Gaming used to obsess with juvenile men. The ‘80s babies and Xennials who graduated from the SNES to PlayStations 1-5 were often treated as a singular (male) audience by the industry, as much of its cringey history shows. Time may make fools of us all, but it also makes some of us dads, too. And did you know that the most underrated dad game of all time is available on Xbox Game Pass right now.
Now that mainstream gaming has enough decades for real generational divides to exist, today’s dad gamers get lots of serious, somber dad games. But being a dad is fun! Aren’t any of these dad games fun?
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life from Ryu Ga Gotoku studios was released in 2016. It follows the ongoing story of yakuza legend Kazuma Kiryu, one of the greatest protagonists of any franchise on any platform. Part martial arts action movie, part soap opera, part open-world masterpiece, Yakuza 6 follows the formula which has made the franchise a staple in Japan and adds a surprising new ingredient: a baby.
Not just any baby. Kiryu’s story in Yakuza 6 centers around finding the father of his adopted daughter’s infant son Haruto. His daughter, Haruka, is in a coma after being hit by a car while Kiryu was in prison (soap opera much?) and naturally the investigation takes Kiryu into the heart of the Japanese criminal underworld for the sixth time. Once again, the famed “Dragon of Dojima” must live out the trope of a gangster who tries to quit the gang but the gang just won’t quit him.
In practical terms, this means Kiryu spends a lot of the game getting into epic streetfights. If you’ve never played a Yakuza game, first, shame on you, and second, welcome to the party. There are a dizzying amount of mechanics from the very start, but tried-and-true button mashing can get you far enough until you get the hang of tying combos together. When all else fails you can just bludgeon punks with a bicycle too.
Like other games in the series Yakuza 6 is full of zany side quests and addictive minigames. There are literal arcades full of classic Sega titles like Outrun and Virtua Fighter, all fully playable, as well as stuff like batting cages, dating simulators, erotic chat rooms, feral cat rescues, and much, much more.
The streets of Kamurocho are as vibrant as any open world and are often cited as the best living city in all of gaming. The standout dad feature is in the segments where Kiryu must take little Haruto with him on his adventures and you have to play a minigame to settle a fussy, crying baby.
Kiryu has always had a heart of gold, but seeing him in this explicitly paternal role is what makes this one of the best dad fantasies around, and also a fun romp for gamers who love a good juxtaposition. Kiryu is surrounded by colorful characters, notably the low-rent Hirose gang, who provide a Three Men and a Baby vibe as tattooed, chain-smoking tough men find themselves faced with dirty diapers amidst an unraveling mystery.
Yakuza 6 really has it all. Action, drama, romance, comedy. There are endless distractions and a beefy mainline story that’ll take a few dozen hours to complete. Plenty of over-the-top cutscenes provides ample opportunities to kick back with a drink or a smoke or a snack as plot twist after plot twist unwinds. Harness your inner dad and give those bad guys something to cry about.
Yakuza 6 is available on Xbox Game Pass as well as for sale on PlayStation and PC.