Yakuza 3

Spotlight

Key events

31st August 2011

Yakuza 5 announced

9th March 2010

Yakuza 3

26th May 2009

Yakuza 3

Yakuza 5 announced

Yakuza 5 announced

Sega creates Yakuza Studio.

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.

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New Yakuza game confirmed

New Yakuza game confirmed

Yes, another one.

There's yet another Yakuza game in the works, series director Toshihiro Nagoshi has confirmed.

According to Japanese mag Famitsu (translated by Andriasang), the new game has been in development alongside PSP title Black Panther Yakuza Chapter, and will be released on the PS3.

It looks like the fifth main Yakuza game, although Nagoshi refused to officially name it.

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Yakuza 3

Yakuza 3

Chop chop.

Given that it has the lowest petty crime statistics in the civilised world, Japan's portrayal in the Yakuza series, as a thug-infested cesspool of extreme physical violence, certainly provides an amusing contrast from the endlessly polite reality. Perhaps the whole of Japanese society is secretly fantasising about stoving each other's faces in with bicycles. It would explain a lot.

Even the gentlest stroll down a local Okinawan highway almost always ends up with lead protagonist Kiryu Kazuma being set upon by puffy-jacketed gang members eager to acquaint him with their fists. Any excuse for aggro is considered fair game, but more often than not it's simply because they want to mess him up.

Back on his old Yakuza turf you could understand the incessant hostility, but the life of the former 4th chairman of the Tojo clan has turned around somewhat dramatically. A few years on from the chaotic events of Yakuza 2 we find the sculpted man-machine holed up in the idyllic surrounds of a distant beachside orphanage, chopping onions and dispensing sage-like advice to 10-year-olds.

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Yakuza 3 time constraints forced cuts

Localisation team had run out of time.

SEGA has explained that content was trimmed from the Western version of Yakuza 3 because the localisation team only had a limited amount of time to complete its work.

Yakuza 3 has been edited for West

Hostess bars "wouldn't make sense".

SEGA has edited Japan-based organised crime game Yakuza 3 for release in the West. Some content, it was felt, "wouldn't make sense" to gamers in America and Europe.

Yakuza 3

Even more like a dragon.

I was about two hours into the opening chapters of Yakuza 3 when I started to realise I was going to have to play a few rounds of golf if I wanted to get any further.

Yakuza 3 dated for all the West

March 2010 for US, Europe, Australia.

SEGA has decided to bring Yakuza 3 to Western markets in March next year. The tricksy publisher told us earlier this year there were "no plans" for such a move.

Yakuza 3

Yakuza 3

Way of the dragon.

Yakuza 3 is the truest representation of modern Japan in videogames. Not in the overwrought melodrama of the story, which largely barrels by in a blur of crying orphans and angry men shouting at one another before taking their tops off and smacking each other around, but in the incidental detail: the vending machines, arcades, bars, the incessant welcoming calls of 'irassyaimasseeeee!' from shop staff, and the Okinawan side streets housing mysterious buildings of inscrutable function.

And like modern Japan, Yakuza 3 feels like a jarring contradiction of stubborn traditionalism and sleek modernity. It is a beautiful game lavished with attention to detail, the production values and budget are sky-high, and the quality and authenticity of the acting and plot (if you can forgive the aforementioned melodrama) is far, far ahead of others in the genre. But underneath it all is a game that's barely changed since the original Ryu ga Gotoku in 2005.

At heart it's an old-fashioned action-RPG, often linear and uninventive in terms of gameplay, sending you wandering around its massive world searching for some arbitrary trigger to advance the story with depressing regularity. The combat veers wildly between violent, undemanding fun and fist-eating frustration. Just like its predecessors, though, Yakuza 3 charms you into forgiving it for being so set in its occasionally awkward ways. It's so amazingly well-crafted, and though nothing it does is particularly original, it's unique in the way it brings JRPG, 3D brawler and a host of disparate mini-games together into a cohesive whole.

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PS3 outsells Wii during March in Japan

PS3 outsells Wii during March in Japan

Yakuza 3, Resident Evil 5 to blame.

Yakuza 3 and Resident Evil 5 helped the PlayStation 3 outsell the Wii in Japan during March for the first time in 16 months.

Sony's flagship console notched up 146,948 sales while Nintendo's premier platform managed 99,335 sales, according to Enterbrain figures posted on Reuters. Behind, but not embarrassingly so, was Microsoft's Xbox 360 with 43,172 sales.

The aforementioned games - Yakuza 3 and Resident Evil 5 - take home first and second place, respectively, in the software stakes. The other key titles are not disclosed.

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Coming Attractions: Action & Adventure

Get juiced and get thinking.

We've had indie and esoterica, sports and music, MMOs and RPGs, and fighting and strategy, which just leaves the glamour girls of action, adventure, shooters and racing to strut their stuff.