Every Game in the Yakuza Franchise

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Image Credit: MrShlapa on Deviant Art.

The Yakuza franchise has been around for over a decade now—and, although it has long been popular in Japan, it’s starting to really catch on in the West with its latest installment.

Designed by Toshihiro Nagoshi, Yakuza gives players the chance to play as a member of the titular, infamous Japanese mafia.

Sega made history with this game: spin-offs and remastered versions abound, in addition to the main series of the Yakuza franchise.

Note: only the first game and Yakuza 7 have English dubs available.

 

Yakuza (2006)


Platform: Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii U
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Hidenari Ugaki
English Voice Actors: Darryl Kurylo, Mark Hamill

You play as Kazuma Kiryu, a low-ranking member of the Yakuza.

Kiryu tries to make the best of his life. However, when his boss attempts to rape a childhood friend—resulting in the friend murdering the boss—Kiryu gets blamed and sent to prison.

Upon his release a decade later, he discovers his childhood is gone. What’s more, his former best friend has become a tyrannical warlord.

 

Yakuza 2 (2008)


Platform: Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii U
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Hidenari Ugaki

Picking up where the last game left off, Kiryu is once again called to provide aid to the Tojo Clan, his former Yakuza family.

A delicate alliance between the branches of the Yakuza is threatened by the rise of a Korean mafia group.

The resulting turf wars upset the balance of Japan’s seedy underbelly, thus endangering the entire population.

 

Yakuza 3 (2010)


Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Rie Kugimiya

Seeking a more peaceful life, Kiryu moves out to enjoy the relaxed island life of Okinawa. He even opens up an orphanage.

However, his past comes back to haunt him: another branch of the Yakuza wants to build a resort on his land—and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.

 

Yakuza 4 (2011)


Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Koichi Yamadera

Beginning a year after the events of Yakuza 3, this installment in the franchise allows the player to pilot multiple protagonists, weaving their stories together with Kiryu’s.

When money that went missing in 1985 suddenly resurfaces, Kiryu must convince old allies to help him save the Tojo Clan from a rival gang.

 

Yakuza 5 (2015)


Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Koichi Yamadera

While Yakuza 5 uses the same system of multiple protagonists as the previous installment, this game finally gives players the ability to follow Haruka—Kiryu’s adopted, now-adult daughter.

Haruka, an aspiring pop idol, stumbles upon a murder. She has the evidence to prove whodunit…but is threatened by her connection to a Yakuza member.

 

Yakuza 0 (2017)


Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Hidenari Ugaki

In Yakuza 0, playable characters are limited to Kiryu and his “long-time rival, sometimes ally,” Goro Majima.

Majima has an unpredictable and chaotic approach to life, which contrasts starkly with Kiryu’s practical and understated personality.

In addition to the normal storylines, players can also practice their business skills by running a cabaret club, and investing in fictional real estate. These side quests became popular enough to return multiple times to the Yakuza franchise.

 

Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life (2018)


Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One
Japanese Voice Actors: Takaya Kuroda, Takeshi Kitano

This game picks up where Yakuza 5 left off, and sees Kiryu go to prison for a few years to atone for his crimes.

Upon his release in 2016, he finds that his adopted daughter is missing, and former allies have been wrongly convicted of arson.

During his investigations, he finds that his daughter has a son. He goes to great lengths to keep his adopted family safe, so that his past will never again become a threat to his—and their—future.

 

Yakuza 7: Like A Dragon (2020)


Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation 5, Xbox Series S/X
Japanese Voice Actors: Kazuhiro Nakaya, Sumire Uesaka
English Voice Actors: Kaiji Tang, George Takei

For the first time since the original game, the developers decided to have an English dub available, in order to promote awareness of the franchise in the West. This decision certainly paid off.

Yakuza 7 was also the first game of the main series to not feature Kiryu as the protagonist, or any playable character from post-Yakuza 6.

Instead, players control Ichiban Kasuga, another low-ranking member of the Yakuza. He mirrors Kiryu in many ways, but is undeniably different in his attitude and boundless optimism.

Kasuga goes on a mission to understand what happened to his clan, and how the world changed during his 18-year absence.

Along the way, he tries his hand at politics, running a business, and freelancing as a hero-for-hire.

There are plenty of easter eggs and homages for returning players, but someone completely new to the series could pick this game up and be just fine.

 

via GIPHY

The main Yakuza series of the franchise promises hours of creative, action-packed gameplay for newcomers, but prove just as enjoyable for longtime fans replaying old favorites.

With new games and spin-offs announced frequently, the Yakuza series is poised to cement itself in past and future gamer generations for years to come.

For more video game recommendations, check out every game in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, or the best horror video games.