Two years ago I embarked on a quest to platinum every single Sega game available on PS4 (and now PS5). Anyone who would undergo this task knows the biggest roadblock in doing that: The Yakuza franchise. The Yakuza games are known for having some of the best side content in gaming and having an absolute deluge of it. Getting good at every single minigame to platinum even a single game in the series is a task only for the insane. Luckily I am insane and finally got my last Yakuza platinum this year.
I pondered for months how to best format this article. Going game by game would not only be repetitive due to many minigames being recurring, but also might not get across well how each minigame changes throughout each game. So instead we’re going to examine every minigame one at a time and at the end of the article I rate which Yakuza game has the best and worst minigames (The answer to both is fairly obvious though).
To be completely clear, I’m defining minigame as an aspect of the game that is completely divorced from the main combat mechanics of the series. So while some of you may argue that mechanics such as the Colosseum or Dice&Cube should be on here I don’t feel right classifying them in the same category as say, Baseball. Oh, and as an added note I also refuse to talk about the Buggy from Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise, but I’ll elaborate more on that later.
I’ve also gone through the liberty of separating the minigames we will be speaking about into several categories for your convenience. With all that out of the way, let’s begin with the traditional minigames!
Let’s start things off with Traditional Minigames! What do I mean when I say traditional? Well in this instance I mean the type of minigame that isn’t unique to the Yakuza franchise, but rather just RGG’s take on something video games have been doing for decades. The type of minigames you expect to pop up anywhere from Grand Theft Auto to Persona 5.
These are often the simplest minigames in the series but because of that they’re almost guaranteed to become fun and several of these have become iconic in their own right, such as:
Baseball Batting Center!
Games: All of them
Let us begin with one of the series’ mainstay minigames, the batting center! The batting center’s basic gameplay isn’t very different in any of the games we’ll be talking about today. There are two different versions of it available for Playstation players.
In the Yakuza 3, 4, 5 (Kamurocho), Kiwami, and 0 versions of the batting center minigame,you control where Kiryu will aim his hits and simply need to time your swings correctly to hit the ball. In these versions of the minigame you will need to hit targets (usually in the shape of a bingo board) with the key to winning the minigame being hitting multiple targets at once.
In the Yakuza 5 (Kineicho), 6, Kiwami 2, Judgment, Lost Judgment, and Like a Dragon versions, you are given a grid of 6 aiming locations and need to move your reticle to the one the ball is moving toward in time to hit it.
Regardless of which version of the minigame you’re playing, there are several different batting courses. The first two or three courses in each game are all simple, just hit the balls or hit the very big target with the balls. It’s the final courses of each game that are truly interesting. I’ll explain the final courses for the first type and then move on to explaining the second type.
Yakuza 3’s final baseball course has 9 targets for you to hit and 10th one that will appear for only one shot once you hit all 9. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be difficult at all, but this final course takes away your aiming reticle. Honestly this may be the hardest of the batting courses we’re about to talk about. My advice for anyone attempting this course is to focus on Kiryu’s elbow as a replacement reticle, because in certain locations you can keep track of such as the X-shaped fence one the left to make your shots consistent. In order to get enough points to pass the minigame you’ll not only need to hit every target once but also the special 10th target and then a few more once the original 9 reset. There is very little room for failure as you have only 20 balls so practice hard and you’ll eventually get it.
The final baseball course in Yakuza 4 is easier than the one in Yakuza 3 but is significantly more tasteless. You are given a 25 panel grid of targets to hit and with each target hit, a picture of a scantily clad woman will be revealed. This is going to be a recurring theme for the PS3 era of Yakuza, almost every minigame will in some way involve sexualized situations. Anyway, the point requirement of this course is very strict, my suggestion is try your hardest to hit 4 targets at once to maximize your room for failure. This may be easier than the Yakuza 3 version but the ick factor of it makes me like it less and somehow the Yakuza 5 (Kamurocho) version is even worse!
The final batting course for Yakuza 5 (Kamurocho) also has you hitting targets to reveal a scantily clad woman but instead of hitting panels that turn into the image you have to hit upwards of 50 stars covering parts of the image. The number of targets far exceeds the amount of balls you have, so aim carefully and hit as many targets at once as possible. Honestly this one feels like pure luck whenever you succeed and you’ll need to succeed multiple times and see every picture if you want that platinum.
Yakuza 0’s final batting center course, like most things in 0, is centered around money. You can bet 5 million yen to begin playing and each target you hit will give you money. However you need to hit at least 5 targets to break even and the minigame instantly ends if you fail even once, so it’s a risky gamble. You need to win 10 million yen in this minigame for the platinum but you don’t need to win it all at once, so feel free to fail and then try again. I’m not a fan of this final batting course as it’s very risky and there’s so many better ways to make money in Yakuza 0.
Those are all the final courses for the batting center minigames that need you to aim, so now let’s go over the courses for the ones where you just need to hit the ball. These once won’t take as long.
First up we have the Yakuza 5 (Kineicho) batting center. This one nicknames its final course the Sawada course, cute. Anyway, because Shinada has such a large radius to hit the ball in Yakuza 5 it’s nearly impossible to lose in this course so hit away and reap your rewards.
Then we have the final courses in Yakuza 6, Kiwami 2, Judgement, Like a Dragon, and Lost Judgment versions of the minigame. Yes, as far as I can tell there is no discernable difference in the batting center in each of these games. As the series has gone on the Batting Center has slowly morphed from an important location where important story beats and boss fights happen to just another building in Kamurocho that happens to have a minigame. I don’t even have anything special to say about the final baseball course in these games, there isn’t anything to them other than hit the baseball. Sometimes there’s a few tricky balls but because they keep being thrown in a set pattern it’s just a matter of memorization.
That’s all I have to say about the Batting Center throughout the years. The final courses can be frustrating at times and boring at others but it’s such a staple of the series at this point that I feel the series would lose something if it ever disappeared entirely. It’s not my favorite minigame, but I enjoyed my time with it.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Y0, YK
The sport of kings! The Kamurocho Bowling Alley is an unsung landmark of the PS3 era of Yakuza. In each of the PS3 games you could take a left turn down Theater Alley and enter the building to bowl a few frames. It was a fun time and as they already had the bowling ball model the games, they eventually added a heat action for them in combat!
Anyway, The basics of the minigame have you first select where you will be throwing your ball from. Once you do that the game will have a dial rapidly move left and right, you must press the X button to stop this dial and thus select your angle. Then you need to select how fast you’ll be throwing the ball and if you’ll be throwing it with some momentum to the left or right. It sounds a bit complicated when put into text but rest assured it’s a typical bowling game.
The minigame itself hasn’t changed much since it debuted in Yakuza Kenzan, but the UI did improve greatly with each entry. Aside from typical ten frame and three frame bowling, some of the games (4, 0, and Kiwami) include a variant called Split Game Bowling. You are given 10 different kinds of splits to hit that you may pick and choose from, and if you fail 3 times the minigame ends. Some of these splits are extremely simple and others have 4 pins spread out around the frame. The more splits you hit, the higher the rewards.
Yakuza 3’s Split Game has the most boring rewards as it’s almost entirely items you can get much easier at stores. Yakuza 0 will reward you with a ton of Yen in the Split Games and while it’s a slow process it’s probably one of the better implementations of 0’s money system to a minigame. Kiwami’s rewards are new parts for the Pocket Circuit minigame, which we will talk about MUCH later in this article.
Overall, bowling was a neat part of the series that I’m sad to see go. In Yakuza 6 the bowling alley was torn down and replaced with a gym and ever since the games haven’t really had an idea what to do with that building in Theater Alley, changing its purpose nearly every game. I am very happy though that during the prologue of Yakuza: Like a Dragon you can see the Bowling Alley before the game cuts to the present day.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Y0, YK, Y6, YK2, LaD, J, LJ
Video games love darts, I won’t pretend to understand why, they just do. Darts in the Yakuza series have never been a pain for 100%ing to me but you will need to play a lot of them to platinum these games. Darts is in every single game in this series and in most of them in order to complete the minigame you will have to beat three to six different difficulty opponents at all variations of darts.
The Darts variations in Yakuza are 01 games, Count up, and Cricket. Yakuza 5 onward also added Random Cricket and Hidden Cricket to the mix! I’ll explain how to play each of these variations now.
01 games start you at an amount of points between 301 and 901 and the goal is to either get a score of 0 on ten turns or have a score lower than your opponent in ten turns. It’s a pretty simple game and if you are capable of getting your score to 0 during a turn the game will tell you which targets to aim for. Be careful though, as I have never seen an opponent not bring their score down to 0 on a turn where they’re capable of it.
Count Up is as simple as darts can possibly get. You and your opponent have three turns each and whoever gets the highest score wins. So long as you can hit the triple twenty a few times you won’t have any problem winning this against even the hardest AI.
Cricket is the most interesting version of darts which is probably why later games expanded on this mode. In Cricket only certain quadrants on the dart board are legal to hit and gain points from, but even then you can’t get points from them until you either hit them three times or hit the triple on them. Once a player has three hits on part of the board only they can score there, but if the other player were to hit there three times as well then it becomes illegal for both players.
This leads to a chaotic playstyle where both players are not only trying to get points themselves but also trying to make parts of the board illegal just to screw over their opponents. It’s easily my favorite way to play darts as I love the idea of keeping my opponent forever below me in points as I take away their only way of scoring.
Standard Cricket has the same quadrants of the board available no matter how many times you play it, Random Cricket as the name implies makes random parts of the board available, and finally Hidden Cricket makes it a secret which parts of the board are even legal until you hit them so both players need to take a gamble on where they aim for the first turn.
Gameplay wise Darts had a drastic change between the PS3 games and the later Dragon Engine games. In the PS3 era games there was no aiming reticle other than your dart itself. In order to have it land where you aim, you needed to get a feel for where you’re holding it, pull back on the analog stick slowly, count for two seconds to avoid releasing too early, and finally release the analog stick and pray. It was a long process but every hit felt earned.
Yakuza 6 onward unfortunately turned Darts into a basic minigame where you just aim your reticle where you want to hit and then select how much power you wanted in your throw. It made hitting a lot easier but I miss the old method.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Y0, YK
Billiards is the bane of my existence. Before I even get to explaining my minigame, let me make one thing clear to you. When Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 were remastered the physics of several of the minigames such as Bowling, Pool, and Golf were broken. While the new bowling physics are workable, the change to Pool makes it near impossible to control your ball. So for half of the games with Pool I was practically playing blind and relying on RNG for where my ball would go. It was easily the most miserable experience I had with any Yakuza minigame.
Anyway, let’s actually talk about the game and the way it’s supposed to be played. In every game with Pool, in order to 100% it you need to beat all 4 difficulties of AI opponents in each mode of Pool. The first game on the PS3 to have Pool was Yakuza 3 and it’s at its simplest here with only three game modes.
The first type of pool is 9-Ball Pool. The goal here is to sink the 9-ball, but you must hit the lowest number ball on your turn. So you need to either sink the first 8 balls in order or knock the 9-ball into the socket with another ball. Yakuza 3 actually has a trophy that requires you to sink the 9-ball on the first turn and there’s a pretty easy method to do this. So beating every opponent on each difficulty in this game mode isn’t too hard with some practice.
The second type of Pool is Rotation Pool. The goal here is to get 60 points before your opponent. There are 18 different balls all numbered in order and worth various amounts of points. The 1-ball is worth 1 point, the 4-ball is worth 4 points, the 18-ball is worth 18 points, It’s not complicated. I utterly despise Rotation Pool. Because the first 9 balls are barely worth any points the game goes on forever with barely any progress as only the last few balls matter. It’s boring and on higher difficulties where the AI never misses combined with the fact that you’re shooting blind on the Remasters makes Rotation Pool a boring and frustrating experience at the same time.
Finally we have 8-Ball pool. There are 18 balls here and one player must sink the lower number balls and the other player must sink the higher number balls. If either player sinks the 8-ball before sinking all their other balls they lose. For some reason the AI seems to be really dumb with this game mode, even the highest level AI sinks the 8-ball and kills itself. Just give it a few tries and you’ll win.
From here on nearly every game decided that it would add more game modes to Pool until it finally got removed in the Dragon Engine games. First up we have Yakuza 4 which added 4-Ball Pool
4-Ball Pool is awful. You need to have your own ball hit two other balls in one shot. Whoever does this fifteen times first is the winner and your turn doesn’t end until you miss. Sounds easy right? Did you forget you are shooting blind in the Remasters? You will miss and you will miss a lot, so whether or not you score a point is entirely luck based and it’s not uncommon for your opponent to score upwards of ten times in a single turn. I have spent nearly twenty four hours attempting to win this minigame and failing, it’s just that difficult. Luckily for those of you who want the Yakuza 4 platinum you are not required to actually win it, only score a single time. Yakuza 5 however does require you to beat every difficulty of AI in this mode, so prepare for pain.
Yakuza 5 then added a new variant of Pool called Puzzle Pool. Puzzle Pool is pretty fun conceptually, your goal here is to hit the red ball into the socket without hitting any of the black balls, and there are a few wooden obstacles to block or bounce your ball off of. Because the physics are still broken in Yakuza 5 Remastered just look up the correct way to shoot your ball but doing it in a game that works, like Yakuza 0 is fun.
Finally, Yakuza 0 added Gold Ball Pool. Gold Ball Pool is exactly like Puzzle Pool except you win millions of Yen from it. I honestly don’t know why it was given a separate menu but it’s still plenty of fun.
And that’s all I have to say about Pool. I have trauma from the days of my life spent doing nothing but playing this minigame and the franchise is better off with it gone.
Games: Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, YK2, LaD, LJ
I love golf in real life. If you don’t like golf and make jokes about “Having a low score is lame” then I don’t want to talk to you. Because I’m a golf fan I always love when a video game includes a good golfing minigame. Now while this minigame did debut in Yakuza 2 as I stated in the beginning of this article I only intend to look at these minigames in the game’s I personally 100%ed, which is the PS3 era and beyond.
Golf in Yakuza 3 is very in your face as the main story actually has you play golf in an attempt to get close to a politician, but let’s not question the morality behind Kiryu’s actions there and just talk about the minigame itself.
Golf is very fast and smooth as butter in Yakuza 3, everything about the controls here are perfect. You can instantly change which club you’re about to swing with a simple flick of the right analog stick and instantly half your swing power with the triangle button. To swing you must hold in the X button as a power meter begins to charge, release X when you’ve built up the amount of power you want and then press X again to swing correctly. If all goes well your shot will land properly.
There are two modes in this minigame: Tournament and Near-Pin and I’ll go over both of them. Tournament is a standard 9 hole golf course, simple enough right? Wrong!
The golf requirement for 100%ing Yakuza 3 is more than a little evil. You need to end the game with a score that is five under par! Anyone who has played golf before knows how ridiculous this is, playing 5 strokes under what is supposed to be the average is going to take hours of practice. My recommendation is to practice the first few holes over and over again until you can do them absolutely perfectly and give yourself any leeway possible for the later holes. It will take a lot of practice but it is possible.
The other mode of this minigame, near-pin, is one you won’t even have to touch if you’re going for 100%! The goal here is simple, you have ten balls that you need to launch as close to the pin as possible. The closer to the pin the ball is, the more points you get. The more points you get, the better your prize at the end will be. Like I said, I barely touched this mode at all. It’s a fun distraction but definitely not the highlight of this minigame.
Golf overall hasn’t changed that much in Yakuza 4 but there are plenty of small control details that bother me. Changing clubs is now on the R1 and L1 buttons as opposed to the right analog stick which makes switching between them a slower experience. Another control change I dislike is how powering your shot works. Now instead of holding in X and then letting it go you need to press X once and then a second time when your power has peaked. This is a minor change that doesn’t really matter but it really bugged me.
Just like in Yakuza 3 you need to get a 5 under par in Yakuza 4 to 100% the completion list, but for some reason I found this significantly harder in Yakuza 4 than I did in 3. I was going to write a whole thing about how the game cheats and knocks your ball away from the pin for literally no reason but thanks to CyricZ of gamefaqs fame and an overall pretty cool dude, I learned what I was doing wrong.
Sometimes if your shots have too much backswing to them the game will launch them backwards a bit. Under normal circumstances this isn’t really visible but if you’re launching the ball a short distance from the pin it will look like your ball was magically pushed backwards from the hole for no reason. So the game is being evil, but at least there’s a method to this madness.
Golf’s next appearance was in Yakuza 5 and I really truly want to compliment it here because it’s one of very few minigames that Haruka can actually play, but this is easily golf’s worst appearance. Tournament and Near-Pin have been completely removed in favor of target hitting on a driving range similar to Yakuza 2 on the PS2.
That would be fine on its own but unfortunately a major problem arises the instant you begin playing: The wind is broken! I swear the Remaster must have done something to the wind because your ball goes absolutely flying because of the wind and makes some of these courses near impossible to complete! My advice is don’t even bother aiming for the 100 point targets and just try your best to land your ball into the few holes in the ground. If you’re going to attempt to 100% Yakuza 5 this will easily be the most frustrating part of your experience so be prepared for the worst.
Thankfully the Golf requirements in Kiwami 2 are less broken, but still unforgiving. The main Golf mode you’ll be playing in Kiwami 2 is a bingo mode where you have ten shots to hit nine targets with your ball. If you hit three targets that are in a row you get a bingo, the more bingos you get the better your prize is.
Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! For some reason that adorable little demon Haruka wants you to get 8 bingos in one game for her! This gives you a margin of error of exactly one ball, all your other balls NEED to hit targets or you’ll fail. The one saving grace for this minigame is that because the wind has set patterns you can simply look up video guides to complete it. I didn’t know that when I platinumed the game though! I spent hours of my life trying to get a perfect bingo to please Haruka and paid dearly for it!
Similar to other minigames like baseball and Shogi, once Golf made the transition to Dragon Engine RGG has just reused it exactly in every entry since. So while it is in Yakuza Like a Dragon and Lost Judgment there is no change worth talking about. Heck, the completion requirement still needs you to get 8 bingos!
Overall while I enjoy Golf I think it’s gotten less enjoyable for me with each passing game. It was easily at its worst in 5 though, with the Dragon Engine version of the game being nowhere near as frustrating and just a nice distraction from the main plot.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK
What is an open world game without a fishing minigame? Yakuza was ahead of the curve here as it was in 2009 with a fishing minigame before it was cool! Of all the minigames in this article this is the one I dreaded talking about the most. Not because fishing is automatically bad in Yakuza, it’s only sometimes bad, but because there is just so damn much to talk about! I don’t think a single minigame has changed as much game by game as fishing has!
Fishing first debuted in Yakuza 3 and despite the beginning of the game showing Kiryu catch a fish with his bare hands like Tarzan himself the actual minigame has you use a regular fishing rod.
Of course in order to fish you must first get some bait. The type of bait here is important as bait affects what range into the sea you can cast your rod. Once you’ve selected your bait you will see some fish on a line in your UI and a bar moving over them. In order to cast your rod you must press X on one of these fish and watch Kiryu throw the line.
And now we come to the fun part: waiting. Any good fisherman knows the importance of patience, just relax and wait a few seconds for the fish to bite your line and once they do press X to reel that baby in!
While reeling fish in you must hold in R1 to drag the fish closer to you but be careful! If you put too much stress on the line it will snap and you’ll completely lose that fish! So every once in a while press L1 to give the fish some slack. After a long and hardy battle with the fish you’ll eventually pull it all the way to shore and get your prize!
Being the first time they had a fishing minigame, RGG only put in eight types of fish. Well, “fish”, one of the things you can catch is a junk umbrella. As someone who platinumed these games in reverse order and dealt with the huge fish lists of later games, this quaint amount is super welcome.
Overall I find fishing in Yakuza 3 to be super relaxing, sure it can be a bit frustrating when you’re trying to catch that legendary tuna and keep pulling out pufferfish but the immaculate vibes of Kiryu relaxing at the beach and enjoying life on Yakuza 3 is just something that cannot be matched. It will take you a while to catch all the fish but it won’t take up your whole day. Just enjoy the beach and your time in Yakuza 3.
The minigame itself was mostly unchanged in Yakuza 4, but the location and the amount of fish are both different. Because Yakuza 4 is one of few games to take place entirely in Kamurocho, you obviously aren’t going to be fishing on the beaches of Okinawa. No, instead you’ll be fishing at the docks of Kamurocho. I don’t like this setting for fishing nearly as much, I want to relax and fish not think about the constant industrialization of our oceans.
The fish list has also been increased to a whopping eighteen fish. I hadn’t mentioned this when talking about the minigame in Yakuza 3 but certain fish only show up at day and others only at night. This was only really a factor with a few Yakuza 3 fish but with the larger fish stock in 4 this is obviously something you’ll need to pay more attention to.
While I don’t like fishing as much in 4 because of the vibes, there is one thing about it that makes it better than 3’s fishing: convenience. In Yakuza 3 you needed to run all the way to the market in town to buy bait and then run all the way back to the beach to fish. Yakuza 4 thankfully cuts down this walk by having a bait salesman right on the docks! Even more conveniently, he buys the fish from you too so you don’t need to run to a pawn shop!
Moving on to Yakuza 5 we can see that deep sea fishing has been given two small changes. The first of which is that you can now press both the R1 and R2 buttons at the same time to reel in fish at double speed! The other big change is that there are now two separate docks you can fish at to accommodate Yakuza 5 having multiple cities. Despite this, the number of fish has only been increased to twenty, split across both docks with a few fish being shared. This is probably the best sea fishing has been solely because I can do it as Haruka.
Yakuza 5 also introduced us to a second type of fishing: River fishing! It is a much more simplistic minigame than sea fishing as all you need to do is select your bait, cast your line, and then wait for your lure to sink beneath the water. Once your lure has sunk press X and your character will automatically yank a fish out of the water!
There are several river fishing spots in all four of Yakuza 5’s cities, some making less sense than others as anyone who has ever fished in Kamurocho’s sewer can tell you. Spread across these fishing spots are fourteen different fish that all react to specific types of bait. I find river fishing in Yakuza 5 to be a completely frustrating RNG based experience. There is next to no gameplay here so every time you fish it just feels like you’re rolling the dice on whether or not you get what you want! I spent hours in Sotenbori alone throwing dozens of egg salad sandwiches into the water trying to get a specific fish, it was a real sore spot next to Golf in my Yakuza 5 platinum experience.
Because River Fishing was pretty bad in Yakuza 5, Ishin made the decision to remove…sea…fishing. Huh, okay. In fairness though it seems like RGG did this in order to put their focus on fixing River Fishing.
As you can see here this style of fishing has been changed drastically. Now you need to aim your rod at shadows of fish in the water and cast it at them. After this the fish will come toward your rod and if they bite it you can instantly yank them out of the water to claim your prize.
The RNG factor of this minigame has been completely removed in Ishin as what type of fish you get is determined by two things: Shadow shape and location. A circular shadow in the top left of the fishing area is guaranteed to be a certain type of fish and a fish of the same shape in the bottom left of the map is guaranteed to be another type of fish. There are some fish that only appear if a specific type of bait is used but it’s easy to keep track of that as there’s only three types of bait and they last for several minutes instead of a singular cast.
River Fishing in Ishin was surprisingly relaxing compared to the previous games, but I’m willing to bet that’s almost entirely because the guide I used to play this game in Japanese included a link to images showing what fish would appear where and thus I didn’t have to deal with the same frustration that the next game on our list gave me.
Yes, River Fishing returned in Yakuza 0 and it appears to work exactly like it did in Ishin. I cannot be certain though as I didn’t realize the whole “Fish appear in specific locations” thing until I played Ishin after 0, oops. I can say though that I had a very frustrating time getting a specific fish in Yakuza 0 but after looking up a YouTube guide for that fish I got it first try so I’m willing to bet it is in fact still location based.
Can I take a moment to rant about a specific detail in Yakuza 0’s River Fishing though? Despite the entire purpose of fishing from the start being to sell these fish for a high profit the minigame design team for 0 decided to make one of the ‘fish’ you can catch a briefcase full of money. 0 is so insistent on its money gimmick being front and center in every minigame that it won’t even let you relax and enjoy fishing without shoving money in your face. Let me breathe for once, 0! I’m already making money off of these fish, you don’t need to put extra briefcases!
I’m sorry for leaving this segment off on a bummer note but despite fishing being in every PS3 era game the franchise did not keep it around during the transition to the next generation. It’s really funny that once the entire game industry began to put fishing into their open world games RGG stopped putting it in theirs. Yakuza 6 does feature a type of fishing that we will talk about later, but it’s such a deep cry from this minigame that I cannot in good conscience call it the same thing. So let’s just move on for now.
Next up we have a minigame that has only appeared in one game ever: Table Tennis. You probably know the basics of table tennis if you’re reading this article. You and your opponent hit the ball back and forth and whoever misses their swing or fails to bounce the ball doesn’t score. First to 11 points wins.
Yakuza does have its own…unique twist on this minigame however. I hate having to type this out but here we go! You hold in the L2 button to stare at the breasts of your opponent and thus increase your Heat Gauge, the longer your stare the faster it increases. Once it’s full you can press triangle to spike your ball and practically be guaranteed to score, each time you score with a heat action however your opponents robe will fall off more and more until after a certain point you will no longer be able to score that way. This minigame is almost entirely an excuse to have breasts on screen. Once you beat your opponent on all 3 AI difficulties you win.
I have next to nothing to say about this minigame other than it’s weird how they canonize that the heat gauge is a boner gauge. Hopefully the next minigame is less gross.
Ah, Air Hockey. Air Hockey is pretty fun in real life so a Yakuza twist on it should be great right? This minigame debuted in Yakuza 5 but then never appeared again so let’s see what’s up with it!
You and your opponent need to defend your goal as you both hit a puck back and forth really fast. There isn’t a ton of it but quickly hitting the puck left and right can be exhilarating.
Like most minigames Yakuza has a unique twist on this minigame. So you need to hold in the L2 button to stare at the breasts of your opponent and thus increase your Heat Gauge, the longer your stare….this is the same thing. This is just a reskin of Yakuza 4’s Table Tennis!
What do you want me to say? It’s a basic minigame with a reused mechanic from a previous game that’s just an excuse to have breasts on screen! The only thing I can possibly say about it is how when you play this minigame as Haruka you still get to stare at the opponent’s breasts. Haruka is bi confirmed.
I swear the next minigame on our list won’t be the exact same thing.
Games: Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK, YK2, J, LaD, LJ
Shogi is basically chess with a different name. You have pawns, rooks, knights, kings, queens, and a few other pieces completely unique to Shogi.
In every game Shogi appears, you have the option of playing ranked matches against an AI or playing puzzle Shogi where you are given a set board and pieces and need to figure out a way to checkmate your opponent.
I’m not going to explain Shogi to you. Why? Because you don’t need to understand Shogi to complete the Shogi requirements in these games. The Shogi requirement in every mainline Yakuza game it appears in is to win 5 games without undoing any moves. For some reason Puzzle Shogi matches count for this, despite the fact that they have a set solution.
So all you need to do is complete the puzzles over and over a few times and you’re done with Shogi forever. The best part? Every single PS3 game has the same puzzles and every single PS4 game has the same puzzles. It’s almost like the developers just didn’t care about this minigame.
The two Judgment games do require you to beat a few opponents at Shogi, but guess what. It’s even easier to cheese in those games! The two Judgment games have an item that lets the game decide your Shogi moves for you and for some reason playing this way still counts as winning! The minigame literally plays itself!
Shogi has been in every game in this franchise and not once has it ever even attempted to be an obstacle toward 100%ing, it just exists.
Oh sweet, Yagami has a Pinball table in his office! Let’s go up and play it. Huh, this loading screen is taking a while. What? Why is there a Unity logo on screen? Copyright by Mindware? Pinball version 1.5??? Yes, unlike every other traditional minigame in the Yakuza franchise the pinball table in Judgment wasn’t made by anyone at RGG or even Sega as a whole! No, this is a licensed version of a Steam Game known as Pinball Parlor from the company known as Mindware.
I don’t want to be too harsh on this game because I know nothing about Mindware as a company. For all I know I could be making fun of a small team of devs, but this is a pretty poor pinball board. The balls fly in an unsatisfying way and there’s very little interesting about the board itself.
I really don’t want to talk about this anymore because it isn’t even a Yakuza minigame really so let’s just move on.
The final minigame in our traditional category is Capsule Machines! These appear in Judgment and Lost Judgment at Game Center Charles. Insert 500 yen and get a randomly generated toy! Collect all 12 toys and you win!
This….isn’t a minigame. Why am I talking about this? This is about as interactive as eating food at restaurants, but for some reason every walkthrough site on the internet includes this with the minigames. I don’t understand but I’m talking about it here so you don’t tell me I forgot it.
Just, spend 500 yen over and over until you win. It shouldn’t take any longer than 15 minutes. Anyway, now that all the traditional minigames are done we can talk about the minigames that actually put Yakuza on the map.
Yakuza Unique Minigames
Okay, now we get into the real fun. It’s time to discuss the minigames that you would never expect to pop up in any game not made by RGG Studios. These minigames are often extremely weird and because of that their quality varies greatly. Some are fantastic while others are straight up awful, such as:
Games: Y3, Y4
Okay so now we’re moving on from minigames that can be in any video game to something special that can only be in Yakuza, and it’s one of the worst minigames in the series! Appearing in Yakuza 3 and 4 before being removed from the series forever, this minigame has Kiryu get a massage and imagine an erotic scenario as he relaxes
Your job as the player is to control a bar on a meter to the right side of the screen. Pressing one button causes your bar to move up and the other causes your bar to move down. The closer to the top your meter is the faster you gain points. Occasionally the game will push the bar up and down fast on its own and potentially fail you if you don’t mash it back into the other direction. The minigame ends once you fail or once the time limit runs out (Said time limit depends on which difficulty you play on) It’s as simple as a minigame can get and is almost nothing more than an excuse to have a sexy woman on screen.
The minigame is nearly identical in Yakuza 3 and 4 but 4 did add an extra two difficulties to it and had a slight UI change to make it more apparent when the game will make the bar move on its own. Unfortunately these extra two difficulties make the minigame even worse. Not only does the game become incredibly hard, making me deal with it longer, but also the hardest difficulty in Yakuza 4 is an extended joke where the entire thing is “Isn’t it weird for a guy to give a massage instead of a woman? It’s that gay?”.
This minigame was awful and I’m glad the franchise did away with it in Yakuza 5.
Games: Y5, Ishin
Next up we’ve got a very unique minigame that first appeared in Yakuza 5: serving noodles! Due to some wacky shenanigans in a substory Kiryu finds himself running a noddle stand for a night and you the player must help him serve all the customers!
On four parts of your screen’s UI there will be bars representing each of your four face buttons. Each bar will be separated into six segments that represent exactly how hard or soft the noodles are. When a customer orders a bowl they will specify exactly how hard they want their noodles and it’s your job to press the button when the noodles are at the right softness.
The minigame starts off very simple with only a single customer ordering at a time, however once you give five customers their food things will begin to speed up slightly as more customers order at the same time. There will be several milestones throughout the minigame where the pace will increase until things end after the 75th order. Yes, you will be serving 75 customers with no breaks and it takes a pretty long time.
The completion requirements for this minigame are honestly pathetically easy, you need to hit the rank of Ramen King for getting enough orders correct. I did this on my very first time playing the minigame and only needed to replay it when writing this article! I supposed a super simple completion requirement is better than a tedious one but I wish I got to play this minigame more! It’s a fun time!
I actually find the way you unlock this minigame to be super interesting though. I’m sure every Yakuza fan can name a dozen experiences where they ran into a substory and it introduced them to a minigame, but what was the first example of that? While I may be wrong I’m pretty sure this was the first time it happened as Yakuza 3 and 4 often just placed their minigames around the city already unlocked, making this the first example of a series staple!
Now I know a variant of this minigame appears in the Kurohyō games on PSP because well, that’s one of like two images I’ve seen of Kurohyō, but I won’t be talking about it there because I haven’t played those games myself. I have however played another game with a noodles serving minigame: Ishin!
Okay I won’t bury the lede here, the Noodle Serving minigame in Yakuza Ishin is completely different from how it was in Yakuza 5. Here instead of pressing your buttons at the correct points in bars you instead play one of the most intense games of Simon Says in existence. Customers will quickly give you orders that correspond to your face buttons and give you about two seconds to memorize what buttons to press before the prompts vanish and you need to serve the food.
As you successfully serve food the pace of the minigame will increase and you will begin to make more money from orders, however if you fail an order the pace will decrease along with your money. It takes a very long time for the pace of orders to increase enough to make a decent profit but thankfully there is an option to start at a moderate pace as opposed to the slowest one.
This minigame is super difficult for me as someone who is not good at memorizing things fast, not helped by the fact that you are given a very very short amount of time to serve the food on the faster paces. Even if I know what to press I have often failed just from not being quick enough.
The completion requirements here are much more difficult than they were in Yakuza 5. Here achieving the rank of Ramen God requires you to serve several orders at the highest possible pace, a near impossible task. I supposed I was asking for this when I said that it was too easy in Yakuza 5. It’s impossible for me to be mad at this minigame though as the music that plays during it is a remix of Machine Gun Kiss done on traditional Japanese instruments, which is amazing!
Snowball fight! In Saejima’s story in Yakuza 5 you will come across this bizarre addition to the series.
The rules of the game are simple, throw snowballs at the opponents to gain points, if you are hit with a snowball you will lose points. You also have limited ammo so make sure you’re always ready to run to the 4 corners of the arena for a reload.
My strategy for this minigame is to find an opponent distracted by another and throw as many snowballs straight at him with the square button as you can before they begin to target you. You also have the option to throw all your snowballs at once at an angle with the circle button but I have never actually hit anyone with that so it’s just a waste of ammo.
During the last 30 seconds of a match the amount of points gained and lost from hitting enemies and getting his doubles, you be very careful if you’re gambling it all in the last few seconds of a match. I have had many games end in failure at the last second due to the AI targeting me and draining my points.
Of course, that may just be because the AI on the hardest difficulty of this minigame is some of the hardest in the franchise. It truly feels like 3 other people are coordinating against you. You will lose a lot trying to beat this minigame on all difficulties for completion, but keep at it and I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.
I am very mixed on this minigame. It’s a fun distraction but nothing more than that. In most of the games this would be fine but that minigames in Yakuza 5 are a high point for the series so in this game it just feels like a disappointment.
Here’s a rarity, a Haruka exclusive minigame! Yakuza 5’s side content is not kind to Haruka. Despite her main sub story letting her play games like Baseball and Bowling one time each, if you try to play those minigames normally as her she will refuse to. So her having a minigame at all is surprising.
Anyway, what’s the goal of Comedy Team? Your job is to play the straight man of a comedy duo, once your partner says something ridiculous you must respond in a way that either encourages him to continue speaking or with the punchline of slapping him. The more jokes you tell correctly the higher the laughter bar will rise, if the audience is laughing enough when the routine is over you win!
There’s not much to this minigame but it’s a fun little distraction. There is an interesting story behind it though. The localization team for the Remaster of Yakuza 5 revamped the game heavily in order to have it work better for an English speaking audience. Here’s a Twitter thread breaking it down in detail
Not much to say about Comedy Team, successfully complete it 3 times and you’ll be done with it forever. Heck, I bet a lot of you who played Yakuza 5 actually forgot all about it until reading this.
Games: Y5, Ishin
The next minigame on our list I’m almost positive is illegal! After a certain substory in Yakuza 5 Shinada will be able to raise a chicken and enter it in illegal faces known as the Cochin Cup.
The races themselves are extremely simple and are actually very comparable to a Sega minigame of old: Chao Garden racing. The first few races will be extremely simple as the chicken will merely have to run in a straight line to the goal. The later races however will introduce new challenges such as dark areas in the course which will slow down your chicken unless it has night vision.
How do you increase these stats? You may be asking, well the owner of the Cochin Cup offers to send your chicken off to five different trainers to increase its stats, with each trainer specializing in a specific stat. These trainers aren’t free of course, you need to give the Cup owner an item as payment. What item you give him exactly doesn’t matter so just fill your inventory with a bunch of stuff you aren’t afraid of losing.
Once your chicken has reached a stat threshold you may be thinking to yourself that it’s ready to ace all the races, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. From here on out you need to start breeding your chicken to get further stat limit breaks and create the ultimate chicken!
Sadly both breeding and the stat increasing are pretty nothing mechanics visually. You are literally just looking at text on screen as you talk to the Cup Owner about what you want to do, it’s honestly pretty boring.
Someone at RGG really expected you to be playing this minigame a lot because they created 15 entire races for you to enter your chickens in. These races don’t vary much in actual content but I would be lying if I said the Sonic Adventure fangirl in me didn’t end up getting attached to my little chicken in the same way I did my first Chao.
It seems someone at RGG agreed with me about the stat increasing and breeding aspect of the minigame being boring because when they brought this minigame back for Ishin they removed those elements entirely! Unfortunately they didn’t replace them with anything to compensate for it.
In Ishin the Cochin Cup is a single race track where you can bet money on chicken racing. No longer will you have any emotional attachment to these chickens or have any say in who wins at all. It’s been reduced to a simple gambling minigame and as such got forgotten as the franchise moved on.
I feel bad for the Cochin Cup, I feel that if RGG fully embraced the Chao Garden aspects of it and just added some actual visuals for training your chickens this could have become a fan favorite minigame, especially since despite not bringing the minigame back they have decided to give chickens a role in every game anyway.
Yakuza Ishin completely lacked a traditional baseball minigame but it did have a very similar equivalent. So similar in fact that I was considering writing about this minigame in the baseball segment but decided against it because not only is this physically not baseball, but also I wrote that segment back in May and this segment in December and my writing style has changed so much since then that it would be weird.
As I said in that paragraph, this minigame is basically Ishin’s version of baseball. The game will fire out a series of cannonballs with duck faces at Ryoma and you need to press square to swing your sword and slice at them. Depending on your timing you will either simply knock the cannonball away or completely slice it in half for a ton of points! In order to pass the minigame you need to get a certain amount of points with the maximum amount you can get being portrayed as a meter on the right side of your screen. The point requirement is quite generous with you only needing to get about 60% of the possible points to get the best rank on the minigame.
As a unique baseball requirement this is a fun little distraction, because each of the four difficulties will only take you about two or three tries, this minigame won’t take much of your time, and its second variant will take you even less tries!
Yes, there is a second version of this minigame where instead of using your sword Ryoma will aim his gun at the cannonballs and you’ll have to press square to shoot them. Functionally this version of the minigame is the same as the sword version but it’s also significantly easier because it’s nowhere near as difficult to shoot something moving horizontally on your screen than it is to hit something coming toward you. Depth perception is the reason baseball is difficult and this version of the minigame doesn’t have that.
In order to compensate for this the game shoots a lot more cannonballs at you when playing the gun version and has a much stricter point requirement with the hardest difficulty needing you to hit 90% of the balls, but it’s still super easy and I would be shocked if you didn’t beat it on your first try.
Overall this minigame is a fun little distraction and a welcome replacement for baseball in samurai times.
Early on in Ishin (Or very late in the game if you accidentally walk around it like I did) Ryoma will encounter a substory where an old lumberjack needs his assistance to cut some wood. This leads us to an incredibly simple minigame where you do just that!
As the old man places wood in front of you, Ryoma will raise his axe into the air. When the axe glows blue you must press the circle button to swing it downward to chop the wood. As soon as you do this the old man will place another piece of wood in front of you so you can chop that one too!
That’s literally all there is to this minigame, even if you fail to chop some wood there is no penalty, Ryoma will just lower his axe and you’ll get to try again. The minigame ends when you’ve cut 100 logs of wood. I struggle to really think of anything to say about this minigame as there’s almost nothing to it. Just cut wood and get paid!
The completion requirements for this minigame are as simple as the minigame itself! You just need to cut 1,000 pieces of wood, so just play this minigame ten times and you’re good!
So I normally hate comparing Shenmue and Yakuza because they are as different as water and oil, but even I can’t deny that Shenmue 3 stole this minigame. Dang it.
Ishin wouldn’t be a PS3 Yakuza game if it didn’t have a really weird and gross sexual minigame, would it? This one is a lot more explicit than the other games as Ryoma is literally visiting a courtesan to have sex and we the player have to play through it.
This minigame is split into three phases. Drinking alcohol, playing rock paper scissors, and a shooter segment. If none of those sound like they make sense, please bear with me as I begin to explain in order. We’ll start off with the drinking segment.
During this phase of the minigame Ryoma and the courtesan begin to have a contest about who can go the longest without dropping the sake dish. When it’s Ryoma’s turn to drink you are given a minigame very similar to the massages from Yakuza 3 and 4 where you must press X and Circle to control a bar that moves up and down. The higher in the meter that your bar is, the faster Ryoma will drink.
As the goal is to make the courtesan so drunk that she’ll drop the sake cup you’ll need to drink as fast as possible because the longer you’re drinking the faster her drunkenness meter will fall. So keep your bar relatively close to the top of the meter and she’ll become too drunk after like three turns.
After the drinking portion of the minigame you’ll transition into strip rock, paper, scissors. Yes really. You must beat the courtesan at rock, paper, scissors five times in order to progress and every two times you beat her she removes more clothing. This minigame is just so gross, man! I really hope I don’t need to explain the rules of rock, paper, scissors to you all. Assuming you all know how to play that game I will just say that just like the table tennis and air hockey minigames of Yakuza 4 and 5 you can slow time here by staring at the courtesan’s chest, which her hand happens to be in front of so you can tell what she’s going to throw at you.
You can only slow down time for three rounds but this mechanic just guarantees three of your five wins. Which raises the question of how did RGG think this was balanced? Considering how RGG treats women in these minigames I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought you would be so preoccupied looking at her chest that you wouldn’t be able to tell what shape her hand is in.
After winning rock, paper, scissors five times we transition into the final segment of the minigame: a top down shooter where Ryoma is shooting blue pellets upward at a heart while a blurry image of the courtesan floats in the background. To launch your pellets you must mash the circle button or hold down circle to charge up a big shot.
The challenge in this portion of the minigame is to dodge the falling sexual language, if any of it touches Ryoma he’ll lose a life and obviously if he loses all his lives it’s game over. This is probably my favorite part of the minigame because it’s an actual game, but all of the surrounding context still grosses me out and I never want to touch it again.
What’s really interesting though is that while the first phase of the minigame feels like a callback to Yakuza 3’s sexual minigame and the second phase felt like a callback to 4’s this phase feels like a look into the franchise’s future as Yakuza 0 also had a sexual minigame where you must shoot stuff while a blurry woman was in the background! It’s like a horrifying look into the franchise’s future!
Japan Catfighting Club
Games: Y0, YK
Okay folks, it’s time. In a franchise with so many good minigames of course we need to talk about some bad ones as well. Well. Now it’s time to talk about the absolute worst one. During the main story of Yakuza 0 you will be introduced to the Japan Catfight Club as a way to allegedly make money quickly.
Here you can bet millions of Yen on women wearing sexy outfits wrestling each other on your screen. It’s the epitome of this series’ bad relationship with women. The actual “gameplay” of this minigame is rock paper scissors, I don’t need to explain how to play rock paper scissors right? Any button on the controller will rotate your choice between the three you have. Take note that this minigame was designed to be played with only a singular hand.
Once the time limit on selecting rock paper or scissors has run out the winner of duel will have an animation where they damage the loser and take away a random amount of their health. If you and your opponent end up selecting the same thing the game will prompt you to mash the X button to settle the duel but as far as I can tell it’s completely random whether or not you do win even if you mash the button. The match ends when you or your opponent run out of health.
Everything about this game is random, from what your opponent picks to the amount of damage done with each attack to whether or not your button mashing even does anything! It’s RNG in its purest form. There are 3 matches in a JCC tournament and if you want to make any money you better win all 3 of them, so just cross your fingers and watch a video on your phone as it plays I guess.
The completion requirements for this minigame in Yakuza 0 are utterly ridiculous, you need to win an entire tournament 10 times! This takes forever because as I must reiterate, you are relying completely on RNG! I was playing nothing but this minigame for about 2 hours trying to get this completion requirement. It wasn’t the most insufferable part of the franchise, but it certainly felt the grossest.
And for some reason they brought it back in Yakuza Kiwami! They may have changed what it looks like a bit and dresses the women up in sexy bug outfits but it’s the same minigame!
The major change to the Kiwami version is that it’s now an arcade game in Club Sega called Mesu King, a parody of the actual game MushiKing. This change adds a card mechanic to the game where scattered around Kamurocho you can find more and more bug women to fight each other.
While an added collectible to find around Kamurocho is nice it doesn’t change the fact that the minigame it’s attached to is awful. What’s worse is that unlike Yakuza 0 several substories are tied to the minigame this time, so you’ll be playing it a lot!
Catfighting is everything I don’t like about bad Yakuza side content rolled up into one. Barely any input from the player, reliance on RNG, and disrespect to women all in one package. If this minigame ever comes back I will be irrationally upset.
Yakuza 0 introduced us to the Telephone Club minigame and I won’t bury the lede, I absolutely abhor this minigame. I’ve made the thesis that the minigames in the PS3 era of Yakzua had a large focus on sex and sexual situations and I don’t think that’s demonstrated any better than with this minigame.
The minigame has you spin your analog stick to load your shot as you aim at various sentences written in square bubbles on your screen to pick the grammatically correct one. The intended challenge is that the game doesn’t expect the player to be able to correctly read what they’re picking as there is footage of a scantily clad woman in the background.
This minigame is completely shameless and like the JCC earlier it’s built to be played with only one hand. However unlike JCC which can be completely ignored after its tutorial the Telephone Club had SEVEN substories associated with it that appear after you play it, and it isn’t as simple as just playing it and having the substory immediately start. No, there is just a random chance of each one starting after you play the minigame. So sometimes you’ll get the substory while other times you’ll have just wasted your time playing a bad minigame!
JCC may be the worst minigame in the entire franchise but honestly I think the Telephone Club infuriates me more because of how many times the game forces you to play it not even for 100% completion but just to unlock Amon!
Games: FotNS: LP
One of few Fist of the North Star minigames that is wholly unique to it. After a certain substory, Ken will be drafted to work as a bartender who makes drinks and listens to customer’s personal problems. The first of which is an actual minigame and the second is just a unique way of giving you new substories. There are three types of drinks you can serve based on a customer’s order and they all have their own unique way of being prepared.
The first drink we’ll be covering is the Yuria Eternal. In order to serve this drink you must spin your right analog stick in a circle rapidly so that Kenshiro stirs the drink. This is the drink that gives me the most trouble as even though I’m spinning as fast as I can I almost always run out of time before I serve it. It’s crazy though how we’re nearly twenty years away from Mario Party 1 and game devs still put minigames like this in their games, will they never learn their lesson?
When serving the Shining Shot of Death the game will ask you to rapidly shake your controller up and down in order to stir the drink. This section of the minigame hurts my arm because it feels like you need to shake the controller a lot to prepare a drink even on the lowest difficulty. People do this for a job?
When serving the Inebriation of Souls you must chip a huge block of ice into a tiny cube by rapidly pressing the face buttons on your controller, alternating along the buttons clockwise starting from the circle button, moving on to X, and so on and so forth. You need to be extremely fast with these button presses though. So fast in fact that the actual way to win this minigame is to place your thumb on all four buttons and move it in a circle so that you are rapidly switching between the buttons in an instant. I am almost certain this was the intended method because I don’t know any other way to pass this minigame.
I like this minigame overall as a neat way to get new substories but whenever it makes me shake a drink I get worried about my poor arm. Why must you hurt me, Sega?
This is one of the worst minigames in the series. The only reason this is better than the telephone game and the JCC from Yakuza 0 is at least there’s some comedy here with how goofy Kiryu is and his ineptitude at using modern technology.
Anyway, the goal of this minigame is to press the buttons that appear on screen as fast as you can so the camgirl will take off some of her clothes. It’s as shameless as it gets. The only reason this can even be classified as a minigame is because there is a time on the bottom of the screen as you press the buttons.
The platinum requirements for this game are really simple. Just sit through a whole video for each of the two camgirls and you’ll get your trophy. I guess that’s another reason this minigame is better than the telephone club and JCC, you don’t need to play it nearly as much. I still hate it though and it’s easily a low point for Yakuza side content
So here’s a minigame that I’m surprised it took them seven entire games to do: Kiryu going to the gym! This man must work out a lot but Yakuza 6 is the first time he actually goes and gets a gym membership!
When going to the gym you will be given the option of six different workout routines Kiryu can perform, with each of them having a slightly different minigame and will give you a different type of EXP upon completion.
There’s Bench Presses which require you to mash the L1 and R1 buttons on your controller in sync with each other as Kiryu lists weights.
Then there’s Squats which will have you press the circle button as a yellow line enters a small red zone on the right half of your screen continuously.
Next up there’s Dead Lifts which require you to mash the circle button repeatedly to make Kiryu lift the weights.
The fourth exercise is Jump Squats which require you to press whichever button the game tells you to as they pop up on screen.
Up fifth in your exercise regimen is some Lat Pulldowns. Here you’ll need to press L1 and R1 to pull the weight down then press those same buttons again when a yellow bar enters a red zone on the right side of your screen.
Finally as your sixth exercise Kiryu will work the Seated Row. Here you’ll need to hold in the R1 button to raise your gauge and then be sure to let go of the button before the gauge reaches its limit.
All of these exercises take no more than 40 seconds to do, they’re just a fun distraction and a decent way to gain some extra exp. Annoyingly though between every two exercises you will be told to go eat a specific healthy meal. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m not a food person or if because I’m a westerner but when the game gives me instructions to go out and eat a popular yakiniku how am I supposed to know I should order a harami?
After a successful training session and a good meal Kiryu will demand that you go out to see the results of your training too, forcing you to get into a single street fight every two training sessions. Because of this and the food factor RIZAP is far from the fastest way to gain exp in Yakuza 6, but it is fun and gives us a good excuse to have a shirtless Kiryu model on screen for extended periods of time.
Yakuza 6 introduced us to one of the coolest one off minigames in the franchise: Spearfishing! Yes, it took us this many games for us to have a new variant of fishing that isn’t of the standard rod and hook fashion.
Upon starting the minigame Kiryu will change into a skintight diving suit and you will transition into a first person rail shooter! Kiryu will automatically swim along the sea and your job is to shoot as many fish as possible, making sure to reload on spears whenever you’re out of ammo.
There are hundreds of fish swimming throughout the minigame, with the various different varieties all being worth different points. While most of these fish just swim around Kiryu there are a few such as squids and sharks who will attempt to fight against you, the latter of which will take several shots to take out while it’s rushing at your face!
There are only three stages with each one ending on a boss fight against a large enemy. These boss fights are far from a challenge but you cannot tell me you weren’t cheering at Kiryu literally punching a giant bloody shark.
Can we take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this game is? Yakuza 6 was easily the prettiest Dragon Engine game until Lost Judgment so that shouldn’t be surprising, but look at how many fish RGG modeled! Sure they model a bunch of a fish in every game with fishing in it but those are almost always still and don’t move. Here we get to see all of those fish swimming around in school and it’s utterly breathtaking that they put all of that effort into a simple minigame!
The only negative thing I have to say about this minigame are the completion requirements. In order to hit the ‘max lvl’ in this minigame you need to play it an ungodly number of times. A gamefaqs guide states that you need to play the third stage about 50 times before you hit max lvl and although I didn’t count myself it certainly feels right!
Thankfully for any of you trying to platinum these games yourselves you won’t be forced to do that as Yakuza 6 doesn’t require you to fill out its entire completion list for the platinum. I did it anyway though and god I am tired of hearing the shark boss theme. Before I was forced to grind this minigame away though I loved this minigame and it remains a highlight of Yakuza 6
Yes, not only did Yakuza 6 bring us a new variation of fishing but they even created an entirely new Baseball minigame! I really enjoy that they attempted to revamp two of the series longest running minigames for what was originally the finale of the Kiryu Saga.
During the plot of Yakuza 6 Kiryu gets involved in some sitcom level shenanigans and becomes the coach of a failing baseball team. It’s your job as the player to turn this failing team into a countrywide success! To this end you will need to lvl up your players by playing matches and using exp tickets on them in between matches. You’ll also need to select which players to bench during any given match.
I’ll be 100% honest in saying I’m not even completely sure how this minigame works. I just lvl players up, put them on the field, and pray that everything works out okay. Sometimes it does and other times the enemy gets 19 runs in the very last inning so I cry. Losing doesn’t feel that bad though because a single match doesn’t take long, all 9 innings will go by within three minutes if you’re playing at the highest speed.
Now every once in a while the game will actually let you take control of one of your batters so you can attempt to hit the ball and gain a run yourself. This isn’t Wii Sports, don’t expect to actually see your ball go across the field. Generally you either hit a home run or it automatically cuts to someone catching your ball with the rare occasions where you see a video of someone on your team reaching first place.
You may be thinking to yourself “Why don’t they just let me hit every ball?” And to that I say, well, it would take away the entire premise of the minigame. If you were always in control and hitting run after run then there would be absolutely no point in developing your team’s stats. It would just make this a batting cages recolor.
Like the other large minigames in this segment of the article there are a lot of story segments and substories tied to this minigame. Similar to how Yakuza 0’s Real Estate and Cabaret Club minigames had you taking down five other billionaires/businesses, this minigame has a long running story where you need to conquer four other teams to progress the story. Well, technically you’re only facing off against three other teams but with one of them it’s their reserve and main rosters, but it’s effectively four different teams. Baseball is weird.
There are a ton of different baseball matches available for your team to play. While there are only four matches required to progress through the minigame’s story that function as normal baseball games, there is an entire pile of optional matches where you need to fulfill certain conditions such as winning with at least one home run or win with a landslide of at least five runs. I like these challenges though I can’t help but feel like the landslide win is pure RNG.
Overall The Baseball Coach minigame is a pretty nice long minigame to enjoy during your time in Onomichi. I just wish I knew what any of these stats were for.
Games: J, LJ
In Judgment, Yagami has a drone that he often flies around the city to help solve cases. Because of this RGG decided to make Judgment’s only completely original minigame be focused around this drone. In the center of the Millenium Tower you will find a booth where you can sign up to race your drone against others all over Kamurocho.
Drone Racing has a nice and simple control scheme. There is no accelerate button at all, simply hold the analog stick forward and your drone will begin flying in that direction. You’ll be using the right analog stick to move your drone up and down as well as adjusting your finger to your finger slightly left and right to turn your camera. Because you’ll always be moving your drone forward, adjusting your camera is the primary way of turning in this minigame.
There are ten race tracks split up into five grands prix you’ll be competing in, well actually there’s five race tracks and five mirror mode tracks where you’ll be racing down the same track in reverse. These tracks will send you flying throughout the skies of Kamurocho at high speeds. It’s nice to see familiar locations like these from an entirely new angle.
Winning the grands prix themselves isn’t too difficult, what WILL have you pulling your hair out though are the time trials. While some of the time trials are extremely easy once you’ve fully upgraded your drone, some of them are so precise that I cannot believe RGG actually expected people to do them. Prepare to spend a long time racing in the same few tracks over and over trying to shave precious seconds off your time.
Aside from those few tracks, I had a pretty good time with the high paced action of Drone Racing. Sadly, the drone racing itself is something you’ll be doing very little of. No, a majority of your time with drones will be spent running all over Kamurocho as Yagami picking up random junk and spending all your casino chips hoping to get stuff to upgrade your drones.
Yes, in order to actually get good at this minigame you need to build the actual drone parts yourself. This will cost you random materials you can find around the city as well as a ton of Yen. This is such a massive roadblock for this minigame that I’m willing to bet a majority of players just ignored it and focused on Judgment’s main plot instead. I for one grew incredibly frustrated with drone part construction by the time I was done, especially because the game’s completion list requires you to build every single part! I spent a whole day of my life on this!
Drone Racing made a return in Lost Judgment where its location was moved from Kamurocho to Yokohama. The minigame was entirely unchanged as it still included five tracks and five mirror tracks however the larger city allowed the devs to give these tracks a lot more variety as you will be flying through even more of the city.
What’s really funny though is that one of the tracks, Seiryu High, is clearly not designed for this minigame. The school hallways are barely large enough for a single drone let alone an entire race’s worth of them! You and the AI will always without fail crash into the walls over and over within a few second time frame in one of the funniest displays I have ever seen in a racing game. I don’t know how this track got beyond testing but I’m so happy that it did.
Sadly because the minigame was entirely unchanged in Lost Judgment while I still enjoy the racing itself it was still an utter pain to build every single drone part as I had to run all over town over and over again just to find the correct materials. Overall Drone Racing is a fun experience held back by some very weird game design.
You know what’s radical? Recycling! The minds behind the Yakuza series have done the genius idea of turning the oppressive real world concept of desperate people exchanging aluminum cans for pennies on the dollar into a fun minigame about circling the city streets in a time limit!
As Ichiban you will bike around a city block pulling a cart behind you. On the road will be many cans that you will collect by running over them, the more cans you collect the higher your score gets. Also around the block there will be several other opponents also collecting cans and, more dangerously, trying to ram into you and steal your cans!
You aren’t defenseless though! Along the road you will also be able to find blue energy drinks! When you pick up these energy drinks you are able to perform a boost, when boosting not only is your speed increased but you will also ram fellow can collectors out of your way and take their cans!
Beware though, there is an obstacle that not even the boost can save you from: The garbage truck! If the garbage truck catches you off guard not only will it run you over, but it’ll steal 100 cans from you! 100 cans is an insane amount so dodge this truck like Ichiban’s life depends on it! Radical!
There are several different difficulties to Can Quest, each adding more obstacles and, more importantly, more cans to the street for you to dodge and collect. Overall they’re the same thing but harder so once you unlock the hardest difficulty just play that one to get the big reward of Can Quest: Eco points! Eco points can be exchanged at the Can Quest shop for weapons, books to level up jobs, and perhaps most coveted of all: the Persona 5 soundtrack.
In my opinion Can Quest is the blueprint for what all Yakuza minigames should be. It takes a mundane concept and game-ifys it to its logical extreme in a way only this franchise could, It has several different modes but not so many that it overstays its welcome, it gives you rewards that help you with the game’s main combat, and most importantly, it’s fun!
So many of the minigames we’ve talked about so far have either been boring, overstayed their welcome with outrageous completion requirements, or are barely minigames and just an excuse to ogle women. Can Quest represents everything I love about Yakuza side content and I want more stuff like it! Thankfully, the game that followed Yakuza 7, Lost Judgement, seemed to have agreed with me.
A very strange minigame here. In Yakuza: Like a Dragon Ichiban is able to pay for school courses, and by school courses I mean the game will shove a test in your face and you’ll have a short amount of time to answer each question. Just like real life! Every exam will have 5 questions, all with 4 choices. You are given 30 seconds to answer each question and if you get 3 of them right you pass!
The reward for passing each exam is a stat boost to Ichiban’s personality stats which will allow him to access jobs at Hello Work among other things, so doing these exams is worthwhile.
I’m a very fast reader so reading through the questions and answers in only 30 seconds is very easy for me, but I can see some people struggling with this. My real struggle is the Math exams because I am really bad at Math.
Out of all the exams my personal favorites are the Sega Trivia exams because, as this article should have told you by now, I am a massive nerd and have a pretty large amount of knowledge on Sega games. Plus I love seeing Sakura Wars get acknowledged and there are multiple Sakura Wars related questions! Heck, the Vocational School is right next to a building that looks identical to the theater from Sakura Wars!
The Vocational School is a fun little way to let you quickly increase Ichiban’s stats, I hope Yakuza 8 can have its own little distraction like this if the job system stays around!
Who doesn’t like sitting down and watching a classic movie? Freaks, that’s who, and Ichiban Kasuga is no freak. After an early game substory in Yakuza Like a Dragon the player will be able to go to the movie theater at any time to want a vintage movie. Unfortunately Ichiban is also extremely rude and can’t watch a few seconds of Robocook without falling asleep!
That’s where you, the player, come in. As Ichiban watches the film several rams will appear around him to try and put him to sleep. Whenever one of these rams appears you must press the button prompt below their head to banish them from this plane of existence. Some of these rams will require you to mash the button several times within a few seconds to destroy them and some of them aren’t rams at all but rather roosters that you shouldn’t do anything to so that they make noise to wake Ichiban up more.
This is one of the most basic minigames I have ever seen. It is quite literally just pressing the buttons the game tells you to until the minigame ends. There are attempts to spice it up as during the last minute or so of the movie you will enter ‘Rush Mode’ where rams give you more points for beating them, but points hardly matter in this minigame.
There are ten different movies you can watch during this minigame and while there are small difficulty differences with how many rams appear or how fast they appear it’s always the same thing. This minigame is sadly just bland.
I have a friend who actually considers this to be one of the worst minigames in the series and although I don’t agree with them I can’t certainly understand why. There’s just nothing to this one. It feels more like an early PS3 RGG minigame, not a Dragon Engine era one.
Welcome to Mario Kart! That’s right, Yakuza Like a Dragon has an entire Mario Kart clone as a minigame. After meeting a man who is super familiar to Yakuza fans, Ichiban finds himself behind the wheel of a go-kart racing through the streets of Yokohama. The game doesn’t even try to hide the fact that this minigame is a shameless Mario Kart clone and I love it for that.
In this minigame you’ll find yourself racing through four grands prix made up of three race tracks each. While racing your opponents there will be several boost pads placed along the road as well as item boxes that will give you items to either decimate your opponents or get a boost in speed.
Unlike a majority of Yakuza racing minigames like Drone Races or Pocket Circuit, (We’ll get to it later!), this minigame shows restraint and doesn’t force you to build a kart with materials you find around the world or something. Instead there are three starting karts of varying stats and three unlockable karts with their own stats as well. After having to experiment with Drone Racing setups for so long it’s so refreshing to just have a racing minigame that’s entirely skill based.
Speaking of skills, while the first few grands prix are a total farce difficulty wise, some of the one on one substory races can be quite challenging (Especially since these one on one races cover the track in fog, relying on your memory and quick reflexes to see the walls). So if you want to win, be at the top of your game and always remember. This is a Mario Kart clone. That means if you hold the accelerate button when the beginning countdown is transitioning between ‘2’ and ‘1’ you will start the race off with a huge boost!
Aside from the basic grand prix races this game also features a time attack mode where you must race along a single track as fast as you can to try and beat your best time. Surprisingly enough this mode has an online ranking system so you can view other player’s times. If I’m not wrong this is the only minigame in the Yakuza franchise to incorporate any kind of online mechanic at all.
I really enjoy Dragon Kart, just seeing Ichiban huddled into a tiny go-kart racing along my screen shouting “Say my name!” When he wins a lap brings a smile to my face. I greatly enjoyed my time with this minigame and fully expect it to appear a second time similar to how Pocket Racer and Drone Racing both have two appearances now.
Yakuza Like a Dragon’s early and late game will nickel and dime you out of every single yen you have. If you don’t want to grind random encounters or Part Time Hero missions then managing a company is for you! During the course of Yakuza Like a Dragon you will encounter a new party member known as Eri who owns a company with a very funny name and OH MY GOD NUGGET FROM YAKUZA 0 HAS A GRANDDAUGHTER THIS IS AMAZING!
This business running minigame is set into several phases which we will tackle one by one as we go along.
Being a business simulation we’ll of course tackle properties first. This game has several buildings to buy and manage spread throughout Yokohama but unlike in Yakuza 0’s Real Estate minigame (We’ll talk about it later) you will never need to go out yourself to buy them, instead there is a handy dandy purchase menu with a list of buildings you can buy. Of course, owning the buildings also isn’t enough to generate a profit. We need some people to work in these buildings!
When assigning employees to your properties you will assign a leader and two members. The goal when assigning employees is to make sure that your property’s three stats of product, service, and notability all reach a certain amount based on the stats of the employees you hired. It’s important to keep in mind that only the leader you assign will contribute all three of their stats to a property while the two members will contribute only a singular stat. Absolutely make sure all your properties meet the required steps when opening for business.
At any point during the minigame you can hire more employees that you can assign to your properties. Keep in mind though that even if an employee isn’t assigned you will have to pay their salary, so if you’re trying to maximize profits terminate any and all employees who aren’t working!
It’s also important to lvl up your employees as you play through the minigame. Very rarely will their base stats be good enough for your purposes as you continue the game, so lvl them up and maybe even promote them for stat increases. Just be cautious about how many people you promote as their salaries go up as well.
This brings us to the building upgrade mechanic. You can invest money in your businesses so they can generate a higher profit in the future, but the higher lvl a business is, the higher the stats you’ll need to keep it running are. So make sure to double check on if you can handle the upgrade or not before going through with it.
You can also upgrade the base stats of a building with a tremendous amount of cash too! If you do this then you’ll have to worry about your own employee’s stats far less and in rare examples you can have a single employee run the place because the building is handling itself!
Once you’ve organized your buildings it’s time to open for business and watch the profits come flying in. Unlike in Yakuza 0 there is no several minute cooldown between opening for business and profiting, just sit back and watch the money roll in. After it does you return back to that start of this phase.
In between opening for business and gaining your profits you will occasionally be offered investment opportunities to gain passive profits such as investing money in an idea a weird homeless guy gave you or buying up commercial timeslots. Commercials always gain profits but when it comes to investment opportunities just follow your heart and decide for yourself if you’re being scammed.
After working a few shifts of this business phase it will finally be time for a shareholders meeting. Here you need to convince a group of people in suits that your company policy is right via a fierce game of rock paper scissors. I’m being serious here.
Unlike most Yakuza rock, paper, scissors minigames this is a high paced thrill where you must take down the health bars of several opponents who want to ruin your business. You need to beat down every shareholder’s argument with one of your staff’s (with each being colored for convenience). Ichiban can also contribute by using rechargeable triangle button pleas for help that deal damage to all shareholders in the meeting.
If you beat every shareholder in the time limit then Ichiban Confection’s share price will rise and you’ll gain even more profits in the future!
The main goal of this minigame is to become the number 1 business in all of Japan, which is a lot simpler than it sounds. This minigame’s base formula doesn’t change much from start to finish, it only escalates as your profits get higher and higher and more shareholders start showing up at meetings to try and ruin things.
I really enjoyed my time with this minigame. It was a relaxing time that ended up not being nearly as boring as 0’s Real Estate through the use of good visuals and very simple gameplay elements. I also enjoyed my time with Eri a lot and will be extremely sad when Like a Dragon 8 rolls around and she isn’t a party member anymore (There’s a 0% chance she’ll return).
Plus this minigame is by far the best way to rake up money in LaD which you’ll desperately need for the end game and upgrading weapons, so if any of you are reading this before playing the game or during your playthrough start managing your business now! You’ll thank me later.
Next up on the list we have what I imagine a majority of players describe as their least favorite minigame in Lost Judgment: the Robotics Club. God Seiryu High School must give their clubs a lot of funding.
As a side note, god, writing about this minigame right here and now makes me feel weird. When I started writing this article in May I was originally going to put all of the Lost Judgment school clubs in their own category because the game was still relatively new and I didn’t want to spoil people, but now we’re over a year from the game’s initial release date so I don’t think it matters anymore. The passage of time is cruel indeed.
During this minigame you will be piloting one of three miniature remote control robots on a large grid. These robots control exactly how you would expect toys to control, with tank controls. You can customize these robots with different body types, weapons, and speed engines before a match to meet any given situation.
The goal of this minigame is to collect cubes that spawn all over the map and place them across the grid. Your cubes must align with either a cube you already placed or with your home base. The match is won either when time runs out (In which case the team with the most placed cubes wins) or when one team is able to extend their cubes all the way to the enemy base, instantly winning.
There are a few features that make this simple premise become super chaotic fast. The most notable of which is weapons. You and your opponent will constantly be trying to kill each other via drill, guns, and rams. Although death only means you need to wait a few seconds before respawn, that’s a free few seconds for your opponent to both pick up and place cubes!
Speed is also a major factor in making this minigame chaotic. Not only do you have a recharging boost button that can blast you across the grid in only a few seconds, but your speed fluctuates depending on what type of space you’re on. If you happen to be standing on one of your opponent’s cubes your speed will grind to a snail’s pace. Watching helplessly as an opponent rushes toward you with their drill while you’re just trying to get off their cube is terrifying. Luckily the same principle applies to them if they step on your cubes.
My preferred method of winning is to try making as straight a line as possibly to the enemy’s base. I only let the timer run out if they’re destroying me over and over to the point where I can’t instantly win.
I actually quite enjoy the actual gameplay of the Robotics Club, what I DON’T enjoy is what you have to go through to actually enjoy it. In the same vein as minigames like Drone Racing you need to build your own robot from scratch. This means once again Yagami is forced to run around the city picking up whatever trash has randomly spawned and hoping that it’s actually what he needs to build his robot.
I can say with complete confidence that this building mechanic is what killed the minigame for a lot of people. There is a huge difficulty spike fairly early in this minigame’s story that practically requires you to build a better robot that you likely don’t have yet. This roadblock is a slog and I wish that instead the minigame just unlocked sets of parts as you progressed.
It’s a shame that a good minigame can be dragged down by this bizarre building mechanic. Completionists like I suffered the most from it because Lost Judgment’s completion list cruelly forces you to build all robot parts, which will more likely than not take up a majority of your gameplay. Even though I enjoyed this minigame I still dread coming back to it for my Lost Judgment replay.
Heck yeah I’m going to talk about Skateboarding. I know some of you are already calling me a hypocrite because I refused to talk about the Fist of the North Star buggy because it was a main gameplay feature, which Skateboarding also is. However there is a major difference between this mechanic and the buggy: I actually like this one.
Yes, for the first time in franchise history Lost Judgment gives you a way to move around the city faster, acting as a good in-between for taxi fast travel and running on foot: Skateboarding. When running, simply press the R2 button and Yagami will pull out his trusty skateboard and begin to travel at an even higher speed.
While skateboarding through town you can press the circle button to jump if you so please and even pick up floating silver coins that give you skateboard currency you can spend at the park. Also at the park is the reason I’m even talking about skateboards here: skate parks and skateboard racing.
Now don’t expect much from these skateparks, this game is no Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Yagami can only perform basic tricks like grinding on rails and flip jump off of ramps. The main goal here is to constantly jump off ramps to perform a trick to gain enough points within the time limit. After performing a trick your skate combo meter will appear and begin ticking down, if you quickly skate on over to another ramp you will get a point multiplier of 1.1. If you can keep jumping off ramps and increasing your combo meter this multiplier will keep going up as you rank in a massive amount of points!
Another way of gaining points is to pick up the rows of silver coins placed around the skate park (often directly in front of ramps). If you end up picking up all the coins in the park they will respawn as golden coins which will now give you three times as many points!
Out of all the school clubs in Lost Judgment this was the one I enjoyed the most. I’m a sucker for short little minigames like this where something super simple is gamified.
Sadly this is the minigame that was most affected by a strange business practice Lost Judgment had: making several school club content DLC exclusive. For most of the minigames I didn’t mind this at all because I can live without an extra costume for the Dance Club or without two extra opponents for Boxing, but making the three most creatively designed skate parks DLC exclusive rubs me the wrong way.
There is another aspect to this minigame aside from the skate parks of course: Skateboard racing! Yes, RGG has graced us with twelve tracks where we can race against other opponents on skateboards. Well, technically it’s six tracks and six mirror mode tracks but don’t be pedantic.
Racing controls exactly like the skateboard normally does but there’s a few extra bells and whistles here. Now if you jump over an obstacle or grind on a rail you will get a brief boost of speed to gain distance on your opponents. The race track is also littered with both silver coins and Mario Kart style item boxes. These item boxes will either contain a nitro item that will give you a brief speed boost or one of two attack items that either attack opponents in front or ahead of you depending on which one you obtained.
While winning these races is incredibly easy, that isn’t the only thing to them. Similar to Drone Races earlier in the list, in order to 100% this minigame you must complete each track under a certain amount of time. This task is near impossible with your starting skateboard but luckily for you there are several others available in the world of Lost Judgment!
Remember those silver and gold coins I kept mentioning? Those can be exchanged at the park for a small handful of items. While most of these items aren’t anything to write home about there are three skateboards of varying prices and stats available for purchase here! There are also skateboards located in locations such as pawn shops or even the casino, so keep your eye out for them. With enough skill and a good skateboard this minigame’s time trials should come to you second hand before long.
This was easily my favorite school club in Lost Judgment, and I hope RGG finds some excuse to keep skateboarding in every game from now on.
Honestly I have no idea how the franchise went 11 games without having a minigame like this. Like, boxing just fits as a minigame in a franchise where you spend most of your time punching people.
While boxing your camera will be positioned around the height of Yagami’s waist and you’ll always be strafing around your opponent. The face buttons on your controller will let you jab, straight punch, and hook your opponent. There’s also a block button of course and a neat mechanic where if you block at the right time you will instantly get an opportunity to counter. Your goal is to hit them enough to drain their entire health bar and send them to the ground.
The match doesn’t end when they’re down though, they have 10 seconds to get back up on their feet. If they do repeat the process and knock them down again! Thankfully the game does show some mercy in that if you knock someone down three times in one round then you instantly win.
You’ll have a large amount of opponents to fight one by one and a skill tree of new boxing moves to learn, you’ll even learn some tricky to execute heat actions that are very satisfying to pull off!
The completion requirements for this minigame are no joke though. You must KO every single one of your opponents within a single round, a task that only gets harder as you progress down the line. Try your dang hardest to learn the counterpunch heat action so you can knock down your opponents fast, but even then you’ll need lady luck to be on your side at least a little bit.
This minigame is great. Everything from the intense music to the fast paced gameplay to seeing Amasawa in the background cheering you on during key matches comes together to make a near perfect minigame. I have no complaints so let’s move on! Well, I have no complaints about the minigame itself. There is an awful thing related to it we must talk about again: Lost Judgment’s DLC.
For the most part I don’t mind Lost Judgment’s DLC, even if the DLC skate parks bug me, because it’s all just optional stuff that slightly expands the minigames. There was one thing in the game’s second DLC pack though that absolutely shouldn’t have been there: a Boxing fighting style that you can use during the game’s main combat.
I don’t even like using this style but the mere fact that a gameplay element as large as an entire moveset for Yagami was locked behind a DLC barrier is ridiculous and will forever plague the minigame it’s attached to. Let’s just move on.
Despite the fact that Judgment’s School Club minigames are supposed to be well, school related, one of them will have you go to a bar to talk to women. The goal of this minigame is to talk to and eventually date Emily Mochizuki, however in order to even talk to her you must first become pals with her three co-workers.
Similar to Hostess Clubs in earlier Yakuza games, in order to get close to these women you need to sit and talk to them. I find this minigame to be significantly less gross than Hostess Clubs (Oh trust me, we will talk about those soon) because there’s much less emphasis on the girls dressing in provocative clothes for the sake of horny gamers.
Sadly the minigame itself isn’t super engaging and is probably my least favorite of the school stories in Lost Judgment. As it comprises almost entirely of just selecting the correct thing to say in a conversation. The big challenge here comes from the fact that Yagami is drunk and thus two thirds of your choices are either completely slurred or an erotic statement. You are given plenty of time to select what you’re going to say so just be patient and select the correct thing.
Aside from having a conversation, you can also play darts with all the girls to impress them. Not much to talk about here, just standard Dragon Engine darts which we’ve already spoken about.
Once you’ve made friends with Mochizuki’s three co-workers (Miu is the best fyi) you will finally get the chance to talk to her. Funnily enough instead of coming across as getting to know Mochizuki herself this feels more like a recap round to make sure you remember all the other girls as she will often ask you questions about them.
An annoying aspect of this minigame is that after you talk to one of the girls Yagami will get completely drunk, preventing you from entering the bar again until you’re sober. Because of this many players will enter an ever looping cycle of talking to girls -> Using EX Drunken Fist on a random enemy to become sober -> repeat. Which makes this segment of the game a lot more tedious than it should be.
However despite the tedium of it all and me not even finding the main minigame fun I would still replay this part of Lost Judgment a thousand times because I go back and play something like Yakuza 3’s massage minigame or Yakuza 0’s JCC minigame where women were nothing but sex objects. RGG still has problems with writing women but at least the minigame team has gotten better about them in the past few years.
It wasn’t until I started writing this article that I noticed exactly how many racing minigames this franchise has. I made an entirely separate section of this article for rhythm minigames later down but honestly I could have made a racing minigame section and it would have been only slightly shorter.
The Biker Gang races are the closest we’ve come to the Yakuza 5 taxi minigame (we’ll talk about it later) in a long time. It’s an actual fast paced race on a highway as opposed to say, a Mario Kart clone.
However in order to get to the actual race we must first engage in the minigame’s first phase: Vehicular combat. Before the boss of the race will even consider engaging you, you must take down all of their goons. This can be done either by boosting into them from behind or ramming into their side. Be careful though because these bikers will fight back either by ramming you or throwing explosives into the road that you need to block.
Once all the bikers have been taken out it’s time for the real death race to begin. Wherever you were when you beat the final goon becomes the finish line that you and your opponent must reach. This race is only one lap long so don’t fall too far behind! Use your boosts the second they recharge and get as big a lead as you can.
Like in most Yakuza racing minigames you can customize your vehicle to improve its handling and speed. Thankfully unlike in minigames like Drone Racing you won’t need to scour the earth for random parts. You will however need to spend a lot of Yen so be ready to empty your pockets.
The completion requirements for this minigame may as well be nonexistent. All you need to do is beat every single race and buy every bike customization part. Just enjoy your time with this minigame race to your full ability.
I wish I had more to say about this minigame as it was the very last in our Yakuza Unique Minigame section! This was by far the largest portion of this article with 25 entire minigames! RGG almost always put their best foot forward with these minigames and while there were a few weird sex ones, these minigame types are what made Yakuza, well, Yakuza. With the largest and best category of minigames out of the way let’s move on to an entirely different minigame style.
Gambling Minigames are exactly how they sound. You bet some money or casino chips in the hopes of gaining a huge profit. These minigames tend to lean more on RNG than your average Yakuza minigame. They also typically fall into two categories: Western Casino and Japanese Gambling Hall style. To keep things interesting I’ll alternate between explaining western ones and Japanese ones.
Games: Y1, Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, Y0, YK
Gambling is bad, kids, don’t do it. With that disclaimer out of the way I’m about to tell you how to win at 10 different gambling games for a huge section of this article. Up first we have Roulette, which is in every single one of these games.
Roulette is as pure and simple as gambling gets. A ball will spin in a, well, roulette wheel with 32 different numbers written on it. You can either bet on specific numbers, bet on if it will land on a black or red colored number, or bet if it will land on an odd or even number. Depending on the odds you will get a different payout if you will, with betting on a specific number giving you 32 times what you bet.
The completion requirement here (like most of the gambling games we’re going to talk about) is to win a certain amount of casino chips, losses do count with Roulette so feel free to quit the minigame and then reopen it after each win so you don’t lose that progress.
In most of the games there are several Roulette cheat items to make the wheel either end on 0 or 00, just save before using these items and play the 50/50 chance for that 32 times payout which will bring you well above the chip requirement.
However there are two games where you will be unable to do this: Yakuza 0 and Fist of the North Star. These games do not have cheat items as the idea of cheating at a casino was not invented until 2005, so you’ll have to do this legitimately. The best method I can offer to you is the one listed on every Gamefaqs guide. Bet 1,000 chips on 10 different numbers and pray one of them wins, you will profit but not enough to get you over the chip requirement. Quit after every victory and repeat this over and over until you have enough chips to stop watching this wheel forever.
Roulette isn’t exactly fun but it’s the easiest gambling minigame to cheese. There are significantly worse gambling minigames in the franchise so spending five minutes at the roulette wheel isn’t anything to scream about. So let’s move on to something much worse!
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, Kiwami
The next gambling minigame in our list is Cee-Lo, a Japanese dice rolling game. Have any of you ever watched Kaiji? If you have then you know exactly how this minigame works. However, for those of you who haven’t watched that anime I’ll explain how it works.
At the start of the game a dice is rolled to decide who will be the first banker and who will be the players. At the start of each round the banker must roll their three dice and either get a basic hand composed of two matching numbers or a special hand composed of all odds, evens, or maybe three specific numbers.
The goal for the players is to roll a hand better than the banker’s. Since there are only six possible numbers you can roll a round of, this minigame will either be incredibly stressful or seem like a piece of cake. Don’t get too cocky though, just because the banker rolled a two doesn’t mean you won’t roll a one or not roll anything at all.
When it comes to making money off this minigame, waiting until its your turn to be the banker is key. Sure you might win as the player or even roll a 4-5-6 and get double your small bet (In most of the games you’re limited to only betting around 200 chips, but in others like Ishin your betting amount increases the more you play) but the real money comes when you play as the banker.
If the other players roll a worse hand than you they completely lose their bet and give it to you, there are also special awful hands they can roll like a 1-2-3 that gives you double what they bet! The AI here isn’t nearly as brutal as in a lot of other gambling minigames so I almost always make at least a small profit as the banker. There have been the occasional outlier situations though where several of the players have rolled a 4-5-6 on me, so to be safe make sure you save before playing this.
The completion requirement for this minigame has and always will be to win a certain amount of money. This never has never had to be done in one play session so feel free to chip away at it during your playthrough. There’s also some cheat items in the recent games to really help you generate a profit, though I find these to be less helpful than the average cheat item as a single Cee-Lo win isn’t worth as much as say, a single Roulette win.
Games: Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, K, K2, J, LaD, LJ
We’re going to be talking about of gambling games with complex rules or specific ways to win so for all our sakes let’s begin with the simplest game in the casino: Blackjack. The rules are simple: if your cards add up to closer to 21 than the dealer’s cards, you win. If the dealer has a number closer to 21 or if you go over 21, you lose.
Once you make your bet you’ll be handed your first two cards. Once you see what they add up to you can either Stand or Hit. If you stand you won’t be given any more cards, so do this if you’re confident you will be closer to 21. If you hit you will be handed another card and be met with the same choice again. You can be given as many cards as you want but be careful, a high card can easily end you over 21 if you aren’t careful.
The completion requirement in every game with Blackjack is to get a set amount of points, losses don’t count. In most of the games there is a cheat item that will give you a 21 five times in a row. If you make sure to bet as high as you can five times in a row that will usually give you either more than enough points or bring you high enough that you’ll only need to play a few times.
Yakuza 0 however lacks this item, so you’ll need to do this legitimately. Now you may be thinking that this is going to be entirely luck based, and it will be for a while. In fact I think it’s entirely reasonable to say you’ll succeed in getting all the points you’ll need playing normally before you realize the trick to the game, like a normal person.
I however am not a normal person! I have played Poker in every single game in this series and uncovered the dark secret about the minigame that RGG is trying to hide from you all!
THE CARDS AREN’T RANDOM!
I swear on your life that I’m not making this up. The cards are pulled from a few set patterns but they’re exactly that, set patterns! There’s a consistency to them and this consistency is present in most of the games, if not all of them!
I know you won’t believe me without proof and I have none to give, but I can give you an example of a pattern so you can test it yourself:
If you pull an 8 and a 2 on a Blackjack round where the dealer pulls a Jack then the next card you will pull will be a 3 and the next card will be a 6. This will give you a 19 and you will win the round.
Believe me or don’t, it’s your choice. Either way, I learned to count cards over the course of nearly 15 games and this minigame has permanently changed my brain.
Games: Y1, Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK
Cho-Han is probably the most iconic gambling minigame in this franchise almost entirely because of the moment in Yakuza 1 where you bring Haruka to a gambling hall to play it.
The goal here is simple, the dealer will roll their dice and you will need to guess if it’ll be an odd or even number. A 50/50 chance relying completely on RNG. Yeah this isn’t fun but there are a few complexities I’ll explain.
After winning a few times you’ll gain the ability to guess what one of the numbers of the two dice will be for a bigger reward. After that you’ll get the option to guess what both numbers will be for an even higher reward! Finally after playing it enough times after every victory you will be given the chance to double your winnings over and over by playing the dealer one on one.
The completion requirement in each game is to win a certain amount of betting tags in this minigame. There are cheat items for it in all games but Yakuza 0 where you’ll need to play it legitimately. If you haven’t already gotten all the tags you need by the time you unlock challenging the dealer one on one it’ll only take like 1 win with doubled winnings to bring you over the threshold.
Overall a meh minigame but Haruka has secured it as a series mainstay, so blame her if you hate the minigame (If you blame her you’re a monster).
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Y0, YK, YK2, J, LaD, LJ
Next up we’ve got what is easily my least favorite gambling minigame in the franchise: Poker! This classic western card game has been featured in every modern Yakuza game except 6, making it one of the most recurring games in the series, and I absolutely hate it in each one! I always play the Texas Hold ‘Em ruleset because I cannot be bothered to learn the others so I’ll only explain the rules of that one.
At the beginning of each round every player is given 2 cards at random and they can either raise their bet, fold (forfeit their bet), or stand (keep their bet and stay in the game. A single turn will keep going until three players have either voted to fold or stand, if multiple players vote to raise then the turn continues as the bet keeps increasing.
After a turn ends the game will reveal three cards on the table. The goal of the game is to get a good hand that is a combination of your own cards and the cards on the table. These hands can be simple such as having pairs of cards or more complex like having five cards of the same suit. A single round of poker will continue for three turns, with each of the first three turns revealing a new card on the table. You’ll win if you have a better hand than your opponents or if all your opponents fold before the end of the fourth turn.
Sounds simple right? Wrong! This is the one Yakuza gambling minigame where I am next to certain that the game is cheating. So often I am super confident in my hand but then out of nowhere the AI will suddenly begin to raise rapidly and destroy me with their hand. The amount of times throughout the franchise where I’ve wanted to pull out my hair playing this minigame is immeasurable!
The completion requirements are usually simple like getting a large amount of chips, most of the time this can be grinded by playing the minigame over and over. However there was one game which had a very evil Poker requirement: Yakuza Kiwami. Like in most Yakuza games you can walk around with Haruka and fulfill requests for her in order to fill up your bond meter with her. These requests can range from super simple things like buying a specific meal for her to hitting every target in a game of golf.
I can think of every few Haruka requests that broke me as much as her Poker request in Kiwami: Win 1,000 chips in a single Poker play session. This is next to impossible unless you’re willing to spend hours playing your luck because of how small the bet increases are in Kiwami. Now you may be thinking, why not just use cheat items to do this request easily? Because they barely work in Poker!
In Yakuza Kiwami you get two cheat items that guarantee the next cards revealed on the table will give you a good hand. If you use this item on the first turn you’ll get a good hand for sure but this will cause every other player to immediately fold as the cards drawn are unlikely to be good for them, causing you to make next to no profit. If you use don’t use the item on the first turn and choose to instead use it on any of the following turns a single good card for you will be drawn, but more likely than not by this point in the game it will also be good for your opponent as they must be aiming for a similar hand! There is no winning here!
I spent hours upon hours trying to fulfill this request for Haruka and still have no idea how I did it. This minigame is madness and I dread coming back to it every game.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK, YK2, LaD, LJ
I love Koi Koi!!!! Ahem, sorry. Koi Koi is a Hanafuda card game where you and your opponent are both handed a starting hand of 7 cards and need to pair them off with the 12 cards in the center of the table. When the cards are paired they are added to your winning hand, if you get certain combinations of cards you score points based on what hand you made. When you score you can either end the round or call Koi, calling Koi lets you keep pairing cards in hopes of getting more winning hands but it’s a gamble as your opponent can also still score and thus you lose the points you just earned.
Koi Koi is a very chaotic game, I may have just described a relatively peaceful sounding card game but it’s much more spiteful than you think. As rounds only end when you declare them over, the player with a higher point count has the advantage at all times. If you have more points than your opponent then they are practically forced to always call Koi in hopes of getting enough points to surpass you, but you can keep them in the dirt by just ending the round whenever you get a junk hand.
In every game that Koi Koi appears in, the platinum requirement is to win a certain amount of points from it, losses do not count so just grind your way up. You can easily just do this with Junk Hand victories but I’ll let you in on a beginner strategy.
Go for the Sake Cup. If you pair the Sake Cup with either the cherry blossoms or the rising moon you instantly get 5 points, even more if you are lucky enough to get both. Getting the Sake Cup on the first round in a Koi Koi match where you have bet the max amount will get you most of the points you need. Just be evil and force your opponent to always call Koi and score junk hands in every round after to win.
I love Koi Koi because after how every single other gambling minigame has the AI bully you until you cry, having a minigame where I get to bully the AI is so satisfying.
Games: Y4, Y5, Y0
The next gambling minigame on our list is another western card game: Baccarat! I honestly always forget this minigame exists when going over the exciting gambling games in my head. Compared to the fun of Blackjack or the utter pain of Poker this game is just sitting there.
The rules of Baccarat are fairly simple. Both the player side and the banker side of the table will draw two cards and whoever has the highest number wins (The numbers loop after 9). When starting the game you have the option to either bet on the player side or on the banker’s side. No matter which side you pick you get to do a cool analog stick movement where you flip a card over to see what it is.
As you can probably tell from this super short description of how the game works a single round of Baccarat only takes a few moments. In every game, the only completion requirement to fulfill is just getting a lot of chips, and rarely do you need to win all of those chips in a single sitting. That completion requirement becomes even easier when you remember that in some of the games there is no limit on how much you can bet in a single Baccarat round, so you can just save outside of the casino, bet whatever you need to finish the completion requirement, and reload if you lose the round!
Maybe that’s why I always forget about this minigame, I never play it for more than five minutes per game!
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK, YK2, J, LaD, LJ
Our next gambling minigame is Oicho-Kabu! Oicho-Kabu is a Japanese card game that you only play when you’re surrounded by charlatans who don’t know how to play Koi Koi.
The goal of this minigame is to draw either two or three cards to get as close to nine as you can. Any player who is closer to nine than the banker will win whatever they bet on the game. It’s that simple.
There are three special hands of course. The strangest two being 4-1 and 9-1. If a player draws a 4 and 1 then they get double what they bet. If the banker draws a 9 and a 1 they cruelly get double what the players bet. There’s also the super rare case where if you draw three of the same cards and triple your bet.
Similar to other gambling games we’ve talked about here you will switch between being a player and the banker. Just like in Cee-lo the real way to get money here is to bide your time until it’s your turn to be the banker. Through either good luck or cheat items you will rank up money much faster off of other people’s losing bets than your own winning bets as the player.
That’s really all the advice I have for this minigame. It’s a simple, honest, random chance and on some level you need to respect that. Just like the other gambling minigames the completion requirement here is to always win a certain amount of money. The payout here is always pretty small even when you’re the banker so expect to grind this one a bit longer than the other minigames.
Games: Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, YK, Y6, J, LaD, LJ
Mahjong is a game that strikes fear in the hearts of every Yakuza fan. Or at least it strikes fear in the hearts of everyone who claims they play every minigame but in reality they just post Mahjong memes.
I’m just going to get this out of the way immediately, it’s almost impossible to learn Mahjong via a text guide. You’re going to either need a video or someone directly next to you to teach you the ropes. I absolutely needed the latter as I could never learn Mahjong via guides. Because I could never learn Mahjong from some of the best guides online, I’m not not going to presume anything I write here could possibly teach you how to play. Instead I’ll just look over the Mahjong requirements of every Yakuza game and talk about if they were easy or difficult to do.
Yakuza 3’s Mahjong requirement is actually one of my least favorites in the franchise as it requires you to get a huge amount of points on one hand. So instead of just playing the game normally it feels like you’re rolling the dice hoping to get a very specific hand that will grant you victory. Mahjong in this game is also very hard on my eyes because the tiles are extremely small and I sometimes have to squint just to see the kanji ones.
Mahjong in Yakuza 4 and 5 is identical to how it was in Yakuza 3, with extremely hard to see tiles and a simple point requirement for completion. Ishin didn’t introduce a new Mahjong completion challenge however it did change the game’s visuals so you can actually see the tiles without squinting now!
Moving on to Yakuza 0 we have to address a major UI problem. The Yakuza localization team did start labeling the kanji tiles with numbers until the Dragon Engine era games and then retroactively added these numbers to the Remasters of 3-5. Because of this Yakuza 0 and Kiwami remain the only games without labeled kanji and because of this you either need to memorize them all or completely discard any kanji tiles you get. I prefer doing the latter because I’m crazy.
In terms of completion requirements whoever was in charge of 0 wants you to be playing this game forever. The point requirement is gone but it has been replaced with several new ones that I (mostly) find more enjoyable. The first of which is to get a single Haneman, which requires you to get a 6 or 7 han hand. While this can be difficult if you just keep playing the game you’re bound to be one eventually.
The big two difficult ones are getting a Full Straight and a Riichi Ippatsu. To get a Full Straight you need to create a hand using only a single suit for your sequences and have all numbers from 1-9 in your sequence. To do this you must immediately decide on what suit you’re going for at the beginning of the game of the three types that exist and just discard anything from the other suits. This will take a long time but if you keep at it you’ll eventually get the hand you want.
The worst mahjong requirement though is the one that you have absolutely no control of: the Riichi Ippatsu. To get an Ippatsu you must declare Riichi and then get the tile you need to win within the next turn. That’s exactly 3 tile placements from your opponents. There are 144 tiles in a Mahjong game and you’re relying entirely on chance, hoping that you get the one you need within 3 placements. There’s nothing you can do here but pray and for that reason I think it’s the worst Mahjong requirement.
Starting with the Dragon Engine games Mahjong got the same treatment that most constantly appearing minigames did, it stopped changing. This is much less noticeable with Mahjong than say Baseball or Shogi because the minigame was already one that rarely changed, but it is a bit neat to see exactly what minigames RGG is putting their all into and which ones they now feel comfortable recycling.
Mahjong in the Dragon Engine games introduced exactly one new completion requirement: winning with a three color straight. To do this just create a sequence involving all three suits, which isn’t very hard to do at all. You’ll still have trouble getting Riichi Ippatsus in these games but if you’ve played this far you’re probably used to this by now.
Annoying enough though, the Judgment games feature several Mahjong parlors with their own requirements to win ten rounds in that specific location. So you’re going to be playing Mahjong a lot more in the Judgment games than in any prior game in the series.
Overall, I don’t think I particularly like Mahjong but because platinuming these games forced me to learn it I have gained nothing but respect for people who play it all the time and a growing disdain of memes that make fun of it.
With our final gambling minigame out of the way, let’s move on to the next segment of our article!
Club Sega Minigames
You’re dang right I’m going to talk about every arcade game in that franchise! If I didn’t talk about these I guarantee that at least twenty people would complain that I didn’t.
I’m positive I don’t need to explain what an arcade game is to you, so let’s just get into things.
Games: All of them
People say UFO Catchers and claw machines in real life are complete scams, but I have a pretty consistent method of winning them. Am I bragging too much? You’re the ones who clicked on an article where I brag about platinuming every Yakuza game, this one is on you.
UFO Catchers are one of few minigames to appear in every single Yakuza game and they have always had the exact same completion requirement: Catch every prize. So let’s look at how hard that is to do in every single game, shall we?
Starting off with Yakuza 3 we press square to insert our coin and X to move the machine’s claw twice. Once on a left to right movement and a second time in a front to back movement. Wherever the claw is after our second button press ends is where it will reach down to grab a prize. Yakuza is probably the game where UFO Catchers were their most forgiving as more often than not as long as you have both ends of the claw on a stuffed animal’s head it will stay attached and grant you the prize.
There are twenty five prizes to win in Yakuza 3’s UFO Catcher, the most difficult of which being the fabled Silkie Piyo-Chan. Not only does this prize only spawn at the Nakamichi Street Club Sega, but when it does spawn you might not even notice it without a guide because it’s under a pile of regular yellow Piyo-chans. I don’t know how you were expected to find this one.
Claw machines in Yakuza 4 are much stricter than in 3. Now it feels like the toys will slip out of your claw if you aren’t completely straight on. To be fair though this is exactly what people expect from these machines so I can’t fault it for that. The toys here are also no longer all on a straight plane. Now there’s toys that are higher or lower in the machine than others just to mess with you visually.
Catching all twenty two toys here is a lot harder than it was in Yakuza 3 but at least they aren’t actively hiding any from you. Speaking of those toys, this is the first game to include Sega characters in the UFO Catcher prizes as you can get a toy of Aiai from Super Monkey Ball. Future UFO Catchers would fully embrace this idea so let’s move on to Yakuza 5.
Yakuza 5’s basic UFO Catchers are mostly unchanged from Yakuza 4’s but now they include a whole plethora of Sega characters. Not only is the whole monkey ball family here now but we’ve also got other characters like Nights, Opa Opa, and Hatsune Miku! All of these add up to thirty five toys in total so be prepared to play this game a lot in Yakuza 5.
This game also introduced us to a second variant of UFO Catcher. This new variant of the machine has you moving around a small pipe instead of a claw. In order to get a prize you must insert this pipe into a small hole in the machine’s center that is the exact size of your pipe. This is significantly harder than the claw machine variant of the minigame. Be prepared to fail over and over again because you happened to be slightly off the hole’s location.
Thankfully this second minigame variant was removed in Yakuza 0. Unfortunately the Sega references have also been removed due to the game’s 80’s setting. Now you’ll be spending most of your time catching yellow squirrels. No offense to them though, I love these cowboy squirrels. I don’t have much to say about 0’s version of UFO Catcher other than it was recycled for Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise and I had the most unfortunate experience that I have ever encountered in a Yakuza game happen to me.
Moving on to the Dragon Engine games, the UFO Catcher is nearly identical but with a new feature that makes them an experience to fear: Dragon Engine physics. Now toys will slip out of your claw much easier than they did before and perhaps they’ll even bounce further away from you. This is the true claw machine experience, prepare to spend a ton of Yen and time trying to catch these toys!
Like a lot of recurring Dragon Engine games the UFO Catcher is unchanged game by game, which is sad because I would love it if they started filling these things up with as many Sega references as possible again.
Boxcelios & Boxcelios 2
Games: Y3, Y4
Got a two for one deal here! Yeah, these two are so similar to one another that I feel no real reason to separate them.
It’s really interesting how Sega arcades and playing Sega games as minigames has become such a large part of the Yakuza franchise’s identity. A lot of people don’t realize this but that didn’t become a thing until Yakuza 5, and even then the only playable Sega game was Virtua Fighter 2!
So what was in the Club Segas before Virtua Fighter? A Yakuza original minigame known as Boxcelios! Boxcelios is really interesting in retrospect because now that this series has actual Sega games as minigames, this minigame has a whole lot more to live up to as a game trying to emulate the feel of an old Sega game.
The goal in Boxcelios is to destroy the weird floating polygon things that appear each stage. One will appear each stage and they grow progressively bigger as you progress through the game, in order to destroy the polygon you must either shoot most of it or quickly shoot its glowing weak point.
So what’s the challenge of Boxcelios? The timer. You are given 30 seconds and once time runs out it’s game over. The platinum requirements of each game Boxcelios is in requires you to beat 50 stages, how is this even possible in 30 seconds you ask? The time doesn’t start moving for the first 2 seconds of each stage. So you must shoot the enemy weak point either before the timer begins to move or the second it does!
Do not hold the shoot button in! You move slower when you do, and when your enemies have completely random movement patterns you cannot afford to be slow. Mash the button so you continue to move fast and position yourself at the enemy weak point, with enough luck and practice you’ll win 50 stages in no time!
Boxcelios 2 doesn’t change the gameplay formula at all. The only difference between the two games that I can tell is that Boxcelios 1 has you view your ship and the enemies from a horizontal point of view and Boxcelios 2 has you view them from a vertical point of view. I don’t think you need me to explain the same minigame twice.
Internet forums and social media really seem to hate Boxcelios and I cannot discern why. I actually quite enjoy it as I feel it has similar vibes to a lot of classic arcade games. Heck, even though the completion requirements only made me get to stage 50 I played all the way to stage 80 in both games before I failed. It was just a fun time, but I understand why it’s gone now that we have actual arcade games to play.
Our next arcade game is actually a spiritual successor to Boxcelios and is one of few arcade games to be wholly original to the Yakuza franchise: Gunrhein.
Now while I claim that this minigame is a spiritual successor to Yakuza 3 and 4’s arcade game the premise is actually the opposite. Here your little ship isn’t chasing down floating polygons but rather defending against them. You must place lasers around the playing field in order to cut through enemies before they get too close and eat through a field of small hexagons that you’re defending.
There are five stages of this minigame that are all separated into five decimal point rounds like 1.1, 1.2, and so on. At the end of each round your field of hexagons will grow and as such you’ll have gained more ‘health’ as the only way to fail this minigame is by letting the enemies destroy every one of your hexagons.
Of course while you gain more hexagons after every round the game also begins to ramp up in difficulty. Stage 2.5 in particular is such a difficulty spike that I imagine a majority of players died here on their first attempt not understanding what the heck even happened.
The Completion requirement for this minigame asks you to beat all five stages of the game and despite the fact that if you Google this minigame the top results are “Worst minigame in the series” I never had any trouble with it after one or two attempts.
My advice for this minigame is to never stop mashing the X button. Never stop placing layers pointed in random directions, more likely than not they’ll hit something and you’ll live to fight another round.
Sadly this is the very last time Sega would put a wholly original minigame in the Club Segas as starting with Yakuza 5 they began to put actual arcade games in these buildings and even though Boxcelios is a fun distraction it could never live up to the true Sega arcade classics, so let’s talk about those now!
Virtua Fighter 2
Games: Y5, K2, J(PS5 only), LaD
The first Sega game in the list is one of the most historically important games in video game history: Virtua Fighter 2. The Virtua Fighter franchise is the grandfather of 3D fighting games and Virtua Fighter 2 is still considered one of the best fighting games from this time period.
The game features three attack buttons with different effects mapped to the face buttons of your controller. In contrast to most 2D fighting games from the same time period you actually have a block button that can be pressed at nearly any time to protect yourself from enemy attacks.
Also setting Virtua Fighter apart from its peers was the now famous ring out mechanic. If you can keep hitting your opponent far enough to the edge of the stage that they’ll fall off you’ll instantly win the round!
My biggest fear writing this is that I’ll be completely eviscerated by the comment section as I am a Gen Z gamer who grew up with more modern fighting games. Because of that, while I do enjoy playing Virtua Fighter 2 whenever the Yakuza franchise makes me play it, it’s not a game that I find myself going back to play in my free time.
I main Pai because I’m a basic bitch who always goes “Ooh, I want to play as the girl” whenever I boot up a fighting game. I have a pretty fun time playing through the easy version of the arcade ladder in Sotenbori. Don’t have much else to say about it though other than the completion requirement wants you to beat ten stages, which I was able to do on the first try because even though this game is old it’s far from my first fighting game rodeo.
Games: Y0, Y6, J, LaD, LJ
Fantasy Zone is a Sega arcade game released in 1986, in this game you control the living spaceship known as Opa-Opa with the objective of flying left and right to defeat a set amount of enemies in a stage.
One site describes the enemies you need to destroy as “generators” and honestly that name fits as enemies will spawn from the generators to attempt to stop you. Of course they aren’t the only enemies that will be continuously spawning to stop you as random patterns of enemies will always be appearing from the left and right to kill you. Getting shot or touching any enemies will take away one of your three lives.
The game also features a shop that will appear randomly, when you complete a stage, and after you die. The shop sells various weapon upgrades, movement upgrades, and extra lives. My suggestion is to buy the cheapest movement upgrade, the Jet Engine, because it’s nearly impossible to dodge all the enemies that will be thrown at you without it. Then at the beginning of each stage buy the laser beam so you can quickly destroy half of the generators before the beam runs out of energy.
Each stage also features a boss and these bosses can make you tear your hair out in frustration. With the exception of the stage 4 boss it feels like all their attack patterns are completely random and that leads to a very frustrating experience when you need to play the game over and over in order to get a certain score for the platinum.
I’ll be completely honest, I’m not a fan of Fantasy Zone. It’s easily my least favorite of the Sega Arcade Games included in the franchise, but how much do you need to play it to 100% these games? For most of the games you don’t need a whole lot of points to win so you usually only need to beat about 2 stages. The major exception to this is the first game Fantasy Zone appeared in: Yakuza 0.
For some ungodly reason Yakuza 0 requires you to get a score of 100,000 or higher in order for it to be satisfied with your Fantasy Zone skills. This is about 5 entire stages worth of points, and trust me if you don’t like Fantasy Zone, playing 5 stages with almost no room for failure is extremely frustrating.
Fantasy Zone has become a mainstay minigame for the Sega Arcades in this franchise and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, I just pray that it never has a point requirement as high as Yakuza 0’s ever again.
Games: Y0, Y6, J, LaD, LJ
Space Harrier is a 1985 Sega arcade game from the man who would later go on to make Shenmue: Yu Suzuki. Why do I feel the need to point that out? Because you can play Space Harrier as a minigame in practically so many Sega games. From the Shenmue series to all the modern Yakuza games there are no less than eleven ways to play Space Harrier on modern consoles and I love it!
Space Harrier is as simple as an arcade shooter gets. Your character is always running forward and you mash the button to shoot, the more things you shoot the higher your score gets. Each stage has a boss who will give you a ton of points if you shoot them down.
If you play far enough every once and a while you will encounter a bonus stage where you ride atop the dragon boss from the game’s first stage and need to bash its head against trees for bonus points.
I love Space Harrier. it’s pure, simple, fun and playing it as a minigame in nearly every Sega game has made me pretty dang good at it. So how much of Space Harrier do you need to play for each game’s completion requirement? A shockingly small amount.
For every single game with Space Harrier in it I have gotten the amount of points needed for completion within the first two stages, sometimes I don’t even need to beat the second stage! I just don’t understand why Yakuza 0 forced me to play so much Fantasy Zone but hardly had me touch Space Harrier.
This is going to be a running theme as we discuss more Sega Arcade games, that theme being Yu Suzuki. Non-Suzuki designed arcade games will almost always have insane completion requirements while the Suzuki made ones will barely require you to touch the game. I don’t know what to make of this trend, it’s just one that exists. Anyway, let’s move on to another Sega Arcade game!
Games: Y0, Y6, J(PS5 only), LaD
Out Run is a 1986 Sega arcade game and another one by our pal Yu Suzuki. Out Run is technically a racing game but not really, you aren’t racing against other drivers but rather the clock. The other cars on the road are nothing more than obstacles to avoid. Out Run feels like a sister game to Space Harrier to me, why? Because it is also available as a minigame in practically every Sega release that includes old games. They’re inseparable to me.
The main objective of the game is to reach checkpoints along the road which will give you a time boost, your score is entirely dependent on how far you drive on this long highway. Along the way there will be a few larger turns that bring you to different parts of the track but I find the difference between the different roads to be negligible.
Your car is able to shift into high or low gear with a single press of the X or Square button and it’s recommended that you stay in low gear until your car hits about 150KM/H and then switch it to high gear.
The point requirement in each game Out Run has appeared in has always been low, about two and a half checkpoints. Just stay on the road and practice the trickier small turns along the way. This will take you a few tries but if you keep at it you will get the points you need in no time.
I personally really enjoy Out Run and am glad that it and Space Harrier are basically guaranteed to always be in Yakuza games from now on. I just wish I had more to say about it, but at the end of the day it’s just a car moving forward on a road.
Games: Y0, Y6, LaD, LJ
And now we have our third Yu Suzuki designed Sega arcade game: Super Hang-On! Do you remember Out Run? Imagine that game but with a bike and without the switching to high gear mechanic, that’s what Super Hang-On is.
Just like Out Run you aren’t racing against other people on the road but rather against the clock. Every time you pass a checkpoint you’ll get some extra time and the longer you stay on the road the more points you get. Same game, different name.
Now even though it sounds like I was talking down Super Hang-On’s quality there I’m really not. I find it to be just as, if not more, fun as its more famous cousin game.
Super Hang-On has been used in the franchise significantly less than most of the other arcade games. The only game this minigame has appeared in is Yakuza 0 and Lost Judgement.
Surprisingly the game actually has a higher point requirement for completion compared to Out Run. Whereas Out Run only needed you to clear 2 checkpoints to get enough points this game requires you to pass 4 checkpoints! Still, passing 4 checkpoints isn’t too hard and because you played Out Run before this one it’s entirely possible you’ll do that on your first try. Lost Judgment actually increases the point requirement to needing to cross about 5 and a half gates, a harder task for sure but I’m bet you could do it with some practice.
I like Super Hang-On but it’s derivative nature makes it pretty clear why it didn’t become a mainstay minigame in the franchise. So let’s move on to a minigame that has stuck around.
Games: Y6, J(PS4 only)
I’m about to say something extremely controversial. The Yakuza community hates Puyo Puyo WAY too much. You all act like this puzzle game for children is your college final and like any small mistake will ruin your life forever. It’s honestly nowhere near the nightmare that Yakuza fans make it out to be.
Anyway, the goal of Puyo Puyo is to match 4 ‘Puyos’ of the same color in order to send junk Puyos to your opponent’s side of the screen. Your opponent will be doing the same thing and the only way to get rid of junk is to match Puyos next to it, so it can be a real hassle. Similar to games like Tetris if your screen fills up to the point of being unable to place any more Puyos its game over.
The main way to play Puyo is to set up chains. If you set up your Puyos in a way where once your matched Puyos disappear the Puyos on top of them fall to create another matched four you will create even more junk to send your opponents way. If you can make a chain of 3 different quartets of Puyos the amount of junk sent to the opponent will be far more than if you made those 3 matches individually.
The completion requirements for Puyo Puyo in Yakuza 6 and Lost Judgment require you to fight all 10 opponents, however two of these opponents will not appear until you win 25 rounds in a row. So you must beat a large number of opponents without your board being cleared at all as they come at you one by one.
Now there’s two methods you can use here. You can try to win this legitimately and use your wits, plan a bunch of chains, and pray for good RNG with the later matches
Or you can use the tower method. In this method you fill up the two right rows as fast as you can with random Puyos as soon as the game begins. Then you keep dropping Puyos down next to your tower. Once a match happens, you are statistically likely to get a chain as the Puyos begin to clear. You’re likely to get a lot of chains in fact, sometimes enough to instantly knock out an opponent!
With this method you will beat 25 opponents in no time, just bide your time and wait for your final foes to show up. Once they do they will likely immediately be destroyed by the tower strategy. Be warned though that while the tower is very likely to bring you victory it isn’t guaranteed, it may take a few tries but keep at it and you will win.
I like Puyo Puyo, media with small and cute characters speaks to me on a spiritual level and Puyo Puyo is no exception. I just can’t comprehend why the Yakuza community hates it so much.
Games: J, LJ
We’ve got another Yu Suzuki game, this time the 1997 racing game Motor Raid. Unlike every other Suzuki racing game we’ve talked about so far this one actually has you race your opponents! The time limit and checkpoints from Out Run and Super Hang-On are still around but it exists solely to give you a game over if you aren’t playing well enough, getting first place in the race is your goal.
The game also features a combat system. At any point you can press the square button and attack to your side, letting you knock your opponents down and hopefully far enough back that they won’t be bothering you for the rest of the race. You also have a boost gauge that slowly fills up, once you activate it by double tapping the accelerate button you will begin to boost forward at high speeds and knock out any opponents you hit along the way!
Now, what are the completion requirements for this game? You must play every course once in practice mode! That’s…honestly pathetic. I just got done talking about how you need to get pretty good at Puyo Puyo and win over 25 matches in a row to complete that game, but here we are with another Yu Suzuki developed game that you barely need to even touch!
I like Motor Raid, but clearly whoever designed the completion requirements doesn’t. Just play every course once, you don’t need to win, just finish the race and you will have played all the Motor Raid required of you.
Kamuro of the Dead
Games: J, LJ
Now here’s a strange one, a Club Sega game that’s exclusive to the Judgment spinoffs. Kamuro of the Dead is a House of the Dead parody that reuses leftover assets from Yakuza Dead Souls. Honestly with how this franchise is constantly referencing Dead Souls I practically consider it canon and thus whoever made this game in-universe has horrible taste.
Anyway, gameplay description time! As this is a parody of House of the Dead it’s a very basic rail shooter. Press square to shoot your gun, your triggers to reload, and try not to get your face eaten!
The game has 6 stages all referencing moments from the original Dead Souls, each stage has its own boss that you need to pump lead into as fast as you can to prevent it from hitting you. It’s honestly a pretty fun time even if it is a bit simple.
The minigame made a return in Lost Judgment but had its stage locations moved from Kamurocho to Yokohama. I find this to be less interesting as instead of being a fun reference to Dead Souls it just makes me want a second Dead Souls game set in this city instead.
The completion requirements here are to get 500 headshots, beat all 6 stages, and finally shoot 50 pickups. The first two of these are very easy and you’ll likely get them naturally, shooting 50 pickups on the other hand is very time consuming.
Pickups are glowing background objects, usually a barrel, that you can shoot and either gain more health or a grenade you can throw to kill a large amount of enemies at once, there’s usually one or two pickups per stage. I’m sure you’re seeing the problem now. With how few pickups there are you will be playing the minigame over and over again just to shoot these things until the trophy pops for you. It’s such a shame too because this minigame is a breeze beyond this grind.
Kamuro of the Dead is good fun but you know what would be more fun? If RGG made another Dead Souls game! Come on, let me see Ichiban and gang handle the apocalypse!
Games: J, LJ
I’ve talked about a lot of Sega Arcade games that are either great or at the very least good, so let’s finally talk about what I consider to be by far the worst arcade game in the franchise: Fighting Vipers. Fighting Vipers is a 3D fighting game developed by Sega AM2 in the year 1995, it used the same engine as Virtua Fighter 2 with the idea of creating a similar game but with no ring out feature.
I am sorry to all Fighting Vipers fans but I just cannot stand this game. I find it to be very slow and very clunky. Attacks seem to hit only when they want to and the AI in arcade mode gets merciless in the blink of an eye. I hated nearly every second I was playing this thing, and believe me I was playing it for a lot of seconds!
In each Yakuza game that Fighting Vipers appears in you thankfully don’t need to beat it unlike the other arcade games, all you need to do is beat the first seven stages where you face the other playable characters.
This may seem like a simple task but believe me with how this game’s AI immediately gets hard it feels near impossible to do at times. While matches are all mercifully short with most lasting about 20 seconds, I somehow spent an hour and a half playing this game before I finally beat the seventh stage. Needless to say I was frustrated by the end.
Fighting Vipers is bad and I need them to stop bringing it back!
Sonic the Fighters
So if I absolutely hated Fighting Vipers that must mean I don’t have a lot of kind thoughts about the game it spawned, right? Well no actually, I quite like Sonic the Fighters! Maybe it’s because the arcade mode of this game is always significantly easier than Fighting Vipers but I felt really eased into the game.
Similar to Fighting Vipers, Sonic the Fighters is a 3D fighting game with three basic attack buttons as well as a block button. Unlike Fighting Vipers several characters in this game have projectile attacks that fly across the screen. I know it isn’t super surprising to say that a fighting game has projectiles but I’m not a fighting game reviewer I’m a Yakuza analyst!
One thing I’d like to note is how great Sonic the Fighters is graphically, this game’s visuals have aged like wine! The cartoony aesthetic and wacky facial expressions whenever a character gets hit have done this game wonders.
Completion wise just like Fighting Vipers you just need to win against every other playable character and do not need to beat the last two stages against Metal Sonic and Eggman. This should only take you a few minutes as the Metal Sonic fight is the only one that ramps up the difficulty at all.
Sonic the Fighters is a game where you can say that Amy Rose is a shoto and no one can tell you you’re wrong, what’s not to love? I don’t like talking about fighting games so let’s just move on to….Virtua Fighter gosh dang it!
Virtual Fighter 5 Final Showdown
Games: Y6, J, LaD, LJ
God, I remember a decade ago when I told myself I was going to play every single game featured in Project X Zone and as such I bought Virtua Fighter 5 on the Playstation 3. Now here we are ten years later and this full game I bought is now a minigame inside of another franchise I got into because of X Zone.
Virtua Fighter 5 is the king of 3D fighting games. Dead or Alive 5 may be my favorite 3D fighter but I know to bow down to my superior. Everything about this game feels just right and it’s a blast to play. I main Eileen because of course I do and love blasting my way through this game’s arcade mode whenever it appears in Yakuza.
As I have said three times now I am not good at talking about fighting games so I’ll just say the completion requirements for this game require you to beat all 8 stages of the game, including the final battle against Dural. You only get one shot against Dural so make sure to breathe, concentrate, and try to knock her off the edge if you can.
I have nothing else to say so let’s finally talk about something that isn’t a fighting game already.
For our final Arcade game we have Printcircle from Yakuza 5! I…..I can’t lie to you this is barely a minigame. The goal of Printcircle is to make a pose and time that pose perfectly with the camera going off! There really isn’t much more to it than that but let me see if I can stretch this out to make it sound more interesting.
All five of the protagonists in Yakuza 5 have four different poses they can make, each pose corresponding to a different button on the controller. Each pose also has different timing to get right so you must practice them until you get it right.
Two fun details about this minigame. For one you can invite other characters to take pictures with you, so you can have that perfect father-daughter picture of Kiryu and Haruka that you’ve always dreamed of! The other fun detail is that every city in the game has one unique background to print your photo on!
That’s all I’ve got folks! In order to 100% the game you need to perfectly do all 4 poses as every character but it really isn’t that hard or even that time consuming. It’s just another fun little thing to add to a game that is already full with dozens of fun little things.
Yes, I’m splitting rhythm based minigames into their own category. If I didn’t, the Yakuza Unique Minigame category of the article would be so much longer. In retrospect I also should have split racing minigames into their own category but it’s way too late for that now.
I’m of course defining a rhythm game as a music focused minigame where you need to press the button prompts on screen in tune with the song in order to gain points. I’m going to be saying those same words a lot as we talk about these minigames.
Games: Y3, Y4, Y5, Ishin, Y0, Y6, LaD
Okay here we go! Probably the most well known minigame in the Yakuza franchise due to being the subject of several memes: Karaoke! The basic gameplay of Karaoke has changed very little over the years so I’ll just explain it here and then go over the small changes that each game has made to it.
Once you enter the karaoke bar you select a song for Kiryu to either sing or react along to. When playing a song a music bar will move along the screen from left to right and loop along three vertical bars. On these bars will be button prompts that you need to hit for points. Like most rhythm games your timing on hitting the notes will either get you a great or good amount of points, with the occasional bad timing press getting you no points at all.
When Kiryu is reacting to a song instead of singing it himself you will be given two difficulty options of either simple interjections or lively interjections, with the main difference being that on simple there will be less notes to hit and thus it’s theoretically easier. However, as I have had to explain to people more times in my life than should be necessary, if you plan on 100%ing these games play the songs with lively interjections. You need to hit 90% of the notes to ‘complete’ the songs and thus on lively the margin of failure is much higher. If you miss any notes in simple you may as well quit the song entirely! It’s a strange example of the easier difficulty being harder for our purposes.
In Yakuza 3 the music videos for songs are extremely simple, with all of them just showing your character suddenly standing on a stage holding a microphone. It’s very charming compared to later games in the series and their super complex music videos. This game also introduced some stand out songs like Kamurocho Lullaby, a song so iconic that stores in 0 would play the instrumental version twenty years before the song was written!
Yakuza 4 karaoke is pretty much identical to three’s with a slightly cleaner looking UI. There is one annoying change that only exists in this game where Kiryu and Co. Are unable to sing along to a hostess’ song if the hostess isn’t with them, causing you to constantly run back and forth from hostess clubs just to check if you’re missing a song or not.
Song wise Yakuza 4 introduced several great songs including Haruka’s best song hands down Otomerio My Life and one of the most iconic Yakuza songs Machine Gun Kiss. The music videos for these new songs are more complex than they were in 3. While they all still involve your character standing on a stage singing the actions your character takes are much more dynamic. Now instead of Haruka standing still she’s jumping around on stage and dancing and Kiryu for his part is moving around with the mic while the stage sparks around him.
Yakuza 5 only introduced a single new karaoke song (Not counting Haruka’s idol songs which also happen to be playable in karaoke) but that song is easily the most popular and influential karaoke song in the franchise: Baka Mitai. Even putting aside how popular this song is because of internet memes, the music video for it would influence Karaoke songs in every game after this. In the music video for Baka Mitai Kiryu is not standing on a stage singing or even holding a microphone at all, instead he’s sitting at a bar table singing to himself and drinking. This more dynamic music video format would stick for every karaoke song in the franchise after this.
That brings us to Yakuza Ishin and Yakuza 0. Yes, Yakuza Ishin still had karaoke despite taking place in the Meiji period. Karaoke had no major changes in either of these games so I’m covering them together. Yakuza Ishin introduced us to my personal favorite Karaoke song Iji Sakura (Which Kiwami BUTCHERED with a bad remix) and Yakuza 0 gave us the great songs Judgment and 24 Hour Cinderella.
What’s very interesting is that Yakuza 0 included Baka Mitai as a recurring song. Despite my joke about Kamurocho Lullaby existing in the 80s earlier, RGG does try to keep a consistent continuity when it comes to these karaoke songs as in every game after this they make sure to mention that Baka Mitai is an old school classic, thus it makes sense its in a game set in the 80s. I love it when game developers pay attention to small details like that.
Yakuza 6 and all subsequent Dragon Engine games would sadly change karaoke for the worse in my opinion. While the songs and music videos remain great, the gameplay of Karaoke is simplified. Now instead of there being three lines of notes down the screen where your bar would vary in speed there is a single line throughout the whole song that never differs in speed. Because of this small change all karaoke songs are incredibly easy and while this is good for completion purposes I really miss needing to try a song multiple times.
The final game with karaoke I would like to talk about is Yakuza Like a Dragon. This game found a pretty ingenious way to combine karaoke with a traditional JRPG party system. In this game each of your party members has their own karaoke song that they sing. I don’t have anything to say other than this is a really cool thing to do and I love Eri’s version of Like a Butterfly.
And that was Karaoke in the Yakuza franchise! I love this minigame and always look forward to when it appears. Let’s move on now to our second rhythm minigame.
Now I know some of you are going to insist that I shouldn’t put this on here because it’s not a minigame but Haruka’s main gameplay. However please consider that if I didn’t talk about it the other half of you would demand to know why I didn’t. This is a lose-lose situation for me!
Yes, during the plot of Yakuza 5 our beloved Haruka has grown up and is currently pursuing a career of being an idol. This was a controversial decision by RGG and a lot of people hate this section of the game. I say that those people are cowards and this part of the game rules. Nearly all of Haruka’s gameplay is some form of rhythm game and as a huge rhythm game fan and a Haruka fan I can’t get enough of this.
The main, completely necessary, Idol song minigame is probably the simplest rhythm minigame in the franchise. There are three lines on your screen leading to a circle in the bottom right. Along these lines several button prompts will slowly make their way to the circle, once they have arrived at the circle just press the button you’re prompted to in order to gain points! Because this part of the idol gameplay is completely necessary it’s super easy so even the least rhythmically inclined players can progress through the game’s plot.
Despite the fact you will be playing this game a lot throughout the story there are only three songs that Haruka can perform. Due to this small number you will be hearing the song So Much More a whole lot of times throughout the game. While this song can get annoying if you’re playing the entire minigame plot line at once I think So Much More is one of the better vocal songs in the entire franchise so I didn’t mind it.
Of course, singing songs live on stage isn’t the only thing an idol has to do! Haruka’s agency will frequently send her all over Sotenbori to do various tasks. So let’s cover those tasks one by one shall we?
The first and most idol-y task Haruka will be sent to do are handshake events. Here, as the name implies, Haruka will get to shake the hands of her adoring fans in this minigame. The gameplay is very simple, hold square to shake a fan’s hand. As you shake their hand a satisfaction meter will build up in the top right of your screen, however don’t hold their hand too long or security will come over to take them out. As you shake their hands the fans will occasionally say something very weird like “You’re so sexy” and you as Haruka need to quickly pick a response that won’t upset them. This minigame is very weird and probably my least favorite part of Haruka’s idol business.
The next two things I would like to talk about are giving interviews and competing on quiz shows! Interviews are as simple as they sound, you will be seated in front of a journalist who will begin to ask Haruka questions. There will always be two wrong and one obviously right answer. I’m not sure what happens if you select the wrong choice but if you select the right ones you pass the interview and gain more fans!
Quiz shows have the same basic premise of answering questions, but these are significantly more fast paced and have an actual fail state. You will rapidly be given ten questions about the city of Sotenbori and will have a few seconds to give the right answer between two choices. If you get ten of these questions correct you’ll win! As someone who has spent a month studying every tiny detail about these games the questions came to me quite easily, however if you do fail don’t worry because you can try again as many times as you want.
The final thing Haruka’s agency will send her to do isn’t exactly idol specific but we’ll cover it anyway. Occasionally Haruka will be sent to compete against other idols in various minigames. You will get to play as Haruka in every minigame from Yakuza 5 and what’s really infuriating to me is that although she clearly demonstrates she can play them here if you try to do something like actually go to the batting center as her she’ll refuse to play baseball! Let me play minigames as Haruka freely, RGG!
In Haruka’s story in Yakuza 5 she doesn’t get attacked on the street at random like every other character, but she does have her own way of fighting that she can initiate: Dance Battles!
Dance Battles are pretty unique as far as Yakuza rhythm games go. Instead of always being able to hit the buttons as they move into position you must move your active rhythm bar to one of four positions and press the buttons from there. Throughout the dance battle you’ll have to keep switching between these 4 positions as you press the buttons.
The big mechanic of Dance Battles is the bomb on top of the screen. The bomb will move to the side of the person dancing worse and once time runs out it will explode and take away a portion of their health. The dance battle is over once yours or the opponents health reaches 0 or if the song ends.
One more mechanic of the Dance Battles is heat actions! Like her father and every other Yakuza protagonist, Haruka has her own heat gauge which she can utilize during these battles. Haruka’s heat actions can range from recovering some of her health to lowering the opponent’s spirit so the bomb is practically guaranteed to explode on their side.
I really like Dance Battles but sadly once Haruka levels up enough they become incredibly easy as a single bomb explosion is enough to take out most enemies. Still, for the short time it lasts it’s a joy. Oh, and the Akiyama dance battle animation is amazing.
Taiko no Tatsujin
I bet you all thought I forgot to talk about this minigame in the rhythm game section, didn’t you? Nope! This may be an arcade game but I’m prioritizing the rhythm game portion of it to make this article flow better. Taiko is the absolute king of rhythm games and there’s a good reason Bandai has made over 20 of these things!
On the surface Taiko may seem one of the most simplistic rhythm games ever. Pressing the face buttons on your controller will slam the right side of your drum while pressing your D-pad will slam the left side of your drum. Pressing either L1 or R1 on your controller will have you hit the rim of your drum. These are the only controls you’ll have to remember the whole game, so fancy gimmicks or multiple button pushes or anything like that. Just good old fashioned drumming.
Small red notes can be hit with either the left or right side of the drum while the larger notes need to be hit with both sides at once. This same exact principle applies for the blue notes as well.
The true magic of Taiko comes across in how it makes playing through songs engaging through this simplicity. Taking songs that everyone recognizes and turning them in a fast paced rhythm game where hundreds of notes come your way is surprisingly engaging.
All three songs available in Yakuza 5 are fun to play through but I have to give specific praise to From the New World. Both the normal and hard difficulty version of this song show off Taiko at its best. The normal difficulty is a perfectly manageable rhythm game that may throw you off at times but is all around fun. Then the hard difficulty is a near impossible mess of notes coming your way at near button mashing speeds that you’ll need a few tries to master, I love it!
I don’t really have much to say about Taiko other than it’s great and it’s also very interesting how this is the only example of an arcade made by a non-Sega owned company to be playable in a Yakuza game. This is a big advertisement for another company’s game which you just don’t see often in the game industry.
Traditional Japanese Dancing
Following along with the trend started by Yakuza 5 that nearly every Yakuza game will have a secondary rhythm game on top of karaoke, Yakuza Ishin introduced us to the wonders of Traditional Japanese Dancing.
When beginning the minigame Ryoma will begin to dance around with a fan in his hand for a crowd of like, four women. During this you the player will see two circles in your UI. On the left hand of your screen there will be several colors going in four different directions that you need to press your D-Pad buttons in time with and and the right hand of your screen will be the same thing but will require you to press the face buttons on your controller.
Like most rhythm games, depending on how good your timing on pressing the buttons is you’ll either get the max amount of points, some points, or no points at all with your combo being broken. That last one is most important here as your combo determines how many points a single button press gets you so breaking off a large combo can be the difference between life or death here.
As you hit notes throughout the song you will slowly fill up a sakura blossom shaped meter in the top right of your screen. Once it is filled you can press R1 and Ryoma will do a special dance animation while you move your right analog stick, gaining you a TON of points while also giving you a break from pressing notes.
That brings us to the completion requirements for this minigame. There are three songs available for Traditional Japanese Dancing with four difficulties available for each song. In order to 100% the completion list you must beat each song on every difficulty. For the first two songs this isn’t hard at all, but for the third song, 鼓動, this is a living hell
Completing this song is going to be hard, this is easily the second hardest rhythm game song in the franchise. You need to obtain a score of 26,000 points while there is some room for failure. You absolutely need to make sure you get a few long combos for the sake of point multiplication. Also make sure you press R1 the instant that your cherry blossom meter has filled up because I have yet to beat this song without filling up that meter at least twice, which is far from an easy task.
It took me about an hour of practice to beat this song the first time and while that was a lot of work and failed attempts at a song that’s barely two minutes long I had a lot of fun along the way. In fact I’m willing to say that Traditional Japanese Dancing is my favorite non-karaoke rhythm game in the series, with its only flaw being that it only has three songs. While this minigame didn’t appear past Ishin a lot of its DNA can be found in our next entry.
While Yakuza 0 didn’t include Ishin’s Traditional Japanese Dancing minigame it did include its own rhythm game that was contemporary to the game’s 80s setting: Disco! The general mechanics of Disco dancing are actually some of the most complex of all the Yakuza rhythm games. Because as opposed to most of the prior and future minigames where you simply need to press a button at the correct time here you need to move a little man across your screen to hit the notes at all!
Plastered over your UI is a miniature Disco board, as I said before your job is to move a little man across your screen to where the notes are about to land and press them in time. You will be given an amount of points based on both hitting the notes and how many steps it took you to get there. The more steps you take, the more points you get. In order to pass the minigame you must get enough points to fill up the ‘voltage’ meter in the top right of your screen.
Just like the Traditional Japanese Dancing minigame in Ishin, after hitting enough notes you will be able to press the R1 button and enter a sequence known as Dance Fever where Kiryu enters a dance animation and gains a TON of points. This meter fills up faster than it did in Ishin and as a result you will enter this sequence more frequently.
Gameplay wise I prefer the Traditional Japanese Dancing from Ishin, but Y0’s Disco knocks that minigame of the water in one regard: Music! There’s a reason one of the Disco minigames became a meme, it’s darn good! There are five songs available to dance to with three difficulties available in all of them. My personal favorite of which being “I’m Gonna Make Her Mine” which is a knockoff Michael Jackson song.
My personal favorite also happens to be the hardest to complete. In order to 100% Yakuza 0 you must earn three stars in every Disco song on every difficulty by completely filling the Voltage Meter. I’m Gonna Make Her Mine is going to be your big challenge here as you need around 7,000 points on hard to three star it. To get that many points you absolutely need to activate Dance Fever three times and get their point bonus! So make sure you take a lot of steps between notes whenever you can and press the dance fever button the instant it’s available!
Throughout this article I have repeatedly bashed Yakuza 0’s minigames because I think almost all of them are bad. However I have absolutely no complaints when it comes to Disco, this is a good Yakuza 0 minigame!
This Rhythm minigame comes from Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise. Now before we get into talking about this minigame you’re probably thinking to yourselves “Skeith, why didn’t you talk about buggy racing in the Yakuza Unique Minigames section of the article?” To that I say; do you know exactly how much buggy building racing you need to do to complete Lost Paradise? Of my 120 hours playing the game at least 70 of them must have been spent driving through the desert to find random buggy parts. Lost Paradise isn’t a Yakuza game with a driving minigame, it’s a driving game with a Yakuza minigame!
Anyway, the clinic. During the plot of Lost Paradise Kenshiro will get recruited as a doctor to work on patients, using his pressure point techniques to heal them in a rhythm game that plays classical music that I’m sure is supposed to imitate the feeling of sitting in a clinic’s lobby.
Just like all rhythm games in the series notes will begin to appear on your screen, with each note corresponding to a button prompt that you must hit in sync with the song for points. There are eight different songs of escalating difficulty, which is a lot by Yakuza rhythm game standards.
For some reason Sega decided to put an evil mastermind on the design team because in order to platinum Lost Paradise you need to get a FULL COMBO on every song. This is next to impossible unless you’re a rhythm game master because the final song, Turkish March, is a two minute song with nearly two hundred notes that plays at a high speed.
That isn’t the only thing that makes completing this song hard, though! Unlike most Yakuza rhythm games where the notes only appear in one, maybe two, places on screen, the notes here can appear anywhere on screen so the song can confuse you with weird note patterns! To add insult to injury, during the last third of the song a rave breaks out in the clinic so you have a ton of flashing lights of various colors all over your screen while you’re trying to focus on the multi-color button prompt notes!
The absolutely worst thing though is that even if you did successfully make it through the first 90% of the song without missing a single note you might still fail because the last few notes play at a slightly lower rhythm, just enough to throw off your button press and make your efforts up to that point all for naught.
Getting a full combo on Turkish March is easily the hardest rhythm game completion requirement in the Yakuza franchise, hell it may be the hardest completion requirement in the franchise period. Prepare to spend an entire day, heck maybe even several days, practicing this song until you know every single note by heart. Your fingers will hurt by the end but the feeling of accomplishment will be worth it.
You all probably thought I somehow forgot the Dance Club when I was lamenting how Lost Judgment is no longer as new as it was when I started writing this, didn’t you? This rhythm game section of the article kind of throws off the flow of talking about these minigames in order of release but I like my organization, okay?
RGG Studios might not be allowed to make Takuya Kimura sing, but it seems that Johnny & Associates put no restrictions on letting him dance! As such very early on in Lost Judgment you’ll be railroaded into starting this minigame via Amasawa and the MRC.
The visuals for this minigame are fantastic. Seeing Yagami do dance moves that range from actually good looking to absolutely ridiculous while a crowd of high schoolers dance behind him is amazing.
Like pretty much every rhythm game we’ve talked about until now all you have to do here is press the button prompts on screen at the correct time. Here the notes flow from the top of the screen to the bottom where you need to press them. In order to pass the song you’ll only need to hit about half of these notes so you should have a much easier time with this than any other rhythm game on our list.
Of course this minigame has some unique gimmicks to make it stand out on its own compared to other RGG rhythm games. The Dance Club’s main gimmick is having Yagami incorporate some Kung Fu freestyle techniques into their dance routine. These Kung Fu techniques can be activated at any time during the song with a simple push of the D-Pad and have several effects that last for a limited time which range from making all notes the same button prompt to making sure every button press you make is treated as having complete perfect time. There is no consequence for using these freestyle techniques so pop and lock until you make the audience drop.
This minigame features four different songs with four difficulty levels. Unlike a majority of Yakuza rhythm games you won’t just play these songs a single time and then only come back if you like them. In order to train the dance team you must play each song three times so they get used to the routine. Some people claim this is a lazy way to stretch out the minigame, bit I find the songs good enough and plot between each section engaging enough to not mind it.
One last thing I’d like to talk about with this minigame are the outfits you can wear during it. While you only start with Yagami and the girls’ basic outfits you can buy more at a shop downtown to upgrade your style. Personally I love dancing in the suits, they look really classy. I wish you could wear these outfits outside of the minigame though but sadly Judgment is really picky with preventing you from dressing Yagami up too often.
Overall while the Dance Club would go pretty low in my ranking of Yakuza rhythm minigames I still find it impressive how RGG is still finding new ways to make visually distinct rhythm games that fit the franchise’s setting and play differently from each other. I eagerly await whatever new rhythm game they come up with for the next game.
Our final minigame category is for the minigames that RGG encourages you to do the most. These minigames tend to get their own section of the pause menu most of the time and have entire subplots to go along with them. These started being a thing in Yakuza 5 and have remained a series tradition. I’ve actually already talked about some of them as not only would I classify Haruka’s idol minigame as this but you could describe the school clubs from Lost Judgment as this.
However, because I don’t want this category to be almost entirely Lost Judgment and the school clubs are a bit shorter than most of these games I opted to keep them in the Yakuza Unique Minigame category.
With all that preamble out of the way let’s finally talk about these minigames.
Games: All of them
A bunch of you are probably approaching this segment of the article with a huge smile on your face because you loved the hostess club management minigame from Yakuza 0. Well you’re going to have to wait a while longer for that because first we need to go over the hostess minigame in literally every single Yakuza game before 0!
During the first few Yakuza games the main way of interacting with Hostesses was to visit a Cabaret Club and spend some time with them. This is done by ordering some food and a drink and then watching a zoomed in shot of the hostess’ face talk to you about her life and occasionally ask for your input in a conversation. Ordering food and drinks they like as well as answering their questions correctly will increase your affection with them. Increase it enough and you’ll even be allowed to take them out to a karaoke bar for a date!
You’ll have to repeat this process over and over again for every single hostess you meet until eventually you get to do a substory about them and then never revisit their club again. This section of the minigame has remained almost entirely unchanged with the only things changing being what food and drinks are available as well as the hostesses themselves.
Speaking of those hostesses, let’s look at how many you’ll be spending time with in each game. Yakuza 3 wanted you to spend hours upon hours in hostess clubs and as such they put TEN hostesses in this game for you to date. This nearly broke me because as I keep saying, you are doing the same thing over and over again in this minigame. All that’s changing is the dialogue and it takes hours to raise all of these hostesses’ affection!
Yakuza 4 also wanted you to spend an entire day doing hostess stuff and as such raised the number of girls to eleven. Once again, it’s the exact same thing over and over. The fifth game in the franchise was thankfully more merciful and lowered the number to only five hostesses and the franchise as a whole would either stick with this number or lower it in all following games.
Spending time with hostesses isn’t the only thing you do with them of course, now we get into the evil meat of the minigame: Hostess Maker.
Throughout the course of Yakuza 3 you will be able to recruit girls off the street to work in your very own hostess club! This portion of minigame will have you training your hostess in their three stats as well as dressing them up in styles for customers to enjoy.
You will constantly be going through a loop where you’ll be dressing the girl up in a few optimal outfits you bookmarked because you want them to have a specific appeal based on customer’s tastes (for example, wearing a ‘cute’ outfit when customers ask for something cute) and then walking around the club in a circle to see how your girl doing. Rinse and repeat over and over again just to fully raise a single hostess and then repeat again for every following hostess.
What’s really annoying is that in order for your hostess to become the number 1 girl you need a perfect day of hostess work. I am convinced this is completely random because I was dressing her in the optimal outfits and she had max stats but it just wasn’t working. Eventually the game just decides she has a perfect day and throws you a bone. Now go do it four more times.
This section of the minigame is almost entirely unchanged in Yakuza 4, or maybe it does have slight changes. I platinumed Yakuza 4 a year ago and while I did replay Hostess Maker in Yakuza 3 for this article I have no desire to do it again for 4. So just take my word for it when I say I don’t remember any changes.
Anyone who has played this minigame will tell you that it’s an absolutely dreadful experience. Putting aside the boring gameplay loop, it just feels gross to be dressing these women up for the sake of random men to ogle at. Like a lot of the PS3 era it feels like RGG didn’t see women as actual people when they designed this part of the minigame.
Then came along Yakuza 0, the Hostess Maker section of the minigame has been completely reworked. The walking around the club in a circle section of the minigame has now been replaced with a diner dash styled minigame where you assign hostesses to specific tables depending on what stats will please a certain customer.
Occasionally your hostesses will require your assistance and will give you a hand signal indicating what they need. There is a bit of trial and error here as you try to memorize what each hand sign means but after a few rounds of this minigame it should become second nature to you.
A lot of people love this minigame and consider it one of the best in the franchise but I still cannot stand it. A lot of factors from the Yakuza 3 and 4 version of the minigame have been carried over to this version like dressing the hostesses up and the damn song still playing on loop. The weird creepy hostess dates are still around as well, they’ve just been renamed to ‘training’ because I think even RGG would find it weird if Majima was dating all of his employees.
RGG kept bringing this version of the minigame back for a few years with small adjustments. In Kiwami 2’s version of the minigame an oil baron would show up at the end of each round and you’d need to mash the square button to gain a final huge profit.
Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise also brought back this minigame but added a new feature where thugs would enter the club and you’d need to use an attack card to kill them before they harass any hostesses.
Yakuza 6 removed the diner dash portion of the minigame entirely and once again returned us to the basic hostess minigame of ordering food, answering questions, and going on dates. For Kiryu’s final hostess adventure he will be dating five hostesses before finally releasing us players from this minigame forever!
Yes, I do mean forever as at the time of writing this there has yet to be a Yakuza game with any form of the hostess minigame. Yakuza Like a Dragon does feature a hostess club but there is no minigame attached to it, you just send your male party members in and they come out happy.
There is apparently some version of the minigame coming back in Like a Dragon: Man Who Lost His Name, but until then I’m going to enjoy living in a hostess free world!
Yakuza 5 introduced us all to the wonderfully mundane world of being a Taxi driver. That may sound like an insult but I’m being incredibly sincere. I love Kiryu’s chapter of Yakuza 5 and luckily for all of us the taxi wasn’t relegated to just cutscenes as they made an entire minigame about it!
The rules of the minigame are simple, get your customer to the destination as safely and smoothly as possible. You are graded on your customer’s mood which will increase or decrease based on your adherence to traffic laws.
You need to brake at stop lights, properly use your turn signals, and of course make sure to avoid driving on the sidewalk! Not much truly happens in this minigame but that’s okay. It’s just supposed to be a relaxing time where you can chill out and listen to your customers talk about their daily lives.
Speaking of those customers, there’s a fair share of substories tied to this minigame but unlike many of the later Yakuza games where you play the minigame and then get forced into the substory here the substories activate normally and then send you into the minigame. I don’t have anything to really note about that, it’s just the kind of odd thing you notice after binging these games.
There is another aspect of Taxi Driving we must talk about of course: Racing! After a certain point in the story Kiryu will unlock the ability to compete in Initial D style races in his taxi in order to take down the Four Kings!
Being a mere side aspect of a minigame these races don’t have much going for them honestly. Just hold R2 to accelerate and activate your boost whenever you think you can get away with it, you’ll win every race before you know it. While the initial joy factor of these races cannot be understated I would be lying if I didn’t say I preferred the normal taxi drives.
Saejima’s major minigame in the plot of Yakuza 5 involves him getting stranded in the mountains for a chapter. While in the mountains Saejima feels obligated to pay back the people who fed him and as such offers to go hunting in the mountains.
The reason why this minigame exists is fairly obvious, hunting video games were HUGE in the early 2010s so of course RGG wanted a slice of that pie and as such dedicated a sizable amount of Saejima’s gameplay in Yakuza 5 to this gaming trope. So grab your gun and go out into the mountains, it’s time to get some deer meat!
Upon getting into the mountains you’ll immediately notice two things. You walk very slow and your health is steadily decreasing as you walk. The cold winter air is your enemy, so you only have a limited amount of time to do your hunting. There are a few huts spread across the mountain that will recover your health, however you must repair them first via an item you can buy in town and bring up into the mountains with you.
There are two ways to hunt. Set traps like snares or use your rifle. Traps are your primary way of catching smaller animals like foxes and rabbits. As these are a passive way of catching animals all you need to do is place them down where the game allows you and wait.
While we’re waiting for these traps to catch an animal, let’s march on up the mountain and try to get some real meat. While aiming the gun is mapped to the L2 button like you would expect for some reason Yakuza 5 puts the actual shoot button on R1 instead of R2 like every other game does. It’s a very strange quirk in the control scheme.
There are only two types of animals that you’ll be shooting in this minigame: Deer and Bears. A straight headshot would kill either on the spot, but if you can’t hit the head prepare to chase the deer as it will take a second body shot to kill it and pray for your life if you didn’t instantly kill the bear because it will chase down and maul you to death.
Whenever you kill an animal you will get drops such as meat, antlers, and sinew. You can sell these at the village for money, give them away to villagers for their various missions, or even eat it yourself to restore some health.
As you just read there are plenty of missions you can do while hunting. A majority of these missions will just require you to either deliver a specific type of animal meat or locate something on the mountain. There are a fair few more interesting missions such as locating a ton of Jizo statues spread across the mountain or even the amazing end storyline of fighting against Yama-Oroshi itself!
Of all the major Yakuza 5 character minigames this has to be my favorite. Taxi Driving is cool and all but I find the racing to be too much of the same thing over and over. Hunting does have you do the same thing a lot but the different missions make it feel dynamic and I really enjoy the village and people you’re doing these missions for. This type of atmosphere just feels right for a character like Saejima and I enjoy revisiting this minigame every time I play through Yakuza 5.
If you don’t want to sit through hours of hunting immediately and instead just want to continue the main plot, don’t worry about saving this minigame for later though. Despite the fact that these mountains and Sapporo are on opposite sides of the same island it costs only 650 yen for a taxi driver to take you to and from these locations. Once again proving that RGG’s taxi service is the best in the world.
Hey, it’s one of those minigames I mentioned several times in the Yakuza Unique Minigames portion of the article but kept saying I was saving for later! Similar to Yakuza 5 both playable characters in Yakuza 0 had a huge side story minigame available for both characters. Completing this minigame would not only gain your character a ton of money but completing it would also unlock a fourth fighting style for your character! While Majima got Hostess Club managing, a minigame that everyone but me likes, Kiryu got…Real Estate.
Real Estate is really weird. Like not only does Kiryu participating in this mean he would be a direct financial competitor to one of his closest allies but also Kiryu being a landlord just feels wrong! No one likes landlords, don’t do this to my boy!
Of course in order to start the minigame we first need to buy some buildings. This is done by running over to various buildings all around Kamurocho and pressing the X button to purchase them. It will cost a lot of money, but Yakuza 0 is nothing but cash so you can afford it.
Once you’ve bought some buildings its time to go back to your office and manage them. Here you must assign a district manager and a head of security. You’ll be recruiting these employees throughout the entire game as you complete various substories and friendship quests around Kamurocho. I honestly have no idea how this part of the minigame works so I just assign whoever doesn’t make the economy arrow point straight down.
As you progress through this minigame and take control of your district’s market share you will get the chance to face off against one of the five billionaires. Once you have defeated them in battle you will gain complete control of your district and the ability to move on to the next one. There are five districts in Kamurocho with their own set of buildings to buy but gameplay wise this minigame never changes from start to finish.
And that’s literally everything you need to know about real estate. This minigame is basically just sitting around doing nothing while money you aren’t actively working for comes rolling in: The true landlord experience. I really don’t like this segment of the game and honestly, I don’t want to claim it as Kiryu’s big minigame. No, instead I’m going to rewrite history and say that a much more beloved minigame is Kiryu’s big set piece in Yakuza 0, so let’s talk about that one!
Games: Y0, YK
One of the most well known Yakuza 0 minigames is Pocket Circuit racing. This is a simple slot car minigame that causes equal parts joy and frustration in players. So let’s join our beloved host the Pocket Circuit Fighter and examine this minigame.
This minigame is all about building the best slot car in the game out of a large selection of parts. Once you’ve built your car, get ready to beat a bunch of children on thirteen different race tracks for the glory of being praised by the Pocket Circuit Fighter.
The racing itself requires next to no input from you as your car drives entirely on its own, however don’t put your controller down just yet! If your car is knocked off balance or gets stuck be ready to mash the circle button in an attempt to fix it and stay in the race. If you’ve built a good enough car and stay on balance the whole time you’ll win the raise and be praised by children all around you!
Now of course you can’t always just put the best parts on your car and blast through the competition. Every part you equip to your car has its own cost and each course in Pocket Circuit has its own cost limit. So if you build the best car ever it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use it in every race. So make sure you experiment with various different builds until you find the one that works for you.
Speaking of those parts, after going through the painful experience of needing to find random materials to build drone and robot parts in the Judgment games going back to Yakuza 0 and finding out that all I needed for Pocket Circuit was a big bag of cash and the will to run all the way over to the pawn shop was such a breath of fresh air. Why didn’t RGG keep things this simple?
Pocket Circuit then returned in Yakuza Kiwami where it remained wholly unchanged, however I would argue that the game encourages you to make progress in it much more than Yakuza 0 does as progressing in this minigame enough to face off against Majima will unlock Dragon Style’s speed. This speed upgrade makes Kiwami’s Dragon Style one of the most busted movesets in the entire franchise and is completely worth getting.
Overall I really enjoy Pocket Circuit, a single race rarely takes more than a minute so I don’t feel bad when I lose as I can quickly rearrange my car and just try again, and if you don’t feel like actually playing it well there’s fantastic guides online to tell you what parts you should use to win each race. I’ve spent a lot of this article insulting Yakuza 0’s side content but this one is actually well made!
Games: Y6, YK2
The final minigame we’ll be talking about in this entire article is Yakuza 6’s major minigame: Clan Creator. There’s definitely an argument that Clan Creator isn’t a major minigame as RGG doesn’t put it front and center like some other minigames, but I feel the fact that they sell separate Clan Creator DLC and the fact that the Kiwami 2 recolor of it, Majima Construction, got advertised a lot in the game’s marketing makes it worth of being in this section.
Before running off into battle you have to first decide who will be in your clan. You have ten slots to select your crew. There are two categories of clan members as well as several subcategories based on weapons. For the sake of simplicity I’ll only cover the main two categories: Mook and Named Character.
Mooks can be spawned infinitely so long as your meter is charged enough to spawn them. They will run forward to attack enemies and although they don’t have any special skills themselves they have the power of sheer numbers. You’ll be mashing X throughout the minigame to keep spawning them.
Named Characters can’t be infinitely spawned and will have a cooldown before respawn if they die. However, not only are they significantly stronger than Mooks they also have rechargeable special skills that can be activated with a press of the triangle button.
The only limit on spawning Mooks and Named Characters is the stamina bar you have in the bottom of the screen. Every character has their own cost so make sure you think carefully before you send out your army. Don’t worry about completely running out though as this bar slowly recharges over time.
The goal of the minigame is to annihilate the entire enemy army within the time limit. With the exception of the final stage this can be done with minimal effort and mashing spawns. I’d recommend bringing over a character who has a skill to recharge your stamina bar as that can be the difference between life and death in this final stage.
You know how Nintendo partially made Pikmin in order to show how many models and AI the GameCube could have active at the same time? I feel like Clan Creator must have been created for a similar reason. With both your army and the enemies’ army combined there can often be over 100 characters on screen all fighting each other at the same time. It truly shows off how powerful the Dragon Engine can be.
As I stated in the intro, this minigame ended up returning in Yakuza Kiwami 2 where it was reworked as Majima Construction and you would instead be defending his construction site. There are no major changes to the minigame’s gameplay however now whenever you complete a stage you will get serenaded with the absolutely iconic Majima Construction theme song!
Clan Creator is an okay minigame, but I think it speaks volumes that I completely forgot about it when I started this article and didn’t remember it until I looked at a wiki list of all minigames in Yakuza 6.
We’ve done it folks! We’ve talked about every Yakuza minigame! At least I’m pretty sure we have. I’ve talked about over 70 minigames in this article, if you know any I missed please do not tell me. I will cry.
Like I said at the beginning of this article I want to give some Skeith branded awards to a few Yakuza games. You’ve probably learned my thoughts on all their side content by now but let’s recap to close things off.
The Worst Side Content: Yakuza 0
Starting things off with my unpopular opinion. I just do not like the side content in Yakuza 0. Its original minigames (With the exception of Disco and Pocket Circuit) fall into two categories: boring or sexist. If you’re not literally sitting around waiting for money you’re probably looking at a PS3 model of a nearly naked woman because RGG wants you to play this game with a single hand.
However despite all of that I was originally planning to put Yakuza 4 in this slot. Yakuza 4 suffers from not really having any minigames. All of it’s minigames are either directly recycled from Yakuza 3 or use the same gameplay as the base game and thus weren’t considered in my ranking. In the end though there was one factor that made me think less of 0’s content than 4’s though: The money gimmick.
Yakuza 0’s money gimmick actively gets in the way of nearly every traditional minigame in it. No longer are baseball and darts just minigames you play for fun or relaxation. Now you have to constantly bet money on them and watch the game tell you how much money you’ve lost in total every time the minigame ends. Even Fishing, a minigame whose purpose was already to make you money, has to put this gimmick front and center by having briefcases of Yen in the water. The game doesn’t even respect you enough to wait two minutes to walk to a pawn shop before tossing money in your face.
This money gimmick in combination with the weird sex minigames is why I couldn’t stand platinuming 0 and I’m very glad almost none of its side content has returned.
The Side Content With the Best Vibes: Yakuza 6
Sometimes you aren’t picking up a video game for a high paced action thrill ride. Sometimes you just want to relax and chill. That’s what I’m giving their reward away for and in my mind there’s only two Yakuza games deserving of this reward: Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 6.
These games feel very warm for lack of a better word. I love just walking around and enjoying their settings. Both of these games are relatively easy to 100% compared to other games in the franchise so that journey gave me no stress either.
In the end though I gave this reward to Yakuza 6 as it has more Yakuza Unique Minigames than Yakuza 3 and unlike Yakuza 3 you won’t be messing with the hostess maker minigame.
If you want a warm and non stressful Yakuza platinum then boot up Yakuza 6 and travel down to Onomichi.
The Best Side Content: Lost Judgment
It was very hard deciding which game to give this reward to. I originally started off with three contenders of Ishin, Yakuza 5, and Lost Judgment before I booted Ishin off the list for having the Courtesan minigame.
When it comes down to comparing Yakuza 5 and Lost Judgement’s side content, it’s less like comparing apples and oranges and more like comparing two equally shiny apples. Both of these games put a large emphasis on their side content and nearly every minigame has its own storyline to go with it.
When comparing those minigames themselves it’s also hard to find a clear winner. Not only do they have a comparable number of minigames, but they’re almost all good! Yakuza 5 has the amazing taxi and idol minigames as well as smaller minigames such as snowball fighting and ramen serving while Lost Judgment has amazing minigames like the Dance Club, Skateboarding, and Boxing!
In the end though there was one small factor that caused me to put Lost Judgment’s side content above 5’s. In the Remaster of Yakuza 5 Pool and Golf had their physics broken. Because of this 100%ing those two minigames can be a complete pain. As such I will give the best side content award to Lost Judgment!
Thank you all for reading this article. It feels so good to complete this as not only did the process of platinuming these games take several years but I spent months writing this on and off. This was a major project in my life and I’m glad you all saw it through with me by reading this far.
I would of course like to thank some people in the Yakuza community for helping make this happen either directly or indirectly. The fantastic Pseudochel made the absolutely fantastic thumbnail for this article and I’ll forever be grateful for that. My other Yakuza community friends such as Sonickick, Coaster, and Soundman have also been a good shoulder to rest on as I slowly went insane writing this.
And of course no one who platinums these games would get anywhere if not for CyricZ’s guides on gamefaqs. He is a true MVP in this community. Although scarily enough we actually became Twitter mutuals when I was in the process of writing this so if I got anything wrong that’s at least one person who will notice, scary.
This isn’t the only Yakuza article I have written of course. Throughout the month I have uploaded several articles about small Yakuza gameplay mechanics and how they have evolved over the years in order to build anticipation for this article. If you missed any of those or found me through this article, here’s a list and links to the ones you missed! I’m Skeith from The Story Arc, signing out!