I had assumed that the Like a Dragon formula could only thrive in the Japanese settings inspired by Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama, but after having a 20-minute hands-on with the game at Tokyo Game Show I can confidently say that the series’ signature streetfighting and silliness has stayed strong in its switch to a sun-kissed Hawaiian island without missing a beat – or indeed a beatdown.
With Ichiban Kasuga trading his wide-lapel leisure suit for a flowery shirt and flip-flops, my hands-on with Infinite Wealth began on a local beach where I had to immediately beach off a gang of local thugs. While it stopped short of a Ken vs Ken-style dance battle, certainly Ichiban and the gang are more fleet footed in combat this time around, since you’re now able to move each character around in order to get into more optimal positions to attack. This gives the combat a far more dynamic feel than that of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, making the street fighting feel more like a more balanced hybrid of turn-based fighting and the series’ more traditional Streets of Rage-style scraps.
In fact, having main Like a Dragon/Yakuza poster boy Kazuma Kiryu join Ichiban’s party only enhances this feeling further, since the Dragon of Dojima brings both his ability to switch fighting stances as well as his Heat gauge with him. This means that once you’ve built up enough Heat by executing a string of attacks in one of three fighting styles of your choice, you can hit the right trigger to go into beast mode and deliver some real-time combos using the face buttons, much like you would in the more traditional Like a Dragon games. As someone whose preference is generally for the beat ‘em up style of earlier games in the series along with the upcoming Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Main Who Erased His Name, I very much welcome the more involved attacks like these to break up the standard triggering of special moves via static menus.
Having said that, there are still plenty of hilariously over-the-top finishers to enjoy in Infinite Wealth. By far the most entertaining of these I experienced was when new party member Tomizawa unleashed the ‘Essence of Buckle Up’; thereby throwing the targeted enemy into the back of an Uber-style minivan, taking them on a high-speed thrillride, before jumping out of the driver’s seat at the last minute just as the vehicle pirouetted into a spectacular ball of flame. In keeping with the long-standing action hero tradition, Tomizawa calmly walked towards the camera without even acknowledging the fiery blaze behind him. Sure makes for a more memorable climax to a street fight than a humble uppercut.
Outside of combat, I took the opportunity to throw shaka hand gestures at everyone I strolled or Segwayed past, managing to make a friend out of a bikini-clad young woman who could potentially become a love interest in the full game. I also wandered out into the surf and swam around; diving under the waves to discover lost treasures in addition to garbage like plastic bottles – the latter of which can be traded in at a recycling center nearby in order to change your trash into cash.
Recycling isn’t the only way to make a buck in Infinite Wealth; in fact just plain old cycling is a decidedly more exciting way to do it, in this case hopping onto a BMX and delivering food in a two-wheeled mini-game heavily inspired by Crazy Taxi. I had a fantastic time tearing through the beachside streets collecting pizza and burgers and pulling off thumbstick-based tricks like spins and backflips in order to build up my combo meter. The more tricks you string together, the better the reward when you hit the brake and skid into a delivery zone. At one point I even managed to launch Ichiban’s bike into the side of a building, then skyward over the rooftop collecting cash all the way. Why? Because it’s big, goofy fun, that’s why.
Of course, you can take the Like a Dragon story out of Japan but you can’t take the signature quirky Japanese humour out of the Like a Dragon game, and as I hopped on to a beachside trolley to catch a ride to another part of the island I inadvertently triggered a side mission to snap photos of local musclebound perverts. Unfortunately this is the exact moment that my hands-on demo timed out, but it’s clear that developer Ryu Ga Gotoku is definitely bringing the seedier side of the Like a Dragon series to its sunny new setting.
My time with Infinite Wealth was about as brief as Ichiban’s board shorts, but it left me to ponder the infinite possibilities for fun that might be hidden around its sizeable Hawaiian island expanse. In fact, a SEGA representative claimed that Infinite Wealth’s environment is three times larger than the Yokohama map featured in 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so Infinite Wealth appears like it could well be the biggest game in the series to date. From the small taste I had here at TGS, I’m inclined to think it has the potential to also be one of the best.
Tristan Ogilvie is a Senior Video Editor at IGN AU and is prone to throwing shaka hand gestures to total strangers.
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