The critically acclaimed series centered on the Japanese mafia has now been gracing our consoles for over a decade. Though most of us have become familiar with the Yakuza franchise name, the Japanese releases were launched under the title Ryū ga Gotoku, which in English, translates to Like a Dragon.
Thanks to the popularity of the most recent release, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the series as a whole is finally being given the mainstream attention it deserves. In order to see just how far the franchise has come, here’s a comprehensive list of every game launched in the Yakuza series in release order.
Every game released in the Yakuza series
The first game that kick-started the lauded franchise, simply entitled Yakuza, was launched internationally in 2006 for the PS2. The story follows Kazuma Kiryu, an influential member of the Japanese mafia whose steadfast attitude constantly earns him the respect of his peers and subordinates.
Yakuza’s release in Japan in 2005 and its subsequent worldwide distribution in 2006 were mostly met with critical acclaim. Many praised it for its gripping storyline, character development, and combat system but there was also slight criticism for some of its in-game mechanics.
Yakuza 2 (2008)
Yakuza 2, a direct sequel to the first installment, was released for the PS2 in Japan in 2006 but had a much later international launch in 2008. Players again take the role of the stoic Kazuma Kiryu as he is plunged once more into the Japanese criminal underworld. Main improvements to the game included adding romantic themes into the story and refining the combat system. Localizations of Yakuza 2 also kept the original Japanese voice acting instead of the heavily criticized English dubs of the first title.
Like a Dragon Arrives! (2008)
Like a Dragon Arrives was the first spin-off release of the Like a Dragon series. Unlike the Yakuza titles, Like a Dragon Arrives takes place in the much earlier Edo period of Japanese history. Set in Kyoto, the story is largely based on parts of Miyamoto Musashi’s life. This first chapter of the Like a Dragon spin-off series was only released in Japan for the PS3 due to Sega’s skepticism at how it would perform internationally.
Yakuza 3 (2010)
Yakuza 3, a direct follow-up to the previous installment, was released in Japan and South East Asia in 2009 and was launched a year later in North America and Europe in 2010. Players once again take the role of Kazuma Kiryu as he is pulled back into the world of the Japanese mafia. Yakuza 3 was the series’ first international release on the PlayStation 3, so a large number of improvements were made to its mechanics and plot line.
Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter (2010)
Similar to the previous spin-off game, Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter only received a Japan launch in 2010 due to Sega doubting its potential international appeal. However, this was the first installment in the series that was developed for the PlayStation Portable. Its gameplay largely followed that of previous Yakuza releases, but the combat system was mainly focused on one-on-one battles as opposed to the more open fights that the initial titles presented.
Yakuza 4 (2011)
Yakuza 4, a sequel to the previous chapter, was initially launched for the PlayStation 3 in Japan in 2010. Following previous distribution trends, it was also subsequently released in both North America and Europe in 2011. Kazuma Kiryu makes a return as the main character but this time he is accompanied by three new protagonists: Masayoshi Tanimura, Shun Akiyama, and Taiga Saejima.
Yakuza: Dead Souls (2012)
A non-canonical spin-off title of the main Yakuza series, Yakuza: Dead Souls heavily veered away from the typical themes of its predecessors and was instead developed as a survival horror adventure. The game’s story is set within the familiar Kamurocho district where a sudden zombie outbreak has taken hold of the area. Players were given the chance to use four main characters: Shun Akiyama, Goro Majima, Ryuji Goda, and Kazuma Kiryu to navigate the apocalyptic environment.
Black Panther 2: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter (2012)
Black Panther 2: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter is a sequel to the title released in 2010. Players once again take the role of Tatsuya Ukyo as he aims to become stronger by honing his skills through battle. The game’s story is set two years after the events of the previous installment and featured similar combat and mechanics. Black Panther 2 had a Japan-only launch and was also exclusive to the PlayStation Portable, much like the first chapter.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! (2014)
Like a Dragon: Ishin is another spin-off of the similarly named series released in 2014 for the PS3 and PS4. Unlike the mainstream Yakuza titles, this entry is set in the samurai era of Japan much like the first spin-off. A remake for this game is currently in the works and is set to be released in February 2023.
Yakuza 5 (2015)
Yakuza 5 is a sequel to the previously released main series title that retained most of its core mechanics while simultaneously upgrading its gameplay, graphics, and worldbuilding. This entry featured five playable protagonists, the most in the series at that time.
Yakuza 0 (2017)
Released in North America and Europe in 2017, Yakuza 0 was the first prequel entry in the Yakuza series. The story is set seventeen years before the events of the first game and players alternate between Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima as the main characters.
Yakuza Kiwami (2017)
Launched in North America and Europe in 2017 for the PlayStation 4, Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the very first Yakuza game. This entry boasted upgraded graphics, additional story elements, and improved gameplay that was made to resemble Yakuza 0.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2018)
Yakuza 6 would mark the end of an era as it is the last installment that would feature Kazuma Kiryu as the protagonist. Launched worldwide in 2018, it follows the events of the previous mainline entry. Players were also only able to use Kiryu in the game as opposed to the multiple playable characters in previous releases.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2018)
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of the second entry in the Yakuza series. This game would largely follow the same plot as the original release. However, improvements were made to its gameplay and graphics while adding new plot elements to improve its storytelling.
Judgment was a spin-off of the Like a Dragon series that featured drastically different gameplay and plot. The game’s protagonist, Takayuki Yagami, is a private detective that investigates crimes in Kamurocho. This entry placed more of a focus on investigation and stealth as opposed to the beat ’em-up nature of the mainline Yakuza titles.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020)
Like a Dragon marked a departure from the mainline elements typical of the previous releases. It was the first entry in the series to feature turn-based combat along with a new character class system called Jobs. This game is also the first to introduce Ichiban Kasuga as the new protagonist.
Lost Judgment (2021)
Lost Judgment, the sequel to the spin-off’s initial release in 2019, built upon the successful elements of the first game by bringing in additional improvements to both the combat system and the storyline. The protagonist, Takayuki Yagami, returns along with the beat ’em-up battle structure and stealth aspects of the first game.