Following on from Ryu ga Gotoku 2 becoming a big hit, work on the next game began. But this time, they had a new problem: what platform to put the game on.
In November 2006, the next-gen console the PlayStation 3 was released. It allowed for a better gameplay experience, with beautiful graphics that the PS2 was incapable of and increased processing speed. The public expected that RGG3 would be released on the PS3. However, having only just been released, the PS3 was not yet in widespread use. There were those who worried that, were RGG3 to be released at this point, it would end with a large drop in sales. Having attained such favourable sales, the game could not stall now.
This brought up the topic of creating a spin-off before going ahead with an official sequel. They decided to create a story that deviated from the main series for the time being, and save a true sequel for when proliferation of the PS3 was higher.
Having so far worked on games for the PS2, the staff did not yet have the know-how to create a game on the PS3, with its advanced graphics. To lessen the burden of having to develop a game for a platform to which they were not used, they decided to move the setting from a red light district to a place that would be easier to create.
Ideas were put forth continually: a rural town, a prison, inside a house... But prisons or narrow houses would not let the beauty of the game's setting shine. That was when the idea to use a red light district from the Edo period came up. Were it set in the Edo period, unlike present-day towns, with their crowded buildings, buildings would be sparse. If they moved it to an out of the way area with nothing but fields, the workload the development staff had to shoulder would be lightened. On the other hand, the sight of an elegant prostitute strutting about matched with the PS3 and its new graphical capabilities. Combining the two, they selected the theme of the story of a master fencer set in Gion, Kyoto.
No one was happier about the decision for the next project than scenario writer Yokoyama, who is a big fan of period drama. Learning that they would be depicting the story of warriors who put their lives on the line in battle his eyes shone, writing with even more enthusiasm than usual.
But the development of Kenzan! came with its own hardships, unlike those of previous games.
Were it set in the present day, they could go right out and do research. But this time, the setting was Gion in Kyoto from centuries ago. Since they couldn't actually see it with their own eyes, gathering materials was tough. If it was set in the current time period, to some extent they could appropriate designs from earlier games for character costumes, but the characters would be wearing kimono. They would have to be designed and modelled from scratch.
Kenzan!, planned with the aim of reducing workload and labour costs, ultimately ended up taking just as much effort as the rest of the series.