Yakuza, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く?, lit. Like a Dragon), is an action-adventure video game franchise created by Amusement Vision and owned and published by Sega.

The series has sold at least 3.2 million copies as of March 2009,[1] and 4 million copies as of September 2010.[2] Strong sales of the games in its original Japanese market has led to the franchise's expansion to other mediums, including film adaptations.


The Yakuza series best resembles, and is considered a spiritual successor to, Sega's own Shenmue series. Like Shenmue, Yakuza also bares a resemblance to the 3D Grand Theft Auto games, which followed Shenmue's lead in 3D open world urban city design. However, Yakuza is different to both series in its own way, and is considered a remarkable series that is hugely popular in Japan and slowly gaining popularity in the West.

Yakuza 3 takes place in Okinawa a small island off the cost of Japan. Your character is a retired ex mafia boss known as Kiryuo (spelling?) and now tries to live an honest living by running the local Sunshine Orphanage. Things quickly go south when the orphanage is schedulede to be demolished to make way for a resort yakuza deal. This scenario has Kiryuo flying back and forth between Okinawa and Tokyo beating up local gangsters and bringing down the curropt Yakuza.

I recommend this game to any body how wants to learn a little about the Japanese culture, especially the night life around Japan. Having lived in Tokyo for three years, the game's ficticous rendering of real city life in Japan is uncanny. The game plays like a fighter/RPG which is awkrawd paring, but sega manage to make it works great. There are 12 chapters, each ending with its own boss and 100 substories! The amount of time to complete the game could take anywhere from 20+ hours to over 100 hours depending on how much time you want to invest in exploring the free range cities of Japan that will keep you enterianed for months.

This is the first installment of the Yakuza series to be marketing to western audiences. The game did so well in sales that Yakuza 4 will be releashed next summer in 2011. Way behind it's release date in Japan, also Yakuza 5 is already under production by SEGA in Japan, leaving behind most of us western Yakuza fans behind or Japanese gaming brothers.


The Yakuza series storytelling is inspired by yakuza films, one of the most popular cinema genre in Japan, and was written by crime drama novelist Hase Seishu, it was ported on the screen by director Takashi Miike.

The main story is presented in successive chapters much like as in Kinji Fukasaku's classic yakuza movie Sympathy for the Underdog[3] and is completed with a hundred sub-scenarios per game which leads to a large amount of main, secondary and recurring minor characters.

During the 1970s three children, Kazuma Kiryu, Akira Nishikiyama (a.k.a. Nishiki) and his younger sister, Yuko Nishikiyama, are raised in Shintaro Kazama (a.k.a. Fuma)'s Sunflower Orphanage. In summer 1980, Yumi Sawamura, a young girl who had her parents incidentally shot during a gangs shootout joins them. Following a yakuza tradition, the honourable Kazama secretly raises orphans he has directly or indirectly killed the parents. In return, these children look at him as their father and he eventually introduces the teenagers to the Dojima Family, a Tojo Clan affiliate.

Years later the promising Kazuma Kiryu quickly rises the yakuza hierarchy and earns the nickname "the Dragon of the Dojima Family" for the Dragon irezumi tattoo on his back (hence the original title "Like a Dragon", ryu ga gotoku). His childhood friend Nishikiyama is torn between loyalty for his kyodai (yakuza "brother") and jealousy against the one who has always been Kazama's protégé. Another subject of rivalry between the two friends is their secret love for Yumi who looks at them as her older brothers. 1990, in order to remain close to both of them, she left the orphanage and moved to Tokyo's red-light district Kamurocho, where they found her a job as hostess at Reina's Serena bar.

October 1, 1995, Kazuma Kiryu announces his friends he is ready to create his own yakuza Family, only lacks the Chairman of the Dojima Family Sohei Dojima's go ahead. Later that night the latter kidnaps Yumi from Serena, Nishikiyama tries to interfere but Dojima's men hold him. When Nishikiyama eventually reaches Dojima's office, he finds his boss raping Yumi and shoots him dead. Kazuma who was at a meeting with Kazama had been called by Reina and comes shortly after only to find Dojima on the ground, Nishikiyama and Yumi in shock. Then Kazuma takes the responsibility in order to protect Yuko who needs her brother Nishikiyama as she is about to get a last chance operation. Kazuma orders the pair to leave before the police arrives.

The game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬 Kiryū Kazuma), a former promising yakuza whose released after a ten-year prison sentence for a murder cover-up. The Tojo Clan he was once a member of has had ten billion yen (at $1=100yen, approx. US$100 million) stolen from the Tojo vault, which the entire Japanese underworld is now searching for; forcing him back into their brutal, lawless world. A mysterious young girl will lead Kiryu to the answers if he can keep her alive. By entering the tempting world of Toyko nightlife in this adventure set in the city's notorious yakuza entertainment district, Yakuza (video game) features a dozen detailed chapters created by prominent producer Toshihiro Nagosi and award-winning novelist Seishu Hase.

One year ago, Kazuma Kiryu left his post as the Chairmen of the Tojo Clan, Japan's most violent crime syndicate. When an all out war erupts, Kiryu must return and uphold the honor of his former clan with brutal clashes with rival gangs, the police, and the Korean mafia through the back alleys and neon-lit nightclubs of Tokyo and Osaka.

March 2009, Kazuma Kiryu left Kamurocho and now runs the Morning Glory Orphanage in Okinawa where he raises nine children including Haruka Sawamura. Follow Kiryu's story from the beaches of Okinawa to the darkest side of Tokyo as he's pulled back to a post life he thought he had left behind.

March 1, 2010, an incident happens in Kamurocho involving Kazuma Kiryu one more time. First, a man takes a bullet on the turf of the powerful Tojo Clan. Then, a man investigating the murder is stabbed to death. The events spark a full-blown struggle for money, power, and above all, honor, in a story experienced through the eyes of four characters. In an authentic recreation of Toyko's "Sin City District", four men chose paths over beautiful women and a dead man.

December 2012, the 7th chairman of the Omi Alliance is on his deathbed. With the death of the 7th chairman it would mean that the truce between the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance would be broken leading to a war between the clans. In order to prepare, the Tojo Clan is forced to strengthen their organization by aligning themselves with older clans based in other major cities across Japan, in order to create a new organization rivaling that of the Omi Alliance. This new alliance, would breach the old traditional barriers of Clan territories and so Daigo Dojima heads for Fukuoka.

Reception and critical response

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic Game Rankings Famitsu
75 of 100[4]
Yakuza 2 77 of 100[7] 78.41%[8] 38/40[9]
Yakuza Kenzan! N/A[10] N/A[11] 37/40[12]
Yakuza 3 83 of 100[13] 84%[14] 38/40[15]
Yakuza 4 78 of 100[16] 79.58%[17] 38/40[18]
Yakuza: Dead Souls Game similar to Resident Evil Series 63 of 100[19] 63.86%[20] 37/40[21]

The series sold 3.2 million games worldwide as of 2009;[1] the best sellers being the first two games which sold between 500,000 – 1 million worldwide, each winning the PlayStation Gold Award.[22] Yakuza 3 sold 500,000 copies in the Asian markets as of 2010, also winning SCEJ's PlayStation Gold Award.[1] However, after Yakuza 4, Sega said that sales were slow in North America and Europe due to "the adverse market condition," noting "sluggish personal consumption" in those regions.[23]

The original game was heavily acclaimed in Japan for combining innovative game play with cinema like story telling and character development on the back of Japan's criminal underground.[24] Weekly Famitsu gave high scores to the series, Yakuza scored 37/40 (92.5/100),[25] Yakuza 2 scored 38/40 (95/100),[26] Yakuza Kenzan! scored 37/40 (92,5/100),[26] Yakuza 3 scored 38/40 (95/100)[26] and Yakuza 4 scored 38/40 (95/100).[27]

Each installment earned an excellence award at the Japan Game Awards and had a PlayStation the Best re-release in both Japanese, Asian and Korean markets.[28]

The western localized versions were released between one and two years after the originals and received generally favorable reviews.[29]

On December 8, 2009 Sega of America and Sega Europe issued a joint press release stating "Sega's decision to bring the game to its western territories was heavily influenced by the recognition of Yakuza's enthusiastic fan base throughout the U.S. and Europe. Yakuza 3 will be available exclusively on the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system in the spring of 2010".[30]

The Japanese entertainment industry gave Yakuza 3 the "Award for excellence" in the 2009 Japan Game Awards "Games of the Year Division" for its "dramatic story development, freedom of the story and the graphics elaborated up to the details of the work. In addition, amusement found in every portion of the game including the vast number of sub-stories and mini games. This work was awarded the prize for the high quality of entertainment."[31] It was also well received in the west, with the UK's Official Playstation Magazine awarding it 9/10; however, it was criticized for the removal of content during localization.

In 2010, the Japan Game Awards once again gave a Yakuza series' game the "Award for Excellence". Yakuza 4 won due to "a rich story with a high degree of freedom that is developed from the different perspectives of the 4 characters. There are also many play spots that boast several sub-stories and mini games. The astounding quality and volume provide a high level of entertainment and was the reason for granting this award".[32]

In 2012, Yakuza 5 received a perfect 40/40 score from Famitsu. [1]

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sega (2009.03.19). 『龍が如く3』国内出荷50万本突破!. Ryu Ga Gotoku portal site. Retrieved on 2010-01-01
  2. Amusement Machine Sales Business Segment: Second Quarter Review. Segment Information. Sega Sammy Holdings (September 2010). Retrieved on May 19, 2012
  3. Sympathy for the Underdog opening[dead link]
  4. Yakuza. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  5. Yakuza – PS2. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  6. Yakuza. Famitsu. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  7. Yakuza 2. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  8. Yakuza 2 – PS2. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  9. Yakuza 2. Famitsu. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  10. Error on call to Template:Cite web: Parameters url and title must be specified. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  11. Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! – PS3. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  12. Yakuza Kenzan! Reviews. Famitsu. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  13. Yakuza 3. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  14. Yakuza 3 – PS3. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-12-26
  15. Yakuza 3. Famitsu. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  16. Yakuza 4. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  17. Yakuza 4 – PS3. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  18. Yakuza 4. Famitsu. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  19. Yakuza: Dead Souls Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  20. Yakuza: Dead Souls. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  21. Yakuza: Dead Souls. Famitsu.
  22. 仗桐安. SCEJ Announces PlayStation Awards 2007 Winners News. TVG website.
  23. Sega Earnings Suffer. Joystiq. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  24. Official Yakuza website. Sega. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006 Retrieved on August 15, 2006
  25. Inside Famitsu: Rogue Galaxy and More – Edge Magazine. (2004-11-29). Retrieved on 2011-09-20
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Yakuza 3 wows Famitsu, Posted on February 17, 2009 by Nick. Retrieved on 2011-09-20
  27. Sal Romano (2010-09-13). Yakuza 4 scores 38/40 in Famitsu. Gematsu. Retrieved on 2011-09-20
  28. Official Yakuza website (Japan)- History & Story. Sega. Retrieved on December 26, 2009
  29. Metacritic
  30. Sega of America, Sega Europe (2009.12.08). Toshihiro Nagoshi's Yakuza 3 Officially Slated for Release in the West. Sega. Retrieved on 2009-12-29
  31. SCEJ,日本国内でヒットしたタイトルを表彰する「PlayStation Awards 2009」を開催. Retrieved on 2011-11-14
  32. Awarded Games: Games of the Year Division. Retrieved on 2011-11-14

External links

Template:Yakuza series

ar:ياكوزا (سلسلة ألعاب فيديو) fa:یاکوزا (مجموعه)sco:Yakuza (series)