At last! SEGA has dug deep through all of its grace and mercy and finally decided to localize Yakuza 5 for the hardcore fans of this very, very Japanese franchise. The franchise had not seen a proper release since Yakuza 4 back in 2011, and many fans feared that poor sales might have convinced SEGA not to localize the fifth game after it released in 2012.
One quick announcement at PlayStation Experience was all it took to break two years of nervous waiting and growing impatience. Relax, Yakuza fans. Yakuza 5 is going to be released with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles for the PlayStation 3 in Q3 2015. It’s a wonderful victory for fans of Japanese games and localizations, one which could only be matched now by the confirmation of other lost Japanese games like Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS or Ace Attorney Investigations 2.
Kazuma Kiryu’s epic crime saga continues with new allies after he is called off from his latest day job as a taxi driver. Be sure to enjoy this incarnation of him while it lasts because this could be the last we see of his as a disenchanted criminal with a heart of gold. With the next game, Yakuza 0, SEGA is taking us back in time to a much younger Kazuma Kiryu, back when he was an idealistic and dangerous foot-soldier in Japan’s criminal underworld.
While I doubt we will see any of the historical takes on the franchise here in the West, it is still nice to see SEGA willing to take a few risks to please the fans of its Japanese franchises. This is a victory worth celebrating, and we can only hope it succeeds in time for Yakuza 0 to make it over. For all its quirks and growing pains, SEGA remains one of the few Japanese publishers who has found a nice balance between its roots in Japanese development and prospects of challenging the big Western publishers.
In all honesty though, I’ve never been a big fan of the Yakuza games. I’ve only played the second one and gave up a little ways into it. I think the love for these games in the West comes from being able to run around an authentically recreated virtual Japan. That’s an everyday commute to work for me though, so that appeal kind of bounces off.
If I were to jump back in, where do I start? Yakuza 4 seems like a solid bet.