Anime Time! 3 Anime Shows I Watched Recently (Mini Reviews)

Something a bit different to my usual today. Lately I’ve been looking into new jobs and education prospects. I’m doing a lot of it, trying to figure out what work I want to do in life and just trying to better myself in general. It’s taking a lot of my time and between that, work and average daily tasks, I’m not in the mood to game. Nothing intensive anyway. Bit of Smash Bros here and there but lately in my down time I just want to watch rather than play. Anime has been my big filler there and so today I want to talk about 3 anime shows I’ve watched over the past few months. Rather than talking about gaming, something that I’ve been neglecting. I won’t be getting into major spoilers but basic story beats and plot elements will be spoken about.

Mob Psycho 100 Seasons 1+2

Mob Psycho 100

I decided to try this after starting One Punch Man season 2 and finding it’s animation very lacking compared to the past season. I knew Mob Psycho 100 was by the same writer and captured the similar feel of One Punch Man, a blend of comedy, action and a story. What I wasn’t expecting, was for Mob Psycho 100 to not only surpass One Punch Man, in my view, but for it to earn a spot in my top 5 anime shows. I was floored by how good this show is. Not just in terms of animation, which at times is stunning, but in the characters themselves. I’m not ashamed to say that there were times where I was getting glassy eyed when certain characters interacted with or supported the main character. This show had the capacity to have me laughing my bum off one minute and then feeling an immense sense of union and comradery the next. Before I continue to swoon over this show in more depth, I should explain the plot.

Shigeo or Mob as he is known to some friends, is a human with psychic abilities. He seems unique in this world at first but as time progresses in the show, the more and more esper’s start revealing themselves and ghosts start cropping up. In his day to day life he’s been told by family that he needs to limit his psychic usage so that he can be like everyone else. From a young age he seeks the help of a local esper named Reigen who runs his own psychic consultation business. Reigen actually has no psychic abilities whatsoever but is a confident conman, skilled at taking desperate people’s money in exchange for ridding them of their spectral problems as a self proclaimed psychic master. This is where Mob comes in handy and a place for him to use his psychic talents, who believes in Reigen’s abilities and dutifully follows his orders as his business apprentice. That is the core concept of this show. Most episodes are the duo’s business call outs but there are big overarching story line’s that take the show in a more serious and intense direction. The big appeal of this show, for me anyway, is Mob himself. Due to subduing his psychic abilities, it has allowed Shigeo to blend in with regular school life but has also helped to dull his emotions in the process, as he is unable to use his natural talents. This process has turned him into a bit of a loner and one that is unable to feel like a regular student. Because of this, Mob has difficulty with making friends and living a regular day to life.

Over the 2 seasons Mob’s life changes as new people enter his life, some friends and some enemies. What I love about this show is how Mob develops as a character when surrounded by these people in his life. It really is something amazing and his development is one of the most natural that I’ve seen in any media source. For a character that initially lacks a plethora of emotions, the show has huge emotional weight at times. This is aided by the supporting cast of characters who I honestly can’t find a weak link with. Each character adds something new to the show and the plot elements they bring never failed to amuse or enrapture me. Reigen especially deserves a mention. My favourite character of the show and the one who gave me the most belly laughs. I’m a sucker for scam artists in funny shows or films and Reigen is one of the absolute scammiest of scam artists. Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls is one of my favourite animated characters of all time and if you like Grunkle Stan, you’ll love Reigen. He’s the embodiment of a man in a world he doesn’t understand but his sheer attitude towards it is all he requires. His assortment of ‘special’ moves will always get a laugh out of me too. Also, the show has 2 of the best OP’s I’ve ever seen. Not important to this review but I highly recommend checking out the first one on Youtube.

Reigen

I fully recommend this show especially if you enjoy humour in your anime. I fully recommend it even if you don’t! The way it looks and the action deserve huge praise. I’ve never seen anything that made telekinetic battles look this good and intense. As mentioned, this is very similar to season one of One Punch Man and deserves more attention than what Mob Psycho 100 currently gets, more so than One Punch Man in my view. Super Recommend!

My Love Story!!

My Love Story

After Mob Psycho 100 I wanted to continue the comedy element into another show and My Love Story!! has been on my radar for a while now. I’m not a big romance anime/series person but My Love Story!! nicely balances the cutesy aspect with the tonal shifts and sharp edits that bring the chuckles to My Love Story!! I also felt a strong connection to the main character within the first episode and so maybe the emotional aspects hit harder for me than an average person but this series made me feel a wide spectrum of feelings whilst watching it.

Funny and endearing, My Love Story!! tells the story of Takeo a hulking beast of a student. A man of big stature, big features and an even bigger heart. Takeo wouldn’t be described as handsome but his stoic-ness and kind demeanour shine for those that are willing to give this, at first, scary looking mountain a chance. Takeo is a gentle giant and even though his close friends love and respect him, he’s never had a girlfriend, though he has fallen hard many times. Suna, is Takeo’s best friend and in an average anime, he would be the main protaganist. Smart, handsome and somewhat mysterious, Suna was always the attention of girls around Takeo and usually those that Takeo had developed feelings for. One day, Takeo spots a girl on his train being groped by a creep. As chivalrous as always, Takeo rushes to her rescue and upon seeing the girl’s face, instantly falls in love with her. Rinko, the girl he saved, also develops feelings for her saviour but as this is an anime love story, it’s not a simple affair. Rinko is incredibly shy and Takeo has complex’s due to his previous unrequited feelings. Thankfully this whole charade doesn’t outstay its welcome and even though there are more miscommunication mishaps throughout the season, I never found them to be infuriating. Takeo has every right to doubt that someone as amazing as Rinko would have feelings for him. Not because he’s a bad person, but because of the damage and insecurities his past feelings have wrought him. I resonated with that characteristic and perhaps that’s why this show got me as much as it did. I had self esteem issues in the past and when obvious signals or even flat out propositions were thrown my way I would have a hard time believing them or would just flat out dismiss them. I didn’t regard myself highly and so I couldn’t see how others could either. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve come to appreciate the qualities that I have to offer but Takeo really reminded me of how I was. Not in terms of sheer strength or courageousness but in his internal struggle and his ability to over analyse situations or to be oblivious to what’s practically spelled out. His naivety is his charm but a detriment to his happiness. But that’s what makes him a likeable character to watch.

Not only that but the supporting cast are great too, though the show mainly focuses on the 3 main characters. Which is a great thing as it gives Takeo and Rinko’s relationship substance. We see how they develop and how they each imbue one another with aspects of themselves. Rinko is lovely, shy and a kind person; Takeo is a lovable brute with a heart of gold and Suna is the perfect straight man for Takeo to bounce off of. There is great story elements to this trio’s interactions but what I really love is the humour between them. Takeo and Rinko’s internal thoughts and freak outs in their new relationship really put a smile on my face. If you’re someone who second guesses a lot or are just socially awkward in general, you’ll relate to these two. And then there is Suna who works best being Takeo’s support. Takeo is unrefined and clumsy when it comes to feelings and relationships. His constant harassing of Suna for advice is both comical and touching to see. Two very different people but it’s easy to see why they’re best friends and why there friendship has lasted so long. The show does a good job of switching up story beats or changing the focus of the episodes to one of the three main characters. Romantic tropes don’t play for too long and the series has a good balance of serious episodes with humour to flat out comedy episodes or character development arcs.

Takeo

At only 24 episodes, My Love Story!! tells the beginning of a relationship, a sweet tale between two individuals who deserve someone who thinks the world of them. This is a pleasant show to watch and it does a great job of making you feel happy inside. It’s a charming watch and one that has some of the best quick cut gags and intensely comical face shots that I’ve seen for a long time. As this came out in 2015 and only one season was produced, there isn’t much finality to the show. The last episode could be seen as a regular arc ending and so I was a bit disappointed that a second season wasn’t made but that can’t be helped really. An enjoyable watch but just be aware that you see the start of a blossoming relationship but you won’t see the end. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the journey is very enjoyable but be prepared to feel a small void in your heart when the last episode ends. Highly Recommend.

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland

This anime got a lot of attention at the start of the year and I always thought about checking it out. I knew it involved kids in an orphanage and that there was a mystery element to it but that’s all I knew really. The term, psychological thriller/horror was also chucked around and this seemed right up my alley. I love when a basic concept or real life situation is twisted in a unique way. The Promised Neverland definitely has that going for it and isn’t shy about the horror element.

For those that haven’t heard of the premise, I’m torn on describing this series. I think a big part of the impact I felt when watching the first episode was the reveal of the main plot. It’s something that I feel should be seen rather than read or heard. BUT! What’s the point of this paragraph if I don’t explain it? The basic version: the story centres on 3 orphans in an orphanage as they uncover the mystery surrounding their orphanage and their lives. If you are intrigued by this synopsis then I recommend reading no further on in this mini review of The Promised Neverland. The main mystery is revealed in the first episode and so I’m going to talk a bit more in depth about basic plot points of the first few episodes as it’s hard to explain this show without more detail. Last chance to avoid basic spoilers, skip ahead to next paragraph if you want to remain in the dark about this show. SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST FEW EPISODES NOW: As I mentioned, the plot revolves around 3 orphans. These orphans find out that their orphanage is a produce farm essentially, for weird monsters. Their caretaker who they refer to as Mother is in contact with the monsters and essentially rears the children for slaughter. There is mention of other farms and it is revealed that the smarter a child is, the better their quality is. What follows is the children trying to escape their fate and their effort to uncover the secrets of the world outside their knowledge. Before we get into non-spoiler territory, Sister Krone scares the hell out of me! That smile of hers *shudders*.

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The series is a really cool concept and for the most part I enjoyed it. My main gripe I had was not with the mystery or the revelations, but with the 3 main characters themselves. They are said to be 11 years old and the smartest children at the orphanage. Maybe because I was dumb as an 11 year old and so I find it hard to believe but their deductions and observations seem too unrealistic for three 11 year olds. That being said, I was never an A* pupil and I’ve never been in their situation. That kind of scenario would have the brain firing on all cylinders but I still have trouble with their intelligence. It’s weird given the surrounding story that that is the aspect I find hard to believe but they are three mini Sherlock Holmes apparently. But, they were raised in a different situation to me and so I can’t be correlating their mindset to mine but that is a minor gripe of mine. That being said, I do think this is a promising start. What I do love about this series is the way it builds dread. With intense camera angles, close up’s of characters in crisis and the occasional first person view, The Promised Neverland does a great job of building terror in this seemingly normal orphanage. It’s one of the best anime series I’ve seen, to really make me feel uneasy or concerned for characters. Not a series for the weak of heart. If you don’t mind a bit of unease in your life then I recommend trying The Promised Neverland! At only 12 episodes it’s worth a watch if you’re interested in the concept. Solid Recommend.

And that’s that! I haven’t been writing much as I mentioned due to lack of gaming and time but hopefully I’ll get back on track soon. In the meantime let me know your opinions on these anime series and if you know of any anime similar to them then please let me know. I’m in the mood for more great anime series/films as I’m currently re-watching all of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and I’m getting close to the current airing part so I’m in need of new things to watch! Recommendations are always welcome. Thanks for reading and take it easy.

Devil May Cry V Review

DMC V is the latest instalment in the long running action series from Capcom. A return to its original version instead of the 2013 reboot. A return for the better, I believe. Don’t get me wrong, I never hated the 2013 Dante or Donte as some like to call him, but I also never really cared for him or the world around him. The characters of OG Dante and Nero were always characters that I enjoyed watching in over the top cutscenes and felt good to play as in game.  It’s over 10 years since we last played as OG Dante and Nero and so how does their return fare? I can happily say that after 10 years, they haven’t lost their touch.

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My main man Nero! This is how you do a Metal Gear Solid 2 Raiden situation. He’s different to Dante but in his unique way and honestly I think I prefer him too.

DMC V takes place in Red Grave City, a London-esque fictional location. A tentacle like flower has erupted through the ground and Dante, Nero and the new character V are on a mission to stop the evil behind this occurrence. This is shown in mission one and we as the player, are jumping into a story already in motion. The very first mission takes place during established conflicts and as you progress in the game you’ll discover character motives and what led up to this point. It works well for this flashy series. There is very little downtime in DMC V and this opening perfectly encapsulates this. The game is broken up into 20 missions with certain missions taking place around the same time but with a different character. This leads to cool moments where you can see V in the background of Nero’s mission, fighting a bunch of demons or upon entering a room, being able to join a fight already in motion. This ties in with the Cameo System but I’ll touch on that later. As you progress through the game you’ll play character specific missions as well as missions that have character choice. As you progress you’ll unlock specific character weapons and earn red orbs which allow you to level up your characters and unlock new moves or buy health or Devil Trigger increases. It’s a simple structure but it suits this style of game. Having the missions broken up into 20-30 minute missions means that you won’t tire of the same character or location if they’re not to your preference.

DMC V isn’t a revolution in storytelling but I had an immensely fun time with it nevertheless. This game is telling a more serious tale, more akin to the original DMC but with a healthy injection of cheese now and then. There is also a healthy amount of past game references which if you’re a fan of past iterations, you’ll enjoy. The Devil May Cry series is known for its bombastic and over the top cutscenes, cringey dialogue and all. DMC V is more retrained in that regard. It’s still stupid and charming but it feels more restrained than 3 or the antics of Dante and the second half of DMC 4. Is this for better or for worse? It depends on what you like. Personally I love the flamboyant and outrageous in these kind of games. It’s why Bayonetta is one of my favourite characters of recent years and why I love the anime/manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The ridiculous has its place in media and the DMC franchise was one of the pioneers of that in gaming. There are still moments but this is a game where the stakes feel substantial and the physics more grounded, it suits what DMC V is going for, without pulling into Spoiler Town.

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Stylish cutscene with slow-mo and an amazing tune? Check

Most people don’t play Devil May Cry for the story they play it for the stylish gameplay and DMC V has that in spades. If you’re at all familiar with Dante or Nero then you’ll feel right at home with them in V. Nero plays very similar to 4 but with his new Devil Breaker functionality. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new mechanical arms for Nero. Each arm offers a unique functionality with some specialising in crowd control, evasion or dealing large amounts of damage to a single enemy. Nero can only equip one arm at a time and can only hold onto a certain amount. If you get hit when using a Devil Breaker, the arm breaks. Each arm has basic functionality and a one time use function. You could go through an entire mission using the electric palm blast of Overture or you could use its one use feature to latch a high damaging sticky bomb to an enemy. Combine this with Nero’s ability to yank enemies towards himself and you’ve got a fun and unique character. Dante is a more varied combatant. Dante has 4 fighting styles that you can switch between with a touch of the D-Pad. He has his fast moving Trickster, the added melee abilities of Swordmaster, the extra ranged oomph of Gunslinger or the risky but rewarding counter style of Royalguard. Each of these styles can be upgraded to higher levels which unlock extra features for each style. As you progress in the game, you’ll also unlock new weapons which will in part will mesh with your upgraded styles too. These weapons range from a simple rocket launcher or set of gauntlets to the crazy weapon that is a motorcycle and cowboy hat. As you can see, Dante hasn’t lost his panache. Dante also has his Devil Trigger ability which lets him enter into his demonic state and inflict greater damage to enemies as well as gradually recover health. Overall, a character with a lot to learn but a fun character to play as.

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Sure, why not!

Then there is newcomer V. V is a great addition to the cast of characters. He fits in well, even though he is a mysterious individual. In cutscenes and in his overall aesthetic, I must say that I am a fan of him. Gameplay wise though, I waver a bit. I think the idea behind his gimmick is really interesting and for the most part it works surprisingly well. V doesn’t fight like Dante and Nero, instead he utilises the help of Griffon, Shadow and Nightmare, 3 demons that he conjures to support him.  Griffon is a bird which acts as his ranged attack, launching projectiles and electric based attacks at enemies. Shadow is a panther-like creature which acts as V’s up close and personal attacks. Then there is the huge lumbering Nightmare who uses V’s Devil Trigger meter to appear. Often falling from the skies like a meteor or bursting through a wall (often revealing hidden secrets), Nightmare is the big bruiser of the gang and one that you don’t need to control. Just summon him and let him go to town on foes. The only thing you need to do with V is evade and finish enemies off with a killing blow. You can also make V read his book which will generate a steady amount of Devil Trigger. Griffon and Shadow you control with your range and melee attack buttons. Both companions have a health gauge though and if they take too much damage, they’ll retreat into a dormant state, represented by an orb on the ground, while replenishing their health. By placing V next to his inactive friends, they’ll regenerate their health faster. All this together creates a character where you are essentially hanging back from the fight and making your minions do your bidding. It’s a fantastic idea and suits V’s personality but when you add complex systems like this, complexities tend to arise too.

For starters, being so far back away from the action at times often leads to mistimed melee hits as your perspective is off. In a lot of games that wouldn’t be a major issue but the DMC series utilises a ranking system and the aim of the ranking system is to keep combat going so that you can raise your ranking. Then there is the fact that Shadow isn’t always where you want it to be. Often times I’ll click the melee button only for Shadow to have spawned next to me a split second before I hit the button. Making his close range attack completely whiff. I wondered if this was to my own lack of skill and to an extent I believe it is but I also saw a lot of people having a similar issue online. Shadow is difficult to orientate at times and in a game where calculated actions and precision yield better results, the experience suffers because of it. Not by a lot, but some. As I mentioned, there is a ranking system for individual battles and for each mission. Your individual battles and other factors will round up to your overall ranking for that level. With Nero and Dante I felt in control of my rankings but with V, I was less confident I deserved that D or even that S ranking. At times with V I was getting SSS’s for what I thought was pretty basic gameplay and then other times I was getting C’s because I couldn’t hit with Shadow. It felt like you ranked up quicker with V and the reason for that is because the developers realised they needed to add that because of his margin of error. Again, I do think I was playing him wrong at times but I tried different tactics with Shadow and I just couldn’t get consistent results. Not a major issue but on harder difficulties where you have to be deliberate, I can see V being a frustration at times. Other than the inconsistent Shadow though, I think he’s a great addition to the franchise.

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Bad kitty! Do I need to buy a leash? Attack the enemy not the air in front of it.

Another part of the rankings I want to mention is the taunting in this game. During combat you can hit a button to taunt. Not only are these taunts flashy or funny, they also can up your style meter and also act as a way to prolong your style from decreasing. These taunts range from V coughing, Nero playing eenie meenie minee mo with enemies and even scaring them away, to Nero putting his hoodie up or V using his cane to conduct an imaginary symphony to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries. Each taunt gives you a glimpse of their personalities and the fact that certain taunts only activate if you have a specific style ranking is a nice touch. It adds incentive to do well in battle and to vary up your moves as you will get less style points if you use the same move repeatedly.  The style system is a fantastic choice in design and I can fully believe the idea that each character is ranking themselves in their heads. It fits the tone perfectly. As does the soundtrack to the game. Each character has a battle theme that really helps to amp up the fights. Nero’s punk/metal Devil Trigger will never get dull to me and V’s goth style look perfectly lines up with his Crimson Cloud song. You get to listen to these great tracks while you pummel the ever increasing array of demons and let me tell you, there is an ample variety on display in this game. Most of the missions in DMC V introduce at least one new enemy and does so in remarkably stylish enemy intros. I never got bored with the cannon fodder in front of me and the end of mission bosses that lay ahead. While I enjoyed the majority of the boss fights, I am struggling to remember them all as I type. There are fantastic fights like the time manipulating knight and horse but a few forgettable entries compared to the likes of DMC 3, where even over 10 years later I still remember Jester, Nevan and most of the other bosses. This is understandable though as I believe there is a boss fight for nearly every mission. You definitely get your money’s worth regarding boss fights.

I almost forgot to mention the Cameo System which is probably because it feels like a bit of an after thought. It’s not a bad system but I felt that I barely saw it in motion during my game. Basically, similar to how in Dark Souls you can see players ghosts run past now and then, in DMC V sometimes you will have other players in your game or their ghost data anyway. I believe it is a live player most of the time but there is a belief that a lot of it is ghost data. For the majority of the missions you will have other people playing as a different character in your game. Most of the time you won’t interact with them. A lot of the time you won’t even see them unless you shift the camera around or go looking for them. You’ll hear the sounds of battle and you might see them in the distance. Certain mission will have your paths merge and you’ll have the opportunity to fight alongside the other player. But you have to be at the right place at the right time. It makes this feature quite lacklustre as I always felt that I was missing out on potential co-op action. Most of the time I’d get to an area to see my fellow player finishing off the enemies before I could even get there and then racing to the next zone. I like to take my time and look for secret missions or collectables in these games and so I wasn’t interested in rushing through the levels. I kept getting people who were doing that though which is understandable but it just meant I had fewer enemies to fight and therefore less of an experience. It’s a gameplay element that I’m sure when it works well, it works really well. I’ve started playing a higher difficulty and so I’m excited to go back through again and hopefully meet another player who is open to having a more co-op experience than racing to the end goal. But that’s a personal hope and maybe I was just unlucky with my experiences.

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*Sighs* Wish I could be that cool.

All in all I really enjoyed my time with DMC V. It had some of the best player-action gameplay I’ve had in a long time and features super satisfying gameplay systems. Not only that but the sound design on the weapons is great and the locations and graphics look amazing. And even though I would have appreciated a bit more cheese in cutscenes and dialogue, what was on offer was very pleasing to my eyes and ears. And that about does it for my review on DMC V. Feel free to let me know what you thought of this game in the comments. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Yakuza 0 Review

Finally, I’ve completed Yakuza 0. At just over 90 hours and with a 67% completion, I’m done with Kiryu and Majima’s early days. This is one meaty game. Where do I even start when reviewing this?

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Ummm, yeah….I knew there was a trophy!

Basics first. Yakuza 0 takes place in 1988 and is a precursor to the Yakuza series. The game is split into chapters and in each chapter to take control of Kiryu or Majima. Both characters are separately embroiled in the Yakuza world but both connection by a string of events. Kiryu is stoic and loyal to his Yakuza subdivision family but soon finds himself to be a target over a dead body in an unfortunate location. Majima is tormented and longing to escape the punishment his Yakuza family has decided for him because of his past actions. He is the manager of a cabaret club, a great prospect for some but for Majima, his own personal prison.

You play as both characters, each with their own fighting styles, substories and locations as they try to unravel their current predicament. As you progress you will unlock new places of interaction and new side content. Besides the main story, both characters have a main substory. Kiryu has a real estate business which entails purchasing properties in areas owned by 5 corrupt real estate moguls. And Majima, has a cabaret club that he uses to conquer the cabaret scene. Again, he has to square off against 5 cabaret club owners and their main hostess’s. Both Kiryu and Majima’s stories also take place in separate locations from the other. Within each city there tons of side activities to try and lots of wacky characters to interact with. And that wackiness is Yakuza 0’s strength.

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The aforementioned Cabaret substory. My pro, Yuki!

I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that flits between super serious to baffling bizarre as often as Yakuza 0. I’ve played Yakuza 3 and 4 in the past but I don’t remember this amount of absurdness. Maybe I’ve matured enough to seek out and appreciate the bizarre in these games than I had in the past but somehow I think Yakuza 0 goes above and beyond in its weird world. And therein lies its true strength. From its characters, the side missions and the over the top cutscenes for mundane tasks, Yakuza 0 had me with a smile on my face the majority of the time.

Then you get to the main story and it’s a tonal shift. People get murdered, there are stakes and there is a lot, a lot, A LOT of drawn out conversations. If you struggle with cutscenes and exposition in games, oh boy be prepared. Most of it is interesting stuff but Yakuza games have a tendency to retread topics within seconds of the topic’s introduction. For example:

Person A: We finally found the blank, Kiryu.

Kiryu: The blank, Person A?

Person A: Yes, it was with Mr Black.

Kiryu: Mr Black has it?!

Person A: Mr Black did have it but one of our own was able to retrieve it, Kiryu.

Kiryu: Who has it then if not Mr Black, Person A?

Person A: Person B.

Kiryu: Person B?! He has the blank instead of Mr Black?!

You get the idea. This won’t be an issue for some but for those that like to just play a game, may have an issue with Yakuza 0’s pace. You can click a button to speed up the dialogue but if a character is performing an action, you can’t skip until the action is performed. Personally, I enjoyed Yakuza 0’s story but after a couple dozen hours I found myself speed reading some of the dialogue. Saying that though, of the Yakuza games I’ve played, this story was the best in my mind. Playing as Majima definitely helped that. I really like his character and I think it works as a good contrast to Kiryu.

One thing I never got bored off is the fighting in this game. And although fights happen for the most minor of reasons in this universe, I was never bored with feeling like a fighting legend. Both Kiryu and Majima have enough fighting prowess to be MMA champs! You start to pity the street punks or drunks who challenge you to a brawl, only to lose a dozen teeth and most of their chump change. Yup, when you fight people in this game, money rains down constantly. Not only does the money work as currency, but also as your means of leveling up. So, you have great reason to fight every punk wanting to throw down. The combat itself is very satisfying. As I said, each character has 3 distinct fighting styles. For example, Kiryu has Beast mode which makes him sturdy to damage but slow to move. Majima has Breaker style which turns him into a twirling breakdancer of death. As you get more money you get to unlock more moves and bonuses for each fighting style. Doing that lets you unlock new moves from the masters that you learnt the fighting style from. This upgrade chain keeps things fresh and I haven’t even talked about the Heat actions yet.

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As you progress you’ll be able to unlock more health and new moves. Careful though, it gets very pricey.

Heat actions are possibly my favourite part of this game, along with the side quests. In combat, either through items or by fighting well, your Heat gauge will rise. As it rises Kiryu will get faster in combat and will have access to more moves. Once you’ve reached a certain point on you Heat gauge, you can perform devastating actions in the form of mini cutscenes. There are tons of these and I’m willing to bet I missed loads of them. Some include, smashing a guys head with a car door, suplexing individuals, using bodies as weapons to throw into enemies and many more. Then there are the weapons. Both characters can wield weapons and most weapons have a specific Heat action too. My favourite is the salt shaker. You pull an enemy’s head back and pour salt in his eyes. So stupid but makes me laugh every time. I never got tired of the combat through my 90 hours of gameplay. Especially because as you level up, Kiryu and Majima become so super powerful that random fights are like taking candy from a baby. Sure there are boss fights and Mr.Shakedown encounters but there is something really fun about being waaaay out of your enemy’s league. Everyone enjoys being Goku, he’s a fighting legend and so are Kiryu and Majima.

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The classic weapon Sailor Man Sign! A staple of every game. Also, moonwalking!

I mentioned Mr.Shakedown and that needs some explaining. Mr.Shakedown is a kind of mini boss that will randomly appear in the 2 cities. There are multiple Mr.Shakedown’s but they all are the same, fight wise. As you walk around town, you will sometimes see the hulking giants. You can’t miss them! They’re like 7 foot tall and build like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And yes, I had to Google how to spell that. They also have a Yen amount above their head. This is the amount of money they currently hold. If they spot you, they’ll challenge you to a fight. If you win, you get all his money. However, should you lose though, he takes all your hard earned cash. As you beat them, they’ll level up and have move health but they’ll have more money to take. I love the fights with Mr.Shakedown and the only times I’ll skip them are if I don’t have any healing items. He’s no joke and can easily beat you if you mess up. But he’s one of the best ways to earn money in the game and just overall is a great idea.

There is so much to talk about with this game that I am actually struggling to remember what I have and haven’t talked about. It is just filled to the brim with places to visit and things to do. As, you do more tasks you’ll unlock Completion Points. These are gained by doing trivial things to precise actions. Walk a certain amount of distance= 1 CP, beat 100 enemies in Breaker style= 1 CP, complete 30 Kiryu Substories = 1 CP etc. You trade these in for added extras to the game. These range from the main Substory components to the ability to run for longer duration. But it’s these CP’s that add a lot of incentive to try all the side content of this game. There is a lot to try too. I won’t go over all of them but there is darts, pool, catfights, toy car racing, dancing minigames and my favourite Karaoke. Besides those there are tons more and a lot of really strange and unique things to do, there is also a wide range of restaurants and bars to visit. Here you can replenish your characters health or learn about some alcoholic beverages. I mean that literally, each time you order a drink in some bars you get a little bit of its history. It’s a nice touch and one that went over my head. Is it rum? Yeah, OK mix it with Cherry Coke, thanks.

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Can’t let him see my *secretary* snooping around. What even is the right choice here?!

Overall, Yakuza 0 is one of the best games I’ve played this year. I think the aspect that sealed that for me was its weirdness. A serious game is great, a wacky game is fun but a wacky game in a serious world just hits that sweet spot for me. Not only that but because there is so much side content, I always had outs if I was getting tired of the serious Yakuza world. Just had a 10 minute long scene of Yakuza talking organisation rules and need a break from the story? Bowling or a visit to Mr.Libido sounds good. Also I’m not going to explain Mr.Libido, one of the highlights of the game and you should see it in all its glory. I highly recommend Yakuza 0 and if like me, you’ve played previous iterations and they didn’t grab you as much as you hoped, try this one. The fact that it’s a prequel to the original Yakuza also means you don’t need to read up on any of the lore. This is a reset point and it’s a fantastic place to start this series.

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Hmm he looks oddly familiar but I can’t quite work it out. He looks like that director from the film, Billy and the Cloneasaurus

Thank you for reading this review and if you want a more in depth analysis into Yakuza 0’s side content, I have 2 other articles to view: Yakuza 0’s Cabaret Is Taking Over My Life What Was Your Side-Quest/Mini-Game Purgatory?. Feel free to share your views on Yakuza 0 or the Yakuza series in the comments.

P.S. Yakuza Kiwami which I believe is the original Yakuza remade, is currently available for this months PS Plus members. If you fancy a Yakuza sample. Just be aware that it takes place after Yakuza 0. Maybe minor spoilers.