While we are now spoiled for choice when it comes to major Yakuza games. From the mainline series to its more recent Judgment spinoffs, there are still a number of older Yakuza games that remain unplayable to fans in the West, since they never received a localisation.
The historical Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! and Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! are the most notorious examples, but there were also two titles released on the PSP, Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō and Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen, which are more simply known as the ‘Black Panther’ games, which were never translated into English.
(Bizarrely, the zombie-themed Dead Souls, which saw the main setting and cast thrust into an apocalyptic scenario, did see a Western release)
These stripped back the Yakuza formula to better accommodate the PSP’s hardware limitations, which meant lavish 3D cutscenes were replaced by 2D illustrations, and the series’ trademark combat was scaled down to a more limited 1v1 battle mode.
Despite this, they were still very much Yakuza games, albeit ones starring a spinoff protagonist. It would have been cool if we’d got the chance to play them, if not on the PSP itself, then as downloadable re-releases down the line.
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Sadly Sega have never felt that was worth the time, so some fans have stepped in and done the job themselves, localising the second Black Panther game from top to bottom. That means not just dialogue but menus, minigames, in-game chatter, the works.
The patch is due out in January, and you can keep up with its development via the team’s Twitter account.
This is very cool, and I’m looking forward to trying this out. But man, typing this all out has got me very sad I still can’t play Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin! while knowing what the hell is going on!
Yakuza games localizations are a given nowadays, but I still remember the days when you were about the only one on big gaming sites writing about Yakuza and pushing for localizations.
I’m glad the days of Yakuza 3 and 5 barely getting localized are over. But we wouldn’t be there without people like you.