Yakuza Series Came From The Desire To Create Something Different

By Cheng Kai . February 22, 2014 . 12:31pm

The Yakuza series came about as a result of trying to create a game that was different from others on the market, according to producer Toshihiro Nagoshi.


“Originally, what we intended to do was to set out to create a game belonging to a genre that’s quite rare—and that was how the Yakuza series was born,” Nagoshi said to Siliconera.


“As to how we ended up bring together all the elements that would eventually comprise the Yakuza series, well we looked at what’s out there in the market in terms of game universes, in terms of game genres, and what are all the different ways that gamers enjoy these titles for.”


Nagoshi elaborated, “At the time, in Japan there were already set notions as to what kinds of games would sell, and what kinds wouldn’t, and so what we wanted to do was to prove that it was possible to create something different, something fresh, and still do well. It was with those thoughts that we began the Yakuza game project.”


“With that said, even with all the games I’ve worked on before as well, it was always a gamble for us,” Nagoshi said. “Take a gamble on things, try and make it a successful, and that’s how we were able to make all these different games. Over time doing so gave me the confidence that if you work on games with passion, it is possible to create interesting titles aimed at new markets.”

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  • Zer0faith

    Really? All this time I thought Sega either wanted their own spin on GTA or a spiritual successor to Shenmue.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      A Japanese GTA was certainly how the first one was advertised and presented to the West.

      • Zer0faith

        If that’s the way it was then it worked since back then I didn’ t even know what a Yakuza was and only learned about Shenmue later down the road.

        • Namuro

          Reverse tracking, eh?

          So did you ever get to try Shenmue, then?

      • Pyrofrost

        Yeah, this is true, and it was almost the reason I didn’t buy it. Then I just took a chance on it and I saw that it was absolutely nothing like GTA.

    • KnifeAndFork

      Japanese GTA is more in line with Wolf of Shinjuku for PS2 by Spike (makers of the Kenka Banchou series)

  • Alex Sargeant

    From the desire to make something different, to a series of ten games in less than than nine years. (I am counting the PSP games)

    Just got done playing the PS4 demo for Ishin. I would gladly play nine more.

    Really love the mix of super important drama and just.. hang out and chop watermelon being thrown at you gameplay.

    • Aoshi00

      But I want a Shenmue 3 before a Yakuza 10 :(… Pls Sega, just let Ryo Hazuki find Lan Di and have his revenge… guess no one wants to take such a “risk” :P

  • I would love to see the Yakuza team doing something new. Anyway, i love the Yakuza Series

    • ecoutercavalier

      Binary Domain was pretty good.

      • I really like Binary Domain too.

      • makubexnas

        yeah. Binary Domain 2 should be a thing coz i really want to know the ending continuation. i want to know what happen to Faye, big Bo and the robot rebellion.

    • Namuro

      You look like a hard to please person, based on your avatar. LOL

      What kind of games do you think the team should make next?

  • Shinobikens

    I’m still hoping we get Yakuza 5 localized cus I really want to play it

    • ecoutercavalier

      Let’s say you can have localization for either 5 or Ishin. Can’t have both.

      Which do you choose?

      • Slickyslacker

        5, hands down. I don’t care what anyone thinks of modern-day Famitsu, they gave it a 40/40.

        …Then again, they gave XIII-2 a 40/40. Still, my point kind of stands.

        • eilegz

          well XIII-2 was the best rpg of that year… so its expected

        • xXDGFXx

          XIII-2 IS fun. The story is rubbish, though.

        • Aoshi00

          Unfortunately Famitsu scores are bought and really aren’t relevant, they pretty much give all big titles 40/40 (and it’s Yakuza “5”).. though I had much more fun w/ 13-2 than 13. Drakengard 3 was a 37-38/40 too.. It’s a decent game in some aspects and very unique artistically, but technically it’s quite flawed and could be frustrating (constantly have to wrestle w/ the camera, long loading even w/ 6Gb install, etc), so near perfect doesn’t make sense (I’m pushing myself to get Endings C & D), and it’s much less polished than Nier in many ways. 13 was no way a 40/40 either.. Yakuza is great, but it’s moot to bring up Famitsu scores :(.. personally out of the 13 trilogy, I really like 13-2 the most w/ the right amount of exploration and Chrono Trigger likeness. (LR’s timer is a killer..)

          • Slickyslacker

            Ahaha, I get what you mean about Drakengard 3. I was heavily contemplating pre-ordering the CE before I looked up some walkthrough segments on Youtube, and discovered that it’s actually just an above-average hack-and-slash. The AI is some of the dumbest I’ve seen in recent years, and although the graphics may be fitting (though not high-end), the game seems to suffer from FPS issues, and as you mentioned, shoddy camera handling.

          • Ni ~Algidus~

            seems like good ol’ drakengard to me

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, for a hectic action game, it could use better camera and framerate, but it’s still fun to play after you get used to it. The graphics I don’t mind so much but Nier was prettier. The AI is not bad, the enemies could still do a lot of damage and could take out Zero in seconds if you’re not careful, the game is challenging and sometimes checkpoints are scarce. There’s enough variety of enemies and gameplay w/ diff. forms of weapons and Mikhail to keep things from being too repetitive. The boss fights are actually quite awesome and the cutscenes and voice acting are very good. there’s still some tear jerking scenes like Nier, and I look forward to hearing the Eng dub :)

            I actually got the 10th anniv ed and still pre-ordered the CE from S-E store because of the novel and posters lol..

            I would say it lived up to a Yoko Tarou game to an extent, but it could’ve been more polished. Overall I still like it and it’s unique, a pity it’s flawed by some of those issues, while Nier ran much more smoothly. Some Amazon Jpn reviews are a bit too harsh though. It’s just that Famitsu scores are totally raked lol.. stopped caring about them years ago.

          • Rayhan PromisedGallery

            Mikhail’s evolution doesn’t bring anything to the gameplay. At least in the first two games evolution add damage and number of “lock-on”.

            Though i think it some way Drakengard 2 and Nier actually has more content that got downgraded in this. Like how stages become hallway, no dragon-human switching, aerial stage become shooting game.

            Though it’s still feel like Drakengard game, a flawed game with unique insane story.

            And i agree that Nier seems to have better graphic. Both game has bland environment, but NieR overral has more beautiful artstyle (SoTC atmosphere anyone?)

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, I wish there were more free roaming battle segments w/ Mikhail, there were a few (and boss fights).. but mostly just assists and on rail and serving as cute and comic relief.. I do enjoy them though.

            The paths are straight forward but for a hack and slash game it’s no problem, also the camp resting group scenes in between offer nice interaction (FF13 could’ve used some of this to break up the monotony). I felt the story and chars were explored more in Drakengard and Nier. The stories in the novel (though not paramount) really could’ve been incorporated in the game like Nier or Lost Odyssey. The stories behind the weapons as you upgrade them in 4 levels are cool.

            Maybe it’s because Nier had a more surreal and hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, the minimalistic touch and vast emptiness did remind me of Ico/SotC, and there was some unique top-down and sidescrolling perspectives and more unique epic bosses.. Drakengard 3 has a good and unique soundtrack too, different from both Drakengard and Nier, some Nier-esque tracks are especially good, but it’s a very different soundtrack and took a while to sink into. Overall I would still recommend this to any Drakengard and Yoko Tarou fan, even some gameplay could be frustrating (few checkpoints, camera, framerate, loading), it’s a pity it’s not more polished and Nier was made several years ago. For some reason, D3’s fights don’t feel the weight of Nier (maybe needed more force feedback, or I just prefer the 360 controller in general lol, too bad PS3 only)

        • I’d even ignore Famitsu altogether; any game pledging to be purchased and carrying recommendation letters from Yakuza 1, 2, 3, 4, and Dead Souls would be an instant acquisition anyway :)

      • Main numbered entries get priority.

  • Shippoyasha

    Makes me wonder if the risk of creating a Yakuza game was risky because of the moralistic backlash it would get from politicians. From what I remember, it was fussed a bit but the outrage didn’t catch on.

    • Aoshi00

      I think it’s no surprise most politicians are dirty and treat it as a game for their personal gains rather than caring for the welfare of the country and citizens, like people know about the Yakuza connection and backroom dealing.. but still watching Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards is pretty shocking at times (entertaining and intriguing of course), I don’t know how real it is, but can’t imagine it’s too far from the truth.. I just binged on Season 2 and never saw the British original. I like John Goodman’s Alpha House which pokes fun at Congress, mostly at Republicans :)

      Still the fact that no one is making Shenmue 3 means they’re playing it safe *.*.. now Yakuza/Ryu ga Gotoku is just a famous brand..

  • easter

    The desire to create the hypest gameplay.

  • Rayhan PromisedGallery

    The desire to create manliest topless badass men fighting on rooftop

    • Nanaki

      This. All this, yes.

    • Namuro

      So manly, even Ocelot does it.

  • Arz

    The reason I love Yakuza so much is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It realize that it’s a videogame. You can have super-soap opera dramas and then super goofy stuff the next second.

    Also the combat system. The combat system is so fucking good and satisfying. The combat system makes me feel Arkham’s or Assassin’s Creed’s combat feels really inferior.

    • Namuro

      I agree about the combat. No offence to the Batman and Assassin games, but the combat system in those games are designed to “look flashy” with the minimum of effort (which can be a good thing for many players). But the combat in Yakuza, they make the players “earn it”. You have to be able to fight competently, know the moves, know the places, and know the foes, then you can dominate the brawls in style.

      Not to mention how cool the moves are in the games; like the one you learn from the tissue-lady.

      Can’t wait to play Ishin and try the new weapon styles!

      • Arz

        I tried Ishin’s demo.The combat with weapons is a lot more flashy this time. You can use a gun with katana, it’s crazy.

        Other than that,I couldn’t really explore other battle options since I don’t understand japanese.

    • KnifeAndFork

      That’s because Batman Arkham series feels like you’re a world class ballerina on ice and Ass Creeds combat is clunk and boring. Sleeping Dog’s combat was much better than Batman’s..

      But while Yakuza’s combat is good, I can’t help but think Shenmue, Urban Reign and Yakuza Black Panther 1 & 2’s were better.

  • So they think that outside Japan people don’t want to play “different” games?

    • I’d say it has nothing to do with a mere misconception. Yakuza, in particular, has been given a fair chance over and over again, yet the gamble never seems to pay off. By now, it’s not a matter of “them” publishers but “us” gamers. A crying shame, sure, but that’s the way it goes.

      • SupaPhly

        they still made some profit off the localizations, maybe not much, but damn it they should learn from Atlus

        • Yeah, definitely looking forward to nothing but good things from Sega buying Atlus. The latter has an exceptionally solid track record of capitalizing on us fervent fans, and if that deal also results in Yakuza 5 seeing daylight in the west then all the more power to both of them!

          • Marco Tinè

            It’s a little bit of a wishful thinking, but as a diehard Yakuza fan, I could not agree more with your feelings. If there’s someone at SEGA who could see the potential of a western Yakuza 5 release, those are the Atlus guys.

        • KnifeAndFork

          The problem is their advertising and marketing teams are horrible

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