The popularity of the Yakuza franchise has exploded in the United States over the last few years, but we’ve mostly been getting games in the main series. Japan, on the other hand, has enjoyed a fair few exclusive spin-offs since the first game launched in 2005, one of which just got a fan translation for English-speaking players.
Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō, or Yakuza: Black Panther as it’s known by fans outside Japan, was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2010. Instead of focusing on Kiryu Kazuma, Black Panther told the story of Tatsuya Ukyo, a street tough who is fooled into believing he is responsible for the death of a Yakuza captain and forced to enter the world of underground fighting to pay back the gangster’s family.
This spin-off was fairly popular in Japan and even got a live-action television series of the same name as well as a sequel, 2012’s Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura hen, also on the PSP.
A group of dedicated fans began translating Yakuza: Black Panther into English in earnest in 2014, centralizing most of their work on the GBAtemp forum. The project continued steadily until 2018, when updates from the team began to slow. Then, after over a year of radio silence, one of the team members returned last week with a patched version of the game. The link has since been removed, but the file is easy to find if you know where to look for such things.
That said, this isn’t a complete translation. While the small group of translators ensured that folks should be able to play through the main storyline from start to finish without any issues, the substories remain in Japanese. Sadly, the creators consider the project dead at this point, but a full written guide is expected from translator KHHsubs, much like those they produced for the Yakuza series’ samurai-era spin-offs Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan and Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin.
More Yakuza is always a plus, but Yakuza: Black Panther was also an important turning point for the franchise. While the main series would largely continue to revolve around Kazuma Kiryu’s action-packed life until last year’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, this PlayStation Portable game was proof that Kiryu wasn’t the only reason players flocked to the series. It’s great to see English-speaking players finally have a chance to experience Black Panther, even if in a somewhat limited capacity.