Ichiban, Kiryu, and Majima from the Yakuza Series

All ‘Yakuza’ Games Ranked Worst to Best

All the Yakuza games are enjoyable, and this is a hill I’m willing to die on. I didn’t spend my teenage years picking random fights on the streets of Kamurocho, singing karaoke, and crying over Kiryu’s story for nothing.

Recommended Videos

So instead, I’m ranking all the mainline games in the Yakuza series based on story and combat. There will also be a couple of standalone Yakuza games here because they’re too good to miss.

12. Yakuza 3

Kiryu on the cover of Yakuza 3
(Sega)

Yakuza 3 was a souls-like daywalker. No, it wasn’t exactly a souls-like, but enemies blocked you like they were in a souls game. But the complaints about this game mainly come from compulsory substories, which feel like chores to many who want to sit down and get to the bottom of the main story.

But playing Yakuza 3 feels like a blast from the past. Although the combat needs work in many ways, the story and the nostalgia should be enough to make you play through it, especially if you’re a longtime fan.

11. Yakuza 4

Akiyama's introduction in Yakuza 4
(Sega)

We’ve had many character changes in Yakuza 4. Playing as Kiryu never gets old, and trust me, you’ll miss him when he’s no longer the protagonist. But playing as Akiyama, Saejima, and Tanimura gave us other fun combat styles and deeper stories to dive into.

It was a revolutionary Yakuza game for its time, and it would’ve ranked higher if it weren’t for the rubber bullet plot twist. That’s a spoiler, but you’ll see what I mean if you play the game.

10. Yakuza 5

Haruka's story in Yakuza 5
(Sega)

Like its predecessor, Yakuza 5 lets you play four different characters in one game. This gives you access to multiple combat styles, which always adds to the fun of beating anyone and everyone you need to. 

Aside from the combat and graphical improvements, Yakuza 5’s stories are diverse. You’re going to help Haruka become an idol in one chapter and go on a mystery chase with Shinada in another. There’s no dull moment in Yakuza 5, and it’s usually a fan favorite.

9. Yakuza Kiwami

Majima showing up in Yakuza Kiwami
(Sega)

Yakuza Kiwami is always a great starting point in the series, which will take you back to 1980s Japan. Cue city pop music and the 1980s economic boom—a great time for the Yakuza.

But how many times can Kiryu get framed for murder? Once is already bad enough, but that makes it twice in Yakuza Kiwami, and you’ll just start feeling too bad for him. If it weren’t for the Marlin Cannon in Yakuza 0 and Miracle Johnson (a Michael Jackson spoof), you’d be crying over Kiryu’s story instead.

8. Yakuza Kiwami 2

Ryuji from Yakuza Kiwami showing up with a katana
(Sega)

Kiryu is a man who has greatness forced upon him, and Yakuza 2 Kiwami proves this point very well. He was minding his own business and raising his adopted children, but a will left behind made Kiryu the next chairman of the Tojo Clan.

Sometimes, being too good at your job can become a punishment. That’s why Kiryu tries to pass on the responsibility of becoming chairman to Daigo Dojima. We’ll get to see Kiryu launch a rescue mission for Haruka and explore Sotenbori, Osaka, for the first time. You don’t get to switch over the fighting styles in this game, but it’s still fun, and the story is too good to pass on.

7. Yakuza 6: Song of Life

Kiryu holding Haruto from Yakuza 6: Song of Life
(Sega)

Yakuza 6: Song of Life and its main story gave us all an overwhelming feeling of despair. Kiryu left the Tojo Clan, but his past as a Yakuza member won’t let go of him. Needless to say, it’s a fitting ending to Kiryu’s run as the main character of the Yakuza series.

We even get a new map area at Onomichi, far away from the nightlife of Kamurocho. The only issue here is that the combat is a little awkward, and you’re stuck with one style compared to the other games. But the substories and the main story will keep you playing the game.

6. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like A Dragon featuring Kasuga and his friends
(Sega)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon gave us Ichiban Kasuga as a protagonist, and it’s very easy to warm up to him and his dark story. In many ways, Ichiban is just as chivalrous as Kiryu, but Ichiban presents himself in a much goofier and more open way compared to our long-time protagonist. What I mean is that Ichiban is literally the type of person who would save a crawfish from becoming sushi.

Even if you’re an old fan who isn’t used to turn-based games, there are many new features that I couldn’t get enough of, like dungeon crawling.

5. Lost Judgment

Yagami confronting his impersonator from Lost Judgment
(Sega)

I’m not putting Lost Judgment up here just because I can walk a dog with Yagami to help me solve cases. Although, arguably, that’s my favorite feature of the game, next to the skateboard feature. What makes Lost Judgment better than its predecessor is its improved gameplay and combat.

But based on story, it doesn’t have twists as shocking as Judgment. Still, investigating a high school that leads to a trail of gruesome crimes is a good indulgence for anybody who loves true crime.

4. Judgment

Yagami from Judgement
(Sega)

Judgment and Lost Judgment are standalones, but you’d be missing out on a great story if you didn’t play this game. Instead of playing as a yakuza, you’re following a frustrated lawyer-turned-detective who’s down on his luck, named Takayuki Yagami.

The only downside every fan agrees on with this game is the tailing missions, which Yagami has to do. But that’s a small price to pay for an amazing and unpredictable story that forces you to hunt for a killer hiding in a vast crime network.

3. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

Joryu aka Kiryu Kazuma from Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Erased His Name
(Sega)

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name brings Kiryu—I mean, Joryu—back with a shiny new fighting style called “Agent,” but you can revert back to his brawler classic “Yakuza” style. Even if this isn’t a mainline game, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name gives us a better idea of what happened to Kiryu after Yakuza 6: Song of Life.

There’s no such thing as retirement for a man whose dark past follows him like a shadow. Maybe if Kiryu was a little better than Clark Kent with disguises, he would’ve stayed hidden. Just like in the previous Yakuza games, you’ll be laughing and crying with Kiryu. But there are modern elements in the game, such as new tech and … VTubers?

2. Yakuza 0

Majima Goro as the King of the Night in Club Cabaret from Yakuza 0
(Sega)

Yakuza 0 is the homecoming of a good old story. This is a prequel to the events of the Yakuza, and it explores both Sotenbori and Kamurocho as two of the most beloved characters in the series.

Everybody already knows how the Dragon of Kamurocho came to be, but what about the Mad Dog of Shimano? You know bits and pieces, but it’s refreshing to play as Majima in this specific game. You gain access to Majima’s fighting styles, and you get to roam the streets of Sotenbori during Majima’s story. Expect some classic street fights and familiar faces, with a great plot to top things off.

1. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Ichiban on a flight to Hawaii from Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
(Sega)

Unlike the other Yakuza games in the series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon has turn-based combat. It also follows a new main character, Ichiban Kasuga. But even for gamers who are usually put off by turn-based RPGs, Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s compelling story and fun gameplay are more than enough reason to keep playing.

I could go on about the shocking twists and turns of the main story, but it’s best for you to go through it yourself without the spoilers if you haven’t yet. Story and characters aside, the game will take you to Hawai’i in search of Ichiban’s mother. That means a brand new map in Hawai’i, far away from Kamurocho, Sotenbori, and Yokohama. Playing this is a refreshing take on the Yakuza series, but it still has the feel of a Yakuza game.

(featured image: SEGA)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article ‘Mushoku Tensei’s Next Episode Is Getting Delayed
Paul apologizing to Rudeus in Mushoku Tensei Season 2, Part 2
Read Article That Ghost in ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ Chapter 261 Had Better Be Gojo Satoru, or Else
Geto Suguru getting annoyed from Jujutsu Kaisen season 2
Read Article ‘One Piece’: All Straw Hats Ranked by Popularity
The Straw Hats, including Jinbe, at Onigashima
Read Article The 10 Strongest ‘Dragon Ball’ Characters, Ranked
The Grand Minister smiling childlike in "Dragon Ball Super"
Read Article ‘Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint’ the Movie Features a Star-Studded Cast
Kim Dokja, main character of Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint
Related Content
Read Article ‘Mushoku Tensei’s Next Episode Is Getting Delayed
Paul apologizing to Rudeus in Mushoku Tensei Season 2, Part 2
Read Article That Ghost in ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ Chapter 261 Had Better Be Gojo Satoru, or Else
Geto Suguru getting annoyed from Jujutsu Kaisen season 2
Read Article ‘One Piece’: All Straw Hats Ranked by Popularity
The Straw Hats, including Jinbe, at Onigashima
Read Article The 10 Strongest ‘Dragon Ball’ Characters, Ranked
The Grand Minister smiling childlike in "Dragon Ball Super"
Read Article ‘Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint’ the Movie Features a Star-Studded Cast
Kim Dokja, main character of Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint
Author
Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.