Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s Crowded Pharmacy Really Stresses Me Out

Yakuza: Like A Dragon’s Crowded Pharmacy Really Stresses Me Out
Back at it again at Welcome Pharmacy. (Screenshot: Sega / Kotaku)

In addition to battling randos and dodging traffic in the streets of Japan, I’ve spent a lot of time in Yakuza: Like a Dragon browsing the wares of various pharmacies and convenience stores. But one store is always so crowded that it’s impossible to navigate without shoving my fellow patrons out of the way, which is a bummer.

Welcome Pharmacy, one of several such shops you can visit in Like a Dragon, is located at the corner of Isezaki Road and East Tsurukame Highway in the game’s fictional Ijincho district. Its large stock of healing items has made it a frequent resource during my own playthrough, but I can’t help but dread the experience every time I have to make a pitstop.

Much like previous games, the streets of Like a Dragon are crowded with computer-controlled characters, many of whom pose no threat to the player. They’re just going about their lives, hoping to make it home without getting caught in the middle of a yakuza turf war. I try to be as gentle with folks as possible while travelling between objectives, dodging foot traffic to avoid bumping anyone.

It’s easy to mess up and graze someone, which typically causes them to yelp and stumble out of the way. I wish Yakuza had a button just for saying sorry to these people. Like a Dragon protagonist Ichiban Kasuga seems like the kind of guy who would be mortified to knock a businessman or housewife out of the way while on his adventure. Alas, he just barrels through them if you aren’t careful.

These crowds naturally extend to building interiors, but Welcome Pharmacy is the only place that makes me anxious about patronising it. Every time I visit, the aisles are full of people who you have no choice but to roughly brush past en route to the checkout at the back of the store. I can’t say why this is, of course. Maybe its size gives it more room for populating with NPCs, or maybe the developers were hoping to simulate the stress-inducing affair of navigating small, crowded shops in the real world. Either way, it’s unfortunate having to be so brusk with other customers just to buy some pine candy or a black tea.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an incredible game — even moreso after a recent patch added features that were missing in the Western release for weeks. The way it simulates bustling city streets surpasses anything the series has produced thus far, and I’m loving its shift from button-mashing fisticuffs to turn-based role-playing encounters. When it comes to Welcome Pharmacy, however, I wish it gave you more ways to be polite to your fellow human beings. And I think that’s what Kasuga would want, too.


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