While we here at Operation Rainfall love covering the latest in gaming news and sharing our reviews of titles new and classic, we also just enjoy playing games in our downtime. So with that, sit back, relax, and check out what the oprainfall gaming crew have been up to this week!
At the start of this past week I finally went ahead and finished up Like a Dragon Gaiden. It was Infinite Wealth launch week and I wanted to be ready. There was still some leftover side stuff I would’ve liked to do first, but it was more important for me to finish up the main story and see how things go for Kiryu leading up to the latest game. I really enjoyed Gaiden overall. It was short, but it was a nice little entry and I had a lot of fun playing it. I definitely think it’s something fans of the series should check out before the eighth mainline game.
My copy of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth showed up a bit late on Friday, but it got there in time to start that night. I was also pleasantly surprised that it came with a small double-sided poster, which I didn’t see mentioned in any promotional info beforehand. I went through all of the early game Yokohama stuff and have only just begun exploring Hawaii. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Ichiban. I didn’t find myself as enthralled with Yakuza 7 as the rest of the Yakuza series, the story just wasn’t quite as exciting for me. At least not until certain returning characters showed up. It’s also a little surprising that despite RPGs being my absolute favorite game genre, I find myself preferring Yakuza‘s original gameplay style. It simply seems to suit it better in my opinion.
However, thus far I feel like Infinite Wealth will be much better. Having Kiryu in the game helps and overall the big trip to Hawaii is making things a lot more exciting for me. I’m looking forward to checking out all the new minigames and side content, not to mention seeing where the story goes. Battles still aren’t the most exciting compared to some other RPGs, but there do seem to be improvements, such as with there being more nearby scenery interaction than before and the ability to manually move around during battles. I’m still not very far, I believe I’m about to head back to the house Ichiban was at before from the return address on the envelope, this time with Kiryu. I was checking out some substories in the area before heading off. – Jenae
On the road leading up to Infinite Wealth‘s launch, my sister and I continued our retro game replays, this time visiting a couple SNES classics. First on the docket was Lagoon, a favorite of my husband’s that I never played as a child. In the same vein as Ys, Lagoon is an Action RPG that clearly started life as bump combat but was changed to manual slashing when ported to the Super Nintendo. Unlike Ys, Lagoon did not age as well – at least in my opinion. The story here is similarly refreshingly straightforward with an attempt at a twist and a moral at the end, but it’s basically just chosen hero go out in the world narrative, and that’s fine. There’s plenty of locales to explore and I actually liked Lagoon‘s multiple races more than Ys‘ standard towns. It’s all aesthetic, but I’m a fan of fantasy races so it was nice seeing a smattering of them here. Unfortunately, it’s probably the only thing Lagoon has going for it when compared to other old ARPGs. The music was fine (I’m a huge fan of the start screen tune, for instance), but it’s hard to compare to Nihon Falcom. There’s plenty of variety in locations, but you spend so little time in them they feel like you blink and miss them. There’s little quality of life tweaks you don’t realize how much they add to the experience until they’re not there. For instance, you have almost no feedback when you take damage. Nasir’s sprite will flash, but there’s no audible indication you’ve been hit, and there were times I found myself not realizing I’d taken damage because I thought the sprite flickering was the enemy. Your NPC companion moves so slow as to be a hindrance the few times he joins up with you. Nasir can learn multiple elemental spells and obtains multiple rods that power up those spells, but I found no real reason to engage with the magic system outside using a simple fireball or wind strike. I forgive it a lot for how old it is, but considering Lagoon was contemporaneous with Final Fantasy IV, I can’t give it too much of a pass. That being said, I had a lot of fun with this game even with its frustrating difficulty curves and off-center combat. This is a classic RPG for a reason and I’m glad I played it.
After Lagoon, we started up Lufia 2. I’ve never played Lufia, but this is one of the few games I’m willing to play out of order on the suggestion of my husband, who feels the games work better this way. So far it’s incredibly fun – much more so than Lagoon. A more traditional RPG with turn-based combat and parties, Lufia 2 is a gorgeous game with fantastic music. It’s difficult but not unfair (so far) and I love the presentation. The sprite work is particularly gorgeous. We’ve only completed the first real dungeon and are heading to our third town after defeating a giant catfish, but I’m curious to see how the very basic narrative hook is going to build into something larger.
Now for the meat of my week: Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. I’ll be writing up a much more complete review once I finish the game, but I’ve got some thoughts based on my first 20 hours with this eighth mainline Yakuza title. Unlike Jenae, Ichiban is my favorite franchise character, so I was incredibly happy to have him back and catch back up after the events of Like a Dragon, which I adored. (I was also a huge fan of Gaiden.) It’s been three years since the events of Yakuza 7 and Ichiban’s having a bit of a rough time. His prospects pick up a bit and he finds himself heading to Hawaii, where circumstances force him and the Dragon of Dojima himself into a mutual partnership.
Exploring Honolulu City has been a blast. I love the detail Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio puts in its locations, and Aloha Beach is no different. Not only are the locations gorgeously rendered, but the team tackles the same down and dirty issues and themes the Yakuza series is known for: homelessness, police corruption, gang warfare, social disparities, family – it’s all here. The Like a Dragon series is one of the best at taking a deep dive into the human condition, and Infinite Wealth is no exception.
Battles have also been lovingly updated with some nice quality of life features. You can now move around freely within a specific range, giving you the option to set up attack combos with your friends. Your attacks can shove enemies in a specific direction, and shoving them into your teammates will cause your teammates to join in the attack for extra damage. You can also knock enemies into the environment for additional damage, or into other bad guys to deal damage to other baddies. If you attack an enemy from close enough, you also get a proximity bonus. Attacking from behind deals higher damage and can circumvent shields. It’s a small addition, but the movement adds a lot of consideration for how to handle battles. One of my absolute favorite additions is the Smackdown. If Ichiban and company engage in combat with blue icon’d enemies, they will immediately win the battle. This removes the tedium of fighting low-level enemies while providing the money and experience you’d get otherwise. Star Ocean The Second Story R implemented something similar with its Bodyguard ability, and I think it’s the single best QoL feature for RPGs and should be standard.
I do have some quibbles with the game, though. You can access a podcast early on in the game that is not subtitled nor translated, so unless you can understand Japanese you won’t be following along. There’s an English language version podcast once you hit Hawaii that is also not subtitled, so I supposed RGG was going for authenticity and both languages miss out on something. The podcast also pauses whenever you open your menu or the map, and every time you get into battles – and there are a LOT of battles – leading to me just not even bothering trying to listen to the English podcast either. It’s too hard to follow along. While in Hawaii you can also access a scooter to zoom around Honolulu City, but you can’t interact with anything while on it, so if you’re trying to collect the items scattered around the region, or greeting anyone on the street, you’re better off walking.
Overall I’m having a blast with Infinite Wealth and can’t wait to jump back into it. The game plays beautifully on PS5, Xbox Series S and PC, so you can’t really go wrong with any platform of your choice. I’ll have a full review later but until then, this is definitely worth checking out. – Leah
What games have you been playing this week? Let us know in the comments!
You can read previous Week in Gaming entries here!