Yakuza Online (Ryu Ga Gotoku Online) Review – Destiny Yakuza

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review

When SEGA surprised the world with the announcement of Ryu Ga Gotoku: ONLINE (or Yakuza Online, for us players outside of Japan), there was some concern over this new chapter of the acclaimed series. Would we get a fully-fledged MMORPG featuring all the best mechanics from the expansive games, including detailed cities and exciting combat?

Sadly, a quick look at the target platforms was enough to shatter our dreams – Yakuza Online was in development for Android, iOS and PC. Obviously, this sounded more like a run-of-the-mill mobile game than a proper, ambitious online game.

However, not all simple games are meant to be bashed. Looking at Yakuza Online for what it is, it can be a nice little distraction and especially compelling for the biggest fans of the series.

A Most Violent Deck of Cards

Yakuza Online is a collecting card game, to sum it up. There’s more to it, but at the heart you must recruit (or collect) characters and use the best of them in some decidedly rough fights taking place in the streets of Tokyo.

The story follows the adventures of newcomer Ichiban Kasuga, who will also be the leading man in Yakuza’s next main console series rebirth, which is doing the rounds as Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku. However, this is in fact a misconception, since there is no official name for the first game, only a “New Yakuza” kind of moniker to the upcoming, as-of-yet untitled Yakuza game..

Since there is no English version available (and it’s unlikely that there will ever be), we couldn’t grasp all the intricacies of the Japanese story. However, this is indeed a heavily story-based game, much in the same way that Destiny Child is as well – meaning that there is a lot of chatting leading up to the battle sequences.

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review Card Collection

You must assemble a team of five characters, from familiar faces such as Goro Majima to Shun Akiyama, Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka Sawamura, to completely new acquaintances. Some of the characters are portrayed in a utterly goofball style, such as this pizza-holding dude – forgive me for lacking the series knowledge to know if he is a new or returning character.

Characters are obviously divided into several levels (R, SR, SSR and so on) and you acquire them through one of the staples of the mobile CCG genre: a gacha system. Your hard-earned diamonds will be invested in this slot machine – with 1,000 diamonds you pull the lever and 10 balls will roll out, or one ball if you choose to spend 100 diamonds only. Yakuza Online is generous at the start, giving you a few good characters to begin with.

Each character belongs to a color-coded class (red, green, purple, yellow and blue) that works in a rock-paper-scissors style. The illustration will show you each one is stronger against the other, so make sure to use it to your advantage.

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review Heat Skill

My Card is Stronger Than Yours

Yakuza Online’s battle system is standard fare, especially if you have played Destiny Child. The similarities between both games are astounding, in what core mechanics are concerned. Tap your characters to attack when the circling bar is full, and when the white line reaches the top, you can use a stronger slide attack. All the while, the heat gauge is rising and when it is full, you can unleash a heat attack that consists of tapping the button in perfect timing to the circle. Once again, it’s a lot like Destiny Child’s drive skill.

You can speed up combat or use the Auto-Battle mode, but the heat attacks will still be under your control. Occasionally, a weapon icon pops up (such as a golf club) and if you tap it, you get a few seconds of enraged fury with it. Golf club, meet enemies, enemies, meet golf club.

As it happens with other CCG’s, it all starts easily enough and gets more complicated later, as you strive to level up your characters and equip them with better stuff from three areas: weapon, armor and accessory. You can spend in-game cash to level up your heroes and unlock new skills in the process.

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review Cabaret Club Spica

There are tons of missions to complete, apart from the story mode. Many characters seem to have their own questlines, there’s a versus mode and a Donpachi mode, where your team must defend Cabaret Club Spica from enemies. And believe me, you’ll want to protect Spica, as this is where you’ll take a break from all the fighting and give your tired eyes a well-deserved rest, as some beautiful hostesses are waiting for you.

You get to chat with three hostesses, if you have the ticket to do so. There are currently five girls in total, and each day there’s a pick for three – you can check a calendar to see who will be available during the other days. Truth be told, these are great waifu material in case you like that stuff, and they wouldn’t be out of place in Destiny Child, for example.

You talk with the chosen girl and must pick one of three choices, resulting in bad, good or excellent feedback. You can offer her gifts to narrow down the answers, such as a beer or a couple of snacks. A large heart will become fuller as you play your cards right, and each girl is going to level up. If you do nicely, you’ll eventually get to go on a date.

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review Donpachi Battle

Cartoon Violence

You wouldn’t think that Yakuza would be a series that was suited to a cartoonish look. It almost feels at odds with the brutal nature of the franchise, but SEGA did a great job with the overall look of the game, and especifically with the characters. Not only they are faithful cartoon translations of the originals, they are animated in a credible way that makes the 2D design feel 3D.

Once again, comparisons with Destiny Child are inevitable. Yakuza Online’s characters may be somewhat lacking in terms of fine detail and vivid colors, but they are top-notch when it comes to identity and animation. They move in smooth ways, with realistic gestures – apart from the oddballs that you get to meet as well, but these are part of the design. In a way, Yakuza Online features high production values for a mobile CCG, if that makes any sense to you (it’s also available on PC, as I’ve mentioned before).

Yakuza Online is a game that is meant to play a significant part in the rebirth of the Yakuza series, serving as a prelude that fans should take notice of. It’s a competent, genuinely interesting game that may be a CCG at heart but has a lot of ties to the Yakuza universe that we all know and love, minus the action bits. If you have any grasp of the Japanese language and you’re a fan of the series, give it a shot, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Yakuza Online Ryu Ga Gotoku online review Battle System

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