Like A Dragon Ishin

Do I Need to Play Previous Yakuza Games to Understand Like a Dragon: Ishin!?

Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a remake of Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, a Yakuza game that never saw a release outside of Japan. But what if you haven’t played any of the other games in the series? You might be wondering, do I need to play previous Yakuza games to understand Like a Dragon: Ishin!? Here’s the answer.

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You Don’t Need to Have Played Any of the Previous Yakuza Games to Understand Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Before we explain why you don’t need to have played any of the previous Yakuza games, we’re going to get the new naming convention out of the way. In Japan, the series has always been called Ryū ga Gotoku, which translates as “Like a Dragon.” We’re just catching up in the west.

But, while it’s part of the Like a Dragon/Yakuza series, Like a Dragon: Ishin! takes place in 1860s Japan, around 120 years before the earliest entry in the main Yakuza series. In fact, it’s best to consider it a spin-off. 

However, if you have played the Yakuza games you will see parallels between Like a Dragon: Ishin! and the modern day titles. The main character, Sakamoto Ryoma comes across as an earlier version of Kazuma Kiryu and is voiced by the same actor. A lot of the characters, in fact, have modern day counterparts, again voiced by the same actors.

We’ll let you figure out which 1860s character is the equivalent of Goro Majima. If you have played the other Yakuza games, you’ll find yourself smiling as another familiar voice and, perhaps, face, turns up — but you won’t feel lost if you haven’t. 

So if you’re wondering if you need to play previous Yakuza games to understand Like a Dragon: Ishin!, that’s your answer.


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Chris McMullen
Chris McMullen is a freelance contributor at The Escapist and has been with the site since 2020. He returned to writing about games following several career changes, with his most recent stint lasting five-plus years. He hopes that, through his writing work, he settles the karmic debt he incurred by persuading his parents to buy a Mega CD. Outside of The Escapist, Chris covers news and more for GameSpew. He's also been published at such sites as VG247, Space, and more. His tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though he'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based. At Escapist, he's covered such games as Infinite Craft, Lies of P, Starfield, and numerous other major titles.