Tag Archives: judgment

The Curse Of The Yakuza Games

The Yakuza games and their spin-offs have long starred some of Japan’s biggest celebrities. Now that some of those celebs have ended up in trouble, there are rumblings of a Yakuza curse. Dun dun dun.

Earlier this year, actor and musician Pierre Taki, who appeared in the Yakuza spin-off Judgment, was picked up on drug charges. The arrest resulted in Sega removing him from the game and Sony Music terminating his band’s contract. Taki isn’t the only celebrity in a Yakuza game (or its spin-offs) ending up in trouble. He isn’t even the only one this year! Perhaps there is a reason why it’s now being said that the Yakuza games are cursed.

According to website Re:Geinou, there are rumblings of a Ryu ga Gotoku no noroi (龍が如くの呪い) or “Yakuza curse”, with Ryu Ga Gotoku being the Japanese name for the Yakuza games.

Last year, actor Hiroki Narimiya was replaced in the Yakuza 4 remaster. In late 2016, he was photographed allegedly using cocaine, causing the actor to announce he was leaving the entertainment industry. But the most recent celebrity to fall victim to the Yakuza’s nefarious power is comedian Hiroyuki Miyasako, who lent his voice fo Tsuyoshi Kanda in Yakuza 3 and played Tsuyoshi Nagumo in Yakuza 6 (above).

Miyasako came under fire for appearing at a party held by a rather unsavory group of people. In Japanese, this sort of group is known as a hanshakaiteki seiryoku (反社会的勢力), which is typically translated as an “anti-social organization.” These groups are fraudsters, attempting to swindle folks out of money. They can be members of organized crime groups known as bouryokudan (暴力団), literally meaning “violent group” but colloquially referred to as yakuza. They can also be connected to those criminal organizations or be their own independent group. In short, they’re the kind of thing you’d see in Sega’s popular crime games.

Miyasako was one of over ten comedians who appeared at an event hosted by an anti-social organization. Also included in those comedians wrapped up in the scandal is Yoshinari Fukushima, who was Mr. Moneybags in Yakuza 0.

At first, Miyasako said he didn’t know that such a group was hosting the event and that he was not paid for attending. However, it was later revealed that he had been paid. The fee he received would, thus, be considered dirty money. His talent agency, the powerful Yoshimoto Kogyo, has temporarily banned Miyasako from appearing on any TV shows. The future of Ame Talk, the long-running variety show he co-hosts, seems uncertain as sponsors no doubt have concerns about Miyasako’s accepting payment from a criminal enterprise.

Considering how many celebrities are in the Yakuza games and considering the historical connection between the entertainment business and illegal activities, Yakuza’s track record isn’t too bad. As with Madden, I don’t really believe there is a curse. However, I will not be surprised when more of its stars run into trouble. You shouldn’t be, either.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Creator Of Yakuza And Judgment Brutally Owned My Haircut

At E3, I had an opportunity to sit down with Toshihiro Nagoshi, chief creative officer of Sega and the director of both the Yakuza games and the upcoming not-exactly-a-spinoff game Judgment for a half an hour. Basking in the chance to ask my personal favorite industry luminary anything I wanted, I of course inquired about jackets and haircuts.

Toshihiro Nagoshi has done just about everything a person in the video game industry can do. Seriously, look at his credits on Moby Games. Sitting down and talking to him is like sitting down and talking to the history of the Japanese video game industry. He was a game designer on Daytona USA. He was the producer of F-Zero GX. He directed Super Monkey Ball. He’s done 3D art. He’s written stories. In recent years, he’s most famous as the producer of the Yakuza series. The Yakuza team’s new game, Judgment, comes out tomorrow.

On the one hand, with E3 happening loudly outside the paper-thin walls of our interview booth, I felt the urgent need to extract newsworthy sound bites from this man.

On the other hand, at some point between producing F-Zero GX and conceiving the Yakuza series, Toshihiro Nagoshi became my personal style icon. In other words, he terrifies me.

I don’t say this facetiously. I first met Nagoshi at the Nintendo booth at E3 2003. This was a year before Reggie and the Nintendo DS. Nintendo’s big draws that year were The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures on the Gamecube and a beautiful deluxe cabinet of F-Zero AX, the arcade counterpart of F-Zero GX. I was lucky enough to enjoy a half-dozen races in AX’s big, loud, tilting, twirling cockpit with minimal line waiting in between go-rounds. It was a simpler time.

At one point, I noticed Toshihiro Nagoshi himself standing by, watching attendees play the game. It would be released in a little over a month. I was a bigger weirdo then than I am now, so I walked right over and told him I loved Daytona USA. We talked for several minutes. Somehow, despite my being a weirdo, looking like a scumbag, and speaking pretty bad Japanese, my kind words about Daytona, Super Monkey Ball, and F-Zero must have entertained him enough to earn me his business card and a casual invitation to “get a drink sometime” when we were both back in Tokyo.

I emailed him exactly once. I said, “Hey, I’m the American guy who loved F-Zero and Daytona.” He replied before the end of the day. He said I could stop by Sega’s office any time and play more F-Zero if I wanted. I never took him up on it, probably because I have no self-esteem and assumed he was just being polite.

The next time I met Nagoshi, it was at Tokyo Game Show 2005. My friend Brandon Sheffield, then editor-in-chief of Game Developer magazine, had booked an interview with him on the subject of his upcoming game Ryu ga Gotoku—the first Yakuza game, which Sega PR was translating at the time as “Like a Dragon.” A localization of the game had not been announced as of September of 2005, though Brandon and I shared similarly curious tastes, so we had wanted to talk to Nagoshi about it. Sega PR obliged.

I hadn’t seen Nagoshi in person in two years. The man who appeared before us looked like he’d been through a wringer of reality television makeover shows. He looked like there’d been a whole season of Queer Eye with just him on every episode. The guy had transformed. As I squinted at his brilliance, I struggled to recall the blown-away afterimage of the man from two years previous. He’d been wearing a suit. The suit had been gray. His hair had been long. He had looked like a friendly game developer. The guy who sat before us in 2005 looked like he drove Lamborghinis on the beach.

He answered our questions matter-of-factly.

Brandon Sheffield had been drinking. Not that day, per se, though he’d been drinking so consistently that week that it’s impossible to say he was clear of the wicked influence when Nagoshi began taking our questions. By the end of the long, cold interview, whatever weird urge remained nauseating at Brandon’s core had evidently bubbled up. Brandon, no doubt seeking for some visceral reaction or another out of the man, produced a digital camera from his backpack.

“So Ryu ga Gotoku has Don Quijote in it, right?”

“Yes,” Nagoshi said.

“We love Don Quijote,” Brandon said. We were referring, of course, to the large, always-open, impossible-to-navigate, everything-selling chain of Tower-of-Babel-like Tokyo department stores. They are roguelike-made-architecture.

“We love the theme song,” I offered.

Nagoshi nodded in agreement.

“We also love the store,” Brandon said.

Nagoshi nodded again.

“It’s itsudemo manzoku fushigina janguru,” I said, quoting the store’s theme song.

Nagoshi nodded.

“It’s nandemo sorotta benri na omise,” Brandon said.

Again, Nagoshi nodded.

I quoted another line from the theme song in a casual speaking cadence. Again, Nagoshi nodded stone-facedly.

“Here is a video of us enjoying Don Quijote,” Brandon said. He flipped his digital camera around. Playing on the tiny screen was a video of myself and Brandon Sheffield, each of us wearing a different suburban mall’s Halloween store’s approximation of a business suit, dancing a garish twist in front of the Kabukicho Don Quijote the previous night as the store’s theme song bellowed from an unseen boombox. At the time, Brandon had been very drunk; I had no such excuse. Let’s not even talk about the innocent passerby who Brandon had begged to shoot the video.

Nagoshi stared at the video for thirty seconds. His lips pursed for one moment. I distinctly recall his eyes tentatively narrowing for a fraction of a second as though in the tremor before a grin. No such grin came.

Naruhodo,” he said. (“Ah. I see.”)

Fourteen years later, at E3 2019, I summarized this to Nagoshi as “I met you once, at E3 2003. Then I met you again in 2005. You—of all the people in the video game industry, I think you have the best sense of style.” The compliment worked: he spoke, uninterrupted, about his clothes-buying habits for a full eight of my allotted thirty minutes. If you pause this video at just the right moment, you can see me wishing I’d just flat-out sincerely complimented his outfit back in 2005.

Nagoshi at E3 2019 was every bit as fashionable as he has been since 2005. He spoke of his work like a proud parent. He smiled and laughed many, many times during our interview. Especially at my final question, for which I asked him what I should do with my hair.

As the video shoot concluded and producer Matthew Reyes and I were putting away our camera gear, Nagoshi came to me smiling. He had his phone in his hand. “Look at this,” he said.

I froze. Oh my god. Was he about to show me a video of himself dancing a dainty twist in front of the Kabukicho Don Quijote? Had my career come full circle? Was I about to literally die of incredible shock?

He turned the phone around. It was LINE messenger. The name at the top of the chat was “Kimura-san.”

“I told Takuya Kimura about our interview,” he said.

I read Nagoshi’s most recent message.

“I met an American in Los Angeles who knows a lot about your dramas.”

Takuya Kimura had replied: “That’s great!”

So, in summary: I’m basically best friends with Takuya Kimura now.

If you check out this video, you will hear Nagoshi talk about his work, how the tonal differences between Judgment and Yakuza inform the depths of the game design, the decision to collaborate with the superstar-famous actor Takuya Kimura, his personal fashion philosophy, and the challenge of designing the exact jacket a real former lawyer-turned-tough guy detective would wear on the streets of Tokyo in 2018. Also, you will hear him brutally own my haircut. (By “brutally own,” I mean he was polite and constructively critical, which my low self-esteem requires me to consider brutal ownage.)

Note: this video interview has been edited for length, clarity, my haircut’s dignity, and to make me look like slightly less of an idiot.

By the way! You could subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you like videos like this.

There’s even a playlist of all my other videos. Wow!

Source: Kotaku.com

The Intro To Judgment, The Yakuza Team’s Latest Game, Is Perfect For Its Detective Soap Opera Vibe

Judgment, out tomorrow for Playstation 4, is the latest game from the makers of Yakuza, and it thrusts players into the shoes of a stylish private detective trying to solve a violent murder. One of Judgment’s greatest strengths is how much it leans into its television influences in order to craft a mood worthy of a Netflix series.

In Judgment, players follow the story of Takayuki Yagami, a once-successful lawyer turned detective. Yagami tags along on an investigation in the neon-lit district of Kamurocho as a major yakuza boss is accused of a violent murder. Judgment devotes a small portion of its opening to establishing the characters and sneaking in a few fights and detective moments to give players a sense of what’s to come. The real star is a television-worthy opening song that helps set a clear tone. It’s modern, it’s got some pop bite, and it’s done in the style of a midday soap opera or procedural.

The opening sequence features each character, with both their English and Japanese voice actors credited, passing through a white void before fading into smoke. This is interspersed with ominous cuts to syringes, masks, and scales. You know, because justice. The song, Arpeggio, is a mixture of moody guitar and triumphant pop energy. The Yakuza series has always felt a bit like gaming’s soap opera, with grand betrayals and broad character arcs. Judgment takes place in the same fictional city, and leans even further into television drama moodiness. Be it casting famous Japanese icon Takuya Kimura as Yagami or starting each new chapter with a reprise of ‘Arpeggio,’ Judgment wears its influences on its sleeve.

This is an incredibly smart decision. While many games chase after film language and technique, Judgment would rather capture the feel of television. The result is a much more digestible game than your average 50-hour AAA epic. It’s easier to break Judgment down into parts, treating each encounter like a single episode of an overarching season-long plot. This is the episode where Yagami interrogates the yakuza boss Hamura; this is the one where he sneaks into a crime organization’s office complex. Here’s the episode where he meets his love interest again. Judgment hits the feels of slightly overproduced television drama, and the result is a game that’s more approachable than many of its peers.

Judgment’s stylish opening and episodic nature also makes it easier to embrace some of the more absurd side-quests and world activities. The main plot might be focused on Yagami and his murder mystery, but this is a story about a place. The fictional district that Judgment takes place in, Kamurocho, takes a prominent role. Characters come and go, fading in and out of the player’s vision like the cast that bursts into smoke during the musical opening.

You can play Judgment like an RPG to marathon or even as an open world game to explore, but Ryu ga Gatoku’s poured tons of pulpy network charm that makes it easy to approach episodically. Yakuza is a fusion of crime film and dramatic stage operatics. Judgment is Phoenix Wright by way of Days of Our Lives.

Luke will have a full review of Judgment soon. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Week In Games: Let’s Go Make Another Mario

Perhaps the best-known game coming out this week is Super Mario Maker 2, a sequel much anticipated by many of us here at Kotaku, not to mention Mario fans everywhere. But that’s not the only cool game on the docket this week. There’s a Switch port of the original Devil May Cry, plus the 2019 remake of fighting game classic Samurai Shodown, and also, the long-awaited release of the English version of Judgment on PS4. And so much more!

Monday, June 24

  • Heavy Rain | PC
  • Azuran Tales: Trials | Switch
  • Devil May Cry | Switch
  • Horresco Referens | Mac, PC
  • And All Would Cry Beware! | Mac, PC

Tuesday, June 25

  • Samurai Shodown | PS4, Xbox One
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night | Switch
  • Judgment | PS4
  • Car Mechanic Simulator | PS4, Xbox One
  • Monster Jam Steel Titans | PS4, Xbox One
  • We. The Revolution | PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Super Neptunia RPG | Switch
  • World of Warcraft: Rise of Azshara | Mac, PC

Wednesday, June 26

  • Victorian Mysteries: Woman In White | PC

Thursday, June 27

  • The Sinking City | PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Furwind | Switch, Xbox One
  • War Tech Fighters | Switch, Xbox One
  • Sega Ages Virtua Racing | Switch
  • Sega Ages Wonder Boy: Monster Land | Switch

Friday, June 28

  • Super Mario Maker 2 | Switch
  • F1 2019 | PC, PS4, Xbox One

Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 2

  • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers | PC, PS4
  • Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered Edition | Switch
  • Apex Legends Season 2 | PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Will: A Wonderful World | PS4, Switch

Thursday, July 4

  • Stranger Things 3: The Game | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Friday, July 5

  • Sea of Solitude | PS4, Xbox One, PC

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Source: Kotaku.com

Sega Game Character Has A New Face Following Original Actor’s Drug Arrest

Sega’s crime thriller Judgment revealed the new face for the yakuza character Kyohei Hamura. The change was made after original actor Pierre Taki was arrested for alleged drug use. According to Sega, Taki’s replacement is not based on any real-life actor.

Taki was arrested in March for alleged drug use after investigators searched his car and residence based on tips. Although no drugs were found, a urine test turned up positive results for cocaine. Drugs are serious business in Japan, and Sega quickly announced that sales for the Japanese version of Judgment would be halted and Taki’s role would be replaced. (The game isn’t out in the rest of the world yet.) Sales prices for Judgment rose as a result. Taki, who also provides the Japanese voice for Frozen’s snowman Olaf, also had his voice removed from Kingdom Hearts III. A tweet today from Sega’s Ryu ga Gatoku Studio, the team behind the new game, showed the first look at Taki’s facial replacement.

Above is a comparison of Taki’s original performance and the digital replacement.

A representative for Ryu ga Gatoku Studios told Kotaku that Hamura was an original character not based on a real actor. Hamura’s voice-over work, which will feature a new actor, is not currently complete, they said. Judgment still features real actors’ likenesses in other lead roles, including actor and pop-singer Takuya Kimura as the private investigator Takayuki Yagami.

Taki’s not been completely erased., The game has been out in Japan since last December. Players who bought the game before Sega halted sales (like Kotaku’s Tim Rogers) experienced his performance as Hamura. Some playthroughs with Taki’s performance were uploaded to YouTube.

This is not the first time that drug allegations have led to changes in a game by Ryu ga Gatoku Studios. Last year, actor Hiroki Narimiya’s likeness was removed from an updated Yakuza 4, a game which was released in 2010, following allegations of cocaine use in 2016. Nariyama retired from the entertainment industry that same year.

Judgment’s worldwide release remains on track for June 25. It will feature both an English and Japanese audio tracks, but presumably no remnants of Taki’s performance.

Source: Kotaku.com