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Sega releasing Yakuza HD collection coming later this year

Sega’s financial woes are especially sad considering how the company has turned itself around the past four years in terms of publishing great games. There was a dark period last decade when Sega became synonymous with lazy licensed games and crappy Sonic the Hedgehog sequels only, but it’s output since 2008 has been laudable. Platinum titles like Vanquish, excellent arcade-style downloadables like Afterburner: Climax, and even Sonic games like Sonic Colors are the works of a solid publisher. The crown jewel of course has been the Yakuza RPGs on PlayStation 3.

Sega’s new policy of pursuing more digital re-releases rather than new games is lamentable but it does have one benefit: The little played PlayStation 2 games Yakuza and Yakuza 2 may get a second shot at finding an audience outside Japan.

Andriasang reported on Friday that a listing for Yakuza 1&2 HD Edition appeared on Sega Japan’s upcoming release schedule. The collection’s release date was December 1, right around when Sega plans to release Yakuza 5 on PlayStation 3 The listing was promptly removed from the site.

Sega is embracing the business of digitally releasing HD remasters of its classic games. Jet Set Radio HD is due out later this summer in fact. Sega has yet to start giving the treatment to PlayStation 2 titles. The Yakuza games are ideal candidates.

Whether these new editions will see the light of day in the U.S. depends on how willing Sega is to localize the games. If the re-releases receive the sort of in-depth HD makeover that other games have received, a great deal of work will need to be done to accommodate the U.S. editions of both games. Yakuza 2 was largely unmodified from its Japanese release, but the U.S. version of the original was drastically different. The effort of even reprogramming all the English text from the localized versions into the new HD remasters may be more expensive than it’s worth for Sega.

Localizing the Yakuza games has worked out for Sega though. Yakuza 3 sold well enough upon release in 2010 that Sega was willing to bring Yakuza 4 over in 2011 and with its content completely unedited no less. 2012’s Yakuza: Dead Souls however reportedly didn’t sell as well. The failure of both that game and the Yakuza team’s shooter Binary Domain to find an audience here might discourage Sega from spending the money.

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