Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Feel the Heat!

Hello and once again welcome back to The Story Arc. If you’ve been paying attention to the site at all this month then you’ll know that every two days I’ve been analyzing a different small mechanic from the Yakuza franchise and studying how it’s changed from day to day.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen some interesting developments like how much Taxis and Lockey Keys changed over the years to a few disappointing things like how little Kamurocho’s phone booths have changed over the years. Today I want to examine something actually combat related for once, a mechanic known as Feel the Heat!

To catch those of you who either haven’t played Yakuza or have only played the recent games up to speed, in many of the earlier games once you’ve lowered a bosses’ health bar enough a scripted sequence where Kiryu will charge up his heat and perform a super powerful attack would occur.

This mechanic was a very prevalent part of the series for years and unlike my previous phone booth article I know for a fact this one has changed in small ways game by game so let’s examine it in every game!

Evolution of Feel the Heat

Although this mechanic didn’t receive a proper name until Yakuza 3, Feel the Heat first debuted in Yakuza 2! Once a boss’ health has been decreased sufficiently Kiryu will enter a stance to charge up his heat. During this stance you must mash the R2 button to fill up the heat bar and then press triangle to perform the finishing attack.

I’ve never been a fan of mashing the R2 button for these attacks, the triggers on game controllers just aren’t meant to be mashed and any time a game asks something like this from me I just fear that I’ll break whatever spring in the controller that makes this button work.

An interesting thing to keep in mind is that all bosses in Yakuza 2 had Kiryu perform a unique animation during the Feel the Heat segment. Keep in mind that not only was this a PS2 game that came out very quickly after Yakuza 1, but not even all the PS3 Yakuza games had unique animations for every boss! Yakuza 2 to this day remains an impressive game for its time.

Moving on to Yakuza 3 it is with great displeasure I inform you all that you still need to mash the R2 button to fill up the heat gauge during each boss fight. However the mechanic hasn’t been fully unchanged as there is one huge difference between this mechanic in Yakuza 2 and 3: the finishing moves themselves.

Now when you’ve fully filled your heat gauge Kiryu will be met with three choices of what to do to the enemy. At the start of the game you only have one option unlocked, performing a head butt on the boss. However through use of another mechanic we’ve talked about this month, Revelations, you can unlock two more.

Personally I’m not a fan of this change. Knowing that Yakuza 2 had unique animations for each boss fight and then moving on to Yakuza 3 where you’ll be performing the same moves again and again is very disappointing.

What’s very interesting though is that although this mechanic disappeared as the series went on, these attacks didn’t. All three finishing moves from Yakuza 3 have been turned into normal heat actions! RGG is a master of asset reuse so of course even if the mechanic these animations belonged to was scrapped they would find a new purpose for them, they make a Yakuza game like every year give them a break!

Yakuza 4 is the next traditional appearance of Feel the Heat, and gor me this is easily the mechanic’s best appearance in the franchise. No longer does it just happen when a boss is low on health and no longer do you need to mash the R2 button. Now the prompt pops up at the end of a standard Yakuza boss QTE and instead of mashing the R2 button you must press a series of QTEs to fill up your heat guage.

Just like in Yakuza 2 every single boss gets hit by a unique attack animation during the Feel the Heat segment, this is a welcome return to form however it is worth pointing out that it’s much less impressive here as Yakuza 4 has the lowest amount of boss fights in the franchise and as such they didn’t need to make as many animations.

Feel the Heat works so differently in Yakuza 5 that I legitimately forgot it was in this game until I was researching a completely different mechanic for this article. Which is a shame because this is the mechanic’s final traditional appearance.

In Yakuza 5 Feel the Heat is no longer connected to you heat gauge at all, it’s just a standard Yakuza QTE segment except instead of pressing a normal button once you need to instead mash the circle button as a blue aura surrounds Kiryu. Just like on Yakuza 2 and 4 every boss has their own unique animation during Feel the Heat and it is just as impressive here as it was in 2 due to Yakuza 5’s larger boss count.

Now like I said, this mechanic completely disappeared after Yakuza 4, but I really don’t want to end this article here as I feel it did eventually come back in a special form. However to talk about that we must first talk about a different Yakuza mechanic: Climax Heat!

This new mechanic introduced in Yakuza 5 was a very interesting addition to the series that I’m sad never returned. As you perform regular Heat Actions a red bar next to your health bar will begin to fill up, once this has been completely filled you can perform a special Climax Heat action that is significantly more powerful than a normal Heat Action. Each character in the game has three Climax Heat Actions they can learn and perform any time they want.

Now on the surface it may appear that talking about this random mechanic that didn’t appear beyond Yakuza 5 is pointless, but let’s look at the mechanic’s next appearance shall we?

In Yakuza Kiwami they introduced a new, and slightly annoying, mechanic where when a boss is low on health they’ll get into a stance and begin to regain their health as well as gain an aura similar to Feel the Heat in previous games.

While the boss is doing this (And assuming you’ve unlocked the corresponding skill) you must fill up your own heat either with items or by attacking them and perform a special Climax Heat Action on them. There are four types of Climax Heat Actions in the game as each of Kiryu’s styles has exactly one and you must use the one that is the same style as the boss’s.

Yes, it seems that Yakuza Kiwami has decides to combine the Climax Heat and Feel the Heat mechanics of previous games while also referencing the original way Feel the Heat worked via the stance and aura bosses take when their health is low.

While many people seem to dislike this mechanic I found it to be an enjoyable replacement for Feel the Heat once you’ve unlocked the corresponding skills. That last part is the real lynchpin though. Because it takes so long to unlock these skills you absolutely will have to fight several bosses that just refill an entire health bar and it feels extremely cheap. It would have been better to just have these skills unlocked at the start.

And that is the complete history of both Feel the Heat and Climax Heat! Neither of these mechanic’s survived the franchise’s transition to next generation game consoles but to be fair it looks like Feel the Heat was already halfway out the door by the time Yakuza 5 rolled around anyway.

This is unfortunately the shortest of these articles as there wasn’t too much to examine with this mechanic, but if you want something meatier than below I have a list of other Yakuza mechanics I have. Thank you for reading The Story Arc!

The Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Lockey Keys

The Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Taxis

Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Chases

Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Revelations

The Evolution of Alcohol & Drinking in Yakuza

The Evolution of Phone Booths in Yakuza

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