I have a question to ask all of you YAKUZA fans out there: Have you ever played the SPIKEOUT series of arcade games – produced, created & directed by Toshihiro Nagoshi – before?

I ask this question because the SPIKEOUT series is (or was), more or less, the predecessors of the YAKUZA franchise, much in the same way as Yu Suzuki’s VIRTUA FIGHTER (1993) was the basis for his later game SHENMUE (1999/2000).  It even appeared as a cameo arcade machine in the first YAKUZA game (at the Yoshida Batting Center)!

1UP: How did you decide on what the fighting engine would be like? Did you want the end result to be like Virtua Fighter, or more like [Spikeout], a previous Amusement Vision title?

Nagoshi: Between the two, I would say it’s more like Spikeout, because we’re not trying to show the beauty of traditional martial arts, we’re trying to show the raw brutal fury of a street fight, and that’s not something you can do by creating beautiful or fluid animations.

 1UP: Is this because Spikeout was an Amusement Vision title?

Nagoshi: The lead programmer is the same on both titles, Spikeout and Yakuza.”

– A talk with Yakuza’s Toshihiro Nagoshi, and a look at his games. [1UP]


1UP: Did you use the battle engine from SpikeOut? Because it seems very similar.

[Masayoshi Kikuchi (creator of JET SET RADIO)]: We haven’t used the engine from SpikeOut, it’s totally original. But I think it’s safe to say that we used SpikeOut as the basis for the combat in the game. As for the weapons, we didn’t really think about using the weapon system from SpikeOut. It’s just that on the street, what’s the most logical thing to do?

– A Heart-To-Heart With Yakuza’s Development Team [1UP]

SPIKEOUT: DIGITAL BATTLE ONLINE/FINAL EDITON (1998/1999) follows a four-man gang called “TEAM SPIKE”, led by their charismatic ex-heavyweight leader SPIKE – located in the heart of DIESEL TOWN on an unnamed island.  One day, the gang was suddenly ambushed by the nefarious thug gang “TEAM INFERNO”, lead by a man named MICHAEL, who planed to take over DIESEL TOWN and the rest of the island.  The violent struggle between good and evil eventually ended with the defeat of MICHAEL and his team, and TEAM SPIKE reigning victorious.


Fast forward 10 years later (SPIKEOUT: BATTLE STREET), and MICHAEL and his infamous team’s back, planning their revenge against TEAM SPIKE, the group who defeated them all those years ago…  SPIKE JUNIOR, who tagged along as a child with his father in the original game, is now a grown young man.  During his teenage years, he entered a boarding school to “experience a new kind of life” opposite of his father’s, but is soon called back to the island by an old acquaintance of his father’s, who informs him of the current situation in DIESEL TOWN.  New characters are introduced, and soon SPIKE JR., with his newly-gathered friends, forms TEAM NEO SPIKE to combat MICHAEL’s plans for revenge and finish what JUNIOR’s father started (hopefully) for good.

Like YAKUZA, the (mostly) arcade-only series has it’s fair share of spin-off games: SLASHOUT and SPIKERS BATTLE, the former set in a fantasy world, and the latter an arena-styled competitive twist to the SPIKEOUT formula.

If possible, I urge you to try at least FINAL EDITION (via the Supermodel emulator) and/or BATTLE STREET (for the original Xbox) if you haven’t tried them out already.  It has a simple yet intricate combat system that’s actually quite dissimilar to YAKUZA’s, and with a little bit of practice, is very engaging.

A heartfelt plea from a Yakuza Fan reader for more people to try out Toshihiro Nagoshi’s previous game series, and spiritual predecessor to the Yakuza series, SpikeOut!

Edit: Changed images per writers request.