Yakuza 0 | SEGA
CABARET CLUB CZAR: YAKUZA 0'S STRANGEST AND MOST IN-DEPTH MINI-GAME
It's Strange, and we love it for that.
by Felipe Parada
I can't begin to tell you how how much of a delight Yakuza 0 is. I give it nothing but high praises, and yes, Yakuza 0 was a game I never knew I wanted this badly. Sure the game is about love, betrayal, beating up thugs and participating in some of the shadiest activities the criminal underworld has to offer. But if you look deeper into the core of the game, you'll discover some of the best distractions any open world game has to offer.
When it comes to open world games, I've always felt that there was never a proper balance between a good story and fun side activities. That was before Yakuza 0 came along and showed us that side activities can be just as good as the main story. For those of you who have played the game, you'll know exactly which side activity im talking about. For those of you who haven't traveled to the world of the Yakuza, I introduce you to the Cabaret Club Czar mini-game; one of the Strangest and Most In-Depth activities you will ever play.
Just to give you a little backstory, Yakuza 0 puts you in the shoes of two protagonists, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. Well focus on Goro Majima for now since the mini-game revolves around his story arc. Not to get into too much detail but Yakuza 0's main plot revolves warring families trying to secure a plot of land. In typical Yakuza fashion, Goro Majima betrays his boss orders and gets himself booted from the Yakuza. To add insult to injury, he is forced to work for them as a manager for one of the most popular nightclubs of all Sotenbori.
Yakuza 0 | SEGA
This is where it gets a bit strange. As he manages the nightclub, he learns about smaller venues called hostess clubs that are slowly gaining in popularity. He runs across a rundown hostess club called the Sunshine Cabaret Club and takes over as its manager. And just like that, you are now the manager of your very own hostess club. But if you think that it's just going to run itself and print money, you are sadly mistaken.
When I first started running the club, it seemed like a very misogynistic concept. But then again, you are running a hostess club with the specific goal of entertaining male patrons. It felt like a very old-school form of how men treated women but that argument will be saved for a separate article. As I assembled my team of hostesses I began to realize that each individual was equally as important as the next. If you overworked any of them, they just wouldn't show up for work the next night, so it's important to treat all of them fairly. I never would have thought that I would go this deep into the mental state of a bunch of A.I. characters, but that the Yakuza series for you.
Each one of those lovely ladies is essential to the overall success of the club and I do mean each one of them. Each hostess has a very unique style and an even more unique set of attributes. Ranging from Sexy, Beauty, Funny and Cute; some specialize in conversations while others are just party animals. Every time you open the doors, you try to lure in new clientele with a specific set of likes and dislikes with the goal of making them coming back. From here, the frantic dash for cash min-game begins. Each hostess has to be matched with the right customer with the goal of keeping them happy for the duration of their session.
Yakuza 0 | SEGA
If that wasn't enough, during the duration of each session, you will be presented with helping each hostess when the opportunity presents itself. But the hostess won't just stand up and say "Hey, I need a refill over at table 6", instead they will politely raise their hand and give you a hand signal to determine what she needs. Depending on the signal, Majima will step in and take action varying from refilling drinks to replacing ashtrays. And it's all seamless, you're in and your out, because any slowdown in business means lost revenue. If you earn enough cash and fill the meter you can activate "Sunshine Fever" which puts customers in a cash spending fever.
Once the shift is over you have the chance to increase a hostess' abilities by sitting down and talking with them. The conversations work just like a mini-game where you find out the origins of your hostess and find out what makes them tick. The conversations start off simple enough but become more complicated as the hostess' begins to get comfortable.
You come to the realization that there are much more to these hostesses than just serving. Each one of them have hopes and dreams. For example: you start off with a hostess names Yuki who is extremely shy. As you sit down and talk with her you find out that her mom passed away and that she needs to help take care of her father. She's not just some throw away character, she is someone who has the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us. Majima grows attached to the hostesses and makes sure to protect all of them if any customers get a little too hands on. He respects everyone and has a strict policy about any type of disrespect. Giving you the ability to explore these characters in depth is a nice touch.
You probably are asking yourself, "Why put so much effort into one mini-game?" Well, the activity itself does tie into a storyline that incorporates the city of Sotenbori. There is a group called The Sotenbori Five, and they are the real deal. They don't like the fact that a new club is encroaching on their turf and they make it perfectly clear that they won't stand for it. So on top of managing a very successful hostess club, you now have a goal of taking down each one of the Sotenbori Five. Trust me, these guys are the lowest of the low, so you'll take great pleasure taking them down and then taking their business for yourself.
Yakuza 0 | SEGA
Taking over their businesses has never felt so satisfying. The better you perform managing your club, the more fans you will get. If you manage to get a certain amount of fans then you will be visited by a member of The Five that runs that specific district. You are then challenged to see who can make the most money in one night. You take all your knowledge of running the club and are put to the test. If you successfully make it out on top, you take their business as well as put their former manager on your payroll.
There is an odd satisfaction in taking their business and making it your own.
On the surface you think that it's all just a game, it's all just a means to an end. And you're probably right to think so. But this mini-game should somehow be released as it's own full retail game. Now we here at Level Base Gaming do not support the objectification of women but we do support exploration and in-depth thinking. This mini-game had that, looking past the hostess as just mere objects and learn that within the word of the Yakuza, they are actual people. Majima sees this and offers to help, not just add to the problem. He offers them a place where they feel safe, where they can pursue their dreams, not just be used as a tool.
I never thought that a mini-game can have such a thought provoking narrative, especially coming from a Yakuza game out of all things. If you ever have the chance to pick up Yakuza 0, and we highly recommend you do, take the time and visit the
Sunshine Cabaret Club. You'll find more than just a mini-game, you'll find it to be a place where anyone can be anything, even when you feel like you're just another means to an end.
Welcome to the family.