Hello and welcome back to the Story Arc. Three weeks ago I began an adventure where every other day in December of 2022 I examine a minor mechanic in the Yakuza franchise and look at how it has evolved game by game. In the previous articles I looked over how super small mechanics like locker keys and taxis have evolved as well as how larger mechanic like alcohol and revelations have changed over the years, so today let’s go over a mechanic that is very prevalent and in your face in every game but you likely haven’t spent more than a few moments thinking about: your inventory!
To catch those of you who haven’t played a single video game in your entire life up to speed, your inventory is where you store any items you may have picked up or bought during your adventure. These can range from healing items to restore your health mid-battle to weapons like guns that you can use non-lethally in fights.
Similar to my previous articles we’re going to examine both the function of your inventory to see if its changed over the years and look at any visual changes to these menus game by game as well as see if RGG Studios made the process of storing more convenient for the player.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into examining the pause menu inventory!
The Evolution of Kiryu’s Inventory
In the PS2 duology you had next to no inventory space at all. With a storage space of only twelve slots you needed to be super careful with your healing items as it was unlikely you’d be able to spam them. Heck you’d probably have less than twelve spaces as one of them is probably being occupied by a giant plush you win at Club Sega!
Even if you aren’t carrying a plush around like the best of us you probably won’t be using all twelve slots for items anyway because both weapons and armor are also stored in this tiny inventory screen, taking up even more space.
If you were carrying items that you wanted to store away for later there were handy dandy Item Boxes located in your hideout and right outside long action sequences. As someone who played the modern Yakuza games first I was shocked to see that in the item box was an actual, physical box in this game as opposed to just an implied thing in the closet of Serena.
By the time 2006 rolled around in Yakuza 3 Kiryu must have decided that he needed larger pockets as his inventory space has been increased to twenty entire slots! Starting from Yakuza 3 it became much easier to spam healing items in fights.
There were also some minor changes to weapons and armor. Now you could equip up to three weapons at once that you could switch between in battle and in addition to your main armor you could equip two additional accessories. Even if you have three weapons and three armors equipped that still leaves you with more slots than the PS2 duology’s inventory. You could have twelve healing items and still have a slot available for your plush!
As I implied at the end of PS2 Yakuza section, starting in this game Item Boxes were no longer a physical item in the world but more of an implied existence. Now you can visit any phone booth in the world and immediately access your item box’s inventory to store or withdraw items. While the actual box vanishing has made a few players sad, the added convenience of this feature is a more than welcome change.
Yakuza 4 has no discernible change to the inventory. Kiryu still has twenty slots available in his pockets and the option to equip three items and three armors.
Yakuza 5 also has no changes in the inventory itself but did make a slight visual change. Instead of showing your inventory being on the right and your equipped items on the left their positions have been reversed. Now your inventory is on the left hand side of the screen while whatever junk you’ve equipped is on the right.
RGG clearly found an inventory number they liked during the PS3 era, now let’s look at the game that flipped every rule you know about the inventory on its head.
While you start Yakuza Ishin with a maximum inventory space of twenty it won’t remain this way for long. Those of you who played Yakuza 0 are familiar with that game’s mechanic where you can exchange CP for upgrades such as being able to run long or having enemies drop more money. Well, that mechanic actually debuted in Ishin and was much more prominent as it was tied to even more gameplay mechanics. Throughout the game you’ll constantly be running to a shrine to exchange good karma to the gods in exchange for upgrades, I even wrote an article about this!
As you can probably guess from my tangent there, Ishin lets you upgrade your inventory space. By the end of the game you’ll have exchanged enough karma to the gods to have increased your inventory size to fourth entire slots, and wait, there’s more!
Ishin has completely done away with the concept of you weapons, armor, and healing items being in the same inventory. Now weapons and armor have their own inventory completely separate from normal healing items. Now you may at first think this is only for the new sword and gun styles but regular hand to hand weapons still exist in Ishin and are put in this inventory as well. The one downside though is that you can no longer equip three at a time and are once again limited to the one weapon equip system of the PS2 duology.
I’m sure those of you who have been reading these articles all month are getting sick of me constantly singing Ishin’s praises but almost every factor of this game is amazing and I cannot wait for you all to play it in February. Let’s move on to our next game’s inventory now.
Yakuza 0 returned us to a static twenty item slot inventory with no way to upgrade it. While this is disappointing I understand, Kiryu’s suit pockets clearly don’t have as much space as a Shinsengumi uniform. We’ve also done away with Yakuza 5’s change of having your inventory on the left and your equipped items on the right, instead reverting to how things were in older games.
0 hasn’t done away with all of Ishin’s changes to the inventory though. Weapons and armor are still kept in their own completely separate inventory, which remains a good change. You can also still only equip a single item at a time, I didn’t talk about this during the Ishin portion of this article but this was likely done to accommodate how switching styles works.
In the various RGG games where you can switch combat styles mid-battle you do so by pressing each styles corresponding direction on the D-Pad. Unfortunately this was also the way you selected your equipped items in the previous PS3 games, so in order to accommodate styles only our down d-pad item slot has remained. It’s an unfortunate but necessary sacrifice as these two systems really cannot coexist.
Yakuza 6 made easily the largest change to the inventory we’ve seen so far. In Yakuza 6 and by extension every single Dragon Engine game you now have an infinite inventory! No more worrying about item slots, if you want to carry an item then Kiryu will find space in his infinite pockets.
Now while you can carry an infinite amount of items in your pockets now there are some limitations. The biggest of which being that while there is no limit on how many items you can carry, there is a limit on how many of the same item you can have. Some items such as a standard Toughness Z have a limit so you can only carry five of them while some weaker healing items such as a Tuna Sandwich allow you to carry ten of them into battle.
Despite these limitations though, the Dragon Engine games allow a near infinite spam of healing items. The only times I have ever run out are when fighting each game’s Amon boss and when fighting the final boss of Judgment on the hardest difficulty.
The weapons and armor system has also been greatly changed. Now you can only equip two armors at a time and as for weapons, well they’ve been completely removed in Yakuza 6. Kiwami 2 would later bring back the old weapon and armor system of being able to equip three of each so its absence in Yakuza 6 is just one of those strange anomalies that pop up when examining the franchise as a whole.
Now you’d think that would be the end of the article because I literally just said that every Dragon Engine game gives you infinite inventory space, but there’s one last thing I’d like to talk about.
As you all know, Yakuza Like a Dragon is a turn-based JRPG. Turn-based gameplay means that there’s enemies who can steal items! What if they come for my plushies, oh and I guess my expensive healing items too.
Well, I suppose I’ll just go to a phone booth and- oh wait, phone booths don’t exist anymore. Okay, I guess I’ll just go to my hideout and- oh wait, Ichiban is homeless. Where am I supposed to store items then?!
Well if you go over to the homeless camp you can see an item that’s very familiar to PS2 Yakuza fans: the item box. Yes, this glorious box has finally returned and will let you store absolutely anything you have in it. I’ve personally never used it and I don’t know a single person who has, but it’s nice that it’s here!
Serving a similar purpose to the Item Box are various ATMs spread located in convenience stores. As dying will take away half of your hard earned cash, make sure you deposit any money you don’t feel comfortable losing. This isn’t truly inventory related but I’m never going to have a chance to talk about ATMs in Yakuza so please just accept my tip!
And that’s the inventory in every Yakuza game examined! I’ll be completely honest, I thought this article was going to be the shortest one I wrote this month. Writing about a different Yakuza mechanic every two days and getting to the point where I’m examining the pause menu inventory made me feel like I was running out of ideas, but RGG came through! The inventory has changed in small ways every game and it was genuinely fun for me to examine these tiny changes.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out this list of other Yakuza mechanics I’ve examined this month! What will I write about next? I don’t even know!
Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Locker Keys
Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Taxis
Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Chases
Evolution of Yakuza Mechanics: Revelations
The Evolution of Alcohol & Getting Drunk in Yakuza
The Evolution of Phone Booths in Yakuza