The Sega Dreamcast is a console most gamers of a certain generation won’t recognise due to its extremely short life-cycle of only three years (1998-2001) which is surprisingly brief even by today’s standards. What many gamers may not know, but cult fans will, is that a title named Shenmue and its successor Shenmue II, which pioneered the open-world, detailed filled elements that are now a mainstay of blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft Auto, the Batman Arkham series, and popular RPG titles like Skyrim; and a third instalment is on the way.
After an eternity in development limbo the third installment of the Shenmue series is slated for a release in 2018 on the PS4, and for those who remember the first two instalments fondly there will be a lot of pressure on the newest entry to live up to the revolutionary reputation of its predecessors. An intriguing aspect of Shenmue III’s development is that the original creative team crowd-funded its development budget on the Kickstarter platform and reached its goal of $2 million in record time, and it went on to collect over $6 million by the time the campaign ended. The creative team released its teaser this past month, which can be seen below, but unfortunately it garnered mixed responses.
The first two Shenmue titles were unusually expansive games for the period, featuring not only an intriguing story and fighting gameplay system (based on the Virtua Fighter mechanics) but also allowed players to explore large areas and interact with NPCs to advance the plot. Both the first and second game put players in control of a young martial artist, Ryo Hazuki, as he embarks on a journey to investigate his father’s murder over a potentially supernatural artefact. The third instalment will continue this story arc, which has been described as a “revenge epic” that takes many cues from Chinese cinema where the subgenre has a notable presence.
Nostalgic fans may be willing to shell out for the long-awaited return of a historic juggernaut, but will the modern gaming community give an older, more obscure franchise an opportunity to draw them in? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.