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Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! ( , lit. Like a Dragon "Arrives!") is a spin-off in the Ryū ga Gotoku video game series known as Yakuza in the western market. The game was developed and published by Sega for PlayStation 3. It was first unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show 2007 and first released in 2008.

Because it is the third installment in the Yakuza series it was often referred by the media (and confused with) Yakuza 3, which is Yakuza 2's actual sequel released one year after Kenzan!. This spin-off episode is not set in modern day Tokyo as the original saga does, but rather in Kyoto during the Edo period, in 1605.

The Japanese version was released in March 6, 2008 in both Japan and South East Asia, while Sony published a subtitled version in March 25, 2008 in South Korea. Western releases are not confirmed at present, although the 2006 Yakuza 2 was eventually released in North America and Europe a whole twenty-one months after the original Japanese version (by which time the next game in the series, this historic Kenzan! title, had been released in Asia and was over six months old).

Gameplay

The gameplay shows minimal evolution from the first two episodes except for the new item storage system which allows to access an unlimited amount of items from savepoints. There are four fighting styles in the game; fists, one blade, two blades and two-handed blades. There are also QTE-based special moves that the player can execute, known as 'heat action'.. However the graphical engine's improvement is obvious during the numerous real-time 3D cutscenes.

Plot

It is a fictionalized account of the life of Miyamoto Musashi. The main adventure is completed with sidestories including mini-games and a hundred "sub-stories".

Prologue: Dragon of Gion (序章 祇園の龍)

After being defeated by the Tokugawa clan at the historical Battle of Sekigahara which took place in October 20 1600, Miyamoto Musashi retired from his great swordsman life to become a modest yojimbo (bodyguard) in Gionmarker (祇園), Kyoto (although it more closely resembles Kyoto's Shimabara pleasure quarter).

Five years after the battle, a little girl named Haruka comes to Gion seeking for a local hitman known as Kiryū Kazumanosuke which is actually Miyamoto's new identity. After eventually finding Kiryū, Haruka asks for him to assassinate an impostor pretending to be Miyamoto Musashi. At first, Kiryū refuses, then when the girl goes as far as becoming an indentured servant in an opulent oiran brothel in order to pay the assassination mission he accepts the request.

Chapter 1: Miyamoto Musashi (一章 宮本武蔵)

Chapter 2: Sekigahara Trap (ニ章 関ヶ原の罠)

Chapter 3: The Oath (三章 誓い)

Chapter 4: New Life (四章 新たな人生)

Chapter 5: The 1-Ryō Request (五章 一両の願い)

Chapter 6: Yoshioka Dojo (六章 吉岡道場)

Chapter 7: Conflagration (七章 炎上)

Chapter 8: Hōzōin (八章 宝蔵院)

Chapter 9: The Duel (九章 果し合い)

Main characters

Gion gang (桐生(宮本武蔵)とその関係者)

voice cast: Takaya Kuroda
Musashi (1584-1645) was Japan's greatest swordsman famous for his two sword fighting technique. After a political intrigue and the lost Battle of Sekigahara Musashi started his life anew under a fake identity, Kiryū Kazumanosuke.
voice cast: Aya Hisakawa
Yoshino (1606-1643) was a tayū, the highest ranking courtesan (see oiran) and most famous female entertainer in Kyoto. Because she draws a striking resemblance to a woman called Ukiyo whom Musashi once loved, Yoshino gets Musashi's attention from the very moment he enters Gion.
  • Haruka (遥)
voice cast: Rie Kugimiya
Haruka is a little girl obsessed with vengeance against Musashi Miyamoto, who she believes killed her family. For that purpose she travels to Gion and submit an assassination request to Kiryū. In order to pay for Kiryū's service she voluntarily becomes an indentured servant of Tsuruya (鶴屋), an opulent brothel, where she works as a servant to the celebrity-like oiran courtesans.
voice cast: Susumu Terajima
Itoh (1560-1653) is Kiryū's senpai (senior), a good friend of him and also a work colleague as he is a yojimbo working for Tsuruya, Gion's greatest brothel. When Itoh eventually admits he knows Kiryū is actually Miyamoto Musashi he confronts him, in a riverbed duel, and reveals his own identity. Itoh Ittohsai was a great swordsman and the founder of the Ittoh School famous for its "one stroke" technique, but after a rivalry with the Tokugawa's favoured Shinkage School Itoh's family and dojo students were assassinated by Kojiro Sasaki.

Tokugawa clan (徳川幕府)

voice cast: Shota Matsuda
Sasaki Kojirō (1585-1612), also known as Ganryū, was a prominent Japanese longsword swordsman and a serious rival for Musashi Miyamoto. The two fought a famous duel in the Ganryū Island in 1612.
voice cast: Naoto Takenaka
Marume (1540-1629) was a Tokugawa clan officer and a skilled samurai who founded the Taisha Ryu school. While travelling across Japan recruiting the best swordsmen he met Musashi who joined his army.

Yoshioka Dojo (吉岡道場)

voice cast: Masaya Katō
Seijūrō is the elder son of Kempō Yoshioka, founder of the famous Yoshioka Dojo (or Yoshioka School). As current head of the dojo he will fight a deadly duel with Miyamoto Musashi at Rendaiji Field.
voice cast: Taiki Matsuno
Denshichirō is the younger brother of the Yoshioka family.
  • Gion Tōji (祗園 藤次)
voice cast: Takashi Tsukamoto
Gion Tōji is a young student at the Yoshioka Dojo under Denshichiroh. His tie bounds with Tsuruya and Itoh will open the Yoshioka Dojo's doors to Miyamoto Musashi.
  • Ueda (植田)
voice cast: Hisao Egawa
Ueda is the strongest student of the Yoshioka Dojo and the first opponent to Miyamoto Musashi when the latter tries to join it as an alumnus.

Trial Versions

Two playable demos were released on January 7, 2008 via the Japanese PlayStation Store. The first demo included sandbox play, and the second had a collection of various combat and romantic gameplay segments.

Reception

It earned the Award for Excellence at the Japan Game Awards 2008. The famous Japanese video game magazine Famitsu reviewed it 37/40 .

As of July 9, 2008, the game has sold 270,438 copies in Japan, according to Famitsu..

As a best seller in Japan, the game received a budget re-release under the PlayStation 3 the Best bargain collection in December 11, 2008.

Themes

Unlike the original saga's more J-Rock oriented soundtrack, the spin-off features Japanese hip hop artists. The music video for Zeebra's Bushido includes cutscene footages from the game.

References

  1. Yakuza 3 is a PS3 exclusive [1]
  2. PlayStation.com(Japan) TGS 2007 upcoming titles
  3. PlayStation.com(Japan - Software catalog - Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!)
  4. Product page (BLAS-50044) at Play-asia.com
  5. PlayStation Korea - PS3 software list
  6. Famitsu Article [2]
  7. Yakuza Kenzan! (opening cutscene)
  8. PlayStation.com(Japan) Software Catalog - Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!
  9. Kotaku article [3]
  10. Japan Game Awards 2008 ::: AWARDED GAMES - Games of the Year Division :::
  11. onAxis article [4]
  12. Weekly Famitsu, issue 1020
  13. PlayStation.com(Japan) PlayStation the Best title list
  14. Zeebra - Bushido @ DailyMotion


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