Preview: Yakuza Zero: One Hour In


Yakuza Zero dropped today in Japan. Available in both physical form and digital, The game is set in 80s Japan when Kiryu is a young cocky badass unknown. The game can also be bought from the Hong Kong store digital and worked out a bit cheaper, That is the version I grabbed and here is what I have found so far. Disclaimer: I cannot read or speak Japanese in anyway but I wont let that stop me!.

So it opens up exactly like it did in the demo. You go around key locations, Meet a few familiar faces and generally get to grips with it all. A cool feature I liked is the R2 button in follow scenes. Pressing and holding R2 has you walking along side and following your partner. If you are away from him you can just press R2 and you will run up to him and continue to follow him.

The game world is much the same as previous games except it all looks a bit more bright with neon lights, Trash adorns the streets and 80s music oozes onto the streets from the nearby shops and pubs. You will know where all the social spots are like bowling, baseball and of course the arcades.

Early on a lot of the area is locked away as you need to do some story stuff first. The cut scenes are still top notch with some amazing facial animation on show. Gone are the wooden Thunderbird style cutscenes, Detailed realistic faces now greet you. The story can be followed without any knowledge of the language, Veterans will pick it up easier as it still sticks quite closely to previous formulas.


Once the world is unlocked you are free to roam about, go bowling or find the many side missions. This is where I took my time to just explore and find out what is happening and left the story for now. Here are some of my findings:

  • Baseball is much the same, use the right stick to aim your shot at the boxed score points, time your hit. Over the top grunts, slow mo action shots still happen.
  • There are 2 arcade spots. First one allows you to play Space Harrier and the claw/grabber machine has Fantasy Zone pilots,teddies and a cool Megadrive/Genesis teddy where the console is the body and the hands are the controllers while the feet are used for controller ports. A few of the prizes could well be well known characters from other franchises but its over my head. The second arcade spot has the same grabber/claw machine with the same prizes but the arcade machine is different. This time it is Outrun! Both Space Harrier and Outrun are fully playable, include leader board support with name entry. The other cool thing is you can change the screen. You can stretch it, keep it with the arcade surround and also change it to have the nostalgic scan lines feel or the crisp current tech appearance.
  • The map has all the places on there in which you can visit. Hovering over them brings up a thumbnail of the establishment to make identifying them easier.
  • You can use the touch pad to navigate the map.
  • Meet a guy who looks like a Japanese version of a young Michael Douglas wearing an old man suit who teaches you new moves by you watching the move then learning it.
  • Following on from Ishin you can unlock new fighting styles with unique moves and HEAT techniques. You change fighting style whenever you want in a fight by using the d pad.
  • Leveling up is the same as Ishin again with a huge circle of dots, Spend what I believe to be money on filling the dots, unlocking new moves and upgrading stats. Each fighting style has its own set of upgrade circles.
  • The world has a lot more detail like puddles you can splash about in, shiny cars to smash peoples face into and the best looking trash you have ever seen.
  • Triggering side missions can open up new shops,business and social spots.
  • Remote control racing! Yep you can race cars around a series of track. Buy new parts, upgrade existing ones and much more. You can do practice runs,read the manual (good luck). Whilst racing you can activate a boost, change view including a first person view. The tracks are crazy with hills, jumps and even wall climbing. Its a brilliant bit of fun.
  • Collectibles are back. Not locker keys though, This time it is cards with pictures of what I reckon is Japanese models or cosplayers. Again just look for the shiny shiny on the floor all over the world.
  • New HEAT moves and more places to use them. Slam heads in car doors, suplex enemies onto fences, baseball bat to the face and much more.
  • When fighting money will fall out of the enemies in an almost “Hes bleeding money!” kind of way.
  • Kiryu has a run down apartment outside of town and the area can be visited whenever you are roaming.
  • Random fights still happen.
  • The music is excellent especially the opening theme tune.
  • Controls are exactly the same as all the other games.
  • Loading feels a bit quicker than Ishin.
  • You unlock arena time trial fights as you beat the bosses in the main story.
  • On the main menu there is a 2P section but I haven’t had time to click on that yet.
  • A gallery area is on the main screen so you can re watch previous cut scenes.

So as you can see a lot is happening in this game. I love being back in the world of Yakuza and something tells me I haven’t seen nothing yet! The addiction to find all the collectibles has already kicked in, every fight is just as adrenaline packed as it has always been. Trophies are popping left and right, A huge list of in game accomplishments like break 20 items, defeat x amount of enemies are in there. The performance has been solid except it feels like a few times when the screen is busy, Things will just pop up or re align themselves which is bit off. Gotta be honest it is in no way a issue and just an observation. Other than that the game is playable without knowing the language, If its one thing Yakuza games do well, Its how to tell a story without words.

In short, The game is all Japanese text apart from the difficulty screen and the now loading screens. It will not diminish your fun, translation guides will come soon enough to fill the story in. The action, the atmosphere and the over the top mini games are all still present and fun. Plus you get to play Outrun! I mean come on, What else would you want.

A full review will go up in the future once I have finished the main story and played the game to within a inch of its life.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!