There’s no doubt that a huge part of the timeless appeal of the Like a Dragon games is the sheer breadth and number of side activities and hustles that players can engage in between emotional story beats, and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth promises to really push that idea further than ever. I covered over a lot of what players can expect from the game in my lengthy hands-on preview, but I also wanted to shine a special spotlight on the upcoming game’s Dondoko Island feature – which I was able to spend a small amount of time with and feels like the series’ biggest and most alluring diversion to date.
As an enjoyer of Like a Dragon 7/Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s wild Ichiban Confections business management game, I’ve been eager to see where Ichiban Kasuga’s managerial chops and entrepreneurial spirit take him next, and it turns out that this time there’s a whole-arse island resort waiting for his golden touch. The game’s Chief Producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto explains that players will first come across Dondoko (a name which apparently comes from the Japanese “Donzoko” meaning “rock bottom”) after a side quest involving a lost turtle and some rather mysterious creatures that reward Kasuga with a stay at the island.
It’s here that I got my first taste of the mode, with only a fairly short chunk to play through but a decent introduction to what fans can expect. After arriving and getting the closest possible approximation of a vacation experience, Kasuga discovers that the once-picturesque resort island has been turned into a veritable dump at the hands of a gang of “waste disposal deviants” called The Washbucklers and their boss, Dread Pirate Hook. Being the good guy he is, he offers to help clean the place up both literally and figuratively by ousting the no-good gang members and clearing up as much trash as he can – both things achieved with the swing of his trusty baseball bat.
After seeing what Kasuga can do, the resort’s caretaker, Matayoshi, clues him in on a campaign being run by the Resorts and Tourism Association which awards funding and up to a five star rating for a resort’s popularity and guest satisfaction. Right now, Dondoko is sitting at a healthy zero stars, and so the name of the (mini)game is naturally to work hard at securing that funding and boosting the island up to a five star rating.
To do so, you’ll not only need to clear the place of its mounds of trash and invading Washbucklers but decorate, manage and upgrade the grounds and facilities to attract more tourists and meet their needs. Luckily, many things on the island can be smashed to bits with your bat and used as crafting materials, from junk piles to trees and rocks which respawn on a daily cycle. Then, with enough resources you can craft new furniture to improve the island as well as level up your own building experience. The animation that accompanies Kasuga constructing furniture is delightfully goofy, too.
Digging into the mode for myself, I was shocked at how fully-featured it is as a construction and decoration sim, with an Edit Mode available at any point where you can freely place stuff you’ve crafted around the island. It doesn’t take long before you’ve transformed vacant patches of land to mini-paradises with fountains, street lamps, lounge chairs, even shops and other buildings. Not just that but Kasuga gets his own slice of this vacation spot with a special house to board in that he can decorate the inside of, same as the other buildings, with new indoor furniture, wall hangings and more.
For those less interested in making their resort destination a beautiful one, the Dondoko Island mode has clear criteria to work towards to reach each new star level including clearing out certain sections or meeting satisfaction and popularity thresholds, though I’m sure later goals will be more complex than that. I did manage to squeeze a few other activities into my short time with the mode, like fishing, insect catching and upgrading my various tools but even then I feel as though I barely scratched the surface of what’s to offer. There are daily activities to do, collections to complete, a startling variety of bits to build, plenty of new characters to meet (and even some returning ones that might come for a resort stay) and so much more.
Dondoko Island really seems like it could pass as its own game or separate experience, so knowing it’s all waiting there within Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth has me champing at the bit for release in a few short weeks.