Yakuza (video game)
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North American boxart
|Designer(s)||Toshihiro Nagoshi (general supervisor)|
Hidenori Shoji (sound director)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
Yakuza, originally released in Japan as Like a Dragon (龍が如く Ryū ga Gotoku?) is an action-adventure game developed and published by Sega in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. Sega announced that the budget for the game and its sequel together was 2.4 billion yen (21 million US dollars).
This game is the first entry in the Yakuza series. A sequel, titled Yakuza 2, was released in Japan on December 7, 2006, and in North America and Europe on September 9, 2008 and September 19, 2008 respectively. The game was adapted into the video film Like a Dragon: Prologue (2006) and the feature film Like a Dragon (2007) directed by Takashi Miike. Many believe that the game itself is a spiritual successor to Sega's other critically acclaimed, but abandoned game series Shenmue.[who?]
Although the game does not explicitly say it, much of the game takes place in Tokyo's Shinjuku ward, most noticeably a recreation of Shinjuku's red-light district Kabukichō, which is famous for its hostess bars (cabarets), host clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and its organized crime presence. Although the area was recreated as a fictionalized "Kamurocho district", much of Kabukichō's landmarks remain such as the red neon sign Kabukicho Ichiban-kai (歌舞伎町一番街) portal in the district's main entrance (renamed "Kamurochō tenkaichidōri", 神室町天下一通り), Koma Theater (renamed Kamuro Theater), Theater Square, Milano Bowl (renamed Shunjiku Mach Bowl), Don Quijote discount store (a tie-in), Seibu Shinjuku Station, Kabukicho Sakura Street (歌舞伎町 さくら通り) portal renamed "Kamurocho Pink Street" (神室町ピンク通り), and its adjacent FamilyMart convenience store (renamed Poppo). Tokyo's area called Shinjuku Golden Gai (新宿ゴールデン街), which is located in eastern Kabukicho and is famous for its small bars, is also recreated in as the "Kamuro Champion Gai" (神室チャンピオン街).
Kabukicho's highest skyscraper Tokyo-to Kenko Plaza Hygea (東京都健康プラザハイジア) and its surroundings don't exist in Kamurocho though, and they have been replaced by different streets and a comparable yet fictitious building called "Millenium Tower", the game's main landmark.
The game follows the story of Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬 Kiryū Kazuma?), a former yakuza whose release from prison after a ten-year sentence sparks the setup of the game's plot. After his release, he returns to find his friend Yumi Sawamura is missing and the Tojo Clan he was once a part of has had ten billion yen stolen from them, which the entire Japanese underworld is now searching for.
The main story is divided into 13 chapters. Each chapter is made of three distinct yet connected modes called Event, Adventure and Battle.
Cinematics, called "events", and cutscenes are enabled after completing specific actions or beating a certain character during the Adventure Mode. They also introduce the chapter's objectives. Various play spots are available within the Adventure Mode. These are UFO Catcher, batting cage, casino (baccarat, blackjack and roulette), toba and pachislot.
As in an Action-RPG game, the main character randomly encounters foes on his path (Adventure Mode). The ensuing fight is called Encounter Battle. The Battle Mode includes the Underground Arena (地下闘技場) which is located in Kamurocho's Purgatory area.
This is the only game in the series to feature English voice acting for its U.S. and PAL releases. Following titles use the original Japanese cast with localized subtitles.
- Takaya Kuroda (Japanese) / Darryl Kurrylo (English) as Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬)
- Rie Kugimiya (Japanese) / Debi Derryberry as Haruka Sawamura (澤村 遥)
- Kazuhiro Nakatani (Japanese) / Michael Rosenbaum (English) as Akira Nishikiyama (錦山 彰) / Akira Nishiki
- Miyako Uesaka (Japanese) / Eliza Dushku (English) as Yumi Sawamura (澤村 由美) / Mizuki Sawamura
- Tetsuya Watari (Japanese) / Roger L. Jackson (English) as Shintaro Kazama (風間 新太郎) / Shintaro Fuma
- Junko Mihara (Japanese) / Rachael Leigh Cook (English) as Reina (麗奈)
- Kazuhiro Yamaji (Japanese) / Bill Farmer (English) as Makoto Date (伊達 真)
- Naomi Kusumi (Japanese) / Michael Madsen (English) as Futoshi Shimano (嶋野 太) / Futo Shimano
- Hirooki Yoshida (Japanese) / Robin Atkin Downes (English) as Kyohei Jingu (神宮 京平)
- Takafumi Yamaguchi (Japanese) / Daniel Capellaro (English) as Shinji Tanaka (田中 シンジ)
- Hidenari Ugaki (Japanese) / Mark Hamill (English) as Goro Majima (真島 吾朗)
- Shinichi Tatsuzawa (Japanese) / James Horan (English) Lau Kar-long (ラウ・カーロン, 劉家龍) / Lau Ka Long
- Ryūji Mizuki (Japanese) / Alan Dale (English) Masaru Sera (世良 勝) / Masa Sera
- Akina Okada (Japanese) / Nan McNamara (English) as Saya Date (伊達 沙耶)
- Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Japanese), Dwight Schultz (English) as Sai no Hanaya (サイの花屋) / Kage
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The Yakuza & Yakuza 2 Original Sound Track (HCV-287) dual-disc boxset was published by Wave Master in Japan on January 25, 2007. The music was composed by Hidenori Shoji, Sachio Ogawa, Keitaro Hanada, Fumio Ito, Yuri Fukuda. The closing theme is John Newton's Amazing Grace, a classic gospel sung in English by Eri Kawai; additional performers are Makotch (vocals), Yuri (chorus) and Tomica (chorus). The tracklist for Yakuza has 23 titles (details are available below).
Marketing and release
Tie-in and product placement
In order to both support the game's expensive production and make Kamurocho a realistic recreation of Tokyo's Kabukicho, Sega contracted a tie-in campaign with famous Japanese companies. As a result some places found in the game, such as the Don Quijote discount store and the Club Sega game centers are modeled after the real life buildings.
Sega also used product placement strategy and introduced ads within the game. This includes a collaboration with the Japanese Suntory group which advertises in-game with ad banners, Boss Coffee ads and vending machines are also visible in Kamurocho; cans are purcheasable within Kamurocho stores. Since the group produces local drinks and is a distributor of foreign alcohols, all brands appearing in Kamurocho's bars and pubs, being Whiskey, Jack Daniel's Bourbon or Carlsberg Beer, are real brands of Suntory.
Other product placements include Shogakukan's Sabra magazine, Fujisankei Communications Group's SPA! magazine and Panini Group's World Club Cup stickers. The latter appears in a TV ad, together with a Suntory drink and a Sega mahjong game, which is displayed in the Kamurocho theater wall screen.
As part of the pre-ordering campaign, the Japanese first print was bundled with two limited items, a Tojo Clan lapel pin replica (特製ピンバッジ, tokusei pin baju, lit. "deluxe pin badge") and a monography called Kamutai Magazine (December 2005 issue). Since then a new issue of Kamutai Magazine is bundled with each franchise episode pre-order.
Also the original PlayStation 2 the Best edition (SLPM-74234) included a bonus DVD with the trailer of Yakuza 2, while the reprint (SLPM-74253) which was released during the production of the spin-off was repackaged with a rose cover art instead of white (a.k.a. リパッケージ版, ripakkeji han lit. "repackage edition") and a bonus DVD with the trailer of Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan!, a voice cast message and a 20-minute producer interview.
The western releases were only regular copies, instead Sega Europe and America used online marketing. A flash game, "CodeYakuza.com", was created and an English subtitled version of the game's 2006 live-action adaption directed by Takashi Miike, Like a Dragon: Prologue, was freely downloadable on the game's official website.
Due to its commercial success on the Japanese market, Yakuza had a PlayStation 2 the Best edition on October 26, 2006, and an exceptional reprint on December 6, 2007. In contrast, this Asian long seller title never had a Platinum or Greatest Hits re-release on the western markets. Though, total sales reached 1 million.
Yakuza received generally positive reviews among Western critics. IGN praised its combat system and sense of style but criticized its tedious gameplay.
On July 13, 2012, a listing for Yakuza 1 & 2 HD Edition popped up on Sega's Japanese website, spotted by Andriasang, for launch on PlayStation 3 on 1 November 2012, on May 17, 2013 Nintendo and Sega announced Yakuza 1 & 2 will be coming to Wii U and is the first Yakuza game on a non-Sony console.
A film adaptation Like a Dragon (龍が如く 劇場版, ryu ga gotoku: gekijoban) was directed by Takashi Miike in 2007. Kazuma Kiryu's role is played by actor Kazuki Kitamura known overseas for his roles in Shohei Imamura's The Eel, Takeshi Miike's Dead or Alive and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Official website (English)
- Like A Dragon (Feature Film Official website) (Japanese)