Yakuza is a name that became known in western regions such as the United States, but in Japan it was traditionally called Ryu Ga Gotoku, which roughly translates to “Like a Dragon”. Now, with the announcement of three new Like a Dragon games, it appears that the Yakuza name has been permanently retired.
In a recent roundtable interview attended by IGN, RGG Studio President Masayoshi Yokoyama discussed moving away from the Yakuza title, explaining that the move was primarily tried with Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
“in [Yakuza 7]it was Yakuza: Like A Dragon, and so we figured out that if we suddenly launched this game out of nowhere without a Yakuza in it, people would be like, ‘What is this game? What’s going on with this?’…the response to the name Like A Dragon sounded Very well, so it gave us the confidence to take out ‘Yakuza’ and go straight ahead with Like A Dragon,” Yokoyama said.
When asked if there was an objective reason behind the change, Yokoyama replied that the name doesn’t really make sense in games like Ishin, set in the 19th century.
“[S]”It’s also wise, we’re talking about the criminal underworld, but we’re not talking about the yakuza, really,” Yokoyama said. “So it makes sense for us not to include it in the name. If we continued the dialect, we’d be Yakuza: Ishin! It’s not Yakuza: Ishin! That’s not what it’s about. So like a dragon: Ishin! It makes more sense.”
The name Yakuza is a name precursor from when the PS2 version of the series first arrived in the US, billed as “GTA in Japan”, it was initially a flop, but later found popularity thanks to Yakuza 0. For many fans, the name Yakuza has been around for a long time. It’s no longer relevant, but it was well established enough that it managed to survive.
The name change coincides with the dawn of a new era for RGG Studio as well, which has recently seen the departure of Toshihiro Nagoshi and several senior leaders. With Yokoyama now taking full charge, RGG Studio is preparing to release three new games in the series, including Like a Dragon 8 and Kazuma Kiryu focusing on a special called Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. In addition to the name change, RGG Studio is also looking into the possibility of converting the series to Unreal Engine 5.
The series’ next worthy game is Like a Dragon: Ishin, a samurai-themed remake of the spin-off set in 19th century Japan. You can read our full impressions of Like a Drago: Ishin here, with the release date set for February 2023.
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