When news spread that Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! was going to be remade for a global audience, fans were over the moon. The original game was released in 2014 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, but only for a Japanese audience. At the time, none of the other games in the series had had much popularity in the west. In 2017, however, that began to change, and now the studio has a two-year roster already planned out, including the 2023 remake, Like a Dragon: Ishin!. During an interview with Twinfinite, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio director Masayoshi Yokoyama talked a bit about this shift into a new era.
Especially in the case of popular trends, it’s always interesting to try to determine exactly what triggers a global phenomenon and when. For the Like a Dragon series, it was gradual. Despite having several games out already, the demands for a localization came specifically after the 2014 Like a Dragon: Ishin! according to Yokoyama. Right around that time, SEGA’s US marketing team added to the requests for a version of the game that could be played in the US.
Even with the initial buzz, it wasn’t until 2017 that the demand really grew as the game seemed to get more popular. The studio decided to listen but opted for a remake instead of localization. It had already been a few years, and there was better technology available, such as the Unreal Engine 4 that the game is being made with now. The remake will cater to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, but won’t leave out PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
In the interview, Twinfinite speculated about the game’s popularity specifically in regard to its use of Japanese history. They wondered if this remake will pave the way for more games set in historical times due to the West’s adoration for Japanese history. At this time, the team has no plans beyond the three games that they announced, but Yokoyama is also a fan of Japanese period settings. So maybe one day! He also says there are currently no plans for character spinoff games but in the sense that they haven’t thought much about it yet.
Another possibility that contributed to the sudden popularity in the West may have been subscriptions like Game Pass. The Like a Dragon series used to be PlayStation exclusive title but has since moved to be a multiplatform series. Yokoyama stated that though he can’t confirm, he suspects that the ability to play past games on subscriptions like Game Pass may have helped boost the increase in the Western audience.
Whatever the reason, fans are excited for several new titles coming their way. In 2023, Like a Dragon: Ishin! and the shorter Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name will both be released on all major platforms, minus Nintendo Switch, and in 2024, Like a Dragon 8 will be released. Lots to look forward to!