced blind woman named Makoto Makimura, who resides in Sōtenbori, Osaka.
In Sōtenbori, Majima runs a cabaret club after being exiled from the Tojo Clan due to the botched Ueno-Seiwa hit years earlier, involving his oath brother, Taiga Saejima. Despite the success of his club, he realizes it's nothing more than a cage as he's under constant surveillance. One day, Majima's supervisor, Tsukasa Sagawa of the Omi Alliance, offers him a chance to rejoin the Shimano Family by assassinating a target named Makoto Makimura. Majima's search takes him to a chiropractic clinic, where he learns that Makoto is a receptionist and under the protection of the clinic's owner, Wen Hai Lee. Majima kidnaps Makoto, taking her to an abandoned warehouse, where he keeps her as he sets out to find answers as to why Makoto is being hunted. Lee suggests murdering a look-alike of Makoto and using the body to trick Majima's bosses, but he refuses to do it; however, a yakuza patriarch named Homare Nishitani carries out the deed in his place, forcing Majima to lie to Sagawa about Makoto's murder. Later on, Sagawa's men discover Majima's secret warehouse where he keeps Makoto, forcing both of them and Lee to flee. They make it back to Lee's clinic to take his car, but it is rigged to explode, killing Lee in the process. Sagawa attempts to kill Majima and Makoto, but is stopped by a mysterious assailant, who carries Makoto away. Sagawa and Majima work together to find the identity of Makoto's new captor. Majima visits Homare Nishitani of the Omi Alliance in prison, and learns from him that the man is Masaru Sera, president of the Nikkyo Consortium, a secret organization within the Tojo Clan. After Nishitani is betrayed and killed by one of the police officers in the station, Majima makes his escape and returns to Sagawa, and both of them head to the Consortium's headquarters. Majima storms through the base and confronts Sera, who reveals to him that Makoto had already been taken away by Tachibana Real Estate's men prior to Majima's arrival. Sera is then shot in the back by Sagawa, who pulls Kiryu's business card from Sera's pocket.
Eight hours before Majima's arrival at the Consortium HQ, Kiryu and Tachibana's right-hand man, Jun Oda, met with Sera and escorted Makoto back to Kamurocho. On the way back, they are pursued by Shibusawa and his men. They narrowly escape Shibusawa and hide at a construction site, but Oda attempts to betray them. Upon being subdued by Kiryu, Oda reveals that Makoto is Tachibana's biological sister, and that he was the person who sold Makoto to Korean mafia many years ago, when she moved from China to Sōtenbori in search of Tachibana. Kiryu and Makoto are forced to leave Oda behind as they return to Kamurocho, and Oda is killed by Shibusawa for failing to deliver Makoto to him as promised. Upon returning to Kamurocho, Kiryu meets up with Tachibana and prepares to take him to see Makoto, but is stopped by Dojima Family members, as well as Lao Gui, a Chinese assassin who was hired by Dojima to set up the Empty Lot murder and frame Kiryu. Tachibana willfully surrenders and goes with Lao Gui, in order to spare Kiryu. After recovering, Kiryu encounters Nishikiyama and reconciles with him. The two of them track down Tachibana, who is tortured by Kuze and his men in a basement. They successfully defeat Kuze, but Tachibana succumbs to his injuries and dies.
Majima and Sagawa travel to Kamurocho, in search of Makoto. The two learn from the head of the Shimano Family, Futoshi Shimano, that he never intended to kill Makoto, and that he knew Majima wouldn't be able to follow the order; he hoped for Majima to be able to gain Makoto's trust, and convince her to give the Empty Lot's deed to Shimano himself without trouble. Majima later wanders Kamurocho in search of Kiryu, and battles against both Kashiwagi and Nishikiyama; he learns from the latter about Makoto's disappearance, and goes to the Empty Lot, where he finds Makoto. Majima learns that Makoto has partially regained her vision following Tachibana's death, and that she wishes to avenge her brother by demanding Dojima's three lieutenants' heads in exchange for the Empty Lot deed. In a moment, she escapes Majima's sight and goes to meet Dojima in an attempt to negotiate a deal. Dojima, however, refuses to accept the deal, and has Lao Gui shoot her instead, just as Majima arrives at the scene. After clearing out Dojima's men, Majima and Sera, who survived Sagawa's gunshot, rush Makoto to the hospital.
Shibusawa later learns of Makoto's survival and sets out to track her down at all costs, forcing Kiryu to attempt to stop him. He and Nishikiyama travel to the docks, where the Nikkyo have put Makoto on one of their ships. A fight breaks out between Shibusawa's men and the Nikkyo, as well as members of the Kazama Family, led by Kashiwagi. Kiryu confronts Shibusawa and duels against him, and emerges victorious. Nishikiyama, however, stops Kiryu from killing Shibusawa, not wanting him to cross the line. Meanwhile, Majima arrives at Dojima Family's headquarters, taking down every one of its members along the way, including Awano. Awano is killed while trying to defend Majima from Lao Gui. Dojima then commands the assassin to kill Majima, but the latter prevails and prepares to murder both of them. Sera arrives and stops Majima, announcing his new ownership of the Empty Lot, and convincing him to stand down. He instructs Majima to kill Shimano for betraying the Tojo Clan to the Omi Alliance, but Majima spares him instead, as he wants to learn the truth behind Saejima's fate. Shimano kills an Omi Alliance envoy in return to deny his involvement with them, and reinstates Majima into his family.
A month following the incident, Sera is promoted to Third Chairman of the Tojo Clan for his acquisition of the Empty Lot. Kiryu sets out to find his own path as a yakuza by rejoining the Dojima Family. As punishment for his failure to secure a deal with the Shimano Family, Sagawa is killed by members of the Omi Alliance. Majima, inspired by Lee and Nishitani, decides to adopt a more crazy, carefree personality. He encounters Makoto, who does not recognize him, as well as her doctor, who has feelings for her. Majima encourages the doctor to take care of Makoto, then leaves the scene. In a post-credit scene, Makoto visits the Empty Lot to pay respects to her brother, and finds her stopwatch, repaired by Majima, buried in the ground. Majima finally meets Kiryu for the first time in Kamurocho, and greets him gleefully.
The game was first announced in a special Yakuza event on 24 August 2014, together with a trailer. A Chinese-language localization of the game was announced in 2014 and eventually released in Asia in May 2015. Shonan no Kaze performed the game's main theme and ending theme, "Bubble" and "Kurenai" respectively; these songs were not licensed for the English release and were instead replaced by original instrumental tracks.
On 5 December 2015, at PlayStation Experience in San Francisco, Sony Computer Entertainment's Gio Corsi announced that Yakuza 0 would be coming to the Americas for the PlayStation 4. Initially, no official confirmation was made of a European release. In July 2016, it was announced that the game would release in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 4 in January 2017.
Western localization of the game was led by Scott Strichart, associate producer of Atlus USA, who has localized Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Yakuza 6. The team took a year and a half to localize Yakuza 0, which has 1.8 million Japanese characters, nearly twice as many as the average JRPG, which has 1 to 1.2 million Japanese characters. In addition to challenges translating tone and humor, Strichart's team at Atlus had difficulties localizing traditional Asian games, including Mahjong and Shogi. In order to make these minigames accessible to Western audiences, Atlus had to provide detailed rules alongside gameplay. During the localization process, Strichart said the team wrote a total of "34 pages of Mahjong explanation."
The game debuted at number 1 on the Japan software chart in its first week of release. The PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4 version sold 146,000 units and 90,000 sales respectively. PlayStation LifeStyle's review of the import version was a 9/10, calling it the best in the series and "the result of 10 years spent not just perfecting a formula, but adding to it." The game received a 36/40 from Famitsu on both platforms. Eurogamer ranked the game 45th on their list of the "Top 50 Games of 2017", while Polygon ranked it 44th on their list of the 50 best games of 2017, and The Verge named it as one of their 15 Best Video Games of 2017.
As of 28 June 2018, Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami were relaunched as PlayStation Hits. The games, as with all PlayStation Hits games, come in a red case and retail for $19.99 in both the United States and Canada.
As of June 2015, the game has sold over 500,000 copies within Japan and Chinese-speaking regions of Asia. Sega president Haruki Satomi stated that the Chinese version of the game sold more than originally expected.
The game was nominated for "Best PS4 Game" in Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017, and for "Best Action-Adventure Game" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards; it also became a runner-up for "Best Style" in Giant Bomb's 2017 Game of the Year Awards. The game won the award for "Best Main Character" (Goro Majima) in Game Informer's 2017 game of the Year Awards.
|2017||Golden Joystick Awards||PlayStation Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|2018||National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards||Game, Franchise Action||Nominated|||
|Original Light Mix Score, Franchise||Nominated|
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