Yakuza: Like A Dragon is out now, and the long-running Yakuza series now has a major revamp of its combat system. The tried-and-true action combat is replaced with a turn-based combat system, turning the seventh numbered entry (in Japan it’s called Like A Dragon 7) into a proper JRPG.
We can all point out and laugh that it was all revealed as an April Fools joke last year. But now we know that the shift to JRPG was not teased as joke, but rather, as a response to how well the joke went.
In an interview with Archipel, Ryu Ga Gotoku head Toshihiro Nagoshi explains how the genre shift happened. “Many people were assuming that we were already making an RPG at that point,” he said. “Actually, it was really something only made for April Fools Day. It was still an action game at the time.”
Nagoshi strives to add an element of surprise in his games, and for a series now celebrating its 15th anniversary, it’s understandable why. He previously half-jokingly telling his team to make an RPG, which led to the April Fools joke.
“From there, the video was positively received, we suddenly fully changed directions,” Nagoshi added, “We started making it an RPG.”
Yakuza: Like A Dragon first released in Japan early this January. So the switch to JRPG was made in the span of less than 9 months.
It’s crazy to think that the developers would willingly make a switch of a core gameplay component late in development, but they pulled it off. As our first impressions stated, it does work with the series, which was always a JRPG with action combat anyways.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is out now on PS4, PC (Steam), Xbox One and Xbox Series X, with the PS5 version coming in March 2021. However, there is no Japan (and Asia) release of the PC and Xbox versions right now.