Updated on January 22, 9:05 a.m. (GMT+8): Improved relevancy.

The Like a Dragon video game series has captured the hearts of gamers worldwide. 

Developed by Sega, this franchise seamlessly blends elements of action-adventure, beat ’em up, and role-playing genres to deliver a cinematic gaming experience. 

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Rooted in the world of yakuza inspired by yakuza films and Japanese crime dramas, the series has gained a dedicated following over the years. 

To get you up to speed with the upcoming Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name and Infinite Wealth, we’ll give you an overview of the history of the series, its iconic characters, and the evolution of gameplay that has stood the test of time.

What is the Yakuza and Like a Dragon series?

Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Erased His Name promotional image from SEGA
Credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, SEGA

The Like a Dragon series, originally known as Yakuza, is a renowned video game franchise.  

Since its inception in 2005, Like a Dragon has maintained its enduring presence with eight main installments and a plethora of spin-off titles.

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Renowned for its ability to provide gamers with exceptional value, the series seamlessly weaves immersive narratives of crime, power dynamics, and honor. Beyond its compelling main storyline, they also offer a treasure trove of diverse mini-games that keep players captivated for countless hours. 

Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t played the Yakuza or Like a Dragon games. 

What is the story of Yakuza and Like a Dragon?

The series predominantly revolves around Kazuma Kiryu, a reformed yakuza affiliated with the Tojo Clan based in Kanto. Kiryu frequently finds himself collaborating with Tojo Clan leaders to stop conspiracies against them. 

At its core, players realize that the heart of the series explores Kiryu’s desire to break free from the yakuza and start anew, often involving raising orphans and attempting to adapt to civilian life.

Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth characters and cast

Other notable characters in the series include Ichiban Kasuga, who takes the lead in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, along with various companions who join him in turn-based combat. The franchise also explores spin-off titles featuring characters like Miyamoto Musashi, Sakamoto Ryoma, Tatsuya Ukyo, and Takayuki Yagami. 

The franchise went through a significant internationalization and localization process to cater to the Western market. Originally known as Yakuza outside of Japan, the series shifted its naming convention, aligning more closely with the original Japanese title by adopting “Like a Dragon.” This change reflects the franchise’s enduring popularity and global recognition. 

What happened in the Yakuza and Like a Dragon games?

Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth gameplay screenshot from SEGA
Credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, SEGA

Yakuza Kiwami 

The series begins with the original Yakuza game, where players follow Kazuma Kiryu around, who returns from a ten-year prison sentence. He immediately gets caught in a web of conspiracies and power struggles after the Tojo Clan’s chairman is murdered and a massive sum of money is stolen. 

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Kiryu is drawn back into the yakuza world when the clan’s fifth chairman is assassinated. He must confront Ryuji Goda, an ambitious yakuza from a rival clan, while also dealing with the threat of a Korean mafia syndicate. 

Yakuza 3 

Kiryu departs from yakuza life, opting to nurture an Okinawan orphanage. However, tranquility is short-lived as the Tojo Clan’s dealings jeopardize the orphanage’s existence, thrusting Kiryu into a whirlwind of challenges that test his resilience and convictions. 

Yakuza 4

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The story unfolds from the perspective of four protagonists, including Kiryu, as they navigate a complex web of money, power, and honor within the yakuza world. Players witness the intricacies of loyalty and betrayal in a story filled with intersecting paths. 

Yakuza 5 

The game introduces five protagonists, each with their own storyline, offering a diverse and expansive narrative within the yakuza universe. Players experience a web of interconnected tales, ranging from political intrigue to personal vendettas. 

Yakuza 6 

The Song of Life: Kiryu returns to uncover the truth behind a hit-and-run accident involving his daughter Haruka and her newborn son while dealing with threats from rival factions. The game delves into the depths of fatherhood, responsibility, and the impact of one man’s decisions on those he loves. 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

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A fresh start with Ichiban Kasuga as the lead character, this entry follows his quest to uncover betrayal within the Tojo Clan, leading to encounters with various criminal organizations in Yokohama. The story explores the transformation of a loyal yakuza member into an underdog hero while facing the chaos of the underworld. 

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

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In this installment, Kasuga sets out to find his biological mother, Akane, in Honolulu, Hawaii, and teams up with Kiryu to protect her from local criminal organizations. Players journey with Kasuga and Kiryu as they confront their pasts, traverse a world of danger, and forge new alliances in the Hawaiian setting. 

All Yakuza and Like a Dragon games with release dates and platforms

Like a Dragon key image
Credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, SEGA
Yakuza2005PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U 
Yakuza Kiwami (Yakuza remake) 2016PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One 
Yakuza 22006PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U 
Yakuza Kiwami 2 (Yakuza 2 remake) 2017PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
Yakuza 32009PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One 
Yakuza 42010PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One 
Yakuza 52012PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One 
Yakuza 02015PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One 
Yakuza 62016PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
Yakuza: Like a Dragon2020PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox X|S
Like a Dragon: Ishin! (Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! remake)2023PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name2023PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth2024PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox X|S

All the games mentioned above can be played with Xbox Game Pass, except for the first and second Yakuza titles from 2005 and 2006, and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. 

All Yakuza and Like a Dragon spin-off games

Like a Dragon The Man Who Erased His Name review key visual from the official website
Credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, SEGA
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Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! 2008PlayStation 3
Kurohyo: Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho 2010PlayStation Portable (PSP)
Yakuza: Dead Souls 2011PlayStation 3
Kurohyo 2: Ryu ga Gotoku Ashura Hen 2012PlayStation Portable (PSP)
Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin!2014PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Ryu ga Gotoku Online2018Mobile, PC

Like a Dragon’s gameplay

Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth gameplay screenshot from SEGA
Credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, SEGA

The Like a Dragon series offers a compelling blend of combat, storytelling, and exploration. The main character often encounters adversaries during their journey, leading to intense combat sequences. Players engage in hand-to-hand combat, utilizing combos, grabs, throws, and finishing moves. Various fighting styles are at the player’s disposal, and weapons can be taken from defeated foes or purchased.

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The series also introduces a unique feature called “Heat Actions,” powerful moves that can be executed when the “Heat Gauge” is filled. In addition to combat, players can partake in side missions, activities, and mini-games such as golf, bowling, karaoke, and gambling, making the series a truly immersive open-world experience. 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon introduced a significant departure from the series’ traditional combat system by adopting a turn-based role-playing game approach. Players assemble a party of characters for strategic battles against enemies, marking a notable shift in gameplay that has been well-received by fans. 

READ MORE: Exploring the Legendary Fighter Pack and Special Demo in Like a Dragon Gaiden