The Yakuza series has a reputation for offering minigames you would not normally expect to see in video games. The cabaret club, which involves visiting a hostess club or managing one, is among them. Sometimes, the character we are controlling is just stopping by to spend time with some women. Other times, like in Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami 2, the characters are managing them. With Yakuza Kiwami 2, things feel so engaging and refined that this minigame grabs you and does not let go.
You are introduced to Yakuza Kiwami 2’s cabaret club as part of the main storyline, and there are even two life skills Kazuma Kiryu can invest in to boost the amount of experience the women working at his club earn and the number of rewards he gets for successfully managing shifts. In the fourth chapter, the game will do that thing where it walls you off from getting from point A to point B unnecessarily. It is revealed that this is so Kiryu can become involved in a case of mistaken identity. The former legendary hostess, Yuki, is running a new hostess club called Four Shine, with one ace hostess, Koyuki. She was waiting for a new floor manager she hired, but he was The head of the Kanzaki Group is trying to beat Four Shine down. But, with Kiryu’s help, the club will participate in the Cabaret Club Grand Prix, climb the ranks, and maybe even win the Final Championship.
Just in case you have never played through a Yakuza cabaret club management game, here is how it works. When you head into Four Shine, you can talk to Yuki to start planning for the evening or, if one of the hostesses has a drink icon over her head, you can take her out to socialize one-on-one and boost her experience. Once you talk to Yuki, the menu will open. This will tell you if any of your employees are absent for the day, pertinent club news, and the most important Grand Prix news. Here, you can manage the club, participate in a ranking match, take part in a championship match if your earnings are high enough, or scout for new employees. Club management allows you to see each woman’s current status. (Big, happy smiles mean they are really ready to work, while unhappy faces mean you should not send them out. Bronze borders are the lowest ranking, while platinum, shining borders are typically the best hostesses and ones you can even customize. In club management, you can determine who works that night. Also, before heading into all of this, you can canvas Soutenbori to pay fees to partner with local businesses to drum up business within leagues you are in or have placed out of.
Running is very easy in the beginning, but quickly gets more complicated. Your club has six tables. People of various means, with different desires, will come into the club and be placed. (Though, eventually, you can have pre-booked customers.) When someone comes in and sits down, you have to try and pair them with the woman best suited to the situation. You have an idea of how much they can spend, based on icons that say poor, average, rich, and tycoon. A smiling, sad, or neutral face will let you see at a glance who is best paired with certain hostesses, though some people will specifically want a particular employee to spend time with them and will not accept anyone else. There are also particular topics they may want, like party, talk, skill and love, and certain leagues specifically require you to have certain sorts of women on different shifts to do well. Each woman also has certain traits assigned to her, with grades based on sexy, elegant, cute, and funny, and they can have positive or negative potentials that impact her performance and encounters during a shift.
Each shift lasts three minutes. Ideally, you should have enough workers to have eight employees on staff. Though, since hiring involves a gacha using in-game cash that does not always guarantee a hire, you might not have the 16-18 employees necessary to ensure you can constantly rotate people in and out. Keeping track of each woman’s HP will give you an idea of how well things will go. In addition, as manager, Kiryu can perform actions that can provide temporary boosts. Every time a woman is with a customer, she will tend to have a moment where she needs an assist. Kiryu can step in, read her hand-sign, and choose one of four options to aid her. Getting it right immediately offers a boost and may get an order. (Waiting will make a prompt appear that tells you what is wrong.) At the end of a session, he can also step in to provide praise or a reward, to boost up the employee, extend a session for a chance at more money, or do something to leave the customer with a better impression.
Preparing certain hostesses and making sure you know what they are and aren’t capable of before a shift is important. You may want to be aware of their positive and negative potentials. For example, Chisato and Tomomi both have the negative feisty potential, which means they are short-tempered and may start a fight with some customers. (Kiryu will have to break up during a shift if this happens.) Maeda is stressed, which means her HP won’t recover as quickly while she is on standby. Koyuki, meanwhile, is Relaxed, which means her HP will gradually refill when she is on standby. Serina and the second customizable hostess you unlock are both spoiled, which means the brief period where they are successful after an a positive event during a shift will last longer than another hostess’. With employees like Koyuki, you can spend money to change her dress, hair accessory, glasses, earrings, necklace, nails, ring, wrist accessory, hairdo, perfume and such to alter her sexy, elegant, cute, and funny levels. Naturally, leveling people up also impacts their style stats and parameters.
As Four Shine climbs the ranks and you go through successful shifts, you will have chances to talk to your employees. After every major championship, there will be a group outing where everyone socializes. Getting correct answers here can help determine how much experience your best hostesses get. (Shout out to Yakuza 0’s Nugget at the first outing!) In a one-on-one outing, you will actually have a bar at the top left of the screen showing how well the conversation is going. You will also see very visible reactions on the screen, letting you know if you are making good or bad choices. Again, doing well means an experience boost for that employee, which is very much appreciated.
As you can probably tell from how much I had to say about it, Yakuza Kiwami 2’s cabaret club is engrossing. Four Shine is fun to manage and makes it easy to make decisions with its clear UI. Lots of information is presented, but in a way where you gradually learn to deal with all of the challenges that come up in every shift. It is very good about giving you positive feedback, and someone who is willing to spend around an hour or two straight with this minigame will have no trouble earning enough to get a good assortment of hostesses and extra pocket change for Kiryu. Working at Four Shine definitely brightened up my Yakuza Kiwami 2 play sessions.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 will come to the PlayStation 4 on August 28, 2018.