6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Yakuza 4

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Yukuza 4 is an excellent game from an excellent franchise. For those of you that don’t know, the Yakuza franchise picked up where the legendary Shenmue left off. Instead of a pussy shy schoolboy (Nozomi wants it, Ryo!), the series revolves around Kiryu Kazuma (a.k.a the Dragon of Dojiima). Kazuma is a total badass of the highest order, who’s always happy to squeeze in a quick round of breaking faces between a few holes of golf and an erotic massage. But this particular protagonist has a heart of gold. He fosters a young girl, runs an orphanage, helps to find lost cats and will even help strangers buy ornaments for their homes. What a diamond geezer… But for the love of sweet baby Jesus just don’t make him angry!

Tanimura here will SHIT himself when he sees the bill

Tanimura here will SHIT himself when he sees the bill. And what’s with the total skanks?

In Yakuza 4, the familiar free roaming RPG mechanics and real world locations return, as does the brutal / hilarious combat (smash peoples heads on the curb / brain them with a bicycle tire / take a full-on home run swing at their heads with a baseball bat). In fact… Not much at all has changed since the prior Yakuza 3. It is a bit disappointing to only have the old Kamarochou (the area is called Kabukichou in real life) as your only explorable location because Yakuza 3 also had a tasty, tropical Okinawan sprawl to cause mayhem in. That said, Yakuza 4 IS a better game than it’s predecessor. This is not so much due to the now re-instated hostess clubs (which were annoyingly edited out of the western translation of part 3), but due to the fantastic plot, which for the first time in the franchise’s history, weaves together the stories of four different playable characters (each with a unique fighting style).

The better you play ping pong, the more her robe falls open. Perverts rejoice!

The better you play ping pong, the more her robe falls open. Perverts rejoice!

Instead of just badass Kiryu Kazuma, part four also follows the prison escaping Saijiima, with his burly pro-wrestling style, bent copper Tannimura (as in corrupt, not gay) with his counter-attack heavy combos and the strangely generous money lender Akiyama with his machine-gun kick stylings. It’s a real pleasure to see the plot’s mysteries slowly unravel and the character’s disparate thread’s inevitably come together. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but jeez, I’ll just say: BEST END BOSS FIGHT EVER! With a great story, hilarious mini-games and deep fighting mechanics, Yakuza 4 is at turns funny, touching and totally bonkers. But it is always very, very entertaining. Now, for the love of god Sega… TRANSLATE YAKUZA 5 and KENZAN into English or the Chuchu will come to your house and shit in your mop bucket!

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6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

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One of the most impressive games for me at E3 2013 was Mario Kart 8 on the WiiU. After a long time of being stuck in neutral, the franchise is starting to look fresh again. Nintendo have added drifting mechanics, the ability to drive on walls and ceilings and all manner of other F-Zero related shenanigans. Which once again makes it a trend setter within the lagging karting genre. Oh wait… No it doesn’t. Because Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing was doing all that already and doing it really fucking well.

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

Part two in the franchise, named Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, makes some major changes to the formula while building upon the superb core mechanics of the original. Adding craft which transform from cars to boats to planes within the same track was a great idea, mirroring classic karting games like Diddy Kong Racing. But just like the sterling original Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Transformed goes far beyond it’s influences (mainly Mario Kart, F-Zero and Outrun) with blistering speed, amazing drifting mechanics and pinpoint perfect track design.

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

As with the original, Transformed plays excellently to nostalgia. The game features tracks not only from the Sonic series but from (deep breath now) Nights into Dreams, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Golden Axe, Samba De Amigo, Shinobi, Outrun, Afterburner and more. These tracks are represented with graphical perfection and their classic musical themes in tow. The character suite is also impressive. You have the usual suspects, such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Eggman… etc. But you also have such oddballs as Wreck it Ralph, Joe Musashi, Vryss from Skies of Arcadia, the Dwarf from Golden Axe and… um… Danica Patrick. That’s a pretty wild mix! But no Ryo Hazuki of Shenmue fame this time around. Boooooooo!

remember kids; "Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition"

remember kids; “Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition”

Transformed also has some basic improvements over the excellent original title; the much-missed ability to play GP mode in split screen has finally been added and the themes of the tracks are much less repetitive (as noted above). The only negative thing about this title is the way that you unlock extra characters. In the original you earned coins simply by playing, which you could then spend on unlocking anything you liked. That was a great addictive system. Transformed forces you to play through a world tour, which involves drifting challenges, survival races and other Subsidiary modes. If you want to unlock all the characters (and why wouldn’t you), you also have to play it through on multiple difficulty settings. This means that only the truly hardcore players will get the opportunity to race as the dwarf from Golden Axe. I don’t appreciate that type of exclusion! That said, these modes are fun and addictive in a ‘trophy-whore’ kind of way and are well worth putting some time into. But still, don’t fucking tease us with a multitude of characters and then lock all the interesting ones away! That’s total bullshit, especially as a lot of people who buy the game will only want to play it when their friends come round.

What working adult in his right mind would play a Karting game alone for hours on end in order to unlock fucking Shadow the fucking hedgehog so that his fucking mates can play as the fucking thing for five fucking minutes a fucking month!? WHY SEGA, WHY!!!!

Um… Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is still far and away the best karting game available. So bring it on, Mario Kart 8!

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128-Bit, gaming, Sega Dreamcast

Tokychuchu on: Shenmue

 

Does anyone remember the Dreamcast classic Shenmue? Of course you do! Shenmue is an unassailable and legendary videogame. But for those two people that never played it, Shenmue followed the story of young Ryo Hazuki and his quest to avenge the murder of his father. Ryo’s epic quest included such awe-inspiring tasks as asking people questions, feeding a cat, hanging around the local game arcade and working part-time at a forklift depot.

 

 

Hey… Who said the life of a hero always has to be glamorous? Ryo, of course, made up for his mundane existence by beating seven shades of shit out of anyone who looked at him funny. Two bullies annoying a kid by taking his soccer ball? BAM! Two broken noses! A bar full of burly sailors who dare to tease minors by serving them milk? Not on Ryo’s watch, motherfucker! BAM BAM BAM! Or how about 30 angry bikers outside their clubhouse? Not a problem for our Ryo, whose ass is so bad that you could go blind just looking at it. BAAAAM! Take that you big burly sailors and leather clad bikers!

 

When good ol’ homophobic Ryo isn’t busy demolishing a gay rights parade, you’ll actually find some deep emotion dwelling within this game. It’s full of truly poignant moments like his friend Fuk-san’s tear-jerking piggy-bank donation. Ryo’s scenes with his girlfriend Nozomi also ache with gentle catharsis, despite the fact that Ryo always treats her like an irritable asshole (something I get after a kebab). C’mon.. She’s gagging for it, Ryo! FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN!! All these touching moments are made far more amazing when you consider the voice acting of the English dub. It’s… fucking… awful. I think Ryo might actually be voiced by Microsoft Pendown (aka Stephen Hawkin).

 

Still, the plank-like acting aside, Shenmue is an awesome game. It’s QTE sections were the first of their kind and damn impressive. The plot was unique and made far more sense than modern day crapola like Heavy Rain. The fighting was a solid pastiche of Virtua Fighter and the graphics were absolutely phenomenal… So phenomenal, in fact, that the development of Shenmue pretty much bankrupted Sega. To break even on the title, every Dreamcast owner in the world would’ve had to have bought the game twice. They didn’t (bastards!) and creator Yu Suzuki was demoted from chief game designer to chief toilet cleaner. A sequel was made a few years later (the imaginatively titled Shenmue II) and was all kinds of awesome. Unfortunately, with the franchise still not recouping it’s monolithic cost and Sega pulling out of the console race, Shenmue was indefinitely shelved (leaving it’s plot agonizingly uncompleted).

Since then, the Yakuza series has taken up where Shenmue left off and has made a success of itself. But we’re all still wondering; will Shenmue III ever see the light of day? Most have given up hope but Sega have reportedly been thinking about releasing the two previous games as HD downloadable titles. If that’s true, then who knows? Maybe Ryo might just claw his way back from limbo hell yet.

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