Only YOU Can Help Bring Yakuza 5 to the West – Do It NOW

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If you already know about the series, jump straight to How You Can Help.

As you may or may not know, I’m probably the biggest fan of the Yakuza series in the PS Nation community. Perhaps you’ve seen my posts, in the Facebook forum and in or around various gaming websites, regarding the Yakuza series. Perhaps you’ve never ever heard of the Yakuza series. In any case, the series, as far as the West is concerned, is in dire straights.

Yakuza-segaFor those of you who do not know, Yakuza (or Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan) is an Action RPG/Beat ‘em Up centered around the Japanese mafia (called the Yakuza). It’s a fantastic, quirky series that I fell in love with when I played Yakuza 3 on my new PS3 in 2009. The series itself has been compared to a Japanese Grand Theft Auto, but unfortunately, this is not an accurate comparison. Unlike GTA, you generally play as one character throughout the series, Kazuma Kiryu, the series’ main character; you can’t roam around and beat up random people, steal their cars, or other things like that. On the contrary, the Yakuza games are Action RPGs through-and-through with some sandbox gameplay elements.

For the most part, many titles in the series are centered around Kamurocho, a fictional district in Tokyo, modeled off of a real location, Kabukicho. The developers of the game at Sega have done a fantastic job of capturing the flavor of the city, including many famous landmarks such as Don Quijote (a famous discount chain store), bowling allies, Ramen shops, etc. For the most part, you’re free to roam around Kamurocho (or other locations in the game) between story missions. Each game features side quests and tons of mini-games, such as bowling, baseball batting cages, karaoke, one-one-one and two-on-two MMA Cage Fighting, pool, darts, fishing, table tennis, casino, and much more.

yakuza2The main fighting/battle system of the game is a light-combo based system of primarily hand-to-hand and melee combat. As you roam around the city, random thugs will try to attack you, and once in battle, you are allowed to use almost anything at your disposal to take them down. If there’s a bicycle or traffic cone nearby, you can pick it up and use it as a weapon. The items break after a period of time, but you’ll find all sorts of things to teach your enemies a lesson.

As you progress in levels, you gain points to unlock special finishing moves, called Heat moves, that will do devastating attacks to your enemies or boss enemies. There is one very unique component of the game, called Revelations, where you must track down odd happenings around town to gain inspiration for new techniques and Heat moves; these are absolutely hilarious cutscenes, and I really hope everyone can witness these for themselves.

There is also a pretty good crafting system in the game, where you can modify weapons for some pretty awesome effects, such as a fireworks gun (shotgun that shoots off fireworks that will catch your enemies on fire), spiked baseball bats, Nunchaku, Love Shine Kali Sticks that shine with glitter and send your opponents flying, and Light Sabers.

In addition to weapons, there are armor and special items that help you in battle as well as in the mini-games. There is armor that appears in several of the games, for example, called the Sacred Tree armor, which makes you immune to gun fire. Several other items allow you to cheat at the gambling mini-games so you can rack up tons of extra cash and prizes.

Yakuza3_boxartThe real highlight of the series is the story, plot, charm, and humor that is woven into every aspect of the games. As you play the various titles, you begin to feel a real bond with the different characters. There are fan sites dedicated to the various characters, as well as the series itself, and for good reason- the writers of this game really bring these characters to life. From the Chairman of the Tojo Clan, Kazuma, who progresses throughout the series from a gangster to a father figure who runs an orphanage in Okinawa, to a banker, Akiyama, who becomes homeless and then strikes it rich when an explosion sends millions of Japanese Yen falling from the sky. These characters will enter your heart and intrigue you with their stories.

If you haven’t played these games, do yourself a favor and find a copy (perhaps sitting on your shelf) and give the game a try. They’re a little rough around the edges, with the menu system and having only subtitles, but if you play Japanese RPGs and/or brawlers, these games are worth a shot. Sometimes they may start off slow, but stick with it, and hopefully you will be granted the same wonderful experience I’ve had with these games.

Yakuza_4_coverA brief history of this series in the West is as follows (source): Yakuza 1 was released on the PS2 in 2006. Sega had this title fully dubbed and probably spent a significant amount of time and money doing the localization, but it perhaps didn’t do as well as they’d hoped. That’s why the next title, Yakuza 2 took significantly longer to be localized for other regions, releasing in 2008, almost 2 full years after the Japanese release in 2006, and the title only included subtitles and the Japanese voice track (which carries on for the rest of the western-released titles in the series).

We missed one title in the series, Kenzan!, which was released on the PS3 in Japan in 2008. For the PS3 generation, the West received Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and a Zombie spin-off, Yakzua: Dead Souls. The newest two titles, Yakuza 5 and Yakuza: Ishin!, as well as the HD re-release of the first two titles, Yakuza 1&2 HD Collection, have not been announced for the West.

On July 29th, 2014, it will have been exactly six-hundred days since the release of Yakuza 5 in Japan; not only has there been a subsequent title to Yakuza 5 developed and released in this timeframe, but Sega has started development on a new Yakuza title, and is already doing contests on picking the new hostesses to appear in the next game. From the looks of it, the series is effectively dead in the West.

Yakuza-5-CoverNow, I’ll cut to the main reason for my editorial, which is for fans to let their voices be heard. It’s been a tough two years for Yakuza fans, as news of Yakuza 5‘s development was released, we were all hoping there would be announcements for a North American/Worldwide release, but we’ve heard nothing. The Japanese release of Yakuza 5 came and went, and we’ve barely heard a peep from Sega about a Western release. There were some comments made by the series producer that they did not have the resources to focus on a localization, and opted instead to work on the new PS3 and PS4 title, Yakuza: Ishin!, but no indication that they ever plan to release another title outside Japan.

There have been several attempts by fans to orchestrate campaigns to show Sega that we’re still here, and that we want to play these new titles, but so far nothing has elicited an official response from them. One campaign got as much as ten thousand signatures, and that wasn’t even enough to get the ball rolling. I’ve personally written three letters to Sega about Yakuza 5, but only received a thank you card in return and some Sonic the Hedgehog stickers (which I really appreciate).

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So, as a last-ditch effort to get this series going again in the West, fans on the Official Sega Forums are planning a letter-writing campaign for August 8th, 2014. Fans new and old are being called to take ten minutes out of your day to write a cordial letter to Sega expressing your love for the franchise and your request for Sega to please bring Yakuza 5 to North America and beyond. If each of you reading this would please write a letter, and mail it by August 1st, 2014, it should arrive around the target date of August 8th (depending on the mail system in your country or area, please compensate for the speed of your mail delivery by sending earlier if necessary).

The addresses are as follows:
Sega of America:
SEGA of America, Inc.
350 Rhode Island Street
Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94103
USA

Sega of Japan:
SEGA Corporate
Canal Side Building
1-39-9, Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku
Tokyo, 140-8583
Japan

Sega of Europe:
SEGA Europe Ltd.
27 Great West Road
Brentford
Middlesex
TW8 9BW
United Kingdom

I’ll be writing my letter to both Sega of America and Sega of Japan. In your letter, you may want to include:

  • Why you love the series
  • What games you’ve purchased from Sega
  • How much you’d be willing to pay for a pre-order bonus
  • What items you would like to see, and how much you’d be willing to pay, for a special Collector’s Edition
  • How much you’d be willing to donate to a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign towards the localization & licensing expenses to get the games released in your country

Whatever you choose to write, please be respectful and use your best, most professional tone. Above all, make sure you sign the letter, send it on time, and use the appropriate postage.

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If Sega does release a new Yakuza game to the West, pre-order not one, but two or more copies of the game, and give the extra copies away as gifts to your friends. Yakuza 5, by all accounts, is the best game in the series with five cities to explore; playing five different characters. The more we can get these games into other people’s hands, the more people will have the chance to fall in love with these titles as you and I have.

Keep an eye on the Official Sega Forums for new developments about this campaign and other info. Now is your chance to take action, for the price of ten minutes out of your day and a stamp, to express your desire for Sega to keep this franchise going in the West – don’t miss it.

Missed out on the series or specific games in the series? Pick up your copy today.

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Written by Jason Honaker

Jason Honaker

A software developer for over 12 years, originally from St. Louis, MO and currently living in Seattle, WA. Started gaming in 1979 on the Atari 800 8-bit PC. I play all sorts of games, but am partial to RPGs and 3rd person brawlers and shooters.

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  • Kamille

    spamming sega’s twitter, sega’s facebook, operation rainfall tried to offer them a lower price for the localization through a company that specialises in this kind of stuff and they refused everything. Sega are hopeless A-holes.

    • Jason Honaker

      Well, it costs a ton of money to do a localization and also license all of the products, featured in the game, for other markets. If the games sold well in the West, Sega would definitely bring the games over. So, in my opinion, even if Sega breaks even on the costs to localize, they’re still losing profits that could be made by working on the next title in the series for release in Japan–where it is already wildly popular.

      All you can do, as a fan, is stay calm, buy the games, and send a letter on 8/1, then hope for the best. This very well may not help, but at least you can say you did what you could do.

      • Budgiecat

        also I want Shining Resonance, Valkyria Chronicles III Vita, Phantasy Star Online 2, Phantasy Star Omega, Yakuza Ishin, Yakuza 6, Shenmue HD Collection, Skies of Arcadia HD, Virtua Fighter 6 and Shenmue III to be made and localized

        :P

        • Jason Honaker

          Yep, I want all those too ;^D I really really hope Atlus will pick up a couple of those.

  • http://psnation.org Glenn Percival

    Great job Jason. I hope this helps, because I really want Yakuza 5 here!

  • YakuzaGirl

    Great article!
    I’ve been a fan of the Yakuza series since I’ve tried the demo of the first game back in 2006 on ps2.
    Unfortunately where I come from they only sold pirated copies of psone and ps2 games and we didn’t have good delivery services. So I’ve played both Yakuza 1and 2 pirated copies back then, and wasn’t able to complete Yakuza 2 because of an error due to the disc not being original. Then with the PS3 I bought and played Yakuza 3,4 and Dead souls.

    And I got pretty excited with the news of Yakuza 5 and an hd collection, and waited for western release but nothing on that yet.
    I love the series, and wish to play all of its games but I’m no Japanese speaker.

    I would love to be able to write and send a letter to SEGA studios but sadly we don’t have a mail system working at the moment.

    I hope this initiative by the Yakuza fans makes a great difference and causes SEGA to localize the games.

    • Jason Honaker

      I didn’t play Yakuza 1 or 2 myself, because I never had a PS2. I was really hoping that we’d at least get the HD collection, because I’d love to play them. Anyway, thanks for the support :)

  • Hikikomori Media

    Jason, I made a video about this article. Please share it with the Yakuza 5 fans out there! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4pYD3sOX-I&list=UUlrQ5bB3n3VMbfcqwBA88hA

    • Jason Honaker

      Haha, pretty funny. Thanks for the support!

  • king ruckus

    Jason that’s a great writeup, thanks a lot for posting this! I just uploaded a video that will hopefully continue to help us spread the word about this campaign. I’ll post it here and over at the Sega forums. Thanks again!

    • Jason Honaker

      Had a bit of trouble with the link, but managed to find it :) Great video!

  • Budgiecat

    okay

    If this doesn’t work, I’m headed to Japan to destroy Sega once and for all using a Double Zeta Gundam..

    • Jason Honaker

      If this doesn’t work, I’m going to use a FAQ and the video walkthrough and play them like I did Kenzan! But I really hope this helps get this over here.

  • tnicols

    if i can spend $100 to import the unreleased titles; sega can at least put english choice of subtitles in them !!!!!!!!!!