If you’re like me then you’ve always wanted to be a part of the Japanese mafia. Being a Yakuza is a danger filled life, but it’s also as cool as it gets. Think of it like the italian mafia except with so much emphasis on respect that you’d think you were Rodney Dangerfield. However, Yakuza 3, a game published by Sega in March of 2010, is so boring that you’d think being the member of a notorious crime family is akin to office work.

Yakuza 3 is a game about an ex-Yakuza who runs an orphanage.  After playing the game for five hours I’ve mostly only run the orphanage myself.  The game is set up more like the unfolding of a novel and I understand the good that can come out of exploring character development as main guy is pulled out of his quiet orphanage management and into the world he had left so long ago, but this is ridiculous.  When the main hero learns of the mysterious death of a Yakuza chairman, a death that is supposedly performed by his own dead father and threatens his ownership of the orphanage… he goes off in search of a lost dog for one of his children.  That is a great use of your time, Yakuza guy.  If you find that dog it won’t matter that the child you got the dog for now has nowhere to live.  She has a dog.

When you do see some action the game is a delight, but an uneven one.  The story is dramatic and serious, the action is over the top and silly.  These two styles do not go together.  Considering that the game’s action only peppers what is a slow paced story narrative with no real choice, I’ve come to realize that I might as well just be reading a book.  The story is kind of interesting, the direction is not.  The combat is kind of interesting, the context is not.

Yakuza 3 is a game that is interesting in spite of itself that it has tricked me into wasting my time with it.  Is the Sunshine Orphanage going to last?  Will the main character’s dead father turn out to be a doppleganger or an alien?  I must know!

I only hope that the answer to my questions is worth plodding through uneven game design.