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7 Reasons Why You Should Play Yakuza Ishin!

Updated on January 17, 2018
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Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Yong’s favourite movies and games are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

Yakuza Ishin is also known as Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin.
Yakuza Ishin is also known as Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin.

1. Don’t Understand Japanese? No Problem!

With the power of the Internet, language is not a barrier to enjoying this game.
With the power of the Internet, language is not a barrier to enjoying this game.

As there is still no news for an English version of Yakuza Ishin, the biggest hurdle to playing the game would be that of language. Should this be the case for you, fret not! With the game already four-years-old, detailed English walkthroughs have long been published online for it. Just google for “Yakuza Ishin guide.” Of note, even without these guides, the game is not unplayable, though you might find the lengthy cutscenes baffling. The game is also straightforward enough provided you do not approach it with a completionist mentality. After all, it is, at its heart, a brawling adventure. Language has little to play in a street fight.

2. It’s a Time Travel Journey to 19th Century Kyoto!

View of Shijō Street from Shijō Bridge. Shijō is still the main shopping street in Kyoto today.
View of Shijō Street from Shijō Bridge. Shijō is still the main shopping street in Kyoto today.

Sega’s flagship series for the PlayStation has long been beloved for its meticulous virtual reconstructions of Japan. This historical spinoff is no exception. Believe me when I say you would be blown away by the amount of detail included in the environs of the game. What’s especially noteworthy is that if you compare Sega’s version of old Kyoto with historical photos, you would immediately notice how similar they are. Curious to see how pre-modern Kyoto looks like after visiting the modern version? Here’s your chance. This is video game tourism and time travel tourism at their best.

3. It’s a Beginner’s Introduction to Japanese Cooking

A fun way to learn about Japanese cuisine and cooking ingredients, as well as improve your Japanese vocabulary.
A fun way to learn about Japanese cuisine and cooking ingredients, as well as improve your Japanese vocabulary.

Be it related minigames or items sold in shops, Yakuza Ishin might be the best introduction to Japanese cooking. That is, one that’s within a video game. Going through these segments of the game, you would get the feeling that Sega intended gameplay to honour Japanese cuisine, something which might indeed be the case! On another note, if you’re learning Japanese and struggling with food names, here’s a great tutorial. You will know the difference between a nasu and a tōgarashi after playing. Soon, you will be able to rattle off 20 Japanese names for edible fish too.

4. You Get to Visit Signature Kyoto Landmarks

Kyoto’s famous Gion District, atmospherically lit up at night.
Kyoto’s famous Gion District, atmospherically lit up at night.

With its emphasis on graphics and real-life accuracy, it is no surprise that signature Kyoto landmarks are included in Yakuza Ishin. Given the ancient capital’s wealth of treasures, only a few appear, but frown not, the best and most famous ones are there. In fact, so as to emphasise the “importance” of these landmarks, all are venues for key scenes in the main quest. Best of all, the game has three time settings; day, evening, and night. That’s three ways for you to appreciate these gorgeous landmarks.

5. It’s Hilarious

Play the game to know who this fearsome character is.
Play the game to know who this fearsome character is.

Yakuza is a quirky game series. The main quest is usually sombre. On the other hand, the substories i.e. side quests often get downright outrageous. As like the case for food and architecture, it is obvious Sega intended for these substories to feature the weirder, hysterical aspects of Japan. Humour aside, some of these substories also allow you to briefly indulge in enduring passions of the Japanese. Fascinated by Japanese tantei i.e. detective stories? Enamoured with Anime-style romance tales? Here's the chance to have a more intimate taste of them.

6. There’s Not Just One, but Five Combat Systems

Range, power, speed, or a combination of everything? You decide how your fights should go.
Range, power, speed, or a combination of everything? You decide how your fights should go.

Some players might find this confusing. However, if you enjoy variety when it comes to combat, Yakuza Ishin’s five inter-switchable battle styles will delight you. While all five operate on the same control system, differences in combat nature require starkly different deployment methods, the failure of which to master could result in game over screens very quickly. To assist players to learn, the game has various training missions and conditioning quests, as well as a specific minigame for you to hone your expertise in each style. In short, even if you dislike complex battles, you will come to love Yakuza Ishin’s variety. Pretty soon, you would also wish for this flexibility to appear in other games.

7. It’s an Introduction to One of Japan’s Most Tumultuous Historical Periods

The legendary swordsmen of the Shinsengumi are the protagonists of Yakuza Ishin.
The legendary swordsmen of the Shinsengumi are the protagonists of Yakuza Ishin.

I emphasise the word “introduction” here. While many famous Japanese historical characters and events appear in the game, history is retold in a very different way. This considered, Yakuza Ishin is still an effective introduction to Japan’s Meiji Restoration period, in the sense it is likely to pique your interest in reading about the era. Curious to know what led to Japan’s rapid modernisation in the 19th century? This game will be an extended and immersive introduction. Very quickly, you might become a Meiji Restoration history buff. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself suddenly able to name key Shinsengumi characters at any time.

© 2018 Kuan Leong Yong

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