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.
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.
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 Engines incredible level of detail leads to this being the best looking Yakuza yet as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 "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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Woobie: Kaoru Sayama. 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 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.
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 "Push Me Under Water", "Outlaw's Lullaby", "Bad Fortune, Not Bad", and "A Scattered Eternal Moment" 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.
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.
Game-Breaker: 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.
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. Although some have criticized it as being shoehorned into the game to cash in on Majima's popularity, all was forgiven with Makoto's appearance. And we do get a new karaoke track.
Just Here for Godzilla: Let's face it, the real reason you want to unlock and play through Majima's campaign is to see Makoto and DIO...er, Kei Ibuchi.
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 progress further in the main campaign to unlock another chapter, and beat the game 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.