I love Shenmue, I feel no shame about it. I bought a Dreamcast all those years ago simply for this game and its stupendous sequel. Shemue represented at the time, for me at least, just what open world gaming meant. Id spend hours wandering the streets as the sky changed from day to night, simply to see what I could see.
Thirteen years later and while I don’t regret my choice for a second, lets be honest Segas Dreamcast had a ton of great titles, Im still mourning the loss of a great gaming franchise and furiously tearing my hair out at the confusing and absolutely mind boggling ending of Shenmue II. I mean seriously, what the hell! A sword flows out of some ancient stones that an old man spent years carving and thats it?!?! Really!
After spending some time cursing the gaming gods and coming to terms with the idea that Yu Suzuki has quite possibly been trolling us from the start (yes ‘F.R.E.E' gaming is great and yes we love the story but you never planned to complete the trilogy did you? DID YOU!) it seems that we’re further than ever from the possibility of seeing a competition to to Ryo Hazukis quest to avenge his father, this is despite the fact the constant hoax websites and teases that Yu Suzuki himself is planning to crowd fund the game. Lets back track just a tad though, and look at the journey of one of modern gamings great developers.
While Yu Suzuki created the ingenious Shenmue series and developed it within Segas AM2 studios, in 2003 Suzuki left AM2 behind to form the fledgling Digital Rex studios with a main focus on MMOs. During his time at Digital Rex a certain title, you guessed it, ‘Shenmue Online’ floated around and went from production to quiet cancellation on numerous occasions until its final flat line around 2009. It was during this time that many gaming sites and journalists were reporting that Suzuki planned to step down completely and have nothing more to do with Sega, however it wasn’t quite this cut and dry as Suzuki focused more solely on Segas Japanese arcade gaming market until eventually taking an advisory role within Sega while he focused on yet another brand new studio YS.net.
Phew! A fair bit of flip flopping with the story of mr Suzuki, which still essentially continues today as many are left wondering just what he’s doing and if he will ever return in full to the mainstream gaming world. Who wouldn’t wonder though? after all, just think what the father of sandbox gaming (and the inventor of QTEs) could offer to the next generation? its an incredible amount of possibility!
Where does this leave Shenmue though? With Suzuki off in the wilderness for now, is there any chance of it coming back? Well, yes there is still a small glimmer of hope in the shape of ATLUS studios, one of japans premier RPG developers (you’ll know them best for the Persona series along with Shin Megami Tensei).
Earlier this year Sega managed to get its hands on Atlus and rather than cherry pick their IPs only to leave the team rotting in the corner like a cheap sandwich wrapper, the head honchos of Sega have instead chosen to give Atlus complete freedom to work on any IP they want from Segas entire back catalogue! Yep, thats right ANYTHING.
Think of the possibilities! but when i say that, what I really mean is think of a next-gen Shenmue sequel, lovingly crafted by the minds behind Persona. Im already squealing with excitement! (while trying not to hold my breath incase the fairly inevitable disappointment sets in of course).
While theres every chance that AM2 are already hard at work on Shenmue 3, with Mr Suzuki secretly heading up the team and cracking the whip to create the best open world game ever, this is an extremely optimistic point of view.
Perhaps an even more far fetched look into the crystal ball reveals that Sony may be working hard to gain a Shenmue sequel as a console exclusive release, as their devoted team in charge of third party titles is said to be already hard at work on trying to bring the original two games to the PSN store (Shenmue on Playstation Vita and Vita TV? Im there!)
All I’m saying though, really, is simple.
FOR GOD SAKE PLEASE! SOMEONE MAKE SHENMUE 3! I NEED THE ENDING! PLEASE!
What do you think? Let me know, I love nothing more than a good chin wag about games so get on it. If you want anyway.