Ranking the Yakuza series from 2017 onward.

Disclaimer: This ranking will not include Yakuza 6 or Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Welcome to our ranking of the recent Yakuza titles! For those wondering, Sega released the Yakuza series for the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s. This open-world game took place in the Japanese fictional city of Kamurocho. Starring former member of the Tojo Clan Yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu, the title would feature a deep crime drama storyline. Furthermore, the gameplay offered a blend between RPG elements and 3D beat ’em up gameplay.

Yakuza remained a niche series throughout its releases over the past 16 years. However, the series began to hit a successful stride with the release of Yakuza 0 on the PlayStation 4. Thanks to Sega’s aggressive marketing on social media platforms, people quickly took note of this quirky yet serious RPG by Sega. Marketed as the origin of the Yakuza series storyline, this title made for the perfect jumping-on point for newcomers. In doing so, it was lauded as a fresh experience for many as well as what became one of the best games in the series.

After the release of Yakuza 0, Sega went onto make several more titles in the series alongside continuing the previous chronology with the release of Yakuza 6. Additionally, Sega renamed this division Ryo Ga Gotoku (RGG) Studios based on the Japanese name of the series.

Each game they released brought a quality experience to the table. However, it’s worth ranking these titles accordingly. As such, this ranking will go in descending order to the best game over the last few years.

#5. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

While Lost Paradise includes neither the Yakuza branding nor the Kamurocho setting, make no mistake. Developed by RGG Studios, this adaptation of the popular manga and anime series is still a Yakuza title. However, it stars Fist of the North Star series protagonist, Kenshiro.

Kamurocho martial artist Komaki makes a cameo in the game.

You’ll guide Kenshiro through the city of Eden while taking on sub-quests, playing mini-games, and fighting bad guys. The Yakuza elements include the skill tree, trademark combat system, and the flashy animations that come with Kenshiro’s classic killer techniques.

While utilizing the Yakuza 3 engine, Lost Paradise falls a few paces behind its contemporaries. This comes despite Yakuza 6’s 2016 release, predating Lost Paradise by two years, which uses the refined Dragon Engine. However, that’s not the only reason Lost Paradise falls short.

Rather, the title inherently falls short due to its pacing and padding issues stemming from traveling around the barren wasteland. Unlike in Kamurocho, you’ll also find no taxis to help you quick travel around the city. While a good game in its own right, and a fine video game adaptation of manga and anime, several flaws hold back Lost Paradise from the rest of the recent Yakuza releases.

#4. Yakuza Kiwami

Coming hot off the heels of Yakuza 0’s stellar 2017 release, Sega went to work with a full-blown remake of the original Yakuza title. This remake enhances everything about the PS2 original while using the Yakuza 3 engine and giving the game a full audiovisual makeover. Additionally, Kiryu can use his three fighting styles from Yakuza 0 (Brawler, Rush, Beast), as well as the unlockable Dragon style available right from the start.

Yakuza Kiwami takes place over a decade after Yakuza 0 and sets the tale for a growing rift between former best friends Kiryu and Nishikiyama. The original title of the series also introduces Kiryu’s adopted daughter, Haruka, and his rivalry with the Mad Dog of Shimano, Goro Majima.

Kiwami sets a standard for everything you could ask for from a Yakuza game. However, it falls short due to several pacing issues. One of which comes from certain subquests forcing you to go back and forth for items like dog food. Another issue stems from the many times you will encounter Majima with the game’s Majima Everywhere system. Kiwami is overall an incredibly solid game and worth playing but it still falls on the lower end of its superior contemporaries.

#3. Yakuza Kiwami 2

This is where the going gets strong. Yakuza Kiwami 2 utilizes the Dragon Engine from Yakuza 6. This means you’ll better-paced battles, traveling, and fewer load times. Entering buildings doesn’t come with a break in the action either.

Kiwami 2 introduced a powerful new rival named Ryuji Goda and Kiryu’s girlfriend, Kaoru Sayama. All the while building on his relationship with Haruka, Kiryu travels back and forth between Kamurocho and Sotenbori to avoid a full-scale war between rival clans.

I feel Kiwami 2 took the series a step up in many ways including its already stellar writing. However, I bumped into a few gripes such as a cluttered skill tree menu and constantly mashing to get up from constant enemy attacks. Despite this, I feel the sum of its parts makes it a standard Yakuza title utilizing the Dragon Engine. Therefore, it’s a highlight of the series and one absolutely worth playing.

#2. Judgment

Following suit from Yakuza Kiwami 2, Judgment utilizes the Dragon Engine. However, the protagonist of this adventure is private detective Takayuki Yagami. Disgraced as a former attorney, Yagami seeks to uncover the truth behind the case that ruined his reputation.

Fans of Ace Attorney or detective-type games in general, you’re in for a real treat. Judgment allows you to search for clues, present evidence in arguments, tail people from a distance, and even fly a drone. The combat feels straight-up Yakuza style with a Yagami twist. You can switch between a Tiger and a Crane battle style.

I enjoyed Judgment’s writing, character synergy, and overall gameplay. However, I found tailing segments to be a little long at times. But what really became a problem was finishing the subquests.

I found Paradise VR to be one of the series’ best minigames.

One makes you search Kamurocho for 50 QR codes and enter drone racing. Another forces you to play at least two games of Mahjong. Despite its lengthy tutorial, if you really did not want to understand playing Mahjong, you had to farm money to buy a piece to cheat the game. However, Judgment’s main game, clean UI, sub-quests, and character design truly make it one of RGG Studios’ finest highlights.

#1. Yakuza 0

Believe it or not, the best Yakuza game released since 2017 may be Yakuza 0. Despite running on the Yakuza 3 engine, the developers managed to balance it around stellar mini-games, combat, and weave together a gripping story. Additionally, you play as both Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima.

Among the mini-games included karaoke and a dancing rhythm game, both of which have scarcely been seen in the series since. Like Kiwami 2 and Lost Paradise, you can also play the hostess mini-game and dress up women to serve at your Cabaret Club. Plus, unlike Majima Everywhere or the constant badgering of the Keihin Gang in Judgment, the Mr. Shakedown fights are optional and highly rewarding.

Yakuza 0’s only real issues come from some minor pacing flaws such as only a few taxis scattered around town and no saving from the menu. While in some ways it feels dated compared to its Dragon Engine contemporaries, its overall balance is worth more than the sum of its parts. Yakuza 0 is truly one of the best places to start for series newcomers and still holds up well today.

Final Thoughts

I’m currently playing through Yakuza 3 which takes me back to the original engine. I eventually want to beat Yakuza Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon in order. That way I can compare the remaining titles to the rest of this incredible series.

Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the replies! As always, be sure to Like our main page and follow our social media for more quality gaming content.

Until next time!

The Game Corner – What Are You Playing? Week of 1/4/21

ACT Game Corner 1/1/21

Welcome to the new year! Now that we finally left 2020 behind, we’re looking forward to a much brighter and better year! With that being said, welcome to the Game Corner!

ACT Pokemon Game Corner

What is the Game Corner?

Named after the Pokemon series’ casino, the Game Corner is a column where I cover my gaming backlog. I’ll also include activities in the games I regularly play, such as Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you’re fond of JRPGs, Nintendo series, PlayStation hits, and a hint of fighting games, you came to the right place!

We encourage you to share your backlogs with us in the replies as well. Hopefully, this column will give you some ideas on what to add to your backlog. If you’re looking for new games to play, you might find something you like!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

ACT Super Mario 64

Yep, I did it. I cleared Super Mario 64 with 120 Stars. I’m no stranger to this game and I got into it when it came out on the Nintendo 64 back in 1996! I’ve cleared through this game many times to include on the DS with 150 Stars! Despite being many years since I’ve last played through this game, though, it’s a blast to play no matter how many times I replay it.

Surprisingly, as well as it’s held up, it’s become easier to identify some of the design flaws in the game. Perhaps it’s because Super Mario Galaxy spoiled us. But when it comes to finding 100 coins, redoing a long mission because of a death and no checkpoint, or clearing Tick-Tock Clock, some of the missions were actually frustrating! It’s one thing for Mario to be challenging but when you have to go all the way back through the Hazy-Maze Elevator because you feel once, it admittedly becomes tedious.

ACT Super Mario 64 Tick Tock Clock
Tick Tock Clock was heavily redesigned in the DS remake. The level design was much more tolerable.

Still, I gotta say it was hard to put down even today. As long as my backlog is, I’m honestly surprised I decided to stick with 64 till the end and clear it over the last week. Believe it or not, going over some of the 3D platformers I’ve played in my life, I can’t say I’ve played one better from a series that wasn’t Mario. 64 isn’t just revolutionary but a polished monument to some of the best and most enjoyable gaming experiences imaginable.

ACT Super Mario 64 low-poly
Did you know that Mario’s model becomes low-polygon when the camera zooms away from him?

Judgment

ACT Judgment Yagami Kaito

Ah, good old Yakuza. The franchise that received a huge boom in the mid-late 2010s thanks to Yakuza 0, Sega’s been a master at marketing this title. The Yakuza series is known for its hilarious, serious, and clever writing, combining strong storytelling with over-the-top humor. Any fan of shonen anime and Japanese culture will fall in love with Yakuza. It’s got those Fist of the North Star and Jojo vibes in combat with just a hint of pro wrestling.

The beat ’em up gameplay in Judgment is just as smooth and fluid as the Yakuza series could possibly deliver. This spin-off, however, also features a murder mystery. You’ll be solving puzzles, searching for clues, and even defending people in court just like in Ace Attorney. I also like the streamlined sub-quests which are now featured on corkboards for you to pick at.

Look. No touch!

Yagami’s truly a likable protagonist and Kaito’s an amazing side-kick, you could say! They differ from the series’ protagonist, Kiryu Kazuma, in many ways with Yagami being a little more coolheaded and Kaito being a little more cocky. Now that I’m on Chapter 9 I feel like I’m just a bit over halfway through the game at 30 hours.

Having beaten Yakuza 0, Kiwami, Kiwami 2, and Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, I look forward to continuing my journey once I clear Judgment. I’ll play through Yakuza Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, and finally, get to try Like a Dragon once I’m through.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Believe it or not, I’m still on the grind here. Still playing competitively, I find it hard to put Smash down. Even in an era without offline tournaments, I cannot put down my favorite game. I just gotta keep practicing for that time the tournaments return.

I’m still learning new things with Terry, Mario, Cloud, Chrom, Roy, and others. I honestly just love learning multiple characters. Even though in all practicality, you’re supposed to keep a small character pool in tournaments, it’s incredibly hard not to want to play more than a small handful of 78 characters. I even dabbled a bit with Sephiroth when he came out. Unfortunately, his zoning playstyle really isn’t for me and I just found Cloud to be more enjoyable personally.

I found a new YouTube channel, called 1437 Ultimate, with some sick plays by other top players. I’m already getting some inspiration from Zenyou’s Mario. If I find any more goodies, I’ll be sure to include them in my next column!

Fire Emblem Heroes

As always, I’m logging into my only gacha game regularly. I love Fire Emblem Heroes too much not to play it and care too little about other gacha to play anything else. I don’t even follow the meta anymore. I just look up guides on Gamepress, build my characters optimally, and send them out into Abyssal Maps. Don’t get me started on Aether Raids either.

Duma’s Abyssal stage. I still cannot beat this effing map.

Been running Fallen Ike, Brave Dimitri, Peony, and Brave Camilla lately. Unfortunately, I ran into a roadblock trying to conquer Abyssal Duma. Yet one switch from Camilla to Brave Claude and, within two tries, I clobbered that map like it was nothing. You gotta adapt to your changes and when you see a map full of fliers it’s time to get the bow out.

The new year banner is coming so I’m looking forward to that. Much as I would love a summer banner of the Ljosalfheim faeries, this gracious New Year banner gives them beautiful kimonos to wear and fly around in. However, I can’t say I’m ready to commit to the New Year’s banner when I could still possibly get Winter Sothis and Winter Fae. Just maybe!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

That’s right. I’m back to playing an old favorite Zelda title. Having beaten it on Wii (2006) and the GameCube years later, I had to pick up the HD remaster. One thing that drove me to this release was the addition of a harder difficulty.

Barring A Link Between Worlds, I’ve never been a fan of the Hero Mode difficulty in Wind Waker HD or this one either. However, with the use of the Ganondorf amiibo, I could boost enemy damage x2 and still collect hearts in the field. Unfortunately, I have to use my amiibo every time I load up the game.

I’m at the Lakebed Temple now which is the Water Temple of the game but on steroids. For those unaware, the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time was infamously difficult the first time we played through. Lakebed Temple is that but even bigger and more intimidating. That being said, I’m looking forward to getting this one over with.

Despite how much I enjoy this game, I always thought it fell short of the N64 classics, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. A large part of that reason was due to how easy combat was. Enemies dealt 1/4 heart of damage and you could get by them without even trying.

While the HD version’s difficulty gives me the incentive to beat the game, I have little doubt that Nintendo will release this game for Switch as part of this year’s celebration, Maybe we’ll see Twilight Princess and Wind Waker as part of Zelda 35th Anniversary. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can use the Wolf Link amiibo to help me with the DLC in Breath of the Wild.

Wrap-up

Well, here’s hoping I can clear Judgment before the next Game Corner. It’s probably around 60 hours and I’m doing side-cases like mad. Eventually, I do want to finally start my copies of Nioh 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, both of which I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about. But I’m also trying to be good and not scatter off to too many games at once. I say this as I haven’t touched my half-finished copies of Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake in weeks.

Share with us what you’re playing in the replies below. Stay tuned with us for next time’s Game Corner. And finally, be sure to follow us on our social media links below. Happy New Year, everyone!