For many years, Like a Dragon: Ishin has been the one Yakuza game that western fans have been unable to get their hands on unless they were willing to import a copy or learn another language so that they could navigate the PlayStation storefront of Japan. A Japan-exclusive released on PS3 and PS4 in 2013, Like a Dragon: Ishin finally makes its way to the West next year and is being rebuilt entirely in Unreal Engine 4.
Set in 1860s Kyo–a fictionalized version of Kyoto–Ishin’s focus on the fall of the Samurai during a turbulent part of Japan’s history was originally considered to be “impossible” to localize by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama. According to Yokoyama, this was largely due to anachronistic challenges.
“When we were first working on Ishin, we thought this game was impossible to localize,” Yokoyama explained. “There was no way that the overseas team and the Asian team would be able to localize it. I don’t think half the people would really understand what’s going on. It’s hard for Japanese people to understand, it’s probably even harder for people overseas.”
According to Yokoyama, concepts, philosophies, and unique language quirks of that historical time period proved to be extremely challenging for the localization teams, but the staff rose to the occasion for the Ishin remake. Several historical words and terms used in Ishin have lost their context in the modern Japanese language, but the game will have a special system in place that will explain their meaning to western audiences.
Japanese players won’t have such a system in place to prevent any language confusion, and Yokoyama added that the western version of Ishin might actually turn out to be the better edition of the game. Beyond the Ishin remake, Yakuza fans have plenty to look forward to in 2023 and 2024. Yakuza spin-off Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name arrives on PC and console in 2023, and Like a Dragon 8 is scheduled to launch in 2024.
RGG Studio bills the next mainline adventure as “the largest [Yakuza] game to date” and will release it on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One. Just don’t expect a Switch port of any Yakuza game anytime soon, due to the series being “too underground” for that family-friendly system according to Yokohama.
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