Yakuza and the One Good Mobster

Andrew Foltz

Andrew Foltz is an engineer and educator by day, and generally a terrible person by night. He also runs a podcast where he talks about video games all the time and spends far too much of his precious free time rambling about things on the internet. He also writes stories from time to time.

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7 Responses

  1. Peter Moore says:

    It is nice to know I’m not alone in feeling guilty about mistreating game characters.

    Can you recommend which Yakuza to start with? In particular if I was likely only going to do one of them…Report

    • Well, the whole series is available for a song on PS4 at this point, so if you have one of those that would be the recommended option I think.

      As for individual games, the best one to start with would either be Yakuza 0, the recent prequel they did that’s set in the 80s, or Yakuza Kiwami, which is a remake of the original game with the updated engine from 0. Both of those are available on PS4 or Steam in the $10-20 range.Report

      • Matthew Luther in reply to Andrew Foltz says:

        Thanks for these suggestions! I’m definitely going to check these out. I have noticed that the mafioso with a heart of gold is a recurring theme in Japanese manga/anime, though I somehow doubt their mafiosi are that altruistic in real life…Report

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    I’ve never played any of these games, but here’s a fun fact: The Japanese title of Resident Evil is Biohazard. A few years ago, when I heard that there was going to be a new RE game called Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, I wondered what the Japanese title was. Surely not Biohazard 7: Biohazard. Turns out it’s Biohazard 7: Resident Evil.

    Similarly, the Japanese title of the Yakuza series is Ryu ga Gotoku, which is an old-fashioned (think the Japanese equivalent of Shakespearean) way of saying “Like a Dragon,” and the English title of the upcoming game in the series is Yakuza: Like a Dragon. I wondered if maybe the Japanese title was Like a Dragon: Yakuza, but it turns out that it’s Ryu ga Gotoku: Hikari to Yami no Yukue, the latter part of which means something like “Whither the Light and Darkness.” Titles can be hard to translate due to lack of context to clarify words with multiple meanings. Maybe that’s why they didn’t even try to translate this one.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    It’s like arguing D&D Alignments. You can’t just argue “Good” vs. “Evil”. “What about Robin Hood?” shows up. “But he breaks the law!” “But the law is evil!” “Guys, guys… let’s add another axis!”

    And so you get stuff like Order vs. Chaos and now you can have someone like Robin Hood show up in your gaming system and plop him down without having to worry too much about it. (“How come he immediately reverted to law-abiding the moment that Richard the Lionhearted returned?”)

    In more recent outlawry, we had Prohibition. I’m not saying that the bootleggers were *GOOD*, mind. I’m just saying that there were a lot of people who wanted the product and had no way of procuring the product without dealing with middlemen who were capable of dealing with bootleggers. A go-between, if you will.

    Heck, “vice” in general has always had this problem. Access to booze dealers or drug dealers (or stuff that is less appropriate to talk about on a family website) means that you have to deal with outlaws.

    And, let’s face it, if you’re just dealing with a guy who has his own still or his own greenhouse, well, that’s probably fine. Oh, that’s just Bob. Sure, he’s got a hobby. For a couple of bills, he’ll share. Nice guy.

    The problem is that not everybody is lucky enough to have a Bob in their life and when demand is high enough (see: Prohibition), you’re stuck having to deal with middlemen.

    Having the middleman be a nice guy is a nice fantasy for those of us who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. Sure, he’s an outlaw! But he’s more like Robin Hood, at the end of the day.

    Hey, if the law is evil, sometimes you’re stuck with outlaws. We’re just waiting for Richard to come back.Report

  4. I haven’t played this series, and probably never will, but I really got a feel for the world by reading this. I have long thought that by making criminals too one dimensional (either too unsympathetic or so good they’d never be a criminal) it makes for a boring antihero and it sounds like the game designers successfully threaded the needle here. Thank you for sharing!Report