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A look back at Judgment, the spin-off of Yakuza

Applying some judgement to the judgment games

Like A Dragon: Ishin! is a spin-off of the popular Like A Dragon series. Ishin! is not the only spin-off to the series though. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular, with the Judgment series.

Light stealth shows up in both Judgement games.

Spinning out of the successful Yakuza series, thanks to SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Judgement has become a series all its own. Judgment released in June of 2019, and has even garnered a sequel in Lost Judgment.

SEGA lawyers up!

Judgement follows a former lawyer turned detective. Takayuki Yagami won a case where a man was freed and then later committed a murder. Yagami was disgraced by this, and decided to give up his career as a lawyer and become a private detective. Takayuki and his troupe from Genda Law offices, attempt to track down a new serial killer on the scene. This mysterious killer actually removes the eyes of his victims. Tak, as his friends refer to him, moves around the city of Kamurocho as Kiryu Kazama did before him. Essentially the series is Yakuza with a new protagonist.

One of the most annoying aspects to Judgment was the mortal injuries. Weapons or bosses could inflict damage that would decrease your maximum health. The only way to remedy this malady was to visit a doctor who could fix the damage or buy extremely pricing medic kits that could fix it. These mortal injuries were a pain to have to travel way across the map to fix.

Judgement’s serial killer at work.

Fans of the Yakuza cried foul when news of the mainline series becoming a turn-based affair. SEGA created Judgment to continue with the brawling that the series was famous for. Tak is even more nimble than Kiryu. Tak even has the ability to run up walls and preform pile drivers after flipping through the air. Yagami has multiple stances, that give him a wide variety of maneuvers. Also multiple fighting stances are available such as Tiger and Crane.

Judgment sticks to what works

Takayuki’s first outing, is a return to all of the familiar hallmarks the series is known for. Ryu Ga Gotoku studios brought back things like the SEGA arcade, whacky side missions, and random battles. Everybody’s favorite restaurants and make a return here as well.

Some of the light detective work in the game.

SEGA, also added in new investigation mechanics to the series. Fans complained though, of the simplicity of them. Takayuki also utilizes disguises to mislead people when he tails them. Another fly in the ointment is the tailing mini-game. Tak tries to tail the suspect without being seen in the missions. These stealth based missions though are more frustrating than fun.

All told, Judgment was a good start for Takayuki. Those that would lament Kiryu’s ending should be happy with this one.

Chase sequences change up the action.

Judgment finds itself lost.

Lost Judgment is the follow to Judgement, and seeks to improve on the original. Producer to the first game Kazuki Hosokawa, makes his directorial debut with Tak’s second outing.

Lost Judgement improves on the original in almost every way.

Takayuki and friends return with the case of a murder, although this time the killer has admitted to the crime, but has an alibi of committing another crime at that time. Takayuki and Kaito set off to solve the mystery while battling a mysterious gang along the way. The story takes many twists and turns along the way in Lost Judgment. Also, the second game features some pretty gruesome scenes that are not for the weak stomached.

Lost Judgment released in America to critical acclaim on September 24, 2021. Reviewers called it an improved version of the previous game. Lost Judgment also added in new mechanics, such as skateboarding, various spy type equipment, and even a dog sidekick. Drone racing returns here and so does a virtual board game. Neither mini-game did I find all that interesting.

Takayuki rips it up, Tony Hawk style.

Master System as an unlock able.

SEGA Master system games are an unlock able side diversion here. Tak’s apartment has a Master System and you can find multiple games hidden around the city to take back and play on it. Alex Kidd in Miracle World makes an appearance here and the game is difficult but fun. The list of games is not huge but an extra Master System exposure, I consider a good thing.

If you add in the numerous SEGA arcade games that are playable here such as Space-Harrier, Fantasy Zone, Fighting Vipers, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, and even Sonic the Fighters, this is packed with SEGA goodness.

Kaito strikes out on his own.

Kaito strikes out on his own in the DLC for Lost Judgement.

Lost Judgment also added a large downloadable story content called the Kaito Files. Story DLC for a Yakuza game was a novel idea, as SEGA had never attempted it for the series before. Kaito has always been Tak’s muscle and to see him strike out on his own adventure was a welcomed idea. The story involves an executive asking Kaito to find his missing wife. The missing wife just happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Kaito’s.

Kaito has a couple of different fighting styles. As Kaito, you can choose between Bruiser and Tank styles. Both styles are basically Kiryu’s Brawler and Beast styles and still, the action remains solid as always if not wholly original.

Bruiser style lets you but some heads.

Kaito’s DLC has four chapters and lasts about 10 hours in total. Add that to the 25 hours or so of Lost Judgment, and you’re looking at a sizable chunk of time.

Like A Dragon spins off again.

Like A Dragon: Ishin! is a remake of one of the first spin-offs of the main series of games. Ishin set a precedent that SEGA would use to expand the Like A Dragon series of games. Judgement has become one of the most successful spin-offs. Let’s hope that Like A Dragon: Ishin! continues the trend of great games related to the main series.

Like a Dragon: Ishin! launches February 2023 for PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, and Steam

Andy Schneider

Lifelong SEGA fan ever since the Master System. Avid comic book reader and video gamer. Midwest born and raised. Yakuza, Jet Set Radio and Panzer Dragoon are some of my favorites.
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