We love just about everything that comes from Japan: sneakers, fashion, movies, games, and women. Especially the women. Sega’s upcoming action title Yakuza 4 takes the latter to the next level. Instead of random T&A—which, for the record, we have no problem with—the developers have infused Yakuza 4 with real Japanese culture in the form of hostess clubs. And they've given us an exclusive trailer of the hostess arc and mini-games within Yakuza 4, as well as the real deal about the Japanese tradition, courtesy of Sega Senior Producer Yasuhiro Noguchi.
For those who don't know, what exactly are hostess clubs?
Noguchi: In Japan, hostess clubs are really called kyabakura, which is really an English contraction of “cabaret club.” They are clubs/bars where you pay to have drinks with hostesses (or in Japanese, kyaba-jyo – the contraction of the English word “cabaret” and “girl” in Japanese). To be clear, it’s not a brothel or a place where prostitution takes place. A hostess club is a place where guys can go get a drink in the company of a beautiful woman and talk about whatever is on their mind. For example, maybe things about work that they might not want to talk about with their wives or girlfriends. It’s a place where a guy can go and get an ego boost—for a price.
At many establishments, the hostesses are trained to engage you in conversation and the girls adopt a specific personality or “role” to suit their client’s preferences. For example, some guys might prefer a perky, bubbly gal, while others may prefer to talk with a cultured, intellectual hostess who might be trained in traditional Japanese dance or is majoring in business management in college. There are definitely rules of engagement when you walk into a hostess club. If you break any of the rules (e.g. by being rowdy, too lewd, etc.), you will promptly be escorted out of the establishment. In many ways, if you have the cash, it sure beats drinking alone in some dive bar by yourself!
How many girls are in Yakuza 4, and can you develop relationships with all of them?
There are ten girls you can meet in the game, and yes, it’s possible to build relationships with all of them. The girls you can meet are dependent on which of the three main characters you’re playing (Akiyama, Tanimura, Kiryu). Saejima is the only character in the game that has no interest in hostess bars – considering he’s a death-row convict on the lam from the police with a score to settle, I think he probably has better things to do.
How many girls can you get with at one time?
Theoretically speaking, all of them when you get to the final chapter when you can freely switch between the four main characters (Akiyama, Saejima, Tanimura, and Kiryu). Once you’ve gained their trust and affection, you can actually take out the hostesses on a date. You can hang out and go out to eat, sing karaoke, shoot pool...even go to a hot springs for a good soak! This aspect of the game is more or less a dating simulation. Each of the girls also has their own relationship-building side quest story, so you can get to know them better.
What does the hostess aspect of the game entail?
The idea in the Hostess Maker game is to recruit a girl off the streets of Kamurocho and to train them to become a top-notch hostess. Of the ten hostesses in Yakuza 4, there are three girls you can train in Hostess Maker. You can really go all out by changing the hostess’ hairstyles, makeup, accessories (rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.), and clothing.
Yakuza 4 drops on 3/15 for PlayStation 3.