Today is the 15th anniversary of Shenmue’s release in North America, eleven months after its Japanese launch.
To celebrate the occasion, members of the Shenmue Dojo fan site have translated NHK’s behind-the-scenes documentary observing the game’s development. The 60-minute broadcast has been offline for years and is now appearing in many languages for the first time:
(Audio in Japanese, subtitles in English, French, Spanish, German, and Portuguese)
In this fascinating program, viewers are taken into the studio where Yu Suzuki lays down the law to his 200-strong staff in pursuit of unprecedented realism. The producers examine all aspects of the game’s creation, from the graphic designers and animation process to the music composers and Dreamcast hardware, while also revealing the team’s reactions to competition from rival companies during development.
The more of this you watch, the more absurd it will seem that such a special game is not available to play on modern consoles, having never been re-released at all.
Towards the end of the show, Suzuki-san shares some thoughts that remain as relevant today as they were over a decade and a half ago:
“You work away at something using a computer, a world of 0s and 1s, involving mathematics and physics and so on. But at the end, lying somewhere within the creation is its power to communicate something to someone, right? Somewhere along the way this power gets infused into the creation – this ability to communicate to people somehow, whether by moving them emotionally or however.
“And that comes from something other than the technology. That’s what I strongly feel. The only way to achieve it is to put your heart into meticulously creating something, I think. A difference in hardware performance can often be explained completely by a difference in technology. However in the case of entertainment or some kind of creation, it’s about moving people emotionally or influencing them in some way with the energy that radiates from it. What I think is important, is whether or not one’s heart and soul has been put into the work.”