The Yakuza videogame series has been around since 2005 and has always been well received by critics and gained a cult following. However, it wasn’t until the release of the prequel episode Yakuza 0 that action RPG series started to gain some mainstream appeal.
While indulging in 1980s nostalgia, the prequel episode served as both a starting point for new players and thank you for the fans that have stayed loyal to series for nearly 15 years. It is also arguably the best entry in the franchise and the praise heaped upon it meant that Sega fully remade the first two titles with Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2.
In addition, Sega has remastered the three PlayStation 3 entries for the PlayStation 4 starting with the third episode originally released in 2009. A decade on, The Gamer takes a look 5 of the best and 5 of the worst things about Yakuza 3 Remastered.
10 Good: Amazing Narrative
One of the biggest strengths of the Yakuza series has always been its storytelling. The scripts have are expertly written and the lengthy cutscenes gripping enough to keep even the most impatient gamer glued to their screens.
The early stages of Yakuza 3 aren’t quite as dark as the first two games but it’s a touching one that shows a softer side to Kiryu Kazuma as he takes charge of the Morning Glory Orphanage. Of course, it isn’t long before he’s dragged back into the gangster business but this time it’s to protect his children.
9 Bad: Combat Isn’t As Fleshed Out
The combat in the Yakuza series has never been one of finesse or fluidity. It’s improved over time but the slightly clumsy looking old school fight mechanics resemble old school arcade beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage rather than the skillful looking Arkham Knight series.
However, the combat in Yakuza 3 seems even more antiquated compared to Yakuza Kiwami 2 and the fact that it’s a 10-year-old game is more evident than ever before. On the plus side, the Heat finishing moves are incredibly brutal perhaps more so than the recent titles and very satisfying to pull off.
8 Good: Excellent Sub Stories
It’s not often you find an RPG or an open-world game with worthwhile substories and sidequests with great writing. They’re usually bogged down with filler content like mundane fetch quests to artificially pad out game’s length and value.
The Yakuza series, however, has some of the finest side quests available on any and the third entry is no different. Whether the missions are intended to provide some comic relief or add more drama the quality of the writing is on par with the main story.
7 Bad: Some Lacklustre Mini-Games
In addition to the sidequests and substories to keep players busy outside of the main story, there are mini-games. Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 excelled in this regard by having fun side distractions with some real depth.
However, the mini-games in Yakuza 3 while fun don’t quite have the same level of enjoyment or satisfaction found in the remakes or the prequel. Series staples like darts, pool, mini-golf, Karaoke are all there but those looking something as in-depth as the real estate missions or clan battles may be disappointed.
6 Good: Brand New Localization
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Yakuza 3 when it was released in the west in 2010 was its wobbly localization compared to its predecessor Yakuza 2. As a result, something was lost in translation and didn’t quite fit the action on the screen.
The great news about the remaster is that the script has been completely reworked by Atlus’ expert translation team. Errors and inconsistencies have now been rectified and the dialogue is equal to that of the newest entries in the series.
5 Bad: The Aging Tech
When Yakuza 3 was released it was the first game to make the leap from the PlayStation 2 to the PlayStation 3. It was a noticeable improvement over its predecessors but the stiff robotic looking animations remained and some NPCs still looked like they were from the PS2 era.
Unfortunately, some ugly looking NPC textures have found its way on to the remaster too. In addition, it is hard to get away from the fact that Kiryu looks like a cross between The Terminator and Robocop when running through the city streets.
4 Good: New And Restored Content
Something that definitely hurt Yakuza 3’s original release was the cut content and substories. There were a total of 21 missing substories, mini-games and quests removed from the original western release. Thankfully, all the lost/censored content has been restored and Sega has even gone as far adding in some additional content.
For the remaster, the hostess clubs have now been included with two new characters to converse with played by JAV actresses Yui Hatano and Kana Momonogi. For western audiences, this release feels less like a remaster and more of a director’s cut and a very good reason to revisit the game.
3 Bad: The Long Cutscenes Won’t Be For Everyone
Even though the prequel Yakuza 0 helped pull in a new and bigger audience for the series it will never have quite the same broad appeal as a mainstream blockbuster like Uncharted or God of War. With exception to the spin-off Judgement, all of the games on the PS4 are in Japanese which could be a turn off for some.
In addition, there are around 300 minutes of cutscenes in Yakuza 3 to sit through which is either amazing or tedious depending on what kind of gamer is playing. Even those who enjoy a good story, though, will be shocked at just how much watching as well as playing is involved in the series.
2 Good: The Environments Looks Amazing
While the animations may be a little stiff in comparison to the more recent remakes and especially Yakuza 6: A Song of Life, Sega has done a fantastic job cleaning up the locales in Yakuza 3. The original 2009 version looked but still suffered from some blurry looking textures and were a complete contrast to the high-quality cinematic cutscenes.
That is no longer the case in this remaster and both main areas Kamurocho (a fictionalized version of Tokyo’s Kabukicho) and the Japanese island of Okinawa look better than ever. The maps are lovingly recreated and for many, this could the closest they’ll ever come to visiting Japan.
1 Bad: There Is Some Repetition
It’s long been established the Yakuza series is something of a love letter to the past when it comes to its combat system. However, it can be accused of being an old school game to a fault in regard to its repetition and is likely the reason why the seventh entry is taking a new direction.
In Yakuza 3 you’ll be engaged in a lot of fights and sometimes these fights can sneak up on you when you’re exploring the maps. They can be avoided if you’re quick enough but if not then gamers will quickly be reminded of the random battles seen in old school RPGs in the SNES and PS1 era.