Every Change Like a Dragon: Ishin is making (That we know of)

About 2 weeks ago at the time of writing this article, RGG studios revealed that they would be remaking Yakuza Ishin and would be bringing it to the west for the first time, causing us all to rejoice! It’s safe to say that a majority of Yakuza fans, myself included, were very excited over this announcement.

One thing that has been muffled out in our excitement over the game coming to the west is the various changes that are being made to the game. While people have pointed out two major changes, I believe most people don’t truly realize just how much of the game is being altered.

As such, I have decided to list out all of the changes that I noticed as someone who has played the original Yakuza Ishin to completion. I am not here to cast judgement on any of these changes, just point out they exist. Also, for the sake of confusion I shall always refer to the original game as Ishin or Yakuza Ishin in this article and exclusively refer to the remake as Ishin Kiwami.

With that intro out of the way, let us proceed to the stuff you care about.

Gameplay change – The Card System

Let’s go over the elephant in the room first, Ishin Kiwami’s major gameplay changes. Overall the game seems to mostly play the same but with one major difference that may flip the entire game on its head: the card system.

In the original Yakuza Ishin when going on Shinsengumi assigned dungeon crawling mission you were able to equip cards that would periodically give you minor effects such as increased attack or maybe throw out a few explosives. Ishin Kiwami shall be changing the card system in 2 major ways

Cards will no longer be limited to dungeons and usable at any time
Instead of having minor effects they shall now work like amulets in Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise. Where when activated the player will be able to perform a form of super attack or summon

This change alone transforms the entire game as since cards appear to still have a relatively fast recharge time Sakamoto will constantly be performing big magical moves as opposed to just using sword and gun play.

If I may be permitted to go on some opinionated speculation, the card system appears to be the main focus of RGG for Ishin Kiwami’s gameplay changes. We have seen many heat actions for the game already, however not a single one wasn’t in the original Ishin. Yakuza Ishin already has the second least amount of heat actions in the series (with a total of 60) so it appears there won’t be any, or at least a very small amount, of new heat actions as the card system will take the focus for dealing heavy damage to enemies.

Gameplay Change – New Cards

On the subject of the card system, let’s talk about how they’ve changed the cards. Thankfully in the 10 minute gameplay demonstration we were shown we got full confirmation that the minor effect cards from the original Ishin are still in the game, they’ll just exist alongside the new cards which will have much more flashy effects. In Ishin Kiwami’s gameplay trailer we were also shown who will be added as a new card.

In this image we can see

  • Mame the dog
  • Yama-Oroshi
  • Kaoru Sayama
  • A tiger
  • Omelette the chicken
  • Seong-Hui
  • A character I forgot the name of
  • Ichiban
  • Munan Suzuki
  • Ed.
  • Tendo
  • Saeko
  • Ishioda
  • Nishitani
  • Mitsu
  • Makoto Makimura

While we do not know if these will be all the new cards in the game, I would be surprised if these weren’t at least a vast majority of the new ones considering their drastic effects on combat.

One thing that may be disappointing to you all is that like in the original Ishin, any character on an Ishin Kiwami card will not be appearing in the main plot of the game or any substory. So sadly fan favorite characters like Ichiban and Kaoru will not appear beyond this.

Aesthetic Change – A Reworked UI

Now that the card system is going to be an ever present factor in Ishin Kiwami’s gameplay, the UI of the game is being reworked to accommodate this. Below I provided two images for you to compare. As you can see, while the cards still take up a large amount of the screen in Ishin Kiwami, it’s nowhere near as much space as they took up in the original.

On the subject of UI changes, as you can see in the second image there are three major changes to how battles look in Ishin Kiwami:

1. The minimap is now in the bottom right as opposed to the traditional bottom left

2. The combo meter from the original Ishin is now in the top right of the screen as opposed to the center right.

3. As you deal damage to enemies the amount of damage you deal will appear over their head similar to Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

The last of these is the most interesting as this would be the first Like a Dragon game with traditional combat to be using the numbers from Like a Dragon.

Aesthetic Change – Main Characters being Recast

When speaking about Ishin Kiwami’s aesthetic changes, this is as big an elephant in the room as the card system was to gameplay changes. As you have all likely heard, many of the Shinsengumi’s characters will be having their models changed to resemble characters from Yakuzas 0-7, cutting out many characters from Yakuzas 2-5.

Here is a link to an image of every recast member of the Shinsengumi so you may see how drastic a change this is

The recast cast members are as follows

  • Kashitaro Ito (Originally Goh Hamazaki) now resembles Daisaku Kuze
  • Kanryusai Takeda (Originally Hiroshi Hayashi) now resembles Hiroki Awano
  • Mikisaburo Suzuki (Orginally Ken Ogita) now resembles Kanji Koshimaru
  • Toudou Heisuke (Originally Shingeki Baba) now resembles Tianyou Zhao
  • Sanjuro Tani (Originally Yahata) now resembles Akira Mabuchi
  • Hanepita Takechi (Originally a new character model) now resembles Keiji Shibusawa
  • Rintaro Katsua (Originally Minoru Aoyama) now resembles Masato Arakawa
  • Isami Kondou (Originally a new character model) now resembles Koichi Adachi
  • Susumu Yamazaki (Originally Hiroshi Kugihara) now resembles Joon-Gi Han
  • Oryou (Originally a new character model) now resembles Yuki

This is easily the most controversial change for Ishin Kiwami and one we will be hearing arguments about for years to come as certain characters (Most notably Yamazaki and Heisuke) have an entirely different feel to their character via the new actors.

Aesthetic Change – Returning Character models in substories

Our next change is one that’ll be much less controversial as it’s the very definition of harmless fan service: generic NPCs in substories will be having their models changed to resemble already existing characters.

At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the case. It was honestly incredibly hard to figure out via the gameplay trailer if these were entirely new substories or replacing models in the existing ones. For god’s sake, even the dialogue on screen wasn’t any help in figuring this out as Bacchus up there is only labeled as “Foreign Man”, making it near impossible to cross reference with Ishin substories without replaying all of them

Thankfully though, at least one character in this very quick montage of substories is in fact from an already existing substory. So I can at least definitively say that at least some substories will have the models of already existing Yakuza characters

Gameplay Change – New Karaoke songs

The gameplay trailer for Ishin Kiwami confirmed that each and every single minigame from the original game will be returning. This was amazing news after Kiwami 2’s cutting of content from the original Yakuza 2 included cutting a minigame, leaving me personally worried about the fate of Ishin’s minigames.

Not only did they show that every minigame was returning, but we got a small glimpse of some changes to Ishin’s karaoke minigame in the trailer. During that small glimpse we saw that they would be adding at least 2 new songs to Ishin’s karaoke minigame (Which originally had only 4 songs)

The 2 new songs we saw were the ever iconic Baka Mitai and a second, as of now unidentified, song.

An interesting thing to note is that Baka Mitai’s music video does not have Ryoma sitting at a bar table but rather on a stage in front of people, the first change this music video has ever seen.

Gameplay Change – A Potential New Minigame

During the trailer sequence where they confirmed every minigame was returning, RGG did a zoom out shot showing off every minigame. During this short shot it appears they left in a short glimpse of an entirely new minigame

Now, I speak as someone who has played over 150 hours of the original Yakuza Ishin, and I can definitively say that no minigame in the entire game has Ryoma make that pose as a text box pops up.

This is either an entirely new minigame or an old one is going to be drastically changed. Speaking of mechanics that are being drastically changed…

Gameplay change – a Reworked Blacksmith System

Over the course of the game, Ryoma will need to frequently visit the Blacksmith to upgrade weapons, forge new ones, and embed the ones he has with various skills. The Blacksmith in the original Ishin was a series of various menus and submenus with the occasional quick time event where Ryoma would need to forge the weapon.

Ishin Kiwami seems to be changing Blacksmith by cutting down the amount of menus that exist when embedding weapons with skills. There also appears to be other changes to the process as I have no idea what those percentages mean personally, so for now all we can do is speculate about the exact way they’ll be changing the Blacksmith.

Gameplay Change – New bosses in dungeons

Throughout both the original Ishin and Ishin Kiwami you will be sent out on dungeon crawling missions by the Shinsengumi. These dungeons served two purposes by short, fun, repayable sequences where you can fight several enemies on the way to goal while also being the primary source of material grinding for the Blacksmith.

The gameplay trailer for Ishin Kiwami shows off a large boss at the end of a dungeon sequence. While the original Ishin’s dungeons had bosses at the end of them, they were typically just normal enemies with larger than normal health bars, nothing like what we see here.

During a TGS panel, Masayoshi Yokoyama confirmed that the dungeons would be receiving some balance restructuring to make them more difficult. It would appear that bosses like these will be one of the methods by which that will happen.


And that is every single change I noticed in the three Like A Dragon: Ishin trailers we have seen so far. While I have no doubt in my mind that the finished product will habe many more changes, all we can do for now is speculate.

Thank you for reading my article, while you’re here perhaps I can interest you in reading about what I consider the best change Yakuza Ishin made to the franchise. This is Skeith, signing off.

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