Yakuza’s Kazuma Kiryu is a badass. Even if you know little about Sega’s long-running narrative crime epic, all it takes is one look at Kiryu’s trademark head-turning red-shirt-white-suit combo and confident walk as he prowls the streets of Kamurocho (a slightly fictionalized take on Tokyo’s Shinjuku red-light district) to see this is a man you don’t want to mess with. As it turns out, his effortless cool has reached unprecedented new heights in Yakuza 6, and it’s all due to Japan’s love of vending machines.
If you know anything about Japan, you’re well aware how much the country loves its vending machines — simply put, they’re everywhere, ready to dispense with cool drinks for around 100 yen. With Yakuza’s lavish, painstaking attention to detail, its digital cities have always been full of them. Sadly, they’ve historically been little more than unusable set decoration. Now Kiryu can finally walk up to a machine and buy, say, a Boss Coffee — which I did when I played 6 at Tokyo Game Show earlier this month — and the series will never be the same.
Sure, you’re liable to get jumped while ambling around Kamurocho by street toughs (presumably from rival gangs), and Kiryu beating the tar out of someone with a parking cone or a bicycle or whatever else is nearby certainly cements his image as a guy you don’t want to cross. (The Japanese title of the series doesn’t translate to “Like a Dragon” for nothing.)
But any sense of commanding physicality pales in comparison to Kiryu’s confident strut while sipping on a refreshing beverage, and it’s up to you how much he gulps down in any given sip, meaning you can prolong that cool stride for as long as you want. And if a hapless passerby physically collides with your path? Kiryu will just swagger right past, leaving his meek victim cowering in the wake of such brazen authority.
With the newfound additions of destructible convenience stores and a digitized Beat Takeshi, infamous for his countless roles in Yakuza films, Yakuza 6 already has a lot going for it. What it doesn’t have — yet — is an official western release, despite Sega’s seeming recommitment to localizing recent entries of this charmingly niche series. (The U.S. finally saw 2012’s 5 hit PSN late last year; the PS4 1980s-set prequel 0 is due in January.) Given the undeniable power of Kiryu’s newfound refreshment-flaunting ways, that needs to change immediately.