Yakuza / Like a Dragon

Yakuza / Like a Dragon

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Updated Sep 21, 2022 at 10:48AM EDT by Philipp.

Added Apr 30, 2018 at 04:12PM EDT by AL2009man.

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Like a Dragon, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く) and formerly known in the West as Yakuza, is an open-world action-adventure beat 'em up video game franchise created, owned and published by SEGA / Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. On November 10th, 2020, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the eighth main installment within the series, was released worldwide.


The games are set primarily in Kamurocho, Japan’s red light district. Players assume the role of Kazuma Kiryu and others, with the story mixing both dark elements of the Yakuza underworld and more light-hearted affairs as the game introduces a diverse cast of characters and sidequests.[1]

Kiryu is the sole playable character in the first three entries in the series and randomly encounters foes on his path. The ensuing fight is called Encounter Battle. In fights the player character uses hand-to-hand combat and can also wield weapons can also be wielded, though firearms are rare. Winning some of these battles can result in the player winning money which can be used to purchase equipment or healing items. Across his fights, Kiryu gains experience which can be used to expand his stats and become a stronger fighter and help him take down the several bosses of the game, who provide several different fighting styles and tactics Kiryu needs to adapt to to win, alongside quick reflexes for many Quicktime Event (QTE) sections. The player can also travel across the cities and participate in different activities/minigames/events such as the handling of host clubs, fighting tournaments, arcades, karaoke bars, pocket circuit racing, taxing driving, fishing, baseball tournaments and many, many more, some exclusive to each title. These encounters and games help Kiryu earn experience.

Main Games

The first Yakuza game was released in Japan on December 8th, 2005 and in the West in September of 2006 on the Playstation 2. This game introduces Kazuma Kiryu as an up-and-coming yakuza who takes the fall for the murder of a crime boss, and gameplay begins ten years after his sentence.[2]

Yakuza 2 was released on December 7th, 2006 in both Japan and the west.In a sequel that refined every facet of the first game, Yakuza 2 launched on the PlayStation 2 in December 7th, 2006. This game also follows Kiryu and features an improved battle engine and improved cinematics.[3]

Yakuza 3 was released on the PlayStation 3 on February 26th, 2009 and in March 2010 in the West. Yakuza 3 marks the first appearance of “play spots” in which Kiryu could play mini games such as golf, batting practice, and karaoke. This was also the first appearance of the “Revelations” system of learning new combat moves.[4]

Yakuza 4 was released in Japan on March 18th, 2010 and in March 2011 in the West on the PlayStation 3. This introduced new playable characters: Shun Akiyama, a loan shark, Taiga Saejima, a death-row inmate, Masayoshi Tanimura, a corrupt cop, and Kazuma Kiryu. The game featured four separate combat styles for each character and an entire chapter dedicated to each man’s personal saga.[5]

Yakuza 5 was released in Japan on December 5th, 2012 and was not released in the West until December of 2015. This game featured five playable characters across five Japanese cities, adding Haruka Sawamura and Tatsuo Shinada.[6]

The following game, Yakuza 0, was a prequel to the series, and allowed players to play as Goro Majima, a character from earlier games working to work his way back into the yakuza.[7] It was released on the Playstation 4 and Playstation 3 (Japan only) on March 12th, 2015 and January 24th, 2017 in the West and was later released in Microsoft Windows on August 1st, 2018.[18] Yakuza 0 marks the first Yakuza game to be released on PC.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life was released on PlayStation 4 on December 8th, 2016 in Japan and April 17th, 2018 in the West.[8] The game introduced a new game engine titled "The Dragon Engine" to the series.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

On January 16th, 2020, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the eight main installment in the series, was released[21] for PlayStation 4 console in Japan. On November 10th, 2020, the game was released for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S and PC worldwide.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon introduces a new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga, who comes is released out of prison after an 18-year sentence. Unlike the previous main installments of the series, the game steps away from beat 'em up mechanics in favor of turn-based RPG combat.

The game received positive reviews with an 84 average critic score for PlayStation 4 version on Metacritic,[22] and 81, 83 and 90 scores for PC,[23] Xbox Series X[24] and Xbox One[25] versions, respectively.

Remakes and Spinoffs

The first two entries in the series have been remade as Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 (based on Yakuza 0's Engine and The Dragon Engine, respectively), adding enhanced gameplay, an expanded story, the return of the battle styles from Yakuza 0 [for Kiwami], more nightlife spots and re-recorded audio presented in the original Japanese for the first time [for Kiwami].[9]

Yakuza Kiwami was released in Japan on January 21th, 2016, August 29th, 2017 in the West for PS4 and
February 19th, 2019 for Microsoft Windows.[19] Kiwami 2 was release in Japan on December 7th 2017 and August 28th, 2018 in the West for PS4, the Microsoft Windows version is scheduled to be released in May 9th, 2019.[20]

Spinoffs of the game includes Judgement, Ryu Ga Gotoku Online, Yakuza Kenzan, Yakuza Ishin, Yakuza: Black Panther 1 & 2 and Yakuza: Dead Souls.


The Yakuza series has been heavily acclaimed for its combination of innovative game play, cinematic storytelling and character development, and depiction of Japan's criminal underground. Each installment earned an excellence award at the "Japan Game Awards" and had a "PlayStation the Best" re-release in both Japanese, Asian and Korean markets.

Weekly Famitsu gave high scores to the series (Averages around 34-40), with Yakuza 5 having the highest score (of 40/40)[10] out of all of the Yakuza installments to date. In the West, the localized versions received generally favorable reviews across Metacritic, GameRankings & OpenCritic (averaging around 75-85 on Metacritic). Yakuza 0 has highest score (Metacritic: 85/100[11] – GameRankings: 85.25%[12] & OpenCritic: 86/Mighty[13]) out of all Yakuza installments in the West.

As of 2017, the Yakuza series sold over 10.5 million units / downloads across 75 total editions (packaged and digital total) worldwide[14]

Online Presence

Online, the game has drawn a fandom for its over-the-top sense of humor, as exemplified in moments in which the characters have intense reactions to mundane tasks (examples shown below).

On social media, the series has a subreddit[15] with over 6,300 subscribers, a Twitter account with over 13,000 followers,[16] and a Facebook page with over 65,000 likes.[17] Yakuza 0 was played to completion on the Super Best Friends Play YouTube channel, with its first episode gaining over 310,000 views (shown below).

Search Interest

External References

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