The immensely popular beat ’em up game franchise, Like a Dragon, drew hordes of eager fans who patiently waited in the scorching sun, hoping for a chance to be among the fortunate few in the panel. Taking the stage were esteemed individuals: Hiroyuki Sakamoto (chief producer of the Like a Dragon series), Takaya Kuroda (Japanese voice of Kazuma Kiryu), Yong Yea (the new English voice of Kiryu), Kson (Vtuber and cabaret hostess in the Gaiden series), and the panel host, Jacki Jing. With no need for introductions, the panel delved straight into an exhilarating overview of the franchise.
Sakamoto passionately described the game as a captivating experience tailored for adults who yearn for something beyond the ordinary gaming realm. The inaugural game in 2005 showcased an iconic setting inspired by Japan’s Kabukicho red-light district and Shinjuku. He shared that the game’s perfect fusion of gripping drama and immersive gameplay had the power to transcend the boundaries set by conventional video games.
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However, this bold endeavor was initially met with skepticism, as it was deemed a gamble. Fortunately, through the power of word-of-mouth, the game attained resounding success, solidifying its position as an iconic intellectual property. The latest installment, Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, takes players on a thrilling journey, following the life of Kazuma Kiryu after the events of Like a Dragon. Additionally, it unravels the enigmatic origins behind his appearance in the Yakuza games.
Revealing the intriguing transition from a brawler to an RPG system, Sakamoto candidly disclosed that this decision faced staunch opposition, even from within their own team. He emphasized, “We concluded that the pinnacle of fun lies in playing RPGs, where you grow alongside your companions and triumph over adversaries.” To bring this vision to life, they needed a pilot video to crystallize their concept. However, this video unintentionally turned out to be so comical that they decided to release it on April Fools’ Day in 2019. Yet, it garnered such controversy that “it set everyone ablaze.” One of the foremost challenges encountered in the transformation to an RPG was designing an “easy-to-understand system that would be accessible to fans of previous action games, while retaining the intricate action-comedy elements of the past.” As expected, the most enjoyable aspects of the development process were the exhilarating fight sequences, which brought the game’s heart and soul to life.
People are rushing the stage for Kuroda. This is extremely dangerous because the stage cannot hold this weight pic.twitter.com/avdYBjxgmV— Kalai Chik (@kalai_chik) July 3, 2023
After a brief glimpse of the latest trailer, Kson shared the story of how she secured her coveted hostess role in the game. “I won the audition, but typically, I’m known for my comedic talent. In this dress, I tried my best to exude sensuality. I truly hope Kiryu falls for me,” she confessed.
Waves of screams and cheers reassured her that she was indeed adored, prompting Kson to jest into the microphone, “I heard Kuroda-san is single.” Amused, Kuroda responded, “That’s true, I am single.” Yong also recounted his audition experience, which surprised even himself. “I remember feeling like I focused too much on perfecting the voice, but the emotion just didn’t flow naturally,” Yea admitted. Fortunately, his second attempt proved successful, and weeks later, he received the thrilling news that he had landed the role. “I still can’t fully comprehend it. My mind is still processing all of this,” he confessed, while sharing his techniques for channeling the beloved Kiryu voice that fans have come to adore in the games.
The final segment of the panel centered around fan Q&A, with notable questions touching on the Amon Clan and Kuroda’s hypothetical alternative character. While Kuroda couldn’t envision anyone other than Kiryu, he playfully toyed with the idea of voicing Ichiban Kasuga, as he is the polar opposite of Kiryu, possessing a “wide range of emotions.” Sakamoto revealed that the Amon Clan was added at the end of production as a challenging boss encounter, designed to test players’ skills even after completing the main story.
“We squeezed it in right at the end. It was our first attempt at something like this, and it turned out to be a delightful treat for fans who have come this far,” Sakamoto explained. As for the assassin’s appearance, it drew inspiration from Golgo 13, as Sakamoto believed the teardrop glasses were crucial for that distinct visual. “Amon is a fun element, so he isn’t the type of character that would be extensively explored in a spin-off. Apologies for that.”
As the panel concluded, a surge of fans rushed onto the catwalk in hopes of securing autographs. The impulsive move threatened to overwhelm the stage, prompting staff members to urge caution as the guests made their exit. Despite the chaotic end to one of the most exhilarating panels at Anime Expo, the attendees in Petree Hall were able to express their unwavering passion for SEGA’s Like a Dragon franchise in various extraordinary ways.
Source | Twitter