Yakuza Games Ranked From Worst to Best

You’ve journeyed into the gritty underworld of Japan’s criminal syndicates, haven’t you? From the compelling narrative arcs to the intricate combat system, the Yakuza series has no doubt left a distinct impression on you.

But while the games are all unique in their own right, they don’t all strike gold. So, let’s take a moment to sift through the gems and the not-so-shiny stones in the franchise, as we rank the Yakuza games from worst to best.

And who knows, you might even discover a new favorite along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Yakuza: Dead Souls is considered the weakest entry due to its disappointing aiming system and lack of compelling reasons for replay.
  • The original Yakuza game is praised for setting the foundation of the series, with ambitious gameplay and a significant impact on the world of video games.
  • Yakuza 3 marks the first high-definition game in the series, featuring a slower and more intimate narrative, as well as localization changes for Western markets.
  • Yakuza 4 stands out with its unique spin of four protagonists, complex narrative, and solid combat mechanics, although some may find the minigames repetitive.

The Bottom of the List: Yakuza: Dead Souls

Despite its charm and the quirkiness synonymous with the Yakuza franchise, Yakuza: Dead Souls, a spin-off set in a zombie apocalypse, disappointingly falls at the bottom of the series’ rankings due to its abysmal aiming system and lack of compelling reasons for replay.

When ranking Yakuza games from worst to best, Dead Souls unfortunately lands at the bottom of the list, despite its experimental nature and signature Yakuza charm.

Yakuza: The Original Game

Often overshadowed by its successors, ‘Yakuza: The Original Game’ sets the foundation for the series with its ambitious gameplay, featuring protagonist Kazuma Kiryu in a narrative filled with crime, betrayal, and redemption.

As the first game in the Yakuza series, it’s a significant entry in the world of video games. Despite its simplicity, the original Yakuza game offers a sneak peek into the evolution of this influential series.

Delving Into Yakuza 3

Diving into Yakuza 3, you’re greeted with the series’ first high-definition game, marking Kazuma Kiryu’s return to Tokyo. As you guide Kiryu through his task of protecting an orphanage, you’ll experience a slower, more intimate narrative.

Key aspects to note:

  • Yakuza 3 is part of the mainline Yakuza games, ranking from worst to best.
  • This game runs on the Dragon Engine.
  • Localization changes were made for Western markets.

Despite some limitations, Yakuza 3’s emotional story delivers a unique experience.

The Intricacies of Yakuza 4

Intricately woven, Yakuza 4 presents a unique spin on the franchise with the introduction of four protagonists, each contributing to a complex narrative.

The game captures the series’ best elements, offering a mix of storytelling, action, and exploration in multiple locations.

Despite its minigames feeling repetitive, the intricacies of Yakuza 4’s solid combat mechanics and diverse gameplay make it a standout, highly ranked among Yakuza games.

Revisiting Yakuza 2

Stepping back into the shoes of Kazuma Kiryu in ‘Revisiting Yakuza 2’, you’ll find yourself in the new setting of Osaka and engaging with a fully revamped combat system, reflecting the game’s significant improvement over its predecessor.

In this article section of ‘Yakuza Games Ranked From Worst to Best’, Yakuza 2 stands out for:

  • Its enhanced narrative depth
  • A completely overhauled combat system
  • The introduction of Osaka, enriching the game’s world.

The Unusual Entry: Like a Dragon Gaiden

Now, let’s turn your attention to the unusual entry in the series: ‘Like a Dragon Gaiden’.

You’ll notice significant shifts in gameplay, as well as a deep focus on character development, particularly Kiryu’s connection with Haruka and the Morning Sun orphanage.

The narrative impacts the entire Yakuza series, and its plot intricacies set the stage for the events in Infinite Wealth.

Gameplay Shifts and Changes

Diving into the unusual entries of the Yakuza series, you’ll find gameplay shifts and changes that both intrigue and confound, as each game experiments with new mechanics and storytelling techniques. Here are some notable changes:

  • ‘Yakuza: Dead Souls’ introduces a third-person shooter gameplay.
  • ‘Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise’ features intense action combat.
  • ‘Yakuza 3’ offers a more intimate story with basic combat mechanics.

Character Development Analysis

Shifting gears from gameplay mechanics, let’s turn our attention to ‘Like a Dragon Gaiden’.

This unusual Yakuza entry dives into character development, focusing on Kiryu’s story between Yakuza 6 and Infinite Wealth. It offers fresh character development analysis, enhancing fan-favorite characters like Ichiban Kasuga.

It’s a must-play for those who enjoyed Yakuza Kiwami and want to explore deeper layers of Kiryu’s story.

Narrative and Plot Impact

In evaluating ‘Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name’, you’ll find it skillfully bridges the narrative gap between Yakuza 6 and Infinite Wealth, cleverly intertwining references to older games for an enriched plot experience. This entry, in the Yakuza games ranked from worst to best, stands out for its:

  • Impact on the entire franchise’s narrative
  • References to Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • Inclusion of best stories from Yakuza 6: The Song.

Judgment: A Spin-Off Worth Playing

Exploring the underbelly of Kamurocho as a lawyer-turned-private detective, you’ll find ‘Judgment’, a Yakuza spin-off, offers a fresh and engaging perspective on the series’ traditional gameplay and storytelling.

This side story, along with its sequel ‘Lost Judgment’, adds investigative elements to the Yakuza experience.

As we continue ranking Yakuza games from worst to best, ‘Judgment’ stands out as a new game worth playing.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

While ‘Judgment’ offers an intriguing spin-off, ‘Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’ ushers in a poignant finale to Kazuma Kiryu’s saga. Marked by a compelling narrative, Yakuza 6 feels different, with a shift in gameplay dynamics. Here’s why:

  • The Dragon: Infinite engine enhances combat, making Kiryu’s life of crime feel more immersive.
  • The Song of Life provides a focused experience in Onomichi.
  • Yakuza fans appreciate the emotionally-driven narrative, unique among games in the series.

The Pinnacle of Narrative: Yakuza 5

In your exploration of ‘Yakuza 5’, you’re in for a treat as it’s the most ambitious game of the series with its five playable characters and five distinct environments.

The storyline takes you deep into the renewed conflict of rival syndicates across Japan, each character’s narrative adding unique dynamics.

Not only does the game offer a rich and lengthy gameplay, but it also showcases the capabilities of PlayStation 3 hardware, making it a standout in the series.

Yakuza 5: Storyline Depth

Diving into Yakuza 5’s storyline, you’ll find it’s the most ambitious in the series. This game, developed by Dragon Games, offers:

  • A narrative revolving around the renewed violence between rival syndicates across Japan
  • Five playable characters, each with their own stories and side quests
  • Unprecedented storyline depth

The richness of its narrative sets Yakuza 5 apart, solidifying its position as the pinnacle of the Yakuza series.

Immersive Gameplay Experience

As you venture into the world of Yakuza 5, you’ll be drawn into an immersive gameplay experience, marked by five unique characters and environments, a testament to the powerful capabilities of the PlayStation 3 hardware.

You’ll explore Ga Gotoku’s action game universe, crafted to perfection, with playable protagonists delivering a compelling narrative in the Dragon Gaiden: The Man saga.

This game sets a high standard for immersive gameplay experiences.

Top Spot: Yakuza 0

Why does Yakuza 0 consistently claim the top spot in the series’ rankings? It’s the best introduction for first-timers, similar to Yakuza, but with its unique charm.

  • It’s the Dragon of Games, a prequel with detailed ’80s Tokyo and Osaka depictions.
  • It features addictive mini-games and polished combat.
  • It tells the origin stories of Kiryu and Majima, with memorable boss fights.

No wonder it’s the top spot: Yakuza 0.


In conclusion, while Yakuza Kiwami may not top the list, it’s crucial in the franchise’s evolution.

Interestingly, despite its perceived lack of depth, it still holds a solid 80% approval rating on Steam. This testifies to its engaging narrative and nostalgic charm.

It’s a testament that even a less complex Yakuza game can still captivate audiences and lay a strong foundation for its successors.

Leave a Comment