The Yakuza series might be taking a break after Kiryu's final adventure in Yakuza 6, but there's still more Yakuza action in the future. The next title is the spinoff, Judgment. It brings together the classic Yakuza gameplay with detective investigation elements; it's still Kamurocho, but it's a little different.
Sega's localization team is trying something new for Judgment. In addition to the Japanese and English audio tracks, the game will come with two subtitle tracks. One will mirror what the English dialog is saying, while the second set of subtitles will be a more faithful translation of the Japanese audio. Not only is it rare for a Yakuza game to get an English audio track, having two english subtitle tracks is almost unheard of.
"No matter which audio language you select, you’re getting a subtitle track specifically crafted to that language, and we’re one of the first games ever to offer that," said Yakuza localization producer Scott Strichart in a post on the official PlayStation Blog. "We took a base translation and then pushed it out into two different directions for Japanese audio and English audio. The Japanese audio got our traditional 'Yakuza' pass, listening intently to each line and crafting the dialog to suit it. The English script was written for actors to perform it, with more of a focus on making sure it sounded like things people would actually say in English."
So Sega localized all the dialog in Judgment twice, something Strichart noted is a big task because of the amount of text. The team worked hard to make sure that both versions are accurate in conveying the feeling intended by the development team.
Sega released two trailers to show off the differences in the translation. The Japanese trailer includes the subtitles derived directly from the Japanese dialog, while the English trailer shows off the new voice dub. We've cut the Japanese trailer with visible subtitles together with the English audio, so you can see the difference without hopping back and forth between both. (Shown above.)
"What we’ve accomplished here feels like a pretty monumental achievement in game localization, and I hope you all are willing to give us feedback on if it ends up working for you, because it certainly wasn’t easy! I dream of a day that efforts like this will put the whole subs versus dubs debate to rest — both are valid ways to experience any media, as long as they’re both treated with equal care," said Strichart.
Judgment is coming to PlayStation 4 on June 25, 2018. Our own Caty McCarthy took an early look at the new spinoff, which she found to be " like a cornier Yakuza, perhaps emblematic of the J-Dramas it's inspired by." I'm looking forward to stomping through Kamurocho again, this time as a nimble gumshoe.