Video Game / Yakuza

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"Midoriyama": Kiryu is the way yakuza used to be. We kept the streets clean. People liked us. We didn't bother ordinary citizens. We respected our bosses. Now, guys like that only exist in video games.
"Shirokawa": I don't know any ex-yakuza running orphanages.
"Kuroishi": There was one a few years ago. A good guy.
"Midoriyama": You sure it wasn't just a tax shelter?
"Kuroishi": Sure it was a tax shelter but he ran it like a legitimate thing. You know.

Step forward if you wanna die!
Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima

Yakuza, or as it's known in Japan, Ryu ga Gotoku (lit. Like a Dragon), is a video game brawler series for the PS2, PS3, and PS4 with a spinoff series for the PSP. The series mostly follows the man with the dragon tattoo, Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬, Kiryū Kazuma), the "Dragon of Dojima". Kiryu is a former yakuza whose release from prison after a 10-year sentence, for a crime he didnít commit, sparks the setup of the first game's plot involving huge conspiracies, yakuza members at war with each other, mystery solving hard boiled police, lives being lost, tears being shed, punks being beaten, and that formula more or less has stayed with the series since the start.

Ryu ga Gotoku was heavily acclaimed in Japan for being the first game to explore Yakuza culture with such depth and as it is claimed authenticity to the nature of Japan's criminal underground, and it was such a financial success for SEGA that both a localization of the first game and sequel were released the following year, and so far the series as a whole has no end in sight.

The series is basically old school Beat 'em Up with a sandbox setting and RPG elements. While you can just follow the story and play it as a straightforward beat 'em up, there are TONS of sidequests, minigames and secrets to do and find, many of them quite challenging, unique, even funny sometimes. Players can help people on the street with myriad problems, find hidden illegal gambling halls to play in, go to the batting cage to hit a few balls or find an enigmatic martial artist to learn many powerful moves from. And in good ol' Shōnen / Seinen series fashion, there's even underground fighting tournaments to participate in, complete with a caged arena. The amount of things to do in the games is mindblowing.

Fighting enemies earns you experience points to gain new moves to punish them with, and you can also learn new moves by doing sidequests. There's also tons of items and equipment to find, and you can even create your own. The series is considered by many players to be the spiritual successor to Shenmue, and is also compared to such classic old-school series as Streets of Rage and River City Ransom. As the series goes on, we get more playable characters, explore more locations, gain more and more variety with the combat, and have more relatively mundane and extremely crazy side-activities to do with each installment.

One important facet of the combat that has been integral throughout the series and is it's most iconic feature is the HEAT system. As you score hits in battle and dodge attacks, the player character builds up a meter than can be expunged to perform one of several context-sensitive moves that utterly destroy your opponent. Ever wanted to pick up a bike and slam it on someones head? How about backdrop them onto a guardrail, or even glue two fools together? These games lets you do that and more, much more. By Yakuza 5, Kiryu has over 100 HEAT moves- not counting the other 4 protagonists moves, which all total somewhere around his amount. Oh, and there's new ones each game, though each game evolves the combat in a major way, like Yakuza 0 introducing styles.

After the commercial failure of Dead Souls, Sega had lost hope for the Yakuza series in the west. Considering that the (pretty much still ongoing) zombie craze was at a high point when Dead Souls was released and the game seemed to have been made to cater to the west itself, itís not exactly hard to see why SEGA just gave up on it. So the series went on, and in December 2012 Ryu ga Gotoku 5: Fulfiller of Dreams was released in Japan (and only Japan) featuring five different protagonists and cities. It received a perfect 40/40 score from Famitsu magazine, a first for the series.

In late September, 2013 Sega had shut down its Western Yakuza websites, making it officially known to the world that they lost hope and would no longer be exporting the Yakuza games anymore. A sad end for the Yakuza fans around the world, that is until December 2014 when Sony announced that they made a partnership with Sega and that they will be releasing Ryu ga Gotoku 5 as Yakuza 5 for a PSN digital download via the PlayStation Network, bringing the series back outside Japan after three years of hibernation. Though Yakuza 5 took longer than expected, it was released on December 8, 2015 (which marks the ten year anniversary of the series in Japan), and to compensate for the wait, the US release includes all the DLC and if preordered, it would be sold at a reduced price.

Though the series was just coming back to the west, it was still going strong in its homeland, with the Japanese-only Ryū ga Gotoku Inshin! (Restoration!) coming to the PS3 and also PS4 (a first for this series). The following year saw the release of a prequel titled Ryu ga Gotoku 0: Chikai no Basho (The Location of the Oath), once again for PS3 and PS4, scaling back from the fifth game, as it focuses on the exploits of Kiryu and Majima during December of 1988 and will show how they became the people they are as of Yakuza 1. To celebrate the series 10 years of existence, a remake of the first game titled Ryu ga Gotoku: Kiwami (Extreme) will be released for January 21, 2016, containing additional scenes added to the first game's story, for both the PS3 and PS4 again. Ryū ga Gotoku 6 will be released in the same year, but only for PS4.

On a lighter, more silly note, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima are set to appear in Project X Zone 2, in their Dead Souls incarnations, guns and all.

On December 5, 2015 at Sonyís PlayStation Experience, Sega announced that Yakuza 0 would be released in the Americas. On March 22, 2016, they announced that the game would also be headed to Europe. Only the PlayStation 4 version will be released with a projected release date for both regions in early 2017. Sega also announced that they would handle the game's localization, meaning they have hope once more for this series' future.

Also compare Binary Domain, a sci-fi third person shooter made in the team's downtime between games. It also uses the series's engine to great extent, and is so far the only game made by this team that's multiplatform. It also carries a lot of the spirit of this series on it's back, and if you're a fan of these games you might like it.

Like a dragon, this series is flying high, staying strong, has a strong will to do whatever it wants, and is pretty much hard to kill.

Games and other media revolving the Yakuza franchise:

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    Main Series Games 

  • Yakuza 1 aka Like a Dragon (龍が如く "Ryū ga Gotoku"): Released in December 8, 2005 in Japan, and September 5/15, 2006 for NA/Europe for the PS2, this first in the long running Yakuza series. Set in December 2005. The story follows a yakuza named Kazuma Kiryu, who, after spending ten years in jail for a crime he did not commit, learns that 10 billion yen has been stolen from the Tojo clan, which the criminal underworld is searching for. He finds an orphaned girl Haruka who is being targeted by the clan, as she is believed to have the key for their lost money, and he resolves to protect her. The game takes place in the Kamurocho district, which is a realistic recreation of Tokyo's Kabukicho district. Along the way, conspiracies are discovered, everyone is going after your head, and you must beat up punks brave enough to fight you. Get used to this folks.

  • Yakuza 2 aka Like a Dragon 2 (龍が如く2 "Ryū ga Gotoku 2"): Released in December 7, 2006 in Japan and September 9/19, 2008 in NA/Europe for the PS2. Set in December 2006. Yakuza 2 expands on the predecessors setting by having 2 cities to explore this time around: Kamurocho and Sōtenbori and Shinseicho areas modeled after Osaka's respectively Dōtonbori and Shinsekai districts. The game focuses on the former yakuza Kazuma Kiryu who receives a request for help from his former group, the Tojo Clan, to keep relationships with the eastern group, the Omi Family, stable. He is also assigned to gain the help of his late boss' son, Daigo Dojima, and convince him to take charge of the Tojo and become their new chairman. Across Kazuma's journey he learns of a Korean mafia group linked with the Omi Family and becomes the rival of the Omi's "Kansai Dragon", Ryuji Goda. The story is full of conspiracies, havoc, brawls, all tightly wrapped up in a crime noir setting.

  • Yakuza 3 aka Like a Dragon 3 (龍が如く3 "Ryū ga Gotoku 3"): Released in February 26, 2009 for Japan and March 9/12, 2010 for US and Europe. Primarily set in 2009, but has a couple chapters set in 2008 and one set in 2006. Yakuza 3 takes a departure from the first two games with its choice of setting: instead of focusing on the gritty cityscape of Tokyo and Osaka, it switches gears and sends Kazuma Kiryu to the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa, where he runs the Sunshine Orphanage (Morning Glory (アサガオ Asagao) in Japanese) with his adoptive daughter Haruka Sawamura. Sunshine Orphanage is on a land that is owned by Shigeru Nakahara, the boss of a local yakuza clan known as the Ryudo Family 琉道一家 (Ryūdō Ikka). Nakahara is under pressure from the country's government to sell the land, which is planned to become a seaside resort. When his friend Daigo Dojima is shot by a man thought to have been killed in the first game, Kiryu must deal with the three gang bosses who arranged the attempted murder and to figure out what is going on.

  • Yakuza 4 aka Like a Dragon 4: Successor of the Legend (龍が如く4 伝説を継ぐもの "Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu o Tsugumono"): Released in March 18, 2010 in Japan, March 15/18, 2011 for NA/Europe. Set in March 2010. The game marks a major change for the series as Kazuma is not the only playable character now, there are 4 of them. The setting instead stays in Kamurocho, but now the setting has grown vertically, meaning you can climb rooftops and go underground. Shun Akiyama is an easy going loan shark, known for giving out a gracious amount of cash, rarely asking for any of it back, and wants his clients to do something positive for the community to prove themselves that they are worthy of getting loans. He is contacted by a mysterious woman named Lily for a loan of 100,000,000 Yen for unknown reasons. Taiga Saejima is a former yakuza member from the Sasai family under the Tojo Clan. He has been sentenced to death after killing 18 men in a ramen shop, but escapes captivity and is now trying to find out the truth behind the assassination. Masayoshi Tanimura is a young cop who is infamously known as "The Parasite of Kamurochu" who is investigating the death of his late father who was also a cop. Kazuma Kiryu meets with Goh Hamazaki, who has escaped from jail, telling him that the money stolen from the Tojo Clan in 2005 (See Yakuza 1) is somehow connected to the current crisis the Tojo Clan is facing.

  • Yakuza 5 aka Like a Dragon 5: Fulfiller of Dreams (龍が如く5 夢、叶えし者 "Ryu ga Gotoku 5: Yume Kanaeshi Mono"): Released in December 6, 2012 in Japan and December 8, 2015 for the rest of the world, the game features five different protagonists and cities!! According to producer Toshihiro Nagoshi and writer Masayoshi Yokoyama, it is like the "San Andreas" of the Yakuza series, in that it is a "massive expansion on the core concept that takes the franchise to new heights". Kazuma Kiryu, who is going by the fake name "Taichi Suzuki", has become a taxi driver in Fukuoka. Taiga Saejima is serving a 2-year jail sentence in Hokkaido following the events of the previous game, while Shun Akiyama is in Osaka on a business trip. Haruka Sawamura has also left the orphanage in Okinawa and is currently in Osaka pursuing a career of becoming an Idol. She currently lives independently in Osaka and practices singing and dancing, though her talent agency is not all that it seems. The new character in the series, Tatsuo Shinada, is a former baseball player who was given a life ban for gambling, but may have been framed.

    Previously, in 2010 a ceasefire between the two yakuza clans of the Tojo Clan and the Ueno Seiwa Clan ended with the revelation of a conspiracy by the police force following the events of Yakuza 4. The Tojo Clan then underwent a major reorganization under the leadership of 6th chairman, Daigo Dojima, and a truce with the Omi Alliance was formed. However, two years later in December 2012, the 7th chairman of the Omi Alliance is on his deathbed. With the death of the 7th chairman it would mean that the truce between the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance would be broken leading to a war between the clans. In order to prepare, the Tojo Clan is forced to strengthen their organization by aligning themselves with older clans based in other major cities across Japan, in order to create a new organization rivaling that of the Omi Alliance. This new alliance would breach the old traditional barriers of Clan territories and so Daigo Dojima heads for Fukuoka. Basically this is the series biggest game to date.

  • Yakuza 0 aka Like a Dragon 0: The Location of Oath (龍が如く0 誓いの場所 "Ryū ga Gotoku Zero, Chikai No Basho"): Released for the PS3 and PS4 in March 12, 2015 for Japan, May 4, 2015 for Taiwan, and a planned release date for NA/EU somewhere in early 2017. A prequel to the series, the game takes place in 1988 in Japan, you play as not only a young (and more hot-headed) Kazuma Kiryu, but also as a young (and much less insane) Goro Majima playing as him in a canonical game for the first time. This game serves as a setup for much of the conflict in the first. Kiryu's story focuses on him being framed for murdering someone on land the Tojo clan wants for their own purposes, sending him on the run to prove his innocence while dodging gang members that want to off him to gain status in the clan. Majima, on the other hand, is forced to run a hostess club while under surveillance for the events explained in Yakuza 4. Majima is eventually given an early way out if he can kill a target for his clan- a defenseless blind woman. Majima can't bring himself to do it, and takes on a role as her protector as legions of Yakuza try to finish his job of killing her.

    Console Spinoffs 

  • Like a Dragon Arrives! (龍が如く 見参! "Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!"): Released in March 6, 2008 in Japan (and only Japan). Kenzan is the first game in the series to be released on the the PS3 (hence the word Kenzan/Arrives), but with a twist, as the entire game takes place in Edo period Japan, and all the characters in the game look like the characters from the previous Ryu ga Gotoku games, except they're taking place of historical figures or as themselves in the past, for example Kazuma in this game is actually famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi while Haruka is still Haruka. As for the plot, after being defeated by the Tokugawa clan at the historical Battle of Sekigahara, Miyamoto Musashi retired from his great swordsman life to become a modest yojimbo in Gion, Kyoto. Five years after the battle, a little girl named Haruka comes to Gion seeking a local hitman known as Kazumanosuke Kiryu (which is actually Miyamoto's new identity). After eventually finding Kiryū, Haruka asks for him to assassinate an impostor pretending to be Miyamoto Musashi. At first, Kiryu refuses, but when the girl goes as far as to become an indentured servant in an opulent oiran brothel in order to pay the assassination mission he accepts the one-ryō request.

  • Yakuza Dead Souls aka Like a Dragon OF THE END (龍が如く OF THE END "Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END"): Released in June 9, 2011 for Japan, and March 13/16, 2012 for NA/EU, this time around it's a story about Kazuma and his companions facing off, umm... an outbreak of the living dead. As you may have guessed, this is not canon. The game is set during April 2011, when the residents of Kamurocho have become zombies. Witnessing the start of the outbreak through the eyes of Shun Akiyama, a local loan shark. Kamurocho is slowly quarantined as the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is called in to contain the outbreak. Now only one soldier remains alive, Misuzu Asagi. After receiving a phone call from a mysterious man who has kidnapped Haruka, Kiryu returns from Okinawa. Now, four men are the only hope - the mysterious money-lender Shun Akiyama, feared yakuza and construction company owner "Mad Dog" Goro Majima, the Dragon of Kansai who has finally awoken from a long sleep, Ryuji Goda, and the legendary former yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu. These four men are the only people who can defend the town, and must fight to save it.

  • Like a Dragon Restoration! (龍が如く 維新! "Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!"): Released in February 22, 2014 for Japan (only, again), this is the first Ryū ga Gotoku game released for the PS4, though it was also released for the PS3. Like Kenzan! the characters in this game are represented through characters from the now much larger library of Ryu ga Gotoku games, and this game takes place in an older period of Japan, specifically the chaotic Bakumatsu period (during and shortly after the American Civil War). Ryoma Sakamoto (represented by Kazuma Kiryu) is distressed resulting from conflicting pressures and uncertainty about one's self and role in the society. Being embroiled in the middle of a Tosa coup d'état and bent on finding the murderer who assassinated his mentor, Ryoma burrows himself with a hidden identity in the streets of Kyoto and joins the grim Shinsengumi.

    Handheld Spinoffs 

  • Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō is a spinoff series for the PSP developed by Syn Sophia, who are known in the west for developing the first two Def Jam titles. These titles focus on Tatsuya, an aimless youth on the streets of Kamurocho who dropped out of high school during his second year and lives a hoodlum's life with Tenma (his only friend) and Saeko, his sister who raised him for nine years after their mother's death. Due to the nature of these PSP games being Japan exclusive, there isn't enough knowledge on them as much as we wish, so if you are able to help us with these titles, please can you?

    • Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (クロヒョウ 龍が如く新章 lit. "Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter): Released for Japan only on September 22, 2010.

    • Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen クロヒョウ2 龍が如く 阿修羅編 lit. "Black Panther: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter): Released for Japan only on March 22, 2012.

    Other forms of media 

  • Books
    • Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン): 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. Since then, 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 & Rina Sakurai). The fifth issue was bundled with Ryu Ga Gotoku 4 and released in March 2010 (info from Wikipedia).

  • Live Action Adaptations
    • Like a Dragon: Prologue (Original Video Film): A 2006 Japanese crime drama Original Video directed by Takeshi Miyasaka with Takashi Miike as executive director. This film was made to be a prologue to the original game itself, focusing on Kazuma, Yumi, and Nishiki during their childhood in the Sunflower Orphanage. The film was also released by Sega Europe on August 15, 2006 on the game's European website.
    • Yakuza/Like a Dragon (Theatrical Film): A 2007 Japanese crime film directed by Takashi Miike, which is an adaptation of the 2005 original Yakuza game. Being directed by Takashi Miike, the film carries the style from the original games with Kazuma actually gaining heat as he fights, and Kazuma using a healing item (that comes out of nowhere, using hyperspace game logic) to help him win the fight against Nishiki.
    • Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (TV Drama): An adaptation of the game televised from October 5 to December 21, 2010 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

  • Radio dramas
    • Ryu Ga Gotoku Presents Kamuro-cho Radio Station (龍が如くPresents神室町RADIOSTATION
    • Shin Kamuro-cho Radio Station (新・神室町RADIOSTATION)

  • Web TV
    • Kamurocho Caba Jou TV (神室町キャバ嬢 T V)


This game series includes examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Probably one of the most well known aspects of the series, each game in the series offers a myriad ways for the player to be occupied; all with counts down to that 100% mark. Crafting weapons, dating hostesses, singing karaoke, gambling, etc.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Yakuza 4 allow the characters to go through Kamurocho's sewers, which Saejima uses to avoid any police presence due to him being a wanted man. They return in 5 to reach Purgatory and are used in the finale.
  • Alternate World Map: Sotonbori in the second and fifth sequels. Downtown Ryukyu in the third. Sapporo and Fukuoka in the fifth sequel.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The male massager who provides the protagonists a Super V.I.P massage
  • A Protagonist Is Ryu: Kazuma Kiryu obviously, but in a subversion, though, his rival in the second game is Ryuji Goda, another dragon-themed character (although he's more a Noble Demon than a full-blown bad guy, and he still exhibits many traits associated with his name).
  • Action Commands: Some of Kazuma's Heat Actions have these to potentially increase their damage (and pain to the unfortunate recepient). And in the second game, these sometimes crop up when Kazuma has to avoid some damaging move, tying in with Press X to Not Die.
  • Action Girl / Fair Cop: Kaoru Sayama
  • Actually Four Mooks: Used extensively. Anytime you walk into some random punk on the streets, you may safely assume that he's got anywhere between 1 and 3 buddies hiding somewhere Behind the Black, ready to jump in to help him the moment the fighting starts.
    • Also used with an amusing twist by a Recurring Boss in the third game, the Abhorrent Admirer Drag Queen, Michiru. His uncanny ability to pop up behind you when you least expect it culminates in a lengthy chase where, every time you think you've shaken him, he appears AGAIN, right in front of you, Daffy Duck style. In the end, it's revealed that he's actually a team of cross-dressing identical triplets, and the other two were just chasing you to make sure you 'broke up' with the real Michiru so she could get back together with her Drag-King ex-'boy'friend.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Played over the end credits for the first game.
  • An Aesop: Many of the side quests end in one, and sometimes from extremely bizarre scenarios.
  • Anyone Can Die: Played straight in the first game, with very few of the important cast members surviving to the end. From 2 onwards, with the game being established as a series, the important characters now enjoy a hefty coat of Plot Armor, but new characters are still very much at risk of being in the wrong end of a gun. Funnily enough, new characters that make it to the end of their introductory game are safe, with one notable exception: Yukio Terada.
  • Artifact Title: While you do interact with the yakuza a lot in this series, Kazuma himself is only in the Yakuza in the first game for the prologue mission, and in 0 he's on the run from the yakuza. Not to mention the spinoff in the zombie apocalypse or the Japanese exclusive spinoffs in Edo period japan if one were to translate the title to what it's branded in the west.
    • Averted with the literal translation of the Japanese title, as Like a Dragon perfectly captures the style and spirit of this series from start to end.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Koji Shindo was just a lieutenant of the Nishiki Family notable for leading the back alley ambush on Kazuma at Serena in the first game. In the second, he became the Patriarch of the Nishiki Family.
    • Hiroshi Hayashi was one of Ryuji Goda's right-hand men in 2. In Dead Souls, he's a freaking zombie. And not just any zombie. He's the insanely durable zombie (mutant may be a more suitable term for him) who kicks off the zombie outbreak. Granted, he didn't turn into one by will, and wanted to stop Nikaido and DD from whatever their plans were before he was mutated.
  • Ass Shove If Akiyama becomes friends with the owner of the M Store, he will come out and throw Akiyama a magazine if he gets into a fight right outside, which will then be shoved up your assailant's rear end with enough force to make him flip through the air.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking Kazuma taking the title of Chairman of the Tojo Clan. Later Daigo Dojima in future games. Expect a lot of yakuza bosses to fall under this as well.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Quite so many songs to hear while fighting enemies, especially bosses, such as:
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Essence of Pole Dancing in Yakuza 3. Learned by watching a drunk perform a pole dance on a lamppost, it does good damage, is an incredibly flashy looking hurricanrana, and... well, was learned by watching a drunk perform a pole dance on a lamppost. However, it uses up your HEAT gauge and far more importantly, instantly removes your drunken status. Also it's very easy to accidentally do when you're trying to perform another HEAT action.
    • There's also the other drunk Essence, Essence of Drunken Thrust. Same thing as the one above, but the one upside it has is that it's easier to pull off without doing another HEAT action. Others Essences requires certain environment objects, so during some storyline missions, you won't be able to pull these off.
    • A good chunk of the weapons fall into this, especially the Patriarch weapons. High power, but will break in about five swings.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The Revelation mechanic. By witnessing some bizarre and awesome accidents and fights, the heroes can get inspiration for new combat maneuvers.
  • Ax-Crazy: Goro Majima. Holy crap.
  • Back from the Dead: Lau Ka Long in the third game. Considering he doesn't survive this encounter, this is also a case of Back for the Dead.
  • Badass: Kiryu Kazuma
    • In fact, nearly anyone who is an ally or associate of Kazuma is a badass in some way.
  • Badass Crew: Everyone who supported and helped Kazuma has at least done something awesome to earn this. Two of them being his True Companions in 4 (Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura) and the other playable characters in Dead Souls (Akiyama again, Goda, Majima). The Amon clan in 4 also qualify.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Deborah in the original is populated solely by people who exist to be beaten up by you.
  • Batter Up: Goro Majima, in one of his more psycho moments, takes a baseball bat to one of his underlings.
    Majima: This is the part where you're SUPPOSED TO LAUGH! [WHACK!] LAUGH YOU STUPID MUTHAFUCKA!
    • In Dead Souls, Majima uses his shotgun as a bat to knock a thrown grenade into the mouth of a boss monster.
    • The bat's HEAT action first involves hitting the target in the knee, wind up...and HOME RUN TO THE FACE!
    • In Ryu Ga Gotoku 0, Majima gains a fighting style centered around using a bat.
    • Subverted by Shinada in 5, who is a ex-baseball player who refuses to tarnish his beloved sport by using baseball bats as weapons. If he picks one up, he'll gently set it down.
  • Battle Strip: Anytime a major boss battle is about to happen, the characters will rip off their clothes in a single swoop.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The two hidden (and illegal) Casinos as well as the (also hidden and illegal) Cho-Han Dice Parlor in Kamurocho, although oddly enough they don't offer a direct cash payout, rather relying on a prize exchange system. There's also the Volcano Video Slot Parlor which is more legal and also relies on a prize exchange system for the payoffs.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The other side of Kazuma, once he has been pushed. Don't push him.
    • Akiyama is harder to push (Given his mostly carefree nature) but misuse money or people in any way and he will literally kick your ass to curb.
  • Big Bad: Sohei Dojima in the prequel, Akira Nishiki and Kyohei Jingu in the first one, Kim Taejin and Ryuji Goda in the second, Yoshitaka Mine in the third, Isao Katsuragi in the forth, Tetsu Nikaido in Dead Souls, and Tsubasa Kurosawa in the fifth.
    • Man Behind the Man: Ryo Takashima in the second game; Andre Richardson in the third; Seishiro Munakata in the fourth, DD in Dead Souls.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The third game introduces Tsuyoshi Kanda, third patriarch of the Nishiki family. He is shown to be short tempered, violent to his men and also seemingly a rapist, and is named as the most likely suspect for Kashiwagi's murder. Then you actually fight him and it's revealed he's only good at hitting you with furniture, he's too stupid to plan something like an assassination attempt, and the implied rapes are actually heavy handed back massages, which some of his victims end up liking!
    • The same game has Hamazaki, who comes closer, but he vanishes from the plot after Lau's death.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The first game may have resulted in Kazuma saving the Tojo from absolute ruin but led to the death of nearly all his old friends, his mentor/father figure, former best friend, and love interest to the point he was actually willing to go back to jail if Date hadn't snapped him out of it by pointing out he still had Haruka to watch over.
    • The third game. While Kiryu is able to stop the smugglers and save the clan, several good people have died in the process.
  • Boss Battle:
    • Bonus Boss: Jo Amon, an assassin who makes an appearance in every game, shows up when certain requirements are fulfilled. In the fourth game, he makes an appearance with his three brothers to take on Kazuma, Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura. By Dead Souls, he's outdone by his zombified ancestor in Kamurucho's underground (you know, the one full of zombies and mutants waiting to kick your ass). Players are usually rewarded for defeating him with a Game Breaker, since he's just that hard to kill. Kazuto Arase returns in the third game as one after you have hunted down all of the rival assassins of the Honest Living Association.
    • Dual Boss: Akai Brothers, Sengoku's pet tigers, Shun Akiyama and Masayoshi Tanimura
    • Duel Boss: Goro Majima, Akira Nishikiyama, Ryuji Goda, Jouji Kazama
    • Final Boss: Akira Nishikiyama, Ryuji Goda, Yoshitaka Mine, Seishiro Munakata, Masato Aizawa, Keiji Shibusawa
    • Flunky Boss: Kazuto Arase, Futoshi Shimano, Kyohei Jingu, Yukio Terada, Andre Richardson
    • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Kazuto Arase, Kyohei Jingu, Tetsuo Tamashiro and Seishiro Munakata
    • High Speed Battle: Masayoshi Tanimura chases Junji Sugiuchi on speedboats at the Tokyo Bay
    • King Mook: Yuji Shiraki, Akai Brothers, Saito
    • Recurring Boss: Goro Majima, Futoshi Shimano, Hiroshi Hayashi, Ryuji Goda, Tetsuo Tamashiro, Andre Richardson, Daisaku Minami, Saito, Daisaku Kuze
    • Sequential Boss:
      • Hideaki Arai, Takeshi Kido, Daigo Dojima and Seishiro Munakata in 4
  • Boss Rush: 4's climax is played this way, with each playable character pairing up with a different opponent. In order, we have Akiyama vs. Arai, Saejima vs. Kido, Kazuma vs. Daigo and Tanimura vs. Munakata (and his personal corrupt Special Assault Team squad.)
    • Starting with the 3rd game, additional "Ultimate Skill" missions are unlocked after beating the game. The final challenges involve various boss rushes, with the final one usually being a boss rush against almost every single boss in the game.
  • Boss Remix: The fight against Goro Majima in the first game is a remix of the game's main theme, titled "Receive You - The Prototype". Each game has a new remix of the song when he's fought against in them.
  • Breakable Weapons: The series does include a exact counter to how many hits the weapon can take before it breaks. Equipable weapons can be repaired...for a hefty price.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One holding 100 million Yen plays a role in Yakuza 4.
    • In 0, Kiryu purchases businesses by dramatically opening a briefcase full of money.
  • Bullet Time: In certain mini-games that don't rely on physical combat, the heat gauge can be used to slow down time instead. This can range from baseball, air hockey, and actual shooting during car chases.
  • Bullying a Dragon: While most random encounters are cases of Mugging the Monster, many thugs and gangs seek out fights against you knowing full well who you are and thinking they can take you anyway, often believing that beating him would skyrocket their reputation.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Almost literally. Yakuza 3's main story starts with Kiryu being called, that a friend has been shot. The secondary story, is that the call keeps trying to evict him. Happens again during the fourth game, although to be fair, Kiryu has less of a personal stake in the matter (compare the safety of his kids versus his loyalty to the Tojo, which is still pretty freaking big).
    • Kiryu suffers from this hard in 5. It seems that despite moving to Fukuoka and going by the alias "Taichi Suzuki", either everyone who wants to bring him out of hiding knows where he lives and how to get his attention, or stumble upon him by accident.
  • Call to Agriculture: Kazuma's call is to manage a tiny beachfront orphanage with ten kids in it, but it's the same idea: this is his peaceful retirement from a life of crime. Or so he hoped, until Yakuza 3 happened.
  • Car Fu: In the first game, everyone's favorite Psycho for Hire Goro Majima literally crashes the party at the Shangri-La soapland with a truck.
    Majima: LET'S FUCK THIS SHIT UUUUUUP!!
    • When Futoshi Shimano grabs Kazuma on his second encounter at Shiabura Wharf, a mook starts up his car ready to pummel the bound Kazuma and a successful hit deals massive damage if the player doesn't manage to break free of Shimano's grasp.
    • In Yakuza 3 Majima outdoes himself by being The Cavalry to a surrounded Kazuma, with a semi-truck.
    • An Action Command must be used at one point in Yakuza 4 to allow Tanimura to safely dodge a truck that takes a swing at taking him out.
    • Starts cropping up more often in Yakuza 5 in comparison to previous games, during story sequences where the player is running through the city to get somewhere. Saejima goes to the point of stopping one cold by rooting himself in place.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: To Ocelot levels, for some characters.
  • The City Narrows: Purgatory.
  • Colour Coded Characters:
    • Kazuma Kiryu = White
    • Shun Akiyama = Red
    • Taiga Saejima = Turquoise
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Blue
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Gray
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Oh my fucking God yes. At least in the first game's English dub, which was the only game that had one.
    • Somewhat averted in future games, as the original Japanese dialogue is much tamer compared to the first game, which spews F-bombs any chance it gets.
  • Compilation Re-release: In Japan, the first two games were given an HD upgrade as Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which also upgraded the first game's combat with features found in the second.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Elite bosses are pretty much the only real threat to Kazuma and company. Mooks exist to be splattered across the curb in spectacular fashion.
  • Container Maze: Tanimura fights through an army of mooks in the docks of Tokyo.
  • Conversational Troping: During an early part of Of The End(Probably the first sub-story you'll do.), Akiyama falls in with a group of people you'd find in any zombie flick, like the geek, the desperate businessman, the horny couple, the pious woman and a prankster dressed as a zombie and you have to save them in the order of prankster, couple, pious. Along the way, many zombie victim tropes are lampshaded. In the end, the geek steals the businessman's money and heads off, only to slip on a banana peel, mess up his leg, and fall victim to the zombies.
  • Cool Old Guy: Detective Makoto Date, who even fights alongside Kazuma at times and is pretty reasonable to him in the first game.
    • It's not just him, Kawara doubles it for being a Cowboy Cop and there's Hanaya/Kage who "plays fair," Sotaro Komaki, Fuma/Kazama, his cop brother-turned-CIA Agent Jouji and finally Nakahara that wrestled with a bull.
  • Counter Attack: Kazuma can learn several from Sotaro Komaki in the games. The easy to pull-off Knock Back, the strong Tiger Drop, and the stunning Komaki Parry.
  • Cowardly Boss: Koji Shindo from the second game.
    • Also from the second game, Sengoku. He doesn't even fight, he has his pet tigers take on Kazuma.
    • The third Game has Hamazaki who lets Lau and his henchman fight his own war. You don't even fight him!
    • Munakata in the fourth game. While Kiryu, Akiyama, and Saejima have one-on-one boss fights with their enemies, Tanimura has to deal with half a dozen elite police forces while Munakata runs around and shoots him with his pistol.
  • Cross Counter: The final battle of the second game ends with an epic one (mixed with Press X to Not Die). The fifth game is scattered with them.
  • Crossover: The playable characters of Dead Souls appeared as DLC characters for the Japanese version of Binary Domain, which was also developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios. Kiryu and Majima later appeared as partners for the second Project X Zone game.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: You might as well not even bother trying to fight the Dragon of Dojima if you're a nameless thug, because you *will* be sent to the infirmary... if you're lucky.
    • Sotaro Komaki and Jo Amon WILL do this to you unless you abuse cheap moves.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Characters get less competent in cutscenes (with smaller crowds of enemies that players would normally tear through being presented as a threat), and much less bulletproof.
  • Dance Battler: One of Majima's fighting styles in 0 is a mix of break-dancing and Michael Jackson impressions.
  • Dating Sim: Every game has had an optional series of side quests where Kazuma could visit the local hostess clubs and woo a collection of lovely ladies for 100% Completion and some neat bonuses which includes XP, sometimes very valuable items, and photo portraits of the women.
    • In the second game, Kazuma can also optionally help out the hapless employees of a host club getting screwed over by their boss... by signing on as the newest employee and working to become the Number One Host as a gambit to root out the boss from hiding.
    • In the western release of the third game, the whole "hostess club" aspect was cut, which just allowed Kazuma to simply take the girls out for a couple dates, then reap the benefits (no relationship values, expensive hostessing minigame, multiple choice dialogue, etc).
    • The hostess clubs return in full in the western release of the fourth game (at least for Akiyama, Tanimura, and Kazuma).
    • In Dead Souls, wooing a lady allows you to use her as an escort into the Quarantine Zone. One of the DLCs allows you to change their outfits as well as what gun they use.
    • In 0, not only can Kiryu meet women using "terekura" (telephone dating clubs), but Majima takes on the role as a hostess club manager, in a minigame in which you micromanage the club, including the dress style of the women working there and coaching them in conversation.
  • Death Glare: Kazuma does these on a regular basis when some punk kicks the dog once too often, but the absolute worst is when Mine has the Tamashiro family destroy Sunshine Orphanage. Kazuma clenches his fist trembling in anger and does a stare so intense and full of rage that Mine would have been killed on the spot from the intensity of it. Cue incoming karmic vengeance.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: This is pretty much how Kazuma snaps Daigo Dojima out of his hedonistic spree and gets him focused on taking charge of the Tojo Clan. Also applies to Rikiya, Saejima and Majima (although he genuinely enjoys fighting Kazzy, he's a Recurring Boss after all).
  • Desperation Attack: Normally the Hunt and Kill Heat Action (performed on a prone opponent) is either a head stomp or a kick to the gut. If you use it while Kazuma's health is low enough for the meter to blink red however, instead Kazuma straddles the opponent and starts punching away, at which point you can keep spamming the Square Button.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The first two games take place around Christmas in December of 2005 and 2006 respectively. "Amazing Grace" is played in the credits of the first game, while "Silent Night" is played during the credits of the second. The third and fourth games avoid this, but it returns in the fifth game which takes place in December of 2012. One of Saejima's sidestories has him beating down some thugs while wearing a Santa suit, with Christmas trees and sleigh decorations nearby to use as weapons.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Shimano in a you failed me moment cuts the fingers of his underling for losing to Kazuma and getting shot by Shinji in the first game. but again this is a Yakuza game so no surprise here.
    Shimano: Let me see your hand for just a second..
    • Actually, this is a common punishment among Yakuza, and is as symbolic as the physical punishment is painful. Cutting off one's fingers decreases one's ability to grip a sword effectively, making him more dependent on the group.
    • The entire plot of Dead Souls is this in a nutshell. Kiryu and Goda aren't too pleased.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hanaya/Kage to Takashi. And Kawara to Kaoru in the second game.
  • DLC:
    • Appears on all main PS3 games. In the USA, the DLC is free! (Well, save for Yakuza 3.) Dead Souls even offer up rare items that can't be obtained until MUCH later!
  • The Dragon: This was in fact Kazuma's title and position (The Dragon of Dojima) before circumstances sent him to prison in the first game.
  • Drunken Master: It's a very bad idea to pick a fight with Kazuma. It's an even WORSE idea to pick a fight with Kazuma when he's drunk: while drunk, his Heat meter recharges faster, and he even has some special(not to mention BONE SHATTERING) moves that he can only do while drunk. You will probably spend lots of yen just getting him hammered or buying alcohol to go to always make sure you have a little extra oomph.
    • Which is ironic since the game makes confrontations with Mooks more likely when Kazuma's buzzed.
  • Dual Wielding: Hayashi from the second game.
    • And one of the available styles in Kenzan!, a no-brainer considering that Kiryu is also Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Lau Ka Long in the first game also takes up a pair of swords after receiving a good amount of physical damage.
    • Prisoner #1356 carries a pair of forks this way.
    • Kamiyama, the weapons master, actually wields Kali sticks during the arena matches. And he's fairly tough!
  • Dub Name Change: Shintaro Kazama becomes Shintaro Fuma for the US release, probably to avoid confusion with Kazuma Kiryu. Ditto for his younger brother in the third game. Also, Nishikiyama was shortened to Nishiki.
    • In addition, Hanaya was called Kage, although the second game referred to this specific Dub Name Change by adding the title "Florist." Hanaya is literally the Japanese word for "florist".
    • Interestingly, the Western release of the fourth game averts this trope and refers to almost everyone by their Japanese names (the only exception is Kage, who is referred to as "Florist" in the subtitles).
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight and subverted. Only once in a blue moon does Kazuma's insane reputation prevent a fight or frighten an enemy. Despite being one of the most dangerous alive, nearly every goon and boss in Japan is still gunning for him in spite or because of his reputation.
    • And this is played with in the second game. In a sidequest, Kazuma finds out that a couple of clowns have been shaking down goods and services from people by masquerading as him and his late buddy Shinji Tanaka. Rarely in video game history has there been such an instance of NPCs invoking a Curbstomp Battle on themselves.
    • Played with in 3: part of the beginning tutorial is a gang of mooks working for the Fuma Clan, Kazuma's original outfit. Like all other mooks, they pick a fight with Kazuma just for shits and giggles. After beating them within an inch of their life, their boss shows up and chastises them for not bowing to the Tojo Clan's Fourth Chairman. The mooks are HORRIFIED.
    • Pretty well averted in 4 and Dead Souls, whose multi-character gameplay (with Kiryu being the last character) allows him to be presented as more of a larger-than-life character from the perspectives of other characters. Additionally, many of his random encounters in 4 are people attacking him knowing that if they should take down the Dragon of Dojima, their own reputations will skyrocket. Still Suicidal Overconfidence, but it's Suicidal Overconfidence out of respect. Plus, there's the fact that Dead Souls' enemies aren't the usual gang members, so Kazuma gets bonus points for being THE legendary yakuza who fights off the zombie infestation in Kamurucho.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Dead Souls tosses zombies into the mix.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • From the first game, Akira Nishiki, who basically cracked under the pressure over the years and molded himself into a cold version of what Kazuma would have become (a head of a family of the Tojo) if he hadn't been in prison.
    • Ryuji Goda from the second game, who also bears a dragon tattoo. He and Kazuma also mutually believe there's only room for one dragon in Japan, but Goda, despite having his own codes of honor, is more of a Blood Knight than Kazuma is and wants to wage war against the clans and spread chaos in Japan for the hell of it.
    • And the third game has Yoshitaka Mine, who grew up as an orphan like Kazuma, but without the support of friends like he had, grew up lonely and with a very twisted mentality.
  • Evil Feels Good: The zombification process in Dead Souls explicitly feels very pleasant, due to the over production of endorphin hormones.
  • Expy:
    • Doctor Minamida, who first appears in Yakuza 3 and runs the IF7 virtual reality game, is clearly one of Dr. Emmett Brown.
    • The boss of the Purple Killers in the fourth game is The Joker. This is apparent even before you meet him, being described as a guy in a purple suit with an insane smirk. Then you find out he's killer in clown makeup with mannerisms very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker and... yeah.
  • Extremity Extremist: Akiyama and Tanimura in the fourth game are both mild examples. Tanimura's attack on a downed attack is even a crouching punch as opposed to a stomp like everyone else. Their basic combos play it straight, but as they learn new abilities their HEAT actions (and more advanced combos) they branch out considerably.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Goro Majima, who pretty much fights Kazuma in every game thus far at an even footing.
  • Fanservice: Considering the game's adult themes, the game is filled with them.
    • In the first game, the infamous "Price of an F-Cup" substory has a well-endowed woman try to seduce Kiryu, with the camera focusing on her breasts.
    • Some mini-games that involve the hostesses, such as ping-pong, the public bath and air hockey, emphasize their assets.
    • On the lighter side, several of Sega's other franchises are referenced and featured in various ways, including characters that can be won as UFO toys, and music from various games can be heard in various locations. In the fifth game, tunes from various racing games can be used for Kiryu's taxi racing missions.
  • Fan Disservice: Usually Played for Laughs. The fifth game has "Shinada's Interview", where he's unwittingly hired to perform services for men wearing next-to-nothing, and has to fight them. Kiwami has Majima disguise himself as a hostess for Kiryu. In Dead Souls, a zombie can be caught in the Fishing Minigame and used as a minigame opponent, but really serves as an alternate skin for the hostesses, camera chest zooms and hearts filling the screen included.
  • Fiction500: Akiyama has just an absurd amount of money.
  • Finishing Move: Starting from the second game, knocking down an opponent's health sufficiently in a Boss Battle will open up a window of opportunity where you can quickly charge Kazuma's HEAT Meter with rapid button mashes (if it's not filled all ready) to execute a special and often devastating HEAT Action that will usually drop the unfortunate recipient in one hit. Saejima has a variant of this.
  • Fishing Minigame: The third game introduces one where fish and other items can be caught and sold for money, which has remained in the series since. Dead Souls puts a bizarre spin on it, allowing players to fish for a particular zombie which can then be used as a partner for various mini-games.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Kazuma's "Hell's Floor" finisher in 3: a German suplex, followed by an arm bar, followed by a triangle choke, followed by an anaconda choke, followed by a guillotine choke, finished with a mounted punch to the face. Just the chokes would probably leave the opponent's trachea reduced to the consistency of burger.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble:
    • Kazuma Kiryu = Melancholic
    • Shun Akiyama = Sanguine
    • Taiga Saejima = Choleric
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Phlegmatic
    • Haruka Sawamura = Supine.
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Phlegmatic
  • Flashback: The games (Save for Dead Souls) after the first allow someone who never played the past installments to find out the storyline in segments at the opening cemetery scene and using the Reminisce option.
    • A small example in Dead Souls: the end credits are a slide show from previous Yakuza games (save for the one PSP release in Japan), which include cameos from characters in those games (Akira in 1, Saejima and Tanimura in 4.) (Note: the part where flashbacks to Kenzan! may not make sense to non-Japanese gamers.)
  • For Massive Damage: Kazuma dishes these out on a fairly regular basis, often requiring Action Commands to properly brutalize an opponent with either a weapon in hand or using the scenery itself.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Shinji Tanaka from the first game and especially Rikiya from the third game. Despite both being The Lancer, neither of them get a mention in the following game, outside of the Reminisce menu.
  • Friend to All Children: Nothing brings out Kazuma's good side like kids, especially his kids from the orphanage and his adopted niece Haruka. Subsequently, nothing brings out Kazuma's BAD side like someone hurting a kid. The most savage and satisfying beatings Kazuma's rained on someone are those in retaliation for abusing a kid.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Ukyo Tatsuya of the Kurohyou series cannot drink booze with hostesses since he is below drinking age of 18/19 (in the sequel). The hostess clubs offers non alcoholic alternatives for him and his hostess though from premium cola to fresh fruit juice and in the sequel, virgin cocktails.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In Ishin!, a boss battle between Ryoma Sakamoto (Kiryu) and Saigo Kichinosuke (Ryuji Goda) takes place in a bath house, and both characters fight entirely in the nude, with only Censor Steam hiding the naughty bits.
  • Game Within a Game: The Club Sega branches will always have a UFO Catcher skill crane and even playable video game machines. These can serve as part of a Side Quest.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Only in cutscenes does Kazuma suffer an actual injury that would cripple him.
  • Gatling Good: Ryuji Goda in Of The End/Dead Souls sports a cybernetic Arm Cannon from the Barrett Wallace Collection.
  • Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs can be used as weapons in fights, and enemies can be sent flying from it if a heat action is performed when it's equipped.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the third game, the severed head (or body part) of Tsuyoshi Kanda is never seen on camera when Mine brings it to Kazuma and company.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Ryuji Goda in a surprisingly heartwarming scene.
  • Gratuitous English: Since the games have used the Japanese voices since Yakuza 2, Andre Richardson in the third game is the only major character who speaks in English.
    • Also, not to mention some of the karaoke songs that have sprinkles of English words in the lyrics just like every other Japanese song has in reality.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Some Korean characters in the second sequel speak their native tongue. One of the residents of Kamurocho's multi-Asian community area Little Asia, where Masayoshi Tanimura helps them out, speaks Chinese at some point.
  • The Great Wall: In Dead Souls, the JSDF erects massive barriers to contain the zombie outbreak. As the game progresses and the zombies manage to break through the walls, more walls are put up, until only small parts of the city are left outside the quarantine area.
  • Guns Akimbo: Several regular bosses, most notably Arase, Andre Richardson and super boss hitman Jo Amon in classic John Woo style. Which makes it all the more badass when they are beaten to death by fists and feet (if the player chooses).
    • This is Shun Akiyama's default weapon configuration in Of The End/Dead Souls. After you wooed a hotess, you can have them wield double pistols. Not to mention after completing a specific set of side mission you can recruit Arase himself to join you in the zombie hunts.
    • Averted in Amon Jou's case in Kenzan!, as he uses a sword there.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Yakuza has a lot in common with Heroic Bloodshed movies in terms of thematic elements.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: So many. There's an instance of Taking the Bullet pretty much once per game.
  • Hidden Depths: While Kazuma's fists bring justice to man, his voice will shake your soul.
    • Many characters throughout the series also qualify, who kick all sorts of ass and are just as adept at singing karaoke.
  • Hollywood Healing: Most main characters, and even mooks to an extent, regularly survive beatings that would kill most men ten times over. It's especially obvious when you use a triple katana slice or pistol on a lowly purse snatcher... and they live.
    • Even moreso in Kenzan!, where the sword combos can be way longer...
  • Honor Before Reason: SO MUCH.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In the second game, Kazuma can gain improved Strong Attacks and later improved Heat Actions with the baseball bat, golf club and bowling ball by playing enough times at the batting cage, driving range and bowling alley respectively then completing the related Side Quest for each location. By the next game, by refighting bosses, he can 'learn' new techniques, such as using knuckles.
  • Idiot Ball: Let's just say that protagonists' IQs drop considerably whenever a gun comes into play.
  • Impaled Palm:
    • An uncommon HEAT action in Yakuza 3 and 4 when Kazuma is holding a knife near a wall is to throw the mook at the wall, then stabs his hand against the wall.
    • Mine also stabs his subordinate's palm all the way through with a butterknife for not having proper reverence for Daigo Dojima.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Ever since the series hit the Playstation 3, many major characters and hostesses were modeled after their voice actors.
    • For the Chinese version of Yakuza 0, Lao Gui is instead portrayed by Hong Kong actor Sam Lee.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Just about the most irrelevant in the gaming industry. It's half the fun.
  • Japanese Delinquents: The second and fourth sequels introduce you to traditional Japanese motorcycle gangs (known in Japan as "bosozoku"). The second sequel has the sidequest in Kamurocho where male host Yuya must defend Stardust from his former peers of the gang he was once in and the fourth sequel has them serving as one of the encountering gangs Kazuma can drive out of Kamurocho by defeating their leader.
  • Kill Sat: Yup, there's an orbital laser you can use in Dead Souls to barbecue zombies.
    • In the fourth game, Jo Amon uses one against Kiryu in the fight against him.
  • Knife Nut: Goro Majima. Tamashiro licks his knife in his introduction sequence, but he does better with knuckles.
  • Kung-Foley: Kazuma's stronger punches- particularly with one of his Counter Attack moves or when he uses the Desperation Attack- have a deep bass echo to convey just how brutally powerful they are.
  • The Lancer: Akira Nishikiyama in the prequel, Shinji Tanaka in the first game, Daigo Dojima in the second, Rikiya Shimabukuro in the third. Shun Akiyama becomes this from the fourth onwards.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kazuma helping out the fun-loving crazy old lady in the second game will not only give him the obligatory Side Quest XP, it'll also give him access to some useful combat skills. Which becomes self-explanatory when it's revealed that the fun-loving crazy old lady is in fact Lau Ka Long's former martial arts instructor.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Dead Souls announced that Ryuji Goda, one of the main antagonists of 2, was not only brought Back from the Dead, but Promoted to Playable.
  • Limit Break: The Heat moves.
  • Loan Shark: Shun Akiyama from Yakuza 4 operates as one. Subverted in that he loans out money with no interest or collateral, as long that the recipient passes one of his tests. Many of his random encounters are actual loan sharks who want Akiyama to stop, since he's encroaching on their territory.
  • Lost in Translation: Majima is quite fond of calling our hero "Kiyru-chan", or "Kazuma-chan" in the American dub. In Japan, the only time that a man would ever call another man by the effeminate suffix -chan is 1.) they are close family or childhood friends, or 2.) as a diminutive insult. The original Japanese games make "Kiyru-chan" sound affectionate (even more so when you consider Kiryu addresses Majima as "Onii-san", or 'big brother'); the American dub of the first game makes "Kazuma-chan" sound more diminutive.
    • The English subtitles starting from the second game has Majima calling Kazuma "Kazzy" which not only is a more approximate term of endearment but also might reference Mark Hamill having voiced Majima in the U.S. release of the first game.
  • Love Interest: Yumi Sawamura in the first one, Kaoru Sayama in the second, Mayumi in 5.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The 10 Billion Yen that goes missing from the Tojo Clan in the first game. By extension Haruka (or more specifically, her locket), as people quickly realize she's the key to the missing money.
    • That incident rears its head again in 4, as apparently it's tied to Big Bad Munakata's plan to wipe out organized crime.
  • Man Behind the Man: Pretty much at least one per game. Some games go trigger-happy with his trope. Literally.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: An easy and effective way of taking out mooks is to knock them down, grab them by their leg, perform a throw, and before they get up, repeat until dead.
  • Mistaken for Dying: In Dead Souls, Majima gets bitten by a zombie. Over the course of the game, he feels he's going to turn, and his eye starts turning redish. He goes to a detoxing sauna in a last-ditch effort to save himself. At the end of the game, it turns out he wasn't dying after all: the zombie was wearing dentures, so it couldn't infect Majima; and the red eye was just allergies.
  • Mood Whiplash: Between the serious Heroic Bloodshed main stories, utterly insane Irrelevant Sidequests, and Comically Serious protagonist, this is a huge part of the appeal of the series. The contrast between how serious the games' storyline is and how STUPID the sidequests can be is mindblowing. It's hard to believe Kazuma can be fighting for his life against the most bloodthirsty gangsters in the world in one mission, and then running from a lovesick transvestite in another.
  • Mooks: An endless horde of thugs, gangbangers and Yakuza endlessly harass Kazuma with their tough talk and cruel actions. He is not impressed.
  • Mugging the Monster: The thugs constantly trying to beat up/extort the main characters as they walk down the street have no idea what they're getting into. In Tanimura or Akiyama's case, that's somewhat forgivable as neither of them look anywhere near as strong as they are. Well-built, clearly-a-Yakuza Kazuma and built-like-a-brick-shithouse-on-steroids Saejima, on the other hand....
  • Multiple Life Bars: Most bosses have at least 2 or 3, while tougher bosses can have up to 6.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Revelations.
    • In the third and fourth games, Kazuma and Akiyama have mad blogging skillz.
    • And in the fourth, Saejima's epic woodcarving.
  • Mysterious Informant: Kage the Florist, although he's not really all that mysterious. Just well-connected.
  • Mythology Gag: Of the End/Dead Souls has a couple of nods to the live action movie: Majima's firearm of choice is a shotgun, and one of the Team Heat Actions has him hitting a target with a line drive... except in Of the End/Dead Souls he uses his SPAS-12 as a baseball bat and the "ball" happens to be a grenade that a Super Zombie B.O.W. swallows to predictable result.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Because first, it won't do any good (unless you're Majima). And second, Kazuma will then use it on your friends.
    • Guns won't be any better either, especially once Kazuma has mastered the Komaki Shot Stopper. He'll deflect your aim off, then proceed to beat the shit out of you.
      • On the other hand, if its Kazuma bringing the weaponry, massive damage ensues. Crude Pistols will one-shot weaker enemies and the shotgun one hit kills all but the end game mooks. Not to mention the brutal attacks he can pull off with melee weaponry....
    • Averted in Dead Souls, it's (usually) impossible to kill a zombie with melee attacks, and Kiryu has a rough time when he goes into the quarantine zone without any weapons.
  • Nice Guy: Kazuma missed his calling in life as the Patron Saint of Niceness. He helps any innocent bystander no matter how big or small the problem, rescues young girls, pets, old women crossing the street, and forgives men who try to kill him on several occasions at the slightest hint of their redemption. This makes his status as the entire underworld's Butt Monkey so far as picking fights go all the more hilarious. In 3, he goes so far as to track down the most dangerous hitmen in Japan... JUST to beat the crap out of them and drag them to a reform center so they can get out of the criminal life.
  • Non-Combat EXP: The player can gain additional experience points by eating at local eateries, hanging out at the hostess clubs and completing substories - some of which don't even involve any form of combat!
  • Oh Crap!: If you pull out a weapon in the middle of a heated random encounter battle or finish off the penultimate enemy, your enemie(s) may suddenly panic and start to back off. Kiryu even has a HEAT action against scared enemies holding weapons.
  • Old Master: Sotaro Komaki. And when you can actually fight him in a tournament, he will show you just why he is the Old Master.
  • Old Save Bonus: Starting a file for the second game in a card with the files from the first nets Kazuma a bonanza of items, most of which Haruka gave to him in the first game to indicate his Karma Meter progression and comprise of one-shot healing items and accessories that affect his stats.
    • In 3 (JP version only), having a Kenzan! save file will net you Ukiyo's Bell, an exclusive protective item.
    • 4 and Dead Souls offer up items if you played the last game. 3 gives you an armor and an accessory that restores HP over time and 4 nets you a item that offers high defense and charm.
    • Yakuza 5 gives items for having saves not only from Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4 and Dead Souls, but from games that never made it into the region, such as Kenzan and the HD versions of the first two games.
  • Once per Episode: There's a certain recurring sequence in the games. Kiryu beats up someone with a gun, he doesn't move the gun away from them. He turns his back. The guy gets back up and shoots either Kiryu or someone else. The character introduced that game stands in the path and takes the bullet lethally.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Artful Dodger. After all, all you got to do is to hit him just once.
  • One-Man Army: Kazuma. In the course of three games he was able to fight alone against almost everything, from entire yakuza families to triads to trained military personnel and even rogue CIA agents.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Most of the third part of 5 follows Haruka's pursuit of her idol career, in which the Beat 'em Up fights are replaced by Rhythm Game dance battles to catchy J-pop music, more reminiscent of The Idolmaster.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with little Haruka, Kazuma's adoptive daughter, if you value your life.
    • And in 3, don't mess with ANY of Kazuma's kids. It counts against your life expectancy.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Ryuji gets to use this of all things to fend off various mutated zombies in Of The End/Dead Souls, when trapped in a gas leak. Literally played straight, as it only takes a few hits to kill what could've taken lots of bullets, and has infinite durability
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Near the end of the first game, Kazuma and Haruka are about to head for the Millennium Tower to locate her mother and the missing Tojo money. Suddenly pedestrians clear the street and they're surrounded by an armed mob. Kazuma reassures Haruka that he'll get her to her mother, then turns around to stare down the mob and let them know what's coming:
  • Press X to Not Die: Quick Time Events happen sometimes as part of a Boss Battle. In specific battles, this becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize it's actually the enemy attempting to use a HEAT Action on you and you're trying to evade it.
  • Product Placement: A surprising amount and remarkably they tend to avert Enforced Plug for the most part, making contextual sense where they do appear.
    • The Don Quijote discount stores than can be visited are based on an actual chain in Japan, as well as in Hawaii.
    • The Suntory group also has prominent placement, ranging from soft drinks like Boss iced coffee all the way to premium brand-name liquor that they have distribution rights to in Japan, including Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey.
    • The Other Wiki has more specific details on the Product Placements.
  • Psycho for Hire: Goro Majima. To the point where you hire him in the second game, and it's real nice to have him on your side this time.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: In Dead Souls, Pistol ammo is infinite, making a Pistol a Ranged Emergency Weapon for most characters (except for Akiyama, whose primary weapon is a pistol). But as the first character in the game this works to soften the learning curve by making ammo not much of an issue until later).
  • Rated M for Manly: The Series itself, being that nearly anyone is capable of pulling off CMOAs at the drop of a hat. Many characters also qualify.
  • Redemption Equals Death: While not wholly repentant, Nishiki died avenging someone he cared about. Ditto Mine in the third game. Also Hamazaki in Yakuza 4.
  • Red Baron: This being a game about gangsters, we're bound to get a few examples. We have the Dragon of Dojima (Kiryu), Mad Dog Majima (Guess who?), the Dragon of Kansai (Goda), and for a couple of non-yakuza examples, there's the Lifeline of Kamurucho (Akiyama) and the Parasite of Kamurucho (Tanimura).
  • Reformed Criminal: Possibly a few examples in the games, but in particular Hanaya/Kage. In the first game he had been a former police intelligence officer who was busted by Date for selling some of the information he gathered and ended up becoming the de facto ruler of Purgatory while continuing to sell information. In the second game, it turns out that the police contracted him for his abilities and he left Purgatory in the charge of Crazy Awesome Goro Majima to move his base of operations to the Millennium Tower.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Akira Nishiki, childhood friend of Kazuma who, after a series of tragic events, really changed during the years Kazuma was in jail for a murder that Nishiki himself committed - granted, he had a good reason.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Played most straight in Dead Souls, when Kazuma enters the quarantine zone to confront those that kidnapped Haruka... and proceeds to fight zombies. Unarmed.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The series loves final showdowns on top of very tall buildings.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: In the first game, Kazuma also has to rescue Haruka from Lau Ka Long's Snake Flower Triad.
    • The sequel has Kiryu fighting against Korean gangsters/terrorists as well as the other yakuza.
    • The third one has Black Monday, a weapons dealing syndicate headed by corrupt CIA operatives. Lau and the Triads also return.
  • Sad Battle Music:
    • "For Who's Sake", the final boss theme for Akira Nishikiyama which empathises on the grief of him and Kazuma.
    • "A Scattered Moment, the final boss music for Ryuji Goda whom Kazuma fights for the third time as they are both severely wounded by Ryo's gunshots. After Kazuma's victory, Ryuji dies in his half-sister Kaoru's arms.
  • Scary Black Man: Gary "Buster" Holmes, although only in the ring. Outside of it he's a rather amicable Gentle Giant.
    • And in Of the End/Dead Souls, Gary is your personal Drill Instructor for Zombie Killer Boot Camp.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Pretty common, with Daigo refusing a land deal in 3 because it would inconvenience Kiryu, and the entire main cast (especially Akiyama) throwing away 100 billion yen to figure out who was pulling the strings and bring them to justice.
  • Sequence Breaking: In Dead Souls, you can download a free DLC that allows you to pick up rare crafting materials as soon as you leave the quarantine zone. With this, you can make/upgrade weapons/armor a lot sooner than normally.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game revolved around a stash of 10 billion yen. In the fourth game, the plot revolves around a 100 billion yen stash.
  • Serial Escalation: Tiger punching.
    • For a game that repeatedly escalates, the zombie apocalypse in Of The End shatters every known perception of possibility.
    • Saejima fights a giant bear with his bare fists in 5.
  • Set Swords to Stun: Mooks can take dozens of sword slashes, but they'll always be alive enough to apologize after the fight and give you a reward.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The loud echoing crack that rings each time Kazuma delivers a finishing blow to the last opponent in a combat round... even if it's just a simple straight punch to a suicidally overconfident and fragile twerp.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: According to actual Yakuza who played it, it's not wildly off the mark, and most of the inaccuracies fall under Acceptable Breaks from Reality.
  • Simulation Game: The second game plays with this a bit, as an optional sidequest where saving the owner of the hostess club Marietta from Mook harassment opens up the opportunity to run the place with the aim of trying to make it profitable while the owner attends to family illness.
    • The fifth game has Kazuma working as a taxi driver, and some missions require him to take passengers to their destination while abiding by traffic laws (stopping at signs and signaling for instance).
  • Sinister Surveillance: Inverted. Kamurocho has a very extensive surveillance network installed, that seems to be able to note every square inch of the city inside buildings well as out and includes the ability to zoom in and presumably enhance images. Hanaya/Kage uses it as his primary tool to gather information for clients and to help out Kazuma at certain instances.
  • Sniper Rifle: As of Dead Souls/Of The End Kazuma is carrying an M-107 which also counts as a BFG.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Goro Majima. Although an antagonist in the first game, it was actually because of circumstances and his rivalry with Kazuma for the title of the underworld's biggest badass. He is actually MAD loyal to Kazuma, and very protective of the men under him... as long as they don't piss him off, in which case he'll break their face badly. In every game from the second one on, he's been an ally of Kazuma's.
    • Theories abound that there's also a... certain context to Majima's loyalty to Kazuma.
    • More like Kazuma is the only person durable enough to stand up to his psychotic rage.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: As a means of cordoning off the fight areas, and also perhaps to highlight the culture of violence in which street brawls are common spectator sport.
  • Stance System: The first spinoff game set in Japan in the past, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! has 4 styles of combat you can switch on the fly, hand to hand, one sword style, two sword style, and two handed swords.
    • Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, the other historical Japan spinoff released several years later once more has a stance system, this time more diverse than Kenzan, and you unlock more styles as you progress.
      • A single sword style that plays similar to Saejima's combat style from Yakuza 4 and 5, where you have slow yet powerful attacks, as well as having the ability to charge your attacks. It is also the most defensive style in the game.
      • A hand to hand style that plays like a mixture of Kazuma's regular fighting style, but also mixing in Tanimura's style from Yakuza 4 by having parries and counters. Once you parry an attack, you become invincible for a short time, allowing you to fight against the sword wielding bad guys if you're skilled enough.
      • The pistol style, in which you wield a pistol. With it, you have no defence, but you are able to damage enemies from far away and basically play keep away from them.
      • And lastly, the Wild Dance Style, which uses the pistol and sword at the same time and it makes you very agile and quick to make up your lack of defense in this style, and it possibly is the most visually pleasing.
    • Yakuza 0 has this for Kiryu & Majima, each having up to 3 'styles' (plus a secret one) with varying movesets and playstyles.
      • Kazuma's Thug style, which conceptually is a less refined version of his fighting style from previous games.
      • Kazuma's Destroyer style, which takes heavy inspiration from Saejima's style. Kazuma is powerful enough to swing enemies and objects around the environment. It comes with a major speed handicap however, but he has a faster initiation of weapon based attacks.
      • Kazuma's Rush style, where he is at his most agile and speedy, and it's conceptually a style similar to Akiyama's style from the previous games, but replace kicks with punches.
      • Kazuma's Dragon of Dojima style, his classic fighting style from Yakuza 1 minus Komaki's moves.
      • Majima's Street Fighter style, his basic fighting style where he uses quick punches and kicks.
      • Majima's Slugger style, where he uses his iconic baseball bat to good use, attacking enemies with the bad and his legs.
      • Majima's Dancer style, and it is possibly the most unique style of play this series has ever had. Majima attacks by not only break dancing, but by also emulating Michal Jackson's dance style, and this style is very kick heavy. Basically a mixture of Dance Battler and Confusion Fu.
      • Majima's Mad Dog style, which is basically his boss moveset. Majima attacks with his knife at breakneck speeds, cutting anyone unlucky to stand in his way.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • A small example: Akiyama's overweight secretary Hana becomes a gorgeous bombshell through dieting by the events of 4's end. She ends up returning to her old body type by Dead Souls. She's actually back to her old body type by the non-canon Premium Adventure Mode, but when/if that actually takes place isn't clear.
    • In Yakuza 5, Haruka has left the orphanage and is living on her own in Osaka, pursuing a career as an Idol Singer even though it means not being able to see her family. At the end, she forfeits her career after she couldn't bear to be away from those she considers family any longer: Kiryu.
  • The Stinger: Most of the games end with an additional scene after the credits.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: "Hey, we're having a pretty bad day, so we need to take out our aggression on you. Huh? Why you looking at us funny? You wanna die, old man?!"
  • Taking the Bullet: Pretty much at least once per game.
  • Tattooed Crook: Given that the game series deals heavily with the subject of Yakuza this is de rigeur. The tattoos on the main characters (Kazuma- Blue Dragon, Nishiki- Carp, Majima- Oni, Goda- Gold Dragon, Mine- Kirin, Rikiya- Viper, Daigo- Fudo Miyou, Saejima- Tiger) turn out to be very symbolic in the games and are often reflective of their personalities and traits.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Beating the crap out of dozens of people? Forgivable. One lowly punk getting shot/stabbed to death? Serious Business. Like, clan-war serious. This may come off as Values Dissonance for people used to western crime dramas, but remember that guns (and thus, gun violence) are a lot rarer in Japan, plus yakuza are really political.
    • Unless they're foreigners in which case you can gun them down without remorse. Ditto zombies.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The Meat Head enemy Yakuza: Dead Souls has a ridiculously buff, armored upper body, with his only weakness being his normal-sized head and the surrounding tissue.
  • Turn Coat: So far, apart from Shinji Tanaka, significant individuals in the Nishiki Family are doomed to this role.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Very much the case with Kenzan! and Ishin! which star Japanese historical figures Miyamoto Musashi and Ryoma Sakamoto respectively, who are both portrayed by Kazuma Kiryu. The supporting cast of both games are comprised of characters appearing in this series, although Haruka is the only one who exists as her own character in both titles.
  • Updated Re-release: The first two games were re-released in Japan in 2012, a Compilation Re-release called Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which updated the combat in the first game using the improved mechanics in the second.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In Premium Adventure Mode, unlocked after beating the main story in 4 and 5, you can let Haruka follow Kazuma around town. She will sometimes request to stop in at a restaurant or other attraction. You'd be hard pressed to not get the warm fuzzies from it...until you find she can put you to shame at the bowling alley.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Of the Enemies only type. Sure, the various mooks and bosses Kazuma meet are either punks or scum but did they really need to suffer that badly by various brutal heat actions? Of course, it is kind of their fault for provoking him in the first place.
  • Video Game Long Runners: Going on since 2005 with six games in the main series, and a seventh on the way.
  • Video Game Remake: To mark the series' 10 year anniversary, Ryu Ga Gotoku: Kiwami was released, which is a remake of the first game using the engine and gameplay from Yakuza 0. The story was slightly expanded to include a new segment where Kiryu buys Yumi a ring in the prologue, new cutscenes explore Nishiki's Start of Darkness, and Breakout Character Goro Majima's role has been expanded to serve as a Stealth Mentor for Kiryu after he returns from his ten year prison sentence.
  • The Unfought: Yayoi Dojima in the first game, who challenges Kiryu and is fully prepared to do so, but you only fight her mooks.
    • Hamazaki in the third game, unless you download a certain DLC.
  • Weapon of Choice: In Dead Souls/Of The End, each of the four playable characters have one primary firearm that they use as their default weapon.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Kamurocho in general, and other locations as the series goes on.
  • Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child: Poor Haruka is usually on the receiving end of this, and has been kidnapped in more than a couple of titles.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Imposed by the games on the player; Kazuma will never find himself in a situation where he must (or can) strike a woman. On the rare occasions where he is tracking or is attacked by a woman, it will always turn out to be a guy in drag.
    • Which is hilariously subverted in a Side Quest in the first game. Refusing to go into a Hotel for some "fun" with a woman results in her calling her thug brother in an attempt to pummel Kazuma. After the obligatory trashing ensues, it's then revealed that the siblings are Gender Benders, with the "woman" being male and the thug "brother" being the actual female.
    • The end result of the Michiru substory in 3 reveals that the 'guy' you originally rescued 'her' from? That was a post-op man.
    • The lack of female opponents is somewhat averted in 4. While helping her out with her investigation, Tanimura takes up a female Korean cop named Nair who's in Japan chasing a Korean criminal as a sparring partner. She's the only female opponent in the game, though, and neither one of them have any intention on holding back on each other.
    • Finally averted in Dead Souls, which has female zombies, including special mutants that are exclusively female.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Pretty much everyone in all the games, actually, but special mention goes to Saejima and Yoshitaka Mine in the third game, who gives the Big Bad a Dragon Suplex off a thirty story building.
    • Kiryu has a wrestler handle: Dragon Mask.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Of The End/Dead Souls. Yes, a Yakuza game features zombies. Somewhat subverted in that the outbreak is contained to Kamurocho and is thus not a truly global Zombie Apocalypse.

Alternative Title(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/Yakuza