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All 12 Yakuza games, ranked from worst to best

Enter the dragon

Sega

Sega’s Yakuza series is renowned for its absurd mix of comedy and melodrama, and each game is certainly a wholly unique experience. Since its introduction in 2005, Yakuza has grown by leaps and bounds, turning into one of Sega’s flagship franchises in recent years.

While it’s hard to point to any Yakuza game as “bad,” we’ve put together a ranking of every game from the series that’s been released in the West. As a note, this ranking includes spinoffs like Judgment but doesn’t include anything that hasn’t been officially localized, like the PSP spinoff Yakuza: Black Panther. At the same time, the Kiwami remakes of Yakuza 1 and 2 have been included, instead of the original PS2 games.

12

Yakuza: Dead Souls

Dead Souls brings the zombie apocalypse to Kamurocho.Sega

Yakuza: Dead Souls is a strange game in an already strange series, infesting the setting of Kamurocho with a zombie apocalypse. Dead Souls flirted with adding shooting mechanics to the franchise, and while the gameplay isn’t necessarily bad, it’s very clear it was experimental. What results is a game that still has a lot of the quirkiness and charm, but simply feels inferior in terms of gameplay.

11

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

No other anime could fit Yakuza like Fist of the North Star.Sega

Lost Paradise represents the first time RGG Studio brought its Yakuza formula to another series, and Fist of the North Star turned out to be the perfect fit. With a brand new story and intense action combat that focuses on execution, Lost Paradise feels like a weird amalgamation of the two franchises. It ultimately feels like a smaller less impactful Yakuza experience, but there’s still a good time to be had.

10

Yakuza 3

Yakuza 3’s story feels drastically different from the rest of the franchise.Sega

Yakuza 3, structurally, feels quite a bit different than the rest of the series, opting for a slower and more intimate story with a lengthy intro sequence. Unfortunately, Yakuza 3’s combat and systems also feel a bit basic compared to the rest of the series, as the game is really starting to show its age. There’s still a wonderfully emotional story underneath everything, but the whole package just doesn’t feel as robust as other entries.

09

Yakuza Kiwami

Yakuza Kiwami is a brilliant remake, but the limited scope of the original game still holds it back.Sega

Yakuza Kiwami is a tremendously ambitious remake but just like Yakuza 3, Kiwami’s scope simply feels more limited because of its early design. The story of Yakuza Kiwami lacks much of the depth and nuance later entries would introduce, and the combat feels like a more limited version of Yakuza 0. Still, getting to see the origins of Kazuma Kiryu is a special experience.

08

Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4 was an experimental entry that has plenty of successes and failures.Sega

Yakuza 4 was a big change-up for the series, focusing on four different protagonists whose stories intersect. While it’s a great idea, a lot of Yakuza 4’s storytelling ends up feeling messy and uneven and Tanimura’s story, in particular, feels like the odd one out. Combat and gameplay also don’t feel like a huge step up from Yakuza 3, more like a minor iteration.

07

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Kiwami 2 updates one of Kazuma Kiryu’s very best stories.Sega

Yakuza 2 undoubtedly features one of the very best stories in the entire franchise, really digging into the conflict Kiryu feels at wanting to leave his life of crime. Yakuza Kiwami 2 also fixes nearly every problem with the original game, making it easier to find substories and streamline combat.

06

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Yakuza 6 is the perfect sendoff for Kazuma Kiryu.Sega

Yakuza 6 is an absolute emotional roller coaster of a game, seemingly bringing an end to Kiryu’s saga in a fitting story that focuses on how far people go for family. In many ways, Yakuza 6 feels like a smaller and more focused experience, and that’s absolutely for the better in this case. Varied substories and minigames, combat that feels more visceral because of the Dragon Engine, and a fantastic cast of characters really help Yakuza 6 excel.

05

Lost Judgment

Lost Judgment brings a wealth of improvements, but lacks the intrigue of the previous game.Sega

Lost Judgment makes some great improvements to the previous game’s combat and gameplay, but its story, while still great, lacks intrigue and drama. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Lost Judgment, however, is the series of optional School Stories that contain fantastic characters and gameplay twists, almost feeling like another self-contained game.

04

Yakuza 5

Yakuza 5 runs with the formula established by the previous game, making a truly special experience.Sega

Yakuza 5 takes the formula established in Yakuza 4 and turns it into something truly special, making each character’s story feel dynamic and different, both in terms of story, combat, and extra gameplay like minigames. This also marks the first time Haruka is a playable character, and her quest to become an idol brings in interesting elements to the game. Yakuza 5 is easily the longest game in the series, but it’s also one of the most ambitious.

03

Judgment

Judgment is a brilliant twist on the Yakuza formula, with a cast of characters that instantly feel like classics.Sega

Judgment is a brilliant use of the Yakuza formula and a game that has one of the very best stories RGG has ever told. Yagami and his crew instantly feel familiar, but the slow burn of the story builds into an incredible crescendo in the last few hours. There are some truly interesting gameplay additions in Judgment as well, like a friend system that makes Kamurocho feel more live-in than ever.

02

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Like a Dragon is a bold reinvention of the Yakuza formula.Sega

Yakuza: Like a Dragon feels like a complete reinvention of the series, and it’s brilliant in almost every way. Ichiban is an utterly fascinating character, and the new turn-based combat works wonders for making the game feel fresh. Like a Dragon also has a hugely ambitious narrative that tackles themes like the hypocrisy of society, and the truth about justice. Yakuza: Like a Dragon truly breathes new life into a series that’s long been happy to do the same thing.

01

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 has everything you could want from a Yakuza game, and then some. Sega

Yakuza 0 truly feels like the “definitive” Yakuza experience in every way, from the dynamic combat with multiple styles to the dual-protagonist story that surges with melodrama. Serving as a prequel, seeing Kamurocho in the booming 1980s is fascinating, and there are some great minigames to go along with that, like Disco Dancing and the beloved Cabaret Club. Yakuza 0 represents the franchise at its very best and provides even more complexity to already beloved characters.

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