We’ve been talking about the Yakuza games a lot on our streams lately, so hopefully it hasn’t gotten too annoying. But it really is a great series that’s full of fun stuff to do, fun battle systems, and characters + quests full of heart.
The Yakuza series used to be described as the Japanese GTA, but that’s like comparing Super Mario Bros. to Duck Hunt. Sure, sometimes you can shoot things in both games, but that’s not what SMB is about at all!
Right now Poe and I have only played these ones, which I’ve ranked in terms of how much I like them (from best to not best):
Yakuza 0 - takes place in the 80s and is a wonderful mix of a compelling story, cool characters, Japanese 80s nostalgia (and it’s a good way to learn about Japan in the 80s!), hilarious scenarios, silly humor, etc. This was the first game in the series that we played, and even though we weren’t familiar with the series in any way, it was still such a great experience. The localization is also top-notch and worthy of so many articles!
Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin/Yakuza Restoration - this is sadly a Japanese-only entry and was apparently made before Yakuza 0. It takes all the characters from the series and throws them into the old samurai days. So instead of being a yakuza member, you’re a samurai during a major historical event. The game is so, so good and makes it feel like THIS game should be the main series and that all the other yakuza-themed games are just spin-offs. We streamed this the other day and it was a blast for everyone. Here’s the video archive if you missed it!
We streamed this the other day and it was a blast for everyone. Here’s the video archive if you missed it!
Yakuza Kiwami - a modern remake of the original Yakuza game from like 10+ years ago. A lot of people start with this one and like it, but coming off of Yakuza 0 it was a real disappointment to us. The story really felt like mid-2000s stuff and like it was written by programmers - it was the first game where I could really feel and almost see the underlying story flowchart the designers worked off of.
Yakuza 6 - this came out not too long ago and has all kinds of fancy technical improvements and looks better… but it felt really empty and soulless compared to the other games. Whenever I think back to it now, I just feel like it was lacking the soul/heart from the other games and that the designers had lost sight of what made the previous games so good. Even the fighting system is much less interesting. It’s still a good game, but it added so many issues into the mix that were never issues before. I wonder if the focus on tech made the team lose focus on fun. It feels very trying-too-hard to me.
We haven’t played any of the other games yet, but we did play the Yakuza 4 PS3 demo way back in the day. Yakuza Kiwami 2 comes out today and we’ll definitely be picking up that, but Ishin/Restoration is the one that needs to get released most of all. It’s a gem of the series and I’m worried it’ll be too late for it to get released by the time Sega wises up.
Anyway, if you have any experiences with the games, share em here! And if you haven’t played any of the games but want to try it out, Yakuza 0 is on PC now and it’s also one of the discount PS4 titles now.