One of the big reveals from last week’s Tokyo Games Show was Like A Dragon 8, the next in what we’ve been calling the Yakuza series. Except the game didn’t seem to be following the naming convention of its predecessor Yakuza: Like A Dragon, instead ditching the part associated with the Japanese crime syndicate. The head of series developers Ryu Ga Gotoku, Masayoshi Yokoyama, has since confirmed the change in a recent interview (thanks IGN).
In Japan, the Yakuza series has always been known by the same name as its developer. Ryu Ga Gotoku basically translates to Like A Dragon. That’s why the last game had it in the title, and why the series is changing to that name for the future. It’s like when Resident Evil 7 was subtitled Biohazard, except we didn’t then see Biohazard Village happen. Thanks Capcom, I guess?
Yokoyama said that the response to Yakuza: Like A Dragon was good enough for RGG to consider dropping the Yakuza part at last. He didn’t feel that keeping the Yakuza name for the Western release of the studio’s next game, Like A Dragon: Ishin!, was right because it takes place in the 19th century, without the Yakuza themselves present. “So it just makes sense for us not to include them in the name,” Yokoyama said. “If we carry through the accent, we’d be Yakuza: Ishin! It’s not Yakuza: Ishin! That’s not what it’s about. So Like A Dragon: Ishin! makes more sense.”
Over in the West, we’ve been referring to RGG’s Kiryu-starring, Kamurocho-inhabiting action adventures as Yakuza for just a smidge more than 16 years now. It doesn’t really bother me that the name is changing, particularly as Like A Dragon sounds hella kewl. It’s just hard not to still call it Yakuza after this long. I’m sure we probably all will, at least for a few years. It helps that there’s a metric shedload of Yakuza-no-more games lined up, though.
First among Sega and RGG’s salvo of Kiryu is Like A Dragon: Ishin!, out in February. Then we’ve got Like A Dragon Gaiden sometime in 2023, followed by Like A Dragon 8 in 2024. You won’t even remember it was called Yakuza by the time the series’ 20th anniversary rocks up in 2025, I’ll bet.