Streets of Kamurocho

Streets of Kamurocho is what you’d get if Streets of Rage went as Yakuza for Halloween. It might have some of the characters we love from the Yakuza games, but at its core it is still very much just a Streets of Rage knockoff. Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are a fan of that specific brand of side-scrolling beat-em’-up. But Street of Kamurocho does nothing to set itself apart from the pack, or to even capitalize on the source material aside form basic window dressing.

A free title designed to draw attention to the 60 Years of SEGA sale on Steam, Streets of Kamurocho is very much the retelling of the first Yakuza game (or Yakuza Kiwami, for those who first jumped into the franchise after the remasters came westward). Of course, as a retro throwback to butt-kicking games of the two-dimensional past, it is a brisk retelling at best.

Streets of Kamurocho

Tons of familiar Yakuza characters are present, though many take the form of end-of-level boss fights (like the shirtless Akira Nishikiyama who you fight in the rain in a back alley). For playable characters, though, you choose Kazuma Kiryu or Goro Majima at the start, with a third mystery player blacked out. I haven’t put in enough time yet to figure out who this third character is or how they might be unlocked.

But seeing all these characters will definitely endear this game to longtime fans of the Yakuza series. After all, it’s the involved and emotional story arcs of these characters that makes Yakuza such a standout franchise.

But the real main character of the franchise, Kamurocho itself, mostly takes a backseat. Absent are a majority of its glorious and goofy locales, replaced by backdrops that look like they were pulled directly from Streets of Rage 2.

Streets of Kamurocho vs Streets of Rage 2

Pickups replace the need to go into convenient stores or pawn shops, which is kind of a shame. I mean, of course this isn’t a mainline open-world installment, but there are other beat-’em-ups to pull from here (like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, which does make use of convenient store visits). The absence of that freedom is definitely noticeable, especially when you spot such establishments in the background and are prevented from stepping inside.

All that said, Streets of Kamurocho is a fun and competent side-scrolling beat-’em-up, even if it is mostly a reskin of Streets of Rage 2. And as a free mini-title, it serves as an incredible little timesink.

Of course, by virtue of its release as a hype token for a Steam sale, it is sadly only available on that one marketplace. But I digress…

I think the highest praise I can give Streets of Kamurocho is that it would not at all be out of place as a playable cabinet in one of the Sega arcades in a Yakuza game. Honestly, I won’t be surprised if I find it lurking in an arcade in the upcoming Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the eighth mainline installment in the Yakuza series (which is slated to release yet sometime this year in the United States).

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