Back in the wild west days of the PlayStation 2, publishers tended to take more gambles, bringing smaller gaming franchises stateside and hoping for the best. Such was the case of Sega’s Yakuza series, which told the bloody tale of Japan’s preeminent criminal organization. With its quirky “GTA meets beat ‘em up” gameplay and supremely Japanese storyline, the series was not expected to make much of a splash, but Yakuza found itself a bonafide following outside of the Land of the Rising Sun.
As time went on, however, Yakuza became less well-known to majority of Western consumers, while only continuing to grow in popularity in Japan. Now, Sega is gearing up for the release of Yakuza 6 exclusively for the PS4, and American fans are now left wondering if the game will ever make it outside of Japan.
Ryū ga Gotoku 6, as it’s known natively, will be the franchise’s first proper PS4 release, and Sega is pulling out all the stops – even recruiting one of Japan’s most famous actors to appear in the game. In a new teaser trailer, it is revealed that famed actor/director/game show host Takeshi “Beat” Kitano will appear in Yakuza 6.
While Kitano is best known overseas for his role in the bloody Battle Royale film, as well as a host on the Spike TV comedy gameshow Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, Kitano initially made a name for himself in his native Japan by directing and starring in a variety of movies themed around the Yakuza. With his wealth of Yakuza experience, Kitano is a natural fit for the crime series.
The 27 second long trailer debuted at the recently completed Tokyo Game Show, and highlights the game’s new usage of motion capture technology, showing off a Kitano that looks nearly indistinguishable from his real life counterpart. The trailer seems to imply that Kitano will portray the antagonist in Yakuza 6, but Sega has not yet confirmed Kitano’s exact role in the game’s story.
While a release of Yakuza 6 outside of Japan has not yet been confirmed, Japanese fans of the series will have plenty to look forward to in 2016. At the Tokyo Game Show, Sega revealed that Yakuza 6 will ultimately hit shelves in Autumn of 2016, but it will not be the only Yakuza title released for the PS4.
Sega announced that an HD remake of 2005’s Yakuza will release for PS4 to celebrate the series 10th anniversary. Titled Yakuza Kiwami, the remake will once again put players in the shoes of original series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, and will feature the entire original game upgraded for PS4, along with a bevy of new costumes and additional content.
With the Yakuza series taking forays into the zombie genre and going back in time to feudal Japan, fans are certain to be happy to see the game return to its hardcore gangster roots. While Yakuza 1 through 5 have all made it to the states in one form or another, it will remain to be seen if Yakuza 6 will continue this trend. In any case, fans will continue to hold their breathe for a chance to pick up Yakuza 6 – and potentially even punch a virtual Takeshi Kitano right in the face.