Yakuza 4 unmasked by Yoshihiro Nagoshi

TGS 2009: Creator of Japanese crime franchise gives first details on the next installment, which will feature three new main characters.

TOKYO--For the past several years, Sega debuted every new Yakuza title at aTokyo Game Show. That's an impressive feat, considering the short development cycle for a fully featured game. This year was no exception, and series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi was once again on Sega's stage to talk about the latest installment, titled Ryu Ga Gotoku 4: Densetu wo Tsugu Mono. The game's title roughly translates into English as "Yakuza 4: Inheritor of the Legend."

Nagoshi onstage with some of the hostesses who will be featured in the game.

Nagoshi's presentation of Yakuza 4 started out with a surprise revelation: This time, the game will have four main characters instead of just one. An introductory trailer was shown, and we learned about the three new main characters who will accompany series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. They are:

Shun Akiyama: A well-dressed loan shark who was once homeless. In the trailer, Shun was seen sitting around with a bunch of other homeless people, and he explains that he lends his money to people with moral faith.

Masayoshi Tanimura: A young, slick-looking detective in Kamurocho. The trailer showed him playing mahjong, and then the scene switched to a back alley where he's accepting bribe money in turn for looking the other way. It turns out that he's a corrupt cop known as "the tick of Kamurocho."

Taiga Saejima: A huge muscular man who has escaped from prison after killing more than a dozen Yakuza members. In the trailer, he goes on a bloody rampage with revolvers in both hands, killing everyone inside a small Japanese restaurant. After unloading both, he switches in another revolver clenched in his mouth and empties that into his enemies too.

After the presentation of the new main protagonists, the trailer went on to show a mysterious lady with long black hair. Her name is Lili, and she is said to be the key character in Yakuza 4's storyline. In the scene, Lili looked like she was in serious distress. She's at Shun's office, and reluctantly she asks him to lend her a bold amount of cash--10 billion yen (over $111 million).

The scene then cut to a familiar face: the Yakuza with an eyepatch, Goro Majima. But this isn't the usual crazy Goro that Yakuza fans are familiar with. He's got a stern face, and in a dialogue with Shun, we find out that he knows Lili from the past and he's sworn to protect her. Later, during the stage presentation, Nagoshi explained that the mass murderer Taiga used to work for Goro. We were also told that we'll get to see Majima back when he had both his eyes and discover the reason why he lost one.

The trailer then suddenly changes to a familiar scene where a huge building explodes at its top floors, and a ton of money comes floating down to the streets. It's apparently a scene from the past, and Shun, dressed a lot more poorly than his current self, is picking up the money on the ground. Later during the presentation, Nagoshi revealed that it's actually the incident back in the original Yakuza game, and he wanted to depict the life of one person whose life had been completely changed by the money.

Kazuma Kiryu and his three new (playable) friends.

And as the trailer came to its end, audiences finally saw the series' legendary hero, Kazuma Kiryu. The four main characters walked through the streets of Kamurocho, and the screen faded out to the Yakuza 4 logo. The trailer is now available for viewing at Sega's official Japanese-language site .

"Each of these four characters are protagonists, so you'll be able to control and play with them. The Yakuza series has had a lot of adventures, and we're hoping to make Yakuza 4 the most comprehensive game yet, with an even bolder, more exciting storyline," said Nagoshi, explaining the decision to add more characters. He avoided giving any details on Yakuza 4's subtitle, stating only that it will make sense when the game is played.

Nagoshi then went on to talk more about the actual game. Yakuza 4 will once again take place in Kamurocho, but this time, the developers have added "depth" to the town's field. In addition to expanding the dirty back streets of Kamurocho, players will be able to explore the rooftops of buildings and walk through underground parking lots, brightly lit underground shopping malls, and even the nasty sewers.

"Each of the characters have their own activity range. For example, the detective would go deep into the town's streets. And in the case of the escaped convict, he'd go lower into the town to avoid being discovered."

In terms of battle, each of the four protagonists has different moves and characteristics. Shun is agile and his moves are based on kicks. Taiga relies on his massive strength to beat on opponents. In one example, he was shown swinging a motorbike around like it was as light as a cardboard box. Masahiro is based more on technique. He's good at dodging attacks and beating opponents with a single move, like hitting them in their weak spot or breaking their bones. He can also arrest enemies since he's a detective. And last but not least, the legendary Kazuma is simply good at knocking the daylights out of enemies with his street-style fighting.

There will be additional new forms of enemy encounters, and chases can take place even up to the rooftops as players dash and hop from one building to another. The new characters can learn new moves just like Kazuma did in the previous games. In one example, Masahiro witnessed a fat female restaurant worker jump-kicking a guy, and he quickly jotted down the incident in his notebook to acquire a new move.

"The Yakuza series has always featured exhilarating fights that could be enjoyed with simple controls," Said Nagoshi. We've kept that concept and added even more variations and moves. We've also brought back things that were popular in the previous games and refined them, and so we're very confident about the battle system."

Since the Yakuza series takes place in the red-light district of Kamurocho, there have always been a lot of places to enjoy entertainment in the form of minigames. Yakuza 4 will feature the largest volume of minigames yet, and from a brief look, we could see that there's bowling, fishing, mahjong, darts, billiards, roulette, prize catcher machines, quiz games, batting practice, and, of course, karaoke. This time, there's a duet mode in the karaoke minigame where Kazuma can sing together with a girl.

Up until now, Kamurocho was missing one major thing to make it feel like the real-life Kabukicho district in Tokyo: the pachinko gambling parlors. In Yakuza 4, players will be able to go in and play on the Japanese pinball machines to their heart's desire. And as expected, Sega has taken the effort to tie up with actual pachinko makers--like sibling company Sammy--to feature the real machines.

As another interesting new addition to Yakuza 4 that's also very distinctly Japanese, players will be able to take traditional spring baths with girls and then play a game of table tennis while they're drying in yukata robes. In a trailer, Kazuma was seen jumping high into the air and then smashing his ping-pong ball into his female opponent's chest.

Back in Yakuza 3, Nagoshi put in a lot of effort to create a fully featured hostess club system, and he went as far as to collaborate with a Japanese hostess magazine to take renderings of their top models. Nagoshi has put in an equally strong effort again this time, and he held a public audition that had more than 1,500 entries. Five finalists were chosen, and they range from a professional hostess to even an ordinary college girl.

As new features to the hostess system, the game will offer even more customizable parts for players to change the look of their hostess girls. This time, players can have fun with not only one, but two girls at the same time. What's more, players can also make advances on their own hostess that they've created and raised.

Yakuza 4 is slated for a spring 2010 release in Japan. No North American or European release plans have been announced.

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67 comments
singh_60
singh_60

playing the demo of yakuza 3 and not that impressed with the amount of text in the game. subtitling dialogue i can agree with be fully but not in game text, that blows. for all the talk above of detail and depth in the game there shud be fully voiced interactions.

Kyuubi_Vegetto
Kyuubi_Vegetto

@bayern-7 No the problem was that the first game's dub wasn't very popular with many people and to save money along with there not being much space on the disc Sega opted not to include english voice acting in the second not really a loss FYI.

MOBS
MOBS

Bro's good news! Check it out Gamer4life, Generic_Dude, 360hammer.Chronolzx, Yakuza 3 WILL make it to america, Sega is working on the localisation. AAron Webber publicly said they were considering it on the playstation blog, and !gn reported insiders have leaked info that Sega ALREADY StARTEd Yakuza 3's localisation and are hard at work(9/19/09) 1up.com news.

MOBS
MOBS

Hey green_dominator, Mystoksor, Vhial, keith577500, blind59, YAKUZA 3 is coming to the united States! Its been reported that SEGA is already working on the localisation.

MOBS
MOBS

Dudes, I have good news. One Sega reported on the playstation blog that they are SERIOUSLY considering localising YAkuza 3 check 1up.com, September 17th entry. Then on september 19th, 1up.com reported that sources close to the project have revealed that SEGA is currently hard at work at localising Yakuza 3. We were anticipating an announcement of Yakuza 3 at TGS 09, akin to the '07 announcement of Yakuza 2. The OFFICIAL announcement is coming soon, Im sure. You guys shouldnt panic so much, after all , Yakuza 3 just came out in February, thats not that long ago. Vakyria Chronicles came out in Japan MONTHS before its Us counterpart. Yakuza 2 took over a year to translate. It helps if you dont use only GMAESPOT as your sole source of news. Their news reports are too focused on game companies quartlerly earnings, stock prices , and CEO appointments, they neglect games themselves. You should check other sites as well, to get the full story. For instance playstation blog Aaron Webber of Sega reported that if he gets enough fan input, he will use it to get Trophies added to Valkyria Chronicles. He said" I wouldnt keep you guys hoping if it was not a possiblility".

bayern-7
bayern-7

THE Problem is YAKUZA 2 came in Japanese Language so I did not purchase it . We did not see Yakuza 3 !!! Will Yakuza 4 come in English lang. I hope that or in Arabic : )

9thedevilmaycry
9thedevilmaycry

wheres Yakuza 3? dont do it like anubis 2 with no anubis 1

lamprey263
lamprey263

jeez, we haven't even got a release Yakuza 3 yet

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

Great, Japan is getting Yakuza 4 already, not to mention they already got that Yakuza Gaiden (the game which takes place in feudal Japan or something) for the PS3 as well even before Yakuza 3 came out. We're still stuck with Yakuza 1,2. Come on Sega, give us Yakuza 3, pretty please?

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

i wish yakuza 3 would come over to the uk followed by yakuza 4. they gave us the first two games and yakuza is an excellent series of games. i am sick of europe and the us missing out on them with sega not releasing them outside of japan. why not give the rest of the world yakuza 3 and 4 sega?

voidheart777
voidheart777

Yes!!! this I like!... and I hope the Yakuza 3 will have japanese voice option...

cube-gage
cube-gage

SEGA of America and Europe need to get their act together and market the Yakuza franchise. They have hardly since day one and only serious gamers in the know have a clue about Yakuza. Its such a shame, it has a great story and gameplay that we dont often see. Sony is also to blame, just look at how they made a special edition yakuza ps3 for japan, if they had sold that in the west with a bundle people would of gone crazy for it. It seems that if a game doesnt have blockbuster sales in the west then they just forget about us, what do they expect? You have to put in a little effort to sell a game in the west that isnt a sequel to COD, GTA, Halo, GT. Come on SEGA its not like it would have to cost allot to advertise just bundle it with a slim ps3 that everyone will be getting for xmas. It was the same with shenmue, they were surprised that it didnt do well in the west both on DC and Xbox. How do you expect it to do well if people havent got a clue what it actually is.

trollkind
trollkind

It's Japan in a box for ... Japan. Seriously, bring this to the rest of the world for the ones that know how to handle something fake realistic and full to the brim with stereotypes as this.

marty352
marty352

Erm aren't we still waiting for a release of Yakuza 3? :s

ThePatrick
ThePatrick

Hmm...they exaggerated the amount of yen for some reason from 100 million to ten billion. Guess they thought she said "百億円" because that's how much went missing in the first game...? She just said "一億." Anywa, this game's gonna be great with three protagonists! There's tons of info on it at the message boards at GameFAQs, including a link to my English sub of the first trailer on YouTube and translations of the official website.

TrueIori
TrueIori

i wan this game like everyone says else please have subs xD

don_bidarian
don_bidarian

I hope put option of english menus and subtitle so we don't need to wait 2-3 years for the game to be translated...

MATERAZZI_23
MATERAZZI_23

If they put English sub, I'd import it. Come on Sega, that's not asking much.... sub please.

kayos539
kayos539

Japan gets all the good stuff... :( This whole article can basically be summarized as "Here's a good game you won't be able to play."

360hammer
360hammer

@shkar I'm not sure about 2 but I know 3 has it's own plot. The main similarities would be the characters and back story of their relationships. Kenzan (which is my personal fav.) is kind of like Wizard of OZ where it's set in earlier times but has all the characters from the series like Dorthy in OZ with her relatives playing roles like Tin Man, I think you get what I'm saying.

gohoanq
gohoanq

That's nice and all, but I'd like.. oh i dono.. maybe Yakuza THREE first? o.o

Pfilosophy
Pfilosophy

Bring Yakuza 3 here first and you can guarantee one more PS3 owner in me.

green_dominator
green_dominator

I loved the original Yakuza, It was just different enough to be attention getting.... I wanted to play the second game but that just passed me by, I wouldn't mind grabbing this if it hits America....

keith577500
keith577500

sorry for the mix up on my last post

keith577500
keith577500

Ryu ga Gotoku 3 takes a departure from the first two games with its choice of setting: instead of focusing on the gritty cityscape of Tokyo, it switches gears and sends Kiryu to the tropical island of Okinawa, where he runs a center for orphaned children with his adoptive daughter Haruka who accompanied him in both Yakuza 1 & 2. The orphanage is on land that is owned by Shigeru Nakahara, the boss of a mob known as the Ryudo Ikka. Nakahara is under pressure from the country's government to sell the land. Kiryu once again finds himself in a series of tough situations the story line of yakuza 3 straight from wikipedia

Vhial
Vhial

@ keith577500 Thats not Yakuza 3...that is a spin-off of the series so to speak. Yakuza 3 is in the same time. Just a year or two later then Yakuza 2.

keith577500
keith577500

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

first Typing of the Dead 2 and now Yakuza 3? Why is it so hard for Sega to release games outside of Japan?

blind59
blind59

Too bad yakuza 3 never made it to the states then i would be more excited about this

Fed__X
Fed__X

I'd love to play these games.

goez3000
goez3000

when will ryu ga gotoku 3 get translated for a US release?

panzer_marine
panzer_marine

and i haven't even played yakuza 2..har har..

cjasko94
cjasko94

Agreed...I still want to play Yakuza 3 damnit! Playing as a hot japanese girl would be awesome :P

thekey
thekey

(The US gamer talking) "Wow this is great! Now all I need to do is play Yakuza 3 and then we'll talk about 4."

newb16
newb16

The reason why Japanese video game company's won't bring some of there games to America, is because they know the games will not sell good.

neovalkyr
neovalkyr

@shkar The story line is connected. But i haven't played the first two games only the 3rd one, and it included the story lines from the first two games to bring me up to speed.

shkar
shkar

If anyone has information...........are the YAKUZA games related to each other in terms of story and plot? Because I have played and finished the first YAKUZA game(english version) and it was one of the best games ever created on PS2 .............. If they are connected guess I will have to get YAKUZA2 and wait for the third one also.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

PS3's exclusive plz! :D BTW, can't u guys make a girl version of Yakuza? I wan a hot Japanese babe to play! :P

Kashiwaba
Kashiwaba

Great Ryu ga gotoku series is the best.

MalakTawus
MalakTawus

This looks great,but i'm a bit disappointed that between the new playable char there isn't a woman......

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@petewarrior, So true about VA thing, man, so true. ;)

gggames_se
gggames_se

whao... Yakuza 4 is going to be awesome. Nobody is happier than be about the recent announcement that Yakuza 3 is coming to the west =)

CorruptGamerGX
CorruptGamerGX

@SonyIsh6Fotta Yes. All PS3 games are region free

SonyIsh6Fotta
SonyIsh6Fotta

If I bought yakuza 3 off ebay, could I play it on my american ps3?

petewarrior
petewarrior

Besides, they usually can't dub the soul of the original VA.

petewarrior
petewarrior

I wouldn't mind playing this with original voice acting and decent English subtitles. I do it all the time with anime...