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Yakuza: Sega’s New Tentpole Franchise?

Sega has had a lot of great franchise over the years. Sonic is of course is the big one, but
they also own classics like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Crazy taxi, Daytona USA, Virtua
Fighter and Phantasy Star, as well as modern games such as Football Manager and Sakura
Wars. There are many others to list, all with fans around the world. One of the fastest
growing and most critically acclaimed franchises in their roster though is the Yakuza series
(Ryū ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) in Japan).

First released in 2005 on the PlayStation 2, Yakuza was a crime beat ’em up, starring Kiryu
Kazuma, a former member who has been released from prison for a transgression he didn’t
commit and finds himself in the middle of a gang warfare as he tries to protect a young girl. It
was Sega’s answer to the Grand Theft Auto series, which were huge at the time.

Yakuza features the action, crime and open world setting you’d expect, but there are many
differences. There are no driving mechanics, as all the action is set in the small red light
district, Kamurocho. Weapons are uncommon, with guns being rare and only briefly of use.
Strikes, throws and Heat moves are the arsenal you have as you fight off enemies.

What separates the Yakuza series from similar crime games is the humour. Countless side-
quests have Kiryu (and other charters who become playable in later instalments) in wacky
scenarios and meeting the bizarre citizens of Tokyo. The action also became more over the
top, as Heat moves expand from simple big attacks to crazy slams, weapon actions, brutal
finishes and more amusing techniques.

The main story of the Yakuza series is always serious, but there is plenty of goofy fun around
every corner. The straight laced Kiryu often finds himself in crazy situations that will usually
end in a brawl. Yakuza 0 for example features Kiryu and his rival Majima in such side-quests
as helping a man reconnect with his family, making a friend through bathroom stall
messages, getting a stolen game back for a child, rescuing a woman from a cult, trying to
sneak past people to buy an adult magazine, protecting and then dancing with a Michael
Jackson stand-in, solving Japan’s tax problems and more.

There are dozens of mini-games and you could spend all your time with these alone. In just
Yakuza 0, you can run a real estate business, manage a nightclub, play stock car racing,
create a network of weapon suppliers, collect cards, go to telephone clubs, play classic Sega
arcade games Outrun and Space Harrier, win prizes in claw machines, play baseball and
bowling, go to karaoke and disco dancing, among countless others. Casino games are
common in the Yakuza games and they allow Kiryu and allies to win more money for their
quest, with some being dice games, pachinko, blackjack, slot machines, betting on catfight
matches. If all the exciting action becomes too much, but you want to carry on playing casino
games, Intercasino provide online slot games you could want to play so you can take break
from dishing out Heat moves to thugs.

The Yakuza series was initially hyped a in the US, with a full localisation and featured many
top voice talents. The game was a success in Japan, but left a lot to be desired elsewhere.
When the squeal launched in 2006, it was not given full voice acting in the west and
advertising was lower. Yakuza 3 and 4 would follow on the PS3 and the franchise would start
to find it's footing, by fusing the crime drama with the OTT action and silly side missions.
The series started to stagnate abroad. PSP game Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (Black
Panther: Like a Dragon) and spin-off Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! were never released outside of
Japan. Things looked bad for Yakuza 5, as the amount of work necessary to translate the

The Yakuza series was initially hyped a in the US, with a full localisation and featured many
top voice talents. The game was a success in Japan, but left a lot to be desired elsewhere.
When the squeal launched in 2006, it was not given full voice acting in the west and
advertising was lower. Yakuza 3 and 4 would follow on the PS3 and the franchise would start
to find it’s footing, by fusing the crime drama with the OTT action and silly side missions.
The series started to stagnate abroad. PSP game Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (Black
Panther: Like a Dragon) and spin-off Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! were never released outside of
Japan. Things looked bad for Yakuza 5, as the amount of work necessary to translate the whole game (even with keeping the Japanese voices) were staggering and not worth the money. However, fan support encouraged Sega to move forward with the fifth main entry in the West. After being a free game on PlayStation Plus and the launch of Yakuza 0 on the PS4, the games have become just as big outside of Japan. The crazy action, fun mini-games and impressive graphics have hooked the world. Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the first game, was a hit and Yakuza 6 is set for a release worldwide next year, with Yakuza Kiwami 2 also set for sale in Europe, America, etc.

The quality, fan support and fun of the Yakuza games only continues to grow. These fan
favourite games that see Kiryu, Majima and friends take on the Japanese underworld while
finding time to do good deeds and powerbomb people into railings, are only going to get
bigger and may be Sega's newest number one game franchise.

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