Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Aug 312020

The Yakuza series has been surging in popularity in the west ever since Yakuza 0, which is when a lot of players (including me) were first introduced to it.

Now we’ve got the entire main series up through Yakuza 6 readily available, with Yakuza: Like a Dragon set for later this year.

Yet there are a handful of Yakuza spin-offs that never made it outside of Japan, with the historical spin-offs Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan and Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin being the two fans request the most often.

Lately things have seemed more promising for Kenzan and Ishin localizations. Last June, Yakuza producer Daisuke Sato said in an interview that a potential Kenzan remake as Kenzan Kiwami would make an English release possible. Then at Gamescom 2019, Sato said Ishin localization was under consideration, but they weren’t sure people would be able to enjoy it without knowing the history of samurai.

Well, now we have another update. In a new interview, Yakuza localization producer Scott Strichart says, “We absolutely recognize that there are some holes in the backlog, that we want to do, that Japan wants us to do. It’s really just a matter of finding the space for them on the slate.”

He goes on to explain, “There’s definitely an issue there with not wanting to over-saturate the market,” and finishes by saying, “As much as we all want to do it, we need to find the time and space.”

Some fans have interpreted this answer negatively, since they’re essentially saying, “Sorry, this is why that’s not happening.”

This answer can also be interpreted in a much more positive way, however. First, localizing Kenzan/Ishin is not only something the localization team would like them to see, but something “Japan wants [them] to do.” Last year’s concerns that the west wouldn’t enjoy the games might be gone.

Next, the primary issue blocking those games from being localized has now been explained as over-saturation. They don’t want an Ishin localization interfering with the release of other Yakuza titles. Essentially we can’t have Ishin yet because we’re getting so many other Yakuza games, which can only be seen as a good thing.

But let’s take a look at why over-saturation of Yakuza games was a potential concern in recent years. Here are the English Yakuza (and spin-off) releases since Yakuza 0:

  • January 2017 – Yakuza 0
  • August 2017 – Yakuza Kiwami
  • April 2018 – Yakuza 6
  • August 2018 – Yakuza Kiwami 2
  • October 2018 – Fist of the North Star
  • June 2019 – Judgment
  • August 2019 – Yakuza 3 remaster
  • October 2019 – Yakuza 4 remaster
  • February 2020 – Yakuza 5 remaster
  • November 2020 – Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yeah, the series has been pretty busy lately. Looking at these dates, it seems as though they believe 2-3 Yakuza releases in a year are possible without over-saturating the market. But what caused there to be this many in the first place? The remakes and remasters.

There’s no reason the schedule of upcoming Yakuza games should be quite this full. We’re all caught up on the main series now. If Yakuza 3-5 didn’t need to be remastered, 2019 and 2020 would have only had a single game each, one spin-off and one main title. Even if they’re developing a new spin-off and Yakuza 8, that’s only two new games compared to the five released in 2019-2020.

So I’m interpreting this interview in a positive light. If over-saturation is the issue, I think we’re finally approaching a point where there’s enough space in the schedule for games like Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin to finally be localized.

What do you think? Will we see Yakuza Ishin and the other unlocalized Yakuza titles in the west?

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Aug 282020

While this week’s Nintendo partner showcase didn’t have too many thrilling announcements, it did start with one that made me very happy: Melody of Memory’s release date!

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory will be out for the PS4, Switch, and Xbox One on November 11 in Japan and November 13 in the west, which is much sooner than I expected to get the next Kingdom Hearts game.

It features over 140 songs, both solo and multiplayer modes, and a new story picking up after the events of Kingdom Hearts III featuring Kairi.

The key art was also revealed, pictured here to the right.

After the announcement trailer for the partner showcase, an extended version of the trailer was released.

(Warning: this trailer spoils parts of Kingdom Hearts III’s ending.)

I love the music in Kingdom Hearts, so a Kingdom Hearts rhythm game would probably have my intention anyway… but the new story content is really what has me the most excited. While this trailer only shows a tiny snippet, the final scene is especially interesting to anyone keeping up with KHUX’s latest story developments.

(And it’s definitely weird that the next Kingdom Hearts game is a rhythm game instead of a JRPG, but it’s not like Kingdom Hearts hasn’t played around with other genres before.)

Some people feel Melody of Memory is overpriced since it’s being released as a full price game, but I don’t, I already pre-ordered my copy, and I can’t wait. How do you feel about Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory?

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Aug 262020

The newest entry in the Trails series, Hajimari no Kiseki, is due out tomorrow in Japan, and Falcom has begun to talk about what the next game in the series will be like.

This morning, debates exploded over the headlines that the next Trails game would feature action combat instead of its current turn-based combat system.

But is that actually what Falcom said?

The news came by way of a Weekly Famitsu interview with Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo, in which he discusses how the next game is not Hajimari 2, will feature new lead characters, etc., and then talks about the combat system.

Trails games currently use an Active Time Battle system in which turn order is displayed on a bar known as the AT Bar. The next Trails game will not feature the ATB system or the AT Bar.

As translated by Gematsu, Kondo described the battles in the next Trails game as “command battles with action elements and greater real-time nature.” Similarly, the translation from Siliconera calls the new combat system “a Command Battle with Action features and a lot of real-time elements added.” Both mention that it’s an entirely new type of system.

While most people are focusing on the “action” and “real-time” aspects, it’s also important to highlight the “command” description.

Not everyone agrees on what makes a JRPG turn-based. To some people, ATB combat is already not turn-based, while people like me group the two together. Using the term “command battles” for the next Trails game’s combat system says to me you’ll still be choosing attacks from a menu.

What then will the real-time elements be like? Will it have action commands like the Mario RPGs or Shadow Hearts? Is it something closer to Classic Mode in the Final Fantasy VII Remake? Is it a pause-and-play combat system?

Right now it’s too early to say what combat in the next Trails game will be like, but the specific description used for it says to me that it’s certainly not a pure action RPG like Ys and it might still be a new form of what I’d consider turn-based combat.

What are you expecting from the next game in the Trails series based on this interview?

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