Yakuza 4 changes the narrative structure of the series by focusing not on one badass wandering the streets of Kamurocho, but four. "The decision to take the multi-character narrative approach was to challenge ourselves with new storytelling devices to enhance our game design," Noguchi told Joystiq. In addition to breaking up the story, it also allows for varied combat mechanics, a benefit that will carry over into Of The End. "In the case of Ryu Ga Gotoku: Of The End, we have main characters who specialize in the use of certain types of weapons."
In addition to the storytelling structure, Sega made big changes to the localization plan for Yakuza 4. Fans complained about excised content in Yakuza 3, including minigames taking place at hostess clubs in which you interact with, and eventually date, the hostesses. The hostess clubs are intact in the Western release of Yakuza 4, and the localization is noticeably more thorough elsewhere, with the team even going so far as to translate ads for items and services that don't exist outside of Japan, like Mobage Town and Ameba Pigg.
By the way, I'm not sure if you caught it, but I even changed the name of Haruka's dog back to the Japanese original.- Yasuhiro Noguchi
"When I took on the project," Noguchi told us," I reviewed the Yakuza franchise history in the West as well as the valuable feedback we received from our fans on Yakuza 3. Based on consultations with the Yakuza team in Japan, we decided to bring a more complete localization that was more faithful to the source material."
Noguchi also took the opportunity to make some updates to the translation practices used throughout the whole series. Notably, where protagonist Kazuma Kiryu was referred to in the English-language Yakuzas 1, 2, and 3 as "Kazuma," here he's referred to by his surname, Kiryu. "It was a subtle change that I fought for to 'de-Westernize' certain aspects of the legacy localization changes from Yakuza 1," Noguchi explained. The other three all use their surnames exclusively in conversation, so "given the context, it would have been awkward if Kiryu was the only one that went by his first name." One NPC, an information broker, is known in the Japanese games as "Sai no Hanaya" (roughly "Florist of Purgatory") due to his habit of sending flowers along with information. He was renamed "Kage" (Shadow) in the American versions, but is mostly called "Florist" in the new game.
"By the way," Noguchi added, "I'm not sure if you caught it, but I even changed the name of Haruka's dog back to the Japanese original." And so "Rex" is now the much more Japanese-sounding "Mame." A dog's name is a minor detail compared the presence of glitzy clubs full of overly made-up hostesses or an effectively renamed main character, but it's evidence of care nonetheless.
So, you've read this far -- why leave empty-handed?
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