I’d like to think there are people out there who are going to buy and support Yakuza 5 because of its playable arcade games. I mean, a lot of people already opt in to every entry for the side-activities. While helping Kazuma and his associates succeed in their daily struggles is fun, getting to do whatever we want, when we want can be even better. Especially when it comes to the Club Sega arcade.
Yakuza 5’s Club Sega arcade is modeled after the real thing. If you go to Japan, you will find an arcade that looks exactly like that on both the outside or inside. Okay, maybe it’s a stretch suggesting the interior will be identical, but you get the idea. It’s a true likeness. The grabbers, Virtua Fighter 2, Taiko: Drum Master, and photo booths are all right there.
While I’d like to say the appearance of Taiko: Drum Master is the best part, it’s really the inclusion of Virtua Fighter 2. Mainly because there’s actually online multiplayer for the fighter. It’s like getting the 2012 Virtual Fighter 2 PlayStation Store release for free with the game. You can access local and online multiplayer through Yakuza 5’s main menu. Unfortunately, it seems like no one is ever really online to play the online multiplayer.
The only problem with Virtua Fighter 2 is that it isn’t a perfect port. I’m having quite a bit of trouble with grabs or attacks that use grabs in the game. Even though I’m fairly certain of what the controls are, grabs don’t seem to be working properly. Of course, this is also compounded by really intelligent AI. It could just be that the opponents are too good at dodging my blows, but I can’t help but feel it’s an issue with Yakuza 5’s version of the arcade game. Still, it isn’t much of a problem when paying the 100 virtual yen to play a solo run on the Easy difficulty level.
There’s no such issue with Taiko, thankfully. While a player does have to stick with button controls, due to a lack of drum controller, you can never complain about getting a sample of one of the best rhythm games in Japan in other regions. In case this is your first experience with the game, Taiko: Drum Master is a rhythm title where people match a song’s beats with a taiko drum. You hit either the inner part or outer edge of the drum, depending on the color of the indicator, though sometimes you have to hit both sides of the center or outer rim to properly hit a beat. A local, two player mode is even available via the main menu of Yakuza 5.
When you first approach a Taiko: Drum Master machine, you’ll have three songs to choose from. Each has two difficulty levels, and the 100 yen play will let you play two songs. The three songs available are Taiko no Tatsujin Portable’s theme song, “Nijiiro Yumeiro Taikoiro”, “Mappy Medley,” a medley of songs from Mappy that appeared in the second Taiko no Tatsujin game for the Nintendo Wii, and “From the New World,” a classical piece. It takes some time to adjust to the timing, but it’s a pretty faithful port of the original game.
The Club Sega grabbing machines are also quite entertaining. They feature characters from classic Sega properties as prizes. For example, my first reward was a dragon figure from Panzer Dragoon. I actually think it’ll prove helpful when preparing for my next trip to GameWorks. It has Sega catchers, the exact sort with two pronged grabbers and is the sort of exercise that helps with your coordination. Granted, it’s far more difficult to win with real life machines. I doubt I’d end up getting a Hatsune Miku figure on one of my first tries in a real arcade.
Finally, there are the photo machines. They’re not so much a game as a way of saying “I was here!” for the character that happens to be in Club Sega at the time. Each character has a booklet for photo stickers. When you go to the machine, you can choose from four different backgrounds, with one being location specific. Each character has four poses. You can press to try and time the pose to get the perfect shot, and you save the picture you like best of the three taken in your album. Unfortunately, there’s no way to properly export it. This means I can’t share a picture of Kazuma’s double peace sign pose with the cat border.
While Virtua Fighter 2 has a few issues, you have to visit the Club Sega arcades when playing Yakuza 5. Make it one of your first stops as soon as possible. Club Sega Nagasugai is right near Kazuma’s apartment, at the corner of Ose Bridge Boulevard and Nagasu Boulevard. The thought and care that went into getting this experience feel right is extraordinary.
Yakuza 5 is immediately available for the PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Store.