Video Game / Yakuza 0

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When you become yakuza, being wrong is dangerous.

"When you pick a fight in this town, you'd better pick carefully. Especially when you're carrying a wad of cash."
Kazuma Kiryu

Yakuza 0, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku 0: Land of the Oath, is the sixth main entry and a prequel to the Yakuza video game series. It was released in Japan on the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 in March 2015, celebrating the series' ten year anniversary, and in North America and Europe as a PS4 exclusive in January 2017.

The game takes place in the December 1988, at the height of the "Bubble Economy" era of Japanese history, a period of economic prosperity. The various factions of the Japanese underworld are jockeying for control over a prime piece of real estate: a vacant lot that is planned to be the site of construction for the highly-anticipated Millennium Tower. Control over this lot will tip the balance of power in the world of yakuza in the favor of whoever claims it.

The game follows two seperate protagonists, whose stories revolve around the conflict for the lot:
  • Kazuma Kiryu, the series protagonist, is shown as a fresh-faced recruit in the Tojo Clan, sponsored by his father figure Shintaro Kazama. Working for the Dojima family, Kiryu is sent one evening to perform a regular duty for fledgling yakuza: shaking down a man in debt to a loan shark in the Tojo's employ. When the debtor turns up dead on the vacant lot afterwards, Kiryu becomes the prime suspect. With Kazama in prison and the family head Souhei Dojima promising his position as his second-in-command to whomever can secure him the vacant lot, Kiryu sets out to clear his name.
  • Goro Majima is the game's deutertagonist, playable for the first time in a main series game. Majima resides in the Osakan district of Sotenbori, managing a successful cabaret club known as The Grand. He has everything a man could want: money, fame, and women. What he truly wants, however, is to get back in the good graces of the Tojo Clan, having been excommunicated after disobeying a direct order. Now under the thumb of the Shimano Family, Majima finally gets a chance to return to the Tojo Clan, in exchange for carrying out an assassination. When he finds that his target is a defenseless blind woman, though, his loyalty and sanity will be put to the ultimate test.

The new setting for the game offers a view of Kamurocho and Sotenbori unlike what was shown in previous games: the two cities were very different places in the 1980s. This extends to the series' mini-games, as well: Club Sega arcades are replaced with the more time-appropriate Hi-Tech Land Sega (complete with classic arcade games like Space Harrier and OutRun), and hostess clubs are replaced with telephone clubs. The battle system has also been overhauled: each character now has access to three unique fighting styles, and Experience Points are eschewed in favor of using money to purchase upgrades for each character. Enemies now drop piles of cash when defeated; the more brutally they are beaten, the more money they'll drop. Many other avenues for earning money are also available, from gambling to a unique business venture for each character: Kiryu is placed in charge of a real estate agency and must jockey with rival agencies for control over property in Kamurocho, while Majima manages a cabaret club, training hostesses and attending to customers' needs in order to corner the market in Sotenbori.

The prequel setting also offers a fresh perspective on the series characters, showing Kiryu as a hot-tempered youth and Majima before he was driven to insanity, as well as giving insight to characters who only had brief appearances in the first Yakuza game, such as Sohei Dojima, Kiryu's patriarch whose death in the first game set the entire series' events into motion. This, combined with the uniqueness of The '80s setting and emphasis on money, make Yakuza 0 one of the most oddball and unique games in the entire series.

Released after Yakuza 5 and the feudal spin-off Ishin!, the story would continue in the original game and its enhanced remake before returning to the present in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, the final chapter of Kazuma Kiryu's story.


Yakuza 0/Ryū ga Gotoku 0: Land of the Oath includes examples of:

  • The '80s: The game takes place in 1988, at the height of Japan's Bubble Economy.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Kiryu uses one to escape from the Dojima Family. It was a trap set by Kuze, who comes at him riding on a motorcycle at full speed.
  • Achievement System: By completing certain tasks like scoring high on minigames or defeating enemies using a certain fighting style, you earn Completion Points which you can spend on perks to improve your exploration, battle, and business abilities.
  • Action Girl: Miss Tatsu is a loan shark muscle and a total badass. It is from her that Kiryu learns the "Beast" fighting style.
  • Adult Fear: One sidestory begins with Majima meeting a lonely girl next to an arcade and warning her to not walk the Sotenbori streets on her own. After having to immediately give a schooling to thugs who try to kidnap the girl, Majima finds himself collecting crane game plushes to get her to go home.
  • Anachronism Stew: The art for Mountain Dew and 7-Up cans use modern logos instead of those used during the 80's.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you get defeated by Mr. Shakedown enough times, his starting health will be reduced in subsequent encounters.
    • The Item menu now has 3 separate sections; Inventory, Components, and Valuables. You can carry more on your person and manage your inventory much better.
    • Most random battles are more easily avoidable once you acquire the Cash Confetti ability. Though it costs 10,000 yen for each use, that amount eventually becomes a non-issue at the point you get it.
    • Unlike what came before it, there is no penalty for failing Kiryu's final training session for his Rush style. Since his opponent breaks the rules, he won't lose any money and he'll still acquire the last ability.
    • Earning the completion points for the classic Sega arcade games only require the player to achieve a certain score as opposed to beating the game. A rapid-fire button has also been added for Fantasy Zone and Space Harrier, the latter also receiving a button to invert the vertical controls anytime during the game. They're all still hard as hell, though.
  • Asshole Victim: In an attempt to protect Makoto and help Majima, Lee comes up with a scheme to have Majima kill a similar looking woman who is known for being with men who mysteriously die and taking everything they're worth, and in such a way that her corpse could pass as Makoto's. Majima refuses, but the woman is killed anyway using the same methods Lee suggested, leading him to think Majima went through with his plan when neither one of them were involved.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Majima's one-man assault on the Dojima compound in the end is set to the song "Reign".
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Kiryu didn't have any involvement in the pursuit of the Empty Lot until he was framed for murder, and while he set up by Shibusawa in an attempt to crush Kazama, it only resulted in the fall of the most powerful family in the Tojo Clan. Kuze also recognizes Kiryu's potential, believing Kazama has held him back from realizing it and becoming a true yakuza. In the end, he tells Kiryu that he's become a monster and the Dojima family has no one but themselves to blame for breaking the seal Kazama put on him.
  • Back from the Brink: Until Majima came around, the Sunshine Cabaret was on its last legs with only three girls to its name. By the end of it, he'll have turned a once floundering club into the biggest cabaret club in all of Sotenbori alongside The Grand.
  • Badass Bystander: Occasionally during random street fights, Kiryu's Real Estate security will jump in to back you up if they happen to be assigned in the same area. They're not great, but who can keep up with Kiryu anyway?
  • Battle Strip: Especially later on in the game, boss fights often have the Yakuza participants clutch their shoulder and tear off their clothes from the waist up - shirt, tie and jacket, somehow all in one motion - revealing the tattoos on their backs. The only time it's realistically done is with the fight at the end of Chapter 1 against Kuze, who took the time to strip off his shoes and shirt and drape his suit jacket across his shoulders like a cape while waiting for Kiryu to fight his way through the compound.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Par for the course, for both the series and the Eighties.
    • Kiryu starts the game wearing a simple black suit, white dress shirt and a silver chain necklace, but eventually switches to a white pinstripe suit and an orange dress shirt with a gold chain pattern on it. For the Premium Adventure mode, the "Dragon of Dojima" DLC adds his iconic off-white suit with maroon dress shirt, the "Kamurocho Fun Pack" DLC adds a topless version of his Yakuza 0 outfit, and the "Pocket Racer Expert Pack" DLC grants him Majima's 'Lord of the Night' outfit.
    • Majima goes through the game wearing a tuxedo the whole time - full get-up while working at The Grand, losing the bowtie and wearing a gold chain necklace during his downtime. For the Premium Adventure mode, the "Mad Dog of Shimano" DLC adds his iconic outfit from the rest of the series, the "Sotenbori Fun Pack 2" DLC adds a variant of his usual outfit that replaces his tux jacket with Saejima's parka from Yakuza 4, and the "Super Rare Crafting Pack" DLC grants him Kiryu's 'New Hire' outfit.
  • Badass Teacher: Kiryu and Majima each have three teachers, each of whom are badasses in their own rights.
    • Kiryu's mentors are Bacchus, a booze hound who is continually hounded by assassins and manages to survive; Komaji, a homeless "knockout artist" who makes a living challenging people to try and knock him down (a job he is very good at); and Miss Tatsu, a loan shark muscle who is feared by debtors all over.
    • Majima's mentors are Komeki, the selfsame martial artist who would mentor Kiryu later on in the series; Areshi, a breakdancer who is inspired by Majima to incorporate fighting into his dance routines; and Fei Hu, a Chinese arms dealer who can turn even an ordinary piece of lumber into a deadly weapon.
  • Bash Brothers: Kiryu and Nishiki, Nishiki even notes how invincible they feel together.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: One of Majima's substories revolves around this, but it's what appears to be a lonely woman's handwriting that catches his attention.
  • Batter Up: Majima's "Slugger" fighting style is all about using a baseball bat to bludgeon bad guys. He also gets creative with his batting technique, using them similar to nunchucks and hopping around like a Wuxia swordsman.
  • Bears are Bad News: One of the opponents Kiryu and Majima can face in the Bed of Styx is a large bear, known as the Demon Bear.
  • Big Brother Mentor:
    • Kashiwagi's bio describes him as this for Kiryu and Nishiki, and serves as something of a mentor figure for them in Kazama's absence. He also doesn't hesitate to punch Kiryu's lights out when he announces his plan to get expelled from the Dojima Family thinking it would clear Kazama from being held responsible.
    • One of the substories shows that Daigo Dojima also looked up to Kiryu as one when he was younger, and his rotten attitude nearly landed him in hot water.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Poor Kiryu can fall victim to this in the telephone club minigame if his date turns out to be an Abhorrent Admirer who wastes no time in taking him out for a night he'll never forget. If you're going for 100% Completion, since three substories revolve around this, be prepared to say goodbye to your dignity. And a good chunk of your health bar.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Next to Kenzan and Ishin, this is easily the most violent game in the series, and said violence is used less for humorous effect and more for pure ow-factor. To wit, those two games have swords as the main mode of combat, and this game is almost as violent as both of them.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For fairly obvious reasons the underground catfights replace all the blood spurts with coloured heart symbols (even though the women involved use the same brutal HEAT takedowns as the protagonists).
  • Bonus Boss: The game is filled to the brink with them.
    • Mr. Shakedowns, who are gigantic brutes walking around the streets who will pick a fight with you. They have considerably more health, deal ridiculous amounts of damage and take all your money upon defeat, but will also give a lot of money if defeated.
    • The Five Billionaires in Real Estate Royale and the Five Stars in the Cabaret Club Czar storylines, although only three are fought in the latter. Both storylines reveal a Greater-Scope Villain that must be beaten, and defeating them each unlocks the Legendary fighting styles for their respective characters.
    • Some of the substories and training missions end with particularly difficult opponents to qualify, such as Guru Munan Suzuki and Hiroya the Debt King.
    • As a series staple, members of the Amon Clan become available as bosses when you complete all substories. However, since Jo Amon doesn't fight Kiryu until Yakuza 1, Majima does instead while Kiryu instead fights his father So Amon.
    • David Diabol, the strongest fighter in the Bed of Styx.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Several style abilities kick in if Kiryu and Majima are drunk. Kiryu's Brawler style has quite a few of these.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Getting into a fight with a Mr. Shakedown starts with these as part of their Leitmotif; "Get Them".
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Kiryu will open one up in dramatic fashion when buying out some businesses for his real estate business.
    Kiryu: I'll make an offer...in cash!
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Majima learns that he was being used by Shimano the whole time, he suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. and even lets himself get beaten up by a group of street punks. But when he seeks revenge against Dojima, he runs into the same punks from before, who harass and ridicule him. It ends as well as you'd expect.
  • Butt Monkey: Yuki in the Club Sunshine Side Missions gets a moment where she's the butt of the joke with every Star you take on, from being called a plain hostess, to having Majima repeatedly forget her requests for vinegar, and being kidnapped and forgotten about (She apparently frees herself) at one point.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tachibana and his lieutenant Oda hail from China. In addition, Tachibana's mother was a Japanese war orphan who was abandoned in Manchuria, lived among local farmers, and married a Chinese man. Same goes for his sister, Makoto.
  • Call Forward:
    • One of Kiryu's substories has him protecting a Michael Jackson Expy from actors dressed as zombies. Afterwards, Kiryu muses that he doesn't have to deal with zombies anymore...except he will in Yakuza: Dead Souls.
    • When defeated, Jo tells Majima he'll spend the next 17 years doing intensive training and that once he's done, even people stronger than Majima will regret crossing paths with him.
    • Likewise, So challenges Kiryu because he had a prophetic dream of his future exploits in Yakuza 1 and how he will become a threat to the Amon Clan's reputation.
    • Bacchus continually mentions to Kiryu to watch out for himself, otherwise he'll get knifed in the ribs someday. Although this does relate to Bacchus' backstory, Kiryu eventually will get a knife in the ribs many years later. And it wouldn't be the last.
    • At the conclusion of a substory featuring a large kid named Ryuji Goda, Majima muses on how this badass sixth-grader is "a dragon in the making".
    • After winning Kamurocho's dance scene back from Ogita, he tells Kiryu he wants to be a dance instructor, and if he ever has kids, to send them his way and he'll teach them how to dance.
    • Kiryu gets his fortune read in a substory, and learns about a girl worth 10 billion yen, being in jail, fighting a viper, raising 8 kids, and becoming a taxi driver. He's then told he'll meet a young man whose fate will is entangled with his. He bumps into Ryuji Goda, who's visiting Kamurocho on a school trip. Kiryu's not buying any of it.
    • The very last challenge mode is a Boss Rush for Kiryu that ends with a fight against Nishikiyama, alluding to the end of Yakuza 1. To drive the point home, an area that resembles the one in Yakuza 1 is used over the one he's normally fought in by Majima.
    • In the ending/epilogue, Kiryu buys himself a new suit familiar to longtime fans. Nishiki tries to convince his friend to reconsider his fashion choice. It doesn't work.
      Nishikiyama: Fine, fine. See if I care! Wear it the rest of your life!
  • The Cameo:
    • One of Majima's sidequests has him deal with a young Ryuji Goda. As in, back when he was a grade schooler. One of Kiryu's substories also features Ryuji.
    • Kan Ogita from Yakuza 5 can be met in one of the disco substories with Kiryu.
    • In one substory, Kiryu meets a young Daigo Dojima, who played a major role in Yakuza 2 and would eventually become chairman of the Tojo Clan, something his father Dohei never accomplished.
    • Another substory for Kiryu features a young Shinji Tanaka, who was a member of a bosozoku gang and mugged yakuza before Kiryu turned his life around and became his "aniki".
  • Cat Fight: One of Kamurocho's attractions is an underground wrestling circuit where patrons bet on the outcome of matches between beautiful, scantily-clad women.
  • Celebrity Cameo:
    • The likeness of several women in the game are taken from popular AV actresses, whose characters also share the same first name. Following a contest held by Sega, 30 out of 50 made it into the game. The top five were turned into the cabaret club's Platinum Hostesses (with the exception of Yuki, who's entirely fictional), while the remaining girls can be found throughout the cities under various roles. All 30 have a short gravure video that can be unlocked, and Mr. Libido will encourage Kiryu and Majima to see if they can discover them all in town, as well as their videos and collectible cards.
    • Exclusively for the Chinese release of the game, Lao Gui is instead modeled and voiced by Hong Kong film actor Sam Lee. The English localization mistakenly used Lee's voice clips solely during his boss fight, which was fixed in the 1.05 patch.
  • Character Development: Weirdly done in reverse from the rest of the series. One of the highlights of this game is seeing just how different Kiryu and Majima were in their twenties, and seeing the cracks in their personality that hint at who they become.
    • Kiryu is far rougher than he is in the first game. His HEAT moves are much more brutal and violent than necessary, and he's more confrontational than usual. He also has a mean temper, and is easily capable of brutally injuring someone at the drop of a hat in comparison to his role as The Stoic in the first game on. His kindness, arguably his biggest trait, still shines through. His three styles reflect elements of his later fighting style as well- Brawler is a less refined version of his punches, Rush would later influence his dodging and speed on his feet, and Beast taught him how to use environmental weapons in creative ways.
    • Majima is far more mentally balanced in this game, and seeing the first cutscene where he appears demonstrates another side of his loyalty- that of to himself. He manages to, in the span of about five minutes: cool off a drunkard, knock him on his ass and disarm him, get him to pay the bar tab of the entire club and then has the club forgive him. His fighting styles reflect bits of his later, knife-based acrobatic style- Thug shows his affinity for sneak attacks and trickery, Slugger shows off his love of baseball, and Breaker shows just how light on his feet he really is.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • It's revealed that after Majima went against orders regarding the Ueno Seiwa hit and lost his eye, Shimano had him chained and tortured in a cell called "The Hole", which Majima endured for a year. After Sera takes Makoto away to the Nikkyo Consortium, Sagawa has Majima chained and beaten, stopping just short of bashing his skull in with a bat.
    • Tachibana is subjected to this under the Kenno Clan. Eventually, Yoneda goes too far and ends up killing him.
    • Nishiki mentions that the Dojima family are known for being expert torturers who know how to draw it out as long as possible. He later tries to kill Kiryu himself instead of having his sworn brother go through it.
  • Collection Sidequest: A series staple, but with the absence of the lockers, Kiryu and Majima can instead collect cards of the various Celebrity Cameo girls. Aside from unlocking their gravure videos, some characters are willing to offer cash rewards for showing them full sets of three.
  • Cosmetic Award: After completing their business questlines, Kiryu and Majima can commission a golden statue of themselves in their offices for 10 billion yen as a symbol of their success. The game even explicitly tells you that the statue literally serves no purpose other than bragging rights.
  • Critical Status Buff: Several abilities only kick in if the health bar is flashing red. They include benefits like increased attack power or automatic heat generation.
  • Cult: One of Majima's substories deals with rescuing a girl from a Scam Religion that isolates its members from friends and family while offering spiritual enlightenment in exchange for titherances (in other words, cold hard yen). As an added bonus, chosen female members can engage in special prayer with the cult's Dirty Old Guru. The cult is also clearly modeled after the infamous real life doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which was steadly growing during this time period.
  • Dance Battler: With the "Breaker" fighting style, Majima fights with spinning kicks and acrobatic attacks.
  • Dating Sim: In addition to Majima's managing a cabaret club, where training hostesses plays out similar to dating them in previous games, players can also hit up telephone clubs to chat up beautiful women. If the player keeps up the conversation for long enough, they can even ask the girl on the line out on a date in the city.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship:
    • Defeating one of the Five Billionaires will cause them to join Kiryu's agency as managers or advisers, along with one of their men as security.
    • Defeating one of the Five Stars will add the defeated club's number one girl to Majima's roster of hostesses.
    • Inverted in the second Miracle Johnson substory, where Kiryu cannot defeat Miracle in a dance battle no matter what, but Miracle decides to join Kiryu's real estate agency as a Manager anyways.
  • Doomed by Canon: Many of the characters who appear in this game don't live to see the beginning of Yakuza 1.
  • Drunken Master: Bacchus, who teaches new techniques for Kiryu's "Brawler" style, is a notorious booze hound. Kiryu can become one, too: many of the advanced skills in the "Brawler" skill tree enhance Kiryu's abilities when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Dub Name Change: The side business games for Kiryu and Majima, "Money Island" and "Nightlife Island", are given the names "Real Estate Royale" and "Cabaret Club Czar" in the English localization respectively, so it would make more sense to the English speaking audience.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: The two Mr. Moneybags you meet are absurdly rich. The one in Kamurocho has investments everywhere and spends a lot of his time at bars, and the one in Sotenbori just plays music on the street and hands money out to everyone.
  • Elite Mooks: The Dojima Family's goons, when they go after Kiryu while roaming Kamurocho, are harder and more aggressive than other randomly encountered enemies up to that point in the story.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Each protagonist has a side-business they can engage in to earn even more money, which are their own subplots. Completing through them unlocks the final upgrades for the various styles and the fourth "Legend" styles upon completion.
    • Kiryu becomes the president of a real estate firm in Kamurocho. He can purchase property around Kamurocho and collect profits from them, as well as hiring advisors to invest in his properties, managers to improve profits, and security staff to ensure business can be conducted without incident.
    • Majima becomes manager of a failing cabaret club. He can hire new hostesses and train some of them personally, and when the club is open, must pair hostesses with clients to make money, attending to customer needs and resolving disputes between patrons and hostesses that arise.
  • Escort Mission:
    • Sometimes, Majima will need to escort Makoto through Sotenbori, which doubles as a Stealth-Based Mission as they try to avoid being seen by enemies. If he gets into a fight, he'll need to keep an eye on her to make sure their assailants don't get her.
    • Kiryu and Majima each have one substory where they need to accompany a character from one point to another while protecting them from harm.
  • Evil Old Folks: One of Sagawa's goons is an old man passing as a beggar and he is brutal with his crowbar.
  • Fight Clubbing: Sotenbori has the "Bed of Styx", a secret underground fighting arena where captured criminals are forced to fight for their freedom, or die trying. Majima has to fight in it at one point.
  • Five-Bad Band: Prior to Kazama's arrest, the 80's Dojima family was structured this way:
    • Big Bad: Sohei Dojima, The Don of the family.
    • The Dragon: Shintaro Kazama, Dojima's captain and de facto second-in-command, who "writes the scripts" for the family. Within the game proper though, the other three lieutenants are all vying for the title which eventually goes to Shibusawa, while Dojima's personal assassin, Lao Gui, functionally fills the role.
    • The Evil Genius: Keiji Shibusawa, a stoic, straight laced strategist who manages the family's financial and administrative work.
    • The Brute: Daisaku Kuze, a thuggish-looking ex-boxer more willing to get his hands dirty than other lieutenants, who controls the Dojima family's muscle.
    • The Dark Chick: Hiroki Awano, an unashamed hedonist in charge of information gathering and "public relations" (ie. extortion).
  • Gambit Pileup: The whole plot of the game was masterminded by three individuals, Kazama, Shimano and Shibusawa, who all pursued their goals. Their plan relied on intricate planning, but only Kazama managed to remain on top in the end, being able to foresee most of the events, except for Majima's interference.
  • Game Within a Game: Hi-Tech Land Sega arcades have classic arcade games available for play, including Space Harrier, OutRun, Fantasy Zone, and Super Hang-On.
  • Gilded Cage: Majima lives in the Osakan nightlife hotspot of Sotenbori and manages a highly successful cabaret club, but is forced to live there and do the Shimano family's bidding as well as being under constant surveillance by Sagawa's henchmen. The title for Chapter 3, when he's introduced, is even called "A Gilded Cage".
  • Gratuitous English: You'll hear it often like the previous games before it, but certain parts stand out here.
    • Certain characters like Bacchus and the Mafia Boss speak in English phrases. Miracle Johnson also does but with a noticeably Japanese accent.
    • Similar to the previous vocal theme songs "Receive You" and "For Faith", "Reign" is entirely comprised of English lyrics, and along with the disco and cabaret vocal songs, it's sung with Japanese pronunciation and improper grammar. The lyrics for all the songs can be found on the game's website.
  • Guide Dang It: Several trophies are earned by seemingly random acts throughout the game. While some of them are hinted at, other trophies, like waiting fifteen minutes for hot takoyaki to cool, require counter-intuitive actions.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Occurs when Kiryu encounters Mr. Shakedown for the first time. Regardless of whether he defeats Kiryu or you take his health down to a certain point, he stops the fight and lets you go for now.
  • Hero of Another Story: While Kiryu and Majima's stories do tie into one another, they never directly encounter one another until The Stinger.
  • High-Speed Battle: One occurs in Chapter 13, requiring Oda to take the wheel while Kiryu fends off fend off their pursuers with a gun in a highway shootout.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The "Lost Decade", a period in the 90's where Japan's economy collapsed and started a long recession is implied to have been caused by Majima giving a tax collector some advice that was a bit too on the mark.
    • On a lesser note, Kiryu's "Arakure Quest" substory is one to the Japanese release of Dragon Quest III. Explanation: the game was so damn popular that people would actually get mugged for their copies. To be even more on the nose, the in-game game in question is even named Arakure Quest 3.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Happens in one of Kiryu's substories, although the outcome should be of no surprise. You're not beating Miracle Johnson, the Popstar Prince, in a disco battle.
  • Hospital Hottie: Makoto's female doctor, as well as Sayuri from the Cat Fighting arena.
  • Improvised Weapon: Anything that hasn't been bolted to the ground can be used as a weapon. Kiryu's "Beast" fighting style thrives on this, seamlessly picking up objects to bludgeon enemies with.
  • Innocent Innuendo: The end of the Hi-Tech Land Sega employee substories are rife with this.
    • When Luka challenges Kiryu to beat her high score in OutRun, she promises to take him on the ride of his life. As it turns out, she was talking about a new arcade game, Super Hang-On.
    • Kyoko challenges Majima to beat her high score and promises to show him her "fantasy zone". She does exactly that and brings out a Fantasy Zone arcade game.
  • Interface Screw: In one of Majima's substories, he volunteers to become a test subject for experimental drugs for a huge load of money. He's given three of them and has to fight some thugs for data collecting. The first is designed to keep him invigorated, but he continuously loses health. The second is designed to keep him focused, but the game has him switch between his three fighting styles at random. The last is designed to improve his vision, and he fights while dark clouds cover the screen.
  • Jerkass Fašade: One of Kiryu's substories tasks him with helping a mild-mannered yanki rock band create one in order to keep up appearances for their decidedly more hardcore fanbase.
  • Kick the Dog: A series of substories for Kiryu focus on him trying to hire staff for his real estate firm. After turning down two con artists who tried to bullshit him, he hires a shy and nervous man with a genuine passion for his line of work. Afterwards, he sees the two employees he refused to hire abusing a dog out of frustration, until the meek new hire steps in and stands up for the poor pup.
  • Large Ham: Outside of the main story, the protagonists exhibit traits of hamminess when engaging in side-activities. For example, when Kiryu starts playing OutRun, he takes to the game like he's getting ready to burn serious rubber. When hitting up the telephone club, he practically rips the phone off its cradle when answering it. When buying out businesses for his real estate firm, Kiryu does so by dramatically opening briefcases filled with cash, although this particular one only plays whenever he goes to buy the most expensive business within each of the Five Billionaires' districts.
  • Limit Break: For Club Sunshine, it's one of the main mechanics when you get enough money to fill a three tiered meter, which restores the HP of your girls, raises the mood of your guests and makes tables enter fever mode, making them gain money at an even faster rate. During Rival Battles, the Five Stars have their own limit breaks which range from making guests leave, lowering the mood of your customers, or lowering the HP of your girls. Which culminates in the battle with Club Moon, where they will use every effect at once on you.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: The Mr. Libido characters are ones who are after sex all day. They move from establishment to establishment without pause, and just a imagining a woman is enough to arouse them.
  • Macguffin Location: The Empty Lot, a small piece of property located in Kamurocho that is in the middle of a land development deal that is central to the plot. It eventually becomes the Millennium Tower by the time of future games.
  • The Mafia: Kiryu encounters them twice in his substories.
    • One group repeatedly hounds Bacchus during his training sessions, requiring Kiryu to use his new skills to take down one hitman after another for him. Over time, Kiryu learns who they really are and the old man's tragic involvement with them.
    • A separate group appears in one of Kiryu's friendship substories, seeking a shady-looking man selling mushrooms. When the Mafia Boss realizes what's being sold aren't the hallucinogenic kind but the tasty kind, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Man Child: Subverted with Pocket Fighter, he is actually quite mature and even a bit conflicted about how his hobby takes a toll on his financial (he earns more by selling pocket tissues than by helping at the circuit) and social life.
  • Meaningful Name: Various characters go by the same nickname which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The Mr. Shakedown characters are large Unskilled, but Strong brutes who will take all your money if they beat you, Mr. Moneybags is dirty rich and will help send money to the other protagonists, and the Mr. Libido guys are freaks of nature whose brains seem trapped in an endless void of sex.
  • Mercy Kill: Nishikiyama almost does this to Kiryu at the end of Chapter 6: he reasons that if the Dojima Family get their hands on Kiryu, they'd torture him and draw out his suffering, so killing him before then would've been merciful. In the end, he can't go through with it.
  • Metal Slime: The Nouveau Riche enemy, who wears a garish golden suit, is barely a challenge and gives you a ton of money when fought.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Mr. Shakedowns all attack in slow, lumbering swings but have tons of health on top of being Immune to Flinching and will take out massive chunks of your health if they successfully land a hit.
    • Kiryu's Beast style turns him into one, allowing him to pick up heavier objects and charge through enemies with ease at the cost of speed and mobility. The same goes for the woman who teaches him the style.
  • Mistaken from Behind: One scene has the Dojima family hunting for Kiryu on the streets, and they spot a man from behind sporting the same suit and build. It's not Kiryu, but they beat his ass anyway thinking he's mocking them.
  • Money for Nothing: Once you build your business ventures to a respectable level, the money comes pouring in, and you eventually be left with few places to spend it on.
  • Money Multiplier:
    • Several CP upgrades increase the amount of money you gain from enemies.
    • Some equipment, like the Security Wallet, Secret Wallet, and Mew Shoes, increase the amount of money you earn.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Invoked by the Mew Shoes, which play a nonstop barrage of meowing noises with every move you make — even in cutscenes. They will provoke more enemies into attacking you.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The protagonists tend to exaggerate the mundane actions they perform, like picking up a phone.
  • Neck Snap: One of the first moves Majima learns from Komeki is a counter-attack where he snaps his opponent's neck. However, in-game it's called "Essence of Choking" and doesn't instantly kill anyone it's done to, making it a technical subversion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Played for Laughs in one of Majima's substories, where pointers he gives to a government worker about income tax not only means he will have to pay those taxes in the future, but inadvertently contribute to Japan's economic bubble bursting and leading to a massive recession.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Two of the substories has Kiryu dealing with "Miracle Johnson", who is a thinly-veiled parody of Michael Jackson. The first one also features the legendary director "Steven Spining".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Both final bosses are on the receiving end of one once they are beaten, only for someone to intervene and stop them from being beaten to death.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Enemies can have their heads bashed into walls, their necks snapped, or even get run through with a Chinese broadsword, but at the end of a battle, they'll be shown beaten and scared witless, yet very much alive.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If Majima or Kiryu let Makoto get taken away during a fight (either while Majima escorts her through Sotenbori or while Kiryu and her try to escape the construction site) a small cinematic will play of them getting distracted by it and getting attacked from behind before they can rescue her, resulting in the loss of your entire health bar.
  • The Notable Numeral: The business sidequests have the protagonists fight a notable numeral group. Kiryu faces off against the Five Billionaires, and Majima competes against the Five Stars.
  • Oblivious to Love: Both Kiryu and Majima up to high heaven. The ratio between how many women practically declare their attraction and love for them and how neither of them ever pick up on it is about equal. The only times they do pick up on it is usually from an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • One of the Kids: In-game, the Pocket Racing Circuit is clearly aimed at kids, but quite a few adults are also into it, which bring out their inner child and are given the honorifics of -kun and -chan as opposed to -san. Pocket Circuit Fighter clearly has a passion for it, is a Friend to All Children and many kids look up to him. But quite a few people think he's too old to be doing this and he's rather self-conscious about it, especially when it comes to the poor guy's financial woes and non-existent dating life.
  • Origin Story: The game is more or less about how Kiryu and Majima end up earning their titles of "Dragon" and "Mad Dog".
  • Parrying Bullets: An ability in Majima's Slugger style lets him deflect bullets with his bat.
  • Pi˝ata Enemy: All the enemies literally bleed money when they get hit with a particularly strong attack, meaning that you'll be earning money like crazy. Of course, considering that money also doubles as XP in this game, you'll also be spending a lot of it on upgrades. The Mr. Shakedown enemies in particular have massive payouts for every hit landed, but are bigger and tougher than anything else and will take all your cash if they beat you.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In one sidequest Kiryu is asked by a foreign woman for information on how to obtain a visa, but because of her pronounciation issues he assumes she somehow needs a pizza to work happily.
    Kiryu: (Samantha's in trouble, and it's all because of my pizza.)
  • Porn Stash: Discussed at the end of the substory in which Kiryu buys a dirty magazine for a kid. After he gets the magazine, he tells the boy how important it is to keep the magazine a secret and most importantly that his bed is not a safe place to hide it, with a particularly pained expression upon his face.
  • Potty Emergency: In one of Majima's substories, he comes across a street performer who pretends to be a statue. At some point, he needs Majima to distract his audience so he can run to the nearest bathroom unseen.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • The Bottomless Stomach CP upgrade lets you eat food even when your health is full. This is useful for ordering all the food restaurant completion requirements, but it's pretty far down the Adventure CP list, so you have to spend a significant amount of CP to get it in the first place. Even then, Appstim RX returns to let you eat more food and are quite cheap, so the CP upgrade's usefulness is extremely limited.
    • The Legend styles are pretty strong and harken to the styles Kiryu and Majima eventually adopt as their own. However, you can only change to it via a toggle in the pause menu, so switching in and out of it during battle is not as smooth as it could be. Additionally, the ability trees consist of only health, heat, and attack upgrades, and while they are useful, it's unfortunate there aren't any other cooler abilities to unlock from them.
  • Prank Date: One of Kiryu's telephone club substories has him agreeing to meet with a hot-sounding girl, but he ends up getting Stood Up by her. It turns out many guys have fallen victim to her as well, a "sakura" who calls just to get people into the club. Kiryu can get stood up numerous times if the girl ends up going by the name Asakura, Sakurako, or Sakurai.
  • Previously On: Since players switch between Kiryu and Majima every couple of chapters, there is an option to view a quick recap of events in their stories before switching.
  • Product Placement: You can buy Mountain Dew and 7-Up from convenience stores, and look at covers for magazines such as Famicom Tsushin (better known today as Famitsu).
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad:
    • Kiryu's real estate business storyline involves him dealing with the "Five Billionaires", a group of Shady Real Estate Agents looking to take over Kamurocho.
    • Majima's cabaret club has to contend with the managers of the "Five Stars", the top five cabaret clubs of Sotenbori, though he only has to physically fight three of them.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: This dynamic between Kiryu and Majima is reversed in 0; Kiryu is the hot-tempered red oni to Majima's calm and level-headed blue oni.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Sotenbori's Mr. Libido runs around in only his underwear, but Majima is the only person who reacts to his undress in any manner.
  • Relationship Values: Shopkeepers and characters involved in certain minigames and substories have a "Friendship" gauge that goes up the more you interact with them. Getting them maxed out will open up their inventory, unlock certain items/abilities and even allow their businesses to be bought/partnered for Kiryu and Majima's businesses.
  • The Reveal: At the end of Chapter 8, it is revealed that the owner of the Empty Lot, the piece of real estate the Tojo Clan is willing to kill Kiryu over, is Makoto Makimura, the blind girl Majima is trying to protect.
  • Rhythm Game:
    • Karaoke returns as a minigame. Since dedicated karaoke clubs didn't take off until the 1990s, though, you'll be doing your singing at bars instead.
    • The game also introduces Disco Dancing, which is played on a grid and requires players be positioned properly while pressing buttons to the music.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Majima goes on an epic one toward the end of the game. After Makoto is shot, knowing the Dojima family won't stop pursuing her until she's dead, Majima throws all his inhibitions out the window and takes it upon himself to destroy the Dojima family and kill its patriarch.
  • Samus Is a Girl: To get back into the Tojo Clan, Majima's tasked with killing Makoto Makimura, a guy who preys on innocent women. Makoto's the cute blind girl Majima met earlier, not the big guy she's working for.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Played for Laughs in one of Majima's substories after he volunteers as a test subject for experimental drugs with disastrous results. The researcher convinces himself that Majima would be willing to partake in it again, seeing him as a passionate champion for the advancement of medicine. Majima swears off drug testing for life and runs straight for the door. For extra laughs, the researcher runs after him.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The Chinese version of the game adds Lao Gui to the cover art (who's depicted by Sam Lee), pointing a gun at the audience.
  • Serious Business: Pocket Circuit Racing is very important to some people. Not just kids, but some adults like Pocket Circuit Fighter are into it. There are even some elites that are feared and respected.
  • Sexophone: Some songs in the substories utilize this, particularly when Kiryu and Majima think the Hi-Tech Land Sega girls are offering themselves to them, during the S&M session in the dominatrix training substory, and when a sexy woman tries to sell Kiryu overpriced water.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Late in the car chase sequence, Kiryu's attackers pull out a homing missile launcher, and the oncoming missiles need to be shot before they hit the car.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After defeating a particular opponent named "Jo", Majima calls the experience a "bizarre adventure".
    • The sprinting upgrades available from shrines are titled "Gotta Go Fast".
    • One of Kiryu's sidequests features a Michael Jackson Expy working on a music video featuring zombies, not unlike Thriller. The music video is directed by a Steven Spielberg expy (director of such greats as A.T. and Indian Jeans).
    • Miracle Johnson's hit song "I'm Gonna Make Her Mine" sounds quite similar to Michael Jackson's "Bad". In addition, "I Wanna Take Her Home" is a dead-ringer for David Bowie's "Let's Dance".
    • One of Kiryu's substories revolves around a hot new RPG called Arakure Quest 3, which is so popular that people are getting mugged over it!
    • The naming convention of the rival cabaret clubs in Sotenbori correlate with the first five Sailor Scouts: Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Moon.
    • One of the businesses Kiryu can buy out is named "Amusement Game You". It's the same name as the arcade from Shenmue.
    • Near the end of Kiryu's real estate quest line, the Greater-Scope Villain barks "Screw the rules, I have money!"
    • At least in the localization, the names for some of the substories are based on popular movies, while many of the trophies are named after various popular songs from The '80s.
    • The Tax Lady, one of the substories, is a whole sale shout out to the Japanese film Marusa no Onna (aka A Taxing Woman). Both involve a woman from Japan's National Tax Agency aka Marusa going after a tax cheat with Marui even looking very similar to the main character from the film.
    • There are quite a few references to retro video games in the Electronics King segment of the Real Estate Royale quest line.
    • Majima's rollerskating Boy Band karaoke visual is based on Hikaru GENJI. Some Japanese fans call it Majima JINGI.note 
  • Skill Tree: The game uses a skill tree system for improving each of the character's fighting styles. Instead of earning Experience Points to unlock new skills, players must buy them with money earned in-game.
  • Slippery Skid: One of Miss Tatsu's targets throws perfume at Kiryu, which will have him slipping and falling on the floor whenever he steps on it. There's also a "Slime Gun" that shoots a liquid that causes enemies to slip.
  • The Slow Walk: When using his "Beast" style, Kiryu's movement speed is reduced to a slow, menacing stroll.
  • Smash to Black: At the end of Chapter 8, the screen cuts to black as Majima is pistol-whipped by Sera. At the end of the game, the screen cuts to black after Majima says his good-byes to Sagawa, who is accosted by Omi Alliance hitmen once Majima has departed.
  • Spoiled Brat: One of Kiryu's substories prominently features a young Daigo Dojima. As a child, he had a nasty temperament and a knack for using his father's name and influence to get his way, as well as being very frivolous with his father's money.
  • Stance System: Kiryu and Majima have three styles each plus one hidden "Legendary" style, based on their fighting styles in later games of the series unlocked by completing their respective business minigames.
    • Kiryu's fighting styles include "Brawler", a balanced fighting style with Counter Attacks; "Beast", a power-based style that allows Kiryu to tank damage and seamlessly pick up and use environmental objects as weapons; and "Rush", a fast-paced boxing style that lets Kiryu duck and weave past attacks and counter with a flurry of punches. His Legendary style, "Dragon of Dojima" is based on his Komaki martial arts style in later games of the series.
    • Majima's styles are "Thug", a balanced style with a variety of grab attacks and pragmatic flair; "Slugger", a power-based style where Majima uses a baseball bat with deadly creativity; and "Breaker", a break-dancing style that lets Majima attack opponents with spinning kicks while striking poses to build up heat. His Legendary style "Mad Dog of Shimano" is a fast-paced fighting style that favors Majima's use of a knife.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • The Escort Battles with Majima and Makoto double as this, as they emphasize the two get through Sotenbori without being seen by enemies. The two can hide among small crowds of people, and a battle will initiate if they're caught.
    • In one of Kiryu's substories, he has to sneak his way to a vending machine selling adult magazines without being seen by women, including his Real Estate secretary. If he's caught, he'll chicken out and head back to the same starting point.
  • The Stinger: Makoto finds her brother's watch in the Empty Lot. Elsewhere, Kiryu and Majima finally meet.
    ...Yo...KIRYU-CHAN!
  • Theme Naming:
    • The Five Stars whom Majima squares off with have space-themed names for their cabaret clubs: Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Moon.
    • The three names of a telephone club girl, a "sakura" for leaving guys stood up: Asakura, Sakurako, and Sakurai.
  • Theme Song Power Up: The battle music for Kiryu and Majima's Legend styles are remixes of "Receive You", with the original version playing in the final scene when the two finally meet.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Subtly invoked in the English version of the game: Kiryu continues to be associated with dragons, while Sagawa nicknames Majima "tiger".
  • Token Non-Human: Kiryu can hire a chicken named "Nugget" as a manager for his real estate firm.
  • Turns Red: When Mr. Shakedown enemies have their health reduced to a certain point, they become enveloped in a yellow aura, become stronger, and fight more aggressively. Random enemies can also go into this state when their buddies are beaten, but taunting them can instantly provoke them into doing it as well.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Marina, Yamanoi's real estate secretary, is actually a detective investigating who was behind the Five Billionaires as well as the money games plaguing Kamurocho.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The car chase in Chapter 13, which turns the game into a Rail Shooter similar to the car chase in the first game but with massively improved mechanics. Kiryu can now utilize Bullet Time by using Heat, and the Panzer Dragoon camera rotation controls have been removed. The enemy sights from Virtua Cop are still present.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Mr. Shakedown. They all share the same limited moveset, either swinging their arms around or lunging at you, but will cause incredible damage to you if they connect.
  • Variable Mix: During regular street fights, the music segues between different themes depending on which stance you're taking.
  • Virgin Shaming: Pocket Circuit Fighter is accused of being a virgin and gets mocked for it by some kids, even though they don't know what it means and only heard it from their parents. Kiryu goes out of his way to defend him, and while PCF admits he is one, Kiryu doesn't think any less of him for it.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: For the cabaret club mini-game, you can dress up platinum hostesses in different outfits and accessorize them as you wish.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: The Pleasure King, one of Kamurocho's Five Billionaires, is a drag queen who cares not one bit for his subordinates.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kiryu and Nishiki have this dynamic.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end of the game features a brief recap of what happened to the surviving characters, focusing on their exploits up through Sohei Dojima's death in 1995 and the resultant turmoil in the Tojo Clan.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Kiryu's "Beast" style features grappling Heat attacks that use wrestling moves like power bombs, piledrivers and a Human Hammer-Throw. His "Dragon of Dojima" style has Shinada's DDT and he can suplex enemies onto railings if he drags enemies near one. One of his HEAT moves with a partner allows Kiryu to perform a Shining Wizard on his opponent.
    • One of Majima's "Dancer" Heat moves is a spinning Hurricanrana that damages three enemies at once. Endgame Elite Mooks can also perform Hurricanranas as grapples.

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