As previously reported, the new Yakuza game, Yakuza 0, has been announced. As you can probably guess from the number, it's a prequel.
Breaking the age-old video game rule that the third game in a series is always a prequel, Yakuza 0: The Promised Place (龍が如く0 誓いの場所) is the sixth numbered Yakuza game. The story will take place in 1988, 7 years before the events that eventually lead to the story of the first Yakuza game.
So far, according to information revealed in Weekly Famitsu, the game will feature a 20-year-old Kazuma Kiryu and a 24-year-old Goro Majima. However, unlike in previous games, where Kiryu has been portrayed as stoic, dark, and brooding, and Majima has been the rambunctious, violence-driven nutter, in Yakuza 0, their younger personas will have a role-reversal, with Majima as a serious, code-honoring business-owner, and Kiryu as a loose-cannon hot-head. ("Prequel Kiryu is so dreamy." –Luke Plunkett)
"One of the big features of Yakuza 0 is seeing how the characters grow and experience to become the characters they are in the original Yakuza." chief producer Masayoshi Yokoyama said in an interview. "Right from the start, there will be scenes that will have players thinking, 'How could THE Kazuma Kiryu do something like that!?'"
1988 was a time when Japan was reaching the peak of its bubble economy, a time when people had money to spend, and spend it they did. The developers of Yakuza 0 are making the game reflect the atmosphere of the time. "It's a time when the economy was thriving and the air was the opposite of what it is now." series producer, Toshihiro Nagoshi remarked. "Nobody had a problem spending money and they had more spirit in them. But if you were to ask if they were richer in heart than they are today, that's not exactly the case. It was a rather strange era."
According to both Nagoshi and Yokoyama, the story of Yakuza 0 has been something they've been wanting to make ever since developing Yakuza 2, but due to the growth of the series and the switching of platforms from the PS2 to the PS3, they never got around to doing it until now.
For the marketing of the latest game, the producers have decided to go back to their original design of the first Yakuza game. "I believe that when we focused on older male gamers as our target audience for Yakuza 1, it proved to be quite fruitful." Nagoshi said. "As the series has progressed, while the main focus hasn't changed, the target audience has slowly expanded. For Yakuza 0, we are looking to reset that." That would explain the porn stars...