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M: Kiryu is the way yakuza used to be. We kept the streets clean. People liked us. We didn't bother ordinary citizens. We respected our bosses. Now, guys like that only exist in video games.

S: I don't know any ex-yakuza running orphanages.

K: There was one a few years ago. A good guy.

M: You sure it wasn't just a tax shelter?

K: Sure it was a tax shelter but he ran it like a legitimate thing. You know.

Ryu Ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon), or Yakuza as it's known in America, is a video game brawler series for the PS2 and PS3. The first game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬, Kiryū Kazuma), the "Dragon of Dojima," a former Yakuza whose release from prison after a 10-year sentence sparks the setup of the first game's plot. After his release, Kazuma returns and finds that his friend is missing and the clan to which he once belonged (the Tojo Clan) has had 10 billion yen (approx. $100 million US) stolen from them, and the entire Japanese underworld is now searching for the money. The game was heavily acclaimed in Japan for being the first game to explore Yakuza culture with such depth and as it is claimed authenticity to the nature of Japan's criminal underground (info from Wikipedia).

The series is basically old school beat 'em up with a sandbox setting and RPG elements. While you can just follow the story and play it as a straightforward beat 'em up, there are TONS of sidequests, minigames and secrets to do and find, many of them quite challenging, unique, even funny sometimes. Players can help people on the street with myriad problems, find hidden illegal gambling halls to play in, go to the batting cage to hit a few balls or find an enigmatic martial artist to learn many powerful moves from. And in good ol' Shonen/Seinen series fashion, there's even underground fighting tournaments to participate in, complete with a caged arena. The amount of things to do in the games is mindblowing.

Fighting enemies earns you experience points to gain new moves to punish them with, and you can also learn new moves by doing sidequests. There's also tons of items and equipment to find, and you can even create your own. The series is considered by many players to be the spiritual successor to Shenmue, and is also compared to such classic old-school series as Streets of Rage and River City Ransom.

There have been four games in the main series, with Ryu Ga Gotoku 4 currently available in Japan and North America and Europe. There's also a spin-off called Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan! that takes place in feudal Japan, starring Kiryu Kazuma-no-suke. A very combat-oriented PSP spinoff called Kurohyou: Ryu Ga Gotoku Shinshou focuses on the life of underground fighter Ukyou Tatsuya. The spin-off featuring characters from the main series, Ryu Ga Gotoku: Of The End/Yakuza: Dead Souls, takes place during an... umm... outbreak of the living dead.

Recently, Famitsu announced that Ryu Ga Gotoku 5 will be released in Japan in December 2012, which will feature five different protagonists and cities. While no announcement for a US release has been made yet, this is probably a sure thing. Yay!


This game series includes examples of:

  • A Protagonist Is Ryu - Kazuma Kiryu from obviously, but in a subversion, though, his rival in the second game is Ryuji Goda, another dragon-themed character(although he's more a Noble Demon than a full-blown bad guy, and he still exhibits many traits associated with his name).
  • Abhorrent Admirer - in the third game, Kazuma's animal magnetism draws the attention of the Drag Queen Michiru, causing 'her' to stalk you through several pulse-pounding chase-scenes. How is it possible to run that fast on high heels? The world may never know...
  • Action Commands - Some of Kazuma's Heat Actions have these to potentially increase their damage (and pain to the unfortunate recepient). And in the second game, these sometimes crop up when Kazuma has to avoid some damaging move, tying in with Press X to Not Die.
  • Action Girl / Fair Cop: Kaoru Sayama
  • Actor Allusion - Two of them in the American release of the first game-
  • Actually Four Mooks - Used extensively. Anytime you walk into some random punk on the streets, you may safely assume that he's got anywhere between 1 and 3 buddies hiding somewhere Behind the Black, ready to jump in to help him the moment the fighting starts.
    • Also used with an amusing twist by a Recurring Boss in the third game, the Abhorrent Admirer Drag Queen, Michiru. His uncanny ability to pop up behind you when you least expect it culminates in a lengthy chase where, every time you think you've shaken him, he appears AGAIN, right in front of you, Daffy Duck style. In the end, it's revealed that he's actually a team of cross-dressing identical triplets, and the other two were just chasing you to make sure you 'broke up' with the real Michiru so she could get back together with her Drag-King ex-'boy'friend.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Played over the end credits for the first game.
  • Ascended Extra: Koji Shindo was just a lieutenant of the Nishiki Family notable for leading the back alley ambush on Kazuma at Serena in the first game. In the second, he became the Patriarch of the Nishiki Family.
    • Hiroshi Hayashi was one of Ryuji Goda's right-hand men in 2. In Dead Souls, he's a freaking zombie. And not just any zombie. He's the insanely durable zombie (mutant may be a more suitable term for him) who kicks off the zombie outbreak. Granted, he didn't turn into one by will, and wanted to stop Nikaido and DD from whatever their plans were before he was mutated.
    • Akiyama is probably the bum who was first shown catching money after the 10 billion yen incident. The facial features are a bit different, though that is likely due to the series' Art Evolution, and their clothes are different (they wear a different cap), but they are in the exact same location and do the exact same thing (catch a bill, then gather as much as they can).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking Kazuma taking the title of Chairman of the Tojo Clan. Later Daigo Dojima in future games.
  • Ax Crazy: Goro Majima. Holy crap.
  • Back From the Dead: Lau Ka Long in the third game.
  • Badass: Kiryu Kazuma
    • In fact, nearly anyone who is an ally or associate of Kazuma is a badass in some way.
  • Badass Crew: Everyone who supported and helped Kazuma has at least done something awesome to earn this. Two of them being his Nakama in 4 (Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura) and the other playable characters in Dead Souls (Akiyama again, Goda, Majima)
  • Bad Guy Bar: Deborah in the original is populated solely by people who exist to be beaten up by you.
  • Bad Export for You: The US release of Yakuza 3 unfortunately cut some of the features like mahjong and managing a massage parlor. Granted, they didn't do this out of vindictiveness so much as feeling that western gamers just wouldn't get mahjong or how to play shogi. Though losing the Dating Sim aspect of the hostess clubs was actually well-received by some players. It did, however, result in the MEB location being little more than a booth decorated with pictures of women.
  • Batter Up: Goro Majima, in one of his more psycho moments, takes a baseball bat to one of his underlings.

  Majima: This is the part where you're SUPPOSED TO LAUGH! [WHACK!] LAUGH YOU STUPID MUTHAFUCKA!

  • Betting Minigame: The two hidden (and illegal) Casinos as well as the (also hidden and illegal) Cho-Han Dice Parlor in Kamurocho, although oddly enough they don't offer a direct cash payout, rather relying on a prize exchange system. There's also the Volcano Video Slot Parlor which is more legal and also relies on a prize exchange system for the payoffs.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The other side of Kazuma, once he has been pushed. Don't push him.
  • Big Bad: Akira Nishiki and Kyohei Jingu in the first one, Kim Taejin and Ryuji Goda in the second, Yoshitaka Mine in the third, Seishiro Munakata in the forth, and Tetsu Nikaido in Dead Souls.
    • Bigger Bad: Ryo Takashima in the second game; Andre Richardson in the third; Munakata in the fourth, DD in Dead Souls.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The third game introduces Tsuyoshi Kanda, third patriarch of the Nishiki family. He is shown to be short tempered, violent to his men and also seemingly a rapist, and is named as the most likely suspect for Kashiwagi's murder. Then you actually fight him and it's revealed he's only good at hitting you with furniture, he's too stupid to plan something like an assassination attempt, and the implied rapes are actually heavy handed back masssages, which some of his victims end up liking!
  • Big Damn Villains: The apparent Big Bad of the third gave saves Rikiya from a beheading
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the fourth game, Saejima's murderous rampage at the start of his story has a surprising lack of gunshot wounds on his victims. Which makes perfect sense when you later discover he was set up as The Scapegoat by Katsuragi.
  • Bonus Boss: Jo Amon, an assassin who makes an appearance in every game, shows up when certain requirements are fulfilled. In the fourth game, he makes an appearance with his three brothers to take on Kazuma, Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura. By Dead Souls, he's been zombiefied, but can still be fought in Kamurucho's underground (you know, the one full of zombies and mutants waiting to kick your ass). Players are usually rewarded for defeating him with a Game Breaker, since he's just that hard to kill.
  • Breakable Weapons
  • Bullying a Dragon: While most random encounters are cases of Mugging the Monster, many thugs and gangs seek out fights against you knowing full well who you are and thinking they can take you anyway.
  • Call to Agriculture: Kazuma's call is to manage a tiny beachfront orphanage with ten kids in it, but it's the same idea: this is his peaceful retirement from a life of crime. Or so he hoped, until Yakuza 3 happened.
  • Car Fu: In the first game, everyone's favorite Psycho for Hire Goro Majima literally crashes the party at the Shangri-La soapland with a truck.

 Majima: LET'S FUCK THIS SHIT UUUUUUP!!

  • The City Narrows: Purgatory.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Oh my fucking God yes.
    • Somewhat averted in future games, as the original Japanese dialogue is much tamer compared to the first game, which spews F-bombs any chance it gets.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Elite bosses are pretty much the only real threat to Kazuma and company. Mooks exist to be splattered across the curb in spectacular fashion.
  • Cool Old Guy: Detective Makoto Date, who even fights alongside Kazuma at times and is pretty reasonable to him in the first game.
    • It's not just him, Kawara doubles it for being a Cowboy Cop and there's Hanaya/Kage who "plays fair," Sotaro Komaki, Fuma/Kazama, his cop brother-turned-CIA Agent Jouji and finally Nakahara that wrestled with a bull.
  • Counter Attack: Kazuma can learn several from Sotaro Komaki in the games.
  • Cowardly Boss: Koji Shindo from the second game
    • Also from the second game, Sengoku. He doesn't even fight, he has his pet tigers take on Kazuma.
    • The third Game has Hamazaki who lets Lau and his henchman fight his own war.
    • Munakata in the forth game. While Kiryu, Akiyama, and Saejima have one-on-one boss fights with their enemies, Tanimura has to deal with half a dozen elite police forces while Munakata runs around and shoots him with his pistol.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: You might as well not even bother trying to fight the Dragon of Dojima if you're a nameless thug, because you *will* be sent to the infirmary... if you're lucky.
  • Dating Sim: Every game has had an optional series of side quests where Kazuma could visit the local hostess clubs and woo a collection of lovely ladies for Hundred-Percent Completion and some neat bonuses which includes XP, sometimes very valuable items, and photo portraits of the women. In the second game, Kazuma can also optionally help out the hapless employees of a host club getting screwed over by their boss... by signing on as the newest employee and working to become the Number One Host as a gambit to root out the boss from hiding. In the western release of the third game, the whole "hostess club" aspect was cut, which just allowed Kazuma to simply take the girls out for a couple dates, then reap the benefits (no relationship values, expensive hostessing minigame, multiple choice dialogue, etc). The hostess clubs return in western release of the fourth game (at least for Akiyama, Tanimura, and Kazuma). In Dead Souls, wooing a lady allows you to use her as an escort into the Quarantine Zone.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: This is pretty much how Kazuma snaps Daigo Dojima out of his hedonistic spree and gets him focused on taking charge of the Tojo Clan. Also applies to Rikiya and Majima (although he genuinely enjoys fighting Kazzy).
  • Desperation Attack: Normally the Hunt and Kill Heat Action (performed on a prone opponent) is either a head stomp or a kick to the gut. If you use it while Kazuma's health is low enough for the meter to blink red however, instead Kazuma straddles the opponent and starts punching away, at which point you can keep spamming the Square Button For Massive Damage.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Shimano in a you failed me moment cuts the fingers of his underling for losing to Kazuma and getting shot by Shinji in the first game. but again this is a Yakuza game so no surprise here.

  Shimano: Let me see your hand for just a second..

    • Actually, this is a common punishment among Yakuza, and is as symbolic as the physical punishment is painful.Cutting off one's fingers decreases one's ability to grip a sword effectively, making him more dependent on the group.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hanaya/Kage to Takashi. And Kawara to Kaoru in the second game.
  • The Dragon: This was in fact Kazuma's title and position (The Dragon of Dojima) before circumstances sent him to prison in the first game.
  • Drunken Master: It's a very bad idea to pick a fight with Kazuma. It's an even WORSE idea to pick a fight with Kazuma when he's drunk: while drunk, his Heat meter recharges faster, and he even has some special(not to mention BONE SHATTERING) moves that he can only do while drunk. You will probably spend lots of yen just getting him hammered or buying alcohol to go to always make sure you have a little extra oomph.
    • Which is ironic since the game makes confrontations with Mooks more likely when Kazuma's buzzed.
  • Dual-Wielding: Hayashi from the second game.
    • And one of the available styles in Kenzan!, a no-brainer considering that Kiryu is also Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Lau Ka Long in the first game also takes up a pair of swords after receiving a good amount of physical damage.
    • Prisoner #1356 carries a pair of forks this way.
  • Dub Name Change: Shintarou Kazama becomes Shintarou Fuma for the US release. Ditto for his younger brother in the third game. Also, Nishikiyama was shortened to Nishiki.
    • In addition, Hanaya was called Kage, although the second game referred to this specific Dub Name Change by adding the title "Florist." Hanaya is literally the Japanese word for "florist".
    • Interestingly, the Western release of the fourth game averts this trope and refers to almost everyone by their Japanese names (the only exception is Kage, who is referred to as "Florist" in the subtitles).
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight and subverted. Only once in a blue moon does Kazuma's insane reputation prevent a fight or frighten an enemy. Despite being one of the most dangerous alive, nearly every goon and boss in Japan is still gunning for him in spite or because of his reputation.
    • And this is played with in the second game. In a sidequest, Kazuma finds out that a couple of clowns have been shaking down goods and services from people by masquerading as him and his late buddy Shinji Tanaka. Rarely in video game history has there been such an instance of NPCs invoking a Curb Stomp Battle on themselves.
    • Played with in 3: part of the beginning tutorial is a gang of mooks working for the Fuma Clan, Kazuma's original outfit. Like all other mooks, they pick a fight with Kazuma just for shits and giggles. After beating them within an inch of their life, their boss shows up and chastises them for not bowing to the Tojo Clan's Fourth Chairman. The mooks are HORRIFIED.
    • Pretty well averted in 4 and Dead Souls, whose multi-character gameplay (with Kiryu being the last character) allows him to be presented as more of a larger-than-life character from the perspectives of other characters. Additionally, many of his random encounters in 4 are people attacking him knowing that if they should take down the Dragon of Dojima, their own reputations will skyrocket. Still Suicidal Overconfidence, but it's Suicidal Overconfidence out of respect.
  • Dulcinea Effect: Men are falling over themselves to protect Lily in 4, though everyone does have their own reasons. Doesn't change the fact that only one of the main characters has known her for more than a week.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: At the end of Chapter 12 in the second game, Kazuma chases Sengoku up the Golden Palace past an army of Samurai-clad Mooks- and even a pair of tigers- to his office after he kidnapped Haruka as a ploy to lure Kazuma into an ambush. Sengoku is quite surprised to see Ryuji Goda waiting there for them all with a katana over his shoulder. After commiserating with Kazuma's plight, Goda responds to Sengoku's mouthing off by cutting a deep gash in his chest. At that point, Ryuji makes it clear abducting Haruka was in poor taste. That might have been it if Sengoku actually had common sense and kept quiet. Instead, he spits out that Ryuji only got far because of his father. Ryuji had enough of Sengoku at that point, stabbing him with the katana and pushing him to the balcony before kicking him off the top of the Golden Palace. He then lets Kazuma leave with Haruka, but makes it clear that there would be a huge brawl between the Omi and the Tojo in one day.
  • Evil Counterpart: Ryuji Goda from the second game.
    • From the first game, Akira Nishiki, who basically cracked under the pressure over the years and molded himself into a cold version of what Kazuma would have become (a head of a family of the Tojo) if he hadn't been in prison.
    • And the third game has Yoshitaka Mine, who grew up as an orphan like Kazuma, but without the support of friends like he had, grew up lonely and with a very twisted mentality.
  • Evil Feels Good: The zombification process in Dead Souls explicitly feels very pleasant, due to the over production of endorphin hormones.
  • Evil Foreigner: Three notable examples in the series:
  • Expy: The boss of the Purple Killers in the fourth game is the Joker. This is apparent even before you meet him, being described as a guy in a purple suit with an insane smirk. Then you find out he's killer in clown makeup with mannerisms very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker and... yeah.
  • Extremity Extremist: Akiyama and Tanimura in the fourth game are both mild examples. Tanimura's attack on a downed attack is even a crouching punch as opposed to a stomp like everyone else. Their basic combos play it straight, but as they learn new abilities their HEAT actions (and more advenced combos) they branch out considerably.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Goro Majima, who pretty much fights Kazuma in every game thus far at an even footing.
  • Finishing Move: Starting from the second game, knocking down an opponent's health sufficiently in a Boss Battle will open up a window of opportunity where you can quickly charge Kazuma's Heat Meter with rapid button mashes (if it's not filled all ready) to execute a special and often devastating Heat Action that will usually drop the unfortunate recepient in one hit.
  • Flash Back: The second and third games allow someone who never played the past installments to find out the storyline in segments at the opening cemetary scene.
    • A small example in Dead Souls: the end credits are a slide show from previous Yakuza games (save for the one PSP release in Japan), which include cameos from characters in those games (Akira in 1, Saejima and Tanimura in 4.) (Note: the part where flashbacks to Kenzan! may not make sense to non-Japanese gamers.)
  • For Massive Damage: Kazuma dishes these out on a fairly regular basis, often requiring Action Commands to properly brutalize an opponent with either a weapon in hand or using the scenery itself.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Shinji Tanaka from the first game and especially Rikiya from the third game. Despite both being The Lancer, neither of them get a mention in the following game.
  • Friend to All Children: Nothing brings out Kazuma's good side like kids, especially his kids from the orphanage and his adopted niece Haruka. Subsequently, nothing brings out Kazuma's BAD side like someone hurting a kid. The most savage and satisfying beatings Kazuma's rained on someone are those in retaliation for abusing a kid.
  • Game Within a Game: The Club Sega branches will always have a UFO Catcher skill crane and even playable video game machines. These can serve as part of a Sidequest.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Only in cutscenes does Kazuma suffer an actual injury that would cripple him.
  • Gatling Good: Ryuji Goda in Of The End/Dead Souls sports a cybernetic Arm Cannon from the Barrett Wallace Collection.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the third game, the severed head (or body part) of Tsuyoshi Kanda is never seen on camera when Mine brings it to Kazuma and company.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Ryuji Goda in a surprisingly heartwarming scene.
  • Guns Akimbo: Several regular bosses and super boss hitman Amon Jou in classic John Woo style. Which makes it all the more badass when they are beaten to death by fists and feet (if the player chooses).
    • This is Shun Akiyama's default weapon configuration in Of The End/Dead Souls.
    • Averted in Amon Jou's case in Kenzan!, as he uses a sword there.
  • Hollywood Healing: Most main characters, and even mooks to an extent, regularly survive beatings that would kill most men ten times over. It's especially obvious when you use a triple katana slice or pistol on a lowly purse snatcher... and they live.
    • Even moreso in Kenzan!, where the sword combos can be way longer...
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Ryu Ga Gotoku has a lot in common with Heroic Bloodshed movies in terms of thematic elements.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: So many. There's an instance of Taking the Bullet pretty much once per game.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!
  • Hidden Depths: While Kazuma's fists bring justice to man, his voice will shake your soul.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted in the third game, not only with the Sunshine Orphanage kids, but other kids as well can be seen walking around Downtown Ryukubu.
  • Honor Before Reason: SO MUCH.
  • Idiot Ball / What an Idiot!: Happens many, many, many times in all games. Rail-thin street punks picking a fight with gigantic, dangerous-looking Saejima, frequently overlapping with Suicidal Overconfidence, and don't get me started on most 'betrayals.'
    • 'Kay, i'll get started anyway: the most-likely-armed and still conscious treacherous Big Bad was defeated? Good, just leave him there on the ground and let's do a group hug. It happens way more often than it should, with predictable consequences. The most glaringly obvious instance of this is (warning, Yakuza 4 ending-breaker spoilers) the whole finale, really. Munakata, the corrupt leader of the Tokyo police, is beaten in a fight, along with some other big figures in the game. Munakata is cornered and Tanimura whips out a revolver, ready to shoot him to settle some past debts. Arai comes by his side and stops him, taking out an automatic pistol of his own, and saying Munakata doesn't even deserve to die, seeing as he screwed lots of people for power. Arai then, without a shred of reasoning, drops his pistol on the ground mere feet away from Munakata and walks away. Munakata gets up and starts gloating that the protagonists really can't do a thing to him, because he's too important to the police. When Akiyama unveils a newspaper that would undoubtedly arrest Munakata, he goes on a crazy fit, grabs the easily accessible pistol and shoots Akiyama, who is miraculously saved by a bunch of money. Tanimura, who is a police officer, kicks the gun away from Munakata and cuffs him... while still leaving the pistol near arm's reach. Predictably, when everyone turns their backs again, he jumps at the pistol and shoots himself. All of this insane recklessness is only furthered when you remember he still has a loaded revolver pocketed somewhere from his last boss fight with Tanimura. Talk about sheer, unflinching stupidity.
    • Akiyama's safe is just as bad... the man keeps 100 billion yen in a safe in his office (which he neglects to lock) in a massive, massive vault... the only security? The button to open it is behind a book. That is literally the only thing between any random person and 100 billion yen. It's rather telling when the bad guys find it completely by accident, and weren't even looking for anything.
    • Really, the protagonists as a whole need to learn to stop trusting the irredeemable villains and turning their backs on them after they've been defeated. This has happened far more times than is even slightly reasonable, resulting in the deaths of several characters. This started in the first game, and is what got Fuma/Kazama and Yumi killed
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In the second game, Kazuma can gain improved Strong Attacks and later improved Heat Actions with the baseball bat, golf club and bowling ball by playing enough times at the batting cage, driving range and bowling alley respectively then completing the related Sidequest for each location.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: in the third game Mine appears kickboxing with a sandbag in a cutscene because the game wants you to know that he's no pushover. Which you end up learning by yourself since he is the Final Boss.
  • Knife Nut: Goro Majima.
  • Kung Foley: Kazuma's stronger punches- particularly with one of his Counter Attack moves or when he uses the Desperation Attack- have a deep bass echo to convey just how brutally powerful they are.
  • The Lancer: Shinji Tanaka in the first game, Daigo Dojima in the second, Rikiya Shimabukuro in the third.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kazuma helping out the fun-loving crazy old lady in the second game will not only give him the obligatory Sidequest XP, it'll also give him access to some useful combat skills. Which becomes self-explanatory when it's revealed that the fun-loving crazy old lady is in fact Lau Ka Long's former martial arts instructor.
  • Limit Break: The Heat moves.
  • Loan Shark: Shun Akiyama from Yakuza 4 operates as one. Subverted in that he loans out money with no interest or collateral, as long that the recipient passes one of his tests.
  • Love Interest: Yumi Sawamura in the first one, Kaoru Sayama in the second.
  • Man Behind the Man: Pretty much at least one per game.
  • Manly Tears: Kazuma actually sheds these when Rikiya dies. You know from this moment on that someone is GOING TO FUCKING DIE.
  • Mark Hamill: Plays Goro Majima.
  • Miyamoto Musashi: Appears in Kenzan!, eventually getting a name change to Kiryu Kazumanosuke.
  • Mooks: An endless horde of thugs, gangbangers and Yakuza endlessly harass Kazuma with their tough talk and cruel actions. He is not impressed.
  • Mugging the Monster: The thugs constantly trying to beat up/extort the main characters as they walk down the street have no idea what they're getting into. In Tanimura or Akiyama's case, that's somewhat forgivable as neither of them look anywhere near as strong as they are. Well-built, clearly-a-Yakuza Kazuma and built-like-a-brick-shithouse-on-steroids Saejima, on the other hand....
  • Mysterious Informant: Kage the Florist, although he's not really all that mysterious. Just well-connected.
  • Nakama: By the endgame of 4, Kazuma has formed a nakama with Shun Akiyama, Taiga Saejima and Masayoshi Tanimura. A more impressive collection of bonafide badasses will be hard to find.
  • Nerf: The Guns can cause about average to little damage in gameplay. Only in cutscenes is it much more effective.
    • Actually, in 3, they're PRETTY DAMN effective. The moment you see a mook with a gun, you'll make a beeline towards him to beat the gun the fuck off him to use it yourself.
    • No longer nerfed, as of Dead Souls, where guns are your main weapon against zombies.
  • Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: Because first, it won't do any good. And second, Kazuma will then use it on your friends.
    • Guns won't be any better either, especially once Kazuma has mastered the Komaki Shot Stopper. He'll deflect your aim off, then proceed to beat the shit out of you.
      • On the other hand, if its Kazuma bringing the weaponry, massive damage ensues. Crude Pistols will one-shot weaker enemies and the shotgun one hit kills all but the end game mooks. Not to mention the brutal attacks he can pull off with melee weaponry....
    • Averted in Dead Souls, it's impossible to kill a zombie with melee attacks, and Kiryu has a rough time when he goes into the quarantine zone without any weapons.
  • Nice Guy: Kazuma missed his calling in life as the Patron Saint of Niceness. He helps any innocent bystander no matter how big or small the problem, rescues young girls, pets, old women crossing the street, and forgives men who try to kill him on several occasions at the slightest hint of their redemption. This makes his status as the entire underworld's Butt Monkey so far as picking fights go all the more hilarious. In 3, he goes so far as to track down the most dangerous hitmen in Japan... JUST to beat the crap out of them and drag them to a reform center so they can get out of the criminal life.
  • No Export for You: The four main games have all seen Western releases. The same cannot be said about Kenzan! and Black Panther, two spin-off titles. However, Zombie Apocalypse spin-off Of The End has been confirmed for a Western release at least. It's coming over as Yakuza: Dead Souls, averting this trope.
  • Noble Demon: Ryuji Goda. See Even Evil Has Standards above.
  • Oh Crap: If you pull out a weapon in the middle of a heated random encounter battle, your enemies may suddenly panic and start to back off.
  • Old Master: Sotaro Komaki. And when you can actually fight him in a tournament, he will show you just why he is the Old Master.
  • Old Save Bonus: Starting a file for the second game in a card with the files from the first nets Kazuma a bonanza of items, most of which Haruka gave to him in the first game to indicate his Karma Meter progression and comprise of one-shot healing items and accessories that affect his stats.
    • In Yakuza 3 (may be JP version only), having a Kenzan! save file will net you Ukiyo's Bell, an exclusive protective item.
  • One-Man Army: Kazuma. In the course of three games he was able to fight alone against almost everything, from entire yakuza families to triads to trained military personnel and even rogue CIA agents.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Goro Majima pretty much gives the as the reason why he took a knife meant for Kazuma in the gut... right after coldcocking the underling who used the aformentioned knife.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with little Haruka, Kazuma's adoptive daughter, if you value your life.
    • And in 3, don't mess with ANY of Kazuma's kids. It counts against your life expectancy.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Ryuji gets to use this of all things to fend off various mutated zombies in Of The End/Dead Souls, when trapped in a gas leak. Literally played straight, as it only takes a few hits to kill what could've taken lots of bullets, and has infinite durability
  • Playing Against Type: In the English version of the first game, Bill Farmer- best known as the voice of Goofy- gives a rather remarkable and down-to-earth serious performance as Detective Makoto Date.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Near the end of the first game, Kazuma and Haruka are about to head for the Millennium Tower to locate her mother and the missing Tojo money. Suddenly pedestrians clear the street and they're surrounded by an armed mob. Kazuma reassures Haruka that he'll get her to her mother, then turns around to stare down the mob and let them know what's coming:
  • Press X to Not Die: You have to press a button on your last attack against the final boss of Ryu Ga Gotoku 2. If you don't, well...
  • Product Placement: A surprising amount and remarkably they tend to avert Enforced Plug for the most part, making contextual sense where they do appear.
    • The Don Quijote discount stores than can be visited are based on an actual chain in Japan, as well as in Hawaii.
    • The Suntory group also has prominent placement, ranging from soft drinks like Boss iced coffee all the way to premium brand-name liquor that they have distribution rights to in Japan, including Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey.
    • The Other Wiki has more specific details on the Product Placements.
  • Psycho for Hire: Goro Majima. To the point where you hire him in the second game, and it's real nice to have him on your side this time.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: In Dead Souls, Pistol ammo is infinite, making a Pistol a Ranged Emergency Weapon for most characters (except for Akiyama, whose primary weapon is a pistol). But as the first character in the game this works to soften the learning curve by making ammo not much of an issue until later).
  • Redemption Equals Death: While not wholly repentant, Nishiki died avenging someone he cared about. Ditto Mine in the third game. Also Hamazaki in Yakuza 4.
  • Reformed Criminal: Possibly a few examples in the games, but in particular Hanaya/Kage. In the first game he had been a former police intelligence officer who was busted by Date for selling some of the information he gathered and ended up becoming the de facto ruler of Purgatory while continuing to sell information. In the second game, it turns out that the police contracted him for his abilities and he left Purgatory in the charge of Crazy Awesome Goro Majima to move his base of operations to the Millennium Tower.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Akira Nishiki, childhood friend of Kazuma who, after a series of tragic events, really changed during the years Kazuma was in jail for a murder that Nishiki himself committed - granted, he had a good reason.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Played most straight in Dead Souls, when Kazuma enters the quarantine zone to confront those that kidnapped Haruka... and proceeds to fight zombies. Unarmed.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Kiryu has to fight Korean gangsters/terrorists in the second game as well as the other yakuza.
    • And in the first game, Kazuma also has to rescue Haruka from Lau Ka Long's Snake Flower Triad.
    • The third one has Black Monday, a weapons dealing syndicate headed by corrupt CIA operatives.
  • Scary Black Man: Gary "Buster" Holmes, although only in the ring. Outside of it he's a rather amicable Gentle Giant.
    • And in Of the End/Dead Souls, Gary is your personal Drill Instructor for Zombie Killer Boot Camp.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Pretty common, with Daigo refusing a land deal in 3 because it would inconvenience Kiryu, and the entire main cast (especially Akiyama) throwing away 100 billion yen to figure out who was pulling the strings and bring them to justice.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The loud echoing crack that rings each time Kazuma delivers a finishing blow to the last opponent in a combat round... even if it's just a simple straight punch to a suicidally overconfident and fragile twerp.
  • Shout-Out: Ryu Ga Gotoku 2 contained references to the previous game, Ashita no Joe, SEGA, the PlayStation 3 cat and even The Matrix (the "Man in black").
    • It could be argued that the Mind Screw Man Behind the Man reveal towards the end is a veiled reference to Metal Gear Solid.
    • Also, Kazuma can learn various techniques after helping out and sparring with wrestler "Cyclops" Oba, who is likely a reference to Japanese wrestling legend "Giant" Baba.
    • Snake Flower Triad leader Lau Ka Long is patterned after Lau Chan, with a few shades of Lan Di.
      • In the same vein, the fourth installment introduces Daisaku Minami, a drunken boxer who has a few moves directly lifted from Shun Di complete with appropriate sound effect.
    • Of the End/Dead Souls has a couple of nods to the live action movie: Majima's firearm of choice is a shotgun, and one of the Team Heat Actions has him hitting a target with a line drive... except in Of the End/Dead Souls he uses his SPAS-12 as a baseball bat and the "ball" happens to be a grenade that a Super Zombie B.O.W. swallows to predictable result.
    • In this trailer[1] and footage[2] has quite a few to other survivor horrors and combat ops; if you look among which a couple of hunters and a tank, flashlight segments and the changes to the Kamurocho district, available attack vehicles to use,a room with Lickers, a team up in a room with the chapter's behemoth zombie , just from what is shown.
    • If one manages to look closely, Andre Richardson (Black Monday's leader, a crooked CIA agent and one of the Big Bads of 3) looks suprisingly similar to Albert Wesker. Many a fan have indulged in calling him "Wesker Jr."
  • Shown Their Work: According to actual Yakuza who played it, it's not wildly off the mark, and most of the inaccuracies fall under Acceptable Breaks From Reality.
  • Simulation Game: The second game plays with this a bit, as an optional sidequest where saving the owner of the hostess club Marietta from Mook harassment opens up the opportunity to run the place with the aim of trying to make it profitable while the owner attends to family illness.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Inverted. Kamurocho has a very extensive surveillance network installed, that seems to be able to note every square inch of the city inside buildings well as out and includes the ability to zoom in and presumably enhance images. Hanaya/Kage uses it as his primary tool to gather information for clients and to help out Kazuma at certain instances.
  • Sniper Rifle: As of Dead Souls/Of The End Kazuma is carrying an M-107 which also counts as a BFG.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Goro Majima. Although an antagonist in the first game, it was actually because of circumstances and his rivalry with Kazuma for the title of the underworld's biggest badass. He is actually MAD loyal to Kazuma, and very protective of the men under him... as long as they don't piss him off, in which case he'll break their face badly. In every game from the second one on, he's been an ally of Kazuma's.
    • Theories abound that there's also a... certain context to Majima's loyalty to Kazuma.
    • More like Kazuma is the only person durable enough to stand up to his psychotic rage.
  • Spoiler Opening: In Yakuza 3, Mine is shown to be Not So Stoic in the opening video, which would be a surprise considering his seemingly low-importance for most of the game.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: "Hey, we're having a pretty bad day, so we need to take out our aggression on you. Huh? Why you looking at us funny? You wanna die, old man?!"
  • Status Quo Is God: A small example: Akiyama's overweight secretary Hana becomes a gorgeous bombshell thorough dieting by the events of 4's end. She ends up returning to her old body type by Dead Souls. She's actually back to her old body type by the non-canon Premium Adventure Mode, but when/if that actually takes place isn't clear.
  • Taking the Bullet: Pretty much at least once per game.
  • Tattooed Crook: Given that the game series deals heavily with the subject of Yakuza this is de rigeur. The tattoos on the main characters (Kazuma- Blue Dragon, Nishiki- Carp, Majima- Oni, Goda- Gold Dragon) turn out to be very symbolic in the games and are often reflective of their personalities and traits.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Beating the crap out of dozens of people? Forgivable. One lowly punk getting shot/stabbed to death? Serious Business. Like, clan-war serious. This may come off as Values Dissonance for people used to western crime dramas, but remember that guns (and thus, gun violence) are a lot rarer in Japan, plus yakuza are really political.
    • Unless they're foreigners in which case you can gun them down without remorse. Ditto zombies.
  • Turncoat: So far, apart from Shinji Tanaka, significant individuals in the Nishiki Family are doomed to this role.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Kazuma, Nishiki, and Yumi in the first game pretty much fits this trope, especially as the story went by.
  • The Unfought: Hamazaki in the third game.
  • Walking Armory: Taiga Saejima made his debut by using more guns than anyone else in the entire series: six at once! Two in either hand, two in his pockets, one in his belt, and one in his teeth. 36 bullets to wipe out an entire branch of an enemy clan. In Japan, where guns are rare to begin with, this is ludicrous.
  • Weapon of Choice: In Dead Souls/Of The End, each of the four playable characters have one primary firearm that they use as their default weapon.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted HARD with Hamazaki in the third game.
    • Yet played straight in the same game with Rikiya's childhood's friend. The side mission where he finds her working in a pole dancing club is treated like a main mission, with cutscene and all. Rikiya promises to take her out of this life style for good, but he ends up dead in the end, but the girl is never brought up in the main storyline, and how she feels about her White Knight being dead is left unknown.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Kamurocho in general, and other locations as the series goes on.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Imposed by the games on the player; Kazuma will never find himself in a situation where he must (or can) strike a woman. On the rare occassions where he is tracking or is attacked by a woman, it will always turn out to be a guy in drag.
    • Which is hilariously subverted in a Sidequest in the first game. Refusing to go into a Hotel for some "fun" with a woman results in her calling her thug brother in an attempt to pummel Kazuma. After the obligatory trashing ensues, it's then revealed that the siblings are Gender Benders, with the "woman" being male and the thug "brother" being the actual female.
    • The lack of female opponents is somewhat averted in 4. While helping her out with her investigation, Tanimura takes up a female Korean cop who's in Japan chasing a Korean criminal as a sparring partner. She's the only female opponent in the game, though, and neither one of them have any intention on holding back on each other.
    • Finally averted in Dead Souls, which has female zombies, including special mutants that are exclusively female.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Pretty much everyone in all the games, actually, but special mention goes to Yoshitaka Mine in the third game, who gives the Big Bad a Dragon Suplex off a thirty story building.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Of The End/Dead Souls. Yes, a Yakuza game features zombies. Somewhat subverted in that the outbreak is contained to Kamurocho and is thus not a truly global Zombie Apocalypse.
  • X Meets Y: Of The End/Dead Souls is basically Left 4 Dead meets Ryu ga Gotoku with a bit of Resident Evil. It also seems like there's four playable characters.
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