Just like the first Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of Yakuza 2 originally released on the PS2. For those that love the Yakuza series, this is a must-have! A good percentage of what fans love about the franchise is present in this installment. It has a compelling story, addicting mini-games, bizarre side quests, a wide cast of characters from fantasy and reality, realistic environments to explore, and kick-ass action! Just like in the original Yakuza 2, you get to venture the pleasure districts of Kamurocho in Tokyo and Sotenbori in Osaka in order to prevent a mafia war between the two big cities.
Similar to how Kiwami takes from the mechanics of Yakuza 0, Kiwami 2 utilizes the Dragon Engine that was introduced in Yakuza 6. So loading times when entering some select establishment and between fights is practically non-existent. It runs more smoothly and is easy for newbies to get into. Last, if you’re into modern Japanese culture, this game will provide a unique insight into that.
What to Expect
Coming 11 years after its original release, Kiwami 2 is an excellent follow up to Yakuza Kiwami and the entire series in every way possible beyond its upgraded graphics. It combines numerous great features of the franchise and adds some fresh elements to both the story and gameplay. In addition to Kiryu’s standard story like in the original Yakuza 2 game, the game also offers players the chance to play the role of Goro Majima like in Yakuza 0. The series has action, adventure, fun, booze, women, money, and romance. If Al Pacino’s Scarface can be called loving the American dream with a vengeance, then Yakuza Kiwami 2 is practically the Japanese equivalent to that.
In addition, some character models have been improved, most notably with Detective Jiro Kawara, who is redesigned to 100% resemble his voice actor, Susumu Terajima, a famous actor in yakuza genre movies. To the surprise of some fans, select members of the voice cast have been changed for this re-release. For the role of Kaoru, Kiryu’s love interest, in place of Yuu Daiki from the original, Aya Hisakawa (the original voice of Sailor Mercury) takes over. As an Osaka native, just like how she perfectly brings the Osaka accent to Kero-chan in Cardcaptor Sakura, she masterfully performs it with an appropriate twist as Kaoru. But don’t worry, the original voice actors for Kiryu, Majima, Date, Haruka, and Ryuji still resume their roles. However, some parts of the music are changed and might be controversial to fans and to those that hate auto-tune with a fiery passion.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Kiwami 2 Trailer
Taking place on Dec 2006, a year after the first game, the Tojo-kai is still struggling to recover, but a small faction of the Oumi Rengou of Osaka wanted to take advantage of Tojo-kai’s present vulnerability and conquer Japan’s criminal underworld. Unable to combat this threat alone, the Tojo-kai turns to their former boss, Kazuma Kiryu. After witnessing the slaying of Terada, the present Kaichou (or don) of the Tojo-kai, Kiryu decides to go to Osaka to make peace with the Oumi Rengou in accordance with Terada’s will. However, the son of the Oumi Rengou’s boss, Ryuji Gouda, known as the Kansai Dragon, is against making peace and wants Kiryu’s head so he can be the top dragon of Japan.
Furthermore, there is a deeper conspiracy as Ryuji is in cahoots with a Korean organization that wants revenge against the Tojo-kai when two of their top members, Kazama and Shimano nearly annihilated them 26 years prior to the game’s events. Kiryu is not alone on his quest as Detective Makoto Date, Detective Jiro Kawara, Goro Majima, Daigo Dojima (the son of Kiryu’s former boss), and a tough as nails Osaka detective known as Kaoru Sayama all help him taking down Ryuji and the Korean mafia.
As for the Shimano Mad Dog himself, Goro Majima, the game offers a new mode on why he left the Tojo-kai to start his own construction company and helps bring a bit of closure to his relationship with Makoto from Yakuza 0.
The game largely plays like the rest of the Yakuza series, but with the appropriate improvements in both style and substance with Kiryu’s story. The game uses the Dragon Engine introduced in Yakuza 6 (which is slated for a March 2018 release outside of Japan), so if you’ve already played a Japanese copy of 6, then you can instantly get the hang of Kiwami 2. The gameplay graphics and cutscene graphics are the same, and the environments of the cities you explore are given a whole new level of detail that makes you feel as if you’re there without the use of VR helmets.
Within these environments, you also get to improve your health and gain experience by eating authentic Japanese food based on a select number of real-life Japanese restaurants such as Sushizanmai. If sushi isn’t your thing, there are some burger joints you can also enjoy. You can also go shopping at convenience stores or at Don Quijote (think of them as the Japanese equivalent to Wal-Mart, but smaller) stores, and their locations in the game excellently match their real-life counterparts on where you can find them. There are some staple mini-games such as the batting cages in Kamurocho, the golf ranges in Sotenbori, and you can also enjoy some Sega arcade classics such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtual On.
While Japan is a safe country, the world of Yakuza is always going to pull you into numerous street fights with local thugs. While 0 and Kiwami 1 give you the options of changing your fighting styles, Kiwami 2 goes back to a standard fighting style that perfectly matches brawling and martial arts. As Majima, you mostly fight with his knife and he cannot pick up foreign objects. And as introduced in 6, you can even take the fights inside some select fast food stores, bars, or convenience stores for some more crazy action. If in the event you take a fight to a convenience store, the clerk will tell you to get out and you won’t be allowed to shop there for a while.
The leveling up and upgrading process introduce various categories of experience points, and sometimes a combination of these specific experience points are necessary to gain a new move or improve health, defense, offense, and your heat action meter. And yes, the heat action is still present with some new moves such as dragging your opponent’s face across a table of booze bottles at a bar, sticking a long stick up someone’s rear end, and other crazy pro wrestling antics that will make wrestling fans want to chant either ECW or Holy Sh*t whenever they see something crazy. With Majima, it is mostly limited to just a cinematic combo depending on how many enemies surround him. In some instances, you can take out just one bad guy, or three at once! Since this game is short (limited to 3 chapters), he has no options to level up.
Speaking of pro wrestling, as an extension to Majima’s story, four Japanese wrestling legends who assume the roles of sneaky real estate agents want Majima’s construction project for their own personal gain. And who are these respectable legends? Keiji Muto, Masahiro Chrono, Riki Choshu, and WWE Hall of Famer Tatsumi Fujinami. Also taken from Yakuza 6 is a version of the Clan Wars mini-game. This mini-game is a strategy game where you have to defend Majima’s construction project against these wrestlers and their minions. But upon defeating these wrestlers, they will join your army! In addition to these older wrestlers, you can also recruit Japan’s younger roster of wrestlers such as Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and Hiroshi Tanahashi who were also featured in Yakuza 6.
If you want to fight these wrestlers man-to-man, you can just go to the underground fighting arena. If you face these wrestlers, then some of the moves they use in their real life matches are masterfully presented in the game. If you fight Fujinami, he uses his dragon suplex. If you fight Okada, he can take you out with his rainmaker. Or with Tanahashi, he has his sling blade. So dedicated fans to Japanese professional wrestling are likely to get a kick out of this feature.
What is also brought back from 0 is being able to manage a kyabakura or a cabaret hostess club with Kiryu. And yes, it is the Four Shine, the same club Majima managed in 0 but with some new hostesses. It pretty much plays the same as it is in 0. You build your way up through the rankings and when the time is right, you challenge another manager into who can get the most sales. Whenever you conduct business, customers will have a specific kind of girl (such as one who is skilled at either just talking or partying) or will request a certain girl.
You can recruit new hostesses by spending money for help wanted ads and sometimes you can get a bronze cast girl, or a silver or gold. The platinum class hostesses are modeled and portrayed by some of Japan’s top adult film stars such as Aika, Shoko Takahashi, and Kirara Asuka. And with the platinum class hostesses, you get to customize their clothes, hair, and jewelry. If you wanted to know, the song of As You Like from Yakuza 0 is back as you dress up your favorite hostess!
One brand new feature introduced to not just this game, but to the Yakuza franchise as a whole is the gravure model photo shoot mini-game. Yes, there are places in Japan where you can take pictures of models (and adult film stars) at a price, and this game capitalizes on that. As you watch an actual video recording of two models (Hikaru Aoyama and Rina Hashimoto), they will interact with you and you have to string together words to make a sentence in order to improve your relationships with them. Without any English releases as of present, Japanese knowledge is a must have for this mini-game. And if you wanted to know, you can talk dirty to them.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While it is a sequel to Yakuza Kiwami 1, exposure to the first game is not at all required. When visiting the graveyard at the beginning of Kiwami 2, players are given the option to see a recap of the first game but other than that, most of Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story pretty stands on its own. Whether you’re new to the game or not, the first fights are always going to give you a tutorial on how the combat system works and lets you try it out. While many adventure and open world games are filled with side quests and mini-games, you’re going to get a kick out of them with Yakuza Kiwami 2. Some are from the original PS2 release, others are taken from installments after the initial Yakuza 2, and you can enjoy some that are original to Kiwami 2.
Addictive mini-games (baseball, golf, Virtua Fighter and Virtual On)
A great adventure for those interested in Japan
Great way to practice Japanese (especially how yakuza dialect and Kansai dialect go hand-in-hand)
An excellently presented story that knows how to balance drama and humor
The song As You Like still remains whenever you want to customize your hostess
Requires no exposure to any previous installment of Yakuza
Songs are changed from the original version of Yakuza 2. The awesomeness of Dec 17 and Kuroi Kizuato no Blues by Crazy Ken Band are replaced by The Sound of Breath from SiM, a lousy song that is sung mostly in auto-tune and doesn’t appropriately set the mood as the original soundtrack did.
No official English release has been confirmed upon uploading of this review so Japanese knowledge is required
The default camera controls can be a pain, but they can be corrected to your coordination through the options menu
The cut scenes can drag
Majima’s game is short and limited
Objectionable portrayal of violence, use of alcohol and tobacco, suggestive and sexual imagery
Japanese version of toxic masculinity might be a turn-off
Honey's Final Verdict:
Nobody can deny in recent years the flack that gaming has gotten over its portrayal of women, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 has a strong chance of being subjected to that criticism over its mini-games with running a cabaret club and taking photos of women in lingerie and/or skimpy swimsuits. We suppose it is easy to justify that these features are part of modern Tokyo society, but when it comes to preaching tolerance about other countries and their way of doing things, contradictions between the lifestyles and values between your country and Japan can complicate the debate.
Gravure models and adult film stars in Japan have a different kind of celebrity than the mainstream in other countries, and it is understandable why these features are going to be controversial to Westerners, and why they’re embraced in Japan. Some non-Japanese consumers might want these features removed, and dedicated fans might go crazy if in the event that happens. Fans say that not only is this an accurate depiction of what you can enjoy in Japan, but it is also part of the Yakuza culture.
Though there is presently no English release announced as of yet, we are positive we can get some news by at least E3 2018. If you want to import it, as a majority of you likely know, PS4’s are region free. Kiwami 2 adds more to the experience of the original and is certainly a must-have for dedicated fans. It is a pure joy re-living the rivalry of Ryuji and Kiryu, and the romance of Kiryu develops with Kaoru with these upgraded graphics and animations.
If you enjoy cinematic scenes and a story with your games, then Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the game for you. Granted the cutscenes are very long, but when you get to play, it’s worth the wait. It’s a game that embraces the ups and downs, and despite the portrayal of the underworld, the characters and themes are presentably universal. The game is about family, honor, keeping your promises, and living life to the fullest and on your own terms.
Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty
Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします