Knowing your place
We’ve written a lot about the Yakuza series in Edge over the years. There is much to love about it: its personality, its whimsy, its seediness and human drama. Yet the key to the series’ success, and the core of our regard for it, is its stability. Every game in the series has featured the same core cast of characters, deepening our connection to the main players. Crucially, all have also been set in the same corner of Tokyo. You come to know the place like the back of your hand, and each new release feels oddly like a homecoming. This is a rare sensation in videogames – long-running series tend to owe their success to the ways in which they change, rather than how still they stand – and it’s all the more powerful for it.
In Project Judge (p38), we once again return to Kamurocho, the mocked-up Tokyo red-light district that powers the Yakuza games. Yet the latest game from Toshihiro Nagoshi features an all-new protagonist, and a very different set-up; you’re not a regretful ex-mobster here, but a lawyer, spurred into action after the death of a loved one. Seeing Kamurocho through fresh eyes is a strange feeling: if a new Yakuza is like putting on a favourite pair of slippers, Project Judge feels like wearing someone else’s. It’s an odd sensation that’s only possible because we know Kamurocho so well.
Capcom is pulling a similar trick with its lavish, ground-up remake of Resident Evil 2 (p34). While it’s aimed at least in part at players who were too young to play the PS1 game all those years ago, Capcom clearly hopes that crinklier fans will pick up the game too – and is messing with them a bit. Level layouts have been shuffled around, existing rooms rejigged and entire new ones added on, to ensure that even those who know the original game backwards are kept on their toes. Familiarity’s a rare thing in a medium with such itchy feet. But on the occasions when we do find it, it inspires little in the way of contempt.