Just how authentic is Yakuza 3? According to real-life Japanese gangsters, it’s more realistic than you might assume.
Sega’s Yakuza videogames have proven to be fairly popular, so far, but no one really expects them to be true-to-life representations about what life is like as a Japanese gangster. Reporter Jake Adelstein, however, wondered about the realism of the games’ portrayal of yakuza operations and sought answers straight from the source. As a result, Adelstein’s curiosity led him to sit down with real-life yakuza members to get a review of Yakuza 3, based on the game’s authenticity. Surprisingly, the game actually contains more realism than you might think it would.
The yakuza reviewers, who operated under pseudonyms, seemed to enjoy a number of aspects about the game. According to “Midoriyama”, the use of ramen as a power-up made sense. “I like the fact that you power up by eating real food,” he told Adelstein. “Shio ramen gives you a lot of power – CC Lemon, not as much. It all makes sense.”
Something that many people may be surprised to learn, though, is that game protagonist Kazuma’s kid-friendly nature and history of running an orphanage wasn’t all that far-fetched. “Kuroishi” actually knew someone in the Yakuza who also ran an orphanage. “Sure it was a tax shelter but he ran it like a legitimate thing. You know.”
So what didn’t measure up? The fashion, the fighting, and the localization for the North American release. According to Midoriyama, Kazuma’s dramatic style of dress was pretty unimpressive. “He’s supposed to be a former boss of the Inagawakai,” Midoriyama notes, “and he dresses like a chinpira (low level yakuza punk). He’s a yakuza, not a host.”
Meanwhile, the game’s fighting was considered ridiculous. According to Kuroishi, “No yakuza is going to run around getting into fistfights like that. Especially not an executive type. He’ll wind up in jail or in the hospital or dead, maybe even whacked by his own people for being a troublemaker.”
However, the worst part of the game was apparently the changes that were made during the localization process. “Shirokawa” was disappointed to hear that his favorite parts of the game – mahjong, the sexual massage parlor, and the hostess clubs – were all cut from the version released here in the United States. “I feel sorry for the people who bought the American version,” he said. “Sega USA sucks.”