The Yakuza series is one of the most popular beat-em-up games on the market. The popular beat ’em up was first released in 2005 and quickly gained popularity when the game hit western shops.
The series encompasses a mixture of action/adventure, roleplaying and turn-based strategy based on the Yakuza Movies. The series is set in the fictional area of Kamurcho and consists of several mains series games and spin-off titles.
In total, the series has sold an estimated 14 million units worldwide, making it one of the most popular Japanese original video game series to make it onto western shores.
This article will dive into the Yakuza series further, ranking the Yakuza games in order chronologically. The article will also cover the several spin-off titles not included on this list.
All Yakuza Games in Order (Chronologically)
- Yakuza 0
- Yakuza 1
- Yakuza 3
- Yakuza 4
- Yakuza 5
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
- Yakuza 7
- Yakuza Like a Dragon
Although Yakuza 0 was the sixth entry in the Yakuza series, the popular game was the first of the Yakuza games in order of chronology. Yakuza 0 was released on consoles and PC in 2015 as a direct prequel to the very first Yakuza.
Yakuza 0 occurs between 1988-1989, 17 years before the first Yakuza game. It involves you, the player taking control of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima as they battle rival Yakuza clans.
They fight for supremacy over a piece of land known as the Empty Lot. The game was well-received by critics and fans alike, with an average Metacritic score of 85 and a user rating of 8.5, making it one of the best-received games in the series.
Yakuza 0 is the first of the Yakuza games in order of chronology and one of the best.
Yakuza 1 was the first game released in the franchise and chronologically the second game. The game was originally released in Japan for the Playstation 2 in 2005 and released in 2006 worldwide.
The game was the brainchild of legendary game designer Toshihiro Nagoshi and became a worldwide success, effectively launching the series globally.
Yakuza 1 follows protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he seeks to rebuild the Tojo clan and discover mysteries behind his past. The game consisted of 13 chapters and a variety of simple attack mechanics in beat ’em up gameplay.
Yakuza 1 is one of the lowest-rated games in the franchise, with an average score of 75 but well received by fans with scores of 8.5. Yakuza is the second of the Yakuza games in order of chronology, paving the way for future Yakuza games.
The game was later remade and released for PS4, PS3, and Wii U due to this beloved game’s nostalgic classic appeal. All in all, Yakuza 1 set the stage for future games, helping to lay the series foundations.
Yakuza 2 built upon what players loved about the first game and made it better. The game was the third game in the series chronologically.
The game has you take control of the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu once again as he tries to take down Ryuji Goda as part of the Omni Alliance.
The game features a brand new area Sotenburi, Osaka, and 16 chapters making the game significantly bigger than Yakuza 1. The game also features new locations such as Osaka shopping locations as well as restaurants.
Furthermore, Yakuza 2 has similar battle mechanics to the first installment in the series and interestingly added the ability for horizontal camera control.
Fans well-received Yakuza 2, scoring an 8.7 on Metacritic and a critic score of 77, making it one of the best-loved Yakuza games of all time.
Yakuza 2 was later remade in 2017 for the PlayStation 4 under the new name Yakuza Kiwami 2 and later in 2019 for PC. Likewise, the game got remastered for the PS3 and the Wii U in 2013.
Yakuza 2 is the third of the Yakuza games in order of chronology, effectively building on what Yakuza 1 made great.
Yakuza 3 was the next instalment in the Yakuza franchise and followed protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he tried to start a new life away from the brutal events of the previous games.
However, he quickly finds himself drawn back into his past due to power struggles within the Tojo clan. Yakuza 3 was released on the PlayStation 3 in 2009 and later worldwide in 2010.
Later, Yakuza 3 was remastered as part of The Yakuza Remastered Collection in 2020 with added 1080p resolution, running at 60 fps. The game expanded on the previous instalments in the franchise adding locations such as Okinawa and areas including morning glory beach and Downtown Ryuku.
Yakuza 3’s gameplay, on the other hand, remains much the same as the previous instalments, with only a few gameplay tweaks added to the game.
The game was received well by critics, with an average score of 79 on Metacritic and a user score of 8.2. Although not the most beloved in the franchise, it is still highly popular amongst fans as the fourth of the Yakuza games in order of chronology.
Yakuza 4 was the first game in the franchise to divert away from the classic Yakuza formula, adding brand new gameplay mechanics while removing old ones.
Yakuza 4 was released on the PlayStation 3 in Japan in 2010 and later worldwide in 2011. It was the fifth of the Yakuza games in order of chronology to be released in the franchise.
The game was the first to feature multiple playable characters instead of just the classic Kazuma Kiryu and featured no additional areas for players to explore. Instead, players were confined to the original city of Kamurocho.
Nevertheless, Kamurocho was redesigned and given greater detail by SEGA, allowing players to explore the city’s never-before-seen areas.
The addition of multiple playable characters changed the gameplay dynamics of the game due to each character possessing a unique set of abilities, adding a new dimension of original gameplay to the series.
Yakuza 4 was ranked well by critics, with a score of 78 on the Metacritic scale. Likewise, the game received a high user score of 8.3.
As a result, Yakuza 4 is popular amongst franchise fans despite reinventing the wheel in gameplay. The game helped to revitalize the Yakuza franchise, taking the series in a bold new direction. Thus, Yakuza 4 is heavily underrated.
Perhaps one of the highest-rated games in the franchise is Yakuza 5, adored by critics and fans alike; the game is highly sought after as one of the series very best games.
Yakuza 5 was originally released in Japan on the PlayStation 3 in 2012 and later globally in 2015. The game kept the multiple-player gameplay mechanics from Yakuza 4 and refined them, adding great depth to the classic Yakuza beat-em-up gameplay.
Once again, Yakuza 5 follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu as he is drawn into a deadly conflict between the Tojo clan and the Omni Alliance. The game is the largest series, featuring 21 chapters and a vast range of mini-games and other activities.
Yakuza 5 also features a much-improved customization and battle system, making the game one of the series best. The game was remastered in 2019 on the PS4 adding enhanced graphics and framerates.
Conclusively, the game received a Metacritic score of 83 from critics and a high user score of 8.6, making the game one of the highest-rated games in the series.
Yakuza 5 fine-tuned the Yakuza franchise with refined gameplay and excellent story, making it one of the beat em up all-time greats. Yakuza 5 is the sixth of the Yakuza games in order of chronology.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
In Japan, Yakuza 6 was the seventh instalment in the franchise chronologically and was released on the PS4 in 2016. In 2018 the game was later released worldwide and in 2021 released on Xbox One and PC.
Yakuza 6 is the seventh of the Yakuza games in order of chronology. The game went back to the original roots of its predecessors, with only one player being playable, that being Kazuma Kiryu.
Like Yakuza 5, the game is sought after as one of the series best, achieving critic scores of 83 and user scores of 8.4 on Metacritic.
Yakuza 6 follows protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as he seeks to find out what happened to his daughter. The game is a swan song to the previous games in the series, including fan-favorite locations, classic Kazuma Kiryu gameplay, and a story that will put you on the edge of your seat.
The game effectively ends Kazuma Kiryu’s story in the Yakuza universe perfectly. Yakuza 6 also made perfect use of the PS4’s enhanced power and framerates, giving the game the gameplay polish and refinement it deserves. As a result, Yakuza 6 is one of the best beat-em-up games of all time.
Yakuza Like a Dragon
Yakuza Like a Dragon is the eighth instalment in the main series of Yakuza games. The series’s latest release was released in 2020 on PS4, PS5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S.
The game was the first in the series not to feature the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu but rather Ichiban Kasuga. The game follows Ichiban as he seeks revenge within the Tojo clan, who has left him for dead.
Yakuza Like a Dragon was also the first game to feature turned-based gameplay rather than the classic beat ’em up gameplay. Similarly, Yakuza Like a Dragon included brand new areas such as the Yokohama district and favorite fan areas such as the Kamurocho.
Like a Dragon was the first game in the series to come to an Xbox platform, and one of the first release titles on the Xbox Series X and S.
Yakuza like a Dragon was surprisingly well-received by fans and critics alike. The game scored an average of 84 on Metacritic making the game one of the most highly ranked games within the series.
The game also scored a slightly lower but respectable score from users. Overall, Yakuza Like a Dragon not only reinvented Yakuza but done so with perfection to create a standout turn-based RPG.
Yakuza Like a Dragon is the eighth of the Yakuza games in order of chronology and the last game in the main series of games. The game is likely to set the trend for future main series Yakuza games, shifting the series away from beat ’em up gameplay and towards turn-based RPG gameplay.
The Yakuza franchise also consisted of several spin-off titles separated from the eight main series Yakuza games in order canonically, above. Below is a list of spin-off Yakuza games that have helped to expand the Yakuza universe far beyond the classic beat ’em up the gameplay of the main series games.
Spin-off Yakuza Titles:-
- Yakuza Dead Souls
- Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
- Lost Judgement
Yakuza Dead Souls
Yakuza Dead Souls is a unique Yakuza game that is a third-person action shooter instead of beat-em-up gameplay. If this article were ranking Yakuza games in order of how original they were, this game would come near the top.
The game was originally released in 2011 in Japan and worldwide in 2012 as a non-canonical follow-up to Yakuza 4. The game takes place in the years following Yakuza 4 and features four playable characters from the previous games.
Yakuza Dead Souls has a completely new and original story featuring a zombie apocalypse and shooter gameplay to accompany it. The game has you defend the city of Kamurocho in the hope of pushing back the zombie invasion before it’s too late.
Alongside completely new third-person shooting mechanics, the game also features 17 chapters split across five different parts.
Dead Souls also features weapon customization and a range of skills for characters to learn, offering considerable gameplay depth and replayability.
Although the game was received relatively well by fans with a Metacritic user score of 7.5, the game was not received well by critics with an average score of 64, making it one of the worst-rated games of the series.
Nevertheless, the game did try to take a fresh new approach with the series. For this, critics should commend the game. Thus, despite harsh criticism, the game’s originality does make it stand out.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is a unique spin-off game set in the universe of Fist of the North Star but using gameplay from the Yakuza series. The game was released in Japan and worldwide in 2018 to popular fan reception.
The game focuses on a post-apocalyptic world where humans fight for survival in a society built upon violence and fear.
The game has you take control of protagonist Kenshiro as he tries to find and gain access to the city of Eden, a city of peace with no war. The game follows Kenshiro as he tries to enter the city to find his fiance Yuria.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise takes the classic Yakuza gameplay we loved from the Yakuza games and blends it perfectly with the North Star: Lost Paradise, adding elements of beat ’em up and RPG based action gameplay.
Although the game is not a direct Yakuza title, it has taken direct inspiration from the Yakuza franchise with a similar art style and gameplay. The game consists of 11 chapters making it a length addition to the North Star: Lost Paradise franchise.
On average, the game reviewed 72 on Metacritic according to critics and 7.8 according to users. Even though the game received a rating, it is nice to see a game taking inspiration from the Yakuza franchise and merging it with an existing gaming franchise.
Judgement is a fairly new spin-off game released in Japan in 2018 and worldwide in June 2019. The game follows the protagonist Takayuki Yagami, a detective who seeks to find the truth behind the deaths of three Yakuza members in Kamurocho, the original town of the Yakuza games.
The game borrows the Yakuza style gameplay mechanics directly but differs in terms of storyline and plot. Judgement takes inspiration more closely to Yakuza 0 using a similar battle system.
Furthermore, Judgement also includes an investigation mode adding more gameplay elements to the game. Judgement consists of 13 chapters, making the game lengthy and full of replayability.
The game was critically acclaimed, receiving an 80 on Metacritic from critics and an 8.5 from users, making it one of the best-rated spin-off games of the franchise.
The game’s high critic score is well deserved, taking a new direction within the Yakuza universe. Once again proving that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio is the master at expanding their universe of Yakuza in unique and interesting ways.
Lost Judgement is the direct sequel to Judgement, released in September 2021 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S. The game keeps much of the beat ’em up gameplay mechanics present in the original Judgment game and brings a new story to the Yakuza universe.
The game is once again based in the district of Kamurocho, Tokyo and several other locations. The game includes an expansive open world and various gameplay mechanics, which brings Lost Judgement to life.
The story continues directly from the first game, building on the original game and offering new story beats as Takayuki Yagami seeks to unravel new mysteries and solve new crimes.
Much like its predecessor, Lost Judgement reviewed well. The game achieved an 83 on Metacritic amongst critics and an exceptionally high 8.9 from users, making it the highest-rated game by fans in the Yakuza franchise.
Overall, Lost Judgement is one of the best spin off Yakuza games, paving the way for future Judgement titles. In the future, it is likely we will see more games in the Judgement series as it becomes more popular and mainstream.
Overall, the Yakuza franchise is chock full of quality main-series Yakuza games and spin of titles. This article has ranked all the Yakuza games in order of chronology while also covering several of the franchises best spin-off games.
As highlighted above, the Yakuza series has evolved much over time, with the games evolving to include new gameplay styles such as multiple playable characters and even entirely new gameplay mechanics such as turn-based RPG gameplay as present in Yakuza Like a Dragon.
Thus, the Yakuza series has begun to reinvent itself, adding fresh new twists and takes on the beloved series over the years. Much to the developer’s credit, despite innovative gameplay changes, the quality of the games has remained the same.
Thus, showing how much care the developers and publishers of the game have put into the franchise. As a result, it is no surprise that the Yakuza series has hit the impressive numbers highlighted at the start of this article and has broken through into western markets.
The Yakuza games continue to be at the forefront of the classic beat ’em up gameplay and the very best within the genre. Similarly, Yakuza’s spin-off titles represent the series at its very best, showing how to successfully and effectively build a video game universe.
Game titles such as Judgement and Lost Judgement represent the best of the series, paving the way for future instalments in the franchise. It is likely in the future, due to the success of Judgement, more games in the series will be released, expanding the Yakuza series of games and the Yakuza universe as a whole.
We will also likely get more main series games in the form of Yakuza Like a Dragon, with future instalments in the franchise focusing on turn-based RPG gameplay rather than the open-world beat ’em up style gameplay.
Nevertheless, Yakuza fans have a lot to look forward to in the future with the release of future main series games and spin-off titles.