Yakuza: Like a Dragon Wasn’t Supposed to Be an RPG Yet When Its April Fools Video Released
Various comments from Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi following the Japanese release of PS4 exclusive RPG Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is now available in Japan. And as you already know, Yakuza: Like a Dragon uses a Turn-Based RPG battle system, a big change for the series. In synch with the game’s launch, multiple Japanese outlets (4Gamer, Game Watch, GameSpark) published long interviews with Toshihiro Nagoshi, sharing comments on the game and its development. We’ve read these interviews and summarized the most interesting parts below.
In summary, Toshihiro Nagoshi’s job on Yakuza: Like a Dragon was to decide which directions the game systems and the scenario took, supervising the development team’s progress and thinking of ways to promote the game with the promotional team.
Regarding Yakuza: Like a Dragon‘s Japanese release and if it’ll do well or not, Toshihiro Nagoshi is stressed about the situation but is also confident. He compared his situation to a student before exams, and how it’s similar to what he felt when the very first Yakuza game launched. He’s confident the game will find its audience, and most notably mentioned any skeptical fan he saw ended up loving the game when trying it out, be it at Tokyo Game Show 2019, the various demo events which happened in Japan, or the global feedback after Sega published the Japanese PSN demo of the game.
Toshihiro Nagoshi explained again why the series switched to turn-based RPG battles. After making the Yakuza series for over ten years, even if Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio still had room to improve it as an action game, they thought they were reaching the limits of what they could do, and wished to challenge themselves. The studio hopes fans of the series will appreciate they’re undertaking such a challenge, and try the game out. Toshihiro Nagoshi mentioned how a series that doesn’t challenge itself will end up disappearing at some point. The development team was conscious that the switch to RPG would cause fan backlash, but they pushed forward anyway because they’re confident in their game.
Toshihiro Nagoshi also explained RPG is a style that goes well with any themes and any type of stories you’ll include in your game. And how they’re confident they managed to coordinate properly the game systems and the friendship themed story of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
While Yakuza 6 completed Kazuma Kiryu’s story and what would come next would unmistakenly be different, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio didn’t initially plan to include so many changes for the next game. RPG is the answer they reached after a long period of trial and error. They also thought about making a hybrid of RPG and the previous action battle system, and also thought about going with game systems completely different than what the series did so far.
As you remember, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio published in April Fools 2019 a video showing protagonist Ichiban Kasuga fighting in the streets, using a turn-based RPG system. Toshihiro Nagoshi explained how, at the time, the studio actually didn’t decide yet to turn Yakuza: Like a Dragon into an RPG, and it was simply one of the many ideas they had in mind. Some thought they published this video to check out if fans liked a possible RPG battle system, but it was really nothing more than something they made for April Fools. Nagoshi explained how they kept experimenting even after that point.
Through these interviews, Toshihiro Nagoshi also spoke about the various difficulties Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio encountered when developing the game. We’ve detailed that in another article.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon will launch sometime in 2020 in the west. You can read more on the game through our previous coverage. We have details on the story, returning characters, and the various JRPG parodies, how the game parodies Dragon Quest‘s Puff Puff, some gameplay, details on the Persona-like friendship system, comments from the producers, and how the series will go back to action if this game doesn’t sell. B sure to check out our playthrough of the demo as well.