E3 2010: Yakuza 4 Hands-on

It may seem strange to gamers not paying close attention to Sega’s lineup to see a new Yakuza game so soon after the last one hit U.S. shelves. Yakuza 3 took just short of forever to come out, though, and it seems the positive response from that has resulted in a much more prompt localization of the fourth game in the series.

The playable demo shown on the E3 floor highlights the game’s most obvious difference: while the first three Yakuza games featured unkillable badass Kazuma Kiryu as the only playable character, Yakuza 4 sports—you guessed it—four playable characters. Each of the characters has a different ability, such as being able to pick up very heavy objects the others cannot.

Sadly, not a lick of story is revealed during the demo, which features separate fight sequences with each character. Visually the game doesn’t show any immediate improvement over its predecessor though again the narrow scope of the demo makes it hard to tell if anything has changed.

What has changed, however, seems to have changed for the better. Fans of the previous installments were more than a little unhappy with the disappearance of things like hostess clubs and mahjong minigames from the US release of Yakuza 3. Hostess clubs have returned, along with (presumably) all those minigames that went missing.

Fans of the series will be able to hit on hostess girls and beat up ugly dudes in hoodies that say “FART” on them in Q1 of 2011.