Is Like a Dragon: Ishin! a Yakuza game? Answered
Are these ancient samurai warriors also members of the Yakuza?
Like a Dragon: Ishin! has launched at a strange time for the series, as it’s the first entry to embrace a new name in the west, even though it’s using its original Japanese title. This is due to a localization change involving the series’ name, leading to confusion and an eventual franchise rebranding outside Japan. This guide explains how Is Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a Yakuza game and how it is connected to the franchise.
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How is Like a Dragon: Ishin! connected to the Yakuza series
The series that people in North America and Europe know as Yakuza is called Like a Dragon in Japan. As time passed, the decision was made to use the franchise’s original name outside of Japan, starting with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which merged both names to transition to the new title. This means that Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the first entry in the series to use a direct translation of its Japanese name, and this will continue with Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name and Like a Dragon 8 in 2024.
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It’s not unheard of for series to have alternate names in different countries, with the most well-known example being Resident Evil, which is called Biohazard in Japan. These changes are sometimes meant to appeal to foreign markets, while some result from legal issues, as was the case when Star Fox was called Starwing in Europe due to a German company having a similar name and Nintendo wanting to avoid problems further down the line.
In the case of the Yakuza franchise, the original name change was likely to quickly explain the concept, as the series involves warring Yakuza factions in contemporary Japan, while Like a Dragon could easily be mistaken for a fantasy or martial arts series based on the name alone. It seems that whatever concerns led to the name change are no longer a factor, and future Like a Dragon entries can all use the original title.