Here Is A Ridiculously Well Animated Video Game Jazz Band

When video games depict a musical performance, they usually half-arse the animations. The drummer waggles his sticks around, the guitarist scrubs at the strings, the sax player sways like a drinking bird. Not Yakuza 0, man. This game takes musicians seriously.

In the video above, you can watch a brief, extremely well animated sequence where a jazz big band performs at protagonist Goro Majima’s club in Osaka. It sounds awful — nothing but fake MIDI horns and dated synth instruments. But watch the animations. Everything is spot-on, from the bassist walking his fingers along the strings to the brass section’s unified breathing to the pianist’s hand movements.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a video game depict a jazz performance with this level of visual fidelity. The game’s animators must have watched a video of a live band playing, then painstakingly matched the music with the animations. It reminds me of the performance scenes in the fantastic jazz anime Kids on the Slope, which took a similar approach by basing animations on live, recorded performances. Just one more unexpected delight from a game full of them.


  • Even the lead saxophonist tapping his foot to the beat.

    The only problem I saw was how all the front row have exactly the same legs and positioning.

  • Yeah the animation’s great and all but why go to all of that effort just to have cheap midi-sounding instruments?

  • It’s impressive but, if I’m being super critical, the drums and double bass look a bit floaty.

    While not a full jazz band, Ellie playing guitar in The Last of Us Part 2 trailer is still the most impressive musical performance animation I’ve seen. The subtleties really made it – the vibration of he individual strings, the pressure applied by the fingers and the resistance of the strings.. it was uncanny.

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