Originally posted on 20 January 2016
Source: page 88-93

Destiny of a Dragon

The dangerous games of the red light district, which become surprisingly addictive

With its secretive casinos and shady gambling dens, the red light district is filled with dangerous charm. On the other hand, there are many other spots where you can relax and enjoy games such as bowling and karaoke.

The gambling dens, casinos, and the intoxication of gambling

The red light district is a place where you can enjoy love affairs. Ryu ga Gotoku's night spots were created with the intent of letting you enjoy strategising with women of the night. On the other hand, several play spots were created so that the player might enjoy the other charms of the town. One of Ryu ga Gotoku's themes is being able to enjoy things through a game that you usually wouldn't be able to experience. The team came up with some ideas for spots where you could enjoy slightly dangerous games.

The first idea to come up was for gambling dens and casinos. Gambling dens are prohibited by law in Japan and as such do not publicly exist, but they are indispensable to the darkness of the red light district. In the game, several schemes are scattered throughout to allow you to experience the elation of these forbidden games.

For example, in RGG1 you open the door to the underground casino by giving the secret code to the owner of a ramen shop. In RGG2, you are shown the way to the gambling den in the back of a trailer towed by a suspicious-looking homeless man. There are also various other things done so that the player may experience the sensation of setting foot inside an unknown world.

In the gambling dens, you can enjoy games such as cho-han, cee-lo, hanafuda and so forth. These are familar since they frequently appear in yakuza movies, so you can get a taste of what it feels like to be a gambler. At the casinos, you can play games like roulette, poker, blackjack and baccarat. There are also cheat items that exist in the game. If you use these well, you can earn quite large sums of money. Your cheating will never be found out, so take it easy and enjoy the game.

Cool bar games

Despite not having the dangerous air of a gambling den or casino, the bar is another play spot where you can enjoy games like billiards and darts alongside a drink. Billiards is a common sight in mafia films and Showa-era outlaw movies. I'm sure there are many who looked up to those men in stylish suits, gripping the cue.

Aside from the standard nine-ball, you can also play rotation or eight-ball. Darts is not the bar darts of old, but electronic darts that has been popular as of late. RGG4 contains the Dartslive 2, the latest machine from the Dartslive company, allowing you to enjoy the darts with a more realistic feel.

Being able to play darts on a real-life machine like this was made possible because Ryu ga Gotoku makes such an effort with its business tie-ups.

The many amusements that you can enjoy at leisure

Games that are well-suited to gambling are part and parcel of red light districts, but there are also many spots in Kamurocho where you can take it easy and enjoy yourself.

The batting centre is one of these spots. It's incredibly dangerous when Majima, Kiryu's longtime enemy, is around, but the rest of the time you can bat peacefully. This has been available since RGG1, and in RGG4 an extra hard course was added where you can see images of gravure idols.

Starting during the daytime, you can also casually enjoy the bowling alley. The bowling boom ended in the 1980s, but despite their decline they are always found in bustling cities. When Kiryu and Haruka go bowling together, they look like a real parent and child spending a day off together.

Another of the relaxing spots is the karaoke box. Make sure you take Haruka there and hear her cute singing. Another must-see is Kiryu's spirited calls of "Oi oi oi oi !" and "Fu-fu!". By the way, by the time Kiryu was imprisoned in the mid 90s karaoke boxes were already popular. The shift had begun to be made from LaserDisc, which was slow to change songs, to the currently popular digital distribution karaoke machines. This pastime was probably easy for Kiryu to get used to again after his release.

Game centres that show off Sega's distinctive character?

Game centres are another spot that go hand in hand with red light districts. Up until the 1980s, when displaying games on a screen inside a horizontal table-style cabinet was commonplace, the interiors of these places were incredibly dim. This was because the floor lights had to be dimmed in order to avoid reflections on the screens. ue to this dimness, game centres in red light districts were sometimes known as haunts of delinquents and thugs. These days the game screen is more often housed inside generic, almost vertical cabinets, meaning that shop lighting is brighter, and game centres have lost their dim impression.

At Club Sega, the game centre that appears in Ryu ga Gotoku, you can enjoy a diverse variety of games. Perhaps you could call this a display of Sega's character, having dominated the arcade industry for many years. The standard game machine, the UFO catcher, was first developed by Sega in 1985.

You can play Boxcelios at Club Sega, a simple shooting game in which the player shoots down the airborne enemy craft. The game is plain and simple, but it takes quite a lot of training to shoot down the enemies and move to the next level in a short time. Answer x Answer is a quiz game that's popular at real game centres. The real arcade version characteristically features the ability to compete with players across the country.

Boiling hot fighting spirit! The underground coliseum

The battles in Ryu ga Gotoku's main story aren't that difficult in comparison to other fighting games. Even if you don't choose easy mode, it's designed to be beatable by even a beginner as long as you have healing items.

"We made basic battles not so difficult so that even people who don't really play fighting games would be able to feel the exhilaration. I think that at the beginning, you will still just about be able to win even just by mashing the buttons." (Nagoshi)

But for those hardcore gamers who often play fighting games, maybe it doesn't feel like quite enough. It is battles at the underground coliseum that dispel this sense of dissatisfaction. The door to the underground opens as the player progresses through the story, allowing them to participate in bouts to determine which man is the stronger fighter. Fighting your way through the tournaments requires extremely honed technique. You will need the ability to skilfully perform a variety of actions, such as speedily dodging attacks with sways, moving around while readied, combo attacks, learned moves and so forth.

In RGG1, you are able to participate in a total of ten different kinds of fighting tournaments at the coliseum. In the final round, Kiryu begins his fight with his fighting master, Sotaro Komaki. In RGG2, bouts with a total of 51 fighters await. In order to beat them all, you will need to try over and over again.

As part of the DLC for RGG3, an All Stars Tournament where you can fight the bosses of the main story is added. Aside from one on one fights, you can also take part in tag matches. You can fight such people as Majima; Mine, who can only be fought in the closing stages of the story; and Kazuki and Yuya, the handsome host team.

Behind these men's fights are Sega's battle segment creation staff. Many of them are martial arts fans, and they would come up with new moves by trying them out on each other. I'm sure there are several moves in the game that you will see and wonder with a grin if it was based on a particular martial artist or movie. Look out for the care and attention of the martial arts-loving staff members.

There's still more to come! The numerous mini-games

Aside from what has already been introduced there are several other mini-games, such as enjoying a round of golf beneath the blue skies of Okinawa, lazily fishing at the beach or wharf, spending some time absorbed in a game of mahjong at the mahjong parlour, or a shogi match by the roadside. This life of strolling around town and playing the day away is the dream of salarymen who work at the office until late every day.

No matter the game, they all characteristically have enough content to rival a whole average console game. It is said that there are players who, outside of the main story, take a liking to a single game that they play over and over.

"Somebody came to a signing event and said to me, 'My granny and grandpa are hooked on it.' Prodding further, it turned out that they just played shogi the whole time. It made me think, ah, there's a demand for that as well." (Nagoshi)

Ryu ga Gotoku is like a toybox packed with games that even adults can enjoy.

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