The PSP had a disease (I suppose this should be past tense). A lot of the popular games (read: new games from established IP) could be describe as Game X on the PSP, and that would be all you need for a review. You’d accept that one analog stick meant weird control issues. I personally would accept the game would be rendered in shitty PSP-vision. The graphics stuck between PS1 and PS2 graphics, jagged edges, and a terrible color palette never endured me to the system.
With that said, yes Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou (Yakuza:Black Panther) is a Yakuza game on the PSP. It’s never coming to the west officially, and I’ll be surprised if it is ever successfully fan-patched. So you-non Japanese-fluent reader, should you play it? No. This is the Yakuza series. As much as it is about solving all problems with your fist and a huge amount of side quest content, it is also about knowing what problems you’re solving and why everything ends with punching. If you really want to know, search the internet for the demo. You’re going to do twenty more hours of what happens in that demo, just like every Yakuza game.
So I’ll set the story, Tatsuya Ukyou is a jerk of a teenager. He quickly ditches his friends when they try to be friends to him. He’s hot blooded and solves all his problems with his fists. He solves one problem so thoroughly that it kills a yakuza member. That guy’s boss offer’s a deal: he won’t turn him into the police, if he’ll fight and win 10 rounds in a secret underground arena.
While you do have to scroll through a lot of text while text-appearing-on-screen noise plays, the graphic novel cutscenes have the best voice acting. Every line by every actor is delivered so well that it almost doesn’t matter what they are saying. I just drank in every single character’s perfect performance. I don’t know if those give any justice to the full package, but you do get a tiny idea of how well each line is delivered.
The fights will deal with Tatsuya becoming an adult, facing is past, and finding out why men fight. It’s a journey of self-discovery, through flesh and bone. He’ll discover the true value of family and friendship by the end. He will avoid killing anyone else with those fists. By the end he’s a character you like. He’ll have become a man and it’ll feel cathartic that the arc ended so strongly.
This is Yakuza though. Of course the final battle will take place on the flaming top floor of Millennium Tower. There will be reveals and betrayals. The final battle is meaningless, outside of it being two men and there being only one way it could end. You’ll be forced to do some of the mini-games at one point. You’ll go on a forced dating section. You’ll be juggling moving the important story forward and doing the mountain of side quests. This game does that balance better than most of the Yakuza games, because 90% of the open world stuff is killing time between the matches.
Everything I’ve read in English on the game compares the battle system to the Def Jam fighting games, so now I have to. You unlock a bunch of styles which is great, outside of there being a huge roadblock 30% through the story that if don’t do a random sidequest, the 20 different fighting styles top out at 5. Do that side quest and you keep switching styles just to see if it is better than Muay Thai. It probably isn’t, but that’s okay. What isn’t is that by the end of the game you know just to grab everyone because punching and kicking have too much of a chance of being countered. That made me a little sad.
I couldn’t tell if it was a result of conscious-decision because this was a PSP game or because Japanese story-telling but this game constantly repeats information and events you just heard/witnessed. There will be a scene and the very next scene will flash back to it. I loved every line in the game, but not enough that I needed replays. It isn’t’ like someone is going to walk into the middle of a PSP game and wonder what’s going on. Hilariously like all Yakuza games, there was downtime in the open-world sections where I had zero clue where to go to start the story again.
Most of the mini games aren’t fun and were thrown in there because they were in the bigger console games. The new part-time job ones are actually fun though. They are like Work-Time-Fun games where usually, you’re pressing button prompts.
The hostess sections are exactly like the console in that they take a lot of your real world time and in-game money for a virtual girl to fall in love with you because you told her exactly what she wanted to hear. The girl’s 3D models are impressively detailed, even if their jugz jiggle hilariously. The special feature is the girl will kiss the PSP screen, like she was kissing you. It’s weird, but goes into all kinds of undercurrent issues that are beyond whether you should play this game or not.
Which you should! If you understand Japanese. The story is the experience.