Dengeki Online published an interview of Toshihiro Nagoshi and Kazuki Hosokawa about Project Judge. Nagoshi-san is the Executive Producer of the Yakuza series and the General Director of Project Judge. Hosokawa-san works on the Yakuza series as Art Director and is Project Judge‘s Producer.
The interview is quite lengthy, as the two shared many details on the game: How the game came to be. How they decided on some of the actors appearing in the game. How the game’s vouce acting went. What made them announce Project Judge with such a short time before release, or how different it is from the Yakuza series. Here’s a detailed summary of the interview:
- Project Judge is an original idea of Nagoshi-san. He first thought about the game around three or four years ago but had no chance to make it a reality back then, as such it was left to gather dust until recently.
- The game uses the same Dragon Engine as Yakuza 6, but fine-tuned to upgrade different aspects, like characters’ expressions or collisions. The lightning and colors used are different too, to emphasize the “Legal Suspense” theme of the game.
- They’re releasing the game as their big Holidays release. They decided to announce it only three months before release to avoid people forgetting about it.
- They finished developing the game and are only working on debugging right now.
- The main protagonist Takayuki Yagami was initially supposed to be an original character. But they later decided to ask Takuya Kimura to play him, as it would greatly help with marketing. They realized with Yakuza 6 the Dragon Engine is advanced enough so if a character is played by a popular icon like Kimura-san, everyone would recognize him immediately. This is thanks to the buzz made back when they revealed Takeshi Kitano appeared in Yakuza 6. Kimura-san accepted the job as soon as Nagoshi-san showed him the script. The same thing had happened with Beat Takeshi.
- Takayuki speaks more than Kiryu in any individual Yakuza game. There are many legal terms too so it wasn’t easy at first for Kimura-san to voice him, but he did a really good job. The lines which needed retakes were much fewer than what they expected. A lot of the lines were rewritten or added to be a better match for Kimura-san’s acting as well, but they were careful enough to not alter Takayuki’s personality from what they initially planned. They also recorded the chapters in order, starting chapter 1, so you will feel Kimura-san’s voice evolving at the same time as Takayuki’s development. Kimura-san was really into it, so much that when Nagoshi-san would send him a message over LINE, he would always immediately answer. Project Judge‘s recording was made after its whole scenario was completed, something that didn’t happen with Yakuza, so this greatly helped Kimura-san and the other actors.
- Because of the huge amount of voice work that was needed for the main story and the text length of the side cases, the side cases aren’t fully voiced.
- Similar to Yakuza, some of the side quests are on the comedic side.
- They picked Akira Nakao to play as the lawyer Takashi Genda because he’s a perfect match for the character. Takashi is the director of the lawyer office our protagonist Takayuki used to work at and is like a father figure to him.
- Shosuke Tanihara plays as the detective Mitsuru Kuroiwa because they wanted an actor that has an ultra-serious, business-like appearance so that when Mitsuru and Takayuki are together, you can immediately see how different they are.
- Yakuza leader Kyohei Hamura is played by Pierre Taki because he’s accustomed to playing fearsome criminals.
- Multiple female characters connected to Takayuki play important roles in the story, but there is no “heroine” that shares a romance with him. There are things like a “girlfriend event” however.
- There are no hostess club minigames like in the Yakuza series.
- Part of why Project Judge takes place in Kamurocho like Yakuza is because they were confident on the fact the game itself is different enough, so even if it’s the same place you don’t feel you already played the game. They thought about having the game’s setting be a more remote town too, but decided against it in the end, and think Kamurocho is the best setting for the story. This also allowed them to focus on the gameplay instead of the town.
- Whenever you solve a case you accepted, eat, or even play minigames, you can get Sp. These are points which can be used to upgrade Takayuki’s abilities in battle or investigation. For example, you can get a skill that makes it so when you lockpick, the controller vibrates to indicate you the right point to aim.
- Project Judge’s fights require the player the be skilled, so it might be wise to upgrade Takayuki’s fighting skills if you can’t make do with your own. They put in many different battle abilities you can learn to help.
- They tried to make Takayuki’s battle style different from Kiryu’s as much as possible. Takayuki also uses Chinese martial arts to fight, which have a lot of “rhythm” to them. He loves them and is self-taught. The game’s story will actually explain how an ex-lawyer like him became so engrossed in martial arts.
- There are some different ways to approach a situation, and depending on how you do, you can get more Sp as a bonus.
- Real-life detectives nowadays tend to work a lot on cheating cases, so this is reflected in the game’s side cases as well. Some are pretty unexpected and will surprise you. You can use all of your detective abilities from the main story in the side cases as well.
- Nagoshi-san is the one who decided on band Alexandros for the theme song. There are many bands nowadays that more or less correspond to what he had in mind, so it took him quite a lot of time to decide on one.
- As it’s very difficult to make people interested in a new series, they decided to release a demo for Project Judge at the same time the game was announced. That way people can see for themselves how is it different from Yakuza. And marketing-wise, to generate buzz for the game.
- Tokyo Game Show 2018’s demo will be different than the downloadable demo and will have 2 minigames that weren’t in Yakuza games.
- Lastly, they hope many people will play Project Judge, especially as it’s a brand new work, so you don’t need to worry about playing previous games first like with Yakuza.
If you’ve missed it, you can check the official English profiles of the game’s characters, along with the first trailers.
Project Judge is scheduled to release in Japan for PS4 on December 13th. The game will release in North America and Europe for PS4 in 2019.