Ranking the Yakuza series from 2017 onward.

Disclaimer: This ranking will not include Yakuza 6 or Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Welcome to our ranking of the recent Yakuza titles! For those wondering, Sega released the Yakuza series for the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s. This open-world game took place in the Japanese fictional city of Kamurocho. Starring former member of the Tojo Clan Yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu, the title would feature a deep crime drama storyline. Furthermore, the gameplay offered a blend between RPG elements and 3D beat ’em up gameplay.

Yakuza remained a niche series throughout its releases over the past 16 years. However, the series began to hit a successful stride with the release of Yakuza 0 on the PlayStation 4. Thanks to Sega’s aggressive marketing on social media platforms, people quickly took note of this quirky yet serious RPG by Sega. Marketed as the origin of the Yakuza series storyline, this title made for the perfect jumping-on point for newcomers. In doing so, it was lauded as a fresh experience for many as well as what became one of the best games in the series.

After the release of Yakuza 0, Sega went onto make several more titles in the series alongside continuing the previous chronology with the release of Yakuza 6. Additionally, Sega renamed this division Ryo Ga Gotoku (RGG) Studios based on the Japanese name of the series.

Each game they released brought a quality experience to the table. However, it’s worth ranking these titles accordingly. As such, this ranking will go in descending order to the best game over the last few years.

#5. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

While Lost Paradise includes neither the Yakuza branding nor the Kamurocho setting, make no mistake. Developed by RGG Studios, this adaptation of the popular manga and anime series is still a Yakuza title. However, it stars Fist of the North Star series protagonist, Kenshiro.

Kamurocho martial artist Komaki makes a cameo in the game.

You’ll guide Kenshiro through the city of Eden while taking on sub-quests, playing mini-games, and fighting bad guys. The Yakuza elements include the skill tree, trademark combat system, and the flashy animations that come with Kenshiro’s classic killer techniques.

While utilizing the Yakuza 3 engine, Lost Paradise falls a few paces behind its contemporaries. This comes despite Yakuza 6’s 2016 release, predating Lost Paradise by two years, which uses the refined Dragon Engine. However, that’s not the only reason Lost Paradise falls short.

Rather, the title inherently falls short due to its pacing and padding issues stemming from traveling around the barren wasteland. Unlike in Kamurocho, you’ll also find no taxis to help you quick travel around the city. While a good game in its own right, and a fine video game adaptation of manga and anime, several flaws hold back Lost Paradise from the rest of the recent Yakuza releases.

#4. Yakuza Kiwami

Coming hot off the heels of Yakuza 0’s stellar 2017 release, Sega went to work with a full-blown remake of the original Yakuza title. This remake enhances everything about the PS2 original while using the Yakuza 3 engine and giving the game a full audiovisual makeover. Additionally, Kiryu can use his three fighting styles from Yakuza 0 (Brawler, Rush, Beast), as well as the unlockable Dragon style available right from the start.

Yakuza Kiwami takes place over a decade after Yakuza 0 and sets the tale for a growing rift between former best friends Kiryu and Nishikiyama. The original title of the series also introduces Kiryu’s adopted daughter, Haruka, and his rivalry with the Mad Dog of Shimano, Goro Majima.

Kiwami sets a standard for everything you could ask for from a Yakuza game. However, it falls short due to several pacing issues. One of which comes from certain subquests forcing you to go back and forth for items like dog food. Another issue stems from the many times you will encounter Majima with the game’s Majima Everywhere system. Kiwami is overall an incredibly solid game and worth playing but it still falls on the lower end of its superior contemporaries.

#3. Yakuza Kiwami 2

This is where the going gets strong. Yakuza Kiwami 2 utilizes the Dragon Engine from Yakuza 6. This means you’ll better-paced battles, traveling, and fewer load times. Entering buildings doesn’t come with a break in the action either.

Kiwami 2 introduced a powerful new rival named Ryuji Goda and Kiryu’s girlfriend, Kaoru Sayama. All the while building on his relationship with Haruka, Kiryu travels back and forth between Kamurocho and Sotenbori to avoid a full-scale war between rival clans.

I feel Kiwami 2 took the series a step up in many ways including its already stellar writing. However, I bumped into a few gripes such as a cluttered skill tree menu and constantly mashing to get up from constant enemy attacks. Despite this, I feel the sum of its parts makes it a standard Yakuza title utilizing the Dragon Engine. Therefore, it’s a highlight of the series and one absolutely worth playing.

#2. Judgment

Following suit from Yakuza Kiwami 2, Judgment utilizes the Dragon Engine. However, the protagonist of this adventure is private detective Takayuki Yagami. Disgraced as a former attorney, Yagami seeks to uncover the truth behind the case that ruined his reputation.

Fans of Ace Attorney or detective-type games in general, you’re in for a real treat. Judgment allows you to search for clues, present evidence in arguments, tail people from a distance, and even fly a drone. The combat feels straight-up Yakuza style with a Yagami twist. You can switch between a Tiger and a Crane battle style.

I enjoyed Judgment’s writing, character synergy, and overall gameplay. However, I found tailing segments to be a little long at times. But what really became a problem was finishing the subquests.

I found Paradise VR to be one of the series’ best minigames.

One makes you search Kamurocho for 50 QR codes and enter drone racing. Another forces you to play at least two games of Mahjong. Despite its lengthy tutorial, if you really did not want to understand playing Mahjong, you had to farm money to buy a piece to cheat the game. However, Judgment’s main game, clean UI, sub-quests, and character design truly make it one of RGG Studios’ finest highlights.

#1. Yakuza 0

Believe it or not, the best Yakuza game released since 2017 may be Yakuza 0. Despite running on the Yakuza 3 engine, the developers managed to balance it around stellar mini-games, combat, and weave together a gripping story. Additionally, you play as both Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima.

Among the mini-games included karaoke and a dancing rhythm game, both of which have scarcely been seen in the series since. Like Kiwami 2 and Lost Paradise, you can also play the hostess mini-game and dress up women to serve at your Cabaret Club. Plus, unlike Majima Everywhere or the constant badgering of the Keihin Gang in Judgment, the Mr. Shakedown fights are optional and highly rewarding.

Yakuza 0’s only real issues come from some minor pacing flaws such as only a few taxis scattered around town and no saving from the menu. While in some ways it feels dated compared to its Dragon Engine contemporaries, its overall balance is worth more than the sum of its parts. Yakuza 0 is truly one of the best places to start for series newcomers and still holds up well today.

Final Thoughts

I’m currently playing through Yakuza 3 which takes me back to the original engine. I eventually want to beat Yakuza Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon in order. That way I can compare the remaining titles to the rest of this incredible series.

Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the replies! As always, be sure to Like our main page and follow our social media for more quality gaming content.

Until next time!

Resident Evil Village Preview: New Details on Trailer, Demo, and Alluring Antagonists.

Earlier this month, Capcom unveiled their Resident Evil Showcase. This presentation featured several new ways to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Resident Evil survival horror series. But moreover, they showcased a new trailer for Resident Evil Village as well as a PS5-exclusive demo. Prior to the game’s release, Capcom will release a new demo for all platforms featuring the title.

One of the biggest eyecatchers involves the new villains featured in the demo. Among them include Lady Alcina Dimitrescu, an 8 ft. tall voluptuous woman with a vampire complex. Aiding her are three girls, dressed in black, which are presumed to be her daughters. Needless to say, the internet quickly became smitten with her.

“Welcome to the family, son.”

What we know about the trailer features a castle similarly to Resident Evil 4. Moreover, much of the setup features a sort of gothic atmosphere as the women chasing you around seek your blood. As such, you will find pools of blood within the catacombs.

What to Expect from Resident Evil Village.

Resident Evil Village is romanized as “VIII,” indicating this is also Resident Evil 8. As such, it is the direct sequel to Resident Evil 7. Featuring RE7’s protagonist, Ethan Winters, his wife Mia Winters goes missing once more. He must also rescue their newborn daughter, Rosemary, from their kidnappers.

The first-person view returns from Resident Evil 7. It will also feature an inventory setup akin to Resident Evil 4. Additionally, a merchant will appear to sell you wares.

Capcom released a PlayStation 5-exclusive demo called Maiden. This roughly 20-minute demo features you playing as an unknown protagonist attempting to escape the jail beneath the castle. It will introduce you to the basic mechanics of the game.

Additionally, Capcom revealed a new multiplayer title. Tiled RE: Verse, this will feature major characters from across the series duking it out in free-for-all gunfire. While Capcom received lukewarm reception for releasing Resistance alongside the Resident Evil 3 remake, this title will also be released alongside Village.

Final Thoughts

I can’t say I’m not excited for Resident Evil Village. I adored Resident Evil 7 and found it to be one of the best games I ever played. I strongly recommend it to everyone reading this article right now. I hope Capcom will polish Resident Evil Village just as finely as they did with 7.

I honestly cannot take my eyes off the new antagonists either. Resident Evil scarcely features an antagonist as attractive as Lady Dimistrescu. She’s easily my favorite new female villain design in the series.

Resident Evil Village comes out on May 7, 2021. It will release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. Be sure to keep up with us and follow our social media links to get the latest coverage on the title!

Until next time!

Balan Wonderworld, New 3D Platformer Developed by Sonic the Hedgehog Creators, Coming in 2021.

Balan Wonderworld is an upcoming 3D platformer developed by the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog. Helmed by Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima, Square-Enix’s upcoming title will herald the return of two platforming legends from the heydays of Sega and Sonic Team. This will also debut their new development studio, Balan Company.

What makes Balan Wonderworld significant?

Naoto Ohshima created Sonic the Hedgehog while Yuji Naka programmed the original Genesis titles. Yuji Naka would later lead Sonic Team in developing Sonic titles before leaving Sega in 2006. His last original platformer that featured a mascot character was Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg for GameCube in 2003. Perhaps the most striking resemblance this has to Naka’s past work, however, is NiGHTS into dreams…

While Naoto Ohshima had continued developing games outside of Sega since 2001, he would find success in creating his own mascot platformer, Blinx the Time Sweeper, for Xbox. His studio, Artoon, would later go on to develop Yoshi’s Island DS. Once Artoon disbanded, Ohshima founded Azrest, which would develop games for Nintendo franchises, such as Yoshi’s New Island and Hey! Pikmin for 3DS.

With that being said, this is the first time Naka and Ohshima have teamed up together in decades. For fans of classic Sonic the Hedgehog and NiGHTS Into dreams…, this game feels like the return of an important era.

You can learn more about the title from the official website here.

Releasing in the perfect timeframe.

Balan Wonderworld will release during an era where 3D platforms have seen a massive boom. While Nintendo has pressed on with successful titles, like Super Mario Odyssey, only in the last few years have 3D platformers seen mainstream success in the gaming market once more.

Former Banjo-Kazooie developers founded Playtonic Games, creating Yooka-Laylee. Independent studios, such as Playful Studios, succeeded with games like New Super Lucky’s Tale for Nintendo Switch.

Meanwhile, Insomniac Studios‘ reboot of Ratchet and Clank in 2016 set the groundwork for the upcoming title Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Plus, developers Vicarious Visions and Toys for Bob remade classic PlayStation titles in the form of Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy, respectively. In the former’s case, Toys for Bob is currently developing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Final Thoughts

As a longtime platforming fan, I’m glad to see the creators of Sonic working on a new project. I’m almost intrigued to play Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg and NiGHTS into dreams…, the latter being released on the PlayStation Store for PS3. If nothing else, I suppose I could watch a playthrough on YouTube.

It would be fun to delve into Yuji Naka’s earlier works before this title comes out. While Sega has catered to fans with references to both games over the years, fans truly loved these original titles and want to see their creativity return.

While some 3D platformers have floundered with titles, like Sonic Forces in 2017, their releases have otherwise come few and far in between. However, thanks to the efforts of Insomniac Studios, Toys for Bob, and now Balan Company, platforming fans can rest assured; the era is back.

Look forward to Balan Wonderworld when it comes out for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Nintendo Switch in Spring 2021. Keep up with us and follow our site for incoming updates on Balan Wonderworld!

PlayStation 5 Reveal – The 5 Games That Stole Our Hearts.

Earlier this week, Sony showcased their PlayStation 5 digital reveal event. Featuring the new console, controller, and its specs, Sony showcased a number of incredible-looking titles coming to the system over the next two years. With that said, we want to show you the five titles that captured our hearts and left us the biggest impression from the show.

You can check out the official PlayStation 5 site here for additional info.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Coming from Spyro and Spider-Man developer, Insomniac Games, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart will be the first title in the series since the 2016 Ratchet and Clank title, which was a remake of the original game. Featuring the titular duo, this title sets them in an adventure with ever-changing landscapes. Shifting through dimensions, you’ll enter a world of dragons one moment and get dragged into a futuristic city the next. The gorgeous fur texture and environments showcase exceptional visual detail. As someone who’s only played the PS4 remake, I’m excited to check out another title in the series.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spawning off of the 2018 PS4 hit, Marvel’s Spider-Man, the upcoming Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks nothing short of beautiful. It features Peter Parker’s protege taking on crime in his own adventure. However, while initial reports mentioned that this is not a sequel, but rather a remaster of the 2018 PS4 hit featuring a new storyline, Insomniac confirmed this is, indeed, a standalone title.

Demon’s Souls Remake

Bluepoint Games, developer of the Shadow of the Colossus remake, unveiled the remake of From Software’s original Souls title. Setting the groundwork for Dark Souls, this PS3-exclusive title began From Software’s modern legacy into creating some of the best games released in the last decade.

Demon’s Souls set a precedent as a real-time Action/Adventure title with RPG elements. However, it was unquestionably flawed in its execution with some elements, such as World Tendency. This mysterious element changed world elements. As such, without the proper understanding of how it worked, you could miss out on crucial weapons, such as the Dragon Bone Smasher in the second world. This frustrating aspect will hopefully be corrected in the upcoming feature. If the Dark Souls Remaster taught us anything, it’s that quality-of-life improvements will almost certainly come to this remake as well.

Resident Evil: Village

Capcom’s upcoming survival-horror title, Resident Evil Village, features Ethan Winters, the protagonist of highly successful Resident Evil 7, as well as Chris Redfield, longtime Resident Evil protagonist. The trailer features an old village, the occult, and more.  To what extent the title will feature supernatural elements, akin to the Resident Evil 4 beta, remains to be seen. Perhaps most striking is the end of the trailer confirming that “Resident Evil Village” spells out “Resident Evil VIII.” Coming after two Resident Evil remakes, Capcom has chosen to continue the story from its last chronological entry.

Horizon: Forbidden West

The sequel to Guerilla’s incredible 2017 title, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Forbidden West will continue protagonist Aloy’s story in a world set 1,000 years from the present day. Featuring the machines, it appears that they will become part of yet another global threat. The trailer also features Sylens, one of the prominent characters from the first game, interacting with the machines as well. However, fans of the original game remember one thing: the fate of past-world antagonist, Ted Faro, was never uncovered. His actions single-handedly created the apocalypse and his status is only presumed deceased. Hopefully, we will see in the very near future.