Yakuza: Like A Dragon Has The Best Enemy Types

My introduction to Yakuza wasn’t 0 or Kiwami, a trailer, let’s play, or anything normal like that, but “Tory scum!” and “Rich asshole” pop-ups laid over pictures of Boris Johnson and Elon Musk our lead features editor Jade King forced me to make.

It didn’t sell me on what the series was all about, although the absurdity of such giant enemy text did give me a chuckle, even if the first six games had fairly tame enemies like “Drunkards” and “Street Thugs”. Then I tried Like a Dragon, where you fight trash mimics, posers, fashion police, skater bois, beefcakes, and flash mobbers, finally making those memes a reality.

Yakuza 7 knows how great these enemy names are, and even how funny the designs can be, since it collects them all in a pseudo-Pokedex that you get through a side quest that blatantly riffs on Pokemon. At any time, you can open it up on your phone and browse your fighting history, keeping track of each bizarre enemy you’ve beaten. One of my favourites is the City Slicker, category: Oiled Up. He has a rarity of one (meaning there’s an unfortunate abundance of them), described as “A perverted regular of the Red Light District” He’s a slippery, shiny, half-naked man with an inflatable, ready and waiting to wail on you.

My second favourite goes to the Gifted Gatherer, category: Trash (a category I know all too well). He’s slightly rarer, given that he’s essentially a reskin of the bin bag mimic, and described as building “a lucrative and fulfilling life out of collecting valuable trash.” Imagine Frank Reynolds and Charlie Kelly from that one episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia when they get obsessed with digging through rubbish. However, instead of hanging up the black bags, they get rich and later end up in a fistfight with a former yakuza wielding a lead pipe.

Yakuza continues to tell some of the most heartfelt stories in games, with Like a Dragon opening to a child finding their father dead during dinner after leaving a stage performance held by an abusive manager. But it also continues to perfectly balance this tragedy with lighthearted and silly moments. Usually, it’s limited to side quests, but Like a Dragon bakes it into the world, as there’s a collectathon goal always ticking away as you find new and more extreme enemy types. There’s still your usual lot, like bouncers, bikers, felons, and punks, but among that rabble is a whole host of absurd enemies as memorable as anything else in Yakuza.

It makes combat stand out even more, since you’re not just beating on thugs to get from A to B, taking down yakuza dens from the inside, but searching for all kinds of different oddities. And these oddities have standout, albeit incredibly weird, animations and attacks to boot – one scrapes a chalkboard with their toenails to give you a debuff, another slips on their own lube, and another “leaks secrets”. Failing that, they have a gun.

I know somewhere out there is Twitchy Streamer, Scarredface, and the Mohawk Emperor, and I can’t wait to find them and beat them up with my vibrator (sorry, the Massive Massage Machine). It’s breathing new life into Yakuza, but it’s also giving me the motivation to go out and explore like never before, digging into each and every side quest, walking down every alley, and fighting every enemy encounter, because I never know just what’s out there. It might make my eyes bleed and leave me a little queasy, but that’s half of the fun.

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