Yakuza Zero

Ex­cess rules in Sega’s paean to Ja­pan’s fi­nan­cial peak


PS3, PS4, Vita

Yakuza Zero’s slo­gan prom­ises “Money, women and vi­o­lence.” While th­ese words could be ap­plied to any Yakuza game, ev­ery­thing is turned up to 11 in this pre­quel, which sends its cast back to 1988, the mid­dle of Ja­pan’s eco­nomic bub­ble.

“What you see in the trailer is re­ally how it was at the time – it’s not a par­ody,” says se­ries cre­ator Toshi­hiro Nagoshi, who was in his early 20s in 1988. “For ex­am­ple, the part in the trailer where peo­ple are wav­ing ¥10,000 notes in the street to flag down a taxi re­ally used to hap­pen. I once saw a guy in a drink­ing es­tab­lish­ment flash open a suit­case full of money to im­press the ladies. That’s the sort of time it was.”

In an ex­tended trailer at Septem­ber’s Tokyo Game Show, Sega showed off a young Kazuma Kiryu, a man yet to be hum­bled by the prison stretch that trans­formed him into the anti-hero we know to­day, as well as a mild-man­nered Goro Ma­jima, who’s run­ning a host­ess club. “They’re both still young out­laws,” Nagoshi says. “Kiryu is the vi­o­lent type and he likes to get his hands dirty, while Ma­jima is earn­ing a com­fort­able liv­ing and is quite well ad­justed. He’s quite the op­po­site of the Ma­jima fans know to­day.” The story traces the two gang­sters’ early dal­liances with the world of or­gan­ised crime. Ma­jima in par­tic­u­lar has a lot of change ahead of him, trig­gered when un­pleas­ant clan pol­i­tics land him in the un­wanted po­si­tion of hav­ing to make his first kill. He’s des­tined to be­come a ruth­less killer, so the sight of him trem­bling as he at­tempts to dis­patch his tar­get is cap­ti­vat­ing. And when he dis­cov­ers his mark is a blind woman called Makoto Makimura, he ends up res­cu­ing her. (Among

In pe­riod style, the Tokyo red-light dis­trict of Ka­muro­cho is packed with os­ten­ta­tious sex shops.

Goro Ma­jima be­gins this game as an ex-yakuza who is told he can re­turn to the Tojo clan for a deadly price. His un­rav­el­ling life prom­ises to be a ma­jor draw in

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