Round Table: How we feel about Yu Suzuki bringing back Shenmue III

There are many questions about how Yu Suzuki would bring us Shenmue III. He has stated many times he just wants to end the series and now more than ever has been making headlines. First he suggested he wants to use crowd sourcing like Kickstarter and recently was spotted at GDC in talks with Sony (and former SEGA) employee Mark Cerny. Hit the jump to hear what we think of this whole thing in this week’s round table!



 “Yeah, I’m what you’d call one of those “Shenmue fans…” so by default, that means I believe that the series delivered two of the most incredible, daring, and ambitious games ever made when they released on Sega’s final system (and then, the Xbox). I’m really not sure it’s possible to have any sort of middle ground on the Shenmue games; either you dug them, or hated them. They were games that wore the passion, dedication, and heart that Yu Suzuki put into them right on their sleeves, and they were games that, for those who allowed ourselves to be swept away by them, delivered an experience that will never be forgotten. 

And that’s why it’s truly unfortunate that among much of the gaming industry today, the series seems to be remembered more for its unfinished cliffhanger ending than for anything else. 

Do gamers today even still know what Shenmue is? Do they have just as many great memories with the series as some of us do? When I think about it, Shenmue released in the West in 2000, almost at the tail end of the Dreamcast’s life as a competing console. I know people who are only a couple years younger than me who have never even seen a Dreamcast in person, let alone played Shenmue. If a Shenmue III were to be announced and released, how well would it do? And would it be even remotely possible for those who haven’t played parts 1 and 2 to jump in and enjoy it? 

In a sense, I almost hope Shenmue III, should it happen, doesn’t bother worrying about it. I think it’s pretty much a sure thing that Shenmue III will be the concluding installment in the series; with little chance of a 4th one, here’s hoping that Yu Suzuki doesn’t have to worry about selling enough copies to warrant it, and that as a result, it’s released, well, as a Shenmue game. Doing anything to alienate a fanbase who has been waiting over 10 years for this game shouldn’t even be an option should a Shenmue III be greenlit. 

That said, I do hope that it improves upon and evolves the formula, much like how Shenmue II did. I hope it ups the ante and delivers a game that’s as ambitious today as Shenmue was back then. But I don’t want Shenmue III to turn into Mass Effect In Asia. I don’t want the game to become something that it’s not, and was never meant to be. Shenmue III must remain a Shenmue game, and I hope, should the project happen with Sony’s help, that as much of the Shenmue series staff as possible will be on hand to preserve the legacy and make sure that Shenmue III is simply Shenmue III; which would be awesome….though maybe not the game that Sony’s marketing teams will want it to be.”

Barry the Nomad


“Of course I’m always up for a Shenmue III, but it needs to be done properly or not at all. I don’t want the rest of the story in a graphic novel format, or as an anime. What makes Shenmue so special is the unique gameplay experience, and being engrossed in the game’s world. To make a Shenmue in today’s world, Suzuki could go about it in a variety of ways, but not all are ideal. I’d hate to see a third game with the same graphics as seen in Shenmue I and II. The series has strived for realism, and I’d expect nothing less than the best that they can offer in that area. I like to use Virtua Fighter as an example of where I’d like Shenmue to be visually in the modern era. If Shenmue I is somewhere between Virtua Fighter 3 and 4, I’d like Shenmue III to be just a step above Virtua Fighter 5, if not on par with the eventual Virtua Fighter 6. 

As for the whole “Give Yu The Shenmue License” campaign, I gotta disagree. I’d want to see Shenmue III produced under SEGA, or at least with SEGA owning the license. I always loved the countless SEGA references in the first two games, and I can’t see a SEGA-less Shenmue III being as special. Who would develop it, anyway? Should Yu Suzuki have complete ownership of the license would it even be possible for him to develop a third on his own, or would another developer (EA? Square Enix? Sony?) even take the project on? By that point, SEGA would have screwed themselves over by giving Yu the license and losing the right to ever make the game themselves, or even profit off of any merchandise.”



“I have honestly never played Shenmue, as I don’t own a Dreamcast (I’m going to do something about that), and I refuse to play Shenmue II without having played the first game. So the only experience I have with it is watching the Game Grumps videos and when Bartman played the game on a Vidya Retro stream. So honestly, I probably wouldn’t buy Shenmue III unless SEGA re-releases the first two games so I can play them. (or if I’d play them on a Dreamcast, durr) I doubt that a Kickstarter for the game would work, as the budget would be too big for it to be successful. For comparison, the most successful gaming related Kickstarter was the Ouya, which brought up $8,596,474. And while that sounds like a lot, it’s probably not enough for a big retail game like Shenmue III.

So it won’t happen unless SEGA would be willing to spend the money or if another publisher would be willing to fund and publish it while SEGA still owns the license. I think that if Sony would want to publish it, the latter would be the best situation as they’d be able to keep the SEGA references in and have enough money to make it. Yes I know Sega Sammy has money to spend, I don’t know if they’d be willing to spend so much on a game that might not make that money back. I’m not too sure if Sony intends to publish it though. I don’t think I understand the video game industry enough to know if Mark Cerny could be the one to let Sony fund/publish the game. Setting money aside, I think it would be obvious that Shenmue III on a modern console would be more open world. They’d also need to fine tune a lot of the game mechanics, as a lot of them probably haven’t aged well. Also try to make it not too similar to Sleeping Dogs, else people might try to draw even more comparisons between the games. Not sure what else to say about this subject (except for this: PC version plz), as I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to Shenmue.”



“I think, like most people answering the question here, it all depends on the details. First of all, I agree with Barry on the fact that I don’t think Yu Suzuki should get the Shenmue license. Like he already stated, it wouldn’t be the same game without all the great SEGA references  But not only that, it wouldn’t be the same without the talent involved  Shenmue was a SEGA project, tons of great developers, music producers and others put their finger in the pie that would be known as Shenmue. 

Now, if Yu Suzuki announces a Kickstarter with a nice list of staff members that will join the development when the game is complete and the fact that SEGA will allow him to use their IPs in the game as references, I would be all aboard. Announce that Hiroshi Aso, Masahiro Yoshimoto, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, Yuzo Koshiro, and all the other great talents are back to work on the game; then you can have all my money. “


14 responses to “Round Table: How we feel about Yu Suzuki bringing back Shenmue III

  1. Hitrax says:

    I really can’t understand why everybody in the Shenmue related communities seem to be obsessed with the idea of a possible Shenmue III purely on the sight of Yu Suzuki seen with Mark Cerny at a developers conference, what significance does that have? They were in a developers conference, where developers meet other developers, and just because Mark Cerny did the architecture of the PS4, they automatically equate the two together as meaning that Shenmue III is on the horizon.
    Well, the simple fact is that it is not, and it’s best not to act like it is or will be very soon, because, as everyone has been doing since late 2001, they’ve suggested the next installment of Shenmue at least once a year, every year at every opportunity, and of course all it has led to is people being sorely disappointed time after time.

    I totally agree with Ben, it should stay true to what Shenmue was, as if it deviated away, then it is no longer Shenmue.
    Resident Evil 6 is a fine recent example of what happens to a respected franchise that gives into casual gamer pressure, and tries to appeal to all these Gears of War, Call of Duty and Battlefield players, it deviated away from the acceptable Resident Evil formula too much and lost sense of itself and hence, was no longer really Resident Evil, but a poor clone of a collective set of FPS’s and Action oriented titles, a jack of all trades, master of none. Although, maybe this is something to do with the fact that the producer whom created the franchise, Shinji Makami, was no longer at the helm after Resident Evil 4, and hence the franchise gradually fell in it’s established formulative quality.

    Also agree with Barry the Nomad on Shenmue staying as a SEGA franchise, it is after all Sega whom made it what it is, gave it the green light to exist in the first place and funded it, hence it is very much a Sega series. This is seen as part of the problem though, as Sega owns it, and are very reluctant to do anything with it anymore, some people believe Sega should just sell it and get rid of it’s ownership to another company likely to do more with it. It wouldn’t be the same if this happened.

    Another thing that many people seem to believe is that some Shenmue III should be the last game in the series. I remember reading in 1999 that the series was going to be set across 16 huge chapters, people were at that time thinking of it being a whole 16 game series, as if it was set to become to Sega what Final Fantasy is to Square, then as time went on, the idea became to bring it out as a 5 game series.
    Of course, after the performance of Shenmue I, the entirety of Chapter I alone, Yu Suzuki seemed to want to cut the series down to the most relevant sections only, the whole of Chapter II on the Boat over from Japan to Hong Kong was cut out for example, the rest of Shenmue II’s chapters were likely cut down and shortened too, and hence were considerably shorter than Chapter I’s.

    It’s a shame Yu Suzuki just wants to finish the series and get it done with like that, of course it would at least give a conclusion to the saga after those years, albeit a considerably shorter one, but I get the impression he’s fed up with it now and just wants to get it done to shut people up about it. Just to think of what Shenmue could have been, compared to how it really performed, it’s a bitter sweet memory.

    • Adam says:

      I strongly disagree that he “just wants to get it done”. Its more being realistic, its taken well over 10 years to try in vein to make the third one.
      Is it smart or realistic at all to think there could be a fourth? No ofourse not, he was to finish the story he started. In fact, the fact he still regulary talks about it to this days shows his passion to finish the series.

  2. cube_b3 says:

    Ryo was 18 and I was 14 when I playing Shenmue and therefore I had the opportunity to learn greatly from him example to this day I can reflect back on his example.

    Today, I am 25 by the time Shenmue comes out I could be 30 or older and I think Ryo needs to inspire the next generation therefore Shenmue needs to be rebooted.


    Lastly I don’t think Suzuki San can make Shenmue. 2 out of his last 4 games were cancelled and the ones that made it out were completely forgettable.

    At this point Suzuki San will have to prove himself all over again, rather than helm something so ambitious as Shenmue.

  3. Sniffs says:

    I don’t see Kickstarter as an option for Shenmue III. A large corporation like SEGA will never ask for money to fund a game like an indie studio would. And let’s say that Yu Suzuki starts a Kickstarter to somehow buy the license from SEGA – a game they invested massive amounts of money and resources on, what then? Does he start another Kickstarter campaign to fund the development? (Which will take millions of dollars to produce.) If people all over the world pay for the license that will cost millions to get, why will he own it all by himself? If he in some way manages to from a reunion with Shenmue’s main staff, where are they gonna work? Putting the development budget aside, forming a large studio is a massive investment in itself.

    I’m probably not saying anything new here, but the only 2 ways Shenmue III makes sense to me is if, A: AM2, the Yakuza team or some large branch at SEGA goes to work on it (hopefully with Suzuki and Shenmue I & II’s irreplaceable music team). Which seems a bit unlikely due to the huge undertaking Shenmue III’s development will be. With Shenmue III in development at SEGA, say goodbye to Virtua Fighter (and other AM2 arcade games) and Yakuza games for the next few years. In a business point of view, that’s not worth it for SEGA. Those games are the main reasons their main Japanese studios are still profitable.

    Or B: a big publisher funds the game, like Nintendo is doing with Bayonetta 2, while SEGA retains rights to the series. (And I agree with Hitrax, Suzuki and Cerny hanging out at GDC doesn’t mean anything, they’re old friends.) But Bayonetta 2 already had an available studio itching to work on it, Shenmue III might not. It’s hard to think of a worthy “work for hire” studio that will give the massive attention and care a Shenmue game needs.

    I agree with most of what Barry the Nomad, George and Ben wrote too. SEGA as a whole are inseparable to Shenmue. Yu Suzuki may be the only game designer ever to have his own logo, but he’s far from being the only reason Shenmue I & II (especially II) we’re so fantastic. And if Shenmue III will ever be made, it needs to ignore trends that are going around in video games and be true to itself and only itself. The fact that it’s still so special and unique is the reason we all still talk about it.

    Another thing I think is important in the event of a Shenmue revival is to retain the Japanese voice overs for all regions. Dump those awful English dubs in the trash and let people play in (mostly) well delivered Japanese with subtitles. It worked great for the PAL version of Shenmue II on Dreamcast, and It’ll save some money, too!

  4. Ben says:

    “Another thing that many people seem to believe is that some Shenmue III should be the last game in the series. I remember reading in 1999 that the series was going to be set across 16 huge chapters, people were at that time thinking of it being a whole 16 game series, as if it was set to become to Sega what Final Fantasy is to Square, then as time went on, the idea became to bring it out as a 5 game series.”

    Just to chime in here, I’m pretty sure that Yu Suzuki has said that it is possible to end Shenmue with Shenmue III. Any idea of the series going beyond 4 installments was basically ended when Shenmue 2 started development.

    Which is fine, ending the series at 3 is really not un-doable. The games have a great storyline but it’s not Xenosaga, or something, where every little detail must be preserved for it to make even a hint of sense.

    (And even Xenosaga ended early from what was supposed to be a 4-5 game series with part 3 to, mostly, success.)

  5. TimmiT says:

    Eh, the part I wrote could have been worse… I guess.

  6. jimi andreas says:

    Hmmm..Ijust had a dream i was playing Shenmue 3.I was running ryos’ hand over piles of stuff in a store while they bounced and fell.

    • Kevin says:

      I had a same dream as you comrade….I’ve been hungry and devastating for Shenmue 3 for like 10 years since the last time when I borrowed the Xbox from my cousin and happen to play it. It was awesome…..

  7. Adam says:

    The Yakuza series is a distillation of all the innovations of the Shenmue series, with a few extras to boot. The fact that the Yakuza series has been so wildly successful gives me hope that Shenmue could make a well received comeback. It is, after all, where Nagoshi cut his teeth.

    Put the Yakuza team in charge, and let Nagoshi and Suzuki co-direct/produce it and bam – sleeper hit of the year.

  8. Trippled says:

    I like Yakuza, but I think it’s very different from Shenmue.

    I’d say Nagoshi is smart enough to realise that tough.

  9. Tim says:

    While I can agree Barry’s opinion that without being owned by SEGA, the reason I was tweeting to sega with “GiveYuTheShenmueLicense” is because Sega refused to make a new shenmue game. And the only thing they are concerned is their own budget to make new products from the sonic franchise, etc.

  10. Tim says:

    Perhaps tweeting to sega to give half of the Shenmue license to Yu Suzuki, since it is his vision to create a new game. For Yu Suzuki, one for game development ; and for sega, one or merchandising and references only, so they won’t worry about their own budgets.

  11. joe says:

    I think about the Shenmue series all the time. Being a Sega Fanatic from way back, (favorite system is Master System, followed by Dreamcast)…and at this point, I can’t see why the console makers of today wouldn’t want Shenmue on their system. I think it would be great on the Wii U despite the early sales troubles their having. Maybe the Shenmue series would rejuvinate their sales and allow everyone to play one of the greatest games ever.

  12. James says:

    I have just recently written a little article about Shenmue, you can find it here:

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