Yakuza 0’s Cabaret Is Taking Over My Life

What’s more fun, being a rugged ex-Yakuza brutally beatings thugs on a quest to solve a mystery…..or dressing up women and saddling them with rich men for an hour? A few days ago I would have said being a roguish gangster but Yakuza 0 has proven me very wrong. In Yakuza 0 you play as 2 characters. Stoic Kiryu and the dangerous Majima. I’ll probably review the game one day so I won’t get into too depth of a description. Once this blasted mini game releases me from its sweet, alluring embrace I’ll get round to finishing it. After you do a certain story mission you switch to the other character and you begin a new chapter. I’ve been playing on chapter 8 with Majima for over a dozen hours. I’ve nearly forgotten how Kiryu’s distinct fighting styles play. At a certain point in the game Majima inherits a cabaret club. Now for the uninitiated, a cabaret club in this universe, revolves around men paying for the pleasure to have a woman sit and chat to them for a bit.

As Majima your job is to recruit the girls around your district and utilise their natural charms to appease the local male clientele. Each lady has stats. HP, Talk, Love, Party, Skill are what govern each individual girl. Every time you open your cabaret doors to customers, you choose a team of 8 women. As you progress through the game you will unlock new clientele targets, which will have certain tastes and will prefer particular stats over the other ones. There are different kinds of customers too; Poor, Average, Wealthy and Mega-Rich. Obviously the aim of the game is to appease the wealthiest and rinse their pockets of their money. Whenever you put a certain girl into the roster for the night, she will level up when the shift is done. When this happens, her stats will increase. The max level is 30 and once there, the stats won’t increase. Level 40 is the max level for platinum girls. Platinum girls you ask? Yes, all the women are ranked. Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Platinum girls are very special and there are only 8 in the game. These girls are special and have side story content and dialogue attached to them. Platinum girls are also the only girls that you can dress up and customise. You buy them clothes and accessories so they can earn you more money. You gotta spend money to make money in this business.  With Platinum girls you also get the opportunity to train them in their banter with customers or even take them on faux dates to boost their confidence. But be a perfect gentleman! If you don’t banter well enough with the wonderful ladies, they won’t level up as much as they could. Just like real life.

Mana

You still reading? Good. I think I’ve got the basics covered. Now onto business. Before you open the cabaret doors, you need to select a team of 8 gals. It’s kind of like Pokemon. You want the heavy hitters in your team but you also want the less experienced ones to be there to gain experience and evolve. That metaphor went a lot better than I anticipated. But don’t push the lovely ladies too far! You over work them and they may become sick and absent. Not only that but if you overwork them their mood will go down which in turn will affect the customer’s mood and your wallet will grow less than The Grinch’s heart that fateful Christmas. Once, the doors open the customers will come in. They’ll stream in at an even pace which is nice. You have 6 booths and they will fill up steadily. When a customer sits down you will be given a brief criteria and also his financial status. He may be seeking a laugh for the night and therefore he’d like a girl to talk too and he may want a longer than normal session. If he’s Mega-Rich he may ask for a certain girl so as you can tell, the more you play the tougher it gets. Difficulty increases based on the customers finances. That’s why levelling up your gal pals is important. When, a customer is seated a little timer will appear at their table. During that time your cabaret worker may call you over for assistance. The lady will then prompt you with a hand gesture and you have to decode the gesture and select the correct option out of 4. There are a rotation of answers but some include a menu and a refill of ice. Doing the correct action will allow your worker to recover some of her health as working causes that to drain. It will also make the customer happy or yield a bit of extra yen. When the timer is up, the customer will want the check. You will have a choice of options here. You may be given the option to offer the guest an extension with his hostess. Maybe, you could give him a gift so that he spreads the good word of your workplace, providing more customers. Praising your worker is an option so she recovers health. And other choices. If you guest isn’t with a lady he likes though he may kick off and you will have to try to appease the guest and situation so choose who you sit your guests next to wisely.

Hostess-Stats

There’s a lot to go over with this mode so I’m going to skip some details but you get the idea.  There is also a spending spree party mode juice that you accumulate over time. When you have enough, you can use the juice to send several random customers into a spending frenzy. Timing is important with this as there are tiers of party mode juice. Level 1 will put 2 random people into Mister Spendalot’s. Level 2 will do the same for 4 and level 3 will put all tables into a merry time. This is key to making the most money as not only does it let you increase your cash flow for a brief time, it also raises the guests moods and recovers HP for your seated workers. I’ve not even got started on the competition! You aren’t the only cabaret club in town. There are several districts which each have the top dog cabaret club of that area. As you earn more fans from those areas you will be challenged to a cabaret club-off where you will compete with your current rival. If you win you will gain their best worker and they will be gone from the story, which in turn will progress the cabaret club side mission which is consuming my life. To defeat these might cavaliers of the adult industry you must recruit the help of local businesses. By investing money into a business you can team up and they will help spread the word of your club, garnering more fans and more customers. This cycle of earning money from the cabaret club, spending money to raise awareness of your club and repeating creates a very satisfying loop. It’s immensely fun earning millions of yen in one Yakuza 0 evening whereas 10 hours before that 1 million yen seemed like a fortune.

All of this combined has created an endorphins drip into my brain. The numbers go up, wallet gets big, I raise awareness, number go up more, wallet gets fat and repeat till satisfied. I’m currently on the last cabaret club so I believe my side mission is coming to an end. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop playing the cabaret club scene! Not only is it incredibly satisfying, it rakes in big quick money and it’s just fun to play. If Yakuza 0 had a 50 hour cabaret club DLC, I would be a very happy chappy. Until then though, all I can do is sing its praises and if you have Yakuza 0 and you have the cabaret club a miss, I highly recommend it. It’s similar to The Witcher 3’s Gwent in addictiveness so be careful with that. Anyway, thanks for reading and if you’ve got anything to add feel free to sound off in the comments. Cheers.

Spider-Man PS4 Review

Amazing? Spectacular? Even Superior? The answer is none of the above. Before you close this article, I did really enjoy this game. There are just a few things that hold it back that are substantial.  Firstly, this is a fun game. Since playing Spider-Man 2 over a decade ago, I’ve craved another game that provides the arachnid hero’s feel of mobility. Insomniac has done a tremendous job here of make traversal as Spider-Man, the highlight of the game. Swinging around New York is an absolute blast. Even when I had a way marker on the screen, rather than going the direct and quickest route, I would be frolicking all the way there. They nailed what it’s like to be Spider-Man.

But before I get ahead of myself, I should set the scene and talk about the story itself. So in Spider-Man on the PS4, you play as Wolverine. No wait that’s the wrong hero isn’t it? Obviously you play as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and Spider-Man doesn’t need to be explained, we all know his powers and who he is. Also, I’m getting sick of typing Spider-Man and when the main character is the titular title it becomes extra annoying so from now on, when I refer to Spider-Man himself it’s SM! SM is the main character, with a few occasions the player takes control of Peter’s ex Mary Jane and newcomer in Peter’s life, Miles. Without giving away too many story beats, I was really surprised by the narrative. It’s not a video game classic but the story is well told and full of nuance. There is a good story here and quite a mature one at that. It’s a classic, good vs evil story but there’s a lot of different threads which weave nicely into a cohesive, well told tale.

Not only does the cutscenes and dialogue fill us in on SM’s life but the oodles of side content help to characterise our hero. It weaves a world that feels lived in by SM/Peter Parker. This isn’t an origin story, in fact SM has been Spider-Man-ing for over half a decade. And through side content and collectables, a life of a web slinger is fleshed out. here is a plethora of backpacks, photo opportunities, combat scenarios and my favourite…….pigeon chases. Seriously a group of side missions have you yanking a pigeon out of the sky. Me thinks using a pigeon’s body weight as an anchor or pulling the pigeon to yourself at high speed would pulverise the winged critter but apparently they’re built to last in New York. Also, just to annoy you, try to get the Hanna Barbera song Stop the Pigeon out of your head next time you go for one of those bad boys in Spider-Man.

You’re welcome.

New York itself is a character and Insomniac has done a great job of creating a large playground. I would have liked there to be more unique buildings for fun traversal but what they’ve created is a very good emulation of the big apple. Which, brings me to the web swinging. I like the fighting of this game, I love the swinging. The way SM moves and flows through the air is something else. I don’t get bored with how it feels. Leaping of a web swing right at it’s highest point or dive bombing from a skyscraper just looks and feels the business. There’s fast travel in this game and I don’t think I’ll ever use it. The swinging is the best part of the game and it amplifies my enjoyment of the rest of the game. There is a ton of side content in this game and actually getting to that content is so much fun. A bit more variety in the side missions would be appreciated but the swinging saves the tedium. In other games I could barely care about finding a backpack or repetitive side missions where I swing through smoggy areas for samples. But most of the side missions involve more opportunities to sling webs and I want to indulge in that. Going to a funeral isn’t fun but if you got to drive a monster truck there then that’s a different thing. The combat is fantastic. It took me a while to get used to it as well as I did with Batman Arkham Asylum but once you get used to the controls it flows really well. It’s very similar to the Batman games but with Spider-Man charm. It’s a delight to watch SM’s acrobatic moves when dispatching thugs and the array or gadgets and suits keep the combat from getting stale. As a quick mention, the different suits in the games are a great addition and look amazing. The fact that most of them come with a unique power as well, it’s these little additions that show that Insomniac know how to make a character fun to play.

Spider-Man-Noir-Suit
Currently my favourite suit.

Which, brings me to which characters aren’t fun to play. And one of the main things that holds this game back for me. The Mary Jane and Miles missions. Not all of them. There’s 1 Miles mission I liked and I think 1 Mary Jane mission but that was because it involved SM and had a nice gimmick to it. But the other times, you have to play as these characters skulking around, looking for information or just trying to evade capture from enemies.  They are just not that fun and I don’t oppose to playing as side characters in games. It gives instances to show unique gameplay or story. But the scenarios they’re in and the tools at our disposal need to be interesting or fun. Most of the MJ or Miles parts can be summed up as *wait for guard to look in opposite direction before moving* or *make a noise to draw attention to a spot and then move towards objective*.  It’s a flow breaker after playing as a fast, capable character. You feel stilted and robbed of more SM time. I wouldn’t mind as much if it was one or two in a 15+ story but it seemed to be every 2-3 hours a slow mission reared its head. To the point where when dialogue started leading to a ‘I wonder what predicament Mary Jane has got herself into this time’, I would start mentally asking the game to just show me a cutscene of what happened to her. Please game, take the control from me and show a brief scene that gives me the exposition!  I was never bored when playing as Peter Parker because they were brief and interesting. Hell I would play as one of the pigeons! That’d be a great introduction to that side mission. Getting chased through Central Park by a man in red and blue spandex.

The game also doesn’t have enough ‘WOW that’s what it’s like to be a hero’ missions early on. The last 4 hours or so of the game are so so good. They have SM, a super hero, doing super hero level things. Saving citizens and stopping robberies is hero stuff but I feel like the grand scale missions were all mostly on the back end. It made for a great few hours but now I’m thinking on my new game plus that those first few hours are going to seem like a bit mundane in comparison. Like I said, the swinging and combat are both excellent so I’m sure it won’t be an issue but a few great missions with bigger scope peppered throughout the early hours would have been appreciated. Instead of the aforementioned Mary Jane and Miles missions. When all is said and done though, Spider-Man is a well crafted, fun game. It has a great story, looks beautiful, the music score is on point and overall it is a fun game. I would very much recommend this one and I just hope that Insomniac rethinks some of their mission choices for the sequel. A fantastic game let down by a few missteps but a fantastic game nevertheless.

Dead Cells Tips

Currently I’m trying to clear a Dead Cells run. I got far but not far enough,  yesterday I got to the final boss (I think it is anyway) and died miserably. But I now continuously get within range of that fight. I’m not a master of the game but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. So here are a few things I’ve learned and you never know, they may help you too.

  1. Everyone will have their own way of playing Dead Cells. Some will prefer bows to shields, or traps to grenades. I’ve no intention of saying ‘There’s only one way to win and if you don’t do this you’re stupid’. What I will say though is on each run, pick a focus. To simplify; there’s 3 stats you can upgrade. Brutality, Tactics and Survival. For your best chance, even though I know it’s tempting to spread your upgrades evenly, try to funnel most of the upgrades into one category. Specifically, a category that buffs most of your gear. Combine that with the right mutations and you’re building a strong run. For example, Twin Daggers, Firebrands, Powerful Grenade and Fire Grenade, which are all Brutality gear (red colour). Add the mutation which lets grenades almost half their cooldown, throw in 10-20 stat increases into the Brutality stat and you have a strong bit of kit.
  2. Continuing on from my ‘pick a focus and stick to it’, I’ll now say, maybe don’t always do that. Yes, I’m being contradictory! For good reason too. This game isn’t Blondie’s One way or Another. It’s not black and white. Pick a focus but be flexible. If you find gear along the way that is better than your current gear, give it a go. It may not be in sync with your other weapons but its overall stats may be better. Not only that but…….
  3. ……..Use weapons that you’re comfortable with. Now if you did that all the time, you wouldn’t get better at this game and you’d be shooting yourself in the foot constantly. Try out other weapons and see what gear you prefer. I’d advise that a run that is going swell though isn’t the time to try new toys. If it’s working for you, why change it too much. I am a bow person over a shield person. I prefer the offensive approach and haven’t found my flow with shields. That’s why when I’m on a good Dead Cell run, if I have a Quick Bow II and come across a Front Shield V, even though I know the Front Shield is better stat wise, I’ll keep the bow. If you’re on a run where it’s pretty weak or in the early stages then go nuts and try out new gear. Remember though, just because you find higher level gear doesn’t mean you need to take that over a weapon you know. Play to your strengths, nobody else’s.
  4. Downward smash is your dear friend. Not only does it damage enemies you land near, but it also stuns them. On top of that, it negates being stunned from falling great heights. If you know the layout and what’s below I would almost always recommend slamming into the ground. I don’t recommend doing it if you don’t know what’s below though. Nothing more demeaning than pile driving yourself into spikes (yes I got the trophy for doing that). As long as there isn’t spikes or a pit you’re not only making a grand entrance to your foes but also shaving precious seconds off your run. Which, brings me to timed doors.
  5. Timed doors offer great rewards for those that risk it for a biscuit. But slow down Sonic, there’s no rush early on. Play the game at your own pace in your early runs, once you find your flow and how the game controls you’ll find that you can breeze through certain enemies. Once you have confidence in yourself and are comfortable with the controls, my advice, would be to always start like a sprint rather than a marathon. If you rush and die in the first level, what does it matter really? Survive and get access to the timed door and you’ve already set yourself with extra cash and cells to upgrade with. Overall you’ve made your game easier, even if you die in the next level, your Dead Cells experience has improved. Once you’re confident in your skills, then always go for the timed doors. If you miss one by a few seconds, screw it, get the next one. If you’re trailing behind by quite a bit, then forget about it. Explore all the level, kill all enemies you can and relax a bit.  If you can, always go for the timed doors, but that is once you’ve learnt the general level layout and enemy types. Otherwise, you’re just rushing to your doom.

Lastly, have fun. You don’t need to complete Dead Cells straight away. The more you play, the more you improve your chances. Even if you only spend 1 cell the entire game, that is still 1 cell more than you had the previous runs. It’s a game that greatly benefits from your time. When you die, think of all the cells you put towards your future endeavours and hit that restart button.  Best of luck.