Now we know why Yakuza games are obsessed with karaoke

The magic of the Yakuza games (now known as Like A Dragon, technically but hey) lies in the dramatic climbs up the Millenium Tower to keep surprisingly muscular 60-year-old men from detonating Kamurocho. Rain is falling. The boys rip off their suits. Then they settle things with their fists, because anything else would be stupid.

But the real The magic of Yakuza lies in its mini-games, one of the best of which is Karaoke. And thanks to Game Informer’s interview with Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, we now know why their games are obsessed with the beloved singsong.

Game Informer chats with a number of Yakuza’s key development leaders, including Chief Director Ryosuke Horii, who reveals his love for karaoke.

“Horii keeps a chart of all the songs he can sing at karaoke. Once a year he prints out the latest version and carries it around with him. Thinking he might need it today, he printed out a new one just in case. When he hands it over, I look at the meticulous details, spread across a staggering 7,964 songs.”

I mean, Horii’s chart does more than explain why the yakuza games take karaoke seriously. Let the chart number sink in for a second: 7,964 songs. I wonder how he chooses which one to sing while standing up to grab the mic? Wait. Is there another developer who has a spreadsheet of their favorite Scalextric cars and tracks? That would also explain a lot.

The interview expands on Horii’s background on Yakuza’s development over the years, and it’s interesting to note that his “peers” criticized him for taking the minigame too far [karaoke]’ but changed their mood when the response to it was overwhelmingly positive. And Horii highlights how RGG Studio lets its staff experiment, which is why its games oscillate between melodrama and the deepest silliness you’ve ever seen.

For the rest of the interview, we strongly recommend spending some time on it. It’s a crisp look at a studio committed to change since its founder Toshihiro Nagoshi and many of its senior staff left to found Nagoshi Studio under Netease. Big change, right? Yes and no, according to the department heads, who are more committed than ever to making fun yakuza games.