I’ve been looking forward to Yakuza 0 for some time. The setting seemed interesting (Tokyo in the ‘80s), and it seemed like a good starting point for a series that I’ve never spent much time with. I’ve been playing it for about a week now, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it so far. Even though the story is a tale of betrayal and honor, antihero Kazuma Kiryu doesn’t have to approach the proceedings with a laser focus. Sure, I’ve been working to avenge my name after getting framed for murder, but that hasn’t stopped me from farting around town. Here are some of the ways I’ve been killing time during my adventure.

Hangin’ Out In Arcades
If there’s one thing Sega is good at, it’s delivering heaping parcels of fan service to its players. In Yakuza 0, you can visit Sega arcades and waste time (and Yen) playing games. Kiryu may look like a tough customer on the outside, but my version of him finds claw machines absolutely irresistible. I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit trying to get virtual stuffed prizes, like a puffy Sega Genesis or Fantasy Star’s Opa Opa. The physics are realistically evil, with moments where you’re fooled into thinking you’re going to win, only to have the prize slip from the claw at the last moment – landing in seemingly impossible-to-claim positions. You can play arcade games, too. I played a game of Space Harrier and instantly regretted it. Did I really like this game when I was younger? Sometimes, you can’t go back… 

Singin' And Dancin’ The Night Away
Kiryu can wander into a variety of different shops and bars, but one of them charged a cover fee. The reason was self-evident when I went inside. It was a lavish nightclub, filled with dancing maniacs. I tried cutting a rug, too, which you do by moving an icon around on a grid, positioning it over button prompts and then pressing the corresponding button at the right moment. Alas, my skills in the game were about as impressive as they are in real life, with Kiryu sneering with disgust at the complete lack of reaction from the crowd. A few tries later, and I’d improved. I attracted the attention of a young disco stud, who challenged me to a dance-off. My sweet moves left him a crumpled, wheezing mess on the colored floor. A quick cutscene showed a mysterious figure noticing my prowess, but said I wasn’t ready to face her…yet. Suddenly, my life has a new purpose!

Getting’ Hassled By The Police – And A Potential Friend?
After playing pool and darts in a bar, I was stopped by a police officer. He was nervous, but he demanded that I show him something from my inventory to prove that I wasn’t carrying anything illegal. I summoned a package of tissues, and that seemed to satisfy his curiosity. (And although I had just had a conversation with a reporter about buying black-market weapons, I didn’t have anything shady to show, even if I’d wanted to.) Afterward, he seemed annoyed, and said that he was going to keep bugging me in the future. Curiously, a little tutorial popped up about friendship, and how we could build a relationship in the future – followed by a little tick in our friendship meter. OK? So I can get to be buddies with the stop-and-frisk guy? Cool. Something to look forward to, I guess?

Bowlin’ A Few Frames
After pissing off the head of a local gang, is there a better way to unwind then bowling a few frames? I hope not, because that’s what I did. You can choose to bowl solo like a sad sack, but I challenged the lady behind the counter. You can pick different ball weights, though there’s a consequence to using the pin-shattering titans. An arrow sweeps across the lane, showing the direction you’ll release the ball. Heavier balls move it faster, making it more difficult to control. You can adjust with spin, but it can be tricky. It was a different take on the classic mini-game than I'm used to, but it was a lot of fun. We only bowled a few frames (the length of the game was mercifully cut short), but I came out ahead. Afterward, she said we should play again sometime. Maybe, maybe not. I’m a pretty busy guy, after all. (Machines don’t claw themselves, after all.)

Smashin’ A Urinal With Some Dude’s Face
There’s a lot to do in Tokyo, but some people just want to get in your way. Every few blocks, you’re interrupted by various thugs, goons, delinquents, gangsters, and other ne’er do wells. That’s when it’s time to go from clawing machines to clawing faces. The game’s combat is fairly loose (at least where I am in the skill-tree standings), but fun. You have several different combat styles that you can switch out on the fly, including Beast style, which mimics the face-raking tiger stuff you may remember from old kung-fu movies, and one that puts more of an emphasis on quick strikes and dodging enemy attacks. Bigger battles also have QTE moments in them (are we sure this isn’t just Shenmue?), where success grants you a fancy flourish – such as cracking a persistent enemy’s face into a urinal. Crime isn’t glamorous, kids.

Yakuza 0 is coming to the PlayStation 4 on January 24.