The beloved franchise loosely based on the Japanese mafia, Yakuza, has been around for over a decade. The most recent entries have rebranded the series slightly to Like a Dragon, but the gameplay, silly stories, and plethora of side content remain the same.
The Yakuza series seems like an incredibly dense and difficult one to get into. The first release was on the PS2, and despite many remasters, the general consensus is that it’s impossible to play any game in it that launches now because of how much backstory players will need. Well, we don’t believe this is true based on our time with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, but it’s easy to see why some may think this. That’s why we’ve listed every game in the Yakuza series in release order below, so anyone who wants to play it from start to finish can do so with ease.
Related: Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Previews Praise Game’s Immense Size, and Focus on Quality
Every Game in the Yakuza Series in Release Order
Below, we’ve listed every Yakuza game in the series, with the games first released at the top of the list and the latest games at the bottom. If players want to work through each game in order, they need to work from the top down until they catch up.
The first game in the Yakuza series was simply titled Yakuza. It was released for the PS2 in 2006 and kicked off the start of every fan’s love for protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. This Japanese mafia member’s antics were met with critical acclaim from the press and players alike, though not everyone could get on with the crazy mini-games that make up most of the side content.
Yakuza 2 (2008)
Yakuza 2 is the sequel to the initial release that adds to the story of Kazuma Kiryu as he dives back into Japan’s criminal underworld. This title added more romance to the series, improved the combat, and brought English dubs for the first time, which was extremely well received upon release. More than anything, though, this game was simply another entire Yakuza entry, and that’s what fans had been begging for since 2006.
Like a Dragon Arrives! (2008)
In 2008, close to the launch of Yakuza 2, fans also got Like a Dragon Arrives. This is the first spin-off entry in the series and takes place during the Edo period of Japan’s storied history. It mostly follows Miyamoto Musashi’s life and acts as the first chapter in the Like a Dragon franchise, even though it’s pretty much intertwined with Yakuza now.
The game has only been released in Japan because Sega was unsure of how a game in the series set in historical Japan would land with a Western audience. As fans of the franchise, we’re sure we speak for everyone when we say we’d love a Western version at some point.
Yakuza 3 (2010)
Yakuza 3 is a direct sequel to Yakuza 2, following up the story players were gripped by with Kazuma Kiryu at the helm. This was the first international PS3 release for the franchise, and all of the upgrades that were brought with it meant this was one of the most popular and accessible entries.
Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter (2010)
Another one of the lesser-known entries in the series, Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter, was released in 2010 for the PSP. This spin-off stays close to the Yakuza formula in terms of gameplay but attempts to bring the focus more into a one-on-one style, which fits much better on the platform’s smaller screen.
The title was released a year or so before the PS Vita, and Sega was understandably skeptical about how well it would perform in the West, with the audience having missed the previous spin-off and the hardware’s life cycle coming to a close.
Yakuza 4 (2011)
In Yakuza 4, players are introduced to three new protagonists alongside Kazuma Kiryu: Masayoshi Tanimura, Shun Akiyama, and Taiga Saejima. This makes for a much more interesting and varied game and sets the trend for what is to come for the rest of the series.
Yakuza: Dead Souls (2012)
Yakuza: Dead Souls is a strange one. It’s a non-canonical spin-off title within the franchise and heads off in some very new territory that the mainline series would never dream of. It’s designed more as a survival horror game set in the Kamurocho district where a sudden zombie outbreak has completely overrun the area. Using one of the four main characters, Shun Akiyama, Goro Majima, Ryuji Goda, and Kazuma Kiryu, players must navigate and survive the area.
Black Panther 2: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter (2012)
Clearly, the hesitation with the first spin-off entry was unfounded because a sequel was also released in Black Panther 2: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter. Following Tatsuya Ukyo once more, players dive into the much more stripped back combat on the PSP, despite the PS Vita being readily available. We have a soft spot for this mini-series because it shows just how popular the PSP was at the time.
Like a Dragon: Ishin! (2014)
Sega made a bold move in 2014 with the international release of Like a Dragon: Ishin! The game takes players back to the era of samurai in Japan, similar to the first spin-off entry, and gives players a chance to try out a different type of Yakuza combat. The game was re-released on Steam in 2023, but it’s more of a port than a remaster.
Yakuza 5 (2015)
Getting back to the main series in 2015, Yakuza 5 carries on the core story and manages to upgrade everything the series has to offer. This game had five main protagonists and boasts more gameplay that fans will have seen in years.
Yakuza 0 (2017)
As the story of the series grew, Sega decided a prequel was required in Yakuza 0. It’s set 17 years before the events of Yakuza and sees players shift control between Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu throughout its runtime.
Yakuza Kiwami (2017)
In 2017, a remake of the original Yakuza titled Yakuza Kiwami was released. The gem builds upon the original release and adds in new story details, beefs up the graphics, and brings gameplay up to date with the modern standard expected of the series. It’s still that original tale though, and nothing is lost.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2018)
By the time Yakuza 6: The Song of Life came along, it was the most anticipated game in the entire franchise. We remember everyone talking about it and being excited for its release. The game is the final entry to feature Kazuma Kiryu as the protagonist, though he does return as a character in future entries. This game stepped things back a bit and saw players purely play as this character instead of several.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2018)
Just like how Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the original Yakuza game, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of Yakuza 2. The important updates are all here, including graphics, gameplay, and a few new story details that make for a much more cohesive experience.
Sega attempted another spin-off series from the Yakuza and Like a Dragon franchise in Judgement in 2019. This game put players in the shows of Takayuki Yagami, a private detective investigating crimes in Kamuocho. The gameplay shift towards investigation over silly combat threw a lot of players, but it’s got its merits within the wider series.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020)
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a huge departure from the events of the main Yakuza series. It stars Ichiban Kasuga as the new protagonist and seeks to take the series into a turn-based era while preserving much of what made the combat in previous games great. It’s a fantastic entry, and a great place to jump in for newcomers.
Lost Judgment (2021)
The sequel to Judgement, Lost Judgement, builds upon what made the game good and distinct from the major series. Its story and investigation mechanics once again take priority, but it’s got more than enough side content to make it feel at home in the Yakuza franchise.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection – Yakuza 3 Remastered, Yakuza 4 Remastered & Yakuza 5 Remastered (2021)
While Lost Judgement might have been the main focus for most Yakuza fans in 2021, long time players were blown away with a second release for the year in The Yakuza Remastered Collection. It collects Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 into one set with updated visuals and opens them up on new platforms for everyone to try out.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (2023)
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a faithful spin-off entry that stars Kazuma Kiryu once more as he lives his life after faking his death. Players get to see an old character featured in new gameplay and learn more about what happened to the man they fell in love with throughout the early entries.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (2024)
In Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, players tackle a personal story with Ichiban and experience more of the same gameplay seen in Yakuza: Like a Dragon. However, the game also introduces an island that players must manage, adding an Animal Crossing element into the mix.