In 2022 Yakuza quite a big series in the West, as we saw yesterday when eight games made it to PlayStation Plus. But it was not always so! Between release Yakuza 2 as well as 3 things were looking for incredible risky for English speakers, and there were real concerns that if Yakuza 3 didn’t sell well, it would be the last franchise game we’ve ever seen here.
I know it sounds absurd given the number and notoriety Yakuza games are around these days, but it’s true! People were so worried about it, in fact, that every tiny change that Sega made to Yakuza 3 English release was scrutinized to hell, and fans were horrified that any little thing that could potentially hurt sales would spell the end of the series in the West.
All this fear, of course, meant nothing …Yakuza 3 just fine, the rest is history– but all these concerns about low sales help to understand why around the same time Yakuza the game was released in Japan (later followed by a sequel), which we still cannot play in English. And it’s time for a change.
In 2008, Sega released Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! for PS3, which I think can best be described as Yakuza holiday is special. The action took place in Kyoto in 1605. Yakuza The game is sent back in time and players still control Kazuma Kiryu, only now his name is Kazumanosuke Kiryu and instead of a gangster he is a retired swordsman who now works as a bodyguard.
Then in 2014, Sega released Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! for PS4, which did the same – only now set at the end of the shogunate in the mid-19th century – and featured more cameos from the main series, with favorites like Majima and Daigo appearing.
Despite the fact that the action took place in different periods of time and had a heavy historical bias, they were still Yakuza games inside and out. Watch the Japanese trailer Inshin and you will see what I mean:
Inshin even has, if you’re a fan of karaoke in the mainstream games, your own historical perspective:
Sega and developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have long had several reasons to keep these games in Japan. The first was the understandable fear that if no one buys the main Yakuza games, why do they need these spin-offs? However, as this was gradually eroded by the series’ growing popularity in the West, there were concerns that much of the games’ atmosphere would be lost to Western audiences who would not be as familiar with the nuances of the time. (it says here that the other Yakuza spin-off, heavy gun Dead Souls, was given the English-language release, which says a lot about Sega’s attitude towards the Western market).
They have now been joined (or replaced) by technical problems, as we told only last year when director Daisuke Sato said:
Personally, I would like these games to be localized and appeal to our Western fans. We prioritized regaining ground with a series in the West with Yakuza 0so time just flew by without a perfect time to release these games.
In my opinion, the action is one of the best in the series, so I would like to localize them if we get the chance. However, the game is also almost 7 years old, so we may need some extra work to remake it instead of a simple port, so the solution is a bit more complicated.
Despite the potential in these statements and the fact that the developers have said they work on games outside Yakuza as well as Judgment seriesSince then, we have not heard anything about such a possibility. But even if it takes some work – and in case Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!a little serious work – to speed up games on modern hardware to meet today’s expectations, there has never been a better time to pull the trigger for these costs.
Yakuza Kiwami games – remakes of the first two parts of the series – succeeded, and that’s for two games that were already available in the West! These spin-offs will start from scratch, not to mention attractive beyond existing ones. Yakuza fans of a potentially wider audience who reveled in the setting of, say, Ghost of Tsushima.
Anyway, I’m not here to requirement these games. We’ve all managed to live without them for the past 15 years, and possibly another 15 if the outside world allows. I’m only here to push Sega, to remind that, hey, we love Yakuza games, but maybe someday we will be able to love these another yakuza games, those with swords as well.