The Yakuza series is a beloved and sprawling franchise with a rich history, deep storylines, and engaging gameplay. For newcomers to the series, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. With so many games and spin-offs, it’s hard to determine which entry point will give the best experience. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Yakuza series and recommend the best game to start with. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a newcomer to the world of Yakuza, this guide has got you covered. So, let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of Yakuza!
Understanding the Yakuza Series
The Yakuza series is a long-running and critically acclaimed video game franchise developed and published by Sega. The series primarily focuses on the Japanese criminal underworld, known as the Yakuza, and follows the stories of various characters who are involved in the world of organized crime.
What is the Yakuza Series?
The Yakuza series is a series of action-adventure games that are set in various cities throughout Japan. The games follow the stories of various characters who are involved in the Japanese criminal underworld, including gang members, police officers, and civilians. The series is known for its intense and brutal combat system, as well as its immersive and realistic portrayal of the Japanese criminal underworld.
Key Features of the Yakuza Series
- Combat system: The Yakuza series is known for its intense and brutal combat system, which allows players to engage in hand-to-hand combat using a variety of weapons and techniques.
- Open-world exploration: Many of the games in the series feature open-world environments that players can explore at their leisure, allowing them to discover new locations, interact with NPCs, and engage in various side activities.
- Realistic portrayal of the Japanese criminal underworld: The Yakuza series is known for its immersive and realistic portrayal of the Japanese criminal underworld, including the various gangs, traditions, and customs that are associated with it.
- Diverse cast of characters: The Yakuza series features a diverse cast of characters, including gang members, police officers, and civilians, each with their own unique personalities, motivations, and backstories.
Popularity of the Yakuza Series
The Yakuza series has gained a significant following among gamers and critics alike, thanks to its intense combat system, immersive world-building, and compelling storytelling. The series has spawned numerous spin-offs and adaptations, including anime series, films, and novels, further cementing its place as one of the most popular and beloved video game franchises in Japan and around the world.
The Evolution of the Yakuza Series
The First Yakuza Game
The first Yakuza game was released in 2005 and was set in the city of Tokyo. It introduced players to the world of the Japanese yakuza, a crime syndicate with a long and storied history in Japan. The game followed the story of Kazuma Kiryu, a former yakuza member who was dragged back into the world of crime after his boss was murdered. Players controlled Kiryu as he navigated the dangerous world of the yakuza, taking on enemies and allies alike in brutal hand-to-hand combat.
The second game in the series, Yakuza 2, was released in 2006 and continued the story of Kiryu as he attempted to navigate the complex world of the yakuza. The game added new elements to the series, including the introduction of a new playable character, Haruka Sawamura, and a greater focus on the game’s side quests and mini-games.
The third game in the series, Yakuza 3, was released in 2009 and continued the story of Kiryu as he attempted to balance his loyalty to the yakuza with his desire to protect those close to him. The game added new gameplay mechanics, including the introduction of a new combat system and a greater emphasis on exploration and discovery.
The fourth game in the series, Yakuza 4, was released in 2010 and introduced a new protagonist, Shun Akiyama, as well as several other playable characters. The game also introduced a new gameplay mechanic, the “Dragon Engine,” which allowed players to move more freely throughout the game’s world.
The fifth game in the series, Yakuza 5, was released in 2012 and featured four different protagonists, each with their own unique storylines. The game also introduced a new mini-game, “Casino,” which allowed players to gamble and win money.
The prequel to the series, Yakuza 0, was released in 2015 and told the story of Kiryu and Majima before the events of the first game. The game introduced several new gameplay mechanics, including the “Majima Everywhere” system, which allowed players to encounter Majima at various points throughout the game.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
The sixth game in the series, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, was released in 2016 and featured Kiryu as the main protagonist. The game added new gameplay mechanics, including the “Mystery Files” system, which allowed players to uncover hidden secrets throughout the game’s world.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
The seventh game in the series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, was released in 2019 and introduced a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, as well as a new gameplay mechanic, “Job System,” which allowed players to switch between different character classes and abilities. The game also introduced a new mini-game, “Legends,” which allowed players to battle against legendary figures from Japanese history.
What Makes the Yakuza Series Special?
The Yakuza series is known for its engaging and complex storytelling. The games follow the story of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and his journey through the world of the Japanese yakuza. The series explores themes such as loyalty, honor, and family, with a focus on the interpersonal relationships between characters. The story is often told through cinematic cutscenes and well-written dialogue, making it an immersive experience for players.
The characters in the Yakuza series are well-developed and multi-dimensional. Kazuma Kiryu is the central character, but the games also feature a wide cast of supporting characters, each with their own unique personalities and backstories. The characters are well-acted and the dialogue is well-written, making them feel like real people rather than just game characters.
Realistic Depiction of the Yakuza World
The Yakuza series is set in the world of the Japanese yakuza, a criminal organization with a long history in Japan. The games accurately depict the inner workings of the yakuza, including their hierarchy, traditions, and code of conduct. The series also explores the impact of the yakuza on Japanese society and the role they play in the country’s criminal underworld.
Action-Packed Combat System
The Yakuza series features an action-packed combat system that allows players to engage in hand-to-hand combat with enemies. The system is deep and complex, with a variety of moves and tactics that players can use to defeat their opponents. The combat system is also well-integrated into the story, with boss battles and other challenges that require players to use their combat skills.
Mini-Games and Side Content
The Yakuza series is known for its extensive mini-games and side content. These include activities such as karaoke, arcade games, and mini-golf, as well as more serious content such as a fully-functioning stock market simulation and a realistic hostess club management game. The mini-games and side content are well-integrated into the story and provide a break from the main storyline, making the games feel more dynamic and varied.
How to Choose the Best Game to Start with the Yakuza Series
Choosing the right game to start with the Yakuza series can be overwhelming, especially since there are currently 11 mainline games in the series. However, with a few key factors to consider, you can find the perfect entry point to this critically acclaimed franchise.
Factors to Consider
When deciding which Yakuza game to start with, there are several factors to consider:
- Release order: The Yakuza series is best experienced in release order, as each game builds on the story of the previous one.
- Availability: Some Yakuza games are exclusive to certain platforms, so make sure to check which platforms the game is available on.
- Story focus: Some games in the series focus more on story, while others focus more on gameplay.
- Gameplay mechanics: The Yakuza series has evolved over time, so it’s important to choose a game that features mechanics that interest you.
Recommended Games to Start with
Based on the factors listed above, here are some recommended games to start with:
- Yakuza 0: This is the perfect entry point to the series, as it takes place before the events of the other games and sets up the story for the rest of the series.
- Yakuza Kiwami 2: This game is a remake of the second game in the series and is a great follow-up to Yakuza 0.
- Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon: This game is a spin-off that focuses more on gameplay mechanics, making it a great choice for those who want to get into the mechanics of the series.
Pros and Cons of Each Recommended Game
Now that we’ve looked at some recommended games to start with, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:
- Yakuza 0:
- Pros: A great introduction to the series, with a strong story and memorable characters.
- Cons: Some may find the gameplay mechanics to be outdated compared to newer games in the series.
- Yakuza Kiwami 2:
- Pros: A polished remake of a classic game, with a strong story and engaging gameplay mechanics.
- Cons: Some may find the story to be a bit too convoluted for their liking.
- Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon:
- Pros: A fresh take on the series, with new gameplay mechanics and a strong story.
- Cons: Some may find the story to be a bit too political for their liking.
Tips for Enjoying the Yakuza Series
Familiarize Yourself with the Controls
The Yakuza series can be quite complex, with a variety of controls and mechanics that can take some time to get used to. Before diving into the story, take some time to familiarize yourself with the controls and basic mechanics of the game. This will help you feel more comfortable and confident as you progress through the game.
Pay Attention to the Story
The story is a key element of the Yakuza series, and it’s important to pay attention to the various plotlines and characters that make up the world. While it can be tempting to focus solely on the combat and side activities, taking the time to fully engage with the story will add depth and richness to your experience.
Explore the World
The Yakuza series features detailed and immersive worlds, filled with unique locations and interesting characters. Take the time to explore these worlds and interact with the people and environments around you. This will help you feel more connected to the game and give you a better understanding of the world and its characters.
Take Breaks and Manage Your Time
The Yakuza series can be quite lengthy and involved, with multiple games and side activities to keep track of. It’s important to take breaks and manage your time effectively to avoid burnout or frustration. Make sure to prioritize your goals and activities, and take breaks when needed to stay fresh and engaged.
Join the Community
Finally, consider joining the Yakuza community, both online and offline. There are many dedicated fans and players who are happy to share their knowledge and experiences with others. Joining the community can help you stay motivated, connected, and informed about the latest developments in the series.
1. What is the Yakuza series about?
The Yakuza series is a Japanese action-adventure game series developed and published by Sega. The series is centered around the Japanese criminal organization known as the Yakuza, and the games follow the story of various characters who are involved with the Yakuza. The series is known for its fast-paced combat, memorable characters, and unique setting.
2. Which Yakuza game should I start with?
If you’re new to the Yakuza series, we recommend starting with Yakuza 0. This game serves as a prequel to the entire series and introduces players to the world of the Yakuza. It’s also a great entry point because it doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the series, and it provides a comprehensive introduction to the main characters and storylines.
3. Is it necessary to play the games in order?
No, it’s not necessary to play the games in order. Each game in the Yakuza series is a standalone story, and they can be played in any order. However, playing the games in order can provide a better understanding of the overarching story and the relationships between the characters.
4. How long does it take to complete a Yakuza game?
The length of a Yakuza game can vary depending on the game and the player’s playstyle. On average, it takes around 20-30 hours to complete a Yakuza game, but some games can take longer if the player wants to complete all the side quests and mini-games.
5. Are the Yakuza games suitable for children?
The Yakuza series is rated M for Mature, and it contains mature themes, violence, and strong language. While the games are not suitable for children, they are an excellent choice for older teenagers and adults who are interested in a unique and exciting gaming experience.
6. Can I play the Yakuza games on multiple platforms?
Yes, the Yakuza series is available on multiple platforms, including PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. This means that you can play the games on your preferred platform, whether it’s a console or a computer.
7. Are the Yakuza games expensive?
The cost of a Yakuza game can vary depending on the platform and the region. However, the games are generally affordable and offer a great value for the content and experience they provide. Additionally, many of the games in the series are available on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Store for a discounted price, making them even more accessible to players.