The free roam is a core part of the game, allowing you to explore the Tokyo like town which has been created from licensed shops specifically delivering an authentic feel of realism, freely without being stuck in one certain place. This allows you more freedom and choice with where you want to go next, and what you want to do however this is where random encounters appear from yakuza thugs, street gangs, or random hooligans that want your money. At the beginning you will find yourself constantly smashing the square button, however as you progress through the plot and storyline that hooks you in, the game play fighting method's and strength build up, allowing you to train multiple techniques.
In part of the game you have to look after a little girl you’re protecting that is vital to your main end mission, taking her to fun places for example the batting cages. Beating your opponent will gain loyalty with the girl, which when filled up unlocks special items, taking her to arcades, winning a certain teddy bear, using photo booths, and buying her, her favourite food and drinks. I believe special inputs like this, which is not relevant to main game play, allows you to explore the extra fun areas of the game that make it less repetitive, also letting you build a friendship with the character. If you take her to a secret gambling joint behind the lotto bar she helps you win a lot of money. A side mission I came across outside a Strip club was helping the owner guard her entrance working as a bodyguard from hooligans. After beating numerous bad guys you receive a generous sum of money which helps you on your main mission. The extra missions keep the game interesting.
The game became so successful with RPG/Action Adventure players the company later produced a sequel Yakuza 2 for console Playstation 2 released in Japan on December 7th 2006 and have developed a further two sequels for console Playstation 3.