The Yakuza gangster series has long been seen as a Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto but Masayoshi Yokoyama, one of the main designers of the hugely successful games, dismisses any such comparison.

"From the start, we decided not to have a game where you can hit people yourself. All fights start with a provocation from the opponent," says Yokoyama, 47, ahead of the release of the latest installment on Friday.

"And the hero never hits women, that's an absolute rule," explains the gravelly voiced executive producer of the series. "Our approach is the opposite (of GTA). It's a completely different game."