Ranking the Five Best Yakuza Games

With the release of Yakuza Like A Dragon coming to the west in 2020 soon, there are now eight main games in the popular action-adventure beat ‘em up game-franchise, which is based on Japan’s popular yakuza genre of movies. But in addition to the main series of games, there have been numerous spin-offs, rereleases and remakes over the years. So, which are the best Yakuza games of all? Let’s rank the 5 best.

5. Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!

The first spin-off to the main Yakuza series, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!, is set during the seventeenth-century in Kyoto. The story follows legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who comes out of retirement to help assassinate a dangerous impostor. Various sub-stories and minigames accompany the main adventure. When it was released in Japan in 2008, the game won the Award for Excellence at the Japan Game Awards.

4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

The dramatic conclusion to the main Yakuza series, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, focuses on the character Kiryu looking after his granddaughter after his daughter is involved in a hit-and-run incident that leaves her in a coma. With superb side-stories and quests that are much more than throwaway distractions from the main gameplay, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life will keep you absorbed for many entertaining hours.

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3. Yakuza 5

Unlike the previous games in the series that all used the same engine, Yakuza 5 really stood out upon its release in Japan in 2012 because of its new graphics engine. The game is also the first in the series to feature five settings throughout Japan with five playable main protagonists. The story begins with the death of the chairman of the Omi Alliance, which destroys the truce between the organisation and the yakuza and could lead to potential war. Yakuza 5 is also full of minigames and distinct features, so you will not get bored playing this game any time soon.

2. Yakuza Kiwami 2

This remake of 2006’s Yakuza 2, the second remake in the game series after Yakuza Kiwami, is similar to the original. With revamped features and beautiful visuals from the new Dragon Engine, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is very appealing to a broader audience. The plot concerns ex-yakuza Kazuma Kiryu, who is called back into action after the murder of the clan’s Fifth Chairman by the yakuza’s rival organisation, the Omi Alliance. You will find tons of additional content compared to the original game, and plenty of sub-stories to keep you entertained for hours.

1. Yakuza 0

The sixth main entry in the Yakuza franchise is a prequel to the original game, so it is the ideal starting point for newcomers to the series and for Yakuza fans who want a deeper understanding of the game world’s characters and their origins. The Yakuza games had been massively popular in Japan for a long time before Yakuza 0 was initially launched in 2015, but it was this game that made the franchise as popular in the west as it is today. The game is undoubtedly one of the best in the series. The story follows Kiryu’s early days as a member of the yakuza, as he confronts his nemesis Goro Majima. Yakuza 0 was nominated for various awards upon its release, and it won many awards too, including the Japan Game Awards Award for Excellence in the Future Division and IGN’s Best Action-Adventure Game of 2017.

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