Skip to main content

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth makes gaming’s best hero even more lovable

Ichiban surfing.

A good deal of RPG protagonists tend to be on the dark and broody side, if they’re not altogether silent. That’s usually justified — they tend to go through circumstances that uproot their lives at best and, at worst, irrevocably ruin them. It would only be natural for that to have an impact on their overall demeanor.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth‘s Ichiban Kasuga has also gone through plenty of tragedy, loss, and hardships himself. And yet, his unbreaking optimism somehow only shines brighter through that adversity. As was the case in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Kasuga continues to be a breath of fresh air in a sea of stoic characters, making him the perfect role model for 2024.

Number one

While I distinctly remember loving Ichiban and crew in 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, it wasn’t until I booted up Infinite Wealth that I connected the dots on exactly why. Ichiban has every reason to give up, to give in to the seemingly endless curveballs the world throws his way that are completely beyond his control. From birth, his life has been nothing but tragedies. The faint glimmers of hope or joy tend to only exist as a knife that can later be twisted in his back. Even at the end of his first game, despite being victorious, Ichiban’s life is far from improved. In fact, it could even be considered worse.

When I reunited with Ichiban in Infinite Wealth, I was greeted by a man who had nothing but positivity and joy behind his eyes. People would yell at him, assault him, and betray him, but he not only didn’t let those things get to him, and instead found ways to use them to fuel his determination. Every setback was viewed as an opportunity to learn, and every person who wronged him represented a chance to help someone out of a bad situation. He never harbors hate in his heart for anyone or anything.

Ichiban and Sujimon celebrating.

On paper, this might sound like a naïve character who only sees the bright side because they don’t understand the dark. That isn’t the case. Ichiban isn’t blind to the constant hardships placed in front of him; he understands how dire the world around him can be. Instead of letting that weight bring him down, he takes it as motivation to try that much harder. It is an infectious and admirable trait that still feels so rare in video game protagonists, especially in RPG heroes.

When reflecting on Kasuga, I think back to Final Fantasy XVI’s Clive, a tortured soul who tumbled down a landslide of tragedy. Though Ben Starr’s strong voice performance is full of theatrical passion, I can already feel that Kasuga will stick with me longer. While there’s no way to compare any two characters’ trauma — and it would be a pointless exercise to try — Clive certainly has suffered more than his fair share as well. He doesn’t give up either, but his view of the world is rougher and more jaded. That would be the expected response given his life, but it’s a trope. Infinite Wealth goes off the beaten path to create the bright-eyed Kasuga and he’s a memorable hero for it.

Because of that approach, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku continues to develop a character I can truly see myself in. I do my best to stay upbeat and positive, to not let the weight of uncontrollable situations and constant negativity weigh down my desire to do and be better. I would be lying to say I wasn’t faltering. Who wouldn’t? But Kasuga turned out to be an unexpected guiding light for me at the start of 2024 and has single-handedly reinvigorated my drive and commitment to remain optimistic no matter what happens.

We can’t choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we respond to it.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is available now on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
The best video games of February 2023: Metroid Prime, Wild Hearts, and more
Samus stares up at Meta Ridley in Metroid Prime Remastered.

After a shockingly strong January for video game releases, February 2023 was relatively quieter, held up by just a couple of big releases, remasters, and the launch of a new VR headset. There are still plenty of games worth playing, but you probably got the most out of February if you're a Nintendo Switch owner.
We've combed through this month's big releases to share our favorites, but let's address the elephant in the room: Hogwarts Legacy was the most notable release of February, despite being mired in controversy. While Harry Potter fans are enjoying the title, Digital Trends was a bit less enamored with it in our two-and-a-half star review. Writer Giovanni Colantonio criticized the open-world game's uninspired use of magic and generic design, noting that nostalgia for the IP does a lot of the heavy lifting.
As such, we've left it off this month's list for a simple reason: There were just better games released in February. Our goal with this series of lists is always to compile the very best gaming has to offer every month, not necessarily the most talked-about games. From excellent remasters to a surprisingly robust rhythm RPG, these were no shortage of titles that deserved a shout-out. These were our six favorite games released in February (plus one great piece of hardware).
Metroid Prime Remastered

GameCube classic Metroid Prime is already considered one of the best games of all time by many people. As such, it’s no surprise that a Nintendo Switch remaster that adds dual analog supports and makes the game look even better is one of the best releases of the month. Metroid Prime Remastered even got a surprise launch during a Nintendo Direct, adding even more excitement to its release ahead of a physical release on February 22.
“While it might have been tempting to give the original a Dead Space-type remake treatment, the GameCube title didn’t need modifying,” Colantonio wrote about the game. “Instead, the remaster does some quiet technical work to remind players why Samus’ first 3D outing is still an unparalleled adventure two decades later.”
This refurbished version of a GameCube game has no glaring technical shortcomings. If you enjoy beautifully crafted sci-fi worlds and excellent game soundtracks, and want to experience one of the best-looking Switch games, we recommend picking this remaster up. Metroid Prime Remastered is available now exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
Wild Hearts

Read more
Like a Dragon: Ishin! makes the traditional Yakuza format even better
A samurai swipes a sword in Like a Dragon: Ishin!

The Yakuza name may be no more, but that doesn’t mean that the RPG series is going away anytime soon. Now rebranded as Like a Dragon, developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio seems more eager than ever to pump out entries in its ever-expanding universe -- to the point of nearly annualizing it. This year will be no different, as February 21 will see the release of Like a Dragon: Ishin! on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Formerly a Japan-exclusive PS4 launch title, Ishin takes the basic ideas of the mainline Yakuza series and puts them in the context of a samurai action-adventure game set in the 1800s. The upcoming remake will bring it to the West for the first time ever -- and that timing couldn’t be better. As the core series experiments with turn-based gameplay, Ishin is very firmly a return to the classic beat 'em up combat that longtime fans are used to. That makes it a sort of transitional game for those who aren’t quite ready for change.

Read more
Like a Dragon 8: release date speculation, trailers, gameplay, and more
Yakuza 8 Ichiban and Kiryu

No one expected Ichiban's adventures to be over after just one outing, and we were right to assume so. This scruffy-haired goofball with a heart of gold (and fists of steel) is back for another adventure in the streets of Kamurocho and beyond. However, it appears that yet another, somewhat unexpected face from the series' past will be joining him in some capacity. After the series took on the subtitle of Like a Dragon, which was always what the game was known as in Japan, that moniker has now fully replaced the old Yakuza branding.

Like a Dragon 8 will be the direct sequel to Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon, which introduced us to the new protagonist of the series, Ichiban Kasuga, as well as the shift from a 3D action brawler to a turn-based JRPG. This major shift paid off since that game was the bestseller in the series to date, so a sequel was all but inevitable. However, you never can quite be sure where this series will go next, narrative or mechanically, so we braved the back alleys of Kamurocho to gather all the intel we could on Like a Dragon 8.

Read more