Yakuza (series)

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

Yakuza, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く, Like a Dragon, Japanese: [ɾʲɨᵝː ɡa̠ go̞to̞kɯ̟ᵝ]), is an action-adventure beat 'em up video game franchise created, owned and published by Sega. The series originated from Toshihiro Nagoshi's desire to create 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 primarily focuses on the yakuza Kazuma Kiryu from the Tojo Clan. While Kiryu often assists the Tojo Clan, the series has also featured him searching for another way of life in the form of raising orphans. The gameplay of Yakuza has the player controlling Kiryu (or another character depending on the title) in an open district where he can encounter an enemy or perform an activity in the city to obtain experience.

The franchise has become a commercial and critical success, and as of 2020, Sega has reported that the Yakuza franchise has sold a combined total of 12 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.

Setting[edit]

The Yakuza games are primarily set in Kamurocho, a fictionalized version of the real life Kabukichō district in Tokyo. Throughout the series, characters visit other areas of Japan, such as Osaka in Yakuza 2, 5 and 0, Okinawa in Yakuza 3, Nagasugai, part of the fictional Fukuoka based on Nakasu, Tsukimino, part of the fictional Sapporo based on Susukino and Kin'eicho, part of the fictional Nagoya based on Sakae in Yakuza 5, and Hiroshima in Yakuza 6. The districts and towns in the games correlate to the appearance of each in real life during the year each game comes out, often being renovated and remodeled in new entries. Stores and buildings are often different from their real life counterparts, replacing them with real-life product placements or plot-important locations.

Gameplay[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Characters[edit]

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.[5] Beginning with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ichiban Kasuga became the new series protagonist, through 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.

Kazuma Kiryu[edit]

Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬, Kiryū Kazuma) is a yakuza who takes the blame for his boss' death to protect his best friend, resulting in his expulsion from the clan and a ten-year stay in prison. After leaving prison, Kiryu realizes the crime world has changed and fights against the new threats in his life. As the years pass, Kiryu attempts to put his past behind him and live a normal life, but frequently finds himself unwillingly pulled back into the world of the yakuza.

Haruka Sawamura[edit]

Haruka Sawamura is a young orphan girl looking for her missing mother. Kiryu finds her and takes her in, and goes on to raise her as a daughter throughout the series. While she appears as a non-playable character in a majority of series entries, she makes her first playable appearance in Yakuza 5.[6]

Goro Majima[edit]

Introduced as a member of the Tojo clan, Goro Majima takes an interest in Kiryu, seeing him as a rival and continually seeking to fight against him. The two gradually bond over time, and he eventually becomes one of Kiryu's staunchest allies. Majima's character is explored in more detail during the prequel Yakuza 0, in which he is a 24-year-old former Yakuza and a playable protagonist along with Kiryu. In this game, Majima has a calmer demeanor that develops during a war between multiple families in a fight for a patch of land known as the empty lot.[7] An additional story featuring a playable Majima was added to the remake of Yakuza 2, Yakuza Kiwami 2.[8]

Ichiban Kasuga[edit]

Ichiban Kasuga is a member of Tojo Clan's Arakawa Family, who is asked by the family's patriarch Masumi Arakawa to go to prison for a murder that he didn't commit.[9] Ichiban accepts, hoping that this will make him a hero in the Tojo Clan. Kasuga is released from prison 18 years later, only to find that nobody remembers him; he goes to confront Arakawa, who shoots him in the chest. Several days later, Kasuga wakes up half-naked under a pile of trash and eventually finds out that he is in the Yokohama district of Isezaki Ijincho.

Takayuki Yagami[edit]

Introduced in Judgment, Takayuki Yagami is a former defense attorney who resigned after a client he successfully defended is convicted of murder. Three years later, Yagami is a private detective in his own "Yagami Detective Agency" and investigates a serial killer whose victims' eyes are removed from their corpses.

Games[edit]

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; the series is primarily exclusive to the PlayStation series of consoles, beginning with the PlayStation 2.

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.[10]

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 Platforms
Year Title Year Title PS2 PS3 PS4 PSP Wii U Windows Xbox One Series X iOS/ Android
2005 Ryū ga Gotoku 2006 Yakuza Yes Yes[a] No No Yes[a] No No No No
2006 Ryū ga Gotoku 2 2008 Yakuza 2 Yes Yes[a] No No Yes[a] No No No No
2008 Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! No Yes[a] No No No No No No No
2009 Ryū ga Gotoku 3 2010 Yakuza 3 No Yes Yes No No No No No No
2010 Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu o Tsugumono 2011 Yakuza 4 No Yes Yes No No No No No No
Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō No No No Yes[a] No No No No No
2011 Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END 2012 Yakuza: Dead Souls No Yes No No No No No No No
2012 Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura-hen No No No Yes[a] No No No No No
Ryū ga Gotoku 5: Yume Kanaeshi Mono 2015 Yakuza 5 No Yes Yes No No No No No No
2014 Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! No Yes[a] Yes[a] No No No No No No
2015 Ryū ga Gotoku 0: Chikai no Basho 2017 Yakuza 0 No Yes[a] Yes No No Yes Yes No No
2016 Ryū ga Gotoku: Kiwami Yakuza Kiwami No Yes[a] Yes No No Yes Yes No No
Ryū ga Gotoku 6: Inochi no Uta 2018 Yakuza 6: The Song of Life No No Yes No No No No No No
2017 Ryū ga Gotoku: Kiwami 2 Yakuza Kiwami 2 No No Yes No No Yes Yes No No
2018 Hokuto ga Gotoku Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise No No Yes No No No No No No
Ryū ga Gotoku Online No No No No No Yes[a] No No Yes[a]
Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon 2019 Judgment No No Yes No No No No No No
2020 Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue 2020 Yakuza: Like a Dragon No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No
Notes
  •  Spinoff 
  •  Remake 
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Released only in Japan.

Main series[edit]

Release timeline
2005Yakuza
2006Yakuza 2
2007
2008
2009Yakuza 3
2010Yakuza 4
2011
2012Yakuza 5
2013
2014
2015Yakuza 0
2016Yakuza Kiwami
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
2017Yakuza Kiwami 2
2018
2019
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 crime fiction. The main story 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.

Yakuza[edit]

The first game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬 Kiryū Kazuma), 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. The Tojo Clan he was once a member of has had ¥10 billion (approximately US$100 million) stolen from their vault. The search for the money, undertaken by the entire Japanese underworld, results in Kiryu being forced back into the brutal, lawless world of the yakuza. A mysterious young girl would lead Kiryu to the answers, if he can keep her alive.

Yakuza 2[edit]

In December 2006, Kazuma Kiryu has left his post as the Fourth Chairman of the Tojo Clan, Japan's most violent crime syndicate. When an all-out war erupts, Kiryu must return and uphold the honor of his former clan, with brutal clashes with rival gangs, the police, and the Korean mafia through the back alleys and neon-lit nightclubs of Tokyo and Osaka.

Yakuza 3[edit]

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 an impending business deal 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.

Yakuza 4[edit]

In March 2010, Kazuma Kiryu is again involved in an incident in Kamurocho. First, a man is fatally shot on the turf of the powerful Tojo 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.

Yakuza 5[edit]

In December 2012, the seventh chairman of the Omi Alliance is on his deathbed. His death would end the truce between the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance, leading to a war between the clans. To prepare, 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 new organization, rivaling that of the Omi Alliance. This new alliance would breach the old traditional barriers of clan territories, leading Daigo Dojima to head for Fukuoka.

Yakuza 0[edit]

In December 1988, many years before the original Yakuza, a young Kazuma Kiryu is framed for the murder of a civilian, leading him to be hunted by members of the Tojo clan. At the same time, Goro Majima finds himself protecting a helpless blind girl whom he was ordered to assassinate, making him a target himself. 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[edit]

In 2016, after willingly spending three years in prison for his past crimes, Kazuma Kiryu is released only to discover that his adoptive daughter Haruka has disappeared, later found comatose and critically injured after a hit-and-run incident. A devastated Kiryu decides to travel to Onomichi Jingaicho in Hiroshima, hoping to find the truth behind what happened to Haruka.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon[edit]

In 2019, Ichiban Kasuga, a former member of the Tojo Clan's Arakawa Family who is released after 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, ends up in Yokohama after the police and the Omi Alliance join forces.

Spin-offs[edit]

Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan![edit]

The first Yakuza series 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.[11]

Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō[edit]

Formerly known under the working title "Project K", Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (also known as Yakuza: Black Panther) 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.[12]

Yakuza: Dead Souls[edit]

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,[13] but the release was delayed to June 9, 2011 following the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011.[14] The game was later released in the west in March 2012.[15]

Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura Hen[edit]

Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen is a sequel to Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō. It was released in Japan on March 22, 2012.

Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin![edit]

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.[16]

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise[edit]

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,[17] and worldwide on October 2, 2018.[18] 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[edit]

Ryu ga Gotoku Online is a free-to-play spin-off released on Android, iOS, and PC on November 21, 2018.[19] The game features both Kazuma Kiryu and new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga.

Judgment[edit]

Judgment, known in Japan as Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon, is a legal thriller set in the Yakuza world, in Kamurocho, and follows private detective Takayuki Yagami, who investigates a serial murder case.[20] 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.[21]

Rereleases[edit]

Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition[edit]

A high-definition remaster of the first two games in the series was released in Japan on November 1, 2012 for PlayStation 3.[22] 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.[23][24] Both versions of the compilation were only released in Japan.

Yakuza Kiwami[edit]

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.[25] 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.[26] The game was later released for Microsoft Windows via Steam on February 19, 2019.[27]

Yakuza Kiwami 2[edit]

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.

Yakuza Remastered Collection[edit]

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,[28] though some content was removed from all versions, such as a set of missions in Yakuza 3 featuring a transphobic character depiction.[29] 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.[28]

Production[edit]

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.[30]

Marketing[edit]

Don Quijote in real life
Don Quijote in Yakuza
The Don Quijote store in Kamurocho (left), and its real-life equivalent in Kabukichō. Note how the real store was advertising the Yakuza-series spin-off game Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen, as well as the Ryu ga Gotoku Studio-developed Binary Domain at the time this picture was taken.

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.[31]

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[32]

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 has 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.

The PlayStation 3 installments' realistic character design is based on Cyberware 3D scanner, Softimage XSI 6.5 3D models[32] 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.[33]

Music[edit]

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.

Adaptations[edit]

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,[34] limited edition PlayStation 3 console packs,[35][36] Kubrick toys[37] and action figures manufactured by Maitan.[38]

Books[edit]

With the original game in 2005, Sega created a pre-order campaign limited item called Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン). This color 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. Each new game release coincides with a new Kamutai Magazine issue 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). 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 film[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.[39] American distributor Tokyo Shock, a Media Blasters affiliate, released a licensed DVD on February 23, 2010.[40]

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.[41] Past episodes from the 2008~2009 season, Kamuro-cho Radio Station (神室町RADIOSTATION), are also available as archived podcasts.[42]

Web TV[edit]

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.[43]

Reception[edit]

Game Metacritic GameRankings Famitsu
Yakuza
75 of 100[44]
77.67%[45]
37/40[46]
Yakuza 2
77 of 100[47]
78.41%[48]
38/40[49]
Yakuza 3
79 of 100[50]
79.92%[51]
38/40
Yakuza 4
78 of 100[52]
79.98%[53]
38/40
Yakuza 5
83 of 100[54]
83.79%[55]
40/40[56]
Yakuza 0
85 of 100[57]
85.25%[58]
36/40[59]
Yakuza Kiwami
80 of 100[60]
79.79%[61]
34/40[62]
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
83 of 100[63]
84.60%[64]
39/40[65]
Yakuza Kiwami 2
85 of 100
85.01%
37/40[66]
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.[67] Weekly Famitsu gave high scores to the series, Yakuza scored 37/40 (92.5/100),[68] Yakuza 2 scored 38/40 (95/100),[69] Ryū Ga Gotoku Kenzan! scored 37/40 (92,5/100),[69] Yakuza 3 scored 38/40 (95/100)[69] and Yakuza 4 scored 38/40 (95/100).[70] 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.[71] 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".[72] 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".[73] As the protagonist of the series, Kazuma Kiryu is often recognized as a PlayStation mascot.[74]

The western localized versions were released between one and three years after the originals and received generally favorable reviews.[75]

Sales[edit]

The series sold 3.2 million games worldwide as of 2009[76] and 4 million copies as of September 2010;[77] the best sellers being the first two games which sold between 500,000 – 1 million worldwide, each winning the PlayStation Gold Award.[78] Yakuza 3 sold 500,000 copies in the Asian markets as of 2010, also winning SCEJ's PlayStation Gold Award.[76] 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.[79]

By June 2015, the Yakuza series sold over 7 million units worldwide.[80] As of 2019, the series has sold over 12 million copies.[2]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]