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The Original Game

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The true nature of Sengoku's Castle isn't given any explanation at all (aside from Sengoku being a rich blowhard who loves to show off his wealth), and the entire segment is completely different than anything Kiryu has faced before. While the entire section is a Shout-Out to the Sengoku Period, many found that it was still a jarring contrast to the serious crime drama the series was known for at that point, despite the new Denser and Wackier substories the sequel introduced.
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    • Kiryu encounters Sadoka from The Ring. Initially, players are led to believe it's a con but it turns out she is Real After All.
  • Broken Base: Did Kiryu beat Ryuji to death? Or was Ryuji's fate sealed the moment that Takashima shot him?
  • Complete Monster: Ryo Takashima is the Chief Director of the Omi Alliance and the true mastermind behind the events of the game. Desiring to destroy both the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance and rule the nation's Yakuza, Ryo teams up with Jingweon Mafia survivor, Yukio Terada, to pit the Tojo and the Omi against each other by having Ryuji Goda rebel against his father and start a war with the Tojo, endangering countless lives in the process. Ryo would later allow Terada and the Jingweon to plant bombs throughout Kamurocho just so he can eliminate the Tojo and the Omi, uncaring for the lives that would be lost. Once his enemies are weakened after Ryuji's defeat, Ryo betrays and murders both Terada and Jin Goda, before attempting to kill Kiryu, Kaoru, and Ryuji as well, while planning to spread the Jingweon into the mainland so he can expand his empire.
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  • Crosses the Line Twice: Sengoku's death. Normally, such a death would be pretty gruesome and terrifying, but being that this is Sengoku we're talking about, it's not like tears of sympathy will be shed for the guy. That being said, the over-the-top way that he's kicked off his (literal) golden castle by Ryuji as well as the noise that he makes on the way down (in Kiwami 2, at least) can be pretty hilarious.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Goro Majima, whose Heel–Face Turn here turned him into the series most popular characters. He wipes out Sengoku's family entirely by himself in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, and defuses a bomb in one of the most comical and memorable scenes.
  • Even Better Sequel: The game feels like a more complete version of the first game, with many of its main issues addressed; the loading times have been significantly reduced and combat now allows you to fight in multiple directions. There's another city to explore along with Kamurocho, along with more mini-games and more brutal HEAT moves. The localized version carries the original Japanese dub, the story is still seen as one of the best in the series, and the final boss is still seen as Kiryu's true Worthy Opponent.
    • This even extends to Kiwami 2. While Kiwami and 6 are considered somewhat mediocre by the series standards, this game really takes the ideas of those games and succeeds them. The extended scenarios, re-added minigames like the much-loved Cabaret Club, and the addition of a playable Majima campaign make the game much more of an updated remake then Kiwami was. The game addresses numerous complaints from 6 including the combat system, refining it to be faster paced and less physics focused. The result is a much tighter gameplay experience than either games, and probably the best of the three as a result. The proper utilization of the Dragon Engine’s incredible level of detail leads to this being the best looking Yakuza yet as well.
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  • Evil Is Cool: Ryuji Goda, a badass brute worthy of being considered Kazuma's rival, who displays some surprising noble traits and gives Sengoku and Takashima what they deserved. It's not a surprise that he became a Breakout Villain and appeared in other games in the series.
  • Foe Yay: In the endgame, Ryuji compliments Kiryu by telling him that he can see why his half-sister fell for him.
  • Growing the Beard: While the first game was quite a hit, Yakuza 2 manages to completely overshadow it by giving the player more areas to explore, making the combat feel less clunky and reducing the amount of random battles in the streets. The plot also has more fun with itself and the game introduces more comical substories to balance the mood. It also helps that the Narm-incarnated English dub was removed.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Seeing Shangri-La in its abandoned and derelict state in this game (as well as another revisit in Yakuza 6) is this with Yakuza: Like a Dragon revealing that it was the soapland that Ichiban was raised in.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Early in the game Kazuma tries to drop a chandelier on some thugs by punching it until it falls. Nowadays you'd be hard-pressed to watch the same scene and not be reminded of the same technique being used on boulders.
    • Yakuza 2 included an arcade mini-game called YF6, and while it played like a first-person fighting game using beam swords, everything else about the game was a clear Shout-Out to Virtua Fighter 4, which itself was shown in the previous game but not playable. Although YF6 doesn't return in Kiwami 2, we get an actual and fully-playable Virtua Fighter game in its place instead.
    • When Hayashi appears, he tells Kiryu and Kaoru that "Hayashi of the Omi Alliance is dead and gone". The same words ring a bit more true come his next appearance in Yakuza: Dead Souls as a powerful zombie that starts the outbreak in that game, and is finally laid to rest in the climax.
    • Funnily enough, this wouldn't be the first time Kiryu has gone up against the animal kingdom, as one of his potential opponents in Yakuza 0's arena is a bear. And it sure as shit wouldn't be the last time any Yakuza protagonist has gone up against an apex predator, as Saejima and Ichiban (the latter of which takes it Up to Eleven by fighting two tigers like Kiryu does here, a bear, and a chimp in a digger) can attest.
  • Memetic Badass: Kiryu is firmly established as one after the infamous scene where he singlehandedly defeats two tigers, knocking out one of them with a single punch, despite having been stabbed in the stomach only recently.
  • Memetic Mutation: Shares a page with the rest of the series here.
  • Narm:
    • As mentioned above, Kazuma attempts to drop a chandelier on a group of thugs by jumping on top of it and punching it repeatedly until it falls. This was rectified in Kiwami 2, where he instead hangs from the bottom of it and swings it around until it's loose enough to fall.
    • Some felt this way regarding the subplot surrounding the fake Kazuki, since it feels like too much of a coincidence to be plausible.
    • The use of the Long-Lost Relative trope becomes a bit of a cliche when it's done not once, but twice for the same character.
  • Narm Charm: Sengoku's Castle. It splits in half to reveal an even bigger castle rising from the ground, the outside made ENTIRELY out of gold. The ancient castle is filled with booby-traps, turret guns and Kiryu has to fight against samurai and ninjas. Considering how early the series is with an emphasis on the Japanese underworld, it's absolutely outrageous, but worth it for the boss fight at the end.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Hiroshi Hayashi. Despite facing off against Kiryu in only one scene, his boss battle is extremely memorable due to him fancily Dual Wielding two pipes that he ripped off with his bare hands. Not only that, he has six full health bars, twice of that of the Final Boss themself!
  • Signature Scene:
    • Kiryu faces off against two tigers in Sengoku's castle. One eventually leaps at him and Kiryu counters with a punch to the face that sends it flying and knocks it out flat. Kiwami 2 changes things up a bit, which has Kiryu finish off the first tiger with a kick, and his famous punch is reserved for the final blow against the second.
    • The Bomb Disposal scene with Majima due to his comical antics, and also how the scene ends.
    • The "Be My Baby" substory, featuring grown yakuza wearing diapers and role playing as babies.
    • The ending of the final battle, where Kiryu and Ryuji perform a Cross Counter on each other, which was also notorious as failing the QTE meant it was a One-Hit Kill.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The bassline of the Sotenbori battle theme, "Outlaw's Lullaby", is highly reminiscent of "Tank!"
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Shogi, in its series debut. Good luck reaching the 'Shogi King' title in the mini-game completion list and beating the two substories without a computer program. Doesn't help that the in-game instructions are lacking compared to other entries and game pieces are left untranslated.
    • Mahjong and its substory. To anyone that doesn't know what the hell Majong is or how to play it, well... you can always just run your ass out of there and not look back.
    • The 'American Baseball' substory can be a pain due to the pitcher's random order of wide curveballs and spirals that disappear offscreen for a couple seconds. His pitches are reused for the unlockable Alien League at the batting cages, albeit in a set order. Good luck getting a perfect 20 home runs.
    • The 'Pachislot Ace' substory, which requires you to sit down and earn at least 3,100 medals in one sitting, this time without any special items available to help improve your odds. The 10,000 medal requirement in the mini-game completion list is even worse, with a few players on Japanese bulletin boards pulling all-nighters or leaving their consoles on for a whole week. You'll wish SEGA had brought the '777 Charm' from the first game back as a coin locker item or save data reward.
    • The 'Gambling Boss' substory could be this for some, even with the help of the Blackjack Charms.
  • That One Boss:
    • The Man in Black. While he's perfectly manageable in the first few phases when you fight him the first time, the REAL challenge comes once he uses his shoe blades. He becomes a lot faster than before making it hard for you to hit him, and what's worse is that his attacks will slice through your defenses like butter. He's thankfully more manageable in Kiwami 2 by the fact that Kiryu can charge his light attacks to armor through his normal attacks and stun him in place. He's still considered the hardest boss in the story of Kiwami 2 by many though.
    • Sengoku's tigers, due to the fact that they're aggressive and their claws and teeth are considered blades, meaning that Kiryu can't fully guard against their attacks. Additionally, since they're not humans like most of the enemies in the game, the majority of Heat Actions can't be used on them. This also applies to any animal opponent faced in the Coliseum, who often have Elemental Powers that can stun Kiryu.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • There's an interesting story about the police and Tojo Clan working together to eliminate the Korean Jingweon Mafia. There's also suspicions that Kazuki is ethnically Korean and pretending to be Japanese. This racial subtext is something that is barely touched upon with the Ruthless Foreign Gangsters element played entirely straight.
    • Similarly, Date is sent by the police of Osaka to use his relationship to Kazuki against him. This despite the fact they're good friends and have saved each other's lives. It's also questionable whether Kazuki has any ties to the mafia at all other than a past friendship with Kazama and Kiryu. It doesn't matter because Kazuki has been replaced by a Doppelgänger and thus none of Date's actions have any consequences.
  • Too Cool to Live:
    • Dammit Kawara, we knew you were too badass for this world.
    • Ryuji Goda as well.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For many years, Yakuza 2 was considered the best entry by several fans and most sequels were often measured unfavorably to it. Yakuza 3 was widely deemed inferior due to the emphasis of the orphanage children and the controversial removed content, and opinions vary whether the fourth and fifth games were superior or inferior to each other in terms of characters and/or story. It wasn't until Yakuza 0 came out and was considered an Even Better Sequel, although there are fans who maintain that the second game has the best story in the whole series. Even some newcomers disappointed in Yakuza 6 felt Kiwami 2 had the better (unchanged) plot. Yakuza: Like a Dragon seems to be giving this game a run for its money in terms of its plot despite the polarizing change in gameplay.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Kiryu receives this treatment by some in the endgame, who perceive his reasons for initiating the final battle as nothing more than misplaced masculine pride and a petty need to protect his title. Instead of helping Kaoru's dying half-brother, after she pleaded for both men to stop and get medical help, Kiryu decides to take Ryuji down in a fight to the death instead. Those critical of Kiryu were also baffled that Kaoru remained at his side after taking down the last of her remaining family. It doesn't help that when this is brought up in flashbacks, Kiryu's only explanation on why he needed to fight was because it was something he had to do as a man, although Ryuji believed they were running out of time to settle their score due to their bullet wounds and wanted to go out fighting a worthy adversary.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Satoshi Tokushige's performance as Daigo Dojima feels stale, stiff and jarringly out of place among far more skilled voice actors in the cast.
  • The Woobie: Kaoru Sayama. The poor girl grew up knowing nothing about her past, and everyone she could trust was determined to keep it a secret from her. Although she fought her way to become a pillar in the force, she tells Kiryu that others underestimate her and that she even gave up on finding love. She and Kiryu witness the deaths of numerous people on their journey to discover the truth, and once she discovers the identity of her real father and her half-brother, they are also killed shortly afterward, and even chooses to die at Kazuma's side. Poor girl's going to need a lot more beer.

Yakuza Kiwami 2

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Although fans were absolutely thrilled to see that Makoto would appear in the game, many were also worried that reuniting with Majima after nearly twenty years and possibly discovering his identity would cause the new Majima Saga to ruin the impact of the ending for Yakuza 0. Fortunately, the scenes involving her have received nothing but praise, and is considered a beautiful send-off for her as she departs from the series. Better get those tissues ready again.
  • Anti-Climax Boss. Due to the upgrade system as explained in It's Easy, So It Sucks! below, it's very possible for the final boss to be considered one. The Man in Black and the enemies carrying furniture in Long Battles are often seen as tougher enemies to beat than Ryuji Goda, the man carrying a dragon tattoo who is stated throughout the game to be Kiryu's equal.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After the mixed reception of the soundtrack for the first Kiwami, to the point where many preferred the original PS2 soundtrack over it, the songs returning from the original gamenote  are either much more faithful to the originals or considered an improvement on them. While the rest of the soundtrack is different, fans were pleased that these ones returned and got a worthy updated treatment.
    • Kiwami 2 also saw numerous gameplay improvements and quality of life changes to its combat. The most notable of which are the re-additions of ground and wall Heat Actions that were previously absent in 6 on top of balancing the combat out by not making Extreme Heat Mode available from the start, as it instead requires a substory to unlock it first. The improved inventory system as well as the overhaul of how restaurants work is also carried over from 6 as well.
    • Gameplay-wise, the overhaul of the Clan Wars from 6 was much appreciated: while the first iteration wasn't bad by any stretch, it boiled down to 'summon all your best guys, sit back and watch them either tear through the enemy lines or lose', with the non-named mooks not getting any real usage. Majima Construction flips the formula on its head by making you the defender instead of the attacker, doing away with the faceless goons you can summon entirely and giving their classes to the major characters, and making it so the player has to be more involved moving their guys around as the situation changes. These minor changes make for a solid, addictive Tower Defense minigame.
  • Broken Base: As to whether this or the PS2 version of Yakuza 2 has better voice acting.
  • Complete Monster: Kei Ibuchi is the mastermind behind the events of the Majima Saga. Viewing the current way Yakuza operate as outdated, Ibuchi aims to "update" them by having them throw away any sense of moral codes. In an attempt to become the next captain of the Tojo Clan, Ibuchi manipulates the debt-ridden Kawamura into killing Uematsu, the most likely candidate for Clan Captain, and attempts to frame Majima for the crime. Afterwards, Ibuchi orders Kawamura to kill an Omi Alliance patriarch and Majima in order to erase his debts, and when Kawamura fails to kill the latter, Ibuchi kills him due to having no further use for him. Ibuchi then reveals to Majima how he intends to kill Terada in order to take over the Tojo Clan and that, to justify a merger between the Tojo and Omi, Ibuchi plans on orchestrating a war between the two clans by having officers on both sides killed. Even when defeated, Ibuchi mocks Majima for being unable to stop the war before killing himself to ensure that it happens, all for his own amusement.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Charging your normal attacks (Square/X) leads to Kiryu throwing out a Beast-style haymaker that hits a wide area and stops opponents in their tracks, allowing Kiryu to dogpile on them for some serious damage. You can also hold Square/X and Triangle/Y at the same time to charge up your light attack first, do a Rush Combo, and then let go of the heavy attack button as you're finishing up your Rush Combo to do serious damage to any opponents in your way. Though this is entirely dependent on how flexible your fingers are and what controller you use since it's not exactly very intuitive to hold both attack buttons down at the same time.
    • Like in 0, the Cabaret Club minigame is an easy way to rack up obscene amounts of cash. A player with enough fans in the Millionaire League who knows what they're doing can make profits of over ¥10,000,000 for just three minutes of play.
    • Demon Blade Muramasa. Once properly upgraded, it can cleave through even the hardest boss fights in very few strikes.
  • Goddamned Bats: Large stationary enemies with furniture that block your path during Long Battle sequences. They only have one slow telegraphed attack but unlike past games, there's no heat move to instantly take them out. Worse, you can't even use regular combos on them since Kiryu gets staggered with light punches. All they really do is waste your time and grind action-packed sequences to a screeching halt since they have decently-sized health bars for generic mooks. Charged attacks or weapons make them go down faster but they're still a pain to run into.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: How some people feel about this game compared to the original. As with 6, any semblance of difficulty goes out the window once you farm enough experience points to buy most of the upgrades in the game, pretty much letting Kiryu tear through most bosses' health like wet tissue paper. If you're determined enough and know where to look, you can have most of your stats upgraded as early as Chapter 2, since nothing besides money will really stop you from filling up your inventory with AppStims, going around most of the restaurants in Sotenbori, chowing down on the food that rewards the most experience points, drink AppStim RX to lower your hunger gauge, and doing it all again, rinse and repeat.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: The main criticism for Majima's story is that it's not very long. It's only three chapters long, has no substories or side missions, and the whole thing can be beaten in a couple of hours.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The real reason many want to unlock and play through Majima's campaign is to see Makoto and, Kei Ibuchi.
  • Love to Hate: Kei Ibuchi. He's basically the kickstarter for the game's plot and he's a very smug prick that really builds up the reasons to give him a Majima-style beatdown, but dear god, does he give you reasons to love every minute of it, from his absolutely stunning dynamic intro to Takehito Koyasu lending him the glorious, DIO-esque voice work he's known for.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Particularly against the Amon Clan, using weapon HEAT actions on them becomes ineffective if using the same ones numerous times. In fact, using a weapon HEAT action on the third-fourth time becomes useless as it does absolutely no damage, making you waste a HEAT gauge and a weapon durability (unless it's the infinite use ones). So if you plan to spam HEAT actions with a powerful weapon on an Amon member, forget it.
    • The first chapter of Majima's story is unlocked after beating Chapter 5 in the main story. Expecting to do the entire thing in one go? You have to clear Chapter 8 to unlock another chapter, and Chapter 13 to unlock Majima's final chapter. While Majima can send Kiryu money to use in the main campaign, some felt it was unnecessary and felt they should've been able to play Majima's story in its entirety once it was unlocked.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Although many fans were excited to hear that Yakuza 2 would also receive an enhanced remake, the hype quickly turned to skepticism the moment it was revealed that the game would be running on the Dragon Engine introduced in Yakuza 6 instead of the Kiwami Engine. Due to a number of improvements mentioned in Even Better Sequel above, many of those critical of Yakuza 6 admit the game is a large improvement and much better than what they expected.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Not the whole song itself, but towards the 0:50 second mark of "A Scattered Eternal Moment", the song's recurring guitar notes bear a striking similarity to recurring piano notes starting at 1:15 for the song "Young Nobleman of the Water Prison" a bonus track featured on the soundtrack album for Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.
  • Squick: One of the townsfolk in Kamurocho will pass you a plunger to use on your enemies. Judging from the slime, it's clearly been used. Recently. See the heat move for yourself.
  • That One Sidequest: Against All Odds. For starters, it's this game's version of the Mahjong substory in the original game, so a lot of players will have to wrap their head around quite possibly the most complex and rule-heavy activity in the entire game to even stand a chance. But even for players who know what they're doing, the game sticks you with a huge handicap by only giving you 1,000 points to start with, 9,000 less than the original game. So if your luck is particularly bad, your score will likely get shunted into the negatives early on (thus immediately ending the game in a loss). Although you can win immediately with a Peerless Tile, not only are they rare (at three per playthrough) and hard to come by, but the game never once hints at their existence. And god help you if you used all of them before this substory...
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Among the game's criticisms are its differences from the original game.
    • Some of the game's locations have been Adapted Out, such as the Pier and Shinseicho area, and many of the original game's substories have been removed (although some involving the same events have been merged into one).
    • Related to the above, a good number of fans aren't happy that Jo Amon is no longer fought at the pier, believing it made for a much more interesting setting than the lobby of the Millenium Tower.
    • Many fans think that the graphics during the first fight with Ryuji are worse than the original.
    • The majority of the game's soundtrack is comprised of completely new and different songs, with only a handful of songs returning from the original game. Some favorites don't return, and certain bosses with their own Leitmotifs now share the same boss theme.
    • In addition to the above, the cutscene from Chapter 12 where Kiryu gets stabbed by a homeless man in the rain received significant and unpleasing changes in the remake: "Kuroi Kizuato No Blues" by Crazy Ken Band does not return, instead replaced with "The Sound of Breath" by SIMnote , and the moment the knife pierces Kiryu's gut is now accompanied by a loud sound effect; the latter was met with a more critical response due to the resulted loss of suspense compared to the original.
    • The scene where Hayashi rips two pipes from the wall in his boss fight has different sound effects and visuals from the original when he swings them around, completely removing the impact found in the original game. What looked and sounded like a powerful windstorm in the original sounds like a bunch of stock sound effects were put together with no visual flair.
  • Underused Game Mechanic: Playing as Majima. Three chapters and no substories, or anything different from Kiryu's campaign aside from a new karaoke song. He's not even usable in the game's Premium Adventure.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Many people were surprised that Makoto comes back in Majima's story.
    • Many were just as surprised that Yuki from the same game also returns for New Nightlife Island substory. Upon seeing the trailer for New Nightlife Island, many fans mistook her short-haired number one hostess Koyuki for her.
  • Unfortunate Implications: At a press conference for the Japanese release of the game in late August 2017, after acknowledging the presence of Koreans at the event, Susumu Terajima (Jiro Kawara) ended it by expressing his concerns hoping that no missiles would come flying from North Korea, which had been firing test missiles near Japan at the time. He had used the term "Chousenjin" (a phrase Kawara himself uses) which can be seen as a slur that doesn't differentiate between North and South Koreans, and many claim he only brought it up because Koreans were present. Although his comments were met with awkwardness and silence at the event, the online backlash from South Korea had reportedly been so bad that Yakuza fans in the region were worried that Kiwami 2 wouldn't be released there, and Sega's Korean division issued an apology for the incident.


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