Why bring back Shenmue (Ramon Guzman)

Why bringing Shenmue back from the shelve is a good idea?

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In this time and age of mobile devices, first person shooters, and next-gen consoles, there is one game that stands relevant up to these days standard’s from last century’s cadre of consoles. It’s brilliance resides in its marvelous storytelling and the breakthroughs that came from its development process.

In the 90’s, Street Fighter was the fighting game of all games, back at SEGA’s Headquarters buzz started around programmers: “Not even Yu (Suzuki) can top it…” Seems like that buzz echoed high enough that a decision was made.The days of the SEGA Saturn and apparently, Yu was given the go ahead by the bosses there.

Yu Hazuki began his career with arcade hits like Hang On, Space Harrier and After Burner. He comes from a school of programmers that dealt with human interactive user experiences. Early in the 80’s we saw rotating cabinets that enhanced the user experience, but Yu Hazuki wasn’t targeting a fighting game. He wanted something else. Virtual Fighter was born as the “‘Project Berkley’: the beggening of Shenmue” started. But he wanted to do his own RPG as YU Hazuki would like to say in the ‘Hazuki Style’. And so it indeed was Virtual Fighter.

But there was something else too…
Yu envisioned this world, this way of openness, non-linear a place with actual weather and the passage of time, something that emulated life in its own way. He is said to have achieved the impossible. Coding for the Saturn architecture was painful at the time. There were none of the tools available today for 3D Game Acceleration. He had to make programs to help 2D artists apply texture’s to the polygonal designs.And he had to deal around too much negativity towards the unknown, previously un-walked path of 3D development.

Things were limited as such, it had it’s disadvantages. Things were expensive, He had done the impossible. Code 2D into 3D accelerated hardware. They say he pushed the SEGA Saturn to its limit. And it held its own. Demos were made, like a hundred… by the time they hit upstairs, they left the bosses so impressed that they decided against the SEGA Saturn and took the Project into their next and last console: project code name: Katana AKA The Dreamcast,  so Shenmue was born.

A F.R.E.E. (Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment) experience, an unprecedented open-world game. It was after all, what SEGA’s execs were looking for, the flagship, killer app for the console, a Nintendo killer. Those were the wars waged at the time. But as all the plans of mice and men (they tend to fail) SEGA did not take into account the new players into the console wars: Microsoft which launched the Xbox a little after, and Sony which was quickly gaining ground with its PlayStation machine. And they made the Dreamcast look under-powered, with its strange format GD-Rom, perhaps it would have fared better if a DVD player was in its place.

Possibly, what contributed to the Dreamcast demise was that and all the hacking due to poor security. The Dreamcast fell and so many blamed the staggering amount of money put from SEGA into developing both Shenmue Ip’s  (70 million for both games) and when Shenmue II came around SEGA was pulling the plug on the Dreamcast. American fans never got to see the English dubbed version of Shenmue II for the Dreamcast. Peter Moore jumped ship when he saw the Dreamcast sinking and took Shenmue II to Microsoft for Xbox. Which left the question on gamers heads: “Who in their right mind is going to play a second part of a game without playing the first one? Sure, Shenmue The Movie was included in Shenmue II, but it left the Xbox fans drying to play it, it is not the same to watch a movie than to experience Shenmue. Shenmue 1 (Chapter Yokosuka) has its purpose to introduce the characters to the story and to let one know what drives Ryo Hazuki to pursuit Lan Di (his father’s murderer) , while Shenmue II is all about expansion.

In Shenmue 1 we are taken away from the comfortable into the uneasy and unknown (Shenmue 2) and it all comprises inward in Shenmue III which we are yet to see. It has been 13 years since Shenmue 1 and SEGA refuses the fans requests for a conclusion, but now the fans have taken hands into matters and are actively campaigning for Shenmue III. SEGA should see that the fanbase has grown and that they have a quality product they need to put out in these fitting games on  Next-Gen consoles.

They made an investment they should better recoup, better late than never. The proper route would be to launch Shenmue 1 & 2 in HD format, gain money from it and run Shenmue III into development. To make the long story short, Sony has opened a new Third Party Publishers Division and have asked the fans for the games they want.

Shenmue and Yakuza tops the list that goes in the 10,000’s. In these hard trying times, they should rake in any 10-20 thousand fan supported franchise and take their money.

There are many Shenmue fans over the world.

Then signed petition has gone past 66,000. The YouTube videos goes in the thousands requesting Shenmue. The Facebook Group Shenmue 500k has passed the 21,000 member mark. What else proof SEGA need?

Shenmue has gone viral

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