European PlayStation 4 cover art
Yakuza Kiwami[a] is an action-adventure video game developed by Sega, and is a remake of Yakuza, the first game in the Yakuza series, originally released on the PlayStation 2. Yakuza Kiwami was released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan in 2016, and on PlayStation 4 in Europe and North America in 2017. It was released for Microsoft Windows worldwide on Steam on February 19, 2019.
Like the original game, Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure game with role-playing elements set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The player controls protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he explores the streets of Kamurocho, a fictional district of Tokyo based on the real-life Kabukichō district. In addition to the main story, players will randomly encounter enemies on the street to battle, as well as meet people that will offer Kiryu side quests which can be completed for rewards.
Similar to the prequel Yakuza 0, Kiwami features four fighting styles that the player can switch between in combat: the balanced Brawler style, the slow and heavy Beast style, the weak but quick Rush style, and Kiryu's traditional Dragon style. Players will earn both money and experience points by defeating enemies or completing side quests. Experience points can be used to acquire upgrades for Kiryu such as new techniques or an extension to his health bar. Money can be spent to purchase equipment or healing items, or to play various minigames and side-activities such as gambling, karaoke, and the card battle game Mesuking. Completing certain objectives will also grant the player special Completion Point currency; this CP can be spent to receive additional bonuses, such as special items or character upgrades.
Kiwami introduces a new gameplay system called "Majima Everywhere", in which rival character Goro Majima will appear frequently to challenge Kiryu to a fight. Majima will appear randomly during exploration, as well as in predetermined challenges based on the player's progress in Majima Everywhere. Majima will also sometimes appear when playing a minigame (like darts or bowling) and will challenge Kiryu. Defeating Majima in different scenarios will increase the player's Majima Everywhere rank and unlock new abilities in Kiryu's Dragon style.
Similar to the plot of the original Yakuza, the game centers around yakuza lieutenant Kazuma Kiryu and his decision to take the blame for a murder committed by his friend Akira Nishikiyama, spending ten years in prison before being granted parole. A free man, Kiryu discovers that Nishikiyama is now a powerful yakuza boss, his childhood friend Yumi has gone missing, and everyone is searching for ten billion yen that was stolen from his former organization, the Tojo Clan. As war erupts throughout the streets of Kamurocho between many different factions (including government agents and the Triad), Kiryu makes it his mission to find Yumi and the missing money, as well as to protect Haruka, a mysterious young girl whom everyone seems to be after. Eventually, this quest ends with a remorseful Nishikiyama sacrificing himself to kill Haruka's father, a corrupt politician bent on destroying the Tojo, and Yumi dying in Kiryu's arms from a gunshot wound. Rather than give into despair and allow himself to be arrested again, Kiryu leaves the Tojo and becomes Haruka's adoptive father. In a post-credits scene new to the remake, Kiryu and Haruka watch a mother and child talk about Santa, and Haruka asks how long Kiryu believed in Santa. Kiryu replies that he does not remember, and Haruka teases him for ever believing. As the game fades to black, Kiryu states that there's nothing wrong with believing in Santa.
However, the story also introduces two new plot lines focused on Nishikiyama and Majima, a ruthless Tojo captain and Kiryu's rival. In the latter's case, he is reintroduced as a sadistic and brutal yakuza who comes to despise Kiryu for his belief in the Tojo's traditional code of honor, which he regards as hypocritical. When Kiryu refuses to allow Majima to provoke him into physical combat, he swears to one day exact his revenge. The same day Kiryu is released from prison, Majima challenges him to a fight and wins, pointing out that Kiryu's once unbeatable combat skills have grown rusty after a decade behind bars. Feeling that it would be unfair to fight Kiryu at anything less than his physical prime, Majima arranges a series of elaborate scenarios to manipulate him into fight after fight, posing as, among other things, a taxi driver, a hostess, a police officer, a bartender, an idol, and even a zombie, as well as repeatedly ambushing him or just challenging him to fight on the streets. Though he initially regards Majima as a nuisance, Kiryu comes to recognize the usefulness of his efforts. He also realizes that Majima (albeit grudgingly) idolizes him for his strength and reputation and considers him his only true equal as a yakuza, to the point that he allows one of his men to stab him rather than Kiryu and gets shot helping his rival fight off an ambush by mutinous yakuza. Once Kiryu regains his abilities, Majima will challenge him to one final fight, after which he vows to continue fighting Kiryu for fun rather than to prove a point.
For Nishikiyama, his story is told through cutscenes that occur after each chapter is completed, explaining how he went from Kiryu's closest friend in the Tojo Clan to his greatest enemy: following Kiryu's arrest, Nishikiyama is given his own "family" to control, with the expectation that he would look out for Kiryu now that he had been banished from the clan. However, he proves to be an incompetent leader, allowing his men to muscle in on territory controlled by other bosses in order to raise money for an illegal heart transplant for his sister. Humiliated for his actions and learning that the surgeon embezzled the money to pay off his gambling debts before resigning from the hospital (and thus leaving his sister to die), Nishikiyama decides to atone for his failures by committing seppuku. When one of his men interrupts him, Nishikiyama's rage and anger over the realization that Kiryu will always overshadow him as a yakuza boils over, and he stabs the man to death before using the blood to slick back his hair, completing his transformation into the man Kiryu would encounter during the main story.
Kiwami improved the resolution, framerate, textures and loading times compared to the original game, and additional content was added to resolve some of the more confusing plot points, as well as tie the story more closely to the events of the prequel title Yakuza 0. A steelbook edition of the game was released as part of the Western launch.
A version for Microsoft Windows was released on February 19, 2019.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 versions were the top two best-selling games in Japan during their release week, selling 103,256 copies for PlayStation 4 and 60,427 for PlayStation 3. Sega's Chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi stated that the western preorders for Yakuza Kiwami were generally good for the series.
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