Despite celebrating its 15th anniversary last year, the Yakuza series has only blown up in western popularity in recent years thanks to the releases of Yakuza 0 in 2017 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon in 2020. Both titles act as unique entry points to Sega’s beloved open-world action series, inviting fans into the city of Kamurocho. In Japan however, the Yakuza series has been the inspiration of a bevvy of spin-offs, many of which have never been localized, such as Yakuza: Black Panther, which has just received a fan-translation almost 10 years after its Japanese release.
Yakuza: Black Panther (or Kurohyo: Ryu Ga Gotoku Shinsho) is an anomaly among Yakuza games, as it is the franchise’s first of two portable entries, being exclusive to the PlayStation Portable along with its sequel. Furthermore it is the first ever entry not to star Kazuma Kiryu as the main protagonist, predating Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Judgment by almost a decade.
Yakuza: Black Panther stars Tatsuya Ukyo, a young delinquent who is forced into Kamurocho’s dark underworld after being accused of killing a high-ranking yakuza captain. The game was released on September 22nd, 2010 and was even produced and designed by Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi. In 2012, the game spawned a sequel in the form of Yakuza: Black Panther 2 – Ashura Chapter and a TV drama adaptation airing only a month after its release.
The fan translation of the game comes courtesy of a small group of translators working on the project on and off since 2014, with updates slowing down throughout the years. Unfortunately, the fan translation of the game is incomplete, only covering the main story of the game from start to finish. This means that the game’s sub-stories, which contain many of the Yakuza series’ most memorable moments, remain untranslated. The creators of the translation also claim that there are no plans to translate this content in further updates, however fan guides to exist online that translate much of the Japanese dialogue from these sub-stories.
While it is unfortunate that this fan translation may never see a full completion, this remains the only way to experience the story of Yakuza: Black Panther in English. Sega has been doing an excellent job with bringing the remaining entries in the series over to western territories in recent years, meaning we may yet see these games ported to PlayStation or Xbox with English translations in the future, hopefully along with Yakuza: Ishin and Yakuza: Kenzan. The hard work of these translators allows fans to access the entire story of this black sheep of the Yakuza franchise from start to finish and hopefully motivates Sega to bring these games back either in the form of a remastered collection, or given the full Kiwami treatment some time soon.
Yakuza: Black Panther is currently available for PSP exclusively in Japan.