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Video Game: Yakuza
aka: Ryu Ga Gotoku
Kazuma Kiryu apparently finds the description fascinating

M: 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.
S: I don't know any ex-yakuza running orphanages.
K: There was one a few years ago. A good guy.
M: You sure it wasn't just a tax shelter?
K: Sure it was a tax shelter but he ran it like a legitimate thing. You know.

Yakuza, or as it's known in Japan, Ryu ga Gotoku (lit. Like a Dragon), is a video game brawler series for the PS2 and PS3. The first game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬, Kiryū Kazuma), the "Dragon of Dojima," a former Yakuza whose release from prison after a 10-year sentence sparks the setup of the first game's plot. After his release, Kazuma returns and finds that his friend is missing and the clan to which he once belonged (the Tojo Clan) has had 10 billion yen (approx. $100 million US) stolen from them, and the entire Japanese underworld is now searching for the money. The game 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 (info from Wikipedia).

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.

There have been four games in the main series, with Yakuza 4 currently available in Japan and North America and Europe. There's also a spin-off called Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! that takes place in feudal Japan, starring Kiryu Kazuma-no-suke. A very combat-oriented PSP spinoff called Kurohyou: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinshou focuses on the life of underground fighter Ukyou Tatsuya. The spin-off featuring characters from the main series, Ryu ga Gotoku: Of The End/Yakuza: Dead Souls, takes place during an... umm... outbreak of the living dead. As you may have guessed, this is not canon.

Ryu ga Gotoku 5 has been released in Japan in December 2012, featuring five different protagonists and cities. It received a perfect 40/40 score from Famitsu magazine, a first for the series. Sega has shut down its Western Yakuza websites, cementing the idea that they won't be exporting the games.

A prequel titled Ryu ga Gotoku 0: Chikai no Basho (The Location of the Oath) was announced for the PS3 and PS4 on August 24, 2014.

This game series includes examples of:

  • 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).
  • Abhorrent Admirer - in the third game, Kazuma's animal magnetism draws the attention of the Drag Queen Michiru, causing 'her' to stalk you through several pulse-pounding chase-scenes. How is it possible to run that fast on high heels? The world may never know...
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Akiyama is probably the bum who was first shown catching money after the 10 billion yen incident. The facial features are a bit different, though that is likely due to the series' Art Evolution, and their clothes are different (they wear a different cap), but they are in the exact same location and do the exact same thing (catch a bill, then gather as much as they can). Funnily enough, a randomly generated street punk in the first game shares his name.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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: Akira Nishiki and Kyohei Jingu in the first one, Kim Taejin and Ryuji Goda in the second, Yoshitaka Mine in the third, Seishiro Munakata in the forth, and Tetsu Nikaido in Dead Souls.
    • Subasa Kurosawa in the fifth.
    • Man Behind the Man: Ryo Takashima in the second game; Andre Richardson in the third; 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 masssages, 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.
  • Big Damn Villains: The apparent Big Bad of the third gave saves Rikiya from a beheading. He does the same thing later, but he's a little too late that time.
  • 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.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the fourth game, Saejima's murderous rampage at the start of his story has a surprising lack of gunshot wounds on his victims. Which makes perfect sense when you later discover he was set up as The Scapegoat by Katsuragi.
  • 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 zombiefied 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.
  • 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 SWAT squad.)
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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!!
  • The City Narrows: Purgatory.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Oh my fucking God yes.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 forth 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ater 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 For Massive Damage.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: One of the most criticized aspects of the third game is that the beginning (and one point in the middle) is spent taking care of the Sunsine Orphanage's children and their minimal problems, as opposed to the dealings and conflicts of the Japanese mafia, which is the main hook of the series.
  • 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: Shintarou Kazama becomes Shintarou Fuma for the US release. 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 legenedary yakuza who fights off the zombie infestation in Kamurucho.
  • Dulcinea Effect: Men are falling over themselves to protect Lily in 4, though everyone does have their own reasons. Doesn't change the fact that only one of the main characters has known her for more than a week.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: At the end of Chapter 12 in the second game, Kazuma chases Sengoku up the Golden Palace past an army of Samurai-clad Mooks- and even a pair of tigers- to his office after he kidnapped Haruka as a ploy to lure Kazuma into an ambush. Sengoku is quite surprised to see Ryuji Goda waiting there for them all with a katana over his shoulder. After commiserating with Kazuma's plight, Goda responds to Sengoku's mouthing off by cutting a deep gash in his chest. At that point, Ryuji makes it clear abducting Haruka was in poor taste. That might have been it if Sengoku actually had common sense and kept quiet. Instead, he spits out that Ryuji only got far because of his father. Ryuji had enough of Sengoku at that point, stabbing him with the katana and pushing him to the balcony before kicking him off the top of the Golden Palace. He then lets Kazuma leave with Haruka, but makes it clear that there would be a huge brawl between the Omi and the Tojo in one day.
  • Evil Counterpart: Ryuji Goda from the second game.
    • 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.
    • 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: 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 advenced combos) they branch out considerably.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Goro Majima, who pretty much fights Kazuma in every game thus far at an even footing.
  • 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 recepient in one hit. Saejima has a variant of this.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Foreshadowing: In the fourth game, Akiyama tells Lily not to open the briefcase containing the 100 million yen he's loaning her on the roof of the Millennium Tower, telling her that it could blow away. This foreshadows both Akiyama's past and how he first made his money, and more importantly, the climax of the game when his entire fortune is blown away by the wind from a helicopter.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 3's the only major character who speaks in English.
  • Guns Akimbo: Several regular bosses, most notably Arase and super boss hitman Amon Jou 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.
    • Averted in Amon Jou's case in Kenzan!, as he uses a sword there.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted in the third game, not only with the Sunshine Orphanage kids, but other kids as well can be seen walking around Downtown Ryukubu.
  • 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.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Just about the most irrelevant in the gaming industry. It's half the fun.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: in the third game Mine appears kickboxing with a sandbag in a cutscene because the game wants you to know that he's no pushover. Which you end up learning by yourself since he is the Final Boss.
  • 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: Shinji Tanaka in the first game, Daigo Dojima in the second, Rikiya Shimabukuro in the third.
    • Shun Akiyama 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.
  • 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.
  • Manly Tears: Kazuma actually sheds these when Rikiya dies. You know from this moment on that someone is GOING TO FUCKING DIE.
  • 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....
  • 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.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Because first, it won't do any good. 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.
  • Noble Demon: Ryuji Goda. See Even Evil Has Standards above.
  • No Export for You: The samurai spin-offs and PSP games were never released outside of Japan. Currently looks to be the case for the fifth installment. Surprisingly, Of The End was never meant to leave Japan as well, but the broader appeal of a Zombie Apocalypse and a shift to a shooter style of gameplay allowed it to be localized as Dead Souls.
  • 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 (may be 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 a armor and a accessory that restores HP over time and 4 nets you a item that offers high defense and charm.
  • 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.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Goro Majima pretty much gives the as the reason why he took a knife meant for Kazuma in the gut... right after coldcocking the underling who used the aformentioned knife.
  • 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
  • Playing Against Type: In the English version of the first game, Bill Farmer- best known as the voice of Goofy- gives a rather remarkable and down-to-earth serious performance as Detective Makoto Date.
  • 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: You have to press a button on your last attack against the final boss of Yakuza 2. If you don't, well...
  • 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.
  • 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 exmaples, 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: Kiryu has to fight Korean gangsters/terrorists in the second game as well as the other yakuza.
    • And in the first game, Kazuma also has to rescue Haruka from Lau Ka Long's Snake Flower Triad.
    • The third one has Black Monday, a weapons dealing syndicate headed by corrupt CIA operatives.
  • 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.
  • 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: Yakuza 2 contained references to the previous game, Ashita no Joe, SEGA, the PS3 cat and even The Matrix (the "Man in black").
    • It could be argued that the Mind Screw Man Behind the Man reveal towards the end is a veiled reference to Metal Gear Solid.
    • Also, Kazuma can learn various techniques after helping out and sparring with wrestler "Cyclops" Oba, who is likely a reference to Japanese wrestling legend "Giant" Baba.
    • Snake Flower Triad leader Lau Ka Long is patterned after Lau Chan, with a few shades of Lan Di.
      • In the same vein, the fourth installment introduces Daisaku Minami, a drunken boxer who has a few moves directly lifted from Shun Di complete with appropriate sound effect.
    • 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.
    • In this trailer[1] and footage[2] has quite a few to other survivor horrors and combat ops; if you look among which a couple of hunters and a tank, flashlight segments and the changes to the Kamurocho district, available attack vehicles to use,a room with Lickers, a team up in a room with the chapter's behemoth zombie , just from what is shown.
    • If one manages to look closely, Andre Richardson (Black Monday's leader, a crooked CIA agent and one of the Big Bads of 3) looks suprisingly similar to Albert Wesker. Many a fan have indulged in calling him "Wesker Jr."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spoiler Opening: In Yakuza 3, Mine is shown to be Not So Stoic in the opening video, which would be a surprise considering his seemingly low-importance for most of the game. The scene comes from the final chapter in the game, no less.
  • 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?!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • True Companions: By the endgame of 4, Kazuma has formed a companionship with Shun Akiyama, Taiga Saejima and Masayoshi Tanimura. A more impressive collection of bonafide badasses will be hard to find.
  • Turn Coat: So far, apart from Shinji Tanaka, significant individuals in the Nishiki Family are doomed to this role.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Kazuma, Nishiki, and Yumi in the first game pretty much fits this trope, especially as the story went by.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In Premium Adventure Mode, unlocked after beating the main story in 4, 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.
  • The Unfought: Hamazaki in the third game.
    • Unless you download a certain DLC.
  • Walking Armory: Taiga Saejima made his debut by using more guns than anyone else in the entire series: six at once! Two in either hand, two in his pockets, one in his belt, and one in his teeth. 36 bullets to wipe out an entire branch of an enemy clan. In Japan, where guns are rare to begin with, this is ludicrous.
    • This was an Invoked Trope, and patently looks ridiculous (even though he apparently completed the mission well enough), because Majima was supposed to turn up and use half of the guns. The reason why they packed more guns than either could wield simultaneously is that reloading would lose critical seconds, especially since the hit was to be carried out in a small area, and Majima and Saejima would be heavily outnumbered. Also, the guns came from the police, who are bound to have plenty.
  • 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.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 11 of the third game. Sunshine Orphanage is bulldozed by Mine and the Tamashiro family, Mikio is almost killed via a sledgehammer to the skull, Nakahara is captured and thrown into a bullring, Saki finds her voice at last, the Tamashiro family and its bulls get a collective ass-whooping, and Rikiya heroically takes a bullet meant for Kazuma and dies. The last one is particuarly shocking, as Rikiya is the only ally in the entire game who dies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted with Hamazaki in the third game.
    • Yet played straight in the same game with Rikiya's childhood's friend. The side mission where he finds her working in a pole dancing club is treated like a main mission, with cutscene and all. Rikiya promises to take her out of this life style for good, but he ends up dead in the end, but the girl is never brought up in the main storyline, and how she feels about her White Knight being dead is left unknown.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Kamurocho in general, and other locations as the series goes on.
  • Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child: After Haruka attempts an Armor-Piercing Slap to Mine in the third game, he returns the favor with a backhand.
  • 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 occassions 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.

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