Ryu Ga Gotoku Kiwami, or Yakuza Kiwami (with Kiwami meaning extreme or ultimate) is a 100% remake of the first game, which was originally released for the PS2 ten years ago. Not only does it upgrade the graphics, but introduces new plot elements to further explain the motivations of Nishiki, the game’s main antagonist. In addition, the battle system takes elements from Yakuza 0 by having four modes of combat - beast, rush, brawler and dragon. Another new challenge original to Kiwami is the constant ambush of Goro Majima, one of Kiryu’s rivals in the first game who later becomes his most valued ally.
In addition to its brutal action with the heat attacks, a majority of the charms of Yakuza Kiwami and the series as a whole is its realistic presentations of Japan (notably Shinjuku’s Kabukicho which is fictionalized as Kamurocho in the Yakuza series) and the actual yakuza itself. Kiryu Kazuma, the main character, has managed to strike the hearts of many fans because he is a man among men. Thanks to the success of this re-release, the second game will get its own Kiwami edition in Japan at the end of 2017. As for an international release, all we can say is stay tuned to find out. But in the meantime, what other games can we enjoy that are like Yakuza Kiwami? Read our list to find out!
Similar Game to Yakuza Kiwami
1. Red Dead Redemption
- System: Xbox 360, PS3
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Developer: Rockstar San Diego
- Release Dates: May 18, 2010
While this is more in lines of Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan, a Japanese exclusive release of the franchise that takes place in the late-1800s, you can also get a taste of that in Rockstar’s Western, Red Dead Redemption. Just like how the Yakuza series masterfully portrays its respective setting and culture, Red Dead Redemption offers the same in conjunction with its gimmick. In this game, you explore the Wild West on horseback and learn the moral codes of cowboys.
If in the event you save a town from raiding bandits, your honor goes up. If you choose to rob trains, then it goes down. While Yakuza Kiwami mostly has you use your fists and other foreign objects to take out enemies, in the American West, you got your wits and your revolver to take out varmints. The game also offers a rich soundtrack and excellent quality voice acting that suits its story and captures the personality of the atmosphere and characters. So if you want to play a different kind of gold-hearted outlaw, this game is for you.
Red Dead Redemption Trailer
2. Saints Row IV
- System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Developer: Volition Inc
- Release Dates: Aug 20, 2013
In this more comedic oriented game, you play as a superhero who is the President of the United States and must stop an alien invasion. While it is far from being like Yakuza Kiwami, we can’t deny that Kiwami has its moments of comedy and whacked up moments such as featuring Japanese adult actresses as hostesses and mini-games where you bet on women wrestling in string bikinis. But if anything,
Saints Row IV is comparatively similar to Of the End, where the cast of Yakuza fights in a zombie apocalypse. While Yakuza Kiwami has political intrigue, it's expressed much differently than in Saints Row IV. While Kiryu is shown to be superhuman through his feats of strength and ability to take pain as he can dish it, Saints Row IV allows you to outrun a speeding bullet and leap tall buildings in a single bound. So if you want to fight an alien invasion while being trapped in a world like a 1960s sitcom and have almost every superpower at your disposal, Saints Row IV is it.
Saints Row IV Trailer
3. Mafia III
- System: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Developer: Hangar 13
- Release Dates: Oct 7, 2016
If you want a game that realistically represents the gangs of America, look no further than Mafia III. Like how Yakuza Kiwami is in its own ways a timepiece that takes place in both 1995 and 2005, Mafia III takes place in 1968 New Bordeaux, a fictionalized representation of New Orleans. In this game, you play the role of returning Vietnam veteran Lincoln Clay, who was raised by local organized criminals whose membership consists of African Americans. Due to his father’s territory wars with the other gangs, they are forced into debt and must find a way to get the dough. In Mafia III, you get a feel of the real-life New Orleans with the mardi gras parades, bayou swamps, its distinctive home architecture, and it serves as a social commentary of what the American South was like in the late-1960s. However, Mafia III and Yakuza Kiwami are both story and character oriented in context to their own respective cultures.
While the real-life yakuza tend to refrain from using guns unless necessary due to firearm possession laws in Japan, America’s second amendment allows you to use whatever firearms are at your disposal. But if you don’t have any guns, you can use your fists and Lincoln’s Army training. But what makes Kiryu and Lincoln different is how they deal with power. Lincoln is the ultimate rags to riches story and how the player uses his power affects the outcome of the game. With Kiryu, he doesn’t really care about power and resigns from being the Kaichou (a Japanese way of saying the don) of the Tojo Clan upon the ending of the game just to try to have a normal life. So if you want to live the American dream like Tony Montana wanted to in Scarface, Mafia III is right up your alley.
Mafia III Trailer
Any Game Like Yakuza Kiwami ?
4. Sleeping Dogs
- System: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: United Front Games
- Release Dates: Aug 14, 2012
Taking place in Hong Kong is Sleeping Dogs, which portrays the equally cutthroat world of the Triads, or the Chinese mafia. In this game, you play as Wei Shen, an undercover cop who infiltrates the Sun On Yee family in order to destroy it from the inside. Just like how Yakuza Kiwami and the rest of the series tends to portray internal wars within the Tojo Clan and/or gangs from other parts of Japan, in Sleeping Dogs, you will be tasked with fighting similar wars. While Kiryu’s role in Yakuza is trying to stop them from happening, Shen willfully takes part in them.
In addition, if you ever want to experience the nightlife of Hong Kong but can’t afford a plane ticket, then maybe 9% of a ticket price can afford you this game. The fighting system is very combo and string oriented like in Yakuza Kiwami so you’re going to need a great combination of brain and brawn to win. Both games allow you to use the environments for special attacks such as throwing people off of roofs or smashing their heads up against the wall. And last, both games allow you to enjoy some karaoke on your downtime.
Sleeping Dogs Trailer
5. Grand Theft Auto V
- System: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: RockStar Games
- Developer: RockStar North
- Release Dates: Sept 17, 2013
While Yakuza follows the story of a reformed former member who is trying to do the right thing, Grand Theft Auto has always been about being the bad guy. In fact, the name of the game is being as bad as you want to be. You assault random people on the streets, grab a gun and go nuts, get the attention of the National Guard and hope you can steal one of their tanks. The creative possibilities are endless. Hell, you can even jack airplanes! While Yakuza Kiwami tends to focus on the Kamurocho area of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, GTA uses a more open area with their digital version of Los Angeles, which allows a lot more flexible and realistic means of transport that defines its charms - carjacking whatever you can get your hands on.
While Grand Theft Auto has always been subjected to controversy for every reason there is, Yakuza in its home country has been given nothing but praise for its accuracies in portraying its harsh and yet honorable world. Both games have their own distinct mini-games that define their similarities and distinctions. While Yakuza allows you to engage in some of the more non-sexual companion services such as visiting hostess bars, Grand Theft Auto V notoriously goes all the way. So if you want to be the ultimate American gangster with money, power, and respect, Grand Theft Auto V should be more suited to you.
Grand Theft Auto V Trailer
6. Shenmue Chapter 1 Yokosuka
- System: Dreamcast
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sega AM2
- Release Dates: Dec 29,1999 (Japan), Nov 7, 2000 (US)
Obviously, both fans of Yakuza and Shenmue would riot if we didn’t acknowledge this game. In fact, fans of both franchises unanimously agree that Yakuza is a spiritual successor to Shenmue. Like in Yakuza, Shenmue takes place in Japan but in Yokosuka, a rural area outside of Tokyo and Yokohama, which is home to a US Naval installation. Just like how Yakuza amazingly captures Kabukicho, Shenmue manages to accurately portray Yokosuka as if you’re there. Both Ryo and Kiryu represent old school Japanese masculinity through their dedication to see things through, help others, and kick some ass along the way.
Other common qualities they share is that you can go to the arcade and play some SEGA games or other mini-games. The fighting system in Shenmue is pretty much a beat ‘em up version of Virtua Fighter since it was originally conceived as a Virtua Fighter RPG. While Shenmue has hostess bars you can visit, due to Ryo being underage, there are no mini-games where you can drink with the hostesses. On one last note, since the original Yakuza game was released with a dub that has been subjected to harsh criticism, Kiwami’s international release is exclusively in Japanese audio makes it more authentic. Though Shenmue’s international release also has a dub that has been ridiculed (such as looking for sailors), Suzuki admitted to liking it and has become a charm. So if you enjoy Yakuza and never played Shenmue, get yourself a Dreamcast and get this game!
Last, we’d like to make some honorable mentions to LA Noir, Uncharted, Kenka Bancho, MGS Twin Snakes, and Tomb Raider. Along with Yakuza Kiwami, a huge majority of the appeal of these games is that you can explore a world that is just like the real thing but you have to be the top dog. Not only do you walk in its world and fight enemies, you experience what they have to offer. Some let you enjoy fast rides on a highway, others let you go to karaoke, and some let you talk a stroll in the park. In addition, you get to interact with people on the streets, go shopping, or in getting into fights and shootouts. Due to some games having more open environments, some give you the ability to drive a car or ride a bike around town or explore the countryside for some peace and quiet. In a pedestrian-oriented metropolis like Tokyo, using vehicles is completely out of the question in a realistic sense.
As opposed to seeing games like Yakuza Kiwami as a game, they are an experience to a world that’s about as real as you or me, and if you ever have a chance to visit Kabukicho, you’ll immediately recognize some real-life landmarks such as the Don Quijote thrift store, the red neon entrance sign, the arcade, theatre, the hostess bars and batting cages. You name it you can find it. While no random people will pick fights with you, scamming touts will try to lure you into their overpriced bars. Every open world game has something to offer and if you want to simulate what Japan’s nightlife is like, what better game than Yakuza Kiwami? Or if you want something similar but in a different time and place, just try other games we listed.