Yakuza Studio head Toshihiro Nagoshi warned us at last year’s Tokyo Game Show that Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin, the latest period drama spinoff from what western players know as the Yakuza series, would take little advantage of Sony’s new console because it was being made for PS3 as well. “PS4 is cheaper than hardware used… Continue reading
Historical heroes don’t come much bigger than Sakamoto Ryoma. Born in 1836 in Tosa (feudal-era Kochi Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku) to a merchant family that had bought its way to samurai status, he became a master swordsman, an unlikely politician and instrumental in ending a period of bitter feudal conflict in Japan. He… Continue reading
One of the longest lines at last weekend’s Tokyo Game Show was for a special trailer for Ryu Ga Gotoku: Isshin, the forthcoming spin-off from the popular Sega series known in the West as Yakuza. Why would gamers line up so long just to watch a trailer? If you have to ask, you may be… Continue reading
Five cities, eight fists and plenty of reasons for Sega to bring its crime opus to the west.
Released on the 6th of December and selling 357,000 copies in its first week on shelves, Yakuza 5 seems to be a genuine step forward for the series. Series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi has likened the title to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in terms of scope, and indeed the GTA comparison is an apt one, as the game is, bigger, better, and packed with even more things to do than its predecessors, and even treated with the same reverence in Japan as GTA is in the west. It’s been a success at retail, of course – the series always has been – but what are the press saying? Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu bestowed Yakuza 5 with a coveted 40 out of 40, and as we find out, Impress Watch was similarly impressed. Sega, sadly, currently has no plans for a western localisation.
You can take Kazuma Kiryu out of Kamurocho, but you sense The Dragon of Dojima will never be allowed to escape the place where he made his name. In Sega’s demo for Yakuza 5 – now available on the Japanese PSN Store – he has a new job as a taxi driver, but barely has he slurped down a bowl of ramen at the end of his shift before he faces a pair of gangsters with a recognisable clan badge on their lapels.
Sega might just be the most playful big publisher around. From Virtua Fighter Kids’ weirdly proportioned, funhouse mirror battlers and grapplers to Phantasy Star Online’s surprise seasonal themes; from Typing Of The Dead to the greatest freebie in videogame history, Christmas Nights Into Dreams, the company isn’t afraid to stretch and subvert its major properties for the sake of a few giggles. It’s also unafraid to let its developers take big names and transplant them into other genres. Remember Sonic The Fighters? Probably best not to, actually. Panzer Dragoon Saga? Now that’s more like it. Yakuza: Dead Souls follows this fine tradition, taking the cast of the Yakuza series and tossing them into one giant, out-of-continuity April Fool’s joke
Sega has officially revealed Yakuza 5 via the game's official website, releasing the selection of frustratingly small screenshots – some of which you can see below – along with information (in Japanese) on the locations and characters in the game.
Yakuza: Dead Souls is a game that takes a well-established, five-game franchise that’s characterised, fundamentally, by realism – by seedy neon cityscapes, sleazy hostess bars, gritty violence, tattooed gangsters and overwrought drama full of honour and betrayal – and adds fundamentally, comprehensively, completely unrealistic zombies. So perhaps the most surprising thing about it is that there aren’t more surprises.