Many fans expressed their outrage when it was announced that the US/EU versions of Yakuza 3 would have cut content compared to the original Japanese release, enough that later games would keep these features intact. However, there are some who appreciated the changes, believing that players shouldn't have to be completely versed in Japanese culture to fully enjoy the game, and didn't mind it being toned down. And there were others who were okay with the changes as it didn't interfere with the overall experience or the story.
The infamous orphanage subplot is the lynchpin of most debates about the quality of this game. A lot of fans despise it for how long it drags on despite minimal relevance to the plot of the overarching series, but it also has quite a few defenders who enjoyed the slower Slice of Life elements as a nice change of pace that eases players into the world and provides a lot of good character moments and strong emotional payoff toward the end of the game and later entries in the series.
Naturally, the changes in the PS4 remaster have been well-received by some and has upset others, particularly fans outside Japan who were hoping for a localization and would finally get the definitive Yakuza 3 experience without any cut content.
Contested Sequel: Among the most heated in the series. While the game received good to average reviews, it was widely deemed inferior to its predecessor Yakuza 2. Many fans who had played the previous two games weren't fond of the game's sudden emphasis on the new direction focusing on the orphanage or the children, felt the plot wasn't on par with the previous gamesnote It was also the first game in the main series without the involvement of crime novelist Hase Seishū, and found the Final Boss of this game wasn't nearly as memorable as Ryuji Goda. On the other hand, there's a good portion of fans who consider it one of the better games of the series due to its sole emphasis on Kazuma (which would be lost inthesequels), loved the moments involving the orphanage, felt the game had its own memorable characters and story, and found the game's Final Boss not only to be a memorable and complex villain in his own right, but found the fight against him to be one of the best in the series. There's also the localization issue mentioned above.
Evil Is Cool: Yoshitaka Mine. Like Ryuji Goda before him, he's well-received by fans for his stoic yet intimidating demeanour, a surprisingly complex personality, and being able to go toe-to-toe with Kiryu in what is seen to be the best boss fight by the game's release.
Goddamned Boss: Kanda. While not particularly difficult, there will be a point when he will always go for a random piece of furniture in the room and use it as a weapon, which makes Kazuma fall on the floor with one hit. And the room is full of furniture for him to use.
Good Bad Bugs: The HD release introduces a few of these chiefly because it's running at 60 FPS. In particular, movement speed while assuming a fighting stance, and the distance covered by a quickstep, are both doubled compared to the original PS3 release.
Yoshitaka Mine turns out to have been a Spanner in the Works after Yakuza 4 and 5. It's likely his survival would've prevented a lot of the problems that kick off the main plots of those two games, since his immense wealth would've prevented the Tojo from becoming bankrupt and giving Katsuragi leverage, and his unshakeable loyalty to Daigo Dojima and own talent for scheming would've undercut Kurosawa's plan to destroy the Tojo from within. This ultimately meant that his Redemption Equals Death moment ended up causing more problems for the Tojo Clan rather than resolving them.
Mine at one time calls out Kiryu for forsaking his responsibilities when the Tojo Clan was undergoing a crisis, and wonders why Daigo would still continue to look up to Kiryu. In Yakuza 6, Kiryu realised too late that he had been so consumed with desire to leave his life as a yakuza behind, that he had neglected to properly mentor Daigo and as a result, the Tojo Clan kept on facing difficult situations. He writes in his final will to Daigo that he could not call himself Daigo's father figure, ultimately proving Mine correct.
At one point Kiryu and Rikiya have to pretend to be a couple and engage in some Faux Yay to get into a love hotel to find Kanda. Rikiya gets a little too into it and keeps the act up past the point where it's necessary, much to Kiryu's chagrin.
During the Big Bad's Motive Rant he states that Daigo Dojima is the first person that he genuinely liked, and later admits that he loved him. The way it's worded in the English script makes it somewhat ambiguous exactly what he means by this, but the Japanese audio is a lot more forthright about it being that kind of love.
For that matter it's never said how much Daigo knew about this beforehand, or if he did how much it minded, but regardless there's no denying Daigo also cared about Mine, even if it's not necessarily in the same way. The first thing Daigo does after he wakes up from his coma is to protect Mine and fret over his wellbeing, even though he literally just tried to kill him a few minutes ago. And Mine's sacrifice leaves him crushed.. No wonder Mine fell head over heels for him.
The identity of the mysterious Kazama/Fuma lookalike: he's Shintaro's never-before-mentioned younger brother who looks almost exactly like him! And he works for the CIA! It's the kind of twist you'd expect from the cheesiest soap opera.
Slow-Paced Beginning: The beginning of the game where Kazuma runs his orphanage and takes care of the children goes on for a looong time before the main plot finally kicks in.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: While fans were pleased that Yakuza 3 would be released outside Japan after a period of uncertainty (considering Kenzan! didn't make it), they were furious when it was announced that several elements would be removed from the game, particularly Japanese-centric mini-games. This included, among other things, side missions involving traditional Japanese board games, quiz games and hostess clubs, some of which were already present in the first two titles. However, fans were very vocal in their disappointment and these most of features returned in the sequels. The quiz game has yet to be translated as it would require extensive graphic recoding.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Yoshitaka Mine, the Big Bad, while well-received as an antagonist, lacked the screentime and presence that previous antagonists like Nishiki and Ryuji had. As a result, his personality and motives weren't truly fleshed out until the final battle. Even in his Redemption Equals Death Moment, fans felt that Mine should have remained alive rather than sacrifice himself to take down Richardson.
Unfortunate Implications: Some of the game's more infamous substories involve being chased by a crossdresser named Michiru, who Kiryu has to run away from or receive the smooch of his life from his new admirer. Not helping matters is that Michiru also appears to be designed to be as unappealing as possible, enough to terrify even Kiryu himself. While the substories were Played for Laughs upon its initial release, they have since grown controversial due to the growing acceptance of homosexual lifestyles in both Japan and abroad. Sega themselves acknowledged this and made the decision to remove all of Michiru's substories from the HD remaster.
The Woobie: The orphans at Sunshine Orphanage all become this when Mine had the orphanage bulldozed.