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Ichiban Vs. Kiryu: Which Yakuza Hero Would Win In A Fight?

The Yakuza franchise has stuck to a very specific formula (spin-offs notwithstanding) for almost 15 years. It stars the kind-hearted Yakuza member Kazuma Kiryu, who lets his fists do the talking in a series of semi-open world brawlers as he punches his way through city streets, underground boxing rings, and the occasional disco hall. That gameplay recipe remained set in stone until Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon, which changed almost everything.

Gone is the combo-heavy brawler gameplay, replaced by a turn-based battle system. And, with a switch in gameplay came a switch in protagonist. The ever-serious-but-respectable Kiryu was traded for the lovably doofy Ichiban Kasuga. He's not exactly a one-man wrecking crew, but he can punch above his weight class. And, he exudes a charisma that attracts all manner of people to his cause, which explains Ichiban's combat crew (and Like a Dragon's positive reviews). But that raises the question: In a one-on-one fight, can Ichiban take Kiryu? Is Ichiban's can-do attitude and surprising prowess enough to take down a man who earned the nickname "The Dragon of Dojima" by punching out rival Yakuza members and watching haunted videotapes without changing expressions? Keep reading to find out.

They don't call him "The Dragon of Dojima" for nothing

As it turns out, Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon provides a crystal-clear, definitive answer, but be warned: If you have any dreams of playing Yakuza 7 blind without any knowledge of the future, stop reading right now. That being said, Ichiban Kasuga eventually has to fight and defeat Kazuma Kiryu to progress through the story.

Case closed, right? Per standard RPG rules, you have to beat Kiryu, so Ichiban is stronger, correct? Well, after a long and arduous battle, the game shows a cutscene where Ichiban and his crew are on the floor, gasping for breath ... and Kiryu isn't even sweating. Yep, it didn't matter whether Ichiban and his allies trounced Kiryu or barely held onto consciousness during the fight because the game states in no uncertain terms that Ichiban's gang never stood a chance against Kiryu. If they couldn't defeat Kiryu in a four-on-one fight, Ichiban wouldn't stand a chance solo.

Ichiban might be the hero of Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon, but Kiryu is the Dragon of Dojima. If video games have taught us anything, it's that not every hero can beat a dragon.