Some unmarked spoilers follow.
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- Every fight with Goro Majima, the series' signature Crazy Awesome Recurring Boss turned Deuteragonist. His wild moveset has remained consistent across every game he's fought in, but it never gets any less cool.
- In Yakuza 1, he's fought several times across different environments, culminating in a showdown in the halls of a building he's just crashed a dump truck through, which enters its second phase when Majima punches the unstable floor so hard it shatters — narrowly missing Kiryu's head — and they land in the demolished basement for another round. Kiwami takes it Up to Eleven and beyond with the Majima Everywhere System, which has you fight Majima basically everywhere in ambush battles: on the street disguised as a cop, appearing as a bartender, staging a Zombie Apocalypse, pole-dancing in a club, and so on.
- Yakuza 2 has you fight him in Purgatory's arena, where he gets a Big Entrance befitting his popularity and turns out to be one of the harder bosses in the game.
- In Yakuza 3, he's the very first boss, fought at the very top of a skyscraper usually reserved for each game's Final Boss. Later on, he tricks Kiryu into fighting him in the arena again, in what's currently the last chronological time the two have clashed, and the battle is fittingly more punishing than any of his fights before.
- Yakuza 4 is the first time he's fought by someone other than Kiryu; instead, Saejima faces him in a battle between scorned Blood Brothers, which ends with Saejima dodging Majima's wild stabs in a quick-time sequence, picking up his entire body, and slamming him into a wall headfirst. Notably, this is also the first Majima fight in the series where Majima isn't fighting for fun.
- In Yakuza 5, he spends most of the game Faking the Dead, only to be brought out bloodied and bruised in the endgame and forced to duel Saejima, under threat that Haruka will be assassinated if he doesn't kill his brother. As the only time Majima is part of the final Sequential Boss sequence, it's one of the hardest and most dramatic fights with him in the series (and is thus appropriately staged as the snow kicks up). Majima gets a huge boost to his speed and power compared to earlier games, and the fight is interlaced with long, stylish Press X to Not Die scenes as he bounces madly around the environment and Saejima narrowly manages to dodge each frenzied stab.
- Every game has a Bonus Boss fight with a member of the Amon Clan, usually vengeful patriarch Jo Amon. While every other fight is at least loosely grounded in the realm of plausibility, Amon fights are where the game kisses all realism goodbye and goes all-out: they move at superhuman speeds and hit like bullet trains, soak up more damage than their game's Final Boss, and gain access to increasingly absurd weapons (including a BFG, Attack Drones, and a freaking Kill Sat). In the fifth game, Sango Amon even starts levitating and throwing around exploding umbrellas! They're usually backed up by some of the catchiest battle music in the games, including The Grudge and their oft-remixed Leitmotif, Fiercest Warrior.
Yakuza 1 / Kiwami
- Kiryu's battle with Lau Ka Long, leader of the Snake Flower Triad and a foe that even Kiryu himself fears, and for good reason too. The man's a walking arsenal of weaponry, where he'll change tactics and weaponry from a Guan Dao to Dual Wielding broadswords as the fight goes on before deciding to resort to Good Old Fisticuffs incorporating Chinese martial arts.
- The Final Boss fight with Akira Nishikiyama is intense enough in the original game, but slightly hampered by the lack of establishment for Nishiki as Kiryu's lifelong friend. The buildup of Yakuza 0 and the Jumping Off the Slippery Slope flashbacks in Kiwami, along with the latter's gameplay enhancements, turn the whole thing into one of the most dramatic and emotional battles in the series. The former best friends beat the ever-living hell out of each other across the roof of Millennium Tower, forgoing elaborate techniques for a simple, brutal slugfest, all while this track plays in the background. After several intense flurries of matched fists and one trip straight through a window, all Kiryu can do is put his insane friend to the floor with one solid strike to the head. A certain revelation in Yakuza 0 makes the setting even more poignant: Millennium Tower is built on the Empty Lot, which Kiryu and Nishiki nearly died fighting together to protect, and the grave of Tachibana, a friend and trusted contact of their father figure.
Yakuza 2 / Kiwami 2
- One honourable mention goes to Hiroshi Hayashi, the Omi lieutenant you face in the first game. Here, he poses a far greater challenge than he did before. Midway through the battle, Hayashi quickly rips off a pair of metal pipes with his bare hands and proceeds to fancily spin them around with deadly efficiency. To top it all off, Hayashi has six full health bars, twice of that of the Final Boss himself in the original game! Kiwami 2 ends the battle keeping a QTE sequence from the original that has you beat the absolute snot out of the former Omi lieutenant, letting players blow off steam after dealing with Hayashi's grueling pipe phase.
- The fight with Koji Shindo, the vengeful patriarch of the Nishikiyama Family, after he sells out the entire Tojo Clan to the Omi by acting as Goda's Mole. He arms himself with a katana, and you're forced to chase him through the Tojo Clan headquarters, fighting him a few more times until you finally corner him in the back garden. After beating the stuffing out of him some more, Yayoi throws Kiryu her own katana, allowing the two to have a tense Sword Fight (complete with two Blade Locks) that ends with Kiryu delivering an apparently mortal slash across the torso. And even after that, he turns out to be Not Quite Dead, ambushing Kiryu when he runs back to the Tojo office for one last duel.
- You probably expect to fight Sengoku at the end of his massive, absurd castle. What happens instead? He sics his pets on you: two ferocious tigers. The actual gameplay of the fight is a bit clunky (since the combat system is designed for punching humans, not wild animals), but it's still awesome for the sheer absurdity of the whole sequence, which is considered one of the franchise's Signature Scenes, and which ends with Kiryu countering a tiger's lunge by punching it straight in the forehead.
- The first climactic showdown with Ryuji Goda in the finale is well worth the whole games buildup. Like Shindo, Goda is an expert swordsman, but hes a Mighty Glacier and you dont get a sword of your own this time. With limited space to work with, you have to time every attack carefully to avoid being struck down by Godas lethal slices.
- The Final Boss is by far the most iconic fight in the series thus far, and for good reason. Kiryu and Goda, both having been shot twice and with Kim's bomb minutes from detonating, decide to forgo escaping and have one last fight in order to settle their grudge. What follows is an intense, brutal, challenging, and surprisingly poignant battle between the two dragons, whom are equally matched and have grown to have immense respect for one another. Their clash goes on until both men are nearly dead on their feet, at which point they rush each other for the Cross Counter of a lifetime (which is a One-Hit Kill if you fail the prompt) — after which Goda drops to the ground, his wounds finally catching up to him. This fight alone (and its well-known theme) plays a key role in Yakuza 2 being regarded as one of the series' best installments.
- The Climax Boss battle between Kiryu and Joji Kazama/Fuma late in the game. Where almost every other 3 boss previously has made use of a weapon, a unique style, or an unfair trick, this is a plain, honorable hand-to-hand clash with a highly dangerous and experienced combatant. Not to mention the symbolic weight: since Joji and Shintaro were identical siblings, this is the closest Kiryu ever gets to fighting his father figure.
- 3's Final Boss fight, while nowhere as iconic as the first two or as show-stoppingly stylish as later ones, is still pretty awesome. Yoshitaka Mine, at the height of his tragic insanity, challenges Kiryu to a battle on the roof of a hospital with a comatose Daigo nearby. Mine is the first boss of the franchise to utilise a variety of fighting styles, with the speed and acrobatic ability to rival Majima, as well as an enormous health bar. He also has one awesome QTE sequence where Kiryu intercepts his flurry of swings before proceeding to counter a final punch from Mine with a headbutt that injures Mine's hand, giving Kiryu an opening to deliver a dropkick to his face. Not to mention that it has one of the most notoriously crazy endings to a final fight in Yakuza history: Daigo wakes up from his coma in time to perfectly shoot several armed men trying to kill Kiryu and Mine, and Mine proceeds to redeem himself by suplexing the Greater-Scope Villain straight off the roof!
- To test Saejima's honor and resolve, Kiryu challenges him to a fight on the beach outside the orphanage. Except this happens in Saejima's campaign, meaning you have to fight the Dragon of Dojima yourself. It's exactly as difficult and exactly as awesome as it sounds, with Kiryu busting out all of his old moves and hitting Saejima with a Heat attack which, if he fails to counter it, will devastate his health. Saejima barely manages to win, and even then, Kiryu isn't too badly beaten. It certainly lives up to the Tiger Versus Dragon terminology.
- And just to further prove he's still the top dog, Kiryu's campaign has him fighting Akiyama and Tanimura simultaneously, a Dual Boss with two guys you've spent hours fighting with and leveling up. One QTE has Kiryu lift up both Akiyama and Tanimura with one arm each, with Tanimura trying to armbar Kiryu to no avail, who then proceeds to toss them aside like yesterday's trash. But if Kiryu fails the QTE, Akiyama and Tanimura deliver a synchronised kick to Kiryu's face that knocks him on his ass.
- The finale, which forms a Sequential Boss out of each protagonist splitting up to take on their own Final Boss after all of the remaining villains are lured to the top of Millennium Tower. The fights themselves are pretty simple (and the final phase is a poorly-regarded Flunky Boss), but the sheer scale and catharsis of it make it great.
- Special mention goes to Akiyama fighting Hideaki Arai in a Mirror Boss battle. Their battle ends when both Akiyama and Arai charge each other with a flying cross leg kick, with Akiyama coming off as the victor.
- Another mention goes to Kiryu blocking a skydiving punch from Daigo Dojima, then beating the sense back into his old ally. One specific QTE sequence has Kiryu and Daigo counter each other's punches in a Punch Parry, where both sides try and overpower the other in a test of strength and determination.
- The combination of boss fight and The War Sequence that ends Kiryu's part of the campaign, in which Kiryu takes on the entire Tojo Clan all on his own to fight Aoyama's leadership. Hundreds of enemies at once, many armed with heavy weapons and attacking from all sides, and Kiryu wins regardless. Culminating in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against Aoyama, it's one of the coolest parts of the game.
- Saejima vs Yama-Oroshi. Who or what is Yama-Oroshi, you ask? It's a gargantuan, bloodthirsty grizzly bear that's seen as The Dreaded for those who know of it. Saejima fights it after his prison break when he's caught in a severe blizzard, and in the tradition set by Kiryu and the tigers, manages to defeat it with his bare hands. He manages to finish it off at the end of the fight by turning in midair when it throws him up and using the momentum to deliver a Megaton Punch to the bear's face!
- Kiryu and Saejima get another round with each other late in the game, after taking out Katsuya and Watase together, though this time, the player chooses which one to control. In a tribute to the Final Boss of 2, the two duke it out atop Kamurocho Hills in a bout where both are equally matched, and it ends with a dramatic Cross Counter that results in both of them falling in exhaustion.
- The penultimate battle has Akiyama fighting Kamon Kanai and his goons in the middle of a snow-covered Theatre Square. Despite being a Flunky Boss, it's quite dramatic and atmospheric, as Akiyama single-handedly covers Kiryu's path and repays the criminals for what they've done to his town. It's a great display of Akiyama's combat prowess, and it ends with him finishing off Kanai by delivering a furious kick to the side of his head while in the process of being choke-slammed.
- The Final Boss establishes a whole new bar for the elaborate stylishness of Yakuza finales. With Kurosawa's plan in shambles, Masato Aizawa fights Kiryu at the Tojo HQ just to prove himself, and finally goes all-out after teasing it throughout the game. Opening with an incredible Cross Counter shot, the two engage in a brutal battle that gradually takes them through the building (triggering several dynamic prompts, including a Brawler Lock Kiryu nearly loses) and to a balcony, which Aizawa kicks Kiryu off before trying to punch him in midair; after a Press X to Not Die prompt, Kiryu manages to parry the blow in mid-air and slam Aizawa headfirst straight into the ground. Shortly thereafter, Kiryu kicks Aizawa through the door to the building's snowy entrance courtyard, and the two engage in a final bout where Kiryu's old bullet wound reopens and Aizawa starts regenerating health, ending with a bloody clash that fades to white just before the final blow.
- Every fight with Daisaku Kuze, who gives Majima a run for his money in sheer persistence despite being significantly older. Unlike Majima, Kuze's battles are simply a test of raw strength and prowess, growing more intense and desperate as Kiryu continues to humiliate him.
- The second time you face him, he ambushes Kiryu in the sewers during his escape from Kamurocho... riding a motorcycle and wielding an iron pipe. Kiryu, being Kiryu, tanks the first blow at full speed and the subsequent attempt to finish him off, leading to a close-quarters beatdown with little room to do anything but surge forward and exchange crippling blows.
- The final fight with him is one of the game's best, and not just because it's the first time Oath of Enma plays in full. Kiryu is lured to the empty street outside the Kazama Family building, where Kuze challenges him to one last fight before he rushes off to the final showdown. It's a no-frills street fight where he forgoes his weapons and reinforcements from previous fights, so he and Kiryu simply beat each other down to prove once and for all which of them can outlast the other. Special mention goes to the elaborate exchange of blows near the fight's end, which, if the prompt is met, results in Kiryu completely no-selling a powerful punch to the face and retaliating in kind. And when Kiryu prevails, Kuze finally admits he's a real yakuza and waits on the street to be arrested.
- Majima's first fight with Homare Nishitani. He's basically fighting his future self, an acrobatic Knife Nut who's even more willfully unhinged than he'll turn out to be, in the middle of the glitzy cabaret you've used as a hub for much of his campaign. Nishitani packs many of Majima's familiar moves, along with a few new tricks, such as when he pretends to be knocked down only to wildly lash out at Majima if he takes the bait.
- Near the end of his side of the story, Majima has a Climax Boss battle with Masaru Sera, who proves how much stronger he was in the years before Yakuza 1. Sera is a Lightning Bruiser adept at gracefully dodging Majima's attacks and countering with low kicks and rapid punches, and if the player isn't prepared, he can easily combo them into submission. Matching him, on the other hand, results in one of the most frenetic battles in the game.
- One might be surprised to see that one of the bosses you'll be fighting is Osamu Kashiwagi. In previous games, he was depicted as a calm and level-headed mediator despite the mysterious large scar on his face, but 0 reveals that he was a completely different man back in the day and a force to be reckoned with. He takes on Majima not just to protect Nishikiyama and Kiryu, but to fulfill his own desire to fight Majima for himself. A surprisingly skilled karateka, while he's weak against the Slugger style, Kashiwagi can otherwise overwhelm the Mad Dog with powerful attacks and quick moves if you get careless and underestimate him. The highlight of this fight is where he attacks Majima with punch so powerful that it'll send him flying across the roof if it connects.
- Who is Majima's last real boss before the final chapter? Nishikiyama himself! Except in a complete tonal reversal from Yakuza 1's Final Boss fight, you duke it out with him in the middle of Serena in a fight full of Black Comedy and unexpected moves. Reina is watching the whole time, and comes in as an Assist Character for Nishiki twice: once when Nishiki slams Majima onto the bar and he has to block Reina's bottle swing, and later when she tosses Nishiki a health item, which Majima can catch and drink himself.
- The Sequential Boss fight in the final chapter provides one of the best finales in the series.
- First up, Majima faces Hiroki Awano outside Dojima's office. After rambling for some time about his lifestyle, he reveals that his Smug Snake tendencies haven't been all talk throughout the game: he might be the strongest fighter in terms of brute strength, approaching a Charles Atlas Superpower when he punches a crater in a solid wall while trying to strike Majima's head.
- After Awano's Redemption Equals Death moment, Dojima sics Lao Gui on Majima, who — having watched the assassin shoot Makoto hours earlier — is understandably enraged. So begins Majima's Final Boss, a multi-phase battle in which both Majima and his enemy are ruthlessly trying to kill each other with every attack. Lao Gui fights unlike any other boss in the game and most others in the series, twisting and flipping around the environment while constantly switching up his core fighting style: first trying to slice and impale Majima with Wolverine Claws, then wielding a Sword and Gun in tandem, before finally fighting him unarmed after trying to gouge out Majima's remaining eye. The battle blows them straight into the foyer of Dojima's office, and Majima finishes up by tossing Lao Gui right through to Dojima's desk.
- Kiryu's Final Boss, and in turn the Final Boss of the game, somehow manages to top it. It's a brutal showdown with Keiji Shibusawa, the original Dragon of Dojima, on the deck of a burning cruise ship, which starts with both combatants screaming and charging at one another for a headbutt Cross Counter that highlights both of their dragon tattoos. Shibusawa has all of Kiryu's combat styles, including the classic Dragon moveset, and the two violently clash from one end of the ship to the other. The first phase ends with Kiryu wrestling Shibusawa against a railing before they both fall to the lower deck, where Shibusawa enters Beast Style and starts throwing chairs; the second ends with Kiryu and Shibusawa having a knock-down, drag-out fight against the stairwell with such force and intensity that they beat each other up the stairs. Finally, after pummeling each other to the brink of collapsing, Kiryu locks Shibusawa in an uncharacteristically ruthless No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against a rail before finishing him off with a strike that knocks him clear off his feet. This all accompanied by Two Dragons, one of the most intense Final Boss themes yet, which syncs up with some of the most intense moments.
- One of the game's many Recurring Bosses, Joon-gi Han, is a standout. He's both the new leader of the Jingweon Mafia and the new owner of Stardust, has an outsize personality that makes all of his scenes entertaining, and fights on a level equal to Kiryu. While his fights lack the over-the-top choreography of other great battles, all three fights with him are quite fun.
- Another Recurring Boss, Takumi Someya, has all of the potency of Han but with more story relevance. Due to being a Foil to Kiryu and a representation of the modern Yakuza evolving past traditions like the back tattoo, as well as being an excellent fighter in his own right, he's always an interesting combatant. This is especially true for his final fight, where he wields a katana as the third-to-last boss, forced by the Big Bad Duumvirate into a Duel to the Death with Kiryu to save his ex-wife. The battle becomes even more awesome thanks to its emotional conclusion and the fact that it's the last fight Kiryu ever has at the top of Millennium Tower.
- Though the Final Boss is quite divisive among fans, the Climax Boss is commonly considered the best fight in the game. Kiryu faces Toru Hirose, who's been ordered to kill him since he's about to discover the Secret of Onomichi. Despite their previous friendly relationship, Hirose fights Kiryu with no hesitation about killing him. The battle plays out like a distorted version of a Majima battle (given Hirose's great skill and Knife Nut tendencies) with a few new features, and Hirose makes up for his advanced age with incredible speed and striking power; halfway through the battle, he even stabs a pipe to fill the room with blinding steam and starts throwing knives at Kiryu's head from every angle. It has a lot of emotional and symbolic meaning to Kiryu's arc as well, since Hirose's character and subsequent death scene have a lot of similarities to Shintaro Kazama's, while his backstory makes him come off like an elderly Kiryu.
- Even the Final Boss, despite being considered an Anti-Climax Boss due to his small health bar, lacking buildup, and single unique QTE, has some awesomeness going for it. The final physical challenge of Kiryu's life is Tsuneo Iwami, a sociopathic, childishly entitled yakuza wannabe who's destroyed everything in Kiryu's life for profoundly petty reasons, and there's some solid catharsis in being able to completely destroy that even though Kiryu has just taken multiple severe blows to the head.