New Yakuza PSP Title Looks Impressive
While we all wait for Yakuza 4 to arrive, some fans are excited about an all-new Yakuza title that has been made exclusively for the PSP system. Japanese PSN users were delighted this week with the arrival of a free demo for Black Panther: New Yakuza. This PSP spin off features a new protagonist, a new graphical engine and some subtle tweaks to the formula, but overall it is the same great Yakuza experience fans have been enjoying on consoles. The full game is slated to launch in Japan on September 22.
In the short demo, we meet the new main character named Tatsuya and we are given free reign to wander a small part of the fictional setting of Kamurocho. The PSP game uses a clever mixture of pre-rendered scenes and 3D characters to create a graphically impressive experience that rivals the console games. Environments look lush and diverse, and the extra processor power given over to character models means that they can look as good as possible.
The combat engine, arguably the most important part of the Yakuza experience, remains intact. Tatsuya can kick, punch, grab, and perform special context-specific moves like slam enemies into objects.
There is also a new set of Hostess minigames on offer in Yakuza: Black Panther. Players can compete for the affection of the pretty bar girls by correctly remembering details about their personalities and completing quick-time events successfully. Not earth-shattering stuff, but a fun diversion from all the face-breaking.
We think that there is a 50/50 chance Yakuza: Black Panther will make it to North America. While the console games have only enjoyed niche popularity over here, the Yakuza franchise is an important one for Sega. The amount of care and attention that has gone into this PSP version means that it would be a shame not to localize it to as many markets as possible. On the other hand, Sony's strategy with the PSP in North America appears to be to target younger gamers. The blood, violence and hostesses of the Yakuza universe might not be compatible with this approach.
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