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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  4 Responses to “Yakuza Ishin Localization Only Stalled By “Over-Saturation””

  1. Here’s hoping that they’ll announce the localisation soon! Hopefully after Like a Dragon is released their slate will be clean to pursue the localisation!

  2. […] up on that I can’t be too disappointed. Besides, this longer gap between titles might provide enough space for the localization team to work on […]

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