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When you become yakuza, being wrong is dangerous.

"When you pick a fight in this town, you'd better pick carefully. Especially when you're carrying a wad of cash."
Kazuma Kiryu
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Yakuza 0, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku 0: The Promised Land, is the sixth main entry and a prequel to the Yakuza video game series. It was released in Japan on the PlayStation 3 and Playstation 4 in March 2015, celebrating the series' ten year anniversary, and in North America and Europe as a PS4 exclusive in January 2017. A port of the game to Steam was later announced at E3 2018 and was released on August 1 of that year.

The game takes place in December 1988, at the height of Japan's prosperous "economic bubble". The various factions of the Japanese underworld are jockeying for control over a prime piece of real estate: a vacant lot that is the centerpiece of the "Kamurocho Revitalization Project". Control over this lot will tip the balance of power in the world of yakuza in the favor of whoever claims it.

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The game follows two separate protagonists, whose stories revolve around the conflict for the lot:

  • Kazuma Kiryu, the series protagonist, is shown as a fresh-faced recruit in the Tojo Clan, sponsored by his father figure Shintaro Kazama. Working for the Dojima family, Kiryu is sent one evening to perform a regular duty for fledgling yakuza: shaking down a man in debt to a loan shark in the Tojo's employ. When the debtor turns up dead on the vacant lot afterwards, Kiryu becomes the prime suspect. With Kazama in prison and the family head, Souhei Dojima, promising his position as his second-in-command to whoever can secure him the vacant lot, Kiryu sets out to clear his name.
  • Goro Majima is the game's deuteragonist, playable for the first time in a main series gamenote . Majima resides in the Osakan district of Sotenbori, managing a successful cabaret known as The Grand. He has everything a man could want: money, fame, and women. What he truly wants, however, is to get back in the good graces of the Tojo Clan, having been excommunicated after disobeying a direct order. Now under the thumb of the Shimano Family, Majima finally gets a chance to return to the Tojo Clan, in exchange for carrying out an assassination. When he finds that his target is a defenseless blind woman, though, his loyalty and sanity will be put to the ultimate test.
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The new setting for the game offers a view of Kamurocho and Sotenbori unlike what was shown in previous games: the two cities were very different places in the 1980s. This extends to the series' mini-games, as well: Club Sega arcades are replaced with the more time-appropriate Hi-Tech Land Sega (complete with classic arcade games like Space Harrier and OutRun), and hostess clubs are replaced with telephone clubs. The battle system has also been overhauled: each character now has access to three unique fighting styles, and Experience Points are eschewed in favor of using money to purchase upgrades for each character. Enemies now drop piles of cash when defeated; the more brutally they are beaten, the more money they'll drop. Many other avenues for earning money are also available, from gambling to a unique business venture for each character: Kiryu is placed in charge of a real estate agency and must jockey with rival agencies for control over property in Kamurocho, while Majima manages a cabaret club, training hostesses and attending to customers' needs in order to corner the market in Sotenbori.

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

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


Yakuza 0/Ryū ga Gotoku 0: The Promised Land includes examples of:

  • The '80s: The game takes place in 1988, at the height of Japan's Bubble Economy.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Kiryu uses one to escape from the Dojima Family. It doesn't work out.
  • Accidental Hero: The "Arakure Quest" sidestory revolves around retrieving a boy's stolen video game as it's passed around from mugger to mugger. When you finally reach the last one and beat the tar out of him, he reveals that he stole it to give to his son...who just so happens to be the boy it was stolen from in the first place. When the boy runs up, Kiryu helps his dad save face by explaining that he helped him get it back.
  • Achievement System: By completing certain tasks like scoring high on minigames, or defeating enemies using a certain fighting style, you earn Completion Points you can spend on perks to improve your exploration, battle, and business abilities.
  • Action Girl: Miss Tatsu is a loan shark muscle and a total badass. She's the one Kiryu learns his "Beast" fighting style from.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: During the final open-world segment, the taxis in the south of Kamurocho bump up the fare to 10,000 yen.
    • Justified (and historically accurate) as it's rush hour, so the drivers on the busiest street can afford to charge much more. In the cutscene before that segment you can actually see businessmen waving handfuls of money at the cabs driving past.
  • Adopt the Food: One side story has Kiryu trying for a turkey (3 strikes in a row) at bowling to win an actual turkey to eat. When he wins it, it turns out the bird is still alive, and also a chicken, not a turkey. The bowling receptionist offers to take it to the back and cook it, but Kiryu instead decides to keep the chicken and name it Nugget. It also joins him as a real estate manager.
  • Adult Fear: One side story begins with Majima meeting a lonely girl next to an arcade and warning her to not walk the Sotenbori streets on her own. The next time Majima sees her, she's being accosted by thugs who want to kidnap her for ransom money.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The Electronics King uses more modern gaming lingo like "PvP" and "Friendly Fire".
    • Some brands seen in the game, while they did exist all the way back in 1988, still don't feature their era-appropriate logos, like Mountain Dew, 7UP and, most prominently, Sammy.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you get defeated by Mr. Shakedown enough times, his starting health will be reduced in subsequent encounters.
      • There are also equippable items that prevent Mr. Shakedown from taking all of your money should you lose in a fight with him.
    • The Item menu now has 3 separate sections - Inventory, Components, and Valuables. You can carry more on your person and manage your inventory much better.
    • Most random battles are easily avoidable once you acquire the Cash Confetti ability. Though it costs 10,000 yen for each use, that amount eventually becomes a non-issue at the point you get it.
    • Unlike what came before it, there is no penalty for failing Kiryu's final training session for his Rush style. Since his opponent breaks the rulesSpoiler , he won't lose any money and he'll still acquire the last ability.
    • Earning the completion points for classic Sega arcade games only require the player to achieve a certain score, as opposed to beating the game. A rapid-fire button has also been added for Fantasy Zone and Space Harrier, the latter also receiving a button to invert the vertical controls anytime during the game. They're all still hard as hell, though.
      • The most you'll ever need to score in OutRun is 5 million points, in order to beat The Electronics King. This roughly equates to about halfway through the game.
    • Want to start a New Game+ using your save file after completing everything in Premium Adventure? In previous games, you weren't allowed to use Premium Adventure saves. Now you finally can, with one caveat: The Legend/Ex-Hard difficulty requires a fresh start. The difficulty can't be selected if you're starting with a Premium Adventure save.
  • Artificial Brilliance: If a knife-wielding enemy knocks you down by stabbing you, they're almost certainly going to do it again and again immediately after you get back up, unless you attack them first or dodge out of the way.
  • Assist Character: After he became a real estate manager, when Kiryu is attacked on the street, the security staff he assigned for the area where the fight takes place will occasionally back him up.
  • The Atoner: Vengeful Otake, one of the inmates in the Bed of Styx, came willingly to the hellhole to atone, after realizing his revenge killing service was causing more harm than good.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Majima's one-man assault on the Dojima compound is set to the song "Reign".
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Kiryu didn't have any involvement in the pursuit of the Empty Lot until he was framed for murder, and when he got set up by Shibusawa in an attempt to crush Kazama, it only resulted in the fall of the most powerful family in the Tojo Clan. In the end, Kuze recognizes Kiryu's potential, believing Kazama has held him back from becoming a true yakuza, and admits the Dojima Family has no one but themselves to blame for their own destruction at Kiryu's hands.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Kiryu and Majima somehow pick up entire fighting styles after seeing certain people in action for a little bit.
  • Back from the Brink: Until Majima came around, the Sunshine Cabaret was on its last legs with only three girls to its name. By the end of the Cabaret Club Czar plotline, he'll have turned a floundering club into the biggest cabaret club in all of Sotenbori alongside The Grand.
  • Badass Bystander: Occasionally during random street fights, Kiryu's Real Estate security will jump in to back you up if they happen to be assigned in the same area. They're not great, but who can keep up with Kiryu anyway?
  • Battle Strip: Especially later on in the game, boss fights often have the Yakuza participants clutch their shoulder and tear off their clothes from the waist up - shirt, tie and jacket, somehow all in one motion - revealing the tattoos on their backs. The only time it's realistically done is with the first two fights against Kuze.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Par for the course, for both the series and the Eighties.
    • Kiryu starts the game wearing a simple black suit, white dress shirt and a silver chain necklace, but eventually switches to a white pinstripe suit and an orange dress shirt with a gold chain pattern on it. For the Premium Adventure mode, the "Dragon of Dojima" DLC adds his iconic off-white suit with maroon dress shirt, the "Kamurocho Fun Pack" DLC adds a topless version of his Yakuza 0 outfit, and the "Pocket Racer Expert Pack" DLC grants him Majima's 'Lord of the Night' outfit.
    • Majima goes through the game wearing a tuxedo the whole time - full get-up while working at The Grand, losing the bowtie and wearing a gold chain necklace during his downtime. For the Premium Adventure mode, the "Mad Dog of Shimano" DLC adds his iconic outfit from the rest of the series, the "Sotenbori Fun Pack 2" DLC adds a variant of his usual outfit that replaces his tux jacket with Saejima's parka from Yakuza 4, and the "Super Rare Crafting Pack" DLC grants him Kiryu's 'New Hire' outfit.
  • Badass Teacher: Kiryu and Majima each have three teachers, each of whom are badasses in their own rights.
    • Kiryu's mentors are Bacchus, a booze hound who is continually hounded by assassins and manages to survive; Komaji, a homeless "knockout artist" who makes a living challenging people to try and knock him down (a job he is very good at); and Miss Tatsu, a loan shark muscle who is feared by debtors all over.
    • Majima's mentors are Komeki, the selfsame martial artist who would mentor Kiryu later on in the series; Areshi, a breakdancer who is inspired by Majima to incorporate fighting into his dance routines; and Fei Hu, a Chinese arms dealer who can turn even an ordinary piece of lumber into a deadly weapon.
  • Bash Brothers: Kiryu and Nishiki. Nishiki even notes how invincible they feel together.
  • Bathroom Brawl:
    • One of these occurs while Kiryu is fighting his way through a building filled with hostile yakuza. It ends with Kiryu slamming Yoneda face-first into a urinal and then kicking him out the window.
    • Sagawa drags Majima into a bathroom and nearly strangles him after Majima sneaks off to visit Nishitani in prison.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: One of Majima's substories revolves around this, but it's what appears to be a lonely woman's handwriting that catches his attention.
  • Batter Up!: Majima's "Slugger" fighting style is all about using a baseball bat to bludgeon bad guys. He also gets creative with his batting technique, using them similar to nunchucks and hopping around like a Wuxia swordsman.
  • Bears Are Bad News: One of the opponents Kiryu and Majima can face in the Bed of Styx is a large bear, known as the Demon Bear.
  • Big Brother Mentor:
    • Kashiwagi's bio describes him as this for Kiryu and Nishiki, and serves as something of a mentor figure for them in Kazama's absence. He also doesn't hesitate to punch Kiryu's lights out when he announces his plan to get expelled from the Dojima Family thinking it would clear Kazama from being held responsible.
    • One of the substories shows that Daigo Dojima also looked up to Kiryu as one when he was younger, and his rotten attitude nearly landed him in hot water.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mostly on Majima's end. Makoto is rescued by Kiryu, and Dojima loses the bid to the empty lot to Sera. Makoto eventually recovers and has been living a peaceful life as a civilian in Kamurocho. She's harassed by yakuza punks until Majima comes to her rescue again, but with most of her sight regained, doesn't recognize the man who protected her. Instead of revealing himself, realizing her doctor is also in love with her and will fight to protect her, Majima urges him to act on his feelings for her. Majima then disappears in the crowd, with Makoto wondering who the man with the sad eye was. I Want My Beloved to Be Happy indeed.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Poor Kiryu can fall victim to this in the telephone club minigame if his date turns out to be an Abhorrent Admirer who wastes no time in taking him out for a night he'll never forget. If you're going for 100% Completion, since three substories revolve around this, be prepared to say goodbye to your dignity. And a good chunk of your health bar.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Next to Kenzan and Ishin, this is easily the most violent game in the series, and said violence is used less for humorous effect and more for pure ow-factor. To wit, those two games have swords as the main mode of combat, and this game is almost as violent as both of them.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For fairly obvious reasons the underground catfights replace all the blood spurts with coloured heart symbols (even though the women involved use the same brutal HEAT takedowns as the protagonists).
  • Bonus Boss: The game is filled to the brink with them.
    • Mr. Shakedowns - gigantic brutes walking around the streets, itching for a fight with you. They have a lot of health, deal ridiculous amounts of damage and take all your money upon defeat, but will also give a lot of money if defeated.
    • The Five Billionaires in Real Estate Royale and the Five Stars in the Cabaret Club Czar storylines, although only three are fought in the latter. Both storylines reveal a Greater-Scope Villain that must be beaten, and defeating them each unlocks the Legendary fighting styles for their respective characters.
    • Some of the substories and training missions end with particularly difficult opponents to qualify, such as Guru Munan Suzuki and Hiroya the Debt King.
    • As a series staple, members of the Amon Clan become available as bosses when you complete all substories. However, since Jo Amon doesn't fight Kiryu until Yakuza 1, Majima does - Kiryu fights his father So Amon instead.
    • David Diabol, the strongest fighter in the Bed of Styx.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Several style abilities kick in if Kiryu and Majima are drunk. Kiryu's Brawler style has quite a few of these.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Getting into a fight with a Mr. Shakedown starts with these as part of their Leitmotif; "Get Them".
  • Boyfriend Bluff: One of Majima's substories sees him acting as a pretend boyfriend for a young woman who has tired of her overbearing father attempting to set her up with men she has no interest in.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Kiryu will open one up in dramatic fashion, when buying out the area's most expensive property.
    Kiryu: I'll make an offer...in cash!
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Majima learns that he was being used by Shimano the whole time, he suffers a Heroic BSoD and even lets himself get beaten up by a group of street punks. But when he goes to get revenge against Dojima, he runs into the same punks from before, who harass and ridicule him. It ends as well as you'd expect.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of a substory characters who can be hired as employees of Kiryu's real estate firm fit this trope, especially since the game follows the unspoken rule that unlockable characters are mostly better than the default characters. The absolute best business advisor is a Michael Jackson expy and you can unlock a chicken who has three stars in management.
    • This also means that, ironically, the random misfits Kiryu meets around Kamurocho are better at running a real estate firm than the people who are actually in that line of work.
    • The Five Billionaires are all very odd. Despite this, they managed to almost completely monopolize Kamurocho's real estate scene, albeit with some less than legal tactics.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Yuki in the Club Sunshine Side Missions gets a moment where she's the butt of the joke with every Star you take on, from being called a plain hostess, to having Majima repeatedly forget her requests for vinegar, and being kidnapped and forgotten about (She apparently frees herself) at one point.
    • Yoneda first appears to be one of Kuze's higher ranking enforcers. He is told to kill Kiryu before he getting punched out in-cutscene and defeated in combat immediately afterwards. He shows up several more times as Kiryu fights his way through the building, each time being taken down in a QTE before being fought again, and finally gets dunked in a urinal and dropkicked out a window. Notably, this all takes place in the span of about ten minutes. He shows up later on interrogating Tachibana. Tachibana goads him into killing him, ensuring he can't get the information he wants; this in turn angers Kuze enough for him to kill Yoneda by smashing his head into the floor.
    • Oishi is one of Nishitani's henchmen, tasked with kidnapping Makoto. In his first appearance he manages to land a few shots on Lee, who tosses an acupuncture needle though his shooting hand in return. Majima then beats him down before rescuing Makoto. Oishi shows up twice more; in his second appearance, he has a visible bandage on his forehead and tries to take revenge on Majima with a whole gang of people. He runs away after Majima beats them all, only to show up again later with a new bandage on his cheek.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tachibana and his lieutenant Oda hail from China. In addition, Tachibana's mother was a Japanese war orphan who was abandoned in Manchuria, lived among local farmers, and married a Chinese man. Same goes for his sister, Makoto.
  • Call-Forward:
    • One of Kiryu's substories has him protecting a Michael Jackson Expy from actors dressed as zombies. Afterwards, Kiryu muses how he's never gonna deal with zombies again. He will. Multiple times.
    • Komeki at one point mentions that battling a tiger unarmed would be a fool's errand indeed. Years later, Kiryu pulls it off.
    • When defeated, Jo tells Majima he'll spend the next 17 years doing intensive training and that once he's done, even people stronger than Majima will regret crossing paths with him.
    • Likewise, So challenges Kiryu because he had a prophetic dream of his future exploits in Yakuza 1 and how he will become a threat to the Amon Clan's reputation. When defeated, the man swears that his family will get revenge even if it takes 17 years.
    • Bacchus continually mentions to Kiryu to watch out for himself, otherwise he'll get knifed in the ribs someday. Although this does relate to Bacchus' backstory, Kiryu eventually will get a knife in the ribs many years later. And it wouldn't be the last.
    • At the conclusion of a substory featuring a large kid named Ryuji Goda, Majima muses on how this badass sixth-grader is "a dragon in the making".
    • After winning Kamurocho's dance scene back from Ogita, he tells Kiryu he wants to be a dance instructor, and if he ever has kids, to send them his way and he'll teach them how to dance.
    • Kiryu gets his fortune read in a substory, and learns about a girl worth 10 billion yen, being in jail after taking the fall for a close friend, fighting a viper, raising 8 kids, and becoming a taxi driver. He's then told he'll meet a young man whose fate will is entangled with his. He bumps into Ryuji Goda, who's visiting Kamurocho on a school trip.
    • The very last challenge mode is a Boss Rush for Kiryu that ends with a fight against Nishikiyama, alluding to the end of Yakuza 1. To drive the point home, an area that resembles the one in Yakuza 1 is used over the one from 0.
    • Nishiki mentions that he sympathizes with Tachibana, saying that, like him, he has a younger sister, and he cannot imagine what he would do if she was ever in danger.
    • In the ending/epilogue, Kiryu buys himself a new suit familiar to longtime fans. Nishiki tries to convince his friend to reconsider his fashion choice. It doesn't work.
      Nishikiyama: Fine, fine. See if I care! Wear it the rest of your life!
    • The pose Kiryu strikes and is freeze framed on upon mastering the Dragon of Dojima style is identical to one seen on the Japanese cover art of the first game.
  • The Cameo:
    • One of Majima's sidequests has him deal with a young Ryuji Goda. As in, back when he was a grade schooler. One of Kiryu's substories also features Ryuji.
    • Kan Ogita from Yakuza 5 can be met in one of the disco substories with Kiryu.
    • In one substory, Kiryu meets a young Daigo Dojima, who played a major role in Yakuza 2 and would eventually become chairman of the Tojo Clan, something his father Sohei never accomplished.
    • Another substory for Kiryu features a young Shinji Tanaka, who was a member of a bosozoku gang and mugged yakuza, before Kiryu turned his life around and became his "aniki".
    • You can find a parasol resembling the one used by Sango Amon via the Dragon and Tiger, as well as the MJM56-55 Exorcist from Dead Souls.
  • Car Bomb: Sagawa has one planted in Lee's van, which detonates when Majima tries to help Makoto escape from his goons.
  • Cat Fight: One of Kamurocho's attractions is an underground wrestling circuit, where patrons bet on the outcome of matches between beautiful, scantily-clad women.
  • Celebrity Cameo:
    • The likeness of several women in the game are taken from popular AV actresses, whose characters also share the same first name. Following a contest held by Sega, 30 out of 50 made it into the game. The top five were turned into the cabaret club's Platinum Hostesses (with the exception of Yuki, who's entirely fictional), while the remaining girls can be found throughout the cities under various roles. All 30 have a short gravure video that can be unlocked, and Mr. Libido will encourage Kiryu and Majima to see if they can discover them all in town, as well as their videos and collectable cards.
    • Exclusively for the Chinese release of the game, Lao Gui is instead modeled and voiced by Hong Kong film actor Sam Lee. The English localization mistakenly used Lee's voice clips solely during his boss fight, which was fixed in the 1.05 patch.
  • Central Theme: Oaths and promises, how malleable is one's integrity to keep their promises to those around in a time when money and all that it brings can warp a person's view on just what can be sacrificed for it.
  • Character Development: Inverted, in the sense this takes place before Kiryu and Majima, along with several others, became the people that they would become later in life.
    • Kiryu is far rougher than he is in the first game. His HEAT moves are much more brutal and violent than necessary, and he's more confrontational than usual. He also has a mean temper, and is easily capable of brutally injuring someone at the drop of a hat in comparison to his role as The Stoic in the first game on. His kindness, arguably his biggest trait, still shines through. His three styles reflect elements of his later fighting style as well - Brawler is basically an unrefined version of his usual style, Rush showcases his speed and quick footwork, while Beast showcases his strength and willingness to use the environment to his own advantage.
    • Majima is far more mentally balanced in this game, which becomes obvious after seeing the first cutscene where he demonstrates another side of his loyalty - that of to himself. He manages to, in the span of about five minutes: cool off a drunkard, knock him on his ass and disarm him, get him to pay the bar tab of the entire club and then has the club forgive him. His fighting styles reflect bits of his later, knife-based acrobatic style - Thug shows his finesse and pragmatism in combat, Slugger shows off his skill with a weapon, while Breaker gives him an incredible sense of unpredictability in combat. Certain Heat Actions also betray the Mad Dog boiling just under the surface...
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Human Trafficking substory involves Intrepid Reporter Kasuga running afoul of a human trafficking ring, the leader of which turns out to be the bartender of Shellac, the bar where Kiryu initially meets with Kasuga in both this and his previous substory.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • It's revealed that after Majima went against orders regarding the Ueno Seiwa hit and lost his eye, Shimano had him chained and tortured in a cell called "The Hole", which Majima endured for a year. After Sera takes Makoto away to the Nikkyo Consortium, Sagawa has Majima chained and beaten, stopping just short of bashing his skull in with a bat.
    • Tachibana is subjected to this under the Kenno Clan. Eventually, Yoneda goes too far and ends up killing him.
    • Nishiki mentions that the Dojima family are known for being expert torturers who know how to draw it out as long as possible. He later tries to kill Kiryu himself instead of having his sworn brother go through it.
  • Collection Sidequest: A series staple, but with the absence of the lockers, Kiryu and Majima can instead collect cards of the various Celebrity Cameo girls. Aside from unlocking their gravure videos, some characters are willing to offer cash rewards for showing them full sets of three.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Kiryu / Majima battle stances:
      • Brawler / Thug: Blue
      • Beast / Slugger: Yellow
      • Rush / Breaker: Magenta
      • Legend: White
    • The Five Billionaires:
      • Leisure King: Red
      • Electronics King: Blue
      • Pleasure King: Pink
      • Gambling King: Yellow
      • Media King: Orange
    • Five Stars:
      • Hino (Mars): Red
      • Kizuka (Jupiter): Green
      • Mizumura (Mercury): Light blue
      • Kanehara (Venus): Yellow
      • Tsukiyama (Moon): Purple
  • Continuity Nod: One of the options for Kiryu's pen name is "I Heart Nishiki", a nod to Mitsuo's pen name in Yakuza 5: "I Heart Rinoa".
  • Cosmetic Award: After completing their business questlines, Kiryu and Majima can commission a golden statue of themselves in their offices for 10 billion yen as a symbol of their success. The game even explicitly tells you that the statue literally serves no purpose other than bragging rights.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A girl in the "Be My Boyfriend" Majima substory tells her father she has a boyfriend to get out of being paired up with a suitor. She ends up describing Majima right down to his eyepatch despite never having met him until her father decided to come down to Sotenbori and meet said boyfriend.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Several of the locations for the Dragon and Tiger weapon searches are described as this. Additionally, the Dragon and Tiger itself plays with this; while it mostly exists to facilitate Long Hua's item hunts and Fei Hu's weapon smithing, it actually is a Chinese restaurant as well. Unfortunately, you can't eat there outside of a cutscene.
  • Critical Status Buff: Several abilities only kick in if the health bar is flashing red. They include benefits like increased attack power or automatic heat generation.
  • Cult: One of Majima's substories deals with rescuing a girl from a Scam Religion that isolates its members from friends and family, while offering spiritual enlightenment in exchange for titherances (in other words, cold hard yen). As an added bonus, chosen female members can engage in special prayer with the cult's Dirty Old Guru. The cult is clearly modeled after the infamous real-life doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which was steadily growing during this time period.
  • Dance Battler: With the "Breaker" fighting style, Majima fights with spinning kicks and acrobatic attacks.
  • Dating Sim: In addition to Majima's managing a cabaret club, where training hostesses plays out similar to dating them in previous games, players can also hit up telephone clubs to chat up beautiful women. If the player keeps up the conversation for long enough, they can even ask the girl on the line out on a date in the city.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship:
    • Defeating one of the Five Billionaires will cause them to join Kiryu's agency as managers or advisers, along with one of their men as security.
    • Defeating one of the Five Stars will add the defeated club's number one girl to Majima's roster of hostesses.
    • Inverted in the second Miracle Johnson substory, where Kiryu cannot defeat Miracle in a dance battle no matter what, but Miracle decides to join Kiryu's real estate agency as a Advisor anyways.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Shortly after he's framed for murder, Kiryu decides to get himself expelled from the Dojima Family so Kazama won't be held accountable for his actions. Although Dojima honors his expulsion, he still has Kazama take full responsibility for what happened, making Kiryu's efforts in vain.
    • After Tachibana is killed, Makoto decides to confront Dojima - the head of the most powerful family in the Tojo Clan - and offer him the deed for the Empty Lot in exchange for the heads of his three lieutenants, as revenge for her brother's death. Since Dojima doesn't need to own the Empty Lot so much as he doesn't want anyone raising a fuss about its ownership and ruining their construction plans, she gets a bullet instead.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Etsuko the Obatarian, a Manipulative Bitch that Majima ends up having to rescue from a yakuza. She falls head over heels for the Mad Dog, forcing a large smooch on him. When he meets her later, she demands to be hired at the Cabaret Club he's managing, and threatens to kiss him again if he doesn't. Going with the lesser of two evils he hires her on the spot, which turns out to be for the best since she has one of the best "Talk" stats out of any hostess in the game. Even compared to the Platinum Hostesses.
  • Doomed by Canon: Given that this is a prequel, veterans of the series can probably figure out which characters in the series will live (since they're major players in later games), and who might not (characters who don't show up again).
  • Drunken Master: Bacchus, who teaches new techniques for Kiryu's "Brawler" style, is a notorious booze hound. Kiryu can become one, too: many of the advanced skills in the "Brawler" skill tree enhance Kiryu's abilities when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Dub Name Change: The side business games for Kiryu and Majima, "Money Island" and "Nightlife Island", are given the names "Real Estate Royale" and "Cabaret Club Czar" in the English localization respectively, so it would make more sense to the English speaking audience.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: The two Mr. Moneybags you meet are absurdly rich. The one in Kamurocho has investments everywhere and spends a lot of his time at bars, and the one in Sotenbori just plays music on the street and hands money out to everyone.
  • Elite Mooks: The Dojima Family's goons, when they go after Kiryu in Kamurocho, are harder and more aggressive than other randomly encountered enemies up to that point in the story.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe, the “Miracle on Tenkaichi St.” substory has Miracle Johnson being attacked by zombie extras who he wants to come at him like they mean it, and it's Kiryu'sjob to make sure they don't get too method.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Each protagonist has a side-business they can engage in to earn even more money, which are their own subplots. Completing through them unlocks the final upgrades for the various styles and the fourth "Legend" styles upon completion.
    • Kiryu becomes the president of a real estate firm in Kamurocho. He can purchase property around Kamurocho and collect profits from them, as well as hiring advisors to invest in his properties, managers to improve profits, and security staff to ensure business can be conducted without incident.
    • Majima becomes manager of a failing cabaret club. He can hire new hostesses and train some of them personally, and when the club is open, must pair hostesses with clients to make money, attending to customer needs and resolving disputes between patrons and hostesses that arise.
  • Escort Mission:
    • In two missions, Majima will need to escort Makoto through Sotenbori, which doubles as a Stealth-Based Mission as they try to avoid being seen by enemies. If he gets into a fight, he'll need to keep an eye on her to make sure their assailants don't get her.
    • Kiryu and Majima each have one substory where they need to accompany a character from one point to another while protecting them from harm.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: You can see a few women in the audience at the Japan Catfighting Club.
  • Evil Old Folks: One of Sagawa's goons is an old man passing as a beggar, and he is brutal with his crowbar.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When all's said and done, a squad of Omi Alliance men arrive to kill Sagawa for failing them (it's implied Shimano framed him for murder). Rather than plead for mercy or try to run, he casually accepts what's coming. The screen cuts to black with a loud gunshot.
  • Face of a Thug: Kitajima the Mushroom Merchant, who sells perfectly normal cooking mushrooms, but keeps getting into trouble when people assume he's selling hallucinogenic ones due to his general shifty demeanor and the fact that he insists on selling his wares in a seedy back alley.
  • Fight Clubbing: Sotenbori has the "Bed of Styx", a secret underground fighting arena where captured criminals are forced to fight for their freedom, or die trying. Majima has to fight in it at one point.
  • First-Name Basis: Nozomi, the clumsy kitchen assistant at Komian in Sotenbori, is scolded by her boss after she introduced herself to Majima, a customer, by her first name. Most of the women in substories also go by first names.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Those who have played the first few minutes of the original game will know exactly how certain events unfold and how they end. Dojima doesn't meet his end by Majima's hands and the title of the Third Chairman of the Tojo Clan goes to Masaru Sera. And despite Kazama's efforts to lead Kiryu into a normal life, Kiryu ends up back in the Dojima Family.
  • Freudian Slip: The Telephone Club minigame is all about avoiding this. During the minigame, you are chatting with a pretty girl over the phone, and she will ask you questions. One correct answer and several very inappropriate answers will then bounce around the screen, and you'll have to shoot the right one with your "phone beam". Shoot a bad answer, and your character will blurt out something inappropriate ("You make me feel raunchy" instead of "relaxed") or nonsensical ("I like kangaroos" instead of "karaoke"). Between sets of questions, you also need to stop a roulette wheel on the right answer to ask the girl to describe herself or ask to meet her. Once again, time it wrong and you'll instead say something inappropriate like "Are you a guy?" or "I want a one-night stand!"
  • Gambit Pileup: The whole plot of the game was masterminded by three individuals — Kazama, Shimano and Shibusawa, who all pursued their own goals. All of their plans relied on intricate planning, but only Kazama managed to remain on top in the end, being able to foresee most of the events — except for Majima's interference.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Dragon and Tiger (both the one in Sotenbori and the Kamurocho location) is an actual Chinese restaurant in addition to being a secret weapon shop. Despite this, Majima only eats there once, in a cutscene; there's no way to eat there like a regular restaurant, and Kiryu never eats at the Kamurocho branch.
  • Game Within a Game: Hi-Tech Land Sega arcades have classic arcade games available for play, including Space Harrier, OutRun, Fantasy Zone, and Super Hang-On.
  • Gilded Cage: Majima lives in the Osakan nightlife hotspot of Sotenbori and manages a highly successful cabaret club, but is forced to live there and do the Shimano Family's bidding as well as being under constant surveillance by Sagawa's henchmen. The title for Chapter 3, when he's introduced, is even called "A Gilded Cage".
  • Glass Cannon: Gun-wielding enemies can deal out considerable damage, as well as causing Kiryu or Majima to stagger if a shot hits them. However, in contrast to other enemies, their health bars never advance beyond the minuscule size found on enemies at the start of the game, meaning that one or two good hits is enough to take them out.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Kuze is forced to commit Yubitsume, the camera cuts to behind Kuze such that we don't see him severing his finger. The blood splatter in front of him, however, leaves no ambiguity on what happened to his digit.
  • Gratuitous English: You'll hear it often like the previous games before it, but certain parts stand out here.
    • Certain characters like Bacchus and the Mafia Boss speak in English phrases. Miracle Johnson also does, but with a noticeably Japanese accent.
    • Similar to the previous vocal theme songs like "Receive You" and "For Faith", "Reign" is entirely comprised of English lyrics, and along with the disco and cabaret vocal songs, it's sung with Japanese pronunciation and improper grammar. The lyrics for all the songs can be found on the game's website.
  • Gratuitous French: Papiilon Kato in the “The Show Must Go On” substory uses quite a few French phrases. He throws in c'est la vie when told that Kiryu is replacing his producer. He throws in s'il vous plait when it's time to get started. He shouts mon dieu when the prop for the show isn't on the table. When the prop is presented, he calls the shot his tour de force. He says magnifique when Kiryu properly grocers (angles) the prop. After Kiryu beats down the previous producer and his goons, Papillon throws in mon ami when he tells Kiryu that passion is needed as well as experience and skill in TV. Finally he says au contrere, mon frere when he says he's yet to give up on showing people dreams.
  • Guide Dang It!: Several trophies are earned by seemingly random acts throughout the game. While some of them are hinted at, other trophies, like waiting fifteen minutes for Makoto's hot takoyaki to cool, require counter-intuitive actions.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Occurs when Kiryu encounters Mr. Shakedown for the first time. Regardless of whether he defeats Kiryu or you take his health down to a certain point, he stops the fight and lets you go.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Almost every antagonist involved with Kiryu's business ventures either pull these or turn out to actually be decent people once the competition's over with.
  • He Knows Too Much: One of the Bed of Styx's inmates was a law abiding citizen who saw too much of a Yakuza exchange and was given the choice between death or a year in the Bed.
  • Hell Hole Prison: The Bed of Styx is a prison where those with the right connections can send untried or acquitted criminals and undesirables. Inmates are forced to fight for the entertainment of an audience, often to the death, and those who survive a year in the pit are allowed to leave. Majima is allowed to fight there sans the year long internment requirement at the request of a corrupt police officer. Kiryu is as well, mostly because denying him participation in this game's arena wouldn't be any fun.
  • Hero of Another Story: While Kiryu and Majima's stories do tie into one another, they never directly actually meet until The Stinger.
    • Humorously, this applies to the Dolce Kamiya postcard substories too. Occasionally if if the player doesn't send in a story that makes the show you'll instead hear the card comes from "Judgement Kazzy" or "Gorogorogoro-chan" instead depending on who's the playable character at the time, indicating that either Kiryu or Majima got their card read instead.
  • High-Speed Battle: One occurs in Chapter 13, requiring Oda to take the wheel while Kiryu fends off their pursuers with a gun in a highway shootout.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The "Lost Decade", a period in the 90's where Japan's economy collapsed and started a long recession, is implied to have been caused by Majima giving a tax collector some advice that was a bit too on the mark.
    • Kiryu's "Arakure Quest" substory is one to the Japanese release of Dragon Quest III all the way back in 1988. To say that Dragon Quest III was popular in Japan is a gross understatement. It was popular enough to the point that people were outright getting mugged on the streets for their copies, which was pretty much unheard of.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After Majima beats seven shades of hell out of cult leader Munan Suzuki during a substory, the last the player sees of him is him on the ground begging for someone to call an ambulance while his followers ignore his pleas in favor of performing a useless "healing ritual" that he taught them.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Happens in one of Kiryu's substories, although the outcome should be of no surprise. You're not beating Miracle Johnson, the Popstar Prince, in a disco battle.
  • Hospital Hottie: Joy, Makoto's female doctor, as well as Sayuri from the Cat Fighting arena.
  • Humiliation Conga: Kuze's repeated defeats at Kiryu's hands. You fight him five times throughout the game, and even though he's a pretty capable fighter, the Worf Effect makes the conflict seem particularly one-sided throughout the game.
  • Imagine Spot: During the telephone game, Kiryu has an image of a scantily-clad woman writhing around as he speaks to the other person on the line.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: The Obatarian, with her purple sweatpants (to go with her bright purple dyed hair) and hideous cheetah-print shirt. (No, not just a shirt printed with the pattern of a cheetah's coat. A shirt with a picture of a cheetah's face on it.) She doesn't even change out of of them if you recruit her for the cabaret club minigame.
  • Improvised Weapon: Anything that hasn't been bolted to the ground can be used as a weapon. Kiryu's "Beast" fighting style thrives on this, seamlessly picking up objects to bludgeon enemies with.
  • Innocent Innuendo: The end of the Hi-Tech Land Sega employee substories are rife with this.
    • When Luka challenges Kiryu to beat her high score in OutRun, she promises to take him on the ride of his life. As it turns out, she was talking about a new arcade game, Super Hang-On.
    • Kyoko challenges Majima to beat her high score and promises to show him her "fantasy zone". She does exactly that and brings out a Fantasy Zone arcade game.
  • Insult Backfire: In Majima's opening scene, after he refuses to drive out a drunken man by force because the customer is king, the man tries to provoke and humiliate Majima by pouring an entire bottle of expensive wine down his face. His staff and other customers can only stare in shock, as Majima stares silently in what looks like Tranquil Fury. Instead...
    Drunkard: Well? How do ya like your king now?
    Majima: Very kind of you, sir. I had always said I love this brand so much, I wish I could bathe in it. You've made a dream come true.
  • Interface Screw: In one of Majima's substories, he volunteers to become a test subject for experimental drugs for a huge load of money. He's given three of them and has to fight some thugs for data collecting. The first was designed to keep him invigorated, but he continuously loses health. The second was designed to keep him focused, but the game has him switch between his three fighting styles at random. The last was designed to improve his vision, and he fights while dark clouds cover the screen.
  • Intrepid Merchant: The Long Hua Expedition, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits lead by Long Hua of the Tiger and Dragon diner, whom Kiryu and Majima can commission to find items and weapons around the world. They'll infiltrate black bazaars, mafia dens, deadly jungles, and even Area 51 for the right price.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Kasuga, an investigative journalist who's two substories revolve around him trying to get into the criminal underworld for a scoop. Both times end with him getting in way over his head and needing to be bailed out by Kiryu.
  • It Will Never Catch On: The "Calling The Future" substory ends with the bag-phone man predicting that portable bag-phones (the predecessor to the modern cell phone) are the future and will eventually get lighter and more portable and even be bundled with other functions like the ability to take pictures, all of which Majima scoffs at.
  • Jerkass Façade: One of Kiryu's substories tasks him with helping a mild-mannered yanki rock band create one in order to keep up appearances for their decidedly more hardcore fanbase.
  • Kick the Dog: A series of substories for Kiryu focus on him trying to hire staff for his real estate firm. After turning down two con artists who tried to bullshit him, he hires a shy and nervous man with a genuine passion for his line of work. Afterwards, he sees the two employees he refused to hire abusing a dog out of frustration, until the meek new hire steps in and stands up for the poor pup.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Try to grab one of the Mr. Shakedowns and they'll simply deck you in the side of the head, knocking you over.
  • Large Ham: Outside of the main story, the protagonists exhibit traits of hamminess when engaging in side-activities. For example, when Kiryu starts playing OutRun, he takes to the game like he's getting ready to burn serious rubber. When hitting up the telephone club, he practically rips the phone off its cradle when answering it. When buying out businesses for his real estate firm, Kiryu does so by dramatically opening briefcases filled with cash, although this particular one only plays whenever he goes to buy the most expensive business within each of the Five Billionaires' districts.
  • Large Ham Announcer:
    • Pocket Circuit Fighter provides a Hot-Blooded style of commentary for each of the Pocket Races.
    • The Bed of Styx announcer manages to outdo even him.
      Announcer: GOOOOR-R-R-R-R-R-RO! MAJIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
  • Lethal Joke Character: You're able to recruit the Obatarian to Majima's cabaret club, Impossibly Tacky Clothes and all. Though she may not seem useful at all, she starts out with maxed out Funny and Talk stats, making her an easy choice for any clients looking for either.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The Slime, Zap and Smoke Guns were meant to be utility weapons that knock enemies down, but don't work on boss-level characters. However, for some reason, they're the only firearms that deal anything other than Scratch Damage to said bosses, including even the Mr. Shakedowns and the Amon family.
  • Limit Break: For Club Sunshine, it's one of the main mechanics when you get enough money to fill a three-tiered meter, which restores the HP of your girls, raises the mood of your guests and makes tables enter fever mode, making them gain money at an even faster rate. During Rival Battles, the Five Stars have their own limit breaks which range from making guests leave, lowering the mood of your customers, or lowering the HP of your girls. Which culminates in the battle with Club Moon, where they will use every effect at once on you.
  • Macguffin Location: The Empty Lot, a small piece of property located in Kamurocho that is in the middle of a land development deal that is central to the plot. It eventually becomes the Millennium Tower.
  • The Mafia: Kiryu encounters them twice in his substories.
    • One group repeatedly hounds Bacchus during his training sessions, requiring Kiryu to use his new skills to take down one hitman after another for him. Over time, Kiryu learns who they really are and the old man's tragic involvement with them.
    • A separate group appears in one of Kiryu's friendship substories, seeking a shady-looking man selling mushrooms. When the Mafia Boss realizes what's being sold aren't the hallucinogenic kind but the tasty kind, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Manchild: Subverted with Pocket Fighter. He is actually quite mature and even a bit conflicted about how his hobby takes a toll on his financial (he earns more by selling pocket tissues than by helping at the circuit) and social life.
  • Meaningful Name: Various characters go by the same nickname, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The Mr. Shakedown characters are large Unskilled, but Strong brutes who will take all your money if they beat you, Mr. Moneybags are dirty rich and will help send money to the other protagonists, and the Mr. Libido guys are freaks of nature whose brains seem trapped in an endless void of sex.
  • Mercy Kill: Nishikiyama almost does this to Kiryu at the end of Chapter 6: he reasons that if the Dojima Family get their hands on Kiryu, they'd torture him and draw out his suffering, so killing him before then would've been merciful. In the end, he can't go through with it.
  • Metal Slime: Mr. Shakedowns are souped-up versions of the trope; they're slow as molasses and have telegraphed attacks, but they hit like a truck, are Immune to Flinching, and take all of your cash if you lose to them. However, they yield a lot of moolah when defeated, and by playing your cards right, you can win back a lot more money than you lost.
    • Nouveau Riche enemies are a more subdued variant. They need to be unlocked with CP, but travel alone, are easily spotted by their gaudy golden suits, and aren't any tougher than your garden variety Mook but drop far more cash (you can easily get anywhere from a million to several million yen from a single Nouveau Riche enemy.)
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Downplayed. You can grab a downed opponent by the leg with Kiryu's Beast style and swing them up and back down onto the ground, potentially knocking down other opponents. You only do it once, but other than other enemies interrupting you, there's nothing stopping you from just grabbing them by the leg again and doing it over and over until they're KO'ed.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • The Mr. Shakedowns all attack in slow, lumbering swings. They also have tons of health and will take out massive chunks of your health if they successfully land a hit.
    • Kiryu's Beast style turns him into one, allowing him to pick up heavier objects and charge through enemies with ease at the cost of speed and mobility. The same goes for Miss Tatsu, who teaches him the style.
  • Mirror Boss: Kiryu's final boss goes through three stages, each imitating one of his fighting styles. Shibusawa starts off with a fast-paced style of quick kicks and punches, like Kiryu's Rush style, then a slow, heavy-hitting style focused on bludgeoning with furniture, like Beast, and finally a more well-rounded style like Brawler.
  • Mistaken from Behind: One scene has the Dojima family hunting for Kiryu on the streets, and they spot a man from behind sporting the same suit and build. It's not Kiryu, but they beat his ass anyway thinking he's mocking them.
  • Money for Nothing: Once you build your business ventures to a respectable level, the money comes pouring in, and you eventually be left with few places to spend it on. Even the most expensive abilities can easily be bought with liberal abuse of this.
  • Money Multiplier:
    • Several CP upgrades increase the amount of money you gain from enemies.
    • Some equipment, like the Security Wallet, Secret Wallet, and Mew Shoes, increase the amount of money you earn.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Invoked by the Mew Shoes, which play a nonstop barrage of meowing noises with every move you make — even in cutscenes. They will provoke more enemies into attacking you.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The protagonists tend to exaggerate the mundane actions they perform, like picking up a phone.
    • Kiryu writes on a postcard the way Light Yagami writes on a Death Note.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the names in the pool of random Mook encounters is "Sega". You get a Completion Point for defeating an enemy with this name.
    • One of the options for Kiryu's pen-name when submitting postcards to be read on Dolce Kamiya's radio show is "Judgement Kazzy", referencing Majima's original nickname for Kiryu in the English localizations for past games.
  • Neck Snap: One of the first moves Majima learns from Komeki is a counter-attack where he snaps his opponent's neck. However, in-game it's called "Essence of Choking" and doesn't instantly kill anyone it's done to, making it a technical subversion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Played for Laughs in one of Majima's substories, where pointers he gives to a government worker about income tax not only means he will have to pay those taxes in the future, but inadvertently contribute to Japan's economic bubble bursting and a massive recession.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Two of the substories has Kiryu dealing with "Miracle Johnson", who is a thinly-veiled parody of Michael Jackson. The first one also features the legendary director "Steven Spining".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Both final bosses are on the receiving end of one once they are beaten, only for someone to intervene and stop them from being beaten to death.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Enemies can have their heads bashed into walls, their necks snapped, or even get run through with a Chinese broadsword, but at the end of a battle, they'll be shown beaten and scared witless, yet very much alive.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: If Majima or Kiryu let Makoto get taken away during a fight (either while Majima escorts her through Sotenbori or while Kiryu and her try to escape the construction site) a small cinematic will play of them getting distracted by it and getting attacked from behind before they can rescue her, resulting in the loss of your entire health bar.
  • The Notable Numeral: The business sidequests have the protagonists fight a notable numeral group. Kiryu faces off against the Five Billionaires, and Majima competes against the Five Stars.
  • Oblivious to Love: Both Kiryu and Majima up to high heaven. The ratio between how many women practically declare their attraction and love for them and how neither of them ever pick up on it is about equal. The only times they do pick up on it is usually from an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • One of the Kids: In-game, the Pocket Racing Circuit is clearly aimed at kids, but quite a few adults are also into it, which bring out their inner child and are given the honorifics of -kun and -chan as opposed to -san. Pocket Circuit Fighter clearly has a passion for it, is a Friend to All Children and many kids look up to him. But quite a few people think he's too old to be doing this and he's rather self-conscious about it, especially when it comes to the poor guy's financial woes and non-existent dating life.
  • Origin Story: The game is more or less about how Kiryu and Majima end up earning their titles of "Dragon" and "Mad Dog". It's also the story behind the construction of the Millennium Tower.
  • Parrying Bullets: An ability in Majima's Slugger style lets him deflect bullets with his bat.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Kiryu carries the recently deceased Tachibana's body in this manner.
  • Piñata Enemy: All the enemies literally bleed money when they get hit with a particularly strong attack, meaning that you'll be earning money like crazy. Of course, considering that money also doubles as XP in this game, you'll also be spending a lot of it on upgrades. The Mr. Shakedown enemies in particular have massive payouts for every hit landed, but are bigger and tougher than anything else and will take all your cash if they beat you. Also, the Nouveau Riche enemy, who wears a garish golden suit, is barely a challenge and gives you a ton of money when fought.
  • Poison Mushroom: Jo Amon can steal your items and replace your Staminan Sparks with lookalikes called Staminan Sporks. They have the same description and appearance, but consuming them does massive damage to you and lowers your heat significantly.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In one sidequest Kiryu is asked by a foreign woman for information on how to obtain a visa, but because of her pronunciation issues he assumes she somehow needs a pizza to work happily.
    Kiryu: (Samantha's in trouble, and it's all because of my pizza.)
  • Porn Stash: Discussed at the end of the substory where Kiryu buys a dirty magazine for a kid. After he gets the magazine, he tells the boy how important it is to keep the magazine a secret and most importantly that his bed is not a safe place to hide it, with a particularly pained expression upon his face.
  • Potty Emergency: In one of Majima's substories, he comes across a street performer who pretends to be a statue. At some point, he needs Majima to distract his audience so he can run to the nearest bathroom unseen.
  • Powerup Letdown:
    • The Bottomless Stomach CP upgrade lets you eat food even when your health is full. This is useful for ordering all the food restaurant completion requirements, but it's pretty far down the Adventure CP list, so you have to spend a significant amount of CP to get it in the first place. Even then, Appstim RX returns to let you eat more food and are quite cheap, so the CP upgrade's usefulness is extremely limited.
    • The Legend styles are pretty strong and harken to the styles Kiryu and Majima eventually adopt as their own. However, you can only change to it via a toggle in the pause menu, so switching in and out of it during battle is not as smooth as it could be. Additionally, the ability trees consist of only health, heat, and attack upgrades, and while they are useful, it's unfortunate there aren't any other cooler abilities to unlock from them.
  • Prank Date: One of Kiryu's telephone club substories has him agreeing to meet with a hot-sounding girl, but he ends up getting Stood Up by her. It turns out many guys have fallen victim to her as well, a "sakura" who calls just to get people into the club. Kiryu can get stood up numerous times if the girl ends up going by the name Asakura, Sakurako, or Sakurai.
  • Precocious Crush: One of the Pocket Racing children is a small girl named Mika, who challenges Kiryu to a race and offers to be his girlfriend if he can beat her. Despite knowing how completely sick and wrong it is, he still accepts due to his refusal to back out of any challenge. If he beats her, she becomes his self-declared girlfriend, and Hilarity Ensues from there.
  • Previously On…: Since players switch between Kiryu and Majima every couple of chapters, there is an option to view a quick recap of events in their stories before switching.
  • Product Placement: You can buy Mountain Dew and 7-Up from convenience stores, and look at covers for magazines such as Famicom Tsushin (better known today as Famitsu).
    • One Sub Story flipflops between being an extended advertisement for the real world Japanese Pizza-la pizza chain, and a comedy of errors brought about but a woman's inability to pronounce "P"'s and "B's" properly.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad:
    • Kiryu's real estate business storyline involves him dealing with the "Five Billionaires", a group of Shady Real Estate Agents looking to take over Kamurocho.
    • Majima's cabaret club has to contend with the managers of the "Five Stars", the top five cabaret clubs of Sotenbori, though he only has to physically fight three of them.
  • Reality Ensues: No matter how much of a badass One-Man Army martial artist you are, a trained enemy with a gun is still the single most dangerous person in the room and can deal a ton of damage while staggering you with a single shot.
  • Red Herring: The Wham Shot of the bat tattoo on Tachibana's arm. It's eventually revealed that while he does know Makoto, he's not the man with the bat tattoo that sold her into slavery, and the truth is far more complicated.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: This dynamic between Kiryu and Majima is reversed in 0; Kiryu is the hot-tempered red oni to Majima's calm and level-headed blue oni.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Sotenbori's Mr. Libido runs around in only his underwear, but Majima is the only person who reacts to his undress in any manner.
  • Relationship Values: Shopkeepers and characters involved in certain minigames and substories have a "Friendship" gauge that goes up the more you interact with them. Getting them maxed out will open up their inventory, unlock certain items/abilities and even allow their businesses to be bought/partnered for Kiryu and Majima's businesses.
  • Retcon: A minor example with the Amon family being encountered in this game. It's stated in Yakuza 3 that Jo Amon only ever struggled against two opponents: Kiryu and Sotaro Komaki, but Zero reveals another: Goro Majima. Averted with Kiryu, who mentions in Yakuza 4 that he faced off against the Amon clan three times before then. While he faces off against the previous head of the clan, So Amon, he doesn't learn exactly who he is or which clan he is from. That is, until he connects the dots in Kiwami.
  • Retraux: The songs featured in the karaoke and disco mini-games sound like they were taken straight from the 80's, and some are a clear homage to popular songs of the period.
  • The Reveal: Makoto Makimura, the blind girl that owns the Empty Lot, is a sister of Tetsu Tachibana.
  • Rhythm Game:
    • Karaoke returns as a minigame. Since dedicated karaoke clubs didn't take off until the 1990s, though, you'll be doing your singing at bars instead.
    • The game also introduces Disco Dancing, which is played on a grid and requires players be positioned properly while pressing buttons to the music.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Majima goes on an epic one toward the end of the game. After Makoto is shot, knowing the Dojima family won't stop pursuing her until she's dead, Majima throws all his inhibitions out the window and takes it upon himself to destroy the Dojima family and kill its patriarch.
  • Sailor Fuku: One of the hostess costumes at the Sunshine is this, which increases the Funny rate. Sachiko also wears one, as well as most of the random schoolgirls around town.
  • Samus Is a Girl: To get back into the Tojo Clan, Majima's tasked with killing Makoto Makimura, a guy who preys on innocent women. Makoto turns out to be the cute blind girl he met earlier, not the big guy she's working for.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Played for Laughs in one of Majima's substories, in which he volunteers as a test subject for experimental drugs with disastrous results. The researcher convinces himself that Majima would be willing to partake in it again, seeing him as a passionate champion for the advancement of medicine. Majima swears off drug testing for life and runs straight for the door. For extra laughs, the researcher runs after him.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The Chinese version of the game adds Lao Gui to the cover art (who's depicted by Sam Lee), pointing a gun at the audience.
  • Secret Shop: The Dragon and Tiger's weapon trade. First you have to learn about it, then you have to beat Fei Hu in a fight. Keep in mind the Dragon and Tiger itself isn't secret, just the part of the business that isn't a Chinese restaurant.
  • Serious Business:
    • Pocket Circuit Racing is very important to some people. Not just kids, but some adults like Pocket Circuit Fighter are into it. There are even some elites that are feared and respected.
    • At one point, Kiryu handing a man his business card is a Quick Time Event.
    • Both Kiryu and Majima are really into arcade games.
  • Sexophone: A song frequently heard in substories utilize this, and plays during sexy situations with beautiful women. One major exception is when one of Kiryu's Pocket Racing opponents, a little girl, offers to be his girlfriend if he can beat her in a race. Naturally, this is Played for Laughs.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: After watching a video at Gandahara, the camera cuts to a box of tissues while Kiryu or Majima let out a satisfied sigh.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The "Calling The Future" substory, where a man with a high-tech portable bag-phone (the predecessor to the modern cell phone) tries to get Majima on-board with future tech by making a call with it. Unfortunately the two keep running into roadblocks (the phone running out of power, the man's shoulder hurting from hauling it around for so long, and the phone breaking after some thugs knock him over) and by the time Majima is finally able to make a call, he forgot who he was going to call in the first place. However, the bag-phone man sticks around after the substory is over to act as an extra save point.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Late in the car chase sequence, Kiryu's attackers pull out a homing missile launcher, and the oncoming missiles need to be shot before they hit the car.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After defeating a particular opponent named "Jo", Majima calls the experience a "bizarre adventure".
    • The sprinting upgrades available from shrines are titled "Gotta Go Fast".
    • One of Kiryu's sidequests features a Michael Jackson Expy, Miracle Johnson, working on a music video featuring zombies, not unlike Thriller. Some of his dialogue even references some of Jackson's songs, like "Who's bad?". The music video is directed by a Steven Spielberg Expy, Stephen Spining (director of such greats as A.T. and Indian Jeans). The English localization added more Michael Jackson song references than the original Japanese script did.
    • Miracle Johnson's hit song "I'm Gonna Make Her Mine" sounds quite similar to Michael Jackson's "Bad". In addition, "I Wanna Take Her Home" is a dead-ringer for David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and "Queen of Passion" is extremely similar to Bananarama's "Venus". "Heartbreak Mermaid" is also extremely similar to Wink's "Sabishii Nettaigyo".
    • One of Kiryu's substories revolves around a hot new RPG called Arakure Quest 3, which is so popular that people are getting mugged over it! Said substory also has one its enemies exclaim "Welcome to your doom!" before he fights Kiryu.
    • One of the businesses Kiryu can buy out is named "Amusement Game You". It's the same name as the arcade from Shenmue.
    • During one of Yuki's conversations, she denies that she's never dated before, telling Majima there was Sato, Suzuki, and Tanaka. In Shenmue II, a man named Barry Jones mistakes Ryo for someone else, believing all Japanese fall under the very same three names Yuki mentions. However, this might be coincidental, as Sato, Suzuki, and Tanaka are the three most common surnames in Japan, suggesting that Yuki is lying.
    • Near the end of Kiryu's real estate quest line, the Greater-Scope Villain barks "Screw the rules, I have money!"
    • At least in the localization, the names for some of the substories are based on popular movies, while many of the trophies are named after various popular songs from The '80s.
    • The Tax Lady, one of the substories, is a wholesale shout out to the Japanese film Marusa no Onna (aka A Taxing Woman). Both involve a woman from Japan's National Tax Agency aka Marusa going after a tax cheat with Marui even looking very similar to the main character from the film.
    • There are quite a few references to retro video games in the Electronics King segment of the Real Estate Royale quest line.
    • Majima's rollerskating Boy Band karaoke visual is based on Hikaru GENJI. Some Japanese fans call it Majima JINGI.note 
    • During Majima's business sidequest, a spy comes in to steal info about Club Sunshine, with Majima angrily noting the spy "played [them] like a damn shamisen"; a reference to the infamous fiddle line from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
    • When Kiryu is helping a dominatrix learn how to be more abusive, she can end up referring to her client as a "pig in human clothing".
    • The song "Destiny of the Cats", the selection theme for the Catfight Club is suspiciously similar to the Training Montage song from Rocky IV
    • During Mana's training she declares "Objection!" when Majima complains about the weird questions she asks him; Majima retorts, "Objection overruled. Take that."
    • The Club Hostesses are each dressed in colors respective for their original clubs. Notice the color of each girl's outfit then look at the club they originally came from and you'll notice very certain parallels to a team of planetary warriors. The owners of each club also have similar last names to the alter egos of the Sailor Scouts (in the original Japanese), except for Kanehara.
    • A man had to change his face due to some Yakuza-related problem and took to going to a park to watch his wife and son play, until his past caught up with him and he and Majima had to fight off the Yakuza. After defeating them, he warned them that if they try to harm "innocents" again, "I will hunt you, I will find you... and I will end you."
    • The Mexican standoff between Majima and Lee Wen Hai is very similar to a scene in The Killer, where a hitman and a cop both face off while pretending to have a friendly chat in the presence of a blind woman.
    • One of the two Mr. Shakedowns in Sotenbori is pretty much a dead ringer for Duke Nukem.
    • Once Kiryu completes all the Pocket Circuit Race substories and proves that he is the fastest pocket racer in Kamurocho, all the characters he has encountered during that subplot show up for a Curtain Call at the end and applauds him while telling him "Congratulations!" Kiryu smiles at this and says "Thank you, everyone!" The scene is, of curse, one big shout-out to the (in)famous final scene of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Shower of Angst: Kiryu, after discovering that his gambit to get expelled from the family won't exempt Kazama from accountability in the Empty Lot incident.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": When Kuze is forced to commit Yubitsume, the sound of his cutting off his left pinky is accompanied by a sickening crunch.
  • Skill Tree: The game uses a skill tree system for improving each of the character's fighting styles. Instead of earning Experience Points to unlock new skills, players must buy them with money earned in-game.
  • Skyward Scream: At the end of Ch. 6, Nishiki tries (and fails) to Mercy Kill Kiryu in the woods. The latter then takes Nishiki's car and drives back to Kamurocho, leaving him alone. Cue the scream...
  • Slippery Skid: One of Miss Tatsu's targets throws perfume at Kiryu, which will have him slipping and falling on the floor whenever he steps on it. There's also a "Slime Gun" that shoots a liquid that causes enemies to slip.
  • The Slow Walk: When using his "Beast" style, Kiryu's movement speed is reduced to a slow, menacing stroll.
  • Smash to Black: A few:
    • At the end of Chapter 8, the screen cuts to black as Majima is pistol-whipped by Sera.
    • At the end of the game, the screen cuts to black after Majima says his goodbyes to Sagawa, who is accosted by Omi Alliance hitmen once Majima has departed.
    • During The Stinger, the screen smashes to black after Kiryu and Majima finally meet, then the End card appears.
  • Something We Forgot: Kanehara kidnaps Yuki right before the Cabaret Club battle for the Venus area, and it's up to Majima and his girls to win in order to save her. Unfortunately for Yuki, they're all so excited to have Chika join their team that they completely forget about her, although Ai suspects they're forgetting something. As they step inside, poor Yuki is left tied up two floors above them, but she manages to return to work safely on her own.
  • Spoiled Brat: One of Kiryu's substories prominently features a young Daigo Dojima. As a child, he had a nasty temperament and a knack for using his father's name and influence to get his way, as well as being very frivolous with his father's money.
  • Stance System: Kiryu and Majima have three styles each plus one hidden "Legendary" style, based on their fighting styles in later games of the series unlocked by completing their respective business minigames.
    • Kiryu's fighting styles include "Brawler", a balanced fighting style with Counter Attacks; "Beast", a power-based style that allows Kiryu to tank damage and seamlessly pick up and use environmental objects as weapons; and "Rush", a fast-paced boxing style that lets Kiryu duck and weave past attacks and counter with a flurry of punches. His Legendary style, "Dragon of Dojima" is based on his Komaki martial arts style in later games of the series.
    • Majima's styles are "Thug", a balanced style with a variety of grab attacks and pragmatic flair; "Slugger", a power-based style where Majima uses a baseball bat with deadly creativity; and "Breaker", a break-dancing style that lets Majima attack opponents with spinning kicks while striking poses to build up heat. His Legendary style "Mad Dog of Shimano" is a fast-paced fighting style that favors Majima's use of a knife.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • The Escort Battles with Majima and Makoto double as this, as they emphasize the two get through Sotenbori without being seen by enemies. The two can hide among small crowds of people, and a battle will initiate if they're caught.
    • In one of Kiryu's substories, he has to sneak his way to a vending machine selling adult magazines without being seen by women, including his Real Estate secretary. If he's caught, he'll chicken out and head back to the same starting point.
  • Stealth Pun: One of Hibiki's training conversations can potentially veer out into a tangent about the Sega Mega Drive, with Majima casually mentioning that he bets "it'll be the genesis of somethin' great."
  • The Stinger: Makoto finds her brother's watch in the Empty Lot. Elsewhere, Kiryu and Majima finally meet.
    ...Yo...KIRYU-CHAN!
  • Surprisingly Good English: Several opponents in the Bed of Styx use voice clips provided by a native English speaker. The announcer for the same arena is also Lenne Hardt of PRIDE Fighting announcing fame, an American. On the flip side, the Mafia Boss you can recruit as a security guard draws from that same pool of voice clips, adds a few new non-adversarial ones, and even speaks in Japanese with respectable proficiency despite clearly being a native English speaker.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The Five Stars whom Majima squares off with have space-themed names for their cabaret clubs: Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Moon. Opposing all of them is Majima's Club Sunshine.
    • The three names of a telephone club girl, a "sakura" for leaving guys stood up: Asakura, Sakurako, and Sakurai.
  • Theme Song Power Up: The battle music for Kiryu and Majima's Legend styles are remixes of "Receive You", with the original version playing in the final scene when the two finally meet.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Subtly invoked in the English version of the game: Kiryu continues to be associated with dragons, while Sagawa nicknames Majima "tiger".
  • Timed Mission:
    • When the Dojima clan goes after Kiryu, he's given a short amount of time to take out everyone in each group before their backup arrives.
    • One of Kiryu's substories tasks him with delivering a pizza to someone before it becomes cold.
    • Many of the mentor training missions revolve around these. During Kamoji's missions, Kiryu can't be knocked down during the time limit. Miss Tatsu's training requires him to destroy mannequins and obtain a certain amount of cash before time runs out. Majima's breaker battles give him a limited amount of time to get as much cash from the crowd as he can.
  • Title Drop: During the dialogue of the Fortune Teller substory, said Fortune Teller drops the phrase "like a dragon."
  • Token Non-Human: Kiryu can hire a chicken named "Nugget" as a manager for his real estate firm.
  • Totally Radical: Since the game takes place in the 80's, the English localization took a few liberties with the dialogue, peppering it with slang and pop-culture references. "That's rad" indeed.
  • Turns Red: When Mr. Shakedown enemies have their health reduced to a certain point, they become enveloped in a yellow aura, become stronger, and fight more aggressively. Random enemies can also go into this state when their buddies are beaten, but taunting them can instantly provoke them into doing it as well. Boss characters also gain glowing auras after their health is reduced to a certain threshold that powers them up.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Marina, Yamanoi's real estate secretary, is actually a detective investigating who was behind the Five Billionaires as well as the money games plaguing Kamurocho.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The car chase in Chapter 13, which turns the game into a Rail Shooter similar to the car chase in the first game but with massively improved mechanics. Kiryu can now utilize Bullet Time by using Heat, and the Panzer Dragoon camera rotation controls have been removed. The enemy sights from Virtua Cop are still present.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Mr. Shakedown. They all share the same limited moveset, either swinging their arms around or lunging at you, but will cause incredible damage to you if they connect.
  • Variable Mix: During regular street fights, the music segues between different themes depending on which stance you're taking.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Pocket Circuit Fighter is accused of being a virgin and gets mocked for it by some kids, even though they don't know what it means and only heard it from their parents. Kiryu goes out of his way to defend him, and while PCF admits he is one, Kiryu doesn't think any less of him for it.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: For the cabaret club mini-game, you can dress up platinum hostesses in different outfits and accessorize them as you wish. There are also various unlockable costumes for Kiryu and Majima.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: The Pleasure King, one of Kamurocho's Five Billionaires, is a drag queen who cares not one bit for his subordinates.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kiryu and Nishiki have this dynamic.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end of the game features a brief recap of what happened to the surviving characters, focusing on their exploits up through Sohei Dojima's death in 1995 and the resultant turmoil in the Tojo Clan.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Kiryu's "Beast" style features grappling Heat attacks that use wrestling moves like power bombs, piledrivers and a Human Hammer-Throw. His "Dragon of Dojima" style has Shinada's DDT and he can suplex enemies onto railings if he drags enemies near one. One of his HEAT moves with a partner allows Kiryu to perform a Shining Wizard on his opponent.
    • One of Majima's "Dancer" Heat moves is a spinning Hurricanrana that damages three enemies at once. Endgame Elite Mooks can also perform Hurricanranas as grapples.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Apparently, Majima can use a metal bat as a nunchaku just by looking at a man swinging a pipe a couple of times. But when it comes to use actual nunchakus (which logically should be easier for him to use) he needs special training to be able to use them.

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