Friday, March 12, 2010

YAKUZA 3 EARLY THOUGHTS: I can sort of see why Sega thinks this series is a hard sell to American audiences--there is a ton of plot to get through in the beginning. And then your first actions before you get to the fighting tutorial (which is fun!) involve wandering around your fictional section of Tokyo buying ice cream for your little sidekick and visiting people from the previous games (which I have not played.) It's not exactly an open world game either--you can't immediately start pitching people down the sidewalk a la Saints Row 2. Because Kiryu Kazuma is an honorable dude! Unlike a GTA or Saints Row protagonist. (Also unlike a Fukasaku gangster.) He doesn't start fights. People start fights with him. To their regret.

So if you don't pay attention to video games you have not heard that Sega cut some stuff out of the game. Or that in general it seems to be a rushed release, being dumped on the marketplace at the same time as Final Fantasy XIII and God of War III (both blockbusters) and thus not being given a great chance to succeed. The conspiracy theory I've heard (from a fellow DVDVR poster here) is that Atlus--who are generally thought to be the best localizer of Japanese video games for the niche American audience--wanted to make a bid for the license, and told Sega headquarters in Japan that very thing. Sega of America, noticing that the Yakuza series could be Sega's best remaining franchise, has a bit of a panic attack (since they've been publicly dithering over whether to release it in the US at all) and begs for the license back, since if they give up Yakuza 3 maybe they lose the rights to future installments in the franchise. Corporate parent Sega says fine, but you guys have a limited amount of time to get this thing out, otherwise we give it to Atlus. So Sega of America rushes it out and we have them to blame foremost for getting a truncated version and poor release timing. And then we can blame Sega HQ for not giving it to Atlus in the first place.

It's a conspiracy theory! It may not make perfect sense. But like other conspiracy theories it expresses the desires of people who believe in it, namely that Atlus would have been the perfect choice for a game as Japanese as this. That's what they do--they have their passionate niche of Japanophiles that they serve and they serve them well. It may have even worked out the same way sales-wise, Atlus has previously gotten people to buy many copies of the also-veddy-veddy-Japanese Persona series. Plus we definitely would have gotten a cool collector's edition out of them. Maybe some Yakuza 3-branded cigarettes.

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