Archive for category Yakuza
It was rumored earlier this year that a North American release of Yakuza 3 wasn’t on the table by SEGA as a result of poor sales of the first two games outside of its native Japan. However, posting in the comments section on the U.S. PlayStation Blog, SEGA’s Aaron Webbster stated, “Yakuza 3 is not cancelled – and the possibility for localizing it does, in fact, still exist.”
“The original news story that went around about Yakuza 3 being declined for the US was false, and localizing the game still remains a big point of discussion for many people here at SEGA, and especially those of us on SEGA’s community team.I know it’s far from an announcement, but I just felt you should know that the chance does still exist.”
Maybe Yakuza 3 will be bundled with the recently announced Yakuza 4 for US audiences.
- Yakuza is one of the very few RPGs (particularly JRPGs) that uses a modern day setting (or historical setting in the case of Kenzan) rather than the typical cliche pulp fantasy and sci-fi settings used in other RPGs. Personally, I’m more interested in this than Final Fantasy XIII.
- The game stars Japanese Super Models. Hostess bars are tons of fun.
- Yakuza delivers the experience of exploring Japanese cities. This series really oozes personality.
- The Yakuza games are *BIG*. Tons of side-quests and dialog trees and things to discover.
- Brawler combat is a nice change of pace from the traditional RPG number battles.
- The biggest problem with Yakuza 2 was the tech. Yakuza 3 isn’t perfect either, but it’s still a whole different category than 2: The crude character models, animation, physics, and even the menus and interface felt really old and junky next to B/C-list 2008-era PS3 games.
- Every other western-release PS3/360 JRPG feels like it was pumped out from some generic copy-cat game mill.
- Games like Metal Gear and Resident Evil were made in Japan by Japanese developers, but they were made with an international audience in mind, and they feel that way. Yakuza is one of the very few story-heavy full-scale games that feels like a “foreign game” made with a non-western mindset for a completely non-western audience. The western audience is starved for unique/different/novel experiences like this, but the window of opportunity won’t last much longer.
- The game is already finished. Just hire a translator, pump out some sub-titles, cut through the corporate bureaucracy, and print some new blu-ray discs!
I’m not trying to exagerate the quality of this series either. Yakuza 2 was definitely short of a great game by western tastes: lots of individual mechanics were mediocre and repetitive, some of the dialog was idiotic, and the tech was B-level even for a PS2 game. Yet the game had a ton of content, lots of charm and atmosphere, and a very unique personality to it. I haven’t played 3, but my only expectation is a rise from B-level PS2 tech to B-level PS3 tech, which is a huge improvement, particularly for this style of open-world 3D game.
If Sega doesn’t have the initiative to localize, Sony or some other publisher should step up to the plate on this one. If I could I would stake my own money that this would sell well enough to cover the localization costs and turn a profit, if they get this out in less than a year.
Sega’s US marketing department said they are not going to bring Yakuza 3 to the west:
The reason as to why they won’t be bringing the game over is simple: it won’t sell, he told me. They have a firm stance to believe that would be the case, too. Yakuza 2 has only sold around 40k copies in America on the PS2. The numbers for the original Yakuza aren’t much better.
Sega is wildly out of touch with western gamers.
WESTERN ENTHUSIASTS DO NOT BUY GAMES ON PS2!
As a publisher, you really couldn’t kill your sales any more by beating customers away with stick. I don’t care how good your game is; if it’s only on PS2, the press will ignore it and the western enthusiast market won’t buy it. This may not be the most rational thing in the world, but that’s how it is and how it has been.
Even Final Fantasy XII, which back at it’s release, was one of the biggest, hottest, most reputable series in all of video games, was mostly ignored because it was on old-gen hardware. And that was released in late 2006, when the PS2 still had a small shred of enthusiast mindshare left. Yakuza 2 came out in late 2008, long after any enthusiast gamers were remotely interested in buying new PS2 games.
Yakuza 2 wasn’t even one of the few PS2 titles that actually rings up new-unit sales by catering to a certain non-enthusiast nichce like Guitar Hero or Iron Man. Yakuza caters to exactly the type of gamer who stopped buying PS2 games the day after the PS3 was released.
Yakuza 2 was a better game than Sega’s other late 2008 game: Valkyria Chronicles. The difference was, Valkyria Chronicles was on a current-gen system, and therefore was able to get strong word of mouth buzz, and half-decent sales.
What else is there to say: Sega is clueless, and it’s unfortunate to see such quality software and entertainment be buried by such bone-headed business decisions.
- Unique Brawler RPG:. This has all the dialog trees, story focus, character development, and side-quest structure of a traditional RPG, but the standard RPG stat-battles are replaced by melee-centric brawling.
- A LOT of game: I spent a full twenty-five hours before I beat the main story mode, and I’d estimate that I skipped 85% of the optional side-quest/mini-game content. This is a BIG game. This easily the most story and quest content of any title I’ve played in the past two years.
- Host/Hostess Bars: This is a mostly dialog-tree based dating sim. It’s surprisingly charming. Unfortunately, I missed the “massage parlor”.
- Atmosphere: I’ve never been to Japan, but this really nails the feel of roaming the streets of urban Japan, or at least what I imagine that would feel like. There is tons of detail in the city. One example of this, is the absurdly detailed food/drink system in the game. You can order various types of food and drink from the dozens of restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and lounges throughout the game and there is a side-goal of trying all the different food types.
- Story: The story-telling and dialog is on par with a serious 80’s action movie without any sarcasm or joking self-references. Sometimes, I could quiet my inner critic and enjoy the experience, but other times, the story was just too dated and corny and I had to skip over it. Most gamers already know whether they like or tolerate this kind of Japanese video game writing.
- Technology: By now, most of us are acclimated to PS3 tech, so going back to PS2 is a big drop. And this isn’t even one of the more technically polished PS2 titles like Jak 3 or God Of War. The graphics look very blocky and crude and highly aliased. And all the 2D interface screens feel very old and clunky compared to other 2008 titles. BTW, I still do all my gaming on an SDTV (about to upgrade), so it’s not the resolution itself at all.
- Mini-Games: This game has well over a dozen side-quest mini-games such as Shogi (a kind of Japanese chess), Mahjong, gambling, golf, batting cages, a weird 3D arcade fighter game, and a business sim game. I’m impressed that they built that much content, and many of these games are highly detailed, but only a few are really fun to play. If I want to play Shogi or Mahjong, I’d rather play a freeware version on my PC.
- Core Combat: The combat is fun, it has a ton of detail, and there are a bunch of cool slo-mo special attacks to pull off, and there’s a very detailed upgrade system, but it gets repetitive over the long length of this game.
If you like detailed, epic Japanese RPGs, brawler combat, organized crime fiction, and can tolerate dated tech, then this game is definitely for you.
Yakuza Kenzan has already been released for the PS3 in Japan and the true sequel, Yakuza 3, is scheduled to be released in Japan in Spring ’09. I’m really excited to see these come to the west. The tech improvements alone will fix one of my biggest gripes with this title.