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 main series games and spin-off titles.
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 of release. The article will also cover 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 first Yakuza.
Yakuza 0 occurs between 1988-1989, 17 years before the first Yakuza game. It involves you, the player taking control of protagonists 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 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 worldwide in 2006.
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 the mysteries behind his past. The game consisted of 13 chapters and various 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. Overall, Yakuza 1 set the stage for future games, helping lay the series’ foundations.
Yakuza 2 built upon what players loved about the first game and improved it. 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 and 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 installment 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 installments 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 installments, 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.
Adding multiple playable characters changed the gameplay dynamics because each character possessed 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, 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 an 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 chronologically the seventh installment in the franchise and was released on the PS4 in 2016. In 2018 the game was later released worldwide and in 2021 on Xbox One and PC.
The game returned to the original roots of its predecessors, with only one player being playable, 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 discover 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 installment 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 on 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 like 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 reinvented Yakuza and did so with perfection to create a standout turn-based RPG.
Yakuza Like a Dragon is the eighth and the last game in the main series of games.
The game will likely 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 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 gameplay of the main series games.
Spin-off Yakuza Titles:-
- Yakuza Dead Souls
- First of the North Star: Lost Paradise
- Lost Judgement
Yakuza Dead Souls
Yakuza Dead Souls is a unique game that is a third-person action shooter instead of beat-em-up gameplay. If this article ranked 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.
Besides completely new third-person shooting mechanics, the game also features 17 chapters split across five 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 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 lengthy 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 it take inspiration from the Yakuza franchise and merge 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. 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 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 is 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.
Lost Judgement is one of the best spin-off Yakuza games, paving the way for future Judgement titles. In the future, we will likely see more games in the Judgement series as it becomes more popular and mainstream.
What is the correct order of Yakuza games?
Below is the list of all the Yakuza games arranged in order of their release. You can play the games in the series mentioned in the list-
Yakuza kiwami 2
Yakuza 4: Remastered
Yakuza 5: Remastered
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
Yakuza 7(Yakuza: Like a Dragon)
Honorable Mentions: Yakuza Kenzan, Ishin, and Dead Souls.
These were all the games that were released in the Yakuza game series.
Which is the hardest Yakuza game?
The original Yakuza, i.e., Yakuza 0, is considered the hardest game in the series of Yakuza games. All the games in this series are hard to play, but players find the Yakuza game harder to play.
How Many Hours Is Yakuza 6?
As per the expectations of the game, Yakuza 6 is about 18.5. This is the time for completing the main objectives of the game. However, if you want to complete all the objectives of the game, then it will take around 51.5 hours to complete the game.
Is Yakuza 6 The Last Kiryu Game?
The game Yakuza 6: The Song of life is the seventh main entry in the Yakuza series. Yakuza 6 is not the last game in the series; Yakuza 7 was released after the Yakuza.
Does Yakuza 4 Have Better Combat Than 3?
Well, Yakuza 4 is the successor to Yakuza 3, and better than it. It has better combat mechanics than Yakuza 3, and its gameplay is much better.
Are The Yakuza Games Easy?
Well, Yakuza Games are hard. However, that does not mean that beginners cannot play the game. After learning the controls, it will be easier for a beginner to play Yakuza games.
Final Thoughts on the are the yakuza games in order
Overall, the Yakuza franchise is chock full of quality main-series Yakuza games and spin titles. This article has ranked all the Yakuza games in order of chronology while also covering several of the franchise’s 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 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 remain at the forefront of the classic beat ’em up gameplay and the best within the genre. Similarly, Yakuza’s spin-off titles represent the series at its 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 installments 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 installments 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.