Why ‘Like a Dragon: Ishin’ should or shouldn’t be your first ‘Yakuza’

There are few things in the world I enjoy more than recommending Like a dragon (formerly known as yakuza until a rebranding in late 2022) Games on humans. Luckily, the newest (sort of) game in the franchise is worth recommending.

Like a dragon: Ishin Takes the familiar miniature open-world beat-em-up gameplay of the rest of the series and sets it in 1860’s Japan. It’s a remake of a game that was originally released in 2014 but never made it to the west until now. Ishin is a great old time, especially for longtime ones yakuza-Heads but it could can also be a decent entry point for beginners.


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Here’s why Like a dragon: Ishin Either should or shouldn’t be your first trip down yakuza Roadway.

Why it should: The setting is great

In case you’re not too familiar yakuza/Like a dragon, almost every other game in the series follows a fellow named Kazuma Kiryu as he navigates his way through Japan’s modern day criminal underworld. He brawls with bad guys, uncovers grand conspiracies that often involve both domestic and foreign governments, and generally just wants to be a father.

That’s not the case here, or at least not entirely. Kiryu’s face and voice were applied to the real-life Japanese historical character Sakamoto Ryoma. Ishinthe protagonist. In this heavily fictionalized historical story, Ryoma infiltrates the Shinsengumi, a type of secret police of the time. He does this to find out who killed his adoptive father, but the story quickly unfolds into a major revolution story at a time of great cultural and political upheaval in Japan.

The plot itself is quite exciting and fun to follow despite what it is polygon(Opens in a new tab) As already mentioned, it takes on some nationalist tendencies over time. But aside from what happens in cutscenes, the setting is probably the best part of it Ishin. You’ll spend hours running around the city that would later become Kyoto, eating in humble little restaurants, ordering sake in tiny bars, betting on chicken races and even taking part in a 1860s karaoke replay.

Sure, it’s a cartoonish and probably not particularly realistic portrayal of that time and place, but it has heart. Ishin made me laugh regularly with its wacky side characters and optional quests. If you’re into samurai stuff at all, Ishin should be on your radar. However, if you have never played any other yakuzaprepare to miss some of the juice.

Why it shouldn’t: You’ll miss a lot of references

Ryuji Goda and Shun Akiyama in Like a Dragon: Ishin

Hey, I know those guys!
Photo credit: Sega

The newest aspect of Ishin isn’t just that there is one yakuza Play in a different setting. Instead, it’s the sheer abundance of Cool Guys from the rest of the series that developer RGG Studio has been able to transport from one time period to another.

Much like Ryoma is basically Kiryu in costume, almost every character in it Ishin is a true historical figure, very loosely brought to life with the character model and voice actor of someone from the modern age yakuza games setting. If you’re like me and have played everyone else, this is the one Joy. Each time a new character appeared whose face I recognized from a previous one yakuza Game, I grinned from ear to ear.

Every yakuza Fan will tell you that the extensive cast of shiny, muscle-bound hunks is a big part of why the show is great. Seeing them all recast as interpretations of real people is utterly funny and charming. Unfortunately, if you don’t know at least a little about the other games, all of this is lost.

Why it should: It’s more fun to play than most

Wild Dancer style in Like a Dragon: Ishin

Wild Dancer is a blast.
Photo credit: Sega

Similar to the rest of the series (sans turn-based 2020 Yakuza: Like a dragon), Ishin has arcade beat em up battles that are pretty easy to pick up. They have light attacks, heavy attacks, grappling moves, and special finishing moves that consume a heat meter that fills up during combat. It hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years, but it doesn’t just work in Ishinit excels.

That’s because this time you’re not just limited to your fists. While other games in the series only allow the use of weapons sparingly, Ishin includes the art of the sword and pistol. There are a variety of fighting styles that you can switch between on the fly. One has Ryoma wielding only one sword, another has him with only one weapon, and the best one has him wielding both at the same time.

This style, called Wild Dancer, was the most fun I’ve ever had in non-turn based combat yakuza Game. Slashing through enemy samurai with rotating blade movements, shots and devastating finishers using both weapons simultaneously is a thrill. Each style can also be upgraded simply by leveling it up and using it frequently.

Additionally, there’s a trooper map mechanic where you recruit dudes and ladies to join your squad. They don’t actually fight alongside you, but you can use their abilities in battles. These can range from simple health regeneration to summoning a pissed off bear to maul your opponent. It rock.

Why it shouldn’t: The rest is just so damn good

Yakuza 0 is so cool y'all.

Yakuza 0 is so cool y’all.
Photo credit: Sega

Ishin might have the funnest combat in the series and one of the coolest settings, but that doesn’t make it the best Yakuza/Like a Dragon Game. Part of that is due to its own pitfalls, and part of that is that the series has set incredibly high standards.

To be honest, Ishin bites off more than it can chew. There’s an entire farming metagame where you slowly support and upgrade a farm by growing more and more valuable veggies that just couldn’t grab me at all. A big part of upgrading Trooper Cards is taking them on monotonous, boring treks through repetitive caves that aren’t really worth the effort. And finally, the story has two or three too many instances of mistaken or stolen identities. The revelations are getting a little old.

I would still recommend that newcomers start with Yakuza 0, a game that is on sale both in Game Pass and frequently for around $5. Not only is it an amazing game, it sets you up for the rest of the mainline series, somewhat Ishin never mind.

That said Ishin is mostly a blast and it’s just nice to see this game finally coming to the west. It doesn’t really matter whether you start with one or another game in the series. Just start. You will not regret it.

https://mashable.com/article/like-a-dragon-ishin-yakuza-series Why ‘Like a Dragon: Ishin’ should or shouldn’t be your first ‘Yakuza’

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing zackzwiezen@ustimespost.com.

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