Playing the Yakuza Series in Chronological Order: From Classics to Like A Dragon: Ishin!

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At the end of the year 2005, with the 128-bit consoles at their peak (and even giving way to the beginning of the next generation), the Yakuza saga was born in Japan, now known in these parts as Like a Dragon. Sega sponsored a project born within Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, with Toshihiro Nagoshi at the helm.

The first Yakuza was exclusive to PlayStation 2, and wouldn’t make its way to Europe until September 2006. Curiously, its European debut would coincide with Yakuza 2’s arrival in its home country.

On the verge of celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2025, we have enjoyed more than 20 games from the Yakuza franchise if we count all the main installments, spin-offs, and derivatives that have been released on PC, consoles and mobile devices.

The most recent installment is Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, a gem that represents the eighth part of the story, created by an RGG Studio without Nagoshi, but with renewed enthusiasm.

It is also worth noting the status of the series, currently known as Like a Dragon outside of Japan, in Europe and America. Sega has even considered adapting the IP for the big screen (again), as it did with Sonic the Hedgehog.

In this article, we review all the games in the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise, as well as the order you should follow to complete the story chronologically.

How to play the Yakuza/Like a Dragon saga in the correct order:

All Yakuza/Like a Dragon games

The Yakuza saga, now called Like a Dragon, was born in December 2005, with a first game exclusive to PlayStation 2. Curiously, years later it was ported to Wii U, but only in Japan.

Since that title, and for over 18 years, the Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio franchise has accumulated a whopping 20 games.

Obviously, not all are main or core installments, as more than one challenges the RGG Studio boys to do something different, for better or for worse. In addition, two franchise compilations have been released.

Before you ask, in this count we haven’t included the two Judgment IP games, which are closely related to Yakuza/Like a Dragon, but aren’t part of its story itself.

Moreover, throughout all these years, three remakes have been released, which we have counted as independent titles from the originals on which they are based. These are Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and Like a Dragon: Ishin!

On the other hand, Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and Yakuza 5 had remastered versions, sold separately and also in a pack (in The Yakuza Remastered Collection).

These are all the titles of the franchise, in order of release:

• Yakuza (2005)
• Yakuza 2 (2006)
• Yakuza Kenzan! (2008)
• Yakuza 3 (2009)
• Yakuza 4 (2010)
• Yakuza: Black Panther (2010)
• Yakuza: Dead Souls (2011)
• Yakuza: Black Panther 2 (2012)
• Yakuza 5 (2012)
• Yakuza Ishin! (2014)
• Yakuza 0 (2015)
• Yakuza Kiwami (2016)
• Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2016)
• Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2017)
• Yakuza Online (2018)
• The Yakuza Remastered Collection (2019)
• Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020)
• Streets of Kamurocho (2020)
• Like a Dragon: Ishin! (2023)
• Like a Dragon: The Man Who Erased His Name (2023)
• Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (2024)

The main saga

As we indicated earlier, the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise also comprises spin-offs and derivative games, which don’t have as much weight in the narrative or canon.

It is up to you whether to play them or not. If we talk about the main saga, so far a total of 9 games have been released, the last of which is Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, which is the eighth installment in the series.

We don’t count the canon spin-offs, as they are not core titles of the IP, and it is not necessary to play them to understand the story of Kazuma Kiryu, and later on, Ichiban Kasuga.

One thing to clarify is that Yakuza and Yakuza Kiwami are, essentially, the same, as are Yakuza 2 and Yakuza Kiwami 2. The Kiwami versions are remakes of the first two adventures of Kazuma, adapted with the engine used in the more modern games in the series.

That being said, these are the main games of the franchise:

• Yakuza
• Yakuza 2
• Yakuza 3
• Yakuza 4
• Yakuza 5
• Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
• Yakuza 0
• Yakuza: Like a Dragon
• Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

All spin-offs and derivatives

Now we will talk about the spin-offs and derivatives. Are they necessary to understand the story of Yakuza/Like a Dragon? No, but it would be a good idea to play some of them, as they are enjoyable experiences, and you will understand some details better.

This does not apply in all cases, though. The RGG Studio franchise has the particularity that not all spin-offs are equally important for the canon.

In addition, some games never left Japan, so they are not as accessible for a Yakuza marathon. This is the case with Yakuza: Kenzan!, although, fortunately, we did get a great remake of Yakuza: Ishin! last year.

Then there’s the case of Judgment and Lost Judgment, which are two games developed by RGG Studio, sponsored by Sega, and released in the years 2018 and 2021.

They are not part of the canon story of Yakuza/Like a Dragon, but they are set in the same universe, primarily due to the appearance of secondary characters. In these adventures, we control detective Takayuki Yagami.

These are all the spin-offs and derivative games of the franchise:

• Yakuza Kenzan!
• Yakuza: Black Panther
• Yakuza: Black Panther 2
• Yakuza: Dead Souls
• Yakuza Ishin!
• Like a Dragon Ishin!
• Yakuza Online
• Judgment
• Lost Judgment
• Streets of Kamurocho
• Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

The chronological order you should follow

@Danny Wittenson: Cant wait to start playing.

If you want to start playing the Yakuza/Like a Dragon saga, our recommendation is to leave the vast majority of spin-offs and both Judgment games for later. At least, in the case of a few spin-offs and derivatives.

In fact, in the chronological order we only include two of them, which are Like a Dragon: Ishin! and Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.

If we stick to the chronological order strictly, Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the first game in the franchise, as it is set in feudal Japan (1860s), but we do not recommend starting with this title (nor with the original version unreleased in the West).

The best starting point is Yakuza 0, a game released in 2015 (in Japan), but which is the second game in chronological order, and the first if we stick to the core story. It is the first experience of Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist of the series.

You can also start with the original Yakuza on PS2, although in this case, the best option is Yakuza Kiwami, a remake that tells the same story, but with more modern graphics and gameplay mechanics.

From there, the best option is to continue with Yakuza Kiwami 2, and then with the remastered versions of Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and Yakuza 5, and finally with Yakuza 6.

When you get to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which represents a change of protagonist and gameplay mechanics, you can choose to play the spin-off The Man Who Erased His Name before giving Infinite Wealth a try, or play this spin-off before diving into Infinite Wealth.

The chronological order of the saga would be as follows:

1) Like a Dragon Ishin! (2023)
2) Yakuza 0 (2014)
3) Yakuza Kiwami (2015) or Yakuza (2005)
4) Yakuza Kiwami 2 (2017) or Yakuza 2 (2006)
5) Yakuza 3 (2009)
6) Yakuza 4 (2010)
7) Yakuza 5 (2012)
8) Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2016)
9) Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (2023)
10) Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020)
11) Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (2024)

@MichaelLewis: Really looking forward to the next one!

Currently, the Sega and RGG Studio franchise is enjoying its best health in its history, both in Japan and the West. A good proof of this is that Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the latest installment, managed to sell more than 1 million copies in its first week.

If you are interested in completing other sagas in chronological order, take a look at these articles: All Sonic games, All Final Fantasy games, All Hitman games, All Resident Evil games, and All Assassin’s Creed games.

How many Yakuza or Like a Dragon games have you played? If you want to start playing the Sega and RGG Studio series, we encourage you to follow the chronological order we have left you above, although you can also do it in the order of release of all the titles.

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