The Yakuza series is a beloved set of games that transcends the bounds of normal gaming. Yakuza features a vast quantity of side quests and mini games that add to the realness of the world. These games are not simply another rinse and repeat beat em up. The story and characters fill the game with life and brings you full force into the world build by the developers. The newest entry into the long running series is a spin off called Judgement, which will be hitting western shelves on June 25, 2019. But why should you even care about this title?
Why is it important?
Yakuza games are extremely well received and end up being more sleeper hits and cult favorites among western audiences. A recent boom on Twitch has brought in new blood and fans. While Judgement doesn’t broadcast its connection to Yakuza, it does feature the fictional setting of Kamurocho, a fictional district in Japan.
Judgement follows disgraced lawyer turned private investigator Takayuki Yagami. Yagami must attempt to clear his bad reputation after being betrayed by a former client. The most important thing about this character is for a first in the series, there is a English dub voice actor.
Lost in Translation
The problems with translating a game from Japanese to English is that it requires double the money. You have to have the script translated as well as hire English voice actors to work on the project. This is an easier process for a huge game series with many fans and the promise of large sells numbers. For a Yakuza spinoff with a much smaller and almost cult fan base, this is a gamble.
The fact that Sega is putting in the money to do an English dub means that hopes could be high with the titles. This is for very good reasons, as these games are not to be underestimated in the slightest. Judgment is a game that is going to require you keep your eye on it. I personally think that the game will have a booming viewership on www.twitch.tv on release day and the following weeks after. Upon release in Japan, Judgment was among one of the top titles being viewed.
Bringing Judgement to the West and giving it an English dub is a bold move. It is such a bold move that if it succeeds, it could mean more Japanese games getting this treatment for Western fans in the future.
Judgment follows the similar formula of its predecessor Yakuza. Freely roam around the game world and experience it in the way that you would like. You may want to dive head first into the story of the game, or hopelessly pursue a bar girl via text choices and gifts. Along your travels in this fictional Tokyo district, you will come across the angriest folks to ever live. It seems everyone living in this gaming world is a relative of someone from the Kanto region. You come across many random battles with thugs, Yakuza members and gang members. You may choose to run or stay and fight, the choice is up to you for the open world portions.
The new addition to the formula is a few new modes such as chases, searching for clues, finding evidence for the crime you are investigating, snapping incriminating photos or going all Agent 47 and donning a disguise. These new types of game play were only briefly covered in the trailers shown so far, so it will be a fun surprise to experience them all upon release.
Side quests will also be plentiful and engaging much like they are in Yakuza. They are fun, quirky and often hilarious and break the bleak stories of the games. Also returning seems to be a new group of mini games, such as a drone race of sorts. Mini games are something you want to do and not just unfun fodder for an achievement hunter.
Controversy and Talk of Delays
Japanese culture has a harsh, almost zero tolerance approach to drugs. While the game was making its way to the West, a star of the game was caught with an illegal substance. When an actor featured in Japanese media, such as a video game, is caught in circumstances such as this, they will be completely removed from said media. Like a Thanos snap, Sega snapped out Japanese musician and actor Pierre Taki from Judgment completely.
Pierre Taki’s character, crimes boss Kyohei Hamura, had to be remodeled and patched out of the game for Japanese owners of Judgment since they received a release of the game in December 2018. This prompted Sega to consider a delay for Western release. Luckily for us, the game is still on track to come out on June 25, 2019 as planned.
It is notable to add that Pierre Taki is the Japanese voice of Frozen’s Olaf. His voice was also patched out from Kingdom Hearts III.
The question posed at the beginning was why you should care about Judgment. Much like the Yakuza series of game, this one will feature something for everyone. There is a poetic beauty to going hard in a gritty story where lives are at stake, beating people with your fist, to just bowling.
The story is always deep and engaging for those who come for the journey of the game. The beat em up is fast, furious and extremely satisfying to knock out the lights of multiple assailants. Side quests are always off beat and intriguing. However you spend hours extra on these happily. Mini games such as batting cages, darts or RC racing have a life all their own and do not take away from the entire game but rather add.
This is not a review, nor do I have all the facts of features in the game. However developers Rya Ga Gotoku Studio never really shy away from what works and often repeat gameplay elements. This is totally welcome in my book as the old saying of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here in mass quantities.
Hopefully you are as excited as me to get your hands on Judgment in just over a week!