Digital Foundry on how the PS4 remake dramatically improves on the PS2 original.
Way, way back in early February 2016, Digital Foundry ventured to the Japanese PlayStation Store and picked up a digital copy of Yakuza Kiwami. We hoped that Sega would consider bringing this excellent PS4 remake to the West and just over 18 months later, it's finally happened. To mark the occasion, we've decided to republish our original analysis. If you've enjoyed the Yakuza titles, or want to check out the series for the first time, we reckon it's well worth a look.
Sega has announced the development of Yakuza 5 and the formation of Yakuza Studio.
Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi heads up the new team. According to Japanese magazine Famitsu (translated by Andriasang), Yakuza Studio is not a Yakuza-exclusive developer, despite its name. In fact, its first game is Binary Domain.
Following that game's launch, Yakuza Studio will create Yakuza Black Panther 2 for PlayStation Portable, the sequel to the PSP spin-off. In Japan it launches in spring 2012.
"Look out for more PS2 Cult Classics in future, following a break for GDC." Well, we didn't say how long the break would be. Finally, then, we return to complete our mission: to dig out the quirkiest and least-publicised gems in the PlayStation 2's monstrous back catalogue. Today and tomorrow we'll complete our mammoth rundown following parts one, two and three, published in February, as we turn the EG Retro light back on at the spearhead of a minor revival. Backward and onward!
Next to the massed ranks of cinematic mafioso and triads, the yakuza are a bit of a mystery. Of course we all know about the snakeskin shoes and severed fingers (interesting fact: it used to be about weakening the sword grip), and some of us know about tattoos creeping above shirt collars, and the familial relationships that underpin the organisation. But next to the mafia, which Mario Puzo really did a number on, we're still waiting for Hollywood to catch us up. How many knew that yakuza families aren't actually secret organisations, for example, and actually have buildings sitting right there on the street bearing their name?
With no yak Tony Soprano to instruct us, then, SEGA's hoping to fill the void with its latest PlayStation 2 game, which charts the career of the relatively honourable Kazuma Kiryu - "the Dragon of the Dojima family" and the face behind the boot you get up your backside when you don't settle your debts. Despite all the violence, Kazuma is quite a personable bloke, whose love for his friends sees him banged up for ten years over a murder his "brother" Nishiki committed, out of his desire not to separate his young friend from his dying sister. Aw. Fast forward to the present day, by way of a few scene-setting punch-ups, and Kazuma's thrust back onto the streets and into a tale of a murdered yakuza chairman and the loss of 10 billion yen from the organisation's bank account.
Naturally the game wouldn't be all that interesting if Kazuma was a simple thug, but SEGA has an answer to that: Kazuma's always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only that, but the wrong place seems to follow him around. I've been to Japan, and I didn't get in any fights. Kazuma, on the other hand, can't walk more than half a block without somebody starting on him. Whether it's because he's a yak, because he's bumped into them, because they want him to pay some money, or because - you rather suspect - the developer's borrowed the random battles idea from the Japanese RPG genre, Kazuma's a target for lots of intimidation - and he doesn't take kindly to it. Nor does his boot.
SEGA has announced the cast list for forthcoming PS2 brawler Yakuza - and topping the bill is none other than the artist formerly known as Luke Skywalker.
Yes, MARK HAMILL will play Majima, a Yakuza boss with a taste for violence and a twisted sense of honour. Michael Madsen, best known for his roles in Reservoir Dogs and Sin City, stars as fellow Yakuza bigwig Shimano, and Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum provides the voice of gangster Nishiki.
Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Bring It On) will play the mysterious Yumi, and Rachel Leigh Cook (She's All That) takes on the role of hostess bar owner Reina.