Description official description
Kiryu Kazuma was brought up in the Sunflower Orphanage, and has been protected since his childhood by a lieutenant of the Dojima Family, affiliated with the Tokyo-based Tojo Clan of the Japanese organized crime syndicate, the yakuza. His back covered with a tattoo of a dragon, Kazuma soon becomes a prominent member of the Dojima Family - until he takes the blame for the murder of its leader in order to protect his best friend, and is sent to prison.
Ten years later, Kazuma returns to his home town Kamurocho. He finds out that Yumi Sawamura, a young woman he grew up with in the orphanage, has disappeared. Ten billion yen has been stolen from the Tojo Clan, and various yakuza groups are searching for the money everywhere. Against his will, Kazuma becomes involved again in the struggles and intrigues of the yakuza world.
Yakuza is a hybrid game that contains elements of free-roaming exploration, hand-to-hand fighting, and role-playing. In the exploration mode, Kazuma explores the Kamurocho district on foot. The game's structure is mission-based: the player can, for the most part, explore the town, entering some of the buildings, shopping, or participating in various mini-games, such as UFO catcher, batting cage, slot machines, blackjack, and others. Beside plot-advancing missions, the game also features side quests, which can be triggered by interacting with some of the characters roaming the town.
Hostile yakuza will often approach Kazuma on the city streets or during the missions, which leads to combat sequences. The battles take place on separate screens; Kazuma must eliminate all of his enemies to achieve victory. Though guns can be used by Kazuma or his opponents, the vast majority of the fights involve melee combat. Kazuma can fight bare-handed, and is able to execute a variety of moves - punches, kicks, grabbing, throwing, and combinations thereof. In addition, the player can interact with many objects seen on the battle screen and use them as weapons. These include standard weapons such as baseball bats, but also more exotic items, e.g. chairs, umbrellas, neon signs (which electrify enemies), and even larger objects such as bicycles. Weapons usually break after a few uses, but Kazuma can also disarm opponents and take possession of the weapons they are using.
Role-playing elements are present in the game's economy (money is gained after fights and can be spent on food, drinks, healing items, weapons, gifts, etc.) and in the character growth system. Kazuma receives experience points and levels up following battles. The player is able to distribute ability points when leveling up, increasing Kazuma's health, heat gauge (special power meter), and unlocking new moves.
- 龍が如く - Japanese spelling
Credits (PlayStation 2 version)
125 People (119 developers, 6 thanks) · View all
|VP of Product Development|
|Senior Pubishing Manager|
|Build Mastering & Duplication|
|Sr. QA Lead|
|QA Lead Tester|
|QA Asst. Lead Tester|
|Casting, Celebrity Acquisition, Voice Production||
|Additional Voice Direction|
|Blindlight VO Producer|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 77% (based on 62 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 31 ratings with 2 reviews)
I'm not that very much into brawlers. I want games to tell me a story and to use this mediums mechanics to do so. Most fighting games fall short of that. Yakuza doesn't.
I enjoyed Yakuza a lot. The fights were fun and learning new combos and moves kept me at the otherwise repetitive action of random fights in the streets. The boss fights on the other hand were nicely crafted in terms of presentation, setting and strategic challenge.
I liked the different environments you got to visit as Kojima. They never felt out of place or just like another stage for the next fight. Instead they always made sense in conjunction with the progress of the story.
The characters were well portrayed and made me relate with and care for them, their feelings and their fates. But foremost they were believable. They had motivations, human motivations: misplaced trust or loyalty, love, responsibility, greed, and yes delusions of grandeur...
The story was engaging in a way you'd expect from a good Yakuza movie. It kept me going through one more fight, one more setting...
The most important thing: I had fun being Kojima. I liked being a stubborn guy with an antiquated sense of loyalty. I enjoyed being a bad-ass fighting machine nobody could really step up to.
Yes, of course he goes down because of some stupid, old stereotypes he still believes in. Yes, the world is not black and white the way he wants it to be. And yes, he has to pay for holding on to some romantic views. But that's what good stories are about: About the consequences people have to face.
I didn't like the washed out graphics the city you had to spent a lot time running through was made of. I know the PS2 graphics engine can do better. Although the graphics made the city seem rainy and somewhat sorrowful - which made sense for the atmosphere - I found them overly dull and boring in the long run.
For my taste the dialogues were sometimes just to much. The habit to repeat every question or statement that was just said made me reconsider the games target audience: robots? preschool children? people with serious mental afflictions?
I didn't like the number of unavoidable random battles in the city streets. Sometimes I just wanted to know how the story goes on or finish my next quest. But I had to go through stupid and useless battles.
One line of quests I started to dislike as the game progressed was the Haruka line. You can use one character only so many times as a hook for a plot twist or a quest. She is the main character but some small quests were just to tedious.
The story ending was completely plausible and wasn't out of place in any kind. But for my taste it was just a little bit to cheesy. I like my stories with a more darker and mature touch.
The Bottom Line
Yakuza is a rare combination: A fun brawler within an authentic Japanese setting and a nice Yakuza story.
PlayStation 2 · by Caynreth (6) · 2008
Game very quickly thrusts you into a fairly simple gameplay and promising storyline. But what at first seems just to be promising really pays off to the fullest it makes you no wonder why they made a movie after this game.
You play Kazuma Kiryu, a yakuza dragon well known by all your enemies, if only for his hard fists and unrivaled stamina. Your enemies fear you, and your subordinates want to be like you. But you don't get to enjoy the status for too long, as you decide to take the blame for killing the boss to save your best friend and the woman you love. Thus game fairly quickly fast forwards to 10 years later as you get released from the prison, only to realise a helluva lot has changed since.
Game focuses mainly on martial art fighting, although there are certain enemies that wield firearms, as well as you can, but that just breaks all the fun. And it never gets old to use any bystanding object to crush your enemies with, especially when in rage mode. After each battle you are left with HP you finished the battle, it won't refill on its own... you can check the restaurants or buy an ice cream to recover your health, as well as you can buy various food supplements or potions that will help you recover even during the battle (although with max 9 slots for items, and 4 slots for weapons).
Car chasing scenes, battling in the arena, taking on the street hoodlums, hitting on the girls, checking on the striptease clubs, fighting a horde of enemies at once, confronting the Yakuza, confronting the Triad, confronting the police, it's all there, and that's just the surface. The story has many twists and surprises up its sleeve, and gives you just as much action elements as a touching moments. SEGA put a lot of effort not just in the story, but to hire some well known actors to do the voices, such as Michael Madsen, Eliza Dushku, Mark Hamill, Michael Rosenbaum, Rachael Leigh Cook, and a few others.
Game is split into 13 chapters, and there are lots and lots of cinematics in each of them, available to watch once your finish the game or during your staying at the hideaout. So elements known only in the MGS franchise creating a feeling of playing a movie is present. Game has lots of subquests and lets you roam freely through the town with an exact element like in Shenmue series thus propelling this game even higher. It combines well action and adventure elements with story progressing pretty fast making you guess will there be anyone left out there after all this.
During the fighting, locking onto enemies is not that good, making you often punch the air instead, and since Kazuma has to finish his combo, enemy has plenty of time to come behind you and strike you where it hurts the most.
Also, some of the bosses can see a bit silly almost like having unnatural skills, with a bit strange balance as to when you can hit someone or not even without being in the guard mode, but after a few attempts, it is all passable nonetheless.
The Bottom Line
Making me write a review after years of not writing any just shows what an impact this game left on me, I guess. I'm still looking forward to try the sequels, even if they don't get released for Europe. When you first start playing, it may seem this game will soon end, but it constantly gets you mistaken and lasts and lasts for a good while even if you don't take any subquests or spend time on exploring around. I guess the structure of this game is closest to Shenmue games, it seems almost the same with a different setting and less fighting moves, but much more cinematics. Maybe it's just my feeling, but this game doesn't seem to gain much on the popularity... alas, I hope that will change, especially with sequels... or maybe I'm just getting old and keep liking the games that seem like overran by the time. Be that as it may, I think this is an experience that will leave you satisfied if you can overlook past some fighting elements.
PlayStation 2 · by MAT (238621) · 2012
|Nuke the credits||Donatello (453)||Sep 10th, 2017|
|In the "game with dating" group?||Donatello (453)||Jan 6th, 2013|
|Quick Time Events?||BurningStickMan (17915)||Apr 9th, 2011|
The original Japanese PS2 game came with a CERO rating of 18+ with descriptors for Crime, Gambling, and Sexual Themes. Later re-releases came with a rating of D carrying the same descriptors.
References to the game
The movie Ryu ga Gotoku (official site) was based on the game, following the storyline pretty close with all the locations, characters, and even the fighting effects from the game.
Related Sites +
Official game website
- MobyGames ID: 24425
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Justin Lambros.
Game added November 2nd, 2006. Last modified April 27th, 2023.