Yakuza (series)

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Yakuza franchise logo.png
Developer(s)New Entertainment R&D Dept.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Syn Sophia
Deep Silver (PAL)
Creator(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
First releaseYakuza
  • JP: December 8, 2005
  • NA: September 5, 2006
  • EU: September 15, 2006
Latest releaseYakuza: Like a Dragon
  • JP: January 16, 2020
  • WW: November 10, 2020

Yakuza, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く, lit. Like a Dragon, Japanese: [ɾʲɨᵝː ɡa̠ go̞to̞kɯ̟ᵝ]), is a Japanese video game franchise created, owned and published by Sega. The series genre is primarily beat 'em up, but elements of the action-adventure, open world, turn-based strategy and action role-playing genres are also incorporated. The series originated from creator Toshihiro Nagoshi's desire to design a game that would tell the way of life of the yakuza. Nagoshi initially struggled to find a platform for the project, until Sony showed interest in the prospect.[1]

The series storyline is a crime drama, with plot lines inspired by yakuza films. The most frequently featured protagonist is yakuza Kazuma Kiryu, a reformed gangster associated with the Kanto-based Tojo Clan. While Kiryu often finds himself working with the leaders of the Tojo Clan to thwart conspiracies aimed against them, the primary theme of the series is his desire to leave the yakuza for good and start over, raising orphans and trying to assimilate into civilian life. The gameplay of Yakuza has the player controlling Kiryu (or another character, depending on the title) in an open world where he can fight random groups of punks and gangsters, craft weapons, take on side missions and activities to earn experience and money, learn new moves from NPCs, eat and drink at various restaurants, visit hostess and cabaret clubs, and engage in a variety of mini games such as golfing, bowling, hitting baseballs, video arcades, karaoke, and illegal gambling at games including poker, blackjack, Cee-lo, and Koi-Koi.

The franchise has become a commercial and critical success, and as of 2020, Sega has reported that the video game series has sold a combined total of 14 million units in physical and digital sales since its debut in 2005.[2] Strong sales of the games in its original Japanese market has led to the franchise's expansion to other media, including film adaptations.


Selected locations in Yakuza games:
Kabukichō, Tokyo ("Kamurochō" in-game)
Dōtonbori & Shinsekai, Osaka ("Sotenbori" & "Shinseicho")
Kokusai Dori & Downtown Naha ("Downtown Ryukyu")
Nakasu, Fukuoka ("Nagasugai")
Susukino, Hokkaido ("Tsukimino")
Sakae, Nagoya ("Kineicho")
Onomichi, Hiroshima

The Yakuza game series is set primarily in the fictional district of Kamurochō (神室町), which is based on Kabukichō, an actual red-light district of Tokyo.[3][4] Other actual locations reproduced in the game series include Dotonbori and Shinsekai, Osaka (as "Sotenbori" and "Shinseicho" in-game, respectively, for Yakuza 2, 5 and 0);[5][6][7] Kokusai Dori [ja] and the surrounding downtown area of Naha, Okinawa (as "Downtown Ryukyu" in Yakuza 3);[8] Nakasu, Fukuoka (as "Nagasugai" in Yakuza 5);[9] Susukino, Hokkaido (as "Tsukimino" in Yakuza 5);[10] the Nishiki district of Sakae, Nagoya (as "Kineicho" in Yakuza 5);[11] Onomichi, Hiroshima (in Yakuza 6);[12][13] and Isezakichō, Yokohama (as "Isezaki Ijincho" in Yakuza: Like a Dragon).[14][15]

The appearances of the in-game districts and towns are based on their contemporary actual locations from the year each game came out, and are often renovated and remodeled in newer games.[16] However, specific stores and buildings are often different or carry fictionalized branding compared to their real life counterparts, replacing them with real-life product placements or plot-important locations.

One reviewer praised the detailed recreation of specific districts, including "trivial, incidental stuff", that enables virtual exploration of real-life locations.[17] Although not explicitly marketed as "virtual tourism", another reviewer noted "Yakuza still gives you the best opportunity to really get engaged with a country and its people that I can think of. ... [It] has become a connection to a country I love very much, not because of the sights it shows me, but for all the boring things it lets me do".[18] Some fans have been inspired by the games to visit their real-world counterparts.[19][20]


All Yakuza games feature three distinct yet connected modes called Event, Adventure and Battle. The main character randomly encounters foes on their path, triggering an Encounter Battle. In fights, the player character uses hand-to-hand combat, using skills such as Rush Combos, grabs, throws and Finishing Moves, and some games allow the player character to select from and use multiple fighting styles. Weapons and objects can also be wielded, though firearms are rare. Winning some of these battles can result in obtaining money or items which can be sold or used to purchase equipment or a variety of items in shops, gamble, or play mini-games. Encounter Battles caused by the story can end quicker by finishing the leader of the enemies, as well as by using powerful moves called Heat Actions, which require the filling of the 'Heat Gauge' to become usable. Some of these tend to include quick time events. As the player character fights, they gain experience that can be used to increase their stats and become a stronger fighter. The newest installment in the series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, includes a new battle system where the player character recruits party members to fight alongside them in turn-based role-playing game battles against enemies, and to play alongside them in mini-games.

The series has a high number of entertaining sub-stories, which often complement the main story.[21] These give the player extra EXP. There are many mini-games, which range from activities like bowling, darts, and arcade games, to much more complex ones, like professions, which can take a number of hours over the course of several sessions to complete. Examples include:

  • Coliseum Fights: where the player fights in three-round mini championships against various opponents in different challenges to earn points which can be spent on unique items.
  • Weapon/gear crafting: the player needs to find various components and blueprints to produce powerful and varied gear and weapons.
  • Cabaret Club Management: the player runs a hostess club in three-minute sessions and tries to earn as much money as possible by matching up the right girl with the right client and quickly responding to their calls for help. They also take part in battles against other hostess clubs.
  • Pocket Circuit: a minigame where Pocket Circuit cars (like slot cars, but bounded by the car's lane and self-powered, similar to Tamiya's Mini 4WD line of scale model cars) race against each other. In both Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, there are several race series that take place and a number of side stories relating to this minigame.
  • Hostess/Cabaret Clubs: this involves talking to hostess girls to fill out their "love" gauge, as well as ordering the right food/drink, buying gifts and wearing the right accessories to please them as much as possible, until they can be taken out on a date. This was one of many aspects that was controversially cut from the western release of Yakuza 3, leading to criticism of Sega for ignoring western gamers' desire to experience Japanese culture.[22] This content was restored in the remastered version.
  • Club Sega: a virtual recreation of the real-life Sega arcade chain that features activities such as UFO catchers, darts, and playable emulations of classic Sega arcade titles such as Fantasy Zone and Virtua Fighter. The available games differ with each series installment.

A recurring superboss known as Amon appears in most of the games. Depending on the title, there may be more than one. For example, Yakuza 5 features an Amon for each playable character, including an idol version for Haruka to face off against.


The primary protagonist of the Yakuza series is Kazuma Kiryu, who is playable in every numbered entry through Yakuza 6. Some games, such as Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5, feature multiple playable characters, with players switching between them at predetermined points in the story.[23] Beginning with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ichiban Kasuga became the new series protagonist, though Kiryu continues to appear in a non-playable capacity.

Other characters have appeared as the protagonists of various spin-off titles. The samurai-era titles Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! and Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! are based around fictionalized versions of historical figures Miyamoto Musashi and Sakamoto Ryōma respectively, both of whom are modeled after Kiryu. The Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku subseries features its own protagonist, street punk Tatsuya Ukyo, while Judgment follows private detective Takayuki Yagami.


The original Japanese logo, Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く, Like a Dragon)

As of 2020, the Yakuza series includes eight main games, released in chronological order (with the exception of the prequel Yakuza 0), with each new installment following the events of the previous title. There are also several spin-off titles. One, Kenzan!, relates Kazuma Kiryu's supposed ancestor, historic figure Miyamoto Musashi from the 16th and 17th centuries; another, Dead Souls, follows a zombie invasion of Kamurocho, the primary setting for the series; a PlayStation Portable spinoff series, Kurohyō, is about a teenage street fighter from Kamurocho that ends up in a fight where he kills a Tojo clan yakuza.[24]

With the exception of the Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku titles, which were developed by Syn Sophia, all games were developed by Sega's CS1 R&D team, later renamed Ryū ga Gotoku Studio.

Original release English release
Platform(s) Acquired labels
Year Title Year Title Console Computer Handheld Other
2005 Ryū ga Gotoku 2006 Yakuza N/A N/A N/A
2006 Ryū ga Gotoku 2 2008 Yakuza 2
  • PlayStation 2 The Best
  • PlayStation 3 The Best[c]
2008 Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!
  • PlayStation 3 The Best
2009 Ryū ga Gotoku 3 2010 Yakuza 3 N/A N/A
  • PlayStation 3 The Best
2010 Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu o Tsugumono 2011 Yakuza 4
  • Microsoft Windows[b]
  • PlayStation 3 The Best
Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō N/A N/A N/A
  • PlayStation Portable The Best
2011 Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END 2012 Yakuza: Dead Souls
  • PS3
  • PlayStation 3 The Best[c]
2012 Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura-hen N/A N/A
  • PlayStation Portable The Best[c]
Ryū ga Gotoku 5: Yume Kanaeshi Mono 2015 Yakuza 5
  • Microsoft Windows[b]
  • PlayStation 3 The Best
2014 Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!
  • PlayStation 4 The Best
2015 Ryū ga Gotoku 0: Chikai no Basho 2017 Yakuza 0
  • PS3[a]
  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • Microsoft Windows
  • PlayStation 4 The Best
  • PlayStation 4 Hits
2016 Ryū ga Gotoku: Kiwami Yakuza Kiwami
  • PS3[a]
  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • Microsoft Windows
  • PlayStation 4 The Best
  • PlayStation 4 Hits
Ryū ga Gotoku 6: Inochi no Uta 2018 Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • Microsoft Windows
  • PlayStation 4 Hits
2017 Ryū ga Gotoku: Kiwami 2 Yakuza Kiwami 2
  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • Microsoft Windows
  • PlayStation 4 Hits
2018 Hokuto ga Gotoku Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
  • PS4
  • PlayStation 4 Hits
Ryū ga Gotoku Online N/A
  • Microsoft Windows[a]
Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon 2019 Judgment N/A N/A N/A
2020 Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue 2020 Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • PS4
  • Xbox One
  • PS5
  • Xbox Series X/S
  • Microsoft Windows
  •  Spinoff 
  •  Remake 
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Released only in Japan.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Released in a remastered compilation.
  3. ^ a b c d Only in Asia.

Main series[edit]

Release timeline
2006Yakuza 2
2009Yakuza 3
2010Yakuza 4
2012Yakuza 5
2015Yakuza 0
2016Yakuza Kiwami
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
2017Yakuza Kiwami 2
2020Yakuza: Like a Dragon

The storytelling of the series is inspired by yakuza films, one of the most popular cinematic genres in Japan. The stories of the first two games in the series were supervised by novelist Hase Seishu, a writer of yakuza crime fiction. The main story in each game is presented in chapters, much like Kinji Fukasaku's classic yakuza movie Sympathy for the Underdog and is expanded upon with around a hundred subplots per game. The depth this provides leads to the series having a large cast of characters, including many which recur in minor roles.[citation needed]

  • Yakuza: The first game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu, a formerly promising yakuza who is released from a ten-year prison sentence in December 2005, having taken the fall for the murder of his family's patriarch to protect his sworn brother, Akira Nishikiyama. He discovers that the Tojo Clan, whom he was once sworn to, has had ¥10 billion (approximately US$100 million) stolen from their accounts, and the clan's third chairman has been murdered, resulting in a power vacuum. Kiryu finds himself forced back into the brutal, lawless world of the yakuza, until he meets a mysterious young girl. If he can keep her alive, he just might be able to learn who was responsible for the missing ten billion, and finally confront the man he sacrificed everything for.
  • Yakuza 2: A year after restoring order within the Tojo Clan, Kazuma Kiryu resigns from his position as Fourth Chairman, hand-picking an old associate of his to become fifth chairman in his place. When an all-out war erupts after the fifth chairman is gunned down, Kiryu is forced to take action against an ambitious yakuza from a rival clan, the Omi Alliance, who seeks an all-out war with the Tojo Clan. The game sees Kiryu engage in brutal clashes with rival yakuza, the police, and the Korean mafia through the back alleys and neon-lit nightclubs of Tokyo and Osaka, as he forms new partnerships to stop the Omi Alliance.
  • Yakuza 3: In March 2009, Kazuma Kiryu now runs the Morning Glory Orphanage in Okinawa, where he raises nine children, including his surrogate daughter Haruka Sawamura. When a business deal backed by members of the Tojo Clan threatens to tear down the orphanage, Kiryu travels from the beaches of Okinawa to the darkest side of Tokyo as he is pulled back to a life he thought he had left behind, coming into conflict with scheming gangsters, mysterious foreigners, and a man determined to reshape the entire Tojo Clan in his image.
  • Yakuza 4: In March 2010, Kazuma Kiryu finds himself once again caught up in events beyond his control. First, a yakuza from a syndicate allied with the Tojo Clan is fatally shot by a member of the clan. Then, a man investigating the murder is stabbed to death. These events spark a full-blown struggle for money, power, and above all, honor, in a story experienced through the eyes of four characters, including a loan shark with a heart of gold, a former yakuza looking for answers, and a police detective with a knack for bending the rules.
  • Yakuza 5: In December 2012, the seventh chairman of the Omi Alliance is on his deathbed. His death would end the hard-won truce between the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance, opening the door for renewed conflict. Anticipating this, the Tojo Clan is forced to strengthen their organization by aligning themselves with older clans based in other major cities across Japan to create a massive new syndicate rivaling that of the Omi Alliance. This new alliance would breach the old traditional barriers of clan territories, leading Tojo clan chairman Daigo Dojima to head for Fukuoka. Kiryu, now working as a taxi driver, reluctantly returns to his old organization, determined to end the old struggle between the clans for good.
  • Yakuza 0: In December 1988, many years before the original Yakuza, a young Kazuma Kiryu is framed for the murder of a civilian, leaving him stripped of his place in the Tojo Clan and forcing him to rebuild his reputation from scratch. At the same time, cabaret club manager and hitman Goro Majima finds himself protecting a helpless blind girl whom he was ordered to assassinate, making him a target for defying orders. The two must each attempt to protect themselves and uncover the truth, including how both incidents are tied to the mysterious "Empty Lot".
  • Yakuza 6: In 2016, after willingly spending three years in prison for his past crimes, Kazuma Kiryu is released only to discover that his adopted daughter Haruka has disappeared, later found comatose and critically injured after a hit-and-run accident. A devastated Kiryu decides to travel to Onomichi Jingaicho in Hiroshima, hoping to find the truth behind what happened to Haruka while protecting her infant son.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: In 2019, Ichiban Kasuga, a former member of the Tojo Clan's Arakawa Family, is released after eighteen years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. Expecting to be welcomed back, he instead discovers that his former patriarch has aligned himself and his family with the Omi Alliance and the police to destroy the Tojo Clan. Shot and left for dead in Yokohama by the man he looked up to as a second father, Kasuga, joined by a group including a homeless nurse, a disgraced cop, and a hostess who lost her employer to gang violence, sets out to uncover the truth behind his patriarch's betrayal while becoming a hero to the outcasts of Yokohama.


The first franchise spin-off, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! is set in Kyoto during the Edo period, in 1605, and follows the life of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. The game was released in Japan and Asia on March 6, 2008.[25]

Formerly known under the working title "Project K", Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō is a spin-off that follows Tatsuya Ukyo, a street punk who gets into trouble with the Tojo Clan after accidentally killing one of their captains. Co-developed by Syn Sophia, it was released in Japan on September 22, 2010 for the PlayStation Portable.[26] A sequel, Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen, was released in Japan on March 22, 2012.

Yakuza: Dead Souls, known as Ryū ga Gotoku Of The End in Japan, is a non-canon story set during a zombie outbreak in Kamurocho. It was initially scheduled for Japanese release on March 17, 2011,[27] but the release was delayed to June 9, 2011 following the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011.[28] The game was later released in the west in March 2012.[29]

Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! is a spin-off set during Japan's Bakumatsu period (between 1853 and 1867) that follows the adventures of samurai Sakamoto Ryōma. It was released in Japan on PlayStation 3 and as a launch title for PlayStation 4 on February 22, 2014.[30]

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, known in Japan as Hokuto ga Gotoku, is a spin-off for the PlayStation 4, based on the series Fist of the North Star. The game was released in Japan on February 22, 2018,[31] and worldwide on October 2, 2018.[32] This is the first Ryu ga Gotoku title since Yakuza to release with an English dub, and the first overall with dual audio options. Kazuma Kiryu appears as an equippable DLC skin, while other Yakuza characters make minor cameo appearances.

Ryu ga Gotoku Online is a free-to-play spin-off released on Android, iOS, and PC on November 21, 2018.[33] The game features both Kazuma Kiryu and new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga.

Judgment, known in Japan as Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon, is a legal thriller set in the same world as Yakuza, and follows private detective Takayuki Yagami, who investigates a serial murder case in Kamurocho.[34] It stars Japanese actor Takuya Kimura. Sega released a demo of Judgment on the Japanese PlayStation Network. The game employs a fighting system similar to the one from Yakuza 0 where players can change into different styles. Additionally, it features an investigation mode where the player has to find traces of the criminal. It was released for PlayStation 4 on December 13, 2018, with a Western release following in June 2019.[35]

Streets of Kamurocho is a side scrolling beat 'em up minigame inspired by the Streets of Rage series. The minigame was developed by Empty Clip Studios and was available on Microsoft Windows via Steam between October 17–19, 2020, as part of Sega's 60th anniversary celebration.[36]

Rereleases and compilations[edit]

A high-definition remaster of the first two games in the series was released in Japan on November 1, 2012 for PlayStation 3.[37] The high-definition remaster was ported to Wii U and released in Japan on August 8, 2013 under the title Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD for Wii U.[38][39] Both versions of the compilation were only released in Japan.

Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the first Yakuza game, was released in Japan on January 21, 2016 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4; the PS4 version received a Western release in August 2017.[40] The two versions were the top two best-selling games in Japan during their release week, selling 103,256 copies for PlayStation 4 and 60,427 for PlayStation 3.[41] The game was later released for Microsoft Windows on February 19, 2019,[42] and for Xbox One on April 22, 2020.[43]

Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of Yakuza 2, was released for the PlayStation 4 on December 7, 2017 in Japan, and in North America and Europe on August 28, 2018. The game runs on the Dragon Engine, which was previously used in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. The remake also adds new story chapters that feature Goro Majima as a playable character, continuing stories of his that were previously established in Yakuza 0. Kiwami 2 was released for Windows on May 9, 2019,[44] and for Xbox One on July 30, 2020.[45]

A compilation rerelease, titled The Yakuza Remastered Collection, was announced and released digitally in English-speaking territories on August 20, 2019 for the PlayStation 4. The collection contains the remastered versions of Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and Yakuza 5, which were released in Japan individually between 2018 and 2019. The remasters feature re-translated game scripts and content removed from the original English releases restored,[46] though some content was removed from all versions, such as a set of missions in Yakuza 3 featuring a transphobic character depiction.[47] At the time of the collection's launch, only Yakuza 3 was available; Yakuza 4 was released on October 29, 2019, and Yakuza 5 was released on February 11, 2020. A physical release containing all three games was released alongside Yakuza 5 with a collectible PlayStation 3 styled case for Yakuza 5, which came out digitally in the west.[46] The Yakuza Remastered Collection was released for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on January 28, 2021.[48]


Toshihiro Nagoshi brought his story for Yakuza to scenario writer Hase Seishu two years before the game started development. Seishu had been a video game player since the days of Space Invaders, but over the past four or five years he had lost interest, as he was less concerned with 3D visuals and gameplay than he was with story. Yakuza caught his attention though, and he decided to accept the project even though it came at the busiest point of his professional writing career. Nagoshi wanted players to get enjoyment from merely walking through Kamurocho. Touching upon the game's name, Nagoshi revealed that it was his concoction. The original Japanese name Ryū ga Gotoku translates to "Like a Dragon", as Nagoshi felt that dragons have a strong image about them, and that when players sample it, they would, as the title suggests, get a feel for the strength and manliness of the main character.[49]


Don Quijote in Yakuza
Don Quijote in real life
Comparing the Don Quijote store in Kamurocho (top), and its real-life equivalent in Kabukichō (bottom).

The series is known for its expanding video game tie-in and product placement. An example of this is the Don Quijote discount store, whose in-game stores are based on the stores in the equivalent real-life districts. This strategy allows to support the game's costly production and at the same time gives a realistic aspect to the environments which are based on real locations in Tokyo, Osaka and Naha. In promoting the game, Sega hired Takashi Miike, who directed the live-action Like a Dragon film. There were no problems in doing this due to a member from the team who was originally from the film industry who worked with Toei Company on V-cinema.[citation needed] Sega went to a lot of companies to try to get brands into the game, like car companies and fashion companies, but because of the nature of the Yakuza game, they were turned down by most of them.[citation needed] However, the company Suntory accepted them. Suntory wanted to sell whiskey, and they felt the game's demographic and the whiskey-drinking demographic would mesh nicely.[50]

Voice cast[edit]

A Yakuza 3 Event Mode minor character's face is being modeled in 3D through Softimage XSI 6.5 and during 3D scan the actor wore a swim cap because his character wears a police peaked cap[51]

The game's original voice actors are Japanese celebrities which can be voice actors, singers, tarento, film or TV series actors, radio or television celebrities. Cabaret girls and alike characters have featured models, gravure idols and adult actresses as voice actresses and likenesses. Since the 2008 spin-off Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!, the game series' main characters have their face modeled in 3D after their voice actors. As in the Virtua Fighter series, Western main and minor characters do not speak in Japanese, but rather in English. Minor Chinese and Korean characters also often speak their native tongues.

The first game in the series to be released to the United States and PAL regions was dubbed in English. However, due to criticism of the English voice acting, each subsequent Western release through Yakuza 6 retained the original Japanese voice acting. Later spinoff titles such as Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise and Judgment have featured dual language voiceover support. 2020's Yakuza: Like A Dragon marks the series' first mainline entry to receive an English dub since the release of the original.

The PlayStation 3 installments' realistic character design is based on Cyberware 3D scanner, Softimage XSI 6.5 3D models[51] and Sega's Magical V-Engine.

Localization changes[edit]

When the series was internationalized and localized to fit the Western market several changes occurred. These include changing the title of the game (Like a Dragon 龍が如く, ryū ga gotoku became Yakuza) and the names of several characters (Shintaro Kazama is Shintaro Fuma, Akira Nishikiyama is Akira Nishiki, Futoshi Shimano is Futo Shimano, Sai no Hanaya is Kage).

Yakuza 4 adjusted several of these localisation changes, following criticism of the previous games, and in particular the content excised from the Western release of Yakuza 3. Producer Noguchi noted that there was an attempt to "bring a more complete localization that was more faithful to the source material". This included reversing several name changes. In addition, some conventions were changed; in previous Western localisations, protagonist Kazuma Kiryu had been referred to primarily by his first name. In Yakuza 4, he is referred to primarily by his family name, Kiryu, which more closely reflects the original dialogue.[52]


The three Yakuza original soundtrack albums are composed by Hidenori Shoji, Hideki Sakamoto et alii and are published by Wave Master. Additional soundtrack features songs from Japanese artists Crazy Ken Band, Zeebra, Ketsumeishi and Eikichi Yazawa.


The Yakuza franchise includes various types of merchandise and adaptations outside of the video games. This includes a direct-to-video movie, a feature film, original soundtracks, official guides, Kamutai Magazines (pre-order campaign limited book) and other licensed products such as Cropped Heads long tee shirts and parkas based on main characters tattoos,[53] limited edition PlayStation 3 console packs,[54][55] Kubrick toys[56] and action figures manufactured by Maitan.[57]


Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン)
Date Game Cover Model(s) Ref.
Dec 2005 Yakuza Mihiro
Dec 2006 Yakuza 2 Nana Natsume
Mar 2008 Kenzan Yinling of Joytoy [58]
Feb 2009 Yakuza 3 Shizuka Mutou
Sayaka Araki
Rina Sakurai
Mar 2010 Yakuza 4 [62]
Sep 2010 Kurohyō Takumi Saitoh [63][64]
Mar 2012 Kurohyō 2 ? [65]
Mar 2015 Yakuza 0 ? [66]

For the Japanese and Asian market releases of the original game in 2005, Sega created a pre-order campaign limited bonus item called Kamutai Magazine, a full-color magazine which was a travel guide to the fictional in-game location of Kamurocho.[67] The first book was a monography dedicated to the game with Mai, a sub-scenario female character, as the cover girl. This character's physical aspect was inspired by its voice actor, Mihiro, a Japanese adult video idol acting in porno films.

Many of the new Yakuza series games since have included a new Kamutai Magazine issue as a preorder bonus in Japan, featuring a voice actress as cover girl. Hence this December 2005 issue was followed by a December 2006 issue (cover girl is Japanese porn star Nana Natsume), a March 2008 issue (cover girl is Taiwanese porn star Yinling of Joytoy) and a February 2009 issue (cover girls are Shizuka Mutou, Sayaka Araki and Rina Sakurai).[59] The fifth issue was bundled with Ryu Ga Gotoku 4 and released in March 2010.

Original video[edit]

Takeshi Miyasaka directed an original video during the promotion period for the western release of the game which depicted Kazuma, Nishiki and Yumi growing up at the Sunflower Orphanage and leaving for Tokyo. This short film called Like a Dragon: Prologue (龍が如く 〜序章〜, ryu ga gotoku -joshou-) serve as a prequel and set up the events which take place in the game.

Feature films[edit]

  • A film adaptation was released in Japanese theaters on March 2, 2007, called Like a Dragon: The Movie (龍が如く 劇場版, ryu ga gotoku: gekijoban). It is based on the first installment of the series and was directed by Takashi Miike. The movie premiered in the United States on June 23 at IFC theater.[68] American distributor Tokyo Shock, a Media Blasters affiliate, released a licensed DVD on February 23, 2010.[69]
  • On September 24, 2020, a new film adaptation of the video games was announced to be in development by Sega, 1212 Entertainment and Wild Sheep Content, with Erik Barmack, Roberto Grande and Joshua Long producing.[70]

Radio dramas[edit]

Since September 2008, Japanese voice actors from the Yakuza series, including Takaya Kuroda (Kazuma Kiryu) and Hidenari Ugaki (Goro Majima), are running a radio drama which is known as Ryu Ga Gotoku Presents Kamuro-cho Radio Station (龍が如くPresents神室町RADIOSTATION). The second season Shin Kamuro-cho Radio Station (新・神室町RADIOSTATION), which covers 2009~2010, is ongoing with back number episodes available for download as podcasts.[71] Past episodes from the 2008~2009 season, Kamuro-cho Radio Station (神室町RADIOSTATION), are also available as archived podcasts.[72]

TV series[edit]

A television series was adapted based on the spin-off PSP title Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō which began airing on TBS on October 5, 2010 and ended after 11 episodes.[73] The series spawned a sequel in 2012 based on the Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen PSP game in 2011, the series also ran for 11 episodes[74]

The Kamurocho Caba Jou TV (神室町キャバ嬢 T V) is a Japanese web television dedicated to the series's cabaret girls. Main contents are audition and girls profile, but it can also be related to other aspect of the game series; for example volume 15 focuses on its soundtrack artists. All shows, called "volumes", are archived within the web TV's official website.[75]


Game Metacritic GameRankings Famitsu
75 of 100[76]
Yakuza 2
77 of 100[79]
Yakuza 3
79 of 100[82]
Yakuza 4
78 of 100[84]
Yakuza 5
83 of 100[86]
Yakuza 0
85 of 100[89]
Yakuza Kiwami
80 of 100[92]
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
83 of 100[95]
Yakuza Kiwami 2
85 of 100[98]
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
84 of 100[100]
Promotion at TGS 2010

The original game was heavily acclaimed in Japan for combining innovative gameplay with cinema-like storytelling and character development on the back of Japan's criminal underground.[102] Weekly Famitsu gave high scores to the series, Yakuza scored 37/40 (92.5/100),[103] Yakuza 2 scored 38/40 (95/100),[104] Ryū Ga Gotoku Kenzan! scored 37/40 (92,5/100),[104] Yakuza 3 scored 38/40 (95/100)[104] and Yakuza 4 scored 38/40 (95/100).[105] Yakuza 5 scored (40/40) which has the highest score out of all of the Yakuza installments. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life scored (39/40).

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.[106] The Japanese entertainment industry gave Yakuza 3 the "Award for Excellence" in the 2009 Japan Game Awards "Games of the Year Division" for its "dramatic story development, freedom of the story and the graphics elaborated up to the details of the work. In addition, amusement found in every portion of the game including the vast number of sub-stories and mini games. This work was awarded the prize for the high quality of entertainment".[107] In 2010, the Japan Game Awards once again gave a Yakuza series game the "Award for Excellence". Yakuza 4 won due to "a rich story with a high degree of freedom that is developed from the different perspectives of the 4 characters. There are also many play spots that boast several sub-stories and mini games. The astounding quality and volume provide a high level of entertainment and was the reason for granting this award".[108] As the protagonist of the series, Kazuma Kiryu is often recognized as a PlayStation mascot.[109]

The western localized versions were released between one and three years after the originals and received generally favorable reviews.[110]


The series sold 3.2 million games worldwide as of 2009[111] and 4 million copies as of September 2010;[112] the best sellers being the first two games which sold between 500,000 – 1 million worldwide, each winning the PlayStation Gold Award.[113] Yakuza 3 sold 500,000 copies in the Asian markets as of 2010, also winning SCEJ's PlayStation Gold Award.[111] However, after Yakuza 4, Sega said that sales were slow in North America and Europe due to "the adverse market condition", noting "sluggish personal consumption" in those regions.[114]

By June 2015, the Yakuza series sold over 7 million units worldwide.[115] As of 2020, the series has sold over 14 million copies.[2]


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External links[edit]