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. “