Great moments in PC gaming: Becoming cabaret club czar in Yakuza 0

Hostesses welcome a guest to a cabaret club
(Image credit: Sega)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Yakuza 0

The two protagonists of Yakuza 0

(Image credit: Sega)

Year: 2018
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

In Yakuza 0's cabaret clubs the salarymen of its booming 1980s Japan pay to drink with glamorous, flirtatious women. These businesses are hostess clubs, with strict policies against anything sexual—the staff are just there to pour drinks, light cigarettes, and turn on the charm. Halfway through Yakuza 0 you unlock Club Sunshine, and as owner it's your job to match hostesses with customers, answer calls for assistance, and bring the check. It's a management sim dropped in the middle of a crime drama beat-em-up, and while it doesn't rake in as much cash as the real estate minigame it's a lot more fun.

(Image credit: Sega)

A customer enters and the clock starts ticking. Maybe he's looking for someone with a high score in Party who is also cute, in which case Ai is the girl for the job, or maybe he wants someone funny with a high Talk score, in which case I bring out Etsuko, a middle-aged woman in a jaguar t-shirt who insisted on joining the club during one of Yakuza 0's many ridiculous sidequests.

You quickly get used to spinning plates: juggling hostesses in and out, then swooping when it's time for the check or some assistance. The hostesses use hand gestures you have to memorize—open hands means "bring the menu" and a twist like wringing out water means "we need a towel". There are signals for replacing ashtrays, refilling ice, and two for bringing a drink depending who wants it. When you snap off the right response it improves the guest's mood and refills some of the girl's HP, which stands for Hospitality Points, and as an added bonus you feel like an absolute boss.

There are rowdy guests to talk down or eject, a fever mode to trigger when you need to lift the mood, and rival battles where you steal the customers of clubs run by the villainous Five Stars of Sotenbori, each with their own fever mode debuffs and clientele with different preferences. It's not as chaotic as it sounds, though the deliberately obtuse interface is designed to make you think it is.

(Image credit: Sega)

This frenetic minigame where money bursts out of men like confetti while the clock counts down to a racetrack whistle is only half of running your cabaret club. You have to secure promotional deals with businesses around town, decide which staff to put on and which to rest each shift, and manage your handful of 'platinum' hostesses. That involves play-acting conversations where you pretend to be a customer and get to know them, as well as buying clothes and accessories for them to wear. 

It's a common observation that there's a sharp contrast between the Yakuza games' serious plots and silly substories, and cabaret club management is where I feel that contrast the most. Not 10 minutes ago I was out on the street slamming a baseball bat into some goon's head, and now here I am thinking Yuki can definitely pull off the tiara with the gown—girl's a damn queen, of course she can—but those earrings have got to go. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.