Yakuza: Like A Dragon Localisation Breaks The Fourth Wall For A Unique Joke

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Yakuza: Like A Dragon Localisation Breaks The Fourth Wall For A Unique Joke
Screenshot: Sega / devilleon7

Video game localisation is a balancing act of preserving the original language’s meaning while also making sure it’s understandable for a wider audience. In one unusual example, Sega’s localisers faced a tricky situation trying to localise an NPC who already spoke English for the Western version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Yakuza is full of minigames and side-quests, many of which have little to do with the gang-related activities implied by the franchise’s name, and Like a Dragon is no exception. One such mission involves a foreigner asking Japanese main character Ichiban Kasuga for directions in English. But rather than changing the language the NPC speaks in the English dub to something non-English, the localisers decided to have a little fun with the player.

“So, part one is taking him and ramping up a little bit of that ‘American man in foreign country,’” Sega of America localisation producer Scott Strichart explained as he showed Ichiban breaking the fourth wall during a recent Xbox broadcast. “That little turn to the camera and acknowledgement that this is English-on-English, you don’t get that in the Japanese version. We specifically created that whole animation for the English version.”

For reference, this is how the Like a Dragon scene plays out if the game’s language is set to Japanese. The man asking Ichiban for directions is more polite, and there’s no winking nod to the player:

“This is one of those things that when it came around on the screen, people were gathering around my desk like, ‘How are you going to do this?’” Strichart said.

“It’s very rare that the localisation team gets access to the ability to actually change the way the game works to make it work better with an English localisation,” Sega of America director of production Sam Mullen added.

While the changes made to the NPC’s voiceover are funny — the “speaking slowly so a non-English speaker understands me” microaggression is way too common in real life — I don’t know if the rest of the joke lands very well. But just like the battle menu changes we reported back in August, this is a cool example of how Sega’s localisation team is going beyond simply translating Yakuza: Like a Dragon into English for the Western release.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon lands on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on November 10, with a PlayStation 5 launch scheduled for March 2, 2021. Saves on the current PlayStation will not transfer to the new one.

Comments

  • Micro-aggression: An aggression so small that you’re not sure if its an actual aggression. (Hint: Its not) He could have just been having trouble with people understanding him and asking him to talk slower, so it could be his default setting.

    Now a passive aggression would be taking a dig at all people who have suffered this misfortune by writing an article about it.

    • Except that you’ve taken a term that has a specific meaning, split it out and redefined it in order to fit your own straw man, then sat back and contemplated how clever you are. Well done, well done.

    • I’m… so-rry, buuut, I dooon’t th-ink that youuuuuu ful-ly un-der-stand how pa-tro-ni-sing it can beeee if some-one thinks thaaaat the on-ly way to get throooough to youuuu is to slow-ly ta-alk to youuuuu. It makes it seeeeeem like they thiiiink you muuuust be soooome kind of id-i-ot.

  • I thought the general translation trick for “English speaker in a Japanese language game” was to make them French? This is too subtle and even with the explanation it doesn’t really make any kind of sense.

    Anytime I see this kind of thing though my mind always goes to that one Azumanga scene.

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