One thing that Japan will be getting for its PS4 launch that other countries didn't/won't is the latest Yakuza game, Yakuza Ishin!. And for those who can't wait for the game, there's a new free PS Vita app to let them experience some of the Yakuza Ishin! world, if not the story.
Yakuza Ishin! Free App for PlayStation Vita is currently available on the Japanese PlayStation Store. The game contains three areas of play: The Another Life section, the Gambling Minigame, and the Battle Dungeon.
Basically it's a home-building simulator, a la Harvest Moon — You gather crops from your garden and catch fish in the nearby watering holes. Foodstuffs can be cooked into items that can be used in battle or be used to fulfil orders.
Cooking involves a fairly simplistic minigame involving the chopping of vegetables, controlling the fire under the stove and flipping fried fish. The better you do in the minigames, the better the quality of item that is completed.
There is also a list of orders from customers requesting various ingredients or meals. Fulfilling orders earns you money as well as friendship points with the game's heroine, Haruka.
Aside from money, there are also Toku points that are obtained through various actions, be it harvesting, or cooking, or just a moment of prayer. Toku points can be used to upgrade your garden or earn you new types of crops and other various bonuses.
From your home, you can go to the local blacksmith shop to improve your weapons and armour, forge new weapons, or merge weapons. There is also a small minigame that determines the outcome of equipment upgrades.
At the gambling house, there is a selection of five games you can play, each with a high or low betting pool. There is Mahjong, Koi Koi (A Japanese card game that anyone who played the original Sakura Wars should be very familiar with), Oichokabu (another Japanese card game somewhat similar to Blackjack), Poker, and Shogi (Japanese Chess).
Players gamble with points instead of the in-game currency. Points can be traded in for items or said in-game currency.
You can opt to play online against other players or play offline in single player.
The action part of the game. As the leader of the Shinsen-gumi Troop Number 3, Hajime Saito, you get to take a team of your troops and fight baddies in a cave. Well, you don't actually get to "take a team" — you can select up to three members who assist you in battle with various abilities and bonuses, but all the exploring and fighting is done solo.
You can experience the full battle system of Yakuza Ishin! from the different combat styles and all the various moves. Fighting in the dungeon increases your level as well as the level of your troops, unlocking new moves and increasing stats and stat bonuses. (Note to Ruroni Kenshin fans: There is a move that, intentional or not, does seem similar to that move...)
Completing missions in the Battle Dungeon also brings in new recruits to your troop. Defeat will cause troop loyalty to drop. If a troop member's loyalty drops to zero, they will leave.
Sega has stated that experience, items, money, and troops obtained in Yakuza Ishin! Free App for PlayStation Vita can be transferred to your Yakuza Ishin! save game (PS3 or PS4) when the full game is released via the cross-save function.
Overall, Yakuza Ishin! Free App for PlayStation Vita is a sample of some of the game elements in the full game. Be warned that a lot of the explanations and tutorials are pretty wordy, so you'll want to have a least an intermediate knowledge of the Japanese language before attempting to try it out.
Yakuza Ishin! Free App for PlayStation Vita is currently available for free on the Japanese PlayStation Store.
Yakuza Ishin! is scheduled for release on 22 February.
No word on an international release for either.