This was a lovely article and really made me want to play Yakuza :)
Great article. I'm a big fan of the series myself. Always thought it was Japanesey enough without going TOO overboard. You know, a gritty crime drama but with that Japanese touch of larger than life characters and OTT fight scenes.
I love Yakuza, though I've only managed to find 3 & 4, but theyre very enjoyable and a great aggression releaser.
Though I have to say that I didnt find Kabukicho in real life is nowhere near as seedy or threatening, I quite liked it to be honest. But then again I didnt stay there after it got dark, I hear thats when the party really begins.
Heh ... It's always been Ryu ga Gotoku to me.
Fun games. I lived in Osaka for 7 yrs, and plan on returning someday permanently (wife & son both born in Tennoji-ku for those who know the area). Lived a good 10 min bicycle ride from Ame-mura, Den-Den Town, and good ol' Dotombori.
Still, my favourite memories are standing outside the Don Quixote (the store which features in the Yakuza games with the 'Don-Don-Don, Donkiii, Donkii..hootee!' music blaring 24 hrs a day), where we could stock up on a bag full of JPY100 chu-hi and some Kirin ichiban-shibori.
I gotta say, the atmosphere of the game is great. Wandering around the city .. the noises of 'irrashaimase!', the aforementioned 'donki' song in the store, the noise of the conveni automatic doors. The annoying guys who lurk outside hostess clubs and run up and try to drag you inside. Not to mention the even more annoying women inside (hostesses are fabbo for J-guys, but to most Westerners the whole flattery thing gets old *real* quick).
The game is great for keeping up my Japanese street-language skills (there's, thankfully, only so many occasions I need to scream at my wife in gutteral Japanese), and coupled with the other J-games I play it keeps the ol' lingo skills flowing.