The Yakuza series is known for its plethora of diverse minigames. These minigames are more than distractions from the main storyline. They are entire games within the overall game. Today, we are going to take a look at one of the most popular minigames in the entire Yakuza franchise, Karaoke.
Modern Karaoke (カラオケ) boxes were invented by a man named Daisuke Inoue in 1971. He was inspired by his fans to record his songs so they can sing along with him. Thus, he created what is known today as a karaoke box. The 1990s saw a widespread use of the karaoke box all over Asia, eventually entering the U.S. Karaoke is still a popular pastime all over the world but especially so in Japan. Giant karaoke complexes exist throughout Japan and cater to all audiences.
It’s inclusion in the Yakuza franchise has become a staple, with several songs making reappearances due to their high popularity. A personal favorite of mine, “Bakamitai” (馬鹿みたい – lit. I am foolish or I am stupid) has appeared in every iteration of the game since Yakuza 4. The song is about missing someone you really care about but acknowledging that you messed up on your end.
Gameplay mechanics for Karaoke are similar to that of musical rhythm games. There’s a continuous line that follows through a track. Once it gets to that certain button symbol, press the button. This will either say “Bad!”, “Good”, or “Great!” Your score is totaled at the end depending on how well you did by pressing the buttons on time. If you aren’t a rhythm game player like I am, it could be difficult.
However, like everything that’s not part of the main story, this minigame is full of little quirks and humor. The background starts as you in the karaoke room but quickly reverts to you or your companion in a crazy, dramatic or fun situation. That’s honestly my favorite part of Karaoke because we get to see a lighter side to these characters.
Karaoke was one of those things that I didn’t really expect from this game series. With it’s serious overtone, I honestly didn’t know how they would balance it out. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed when I found out that this would be one of the minigames. It feels so natural in the series and I know they won’t take it out for future iterations. I seriously can’t wait to play some karaoke in Yakuza 6.
For now, I’ll have Shun Akiyama’s rendition of “Bakamitai” stuck in my head for hours to come.