Spoiler Warning: The following article contains spoilers surrounding a type of side quest which becomes available in Chapter 4 of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, but doesn’t feature any major story spoilers.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth may be a turn-based RPG already, but the latest Yakuza also has an entirely separate turn based RPG minigame inside it that mimics (and parodies) a Pokémon game.
Infinite Wealth doubles down on the Pokémon references of its predecessor, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, expanding that game’s Sujimon concept from a fun collection mechanic to a full-on game of its own.
Though players will add Sujimon, which are just the game’s regular enemies, to their Sujidex as before, an entirely new side quest parodies both Pokémon Go and the mainline Pokémon games by having players engage in raids to catch Sujimon, battle gyms, and eventually take on the Sujimon League King.
Players will meet the previous game’s Sujimon Sensei early on, who bestows upon them the Sujidex and the promise of a whole new region of monsters to catch in Hawaii. Though this is already very Pokémon, as new regions were added to introduce new Pokémon in each game, the Sujimon Sensei drops another reference. “One could call it an entirely different region of Sujimon. A tropical dreamscape, yet a land of shadows — blessed by the sun and the moon,” he says, referencing Pokémon Sun and Moon, which take place in the fictional Alola region, based on Hawaii.
Before the extent of the Sujimon League unfolds, an NPC can also be spotted talking about how he took a week off from work “to come catch that rare Hawaiian exclusive”, a reference to Pokémon Go’s regional exclusive Pokémon.
These mild connections are blown out the water when Ichiban encounters the Sujimon Sensei in Hawaii again though. “Hawaii hosts a Sujimon tournament of some magnitude,” he says. “It’s a professional obligation I investigate.”
The pair then walk through a technology shop before giving a secret code to the man behind the counter: “Who’s that Sujimon?”, which is a callback to the Pokémon expression made popular through the original anime.
A secret door emerges and Ichiban enters a very Pokémon-looking Sujimon Stadium where trainers are battling. Though we described Sujimon as Infinite Wealth’s “regular” enemies, that term is a bit of an understatement. While the Yakuza games are relatively grounded in reality, the overactive imagination of Ichiban means he sees every regular hooligan as a fantastic monster. Some merely have glowing eyes, but others turn into giant basketballs, futuristic robots, or demonic chickens. It’s these versions of the enemies players must collect and battle with.
Sujimon battles work differently to Infinite Wealth’s main turn-based combat, taking more inspiration from the likes of Pokémon Go, where trainers take it turns dealing damage depending on how quickly their SP bar fills up. Sujimon also have different types — Blaze, Frost, Nature, Light, and Shadow — and these work with the same rock, paper, scissors mechanics that Pokémon does. Frost beats Blaze, Blaze beats Nature, and so on.
Ichiban’s Sujimon adventure is set up once his initial battle is complete. There are four Sujimon Gyms he must conquer before taking on the Sujimon King. Just like Pokémon, each one has a couple of trainers to fight first before taking on the main baddie: a member of the Discreet Four. This is another Pokémon reference, parodying the Elite Four which players take on before the Pokémon League Champion.
Following this introduction, the Sujimon Sensei sends Ichiban off with a message of hope: “You must travel across the land, searching far and wide. Catch Sujimon, become a man, I’ll wait here, inside.” This is another throwback to the Pokémon anime and its iconic opening credits song.
It’s not just the story that mimics Pokémon though, but gameplay too. Beyond battles, players must also catch Sujimon, and can do so in a couple of ways. Pokémon Go style raids are one method, as various locations around the map have countdowns that spawn Sujimon Raids when complete. Ichiban battles these Sujimon with regular Infinite Wealth mechanics, but once complete will have a chance to catch them. An opportunity to catch a Sujimon is also offered occasionally after beating one of the Sujimon trainers who are also dotted around the map.
The catching mechanic is very similar to Pokémon Go too, but instead of catching pocket monsters in a Poké Ball, Ichiban offers Sujimon a Suji Gift. These mimic Pokémon items too, ranging from common to super to hyper and eventually master. Players must then time the release of the gift to ensure maximum effectiveness, before tapping on the Sujimon to increase the chances further. Naturally, Ichiban is given a starter Sujimon to begin his journey, and can choose from Blaze, Frost, or Nature.
Suji Spots (yes, like PokéStops) are also present around the world, and just like Pokémon Go grant players items for passing through them. Players can use these locations to strengthen and evolve their Sujimon too, plus engage in practice battles and buy things from the Sujimon shop.
Infinite Wealth is available today, January 26, for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X and S, and PC. It features the Yakuza series’ biggest map to date and lets players become a samurai, surfer, and housekeeper as it continues the unique blend of dramatic crime thriller and completely wacky shenanigans.
Publisher Sega has caused some frustration, however, as Infinite Wealth’s New Game Plus mode is exclusive to the Deluxe and Ultimate versions of the game, which come in at $15 and $40 more expensive respectfully.
In our 9/10 review, IGN said: “Sprawling, enthralling, and packed with dynamic brawling, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth isn’t just the best turn-based Like a Dragon game, it’s one of the greatest games in the entire series.”
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.
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Author: Ryan Dinsdale