Wednesday, August 31, 2011
In Which I Curse Sega and Love Sega at the Same Time
Yakuza news is afoot! I already kind of brought up part of the news with a tweet I made the other day (that I can't link to at the moment since Twitter is apparently overloaded. Which, well, that sounds fantastic) but at the time I hadn't heard that there was really more information to it and as such kind of glazed over Yakuza information. This, as is always the case, was a poor choice, since the news is in all honesty probably the best news one could expect. Well....second-best news that is.
First off, the creator of the Yakuza series (known as Ryu ga Gotoku in Japan, which I believe translates roughly into 'Like a Dragon') Toshiro Nagoshi has formed a "Ryu ga Gotoku studio", as in a studio that is specifically named after the game series he started which would indicate that the series will continue, despite the last game in the series being called "Yakuza: Of the End" (roughly) and the concerns at it's announcement that it did, indeed, signal the end of the franchise. Of course this Ryu ga Gotoku studio won't -only- make Yakuza games, since the first game they'll put out is actually Binary Domain which is some sort of shooter that I haven't really looked into much since it's probably not getting localized.
Of course, if the name of the company wasn't indication enough of the series continuing, Nagoshi actually went out and said that Yakuza 5 is currently being developed. They're actually quite early into it as they just started work on it recently; Nagoshi says that they had lengthy discussions on just where to take the series next and I'm guessing they picked something out, since, well, they're working on it now. Unfortunately, that they've just started likely means Yakuza 5 will be a little late into next year, comparatively speaking, so I'm already worried that the Western release will go up against something batshit ridiculous rather than release earlier in the year. Then again, the earlier bits of the year tend to have some big names too....well, anyways.
Speaking of Western Releases, the above-linked articles also announce that a Yakuza: Black Panther 2 is in development for PSP, which is.....well, it's good news. In a sense. But given that the first game has never even been hinted at seeing a Western release, I can't in good faith really get excited whatsoever for the sequel as it's also on the under-utilized PSP as was the first and given that other Sega games have yet to be localized, I'm not really going to hold my breath on this series. It's rather unfortunate that Sega is deciding to split things up that way, but, well, they wouldn't be Sega if they didn't make incredibly bad decisions now would they?
Strictly speaking, my only real exposure to Black Panther was playing the japanese demo about a dozen times and enjoying it, despite the fact that it heavily relies on you understanding japanese (which I, of course, do not) for anything beyond punching and kicking guys. But the stylized take it has for cutscenes (since a PSP can't very well put out PS3-quality cutscenes) was just amazing and I really had hoped it would have seen an outing in the west, even with the barest of localization aspects (English sub-titles, Digital only), but short of Sega doing a dual-pack localization once the Vita is out and in everyone's hands, it's looking highly unlikely for the Panther to strike in America.
Which....again is just a shame. While writing that last paragraph, I decided a playthrough of the demo of Yakuza: Black Panther was in order again and so that's what I did. As I type, the introduction cutscene plays (at least, I imagine it's the introduction cutscene, since it gives you a lot of information on the main players) on the PSP and I keep looking down at it to admire the Manga-inspired cutscenes that play out like a digital novel or a motion comic, fully voiced in traditional Yakuza-style (Which, after typing that, I can't say what is Yakuza-style about it, but I'm keeping it because why not) while wistfully wishing I knew what they were saying. Aside from the random english here and there to introduce fighters in the cage fighting and such. I guess in Japan, they say "On the head" and "On the tail" rather than "In this corner".
The fighting is more...I'll call it Arcade-style as the camera is in tight on you and your opponent(s) rather than the wide angle that effectively sets the barriers of battle from the console Yakuzas. It's definitely not the same style, but it's not a bad thing, per se. It's just...well, different. Perhaps there are some nuances I'm missing, given that I can't read anything being said here, but I can get the gist of the tutorials (since I completed them without FAQing it or anything) and it's a more....confined experience. I guess it's to show off that, since he's younger and not as awesome as Kazuma (or any of the main characters of 4), Ukyo Tatsuya (the main character of the game) is more than capable of taking down any street punk he runs across. (I've only fought a max group of two people in this demo thus far) But really, platform constraints, etc. etc.
You still get to roam around a (fixed-camera infested) Kamurocho which is more than welcome, but the visuals of the game leave a little to be desired as they tried for a style on it as well, which involves putting it through a grain filter to look....uhm...different? Super-realistic is not the look they're going for here, is basically my point. Regardless of my complaints, I would buy and play this game -tomorrow- if it were made available in English just to experience it as, I'm sure, the story will be all levels of wonderful, as the base Yakuza stories are. And as we know by now, I really like game stories.
Regardless, Sega seems to have acquiesced to giving us the main installments of Yakuza proper, so I'm not too worried about Yakuza 5 hitting American shores. And the fact that there's a dedicated Yakuza studio up and running now is only giving me one more reason to wake up every morning (or, you know, afternoon) from now on. Here's to you, Nagoshi and the rest of the Yakuza Studios team. I'll buy every game you sell, so try and give me some good options, yeah?