After almost two decades and multiple gaming generations the final part of the Shenmue story is coming. Shenmue 3 was announced at the Sony E3 conference and has a possible release date of December….of 2017. So yeah I think I’ll save my hype for when the game is actually within shouting distance of getting done. It will be the direct sequel to Shenmue 2, a Xbox game from 2001 which was a sequel to the Dreamcast game. Shenmue 1 was and still is known as one of the greatest games ever. It is probably the earliest and best example of the shift to modern games we can find. What I mean is that it is possible one of the first open world non-linear games ever conceived. It is had the first example of interactive game play with weather effects and interactive non-player characters that ran on their own schedules. It is also the first early example of quick time events. I can’t help but feel if Yu Suzuki had put a patent on QTE’s he would be a billionaire by now and never would have had a funding problem.
If the game was so great why did it takes so long to reach a third installment? While it was highly acclaimed it was more of a cult favorite since RPG’s and the like hadn’t really hit the US yet. While it had a great story it was criticized for being very slow. The other major problem was that designing something so revolutionary is never cheap with the final budget coming to around 70 million. Unheard of for games then and it did not return on those investments. I don’t know much about Shenmue 2 on the Xbox but it seems to have had a similar fate and landed Shenmue 3 in development hell for the last decade plus some. Many people have assumed for years now that it had been canceled entirely even though we have been told otherwise. Of course there are other people like me that feared it should not be finished. Just like Duke Nukem Forever probably should never have been completed. After so many years of waiting it could never possibly live up to the hype and just turned out to be a huge mess in the end.
Using Kickstarter the game raised over 1 million dollars in less than two hours. It then reached its goal of over 2 million easily within eight hours, showing obvious signs of great interest in the game. However, this raises a couple of questions for me. For one the first Shenmue was such a staple in gaming history because it was practically the foundation of modern games. How can a game that was so good for being a modern day game still provide that same life though? It would be like every other game again, albeit a better store and far more interesting environments. My other concern is the money, the main cause of its legendary place in development hell. The first game cost nearly 70 million dollars. Even with improvements in technology it would still cost far more than the 2 million they asked for to create a game on the grand scheme they and all the fans envision. I don’t doubt that Sony kicked in something to get the game away from Microsoft and that the fans will probably keep throwing money at it now that it has a chance to be completed. Still I feel uneasy for reasons I can only amount to intuition. I really want to see Shenmue 3 get done because I love most open world games in general but I can’t help but feel it is ill advised at this point.