Posted on 19 Apr 2021 by L Coulsen

Yakuza 3 Remastered

The Defence

Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: SEGA
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Role Playing
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 28 Jan 2021

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3470
AMD FX 6300
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 6870
HDD: 26 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 3770
AMD FX 8350
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660
AMD Radeon HD 7870
HDD: 26 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Just a few, short, years ago, the idea of SEGA’s highly lauded, niche appeal Yakuza series ever hitting the PC was a pipe dream. But now look at us. We have the entire, mainline, series just ready and waiting for us to go tearing through the streets of Kamurocho. And tear through I have…so we can all take a look at why Yakuza 3 is considered the worst in the entire franchise.

The Trial

Well, that didn’t exactly set us off on a good foot, now did it? In fact, not only is Yakuza 3 widely regarded as the worst in the series, it’s generally considered to be a pretty bad game in its own right. Not one of those ‘good just not x franchise’ dealios. It’s pretty much unanimously despised and, sadly, with good reason.

Now, let’s get the negatives out of the way first, because there actually aren’t all that many of them, though they are fundamental. However, there’s also still a lot to like, I’ll say that now. Ultimately, your mileage will vary as to whether the positives or negatives win out for the end product. But sadly, I don’t think anyone can deny the intrinsic flaws are, well, precisely that.

There’s one, very specific, issue that is still present at time of writing. The fishing minigame has issues with frame pacing, making it almost impossible to succeed. For most fish, it’s easy enough to deal with, but when trying to catch the tuna, your tension bar will fill up ludicrously fast, making it all but impossible to actually catch it. Your line just breaks almost instantly. Trying to actually hook a fish can be awkward too, because the onscreen prompt shows up for all of about eight frames. Literally a fraction of a second. It’s frustrating, but only really affects people going for 100% completion.

The key issue is that the gameplay, say it with me now, just isn’t fun. In fact, it’s worse than simply lacking in fun.  Because it’s entirely possible to have a piece of media that is ‘unfun’ but still engaging or rewarding in some way. Nay. Yakuza 3‘s problem is that it’s just downright fucking tedious. It’s an absolute grind, a chore to play.

Come at me, bro!

The problem is that every single enemy in the entire game, and I do mean all of them, have infinite, godlike resistance to kicks and punches. Or, rather, they never stop blocking. And, worse, can go into a defensive stance mid-combo, even if you start ramming your fists directly up their pooper. After the first hit (sometimes two) literally every single enemy in the game becomes (almost) damageable. And it’s as tedious as it sounds. That’s the real kicker. It’s just tedious. There’s no challenge, no wicked MLG strats to learn. It’s just…tedious.

Honestly, even on paper this should have been an obviously bad idea. Because it clearly was never intended to be a way to encourage players to experiment with a new approach. Most enemies can even block a frikkin’ katana with their forearms, so it’s clearly not intended to encourage use of weapons. You get one hit, then you back away and hit again. Something you can actually take advantage of, by ensuring it’s your most powerful attack that lands. Which does give you the chance to do a little extra damage as your enemy is standing up.

But that’s not a strategy, that’s cheesing the system. And your other, speedy, options all fall into the same category. Use lots of throws, stock up on Tauriners and spam Heat Moves, scratch your own balls. Whichever approach you take, it’s all the same end result. Fights, which are the meat and two veg of the gameplay, are just dull. Either long and dull, or short and dull. But still dull.

Apart from a few of the boss fights. The blocking system, kind of, almost works for some of them. The big chonker in the brothel…that was a hella’ fun time. And this is coming from someone who, typically, despises boss fights. The fact that it’s one on one, with an enemy that tends to be quite aggressive and mixes up their own fighting style, means that dashing in or side-stepping for a few quick hits before backing away, that works. Sometimes.

Uhm, well...maybe?

Annnnd, that’s pretty much every negative comment to be had. I told you it was a short list. Just, y’know, kinda’ frikkin’ integral to the entire game! Oh, and you can’t even mitigate (nevermind avoid) the problem by changing your difficulty settings, because it even happens on easy. Enemies just die faster and attack less. So, yeah. A complete chore of a gameplay loop standing between you and, honestly, probably my favourite Yakuza story.

This is going to be a lot more subjective, of course. But I firmly hold this as being the best of the Kiryu saga in terms of writing and overall narrative flow. Not only is the plot itself engaging, the changes in Kiryu’s character make him more likeable than ever. Finally having stepped out from the naivety of youth ala 0, and his struggle to catch up with the changes after a stretch in prison during the original two/Kiwami games. This time around, Kiryu is far more confident and much less willing to take people’s shit.

He’s a chap in early middle-age who just wants to be left alone to lead a quiet life with his family. His family consisting of almost a dozen orphans, but hey, family is family. Inspired by his own past and the events that lead him to becoming a surrogate Father for Haruka in the prior two games, our boy Dojima Ryu (the Dragon of Dojima for those who don’t speak weeb) has set up an orphanage and devotes all of his time to it, pretty much.

Oh, my sweet, summer child.

This is evident not just in what we’re told, but also the way Kiryu acts. If someone is being obnoxiously in your face, like in a sub-story for example, he’ll just call them out. Straight up telling some people he just does not have time for this shit. He calls out several people as being con artists, without player input, instead of doing the song and dance of seeming to initially be duped. It’s really refreshing to see, in most games. And the fact I’m also an early middle-aged man with (biological) children of my own makes him especially relatable in this game.

The actual story is, well, it’s a Yakuza game. The best way any of them can be described is, well, imagine The Godfather if half of it was written by Monty Python. This is no different. There are Yakuza people doing Yakuza things. Kiryu gets dragged back into it all despite his best efforts. A supposedly mortally wounded old fat guy literally flips a fucking charging bull over his head. Y’know, Yakuza things. You don’t need specifics. Oh, and the first random Majima fight is after about six minutes.

Now, being a remaster of a more than ten year old game, it doesn’t look all that good. It has that very clear, early 7th generation visual style going on. I mean, it’s hardly terrible to look at, but it’s nothing to write home about either. Even at the time it was kinda’ average at best. But the visuals serve their purpose, and the actual environments look pretty good because of strong art design.

The Verdict

It’s difficult to really give a definitive answer as to whether Yakuza 3 is a bad, or just extremely ill conceived game. It’s rare that I find myself feeling so ambivalent towards, pretty much anything. On the one hand, this genuinely is my absolute favourite in terms of narrative and themes. But the sheer boredom of the block and chip damage combat leaves it pretty much impossible to recommend. So…great story, bad game? That’s pretty much all I can say.

Case Review

  • Kiryu: Papa Kiryu is takes no crap from anyone, just as he should.

  • Majima: I love Baejima. Nuff’ said.

  • It’s Yakuza: The humour is a little more understated and integrated than usual, actually making it better than usual.

  • Size: Like all Yakuza games, the environments are small, but highly detailed, and there’s a lot of content. Personal preference will dictate whether that’s good or bad.

  • Visuals: Decent enough, for the time, but nothing to write home about even at original release.

  • Combat: Block block block. Tedious and annoying.

2.5 Score: 2.5/5
Play it for the story, but only if you really have to.


  • Controls: Real Yakuza use a gamepad...but a mouse and keyboard is perfectly functional. A controller is definitely the better option, but both offer customisability to get things set up just the way you want them.
  • Game Options: It's a port, so the number of graphical options is limited. But it's a port, so it runs well on lower spec hardware. Other than some minor tweaks to appearance and framerate caps, you won't notice much difference, though.


2 Score: 2/5

While my fellow judge has been fairly balanced in his thoughts on Yakuza 3, I’m not going to be so understanding. But first, the good; the story is actually pretty good and it goes to some insane places as you’d expect of the series. Majima steals the show every time he’s in a scene and protagonist Kiryu is a patient and supportive father figure to the orphans, and returning adoptive daughter Haruka, in his care but not afraid to punch the population of a moderately sized town into a coma. Take a moment to re-read that because that’s the end of the good.

Yakuza 3 throws so much boring, infuriating, time wasting crap in your path constantly that makes just taking a short jaunt across Okinawa into a parade of pointless interruptions. Every fight starts with a line or two of dialogue, which doesn’t sound like much but it quickly adds up and saps your will to get into battles. That goes double when you take the utterly bollocks combat balance into account which my fellow judge covered it pretty well above. Fighting plays a huge part in any Yakuza game so when it doesn’t feel good the rest of the game gets dragged down with it.

Yakuza 3 also suffers from feeling and looking like an early PlayStation 3 game. This isn’t just a character models having fewer polygons than we’re used to, controls also suffer from the same floaty, barely under control feeling that many early PS3 games had. Anyone who played Heavenly Sword will immediately understand. I’d actually suggest skipping this one even if you’re a fan of the series just so it doesn’t erode your love for the good games.

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