My experience playing through the Yakuza series and why you should play them too

The Yakuza (series) is an action-adventure beat ’em up video game published by Sega. The first of seven games was released in Japan in Dec. 8, 2005 for the PlayStation 2 as “Ryū ga Gotoku,” translated to English as “Like a Dragon” and later localized to the west in Sept. 5, 2006 with the title “Yakuza”. The creator of the series, Toshihiro Nagoshi, wanted to create a game that focused on the life of Japan’s most notorious organized crime group, the yakuza.

My experience

Fictional city of Sōtenbori is based on the city of Dōtonbori in Osaka, Japan. – in-game screenshot taken by Brian Genao

So far I have played through the entire series and currently finishing up with the latest game (story wise) “Yakuza 6: the Song of Life.” I have nothing but praise for this series. I love every bit about them, this series has made me laugh, cry and feel for the characters in the series. I have felt that I was a part of something big while playing through all main seven games. The reason why I say main games is because there have been a few spin offs with the series that weren’t localized to the west such as: Yakuza Kenzan, “Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō” translated to English as “Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter” and “Yakuza Ishin”.

Why you should play it

You should play it because I think it’s underrated and unappreciated. A few of my friends convinced me to get into the series and after almost finishing the last game, I can’t stress enough of how much I want more people to play them. I personally started off by playing “Yakuza 0” back in October and it took me about 40 in-game hours to complete.  I then played through both remastered versions of “Yakuza 1” and “Yakuza 2” called “Yakuza Kiwami” and “Yakuza Kiwami 2.” These remastered games are essentially complete remakes of the original game built again from the ground up. Then I continued to play Yakuza’s 3 through 5 on my PlayStation 3 and returned to my PlayStation 4 to play “Yakuza 6: the Song of Life.

Main character, Kiryu Kazuma, lighting up a cigarette – in-game screenshot taken by Brian Genao

Dance mini-game in “Yakuza 0” – in-game screenshot taken by Brian Genao

Meanwhile, “Yakuza 0” is a prequel to the entire series and it is perfect for beginners and newcomers. The game introduces you to the world and it’s characters. In “Yakuza 0” there are two main characters to play as starting off with a younger Kiryu Kazuma, the main protagonist of the series and Goro Majima, later Kiryu’s number one rival.

The story is incredibly long and interesting. This series sets a tone of being very serious and very convoluted, it helps you understand the ins and outs and every bit about the crime family organizations. Still this series manages to be very compelling.

All Yakuza games are very lengthy and filled with so much content within them. These games offer an enormous amount of mini-games and side-quest that can really pull you away from the main story missions such as: Karaoke, dancing, pocket circuit racing, darts, card games and classic Sega games in the arcade and so much more to explore in the world of Yakuza.