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When the Yakuza series made its Western debut, it did so with a big marketing splash. The gritty crime epic featured a celebrity-filled voice cast — including the ingenious casting of Mark Hamill as the wild yakuza Majima — and a deluge of print and TV ads. It didn’t really work, though. Despite eventually turning into a franchise with multiple sequels, the Yakuza games largely remained a niche outside of Japan. Hamill never reprised his role — later games all featured Japanese dialogue with English subtitles. Often the Western versions came out years after their Japanese counterparts.

The feeling around the series seems to be changing, though. Earlier this year saw the launch of the excellent prequel Yakuza 0, a perfect starting point…

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