Yakuza 4’s localisation bucks the trend of ‘Americanization’, which Sega’s Yasuhiro Noguchi has said was a very deliberate decision based on fan feedback.
“I reviewed the Yakuza franchise history in the West as well as the valuable feedback we received from our fans on Yakuza 3,” the producer told Joystiq.
“Based on consultations with the Yakuza team in Japan, we decided to bring a more complete localization that was more faithful to the source material.”
As well as including content once considered too racy for Western markets, such as the infamous hostess mini-games, Noguchi boldly chose to have protagonist Kazuma Kiryu referred to in-game by his surname, in line with Japanese conventions – despite three outings as “Kazuma”.
“It was a subtle change that I fought for to ‘de-Westernize’ certain aspects of the legacy localization changes from Yakuza 1,” he explained.
Other characters had their original names restored. “Kazuma”‘s dog “Rex” is once more Mame, while the totally unrelated name of “Kage” has been stripped from the informant known as the Florist of Purgatory.
The Yakuza series is a cult favourite, but like its cousin Shenmue, has rarely managed to generate significant sales. Yakuza 4 released in March, exclusively for PlayStation 3.