Below is an interview from pages 30 and 31 of Weekly Famitsu No. 1225 (6/2/2012) with Yakuza 5 producer Toshihiro Nagoshi and scriptwriter Masayoshi Yokoyama. Gematsu covered details from the interview and its accompanying preview earlier this week. Below is the full transcript.
— The formal announcement of Yakuza 5: Granter of Dreams has been made. Could you tell us a little more about the name of this title?
Nagoshi: Since the title has to do with the basis of the game’s theme, I’d like to refrain from explaining it in detail. But “dream” is a big keyword for this game. All the fans should imagine what the game entails starting with that word.
Yokoyama: I think there are a lot of things you could perceive just by mentioning the word “dream”. It has a positive connotation like a dream coming true, but there is other side of it as well, like going down a bad path in the pursuit of a dream. Oppositely, one might take charge in order to regain the dream they lost. Please pay attention to how the main characters relate to this keyword, “dream”.
— It seems that the release period for this title is finally confirmed.
Nagoshi: The plan is for the title to release in December. Originally in the initial stages of the series the release period was going to be the end of the year, but we are producing until the contents are satisfactory. As a result of struggling to get a new work prepared for all the fans as quick as possible, this time period was decided on.
— Mr. Yokohama, you worked not only as a producer, but also had a hand in the scenario writing as well. What can you share about the storyline of Yakuza 5?
Yokoyama: You’ll understand the content introduced in this title when you witness it first hand. The stages take place in 5 large cities, where episodes of the 5 main characters unfold. The roles of the characters regarding their power in conjunction with the structures of each of these cities was drawn out carefully. Each character experiences things they’ve never known before, they are confronted with trouble that not even their power or conviction can resolve. The episodes are designed to raise a new outlook on humanity to the surface.
Nagoshi: As far as the scenarios go, they’re what you’d expect from a Yakuza title, but the content is of an unprecedented scale. I requested to Mr. Yokoyama that I wanted to send a strong message. There were two points we used to raise the scale, but taking my aim into consideration, he finished the scenarios dynamically.
— In our last interview (published December of 2011), I was insistent on talking about the 5 cities. How has the development progress been since then?
Yokoyama: This time the details of all the introduced cities will be elaborated upon the same as Kamurocho. Just as expected, it takes a lot of work, but the production is going along smoothly. Also regarding Kamurocho, I want to up the level of the street play, so that you can access the shops from the exterior and be able to play within them as well. The new cities follow the same system design, but given the volume and quantity, the standard for the street play is incomparable to the past titles. Considering the amount of drama as well, there’s no mistaking that this title has the largest volume of content so far.
Nagoshi: Though it was made difficult by the restrictions of the development time period, improvements were applied to everything, even the program screen. For example, the transition from the adventure mode to battle mode and after a battle to the next scene streams smoothly. Since the play time is undoubtedly increased, it’s important for the game to play smoothly. It’s stressful for the player if the environments aren’t comfortable to play in.
— This time there are 5 main characters being introduced. Many fans were surprised to see Haruka’s role, just to be sure I’d like to ask, will Haruka be appearing as an operational character?
Yokoyama: That’s the case. That was a really big challenge. She’s a girl with a strong heart, so as a main character we weren’t hesitant to include Haruka. However, we had to think a lot about the spots where she would become operational.
— When you mention the Yakuza series, the invigorating brawl type battles are a major characteristic of it…
Yokoyama: Since I’ll talk about how Haruka deals with battle situations later, please wait until then. What I can say at this stage, is that you don’t merely wander the streets, but there is also a feature where you can play with the other main characters.
— We’re looking forward to that. By the way, what sort of person is the newly appearing character Tatsuo Shinada?
Yokoyama: He’s a different type of person compared to the familiar Kiryu and Saejima. He’s weak, and whenever he thinks he’s in a dangerous spot he runs from it. Generally speaking, he’s a shady flake. (Laughs.) He’s not really the type to be a main character, but there is a hidden sense of conviction within him. I think he’s the sort of main character that many players, particularly males, could sympathize with easily.
— I’m looking forward to how he relates with the existing characters. By the way, where does Yakuza 5 stand amidst the series? Is there a relation with Yakuza: Dead Souls?
Nagoshi: Dead Souls was a spin off, though the settings are different, think of it the same as the Yakuza Kenzan! title. Yakuza 5 follows the story from Yakuza 4. Incidentally, there was a moment that I thought I’d put an end to the system established so far in Dead Souls. Although in that sense, it wasn’t an official title, however I could make Yakuza 5 into a “new type of Yakuza”.
Yokoyama: My thoughts when development started was, “This time we’re making a new Yakuza.” This was the very first thing I told the staff. To develop new play structures depending on the business the 5 main characters are involved in within their 5 cities, I knew that it wouldn’t be realized if we didn’t have the spirit and preparedness to take on such a task.
— Just talking about it has us excited. Finally, do you two have a message for the fans?
Yokoyama: We’re sorry to have kept the fans waiting, but we’re happy to finally show you a glimpse of what we’ve been working on. It’s not our intention to create a direct sequel of Yakuza 4. Our idea was to provide a new Yakuza that transcended the expectations and imaginations of our fans. I want fans to exclaim in surprise at what we’ve done, then afterward be pleased with the contents we’ve created. I’m confident that everyone will be surprised at our next follow up report, so please look forward to it. (Laughs.)
Nagoshi: Though until now we took development time on 2 titles outside of the numbered titles, the truth is Yakuza 5 is challenging, and it wouldn’t be possible without those 2 titles. There are still more production hardships to come, but the development staff will continue to persevere with high levels of motivation, and I believe that we’ll put all our energy toward dashing beyond the goal. The title we’re completing offers a lot of fresh surprises, without watering down the “exciting human drama” that is the essence of the Yakuza series, so please keep anticipating it.