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The Original Game

  • Angst? What Angst?: Haruka is barely shocked when she learns of the possibility of her mother being dead. She also goes through a ton of stuff that would leave anyone else traumatized for life relatively unaffected.
  • Breather Boss: The battle against Yuya.
  • Broken Base: The English voice acting for the first game, despite having an All-Star Cast, wasn't at all well received and was quickly dropped from the sequel onwardnote . While this move was praised by many fans who expressed the English dub took away from the intended Japanese feel of the game, there are fans who enjoyed the English voiceovers and want to be able to play the games with spoken English dialogue again, or at least hear Mark Hamill voice Goro Majima again.
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  • Complete Monster: Kyohei Jingu is the leader of the Ministry Intelligence Agency (MIA) and the man responsible for the Yakuza war for the hunt of 10 billion yen. The former lover of Yumi and father of Haruka, Jingu was offered a marriage which would give him more power. Realizing his lover and young daughter would be an issue due to a taboo, Jingu tried to get the Yakuza to kill them both and everyone who knew about their existence. After the assassination failed and Yumi, Kazama, and Sera stole the 10 billion yen that Jingu was planning to use to take over the underworld, Jingu worked with Nishiki to find the missing money and kill his opposition. This led to a Yakuza war which killed countless people, including Sera and Kazama, and caused mayhem throughout the city. When Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka tracked down Yumi in Ares, Jingu launched an attack, realizing the missing money was hidden there, with Jingu going there personally to shoot his own daughter. Seemingly defeated, Jingu showed up after the battle between Kiryu and Nishiki and shot Nishiki and Yumi before finally being put down.
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  • Good Bad Bugs: Finishing the last enemy in a group with a HEAT action ends the round before the HEAT bar gets drained, meaning you could get an extra HEAT action. Since HEAT was slightly harder to build up in the early games, this was particularly welcome.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When Sega was promoting the All-Star Cast featured in the English dub through interviews with the voice actors, Michael Madsen expressed that he wanted his character Futo Shimano to return in the sequel in an important role, perhaps joking the game would be called "The Revenge of Shimano" considering the character is killed late in the game. Come Yakuza 2, Shimano indeed appears in a flashback segment, playing an important part of the plot, except with none of the English voice cast returning to reprise their roles.
  • Iron Woobie: Kazuma Kiryu. The entire game is simply one big Trauma Conga Line for him. He starts off ten years in prison to take the fall for the murder of his boss, only to discover that it was All for Nothing when his sworn brother whom he protected turned evil. To see his lifelong companion become a ruthless murderer and a bitter enemy was simply heartbreaking for Kiryu. And if this isn't enough, he's constantly hounded by his former Clan, resulting in the deaths of Shinji and Reina. To top it all off, he proceeds to watch helplessly as his father figure, former best friend and the woman he loved since childhood all die right before his eyes. Practically every person he from his old life are gone now. Yet at the same time, the man still keeps pushing on to the very end. Luckily Haruka was there to keep him going.
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  • Just Here for Godzilla: Admit it, you want to play the English localisation simply to hear Mark Hamill as Goro Majima.
  • Memetic Mutation: Nishiki's Boss Banter in the English dub is quite popular with fans. The comment sections of videos involving him or his music themes are often filled with quotes taken from his boss fight.
    • "Kill this arrogant mo-ther-fuc-ker!"
    • "Excuse you, no, FUCK you."
    • "Are you fucking retarded!?"
    • "This is the part where you're supposed to laugh! LAUGH YOU STUPID MOTHAFUCKA!"
    • Hell, the entire English Dub could count.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Kyohei Jingu crossed it when he orders the deaths of his own lover and daughter simply to protect his political career. And if that's not enough, he tries to do the deed himself.
  • Narm:
    • The absurd amount of Cluster F-Bombs heard in the English dub of the first game, the flat acting and unusual pauses found throughout it.note 
      Hayashi: Go! Kill this arrogant mo.ther.fuc.ker!
    • In the ending, when Nishiki sets off the bomb in the Millenium Tower, the next scene shows that Kazuma, Haruka and Yumi were somehow unaffected by the explosion while everything else around them is destroyed.
  • Narm Charm: Some supporters of the first game's English voice acting consider it this.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Combat was very clunky and specifically targeting a particular enemy was quite tedious. It got an overhaul in the Japan-only HD re-release using the second game's mechanics.
    • The Virtua Cop-esque car chase shooting sequence due to its controls and Panzer Dragoon-like camera system, which doesn't go as smoothly as one would think. It returned in 0 with a huge overhaul without the camera controls, and the mechanics would be reused in Kiwami.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The opening of "id", the song used for long battles, sounds remarkably similar to the opening of Rammstein's "Engel", with both songs opening with similar electronic notes before the guitar comes in. Kiwami gets a completely new song in its place.
  • That One Boss: Kyohei Jingu. He's not the real problem, it's the soldiers that accompany him that will do everything to keep you from touching him. They will occasionally shoot at you while you're distracted with one of them, making it hard for you to deal with them one at a time. Even if you take them out the first time, they'll shortly regain consciousness and fight you again at full health. Even if you try and target Jingu first, he'll run away from you and leave you open to his mooks all the while taking pot shots at you. Kiwami makes the fight even more difficult, which gives Jingu an explosive he can throw at Kiryu that can be hard to predict, and getting hit takes off a huge chunk of health.
  • The Woobie:
    • Yumi. She's shown to be a nice girl and is clearly in love with Kazuma, but her life is shattered when she's kidnapped, nearly raped by Dojima and gets a front row seat to his bloody murder courtesy of Nishiki. Traumatized, she loses her memory and runs away, but never manages to return to a normal life. She lives a life of constant danger once Haruka is born, and even has to hide her identity from her to protect her from Jingu. Although she finally does reunite with Kazuma and her daughter, she helplessly watches as two of her childhood friends beat the crap out of each other. Finally, she takes a bullet for Haruka and dies with a lot of regrets, but not before Kiryu tells her that he's always loved her.
    • Haruka is one as well. Just imagine a little kid who's left alone in the streets, constantly hounded, kidnapped and threatened by criminals and killers while the people around her get murdered before her eyes. Then, she has to cope with the death of her mother, only to realise that her mother and aunt Yumi were the same person all along, meaning that she never truly knew her mother. And just before Haruka can be truly reunited with Yumi, her Jerkass of a father tries to kill her, only for her mother to take the bullet instead and die in front of her.

Yakuza Kiwami

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Now that the details of his Face–Heel Turn have been revealed, Akira Nishikiyama's Heroic Sacrifice becomes a possible subversion, with him potentially crossing another Despair Event Horizon yet again. Already dying and having realized that literally everyone around him abused and manipulated him, after years of Kick the Dog incidents from his own men and father figures, after burning every single bridge he had with his past friends, and realizing that even his delusional ambitions of reaching the top of the Tojo clan may have also been fabricated and egged on by others, he kills Jingu and detonates the bomb just to have one real moment of control over his life. This is evident as he pretty much doesn't care that Kiryu, Haruka and even Yumi are pretty damn close to the blast radius.
  • Author's Saving Throw: A meta example. Amid concerns that the remake was merely a Mission-Pack Sequel to Yakuza 0 with considerably less content (one playable character and one city to explore for starters), the overseas release of the game launched at $29.99/£29.99/€34.99, half of what new PS4 titles are usually priced at upon release. The game sold well enough to become a "Playstation Hits" title.
  • Broken Base:
    • The use of recycled elements, such as the bosses having their moves taken from previous bosses in the series. Some fans are disappointed to see them not have completely unique movesets of their own, while others argue it's not the first game in the series to do this, and don't seem to take much issue with it.
    • The game's soundtrack compared to the 2005 original. Some fans have been vocal in their disappointment in it considering what they're used to in the series, finding the first game's music replaced mostly with generic and forgettable techno remixes with none of the flair of the originals. But others enjoy the soundtrack and the new tunes added to the game (including remixes from other games), and everyone seems to agree that Kiwami's version of the final boss song is outstanding, if not a modern rendition that the rest of the soundtrack should have followed.
    • Majima's expanded role with the "Majima Everywhere" system. Some fans can't get enough of the Mad Dog now that he's back to his crazy antics, and find that facing him keeps the remake from going stale now that Kiryu is the sole playable character again. Others think his encounters could have been toned down, his characterization here conflicts with his scenes in the main story, and his many encounters weakens the impact of his story boss fights, both from a story and gameplay perspective.
    • Nishiki's story detailing his Start of Darkness. Some found the beginnings of his Face–Heel Turn to be both interesting and tragic, while some others found him to be the Yakuza equivalent of Anakin Skywalker, and not in a good way.
    • Due to the combat system being recycled from Yakuza 0, the attempts to make the combat challenging have been criticized by veteran players as being unbalanced with Fake Difficulty, as enemies are far more aggressive, evasive, and do more damage. But those who felt 0 was too easy found themselves appreciating the increase in difficulty and justified in-story by Kiryu's imprisonment.
  • Foe Yay: Sure, it's always been present in the series, but "Majima Everywhere" is pretty what you get when the creators take this trope and completely go to town with it. Pole-dancing for Kiryu, crossdressing as a hostess for Kiryu, wanting him on the Smile Burger menu, and that's just the beginning.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • The boss fight against Futoshi Shimano in chapter 3 is often cited as one of the most annoying in the game. Not only does he have a mountain of health, he is also immune to flinching most of the time, meaning that even if you're beating on him, he can still hit you back in the middle of your combo. His high HP is only worsened by the Kiwami Attack mechanic: at times, he will start to regenerate health, and the only way to interrupt this is by using the Essence of Extreme Rush Heat Action... which has to be unlocked in the skill tree beforehand. If you didn't know this in advance, prepare to waste up to half an hour slowly chipping away at his health (you can bet that most players immediately rush to unlock all of the Kiwami moves as soon as possible after the fight). Once you've memorized his patterns and when he's safe to attack, he's not too difficult, but Shimano is still a very boring and annoying enemy to take down.
    • Kazuto Arase's guns barely do any damage, but getting shot is a guaranteed knockdown, forcing you to Button Mash to stand back up. Whenever he's not shooting at you, he's rolling all over the place and is completely invincible while doing so. He can also roll in the middle of your combo, stand back up behind you, and shoot you, all before you have the time to finish throwing your punch.
    • Once Breaker Majima starts break dancing, there's nothing you can do except sit back and wait for him to finish break dancing unless you want to get caught in the whirlwind of death. This may drag out the battle until you have a parry moves to counter him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Tojo Clan's missing ten billion yen might have sounded like a big deal back when the original game came out in 2005, but with the remake being released shortly after Yakuza 0, most completionists of that game would dismiss the amount as nothing more than pocket change. However...
      • This is given appropriate attention and explanation in both games however; Zero sees Majima effectively destroy the Japanese economy with his recommendations to a government employee; prior to the bubble economy's bursting, ten billion yen is still a fairly significant amount (and equivalent to how much Dojima has put into the redevelopment project prior to the Empty Lot snag) but not huge in an era where people are waving big bills to flag cabs; post-bubble, ten billion yen is a very significant amount again, and it's notable that you will probably never come close to that kind of cash in Kiwami as you did in Zero.
    • During the first Goromi event, Majima asks whether Kiryu would like to be a Cabaret manager, guess what he does in Kiwami 2?
  • It's the Same, So It Sucks:
    • An unusual case in that some of the the complaints aren't about how similar it is to the original, but as mentioned above, many of the animations and moves in the boss battles are taken and recycled from previous recent titles, even if slightly modified. There's also a portion of players who consider it an inferior version of Yakuza 0 with less content.
    • On the other hand, some have complained about the cutscenes being identical to the original, and that some of the design shortcomings of the original carry on over to the remake.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Kiwami remake expands on Nishiki's backstory and his Start of Darkness, and it's not very pretty... To see how much crap that he had to go through that ends in a "Shaggy Dog" Story, it's easy to see why he snapped and became the ruthless man that he is now.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • People had a field day with the announcement of the "Majima Everywhere" system and photoshopping him into other completely unrelated series. When you consider the kinds of places Majima will actually show up in Kiwami...
    • After the game's Japanese release, videos surfaced comparing the cutscenes from Kiwami to the original game. One scene that gained attention was Kiryu kicking a door open and sending a mook flying (which takes place before the Shota fight), which fans spread throughout social media.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • While the Dragon of Dojima fighting style has been Kiryu's default style throughout the series, it suffers the biggest nerf after his prison sentence, becoming the only fighting style that cannot be upgraded with experience points, but through "Majima Everywhere" fights and Komaki's training. Because certain events involving them are locked out until certain chapters in the story are reached, the Dragon fighting style is practically unusable until late in the game, and you'll probably have completely maxed out your other stats and other styles long before then.
    • Bosses and strong enemies now will rapidly regenerate health during certain points in their fights, and it can only be countered by the Essence of Kiwami Heat Action, which must be unlocked for each individual style. Some bosses tend to go into this state right after a Heat action is used against them, and they can recover a lot of health before you can regain enough Heat again to put a stop to it, provided they aren't a Flunky Boss. If you change styles when this happens, their rising health bar won't slow down.
      • In addition to this, super armour rears its ugly head against bosses. Instead of just immediately blocking after a combo (which they do regularly), some bosses just ignore being punched and knock you with a solid hit in the middle of your attacks.
    • "Majima Everywhere" can also be this. Even if you equip any accessories which reduce encounters (Silent Shoes, Head Honcho Scarf, and Beads of Good Fortune) the "Majima Everywhere" system still triggered regardless, which becomes especially tedious and time-wasting when speedrunning the game on EX-HARD (LEGEND on the localized version) as well as exploring for getting 100% completion for Premium Adventure mode, even if you've gotten SSS Rank for "Majima Everywhere" and defeated him at the batting cages.
    • Getting knocked down ensures you'll always take a hit if an enemy decides to attack, since you can be hit with it even if you're in the process of getting up. While the damage is fortunately minor, it's frustrating mashing out of being knocked down and then getting hit anyway.
  • Squick: How Nishiki's Expository Hairstyle Change is performed. He slicks his hair back using Matsushige's blood after killing him.
  • That One Boss: The Akai Brothers in Chapter 8 are extremely difficult to beat. The generic goons surrounding them aren't terribly hard, but the brothers themselves are a nightmare to fight. The younger brother moves far faster than a guy his size has any right to and will constantly pummel you...and that's when he's not constantly getting you into a grapple that will either make you waste a few seconds trying to get him off of you, or open you up for attack from the elder sibling. Speaking of which, the elder brother isn't much better; since he's using Majima's Breaker style, he can easily smack you around with multiple blows and stunlock the player, will dodge damn near every attack you throw at him just like his brother and, when knocked down, can get up damn near immediately and get a couple of extra hits off with his wake-up attack. What would normally land each individual brother in Goddamned Boss territory skyrockets them to this position, as both brothers will be ganging up on you even if you try to focus all your firepower on just one of them. Couple that with the aforementioned boss healing Scrappy Mechanic listed above - which will extend the length of the fight even further - and you've got a fight that more inexperienced Yakuza players will struggle to defeat, even if you've been keeping up on upgrading Kiryu's abilities.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The soundtrack, which some consider to be techno remixes of the original tracks that don't do the originals justice. An interview with Famitsu prior to the game's release revealed they struggled with the music.
    • "Majima Everywhere" does change one aspect of his role in the main story. In the original game, Majima took a knife for Kiryu, leaving him absent and his fate ambiguous for much of the game before suddenly re-appearing at Shangri-la with his knife wound bandaged. Here, he immediately recovers from said injuries without explanation, leaving players scratching their heads. And after teaming up with Kiryu to fight Dojima Family members, Majima is shot and falls into the sea, before suddenly re-appearing at Shangri-la with his bullet wound bandaged. What left players scratching their heads this time is once Majima is lost at sea, Kiryu is uncharacteristically unconcerned about his friend's fate and simply leaves him behind.
    • "Intelligence for Violence" was played during fights against Nishiki's family, and was enough of a fan favorite to get a remix in Yakuza 3 and Ishin! Here, "Ideal For Violence" plays only during the first fight against them in Serena, which is very brief, and is replaced by different songs afterwards.

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