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"I can take another name, and build a new life... But on the inside I'll always have that instinct, no matter how much I hate it. I'm yakuza through and through. Guile only gets you so far in this game. Remember that. You won't get another chance."
Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, Yakuza 5
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Yakuza, or as it's known in Japan, Ryu ga Gotoku (lit. Like a Dragon), is a video game brawler series for the PS2, PS3, and PS4 with a spinoff series for the PSP. The series mostly follows the man with the dragon tattoo, Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬, Kiryū Kazuma), the "Dragon of Dojima". Kiryu is a former yakuza whose release from prison after a 10-year sentence, for a crime he didn’t commit, sparks the setup of the first game's plot involving huge conspiracies, yakuza members at war with each other, mystery solving hard boiled police, lives being lost, tears being shed, punks being beaten, and that formula more or less has stayed with the series since the start.

Ryu ga Gotoku was first conceived by veteran game designer and Sega employee Toshihiro Nagoshi in the early 2000s. His pitch was initially met with quite a bit of skepticism in the higher echelons of Sega, who were more than a bit hesitant towards the proposed game's adult themes and highly controversial concept of being centred around organised crime, and believed that the very Japanese flavor of the game would appeal less to the Western market. Nagoshi, however, was willing to stake his career on getting the game produced, and with some convincing he got the project off the ground. Contrary to any misgivings Sega might have had, 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, and it was such a financial success for the company that both a localization of the first game and sequel were released the following year. Yakuza is now one of Sega's flagship properties, and Nagoshi has since remained the creative lead of the series, which as a whole has so far no end in sight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On December 5, 2015 at Sony’s PlayStation Experience, Sega announced that Yakuza 0 would be released in the Americas. On March 22, 2016, they announced that the game would also be headed to Europe. Only the PlayStation 4 version will be released with a projected release date for both regions on January 24, 2017. Sega also announced that they would handle the game's localization, meaning they have hope once more for this series' future. At the same event the following year, it was also announced that the remake of the first game, Yakuza Kiwami and the latest title, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life would be localized, and released in August 2017 and early 2018 respectively.

Being a prequel, the western release of Yakuza 0 was the game that brought in several newcomers to the series and revived Sega's confidence in the series' success outside Japan once more. Upon its release, Sega of America ordered a limited reprint of the first four games for the American region that can be ordered online, including the now difficult-to-find PS2 titles. Along with the announcement of the release date for Yakuza Kiwami, the "Yakuza Experience" was launched in April 2017 on the English Yakuza website, a series database that includes a timeline, a character database, an interactive digital comic, and more features in order to bring fans up to speed with the series. The website can be found here, but be warned as the character database and timeline contain spoilers for all games.

Nagoshi has announced on April 2017 that his team is working on the next Yakuza game, and that it'll center on a different character without Kiryu getting involved. In August 2017, it was announced that Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of the second game utilizing the Dragon Engine from Yakuza 6, Ryu Ga Gotoku Online, and Hokuto ga Gotoku was in development. A new game in the series was also teased at, codenamed "Shin Ryu Ga Gotoku" and introduced the new series protagonist Ichiban Kasuga, who is also featured in the online title. In March 2018, a western release for Kiwami 2 would also be announced, set for August 2018.

Following the new success of the franchise in the West and the request for Yakuza 3 through 5 to be released on PS4, Sega has announced the release of Yakuza 3, 4 & 5 on PS4 as HD Remasters. Japan will get Yakuza 3 HD in August, Yakuza 4 at the end of the year and Yakuza 5 in early 2019. The series will make its PC debut on August 1, 2018 with Yakuza 0, with Yakuza Kiwami following soon after. Hokuto Ga Gotoku, or as the West now knows it Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise will launch on October 2, 2018 outside of Japan.

Another spin-off was announced on September 10, 2018. Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon, known as Judgment for its Western release, shifts the perspective from the eyes of a yakuza to the eyes of a detective. It's set to release on PS4 in Japan, Asia, and South Korea on December 13, 2018, with a Western release some time in 2019.

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

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

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

Games and other media revolving the Yakuza franchise:

    open/close all folders 

    Main Series Games (Kiryu's Saga) 

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

    To celebrate the series' ten year anniversary, a Video Game Remake, Yakuza Kiwami, was released in January 2016 in Japan for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan, and August 2017 for NA/Europe only for the PS4, utilizing the engine from Yakuza 0. The dialogue has been re-recorded by most of the original cast, the story has been expanded, including cutscenes that show what happened to Nishiki during Kiryu's prison sentence, and a new mechanic that features Goro Majima stalking Kiryu throughout the game in order to awaken his inner dragon after his ten year imprisonment. Along with Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami will also be released on Steam in the near future as Sega announced at E3 2018.

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

    It was announced in August 2017 that Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of the second game utilizing the Dragon Engine featured in Yakuza 6, was released in December 2017 in Japan for the PS4 and will be released in the rest of the world on August 28, 2018. Like the first Kiwami, it expands upon the original story, introducing a new story line featuring Goro Majima shortly after events of the first game, making him playable once more.

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

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

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

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

  • Yakuza 0 aka Like a Dragon 0: The Promised Land (龍が如く0 誓いの場所 "Ryū ga Gotoku Zero, Chikai No Basho"): Released for the PS3 and PS4 in March 12, 2015 for Japan, May 4, 2015 for Taiwan, and January 24, 2017 for NA/EU. A prequel to the series, the game takes place in 1988 in Japan, you play as not only a young (and more hot-headed) Kazuma Kiryu, but also as a young (and much less insane) Goro Majima playing as him in a canonical game for the first time. This game serves as a setup for much of the conflict in the first. Kiryu's story focuses on him being framed for murdering someone on land the Tojo clan wants for their own purposes, sending him on the run to prove his innocence while dodging gang members that want to off him to gain status in the clan. Majima, on the other hand, is forced to run a hostess club while under surveillance for the events explained in Yakuza 4. Majima is eventually given an early way out if he can kill a target for his clan - a defenseless blind woman. Majima can't bring himself to do it, and takes on a role as her protector as legions of Yakuza try to finish his job of killing her. 0 will also be the first game in the series released on PC, with a Steam release set for August 1, 2018.

  • Yakuza 6: The Song of Life aka Like a Dragon 6: Poetry of Life (龍が如く6 命の詩。): Released for the PS4 on December 8, 2016 in Japan, and on April 17, 2018 in the West. Marketed as Kazuma Kiryu's final chapter. Set in 2016 following the events of Yakuza 5. After Haruka gives up her dreams of being an Idol, Kiryu is determined to clean up his act for good: a four year prison sentence for a clean slate and happiness for everyone at the Orphanage. The public, however, quickly turned on Haruka during this time, to a much harsher degree than what Mirei Park could have imagined, harassing her day and night to the point that it was also affecting the other children at the Orphanage. When Kiryu is released in 2016, he finds out that Haruka has disappeared without a trace. She finally turns up, being admitted to the hospital due to a traffic accident induced coma. One location she visited during her disappearance comes to light: the town of Onomichi Jingaicho on the eastside of Hiroshima, home of the Himei Alliance, an independent yakuza organization that neither the Tojo Clan nor the Omi Alliance could touch. As his only lead, Kiryu travels to Onomichi Jingaicho along with Haruka's infant son Haruto, intent on finding out what exactly happened during those three years he was away and the events that led to Haruka's current state.

     Main Series Games (Post Kiryu Saga) 

  • Shin Ryu ga Gotoku aka New Like a Dragon (tentative title): To be released for the PS4, with no confirmed release date as of announcement. Set in 2018 and follows a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, after he's been released from a 17 year prison sentence for a crime he took the fall for. Upon returning to Kamurocho, he finds out that the Omi Alliance now have control of Kamurocho, the Tojo Clan having been exiled. Even more shocking, the person who was responsible for it all was the head of the Family he was a part of: Masumi Arakawa, the man who's crime he took the fall for. With millions of questions on his mind, Kasuga sets out to find his answers. Has a fan-subtitled version of the prologue video here.

     Spinoffs 

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise (Hokuto ga Gotoku, "Like the North Star"), which places the engine and gameplay of this series into the universe of Fist of the North Star, and features Takaya Kuroda as the voice of Kenshiro. Developed by Ryu ga Gotoku Studios, it was released in Japan for the PS4 on March 8, 2018 and set to be released in the West on October 2, 2018.

  • Ryu ga Gotoku Online ("Like a Dragon Online"), an online RPG for mobile devices and PC, released in Japan on November 21, 2018. Like Shin Rya ga Gotoku, it is set after the events of Yakuza 6 and features the brand new protagonist, Kasuga Ichiban.

  • Judgment (Judge Eyes: Shinigami no Yuigon, "Judge Eyes: Will of the Death God"). A courtroom drama action game, instead of crime drama like the rest of the Yakuza series. Starring Takayuki Yagami, an ex-defense lawyer turned private detective, as he gets involved in a serial murder case that's shaking up Kamurocho. To be released in Japan, South Korea, and Asia for the PS4 on December 13, 2018, and in the West at some point in 2019.

    Other forms of media 

  • Books
    • Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン): With the original game in 2005, Sega created a pre-order campaign limited item called Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン). This color book was a monography dedicated to the game with Mai, a sub-scenario female character, as the cover girl. This character's physical aspect was inspired by its voice actor, Mihiro, a Japanese adult video idol acting in porno films. Since then, each new game release coincides with a new Kamutai Magazine issue featuring a voice actress as cover girl. Hence this December 2005 issue was followed by a December 2006 issue (cover girl is Japanese porn star Nana Natsume), a March 2008 issue (cover girl is Taiwanese porn star Yinling of Joytoy) and a February 2009 issue (cover girls are Shizuka Mutou, Sayaka Araki & Rina Sakurai). The fifth issue was bundled with Ryu Ga Gotoku 4 and released in March 2010 (info from Wikipedia).

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

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

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

  • Digital Comics
    • The Dragon's Path, an online interactive comic launched on April 2017 aimed at western audiences who started with Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. At ten chapters long, the series chronicles certain events throughout the series and through the perspective of different characters, allowing newcomers and veterans alike to catch up with the story just in time for the western launch of Yakuza 6. Hidden within certain chapters are codes that can be used in Yakuza 6 for the game's Clan Creator as well as a secret safe. It can be found on the Yakuza Experience website.


This game series includes examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Probably one of the most well known aspects of the series, each game in the series offers a myriad ways for the player to be occupied; all with counts down to that 100% mark. Crafting weapons, dating hostesses, singing karaoke, gambling, etc.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Yakuza 4 allow the characters to go through Kamurocho's sewers, which Saejima uses to avoid any police presence due to him being a wanted man. They return in 5 to reach Purgatory and are used in the finale.
  • Alternate World Map: While Kamurocho in Tokyo is the mainstay map of the series, some games have other districts to visit:
    • Sotenbori, Osaka in 0, 2, and 5.
    • Downtown Ryukyu in 3.
    • Yakuza 5 also has Nagasugai in Fukuoka, Tsukimino in Sapporo, and Kineicho in Nagoya.
    • Onomichi, Hiroshima in 6.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The male massager who provides the protagonists a Super V.I.P massage
  • A Protagonist Is Ryu: Kazuma Kiryu obviously, but in a subversion, though, his rival in the second game is Ryuji Goda, another dragon-themed character (although he's more a Noble Demon than a full-blown bad guy, and he still exhibits many traits associated with his name).
    • And a small subversion with Kiryu himself. The "ryu" part of his name is not written with the kanji for "dragon", like the name of the series, but is instead an uncommon reading for the kanji meaning "life" (or "uncooked").
  • Action Commands: Some of Kiryu'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 Kiryu has to avoid some damaging move, tying in with Press X to Not Die.
  • Action Girl / Fair Cop: Kaoru Sayama
  • Actually Four Mooks: Used extensively. Anytime you walk into some random punk on the streets, you may safely assume that he's got anywhere between 1 and 3 buddies hiding somewhere Behind the Black, ready to jump in to help him the moment the fighting starts.
    • Also used with an amusing twist by a Recurring Boss in the third game, the Abhorrent Admirer Drag Queen, Michiru. His uncanny ability to pop up behind you when you least expect it culminates in a lengthy chase where, every time you think you've shaken him, he appears AGAIN, right in front of you, Daffy Duck style. In the end, it's revealed that he's actually a team of cross-dressing identical triplets, and the other two were just chasing you to make sure you 'broke up' with the real Michiru so she could get back together with her Drag-King ex-'boy'friend.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Played over the end credits for the first game.
  • An Aesop: Many of the side quests end in one, and sometimes from extremely bizarre scenarios.
  • Anyone Can Die: Played straight in the first game, with very few of the important cast members surviving to the end. From 2 onwards, with the game being established as a series, the important characters now enjoy a hefty coat of Plot Armor, but new characters are still very much at risk of being in the wrong end of a gun. Funnily enough, new characters that make it to the end of their introductory game are safe, with one notable exception: Yukio Terada.
  • Artifact Title: While you do interact with the yakuza a lot in this series, Kiryu himself is only in the Yakuza in the first game for the prologue mission, and in 0 he's on the run from the yakuza. Not to mention the spinoff in the zombie apocalypse or the Japanese exclusive spinoffs in Edo period japan if one were to translate the title to what it's branded in the west.
    • Averted with the literal translation of the Japanese title, as Like a Dragon perfectly captures the style and spirit of this series from start to end.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Koji Shindo was just a lieutenant of the Nishiki Family notable for leading the back alley ambush on Kiryu at Serena in the first game. In the second, he became the Patriarch of the Nishiki Family.
    • Hiroshi Hayashi was one of Ryuji Goda's right-hand men in 2. In Dead Souls, he's a freaking zombie. And not just any zombie. He's the insanely durable zombie (mutant may be a more suitable term for him) who kicks off the zombie outbreak. Granted, he didn't turn into one by will, and wanted to stop Nikaido and DD from whatever their plans were before he was mutated.
  • Ass Shove If Akiyama becomes friends with the owner of the M Store, he will come out and throw Akiyama a magazine if he gets into a fight right outside, which will then be shoved up your assailant's rear end with enough force to make him flip through the air.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking Typically any character who holds a position of authority is likely going to put up more of a fight than the average goon.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Quite so many songs to hear while fighting enemies, especially bosses, such as:
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Several Heat Actions and most weapons fall into this. Some Heat Actions require very specific setups that are not worth the trouble more than ticking off a box in completion. Many weapons have low durability that doesn't make them viable when Good Old Fisticuffs can work just as well, if not better.
    • 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. This further extends into Yakuza 0, where Kiryu and Majima can watch about twenty seconds of someone performing a new style, say "That's rad!", and then be able to perform the style themselves.
  • Ax-Crazy: Goro Majima. Holy crap.
    • Kanda in the third game. But he's more bark than bite.
    • Homare Nishitani in 0 can give Majima a run for his money in the bat-shit insane department.
  • 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 Crew: Everyone who supported and helped Kiryu 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.
  • Bag of Spilling: A slightly milder example in that characters typically retain some moves in-between games but still start from scratch statistically, usually handwaved as them getting soft during the timeskip.
  • Batter Up!: Goro Majima, in one of his more psycho moments, takes a baseball bat to one of his underlings.
    Majima: This is the part where you're SUPPOSED TO LAUGH! [WHACK!] LAUGH YOU STUPID MUTHAFUCKA!
    • In Dead Souls, Majima uses his shotgun as a bat to knock a thrown grenade into the mouth of a boss monster.
    • The bat's HEAT action first involves hitting the target in the knee, wind up...and HOME RUN TO THE FACE!
    • In 0, Majima gains a fighting style centered around using a bat.
    • Subverted by Shinada in 5, who is a ex-baseball player who refuses to tarnish his beloved sport by using baseball bats as weapons. If he picks one up, he'll gently set it down.
  • Battle Strip: Anytime a major boss battle is about to happen, the characters will rip off their clothes in a single swoop. Averted in Dead Souls as the bosses there are experimental mutated freaks of nature.
  • 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. note 
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The other side of Kiryu, once he has been pushed. Don't push him.
    • Akiyama is harder to push (Given his mostly carefree nature) but misuse money or people in any way and he will literally kick your ass to curb.
  • Big Bad: Sohei Dojima in the prequel, Akira Nishiki and Kyohei Jingu in the first one, Kim Taejin and Ryuji Goda in the second, Yoshitaka Mine in the third, Isao Katsuragi in the forth, Tetsu Nikaido in Dead Souls, Tsubasa Kurosawa in the fifth, and Tsuneo Iwami in the sixth.
    • Man Behind the Man: Ryo Takashima in the second game; Andre Richardson in the third; Seishiro Munakata in the fourth, DD in Dead Souls, and Katsumi Sugai in the sixth.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The third game introduces Tsuyoshi Kanda, third patriarch of the Nishiki family. He is shown to be short tempered, violent to his men and also seemingly a rapist, and is named as the most likely suspect for Kashiwagi's murder. Then you actually fight him and it's revealed he's only good at hitting you with furniture, he's too stupid to plan something like an assassination attempt, and the implied rapes are actually heavy handed back massages, which some of his victims end up liking!
    • The same game has Hamazaki, who comes closer, but he vanishes from the plot after Lau's death.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The first game may have resulted in Kiryu 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.
    • Kiryu's saga ends with him being forced to fake his death and go into hiding, but Haruka, her child and the orphans are now in capable hands.
  • Boss Battle:
    • Bonus Boss: Jo Amon, an assassin who makes an appearance in every game, shows up when certain requirements are fulfilled. In the fourth game, he makes an appearance with his three brothers to take on Kiryu, Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura. By Dead Souls, he's outdone by his zombified ancestor in Kamurucho's underground (you know, the one full of zombies and mutants waiting to kick your ass). Players are usually rewarded for defeating him with a Game-Breaker, since he's just that hard to kill. Kazuto Arase returns in the third game as one after you have hunted down all of the rival assassins of the Honest Living Association.
    • Dual Boss: Akai Brothers, Sengoku's pet tigers, Shun Akiyama and Masayoshi Tanimura
    • Duel Boss: Goro Majima, Akira Nishikiyama, Ryuji Goda, Jouji Kazama
    • Final Boss: Akira Nishikiyama, Ryuji Goda, Yoshitaka Mine, Seishiro Munakata, Masato Aizawa, Keiji Shibusawa, Tsuneo Iwami
    • Flunky Boss: Kazuto Arase, Futoshi Shimano, Kyohei Jingu, Yukio Terada, Andre Richardson
    • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Kazuto Arase, Kyohei Jingu, Tetsuo Tamashiro and Seishiro Munakata
    • High-Speed Battle: Masayoshi Tanimura chases Junji Sugiuchi on speedboats at the Tokyo Bay
    • King Mook: Yuji Shiraki, Akai Brothers, Saito
    • Recurring Boss: Goro Majima, Futoshi Shimano, Hiroshi Hayashi, Ryuji Goda, Tetsuo Tamashiro, Andre Richardson, Daisaku Minami, Saito, Daisaku Kuze
    • Sequential Boss:
      • Hideaki Arai, Takeshi Kido, Daigo Dojima and Seishiro Munakata in 4
      • Goro Majima, Shigeki Baba, Kamon Kanai and Masato Aizawa in 5.
  • 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, Kiryu vs. Daigo and Tanimura vs. Munakata (and his personal corrupt Special Assault Team squad.)
    • Starting with the 3rd game, additional "Ultimate Skill" missions are unlocked after beating the game. The final challenges involve various boss rushes, with the final one usually being a boss rush against almost every single boss in the game.
  • Boss Remix: The fight against Goro Majima in the first game is a remix of the game's main theme, titled "Receive You - The Prototype". Each game has a new remix of the song when he's fought against in them.
  • Breakable Weapons: The series does include a exact counter to how many hits the weapon can take before it breaks. Equipable weapons can be repaired...for a hefty price.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One holding 100 million Yen plays a role in Yakuza 4.
    • In 0, Kiryu purchases businesses by dramatically opening a briefcase full of money.
  • Bullet Time: In certain mini-games that don't rely on physical combat, the heat gauge can be used to slow down time instead. This can range from baseball, air hockey, and actual shooting during car chases.
  • Bullying a Dragon: While most random encounters are cases of Mugging the Monster, many thugs and gangs seek out fights against you knowing full well who you are and thinking they can take you anyway, often believing that beating him would skyrocket their reputation.
  • Call-Back: Several lines and events were added into Yakuza Kiwami that reference or make allusions to the events that played out in Yakuza 0, usually in conversations between Kiryu and Majima.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Almost literally. Yakuza 3's main story starts with Kiryu being called, that a friend has been shot. The secondary story, is that the call keeps trying to evict him. Happens again during the fourth game, although to be fair, Kiryu has less of a personal stake in the matter (compare the safety of his kids versus his loyalty to the Tojo, which is still pretty freaking big).
    • Kiryu suffers from this hard in 5. It seems that despite moving to Fukuoka and going by the alias "Taichi Suzuki", either everyone who wants to bring him out of hiding knows where he lives and how to get his attention, or stumble upon him by accident.
  • Call to Agriculture: Kiryu's call is to manage a tiny beachfront orphanage with ten kids in it, but it's the same idea: this is his peaceful retirement from a life of crime. Or so he hoped, until Yakuza 3 happened.
  • Car Fu: In the first game, everyone's favorite Psycho for Hire Goro Majima literally crashes the party at the Shangri-La soapland with a truck.
    Majima: LET'S FUCK THIS SHIT UUUUUUP!!
    • When Futoshi Shimano grabs Kiryu on his second encounter at Shiabura Wharf, a mook starts up his car ready to pummel the bound Kiryu and a successful hit deals massive damage if the player doesn't manage to break free of Shimano's grasp.
    • In Yakuza 3 Majima outdoes himself by being The Cavalry to a surrounded Kiryu, with a semi-truck.
    • An Action Command must be used at one point in Yakuza 4 to allow Tanimura to safely dodge a truck that takes a swing at taking him out.
    • Starts cropping up more often in Yakuza 5 in comparison to previous games, during story sequences where the player is running through the city to get somewhere. Saejima goes to the point of stopping one cold by rooting himself in place.
    • Appears again in Yakuza 0 when Tachibana rescues Kiryu from angry Tojo Clan members by driving through them. Also Drives Like Crazy, due to him having to steer with a prosthetic hand.
    • Playable characters can also indulge in the superhero variety, sort of. Its' less Car Fu and more Bicycle/Moped/Motorcycle Fu.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Several throughout the series.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: To Ocelot levels, for some characters.
  • The City Narrows: Purgatory.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Character of seemingly average to below-average builds often wear suits that hide incredibly muscular physiques that they only reveal when they rip it all off.
  • Colour Coded Characters:
    • Kazuma Kiryu = White
    • Shun Akiyama = Red
    • Taiga Saejima = Turquoise
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Blue
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Gray
    • Haruka Sawamura = Pink
  • Cluster F-Bomb: At least in the first game's English dub, which was the only game that had one.
    • Somewhat averted in future games, as the original Japanese dialogue is much tamer compared to the first game, which spews F-bombs any chance it gets.
  • Collection Sidequest: The series usually has a collectible item present that earns extra rewards for getting them. Most of the time, it's coin locker keys.
  • Combat Pragmatist: These games' combat system revolves around bringing the pain upon those who deserve it, without any mercy or hesitation. Heat Actions allow you to Kick Them While They Are Down, beat foes senseless with all sorts of weapons (improvised or not), and make use of the environment such as lampposts, cars, and railings.
  • Compilation Re-release: In Japan, the first two games were given an HD upgrade as Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which also upgraded the first game's combat with features found in the second.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Elite bosses are pretty much the only real threat to Kiryu and company. Mooks exist to be splattered across the curb in spectacular fashion.
  • Container Maze: Tanimura fights through an army of mooks in the docks of Tokyo.
  • The Coats Are Off: Major battles/boss fights are often precluded by characters dramatically pulling their shirts off with a single yank just to show how serious they are.
  • Cool Old Guy: Detective Makoto Date, who even fights alongside Kiryu 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 Kage the Florist who "plays fair," Sotaro Komaki, Fuma/Kazama, his cop brother-turned-CIA Agent Jouji and finally Nakahara that wrestled with a bull.
  • Counter Attack: Kiryu 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 Kiryu.
    • The third Game has Hamazaki who lets Lau and his henchman fight his own war. You don't even fight him!
    • Munakata in the fourth game. While Kiryu, Akiyama, and Saejima have one-on-one boss fights with their enemies, Tanimura has to deal with half a dozen elite police forces while Munakata runs around and shoots him with his pistol.
  • Cross Counter: The final battle of the second game ends with an epic one (mixed with Press X to Not Die). The fifth game is scattered with them.
  • Crossover: The playable characters of Dead Souls appeared as DLC characters for the Japanese version of Binary Domain, which was also developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios. Kiryu and Majima later appeared as partners for the second Project X Zone game.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: You might as well not even bother trying to fight the Dragon of Dojima if you're a nameless thug, because you *will* be sent to the infirmary... if you're lucky.
    • Sotaro Komaki and Jo Amon WILL do this to you unless you make a plan or abuse moves like the Tiger Drop.
  • 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.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: As Kiwami and 6 each follow up on it, at the very least, the Pocket Circuit arc of 0 is canon, as far as sidequest chains go.
  • Dance Battler: One of Majima's fighting styles in 0 is a mix of break-dancing and Michael Jackson impressions.
  • Dating Sim: Every game has had an optional series of side quests where Kiryu could visit the local cabaret 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. Note that this is not how cabaret clubs work in real life.
    • In the original version of the second game, Kiryu 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 Kiryu 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 Kiryu).
    • In Dead Souls, wooing a lady allows you to use her as an escort into the Quarantine Zone. One of the DLCs allows you to change their outfits as well as what gun they use.
    • In 0, not only can Kiryu meet women using "terekura" (telephone dating clubs), but Majima takes on the role as a hostess club manager, in a minigame in which you micromanage the club, including the dress style of the women working there and coaching them in conversation.
    • In 6, Kiryu can chat with cam girls and go on dates as well as go on dates with hostesses
  • Death Glare: Kiryu does these on a regular basis when some punk kicks the dog once too often, but the absolute worst is when Mine has the Tamashiro family destroy Sunshine Orphanage. Kiryu clenches his fist trembling in anger and does a stare so intense and full of rage that Mine would have been killed on the spot from the intensity of it. Cue incoming karmic vengeance.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: This is pretty much how Kiryu snaps Daigo Dojima out of his hedonistic spree and gets him focused on taking charge of the Tojo Clan. Also applies to Rikiya, Saejima and Majima (although he genuinely enjoys fighting Kazzy, he's a Recurring Boss after all).
  • Desperation Attack: Normally the Hunt and Kill Heat Action (performed on a prone opponent) is either a head stomp or a kick to the gut. If you use it while Kiryu's health is low enough for the meter to blink red however, instead Kiryu straddles the opponent and starts punching away, at which point you can keep spamming the Square Button.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The first two games take place around Christmas in December of 2005 and 2006 respectively. "Amazing Grace" is played in the credits of the first game, while "Silent Night" is played during the credits of the second. The third and fourth games avoid this due to the time of year they take place in, but it returns in the fifth game which takes place in December of 2012. One of Saejima's sidestories has him beating down some thugs while wearing a Santa suit, with Christmas trees and sleigh decorations nearby to use as weapons. Averted in Yakuza 0 despite taking place in December 1988.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Shimano in a you failed me moment cuts off the fingers of his underling for losing to Kiryu and getting shot by Shinji in the first game. Ritual mutilation of this type is a common punishment among yakuza (and, incidentally, why the Four Fingered Hand never took off in anime) so it isn't that surprising.
    Shimano: Let me see your hand for just a second..
    • The entire plot of Dead Souls is this in a nutshell. Kiryu and Goda aren't too pleased. To elaborate: the zombie outbreak on Kamurucho was kickstarted by Tetsuo Nikaido, the new head of the Omi Alliance and an old subordinate to Goda. He planned to wipe out the Tojo Clan in response to Goda's defeat in 2, and even offered Goda his old place back out of respect. However, both Kiryu and Goda point out how insane his plans turned out to be in the end, and he even begrudgingly accepted his fate had DD not turned him into a monster.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hanaya/Kage to Takashi. And Kawara to Kaoru in the second game.
  • DLC:
    • Appears on all main PS3 games in the form of unique costumes and weapons. 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 Kiryu's moniker on the streets (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 Kiryu. It's an even WORSE idea to pick a fight with Kiryu 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 Kiryu's buzzed.
  • Dual Wielding: Hayashi from the second game.
    • And one of the available styles in Kenzan!, a no-brainer considering that Kiryu is also Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Lau Ka Long in the first game also takes up a pair of swords after receiving a good amount of physical damage.
    • Prisoner #1356 carries a pair of forks this way.
    • Kamiyama, the weapons master, actually wields Kali sticks during the arena matches. And he's fairly tough!
  • Dub Name Change: Shintaro Kazama becomes Shintaro Fuma for the US release, probably to avoid confusion with Kazuma Kiryu. Ditto for his younger brother in the third game. Also, Nishikiyama was shortened to Nishiki.
    • In addition, Hanaya was called Kage, although the second game referred to this specific Dub Name Change by adding the title "Florist." Hanaya is literally the Japanese word for "florist". As of Kiwami, he's now addressed as the slightly more fitting "Florist of Sai".
    • Interestingly, the Western release of the fourth game averts this trope and refers to almost everyone by their original Japanese names (the only exception is Kage, who is referred to as "Kage the Florist" in the subtitles).
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight and subverted. Only once in a blue moon does Kiryu's insane reputation prevent a fight or frighten an enemy. Despite being one of the most dangerous men 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, Kiryu 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 Kazama Clan, a family which Kiryu has a good history with. Like all other mooks, they pick a fight with Kiryu 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 Kiryu gets bonus points for being THE legendary yakuza who fights off the zombie infestation in Kamurucho.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • From the first game, Akira Nishikiyama, who basically cracked under the pressure over the years and molded himself into a cold version of what Kiryu would have become (a head of a family of the Tojo) if he hadn't been in prison.
    • Ryuji Goda from the second game, who also bears a dragon tattoo. He and Kiryu also mutually believe there's only room for one dragon in Japan, but Goda, despite having his own codes of honor, is more of a Blood Knight than Kiryu is and wants to wage war against the clans and spread chaos in Japan for the hell of it.
    • And the third game has Yoshitaka Mine, who grew up as an orphan like Kiryu, but without the support of friends like he had, grew up lonely and with a very twisted mentality.
  • Expy:
    • Doctor Minamida, who first appears in Yakuza 3 and runs the IF7 virtual reality game, is clearly one of Dr. Emmett Brown.
    • The boss of the Purple Killers in the fourth game is The Joker. This is apparent even before you meet him, being described as a guy in a purple suit with an insane smirk. Then you find out he's killer in clown makeup with mannerisms very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker and... yeah.
  • Executive Suite Fight: The climax of the games typically involve fighting your way up Millennium Tower and a boss fight in either a fancy suite or a helipad.
  • Extremity Extremist: Akiyama and Tanimura in the fourth game are both mild examples. Tanimura's attack on a downed attack is even a crouching punch as opposed to a stomp like everyone else. Their basic combos play it straight, but as they learn new abilities their HEAT actions (and more advanced combos) they branch out considerably.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Goro Majima, who pretty much fights Kiryu in most games at an even footing. The fourth game expands on how he got the eyepatch in the first place.
  • Fanservice: Considering the game's adult themes, the game is filled with them.
    • In the first game, the infamous "Price of an F-Cup" substory has a well-endowed woman try to seduce Kiryu, with the camera focusing on her breasts.
    • Some mini-games that involve the hostesses, such as ping-pong, the public bath and air hockey, emphasize their assets.
    • On the lighter side, several of Sega's other franchises are referenced and featured in various ways, including characters that can be won as UFO toys, and music from various games can be heard in various locations. In the fifth game, tunes from various racing games can be used for Kiryu's taxi racing missions.
  • Fan Disservice: Usually Played for Laughs. The fifth game has "Shinada's Interview", where he's unwittingly hired to perform services for men wearing next-to-nothing, and has to fight them. Kiwami has Majima disguise himself as a hostess for Kiryu. In Dead Souls, a zombie can be caught in the Fishing Minigame and used as a minigame opponent, but really serves as an alternate skin for the hostesses, camera chest zooms and hearts filling the screen included.
  • Fiction500: Akiyama has just an absurd amount of money.
  • Finishing Move: Starting from the second game, knocking down an opponent's health sufficiently in a Boss Battle will open up a window of opportunity where you can quickly charge Kiryu's HEAT Meter with rapid button mashes (if it's not filled all ready) to execute a special and often devastating HEAT Action that will usually drop the unfortunate recipient in one hit. Saejima has a variant of this.
  • Fight Clubbing: Each game has some sort of underground fighting tournament that the protagonists have to compete in as part of the Inevitable Tournament. Afterwards it becomes a standard side activity you can compete in for rewards.
  • Fishing Minigame: The third game introduces one where fish and other items can be caught and sold for money, which has remained in the series since. Dead Souls puts a bizarre spin on it, allowing players to fish for a particular zombie which can then be used as a partner for various mini-games.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Kiryu's "Hell's Floor" finisher in 3: a German suplex, followed by an arm bar, followed by a triangle choke, followed by an anaconda choke, followed by a guillotine choke, finished with a mounted punch to the face. Just the chokes would probably leave the opponent's trachea reduced to the consistency of burger.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Applicable in the fourth and fifth games, where there are multiple playable characters.
    • Kazuma Kiryu = Melancholic
    • Shun Akiyama = Phlegmatic
    • Taiga Saejima = Choleric
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Sanguine (in 4)
    • Haruka Sawamura = Supine (in 5)
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Sanguine (in 5)
  • Flashback: Most of the games (save for Dead Souls) after the first allow someone who never played the past installments to find out the storyline in segments either through an in-story prompt at the beginning of the game, or through a menu 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.)
  • Food Porn: Various restaurants across the games feature a variety of food to eat to recover health (and in later games, gain EXP), including burger joints, ice cream parlors, sushi restaurants, ramen shops, and more. The pictures of the foods are accompanied by Flavor Text (pun unintended, but nonetheless appropriate) describing them, and characters always mention how much they love the foods they eat.
  • 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 Kiryu's good side like kids, especially his kids from the orphanage and his adopted niece Haruka. Subsequently, nothing brings out Kiryu's BAD side like someone hurting a kid. The most savage and satisfying beatings Kiryu's rained on someone are those in retaliation for abusing a kid.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Tatsuya Ukyo of the Kurohyou series cannot drink booze with hostesses since he is below drinking age of 18/19 (in the sequel). The hostess clubs offers non alcoholic alternatives for him and his hostess though from premium cola to fresh fruit juice and in the sequel, virgin cocktails.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In Ishin!, a boss battle between Ryoma Sakamoto (Kiryu) and Saigo Kichinosuke (Ryuji Goda) takes place in a bath house, and both characters fight entirely in the nude, with only Censor Steam hiding the naughty bits.
  • Gambit Pileup: Plots usually involve various different factions and characters making power plays that stack up on top of each other, with the protagonists stuck right in the middle of the mess.
  • Game Gourmet: These games have a selection of restaurants and bars serving a variety of food and drinks including ramen, sushi, pasta, takoyaki, burgers, coffee and alcoholic drinks, plus convenience stores stocked with inventory items like onigiri and sandwiches. As you sit down to eat, your character will comment on the food, and there's even an in-game checklist keeping track of what you've eaten and completion points gotten from eating everything at a restaurant.
  • 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. Some of them are made exclusively for the series, while others are actual arcade games.
    • The second game introduces YF6, a first-person fighting game where futuristic warriors duel it out with laser swords.
    • The third game introduces the fast-paced arcade shooter, Boxcelios, which receives a sequel in the fourth game. The fifth game introduces is Spiritual Successor, GunRhein.
    • Yakuza 5 has a Virtua Fighter 2 machine! There's also a demo for Taiko Drum Master.
    • Yakuza 0 has full arcade versions of Outrun, Space Harrier, Fantasy Zone and Super Hang-On.
    • Kiwami has MesuKing: Bug Battle Beauties, an arcade card game played using Rock–Paper–Scissors where scantily clad women dressed as insects fight for dominance of the forest.
    • Yakuza 6 has Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown.
    • Kiwami 2 has Virtua Fighter 2, Cyber Troopers Virtual On: Operation Moongate, and Kiryu can relieve himself on a "Toylet", a Real Life interactive urinal developed by Sega featuring a few mini-games.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Only in cutscenes does Kiryu suffer an actual injury that would cripple him.
    • Several characters, both major and minor, have been shown dying or getting severely injured from gunshots, but during gameplay, damn near anyone can shrug off a bullet and keep fighting as if they were never shot in the first place.
  • Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs can be used as weapons in fights, and enemies can be sent flying from it if a heat action is performed when it's equipped.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the third game, the severed head (or body part) of Tsuyoshi Kanda is never seen on camera when Mine brings it to Kiryu and company.
    • The same goes for Majima's lost eye when he reveals it to Saejima in 4.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Ryuji Goda in a surprisingly heartwarming scene.
  • Gratuitous English: Since the games have used the Japanese voices since Yakuza 2, Andre Richardson in the third game is the only major character who speaks in English.
    • Also, not to mention some of the karaoke songs that have sprinkles of English words in the lyrics just like every other Japanese song has in reality.
    • Some of the theme songs themselves have English lyrics but are sung with Japanese pronunciation, making them difficult to understand for native speakers. Songs include the first game's "Receive You," the fourth game's "For Faith" and the prequel's "Reign".
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Some Korean characters in the second sequel speak their native tongue. One of the residents of Kamurocho's multi-Asian community area Little Asia, where Masayoshi Tanimura helps them out, speaks Chinese at some point.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Several Heat actions involve picking up an enemy and swinging/throwing them at their allies.
  • Guns Akimbo: Several regular bosses, most notably Arase, Andre Richardson and super boss hitman Jo Amon in classic John Woo style. Which makes it all the more badass when they are beaten to death by fists and feet (if the player chooses).
    • This is Shun Akiyama's default weapon configuration in Of The End/Dead Souls. After you wooed a hostess, you can have them wield double pistols. Not to mention after completing a specific set of side mission you can recruit Arase himself to join you in the zombie hunts.
    • Averted in Jo Amon's case in Kenzan!, as his expy uses a sword in that game.
  • 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 Kiryu's fists bring justice to man, his voice will shake your soul.
    • Many characters throughout the series also qualify, who kick all sorts of ass and are just as adept at singing karaoke.
  • Hollywood Healing: Most main characters, and even mooks to an extent, regularly survive beatings that would kill most men ten times over. It's especially obvious when you use a triple katana slice or pistol on a lowly purse snatcher... and they live.
    • Even moreso in Kenzan!, where the sword combos can be way longer...
  • Honor Before Reason: SO MUCH. Many of the characters live and breathe this.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food can be used to restore your health instantly. Eating at restaurants is one way to quickly restore HP, although you won't be able to order any more food than what it takes to top off your health bar without a specific item.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In the second game, Kiryu 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.
    • Zig-zagged with Tatsuo Shinada in 5: as a former baseball player, he has techniques that are inspired by the sport. He refuses to use bats as weapons, though: if he picks one up, he'll examine it nostalgically for a moment before putting it back down.
  • Idiot Ball: Let's just say that protagonists' IQs drop considerably whenever a gun comes into play.
  • Impaled Palm:
    • An uncommon HEAT action when Kiryu is holding a knife near a wall is to throw the mook at the wall, then stabs his hand against the wall, or against a desk.
    • Mine also stabs his subordinate's palm all the way through with a butterknife for not having proper reverence for Daigo Dojima.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: There are several HEAT actions that involve doing this in some fashion. One of Shinada's HEAT actions has him actually use the pole to lift himself in the air after impaling someone with it.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Kiryu and the other playable characters can make use of unorthodox weapons (usually through HEAT actions) such as super glue, oranges, salt shakers, magical girl wands (they're modified kali sticks but still), and bottles of mystery liquids.
  • Informed Attribute: The series bends over backwards to ensure that the protagonists never kill. Regardless of how brutal the HEAT moves can be (many of which would leave men crippled for life) the only wounds they leave is broken pride. And then there are moments such as Kiryu using a random waiter as a Human Shield, getting into gunfights with exploding cars and even shooting a helicopter down with an RPG that are far harder to justify.
  • Inevitable Tournament: At some point in each games, the protagonists will be forced to participate in some sort of fighting tournament in order to progress the plot.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Ever since the series hit the Playstation 3, many major characters and hostesses were modeled after their voice actors.
    • For the Chinese version of Yakuza 0, Lao Gui is instead portrayed by Hong Kong actor Sam Lee.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Any poor sap on the receiving end of a Heat action. At least half of them in any game would cripple or outright kill their victim in real life, but they're usually still capable of limping away afterwards.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Just about the most irrelevant in the gaming industry. It's half the fun.
  • Japanese Delinquents: The second and fourth sequels introduce you to traditional Japanese motorcycle gangs (known in Japan as "bosozoku"). The second sequel has the sidequest in Kamurocho where male host Yuya must defend Stardust from his former peers of the gang he was once in and the fourth sequel has them serving as one of the encountering gangs Kiryu can drive out of Kamurocho by defeating their leader.
    • In the fourth game, Jo Amon uses one against Kiryu in the fight against him.
  • Knife Nut: Goro Majima. Tamashiro licks his knife in his introduction sequence, but he does better with knuckles.
  • Knowledge Broker: Kage the Florist has a huge surveillance network spread throughout Kamurocho, and offers information at a price. Most of the time the protagonists end up fighting in Purgatory instead to get the information they seek.
  • Kung-Foley: Kiryu's stronger punches- particularly with one of his Counter Attack moves or when he uses the Desperation Attack- have a deep bass echo to convey just how brutally powerful they are.
  • The Lancer: Akira Nishikiyama in the prequel, Shinji Tanaka in the first game, Daigo Dojima and Kaoru Sayama in the second, Rikiya Shimabukuro in the third. Shun Akiyama becomes this from the fourth onwards.
  • Laser Blade: Some games feature a "Photon Blade" as a secret unlockable weapon.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kiryu 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 are brutal cinematic attacks that can only be initiated with certain amounts of Heat..
  • 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 "Kiryu-chan" sound affectionate (even more so when you consider Kiryu addresses Majima as "Majima-nii-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 Kiryu "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.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: What is that Battle Aura that appears when particularly strong combatants get serious? Who knows? It's never mentioned in-story, it just kind of is. On a more creepy note, a couple of the sidequests, like in 0 and Kiwami 2 reveal that ghosts and curses may be more real than the characters would believe...
  • 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.
  • Mini-Game: The Yakuza series is absolutely stuffed to the gills with minigames: Blackjack, slots, dice games, pachinko, RC car races, fishing, golfing, darts, table tennis, and even arcade games (Yakuza 5 has a near-perfect emulation of Virtua Fighter 2, while Yakuza 0 has games more appropriate for its era, like Space Harrier and OutRun).
  • Money Spider: You gain money after winning regular fights, though it's justified since you're just taking it from regular people. Exaggerated in Yakuza 0, where enemies explode in a shower of coins and yen bills when beaten, a reflection of the "Bubble Economy" of The '80s when there was an overabundance of cash flowing through Japan as well as the fact that money doubles as XP. There's also the indomitable "Mr. Shakedown" enemies who can literally beat cash out of you, but if you can defeat them you'll get back everything you ever lost to them and then some.
  • 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 Kiryu 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 Kiryu with their tough talk and cruel actions. He is not impressed.
  • Mook Horror Show: Several actions can turn fights with weaker enemies into this: cowing them into holding back for a bit.
  • 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 Kiryu and built-like-a-brick-shithouse-on-steroids Saejima, on the other hand....
  • Multiple Life Bars: Most bosses have at least 2 or 3, while tougher bosses can have up to 6. Subverted in 6, where all bosses have a single large health bar.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The series enjoys making boring tasks look extremely awesome.
    • Revelations, which involve a character realizing something and doing something furiously to capitalize on it.
      • In the third and fourth games, Kiryu and Akiyama have mad blogging skillz.
      • And in the fourth, Saejima's epic woodcarving.
      • Also in the fourth, Tanimura's fast pen sketching.
    • In Yakuza 0, there's the telephone club, which has Kiryu answer a phone and deciding what to ask next in an extremely awesome manner.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Because first, it won't do any good (unless you're Majima). And second, Kiryu will then use it on your friends.
    • Guns won't be any better either, especially once Kiryu 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 it's Kiryu 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: Kiryu missed his calling in life as the Patron Saint of Niceness. He helps any innocent bystander no matter how big or small the problem, rescues young girls, pets, old women crossing the street, and forgives men who try to kill him on several occasions at the slightest hint of their redemption. This makes his status as the entire underworld's Butt-Monkey so far as picking fights go all the more hilarious. In 3, he goes so far as to track down the most dangerous hitmen in Japan... JUST to beat the crap out of them and drag them to a reform center so they can get out of the criminal life.
  • Non-Combat EXP: The player can gain additional experience points by eating at local eateries, hanging out at the hostess clubs and completing substories - some of which don't even involve any form of combat!
  • Oh, Crap!: If you pull out a weapon in the middle of a heated random encounter battle or finish off the penultimate enemy, your enemies 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 Kiryu a bonanza of items, most of which Haruka gave to him in the first game to indicate his Relationship Values progression and comprise of one-shot healing items and accessories that affect his stats.
    • In 3 (JP version only), having a Kenzan! save file will net you Ukiyo's Bell, an exclusive protective item.
    • 4 and Dead Souls offer up items if you played the last game. 3 gives you an armor and an accessory that restores HP over time and 4 nets you a item that offers high defense and charm.
    • Yakuza 5 gives items for having saves not only from Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4 and Dead Souls, but from games that never made it into the region, such as Kenzan and the HD versions of the first two games.
    • Future games in the series give items simply for having another Yakuza game's system data.
  • Once per Episode: There's a certain recurring sequence in the games. Kiryu beats up someone with a gun, he doesn't move the gun away from them. He turns his back. The guy gets back up and shoots either Kiryu or someone else. The character introduced that game stands in the path and takes the bullet lethally.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Many side quests are caused by this.
    • In 0:
      • There's a guy who sells mushrooms in a dark alley... which are all of the non-hallucinogenic kind, to the anger of his customers.
      • A mysterious lady repeatedly calls a telephone club, but nobody understood what she's saying until Kiryu comes along. They agreed to meet... Turns out it's a guy using a voice changer trying to call the parents of the boy he kidnapped for ransom, but the boy gave him the number of the telephone club he saw through the window of the room he was locked in.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Artful Dodger. After all, all you got to do is to hit him just once.
  • One-Man Army: Kiryu. 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.
    • This also extends to the other playable characters as they are powerful in their own right (Akiyama, Saejima, Majima, Tanimura, and Shinada). Hell, in the near climax of Yakuza 5, Kiryu, Akiyama, Saejima, and Shinada were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of yakuza thugs. A huge army of thugs tried to take on a quartet of one-man-armies, with predictable results.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: No matter how brutal the protagonists can get in gameplay (up to gutting people with blades or outright using guns) they do not kill. Enemies beaten by them are usually just treated as either knocked out or limping away. Moments where this is much harder to excuse (such as blowing them up with a rocket launcher or throwing them off skyscrapers) are typically just ignored.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Most of the third part of 5 follows Haruka's pursuit of her idol career, in which the Beat 'em Up fights are replaced by Rhythm Game dance battles to catchy J-pop music, more reminiscent of The iDOLM@STER.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with little Haruka, Kiryu's adoptive daughter, if you value your life.
    • And in 3, don't mess with ANY of Kiryu'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 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
    • Haruka can use one in Yakuza 5 in one of her substories as part of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
  • Point of No Return: Each game has one toward the very end of the main story, where players are given one last chance to save their game, stock up on items and finish any loose ends before going off into the final battle. Players are always given fair warning when this moment occurs.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Near the end of the first game, Kiryu 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. Kiryu 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:
    Kiryu (English dub): So you're ready for me? Then step the fuck up, it's time to die.
  • Press X to Not Die: Quick Time Events happen sometimes as part of a Boss Battle. In specific battles, this becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize it's actually the enemy attempting to use a HEAT Action on you and you're trying to evade it.
  • Product Placement: A surprising amount and remarkably they tend to avert Enforced Plug for the most part, making contextual sense where they do appear.
    • The Don Quijote discount stores than can be visited are based on an actual chain in Japan, as well as in Hawaii. The theme song played at the stores is also real, and there's an English version made for the Singapore outlets.
    • 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.
  • Rated M for Manly: The Series itself, being that nearly anyone is capable of pulling off CMOAs at the drop of a hat. Many characters also qualify.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: While Kiryu dresses like the stereotypical yakuza and has the back tattoo, real yakuzas who reviewed the game noted that his threads are typical of low-level members (chimpira) and he should've upgraded to a more conservative top brand suit when he became boss (as worn by the other bosses), and his tattoo should've covered his whole body ("maybe he ran out of money").
  • Recurring Boss: Occurs often in the series, though the most prominent example is definitely Goro Majima in Kiwami.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The second game reuses some background and cutscene music from the first. In the later games, the songs from various mini-games often get reused. Some of the more popular songs also get remixed or updated in later games.
  • 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. Goda was fatally injured saving a half-sister he didn't even know he had minutes prior (and getting revenge on the man who betrayed him as a bonus).
  • Red Baron: This being a game about gangsters, we're bound to get a few examples. We have the Dragon of Dojima (Kiryu), Mad Dog Majima (Guess who?), the Dragon of Kansai (Goda), and for a couple of non-yakuza examples, there's the Lifeline of Kamurucho (Akiyama) and the Parasite of Kamurucho (Tanimura).
  • Reformed Criminal: Possibly a few examples in the games, but in particular The Florist. 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 Nishikiyama, childhood friend of Kiryu who, after a series of tragic events, really changed during the years Kiryu 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 Kiryu enters the quarantine zone to confront those that kidnapped Haruka... and proceeds to fight zombies. Unarmed.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The series loves final showdowns on top of very tall buildings.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: In the first game, Kiryu also has to rescue Haruka from Lau Ka Long's Snake Flower Triad.
    • The sequel has Kiryu fighting against the Jingweon, Korean gangsters/terrorists as well as the other yakuza.
    • The third one has Black Monday, a weapons dealing syndicate headed by corrupt CIA operatives. Lau and the Triads also return.
    • The sixth game has the Jingweon return as well as a new triad gang.
  • Sad Battle Music:
    • "For Who's Sake", the final boss theme for Akira Nishikiyama which empathizes on the grief of him and Kiryu.
    • "A Scattered Moment, the final boss music for Ryuji Goda whom Kiryu fights for the third time as they are both severely wounded by Ryo's gunshots. After Kiryu's victory, Ryuji dies in his half-sister Kaoru's arms.
  • Scary Black Man: Gary "Buster" Holmes, although only in the ring. Outside of it he's a rather amicable Gentle Giant.
    • And in Dead Souls, Gary is your personal Drill Instructor for Zombie Killer Boot Camp.
  • Scenery Gorn: Dead Souls has this to spare: the areas in the quarantine zone look like bombs went off all over.
  • Schmuck Bait: The series does not seem to be without them and they have a great diversity of methods in both storylines and side quests.
  • Scenery Porn: Just every hub is really majestic given the Japanese setting, especially when they are glowing with neon during evening or night.
  • 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.
  • 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 Dead Souls shatters every known perception of possibility.
    • Saejima fights a giant bear with his bare fists in 5.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Mooks can take dozens of sword slashes, but they'll always be alive enough to apologize after the fight and give you a reward.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The loud echoing crack that rings each time Kiryu delivers a finishing blow to the last opponent in a combat round... even if it's just a simple straight punch to a suicidally overconfident and fragile twerp.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: According to actual Yakuza who played it, it's not wildly off the mark, and most of the inaccuracies fall under Acceptable Breaks from Reality or Reality Is Unrealistic. However, this was not the case with the first draft of the first game's script, which suffered from Critical Research Failure, requiring the staff to truly explore the culture of the Japanese underworld and rewrite it.
    • In the case of the New Japan Pro Wrestling bosses in 6:
      • Each of them bosses can perform their Finishing Moves during their respective fights.
      • One of the unique QTEs during the fight with Hiroshi Tanahashi involves stabbing him with a knife; a reference to when he was stabbed by his ex-girlfriend in 2002 and arguably, the incident that turned him into the face of NJPW.
      • Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima are fought together, since they are tag team partners in real life.
      • Kazuchika Okada's theme plays during his encounter; he is the only NJPW boss with this distinction.
  • Simulation Game: The second game plays with this a bit, as an optional sidequest where saving the owner of the hostess club Marietta from Mook harassment opens up the opportunity to run the place with the aim of trying to make it profitable while the owner attends to family illness.
    • The fifth game has Kiryu working as a taxi driver, and some missions require him to take passengers to their destination while abiding by traffic laws (stopping at signs and signaling for instance).
  • Sinister Surveillance: Inverted. Kamurocho has a very extensive surveillance network installed, that seems to be able to note every square inch of the city inside buildings well as out and includes the ability to zoom in and presumably enhance images. Hanaya/Kage uses it as his primary tool to gather information for clients and to help out Kiryu at certain instances.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The main plots of the game are often serious crime dramas with various twists and turns throughout as the cast plays against each other and tackle serious concepts such as honor, loyalty, revenge and family. The sidequests, on the other hand, can run the gauntlet from serious drama to downright ridiculous.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Goro Majima. Although an antagonist in the first game, it was actually because of circumstances and his rivalry with Kiryu for the title of the underworld's biggest badass. He is actually MAD loyal to Kiryu, 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 Kiryu's.
    • Theories abound that there's also a... certain context to Majima's loyalty to Kiryu.
    • More like Kiryu is the only person durable enough to stand up to his psychotic rage.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Shenmue. Both series have Wide Open Sandboxes set in thriving Japanese towns and cities with a wide variety of side-activities to partake in, deep combat systems with inspiration from Virtua Fighter, and intricate stories.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: As a means of cordoning off the fight areas, and also perhaps to highlight the culture of violence in which street brawls are common spectator sport.
  • Stance System: The first spinoff game set in Japan in the past, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! has 4 styles of combat you can switch on the fly, hand to hand, one sword style, two sword style, and two handed swords.
    • Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, the other historical Japan spinoff released several years later once more has a stance system, this time more diverse than Kenzan, and you unlock more styles as you progress.
      • A single sword style that plays similar to Saejima's combat style from Yakuza 4 and 5, where you have slow yet powerful attacks, as well as having the ability to charge your attacks. It is also the most defensive style in the game.
      • A hand to hand style that plays like a mixture of Kiryu's regular fighting style, but also mixing in Tanimura's style from Yakuza 4 by having parries and counters. Once you parry an attack, you become invincible for a short time, allowing you to fight against the sword wielding bad guys if you're skilled enough.
      • The pistol style, in which you wield a pistol. With it, you have no defence, but you are able to damage enemies from far away and basically play keep away from them.
      • And lastly, the Wild Dance Style, which uses the pistol and sword at the same time and it makes you very agile and quick to make up your lack of defense in this style, and it possibly is the most visually pleasing.
    • Yakuza 0 has this for Kiryu & Majima, each having up to three styles, along with a secret style. Kiwami keeps these styles for the two, but Kiryu is the only one playable.
      • Kiryu's Brawler style is an Unskilled, but Strong version of his usual fighting style in earlier games. It's a bit sluggish and puts a lot more weight and force than necessary behind every attack, but this style also allows Kiryu to Counter Attack whenever he's hit as long as he's not knocked down.
      • Kiryu's Rush style puts an emphasis on speed, similar to Akiyama's fighting style. While he cannot grab in this style, he is able to quickstep multiple times in succession and can strike much faster, with a mechanic that stuns an enemy if they are hit at least ten times successfully. Kiryu is also able to weave in place of blocking, allowing him to dodge attacks.
      • Kiryu's Beast style makes him into a Mighty Glacier, putting more emphasis on sheer strength, like Saejima. While he is very slow and cannot dodge as fast as his other styles, Kiryu will automatically grab any nearby object or weapon as he attacks, also allowing him to use motorcycles and other heavy objects he cannot normally use as weapons. The style also possesses a Resist Guard in place of blocking, where he takes a minimal amount of damage, but it is in effect everywhere instead of being vulnerable from behind.
      • Kiryu's Legend style, later known as the Dragon style in Kiwami, is his classic fighting style as the Dragon of Dojima, albeit without Komaki's moves, as he doesn't meet him until several years later in the first game. Instead, he can only dodge once like with Brawler as well as possessing different counters; the "Knockback Counter" instead of the "Komaki Knock Back", which is functionally similar, the "Iron Fist Counter" takes the place of the "Komaki Tiger Drop", which consumes the Heat Gauge, the "Twist Counter" takes the place of the "Komaki Parry", where it does effectively the same thing as the Tiger Drop, Kiwami gives the style a significant nerf by the time Kiryu comes out prison, due to him not fighting for the ten years he was incarcerated.
      • Majima's Thug style is his basic style. Weak, but Skilled, Majima does not hit as hard as Kiryu, but he is also quicker and far more refined in how he strikes, able to quickstep twice, as well as possessing an Eye Poke move that disorient the enemy. He also has a second Rush Combo following the first that limits his movement, but also strikes much faster, which can be extended with certain upgrades.
      • Majima's Slugger style puts an emphasis of Majima's skill with weaponry, primarily in the form of a baseball bat he found in an alleyway. With it, Majima is slower, but possesses a much larger range of attack suitable for crowd control, but does not work well in enclosed spaces as it can bounce off walls. Unlike other styles, Majima's mastery of the style comes in the form of mastering other weapons that he can also use with other styles. In Kiwami, Majima does not possess the weakness of his bat bouncing off walls when he uses the style.
      • Majima's Breaker style is perhaps the most difficult moveset to utilize to the fullest extent. While the rush combo is rather sluggish and cannot dodge as fast as the other two, this is Majima's speed style, but places an emphasis in crowd control, moreso than Slugger. As it takes time to reach a specific finishing blow, said finishing blows cover a large area once they're initiated. They're followed up with "Freeze", which Majima is locked in a pose before he initiates the final blow of the combo. Said Freeze can also be started quickly at any point of the Finishing Blow. In Kiwami, Majima possesses a red aura instead of pink.
      • Majima's Legend style is basically his style as the Mad Dog of Shimano, representing how he usually fights when he's fought as a boss in 1. With it, Majima uses his Demonfire Dagger, along with any other knife he can wield, in many of his moves. One particular move he has is "Savage", which allows to Majima to move at a fast pace following any Finishing Blow. He can follow this up with another move called "Chomp", where he viciously strikes an enemy as he passes by. He also possesses a special dodge called "Shadow Trail", where the dodge covers a significant distance, but consumes Heat if he has any. Like Kiryu, Majima also has a special Counter known as "Demonfire", where he brutally stabs the attacking enemy with his dagger that takes away a significant chunk of their health, as well as leave them open for a few more attacks.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • A small example: Akiyama's overweight secretary Hana becomes a gorgeous bombshell through dieting by the events of 4's end. She ends up returning to her old body type by Dead Souls. She's actually back to her old body type by the non-canon Premium Adventure Mode, but when/if that actually takes place isn't clear.
    • In Yakuza 5, Haruka has left the orphanage and is living on her own in Osaka, pursuing a career as an Idol Singer even though it means not being able to see her family. At the end, she forfeits her career after she couldn't bear to be away from those she considers family any longer: Kiryu. Ultimately subverted in Yakuza 6, where Kiryu is immediately sent to jail for 3 years and Haruka leaves the orphanage after her confession leads to a scandal.
  • The Stinger: Most of the games end with an additional scene after the credits.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: "Hey, we're having a pretty bad day, so we need to take out our aggression on you. Huh? Why you looking at us funny? You wanna die, old man?!"
  • Taking the Bullet: Pretty much at least once per game.
  • Tattooed Crook: Given that the game series deals heavily with the subject of Yakuza this is de rigeur. The tattoos on the main characters (Kiryu- Silver Dragon, Nishiki- Nishiki Carp, Majima- Han'nya, Goda- Gold Dragon, Mine- Kirin, Rikiya- Viper, Daigo- Fudo Myou, Saejima- Tiger) turn out to be very symbolic in the games and are often reflective of their personalities and traits.
  • There Can Be Only One: Kazuma Kiryu, "The Dragon of Dojima", is considered The Paragon and all-around biggest badass, leading to at least one rival per game being driven by jealousy or ambition to defeat him and become the next "Dragon", frequently sporting dragon tattoos of their own just to emphasise this tropenote .
  • 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. That is, ignoring the times Kiryu's shot or blown up enemies during high-speed shootouts.
  • Turn Coat: So far, apart from Shinji Tanaka, significant individuals in the Nishiki Family are doomed to this role.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Very much the case with Kenzan! and Ishin! which star Japanese historical figures Miyamoto Musashi and Ryoma Sakamoto respectively, who are both portrayed by Kazuma Kiryu. The supporting cast of both games are comprised of characters appearing in this series, although Haruka is the only one who exists as her own character in both titles.
  • Updated Re-release: The first two games were re-released in Japan in 2012, a Compilation Re-release called Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which updated the combat in the first game using the improved mechanics in the second.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In Premium Adventure Mode, unlocked after beating the main story in 4 and 5, you can let Haruka follow Kiryu 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 Kiryu 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.
    • While you can't assault civilians, there's nothing stopping you from harassing them by repeatedly bumping into them while running and even knocking them over if you hit them at the right angle.
  • Video Game Long-Runners: The series has gone on since 2005, with the final chapter released 11 years later.
  • Video Game Remake:
    • To mark the series' 10 year anniversary, Ryu Ga Gotoku: Kiwami was released, which is a remake of the first game using the engine and gameplay from Yakuza 0. The story was slightly expanded to include a new segment where Kiryu buys Yumi a ring in the prologue, new cutscenes explore Nishiki's Start of Darkness, and Breakout Character Goro Majima's role has been expanded to serve as a Stealth Mentor for Kiryu after he returns from his ten year prison sentence.
    • Ryu Ga Gotoku Kiwami 2 is a remake of the second title using the Dragon Engine created for Yakuza 6. Featuring updated graphics and new actors, the story has also been expanded to explore Goro Majima's role during the game's events, making him playable once more.
  • The Unfought: Yayoi Dojima in the first game, who challenges Kiryu and is fully prepared to do so, but you only fight her mooks.
    • Hamazaki in the third game, unless you download a certain DLC.
    • Jo Amon has always been the Bonus Boss in the series, but in Dead Souls, he gets knocked out by ancestor Rasetsu Amon, whom you fight instead.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: At least once per game, Kiryu will rip off his shirt to reveal his dragon tattoo, typically before the climax of the game. If his opponent is also yakuza, they'll likely return the gesture and shed their own shirt. Completely averted in Dead Souls for obvious reasons.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Kamurocho in general, and other locations as the series goes on.
  • Widget Series: While the main story for each game is a dark, action-packed and emotional crime drama that explores the culture of the Japanese underworld in depth, the substories take a much more humorous direction and provide some well-needed Mood Whiplash. Karaoke sessions turn into Imagine Spot music videos, our protagonists can find themselves participating in all kinds of crazy roles and taking weird jobs, such as a model, a chef, a film director or club owner, learn moves from absolutely bizarre situations such as a traffic accident or panty thief, and some of the stories are so outrageous they fall into this by default. It's much of the game's charm.
  • Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child: Poor Haruka is usually on the receiving end of this, and has been kidnapped in more than a couple of titles.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Imposed by the games on the player; Kiryu will never find himself in a situation where he must (or can) strike a woman. On the rare occasions where he is tracking or is attacked by a woman, it will always turn out to be a guy in drag.
    • Which is hilariously subverted in a Side Quest in the first game. Refusing to go into a Hotel for some "fun" with a woman results in her calling her thug brother in an attempt to pummel Kiryu. 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.
    • And taken to its logical next step in Yakuza 6, when an antagonist gang - JUSTIS - counts six (fictionalised versions of) New Japan Pro Wrestling roster members amongst its number: Toru Yano, Tetsuya Naito, the Ten Cozy tag-team (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan), Hiroshi Tanahashi and their leader, Kazuchika Okada. While they all have their signature moves presentnote , Okada gets special mention for being the only one to have his NJPW music play during his boss fight.
  • Zip Mode: Taxis can transport you to different parts of the map or sometimes completely different areas, for a fee.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Of The End/Dead Souls. Yes, a Yakuza game features zombies. Somewhat subverted in that the outbreak is contained to Kamurocho and is thus not a truly global Zombie Apocalypse.

Alternative Title(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku

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