Back when Yakuza 2 was originally released, it did something rather exciting for the series. It gave people a chance to see Kazuma Kiryu outside his natural habitat of Kamurocho, as it took him to the Doutonbori-inspired Sotenbori in Osaka. But considering the increase in popularity the series has enjoyed worldwide as of late and the fact that Yakuza 0 has appeared on multiple platforms in various regions, Yakuza Kiwami 2 might not be people’s first trip to Sotenbori. This might be a return for them. In which case, it can be fun to see how the area has grown, what activities you might find, and how the new sub stories feel. As for people who already played Yakuza 2 before, it will feel like coming home again.
You arrive in Sotenbori rather quickly in Yakuza Kiwami 2. The activities in Yakuza Kiwami have led to escalating events and Kiryu is attempting to set things right. This brings him to Osaka to deal with the Omi Alliance. Though there are some tutorials and a bit of exposition to get through upon your arrival. people get an opportunity to really look around the city, partake in some activities, and explore while they are there in these early hours. There is actually a substantial amount of activities to enjoy and locker keys to find, especially if you invest in the Substory Finder Life Skill in Stats & Abilities shortly after arriving.
Sotenbori is still a very flashy and lively place, with blunt people who aren’t shy about getting Kiryu’s attention for assistance or force a fight. One of the first story locations you will visit here is actually the Cabaret Grand Club, where Goro Majima was doing his time in Yakuza 0. It is as classy now as it was then, with the same sort of atmosphere and clientele. Lots of the same minigame locations are still open. You can still play Shogi in the south side of the city. The Sunshine Cabaret Club still exists, though in this entry Kiryu will find himself in charge of a rival club later, the Four Shine Club. Gandhara is still open. You’ll even be able to find Club Sega again, though this time instead of classic games, you can find Virtua Fighter 2.1 and Virtual-On, with easy and normal difficulty options. Darts are still available at the STIJL bar too, and you can’t pass up some karaoke on the southwest side of town. I also felt like the Yokobori Golf Center made it feel like there was more to do.
One of Yakuza Kiwami 2’s new minigames unlocks for the first time on a player’s initial trip to Sotenbori: Toylets. This is the urinal minigame where, when Kiryu’s bladder is full, you can play a minigame at a designated bathroom. (Conveniently, after Kiryu agrees to be a lead tester, he gets a Toylets Sensor that alerts the player when the minigame can be played.) I was surprised to see this involves a bit of finesse. Milky Nose has two people drinking milk and having it squirt out of your nose. You have to manage you force via the left and right triggers on the controller, watch your blast gauge for an attack, the percentage left in your bladder, the HP for your enemy and yourself, and the force of your own blast compared to your opponent’s. Though I managed a 510ml on my first try, getting S-ranks on Volume and Speed and an A-rank on Force, I didn’t manage the Force and Bladder Percentage properly, which led to my being overwhelmed at the end of the match.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 starts off strong with its initial Sotenbori sub stories. Just like with some of the initial Yakuza 0 sub stories for Majima, there are some immediately memorable ones. Like in Yakuza 0, your first optional sidequests in Sotenbori involved helping a human statue have opportunities to move without his audience catching on, pretending to be a girl’s boyfriend in front of her father, and helping a guy with an early cell phone. While these initial sub stories might not be as involved or lengthy, there are still some pretty great ones to complete as you kick off your adventure. A Mother’s Love has you finding a lost amulet for a mother with a very strong personality. (This is also a good way to grab some Sotenbori Coin Locker keys.) In the Name of Art is an early standout, and perhaps one of the best Yakuza Kiwami 2 sub stories in general, as Kiryu agrees to be a shirtless model for an eccentric artist.
A nice bonus is knowing that some of the people you help in these optional stories will pitch in with Heat Actions if you are fighting in their vicinity. The guitarist on the bridge you found some tissues for? He’ll pitch in during a fight. The No Means No sub story barker outside the club? She’ll contribute some hits if you fight on her street. I’ve never found combat to be that difficult in Yakuza games, probably due to the amount of time I put into engaging in optional activities and racking up experience, but seeing these friends pop in during a fight is fun.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a chance to return to Sotenbori, and it is one that people might relish. People who have been here before, either in Yakuza 2 or Yakuza 0, could be happy to see locations like clubs, restaurants, and optional activities again. They might also enjoy seeing what new spots may have opened up or original minigames have appeared. It also starts things off strong early on, with some sub stories that are as memorable as the early ones. Once again, Sotenbori can be an enjoyable place to be.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 will come to the PlayStation 4 in North America and Europe on August 28, 2018. It is immediately available in Japan.