This year's E3 seems to be all about making fans' dreams come true. Released in 1999, the original Shenmue was the originator for both the open world game genre and the Quick-Time Event, or QTE. Originally conceived as a massive, 11 chapter series, the series only managed to release up to its sixth chapter in 2001 with Shenmue II before the project was halted.
Now the project is back with the Shenmue III Kickstarter that was announced at Sony's press conference at this year's E3. Series creator Yu Suzuki revealed more about the project in an interview in this week's Weekly Famitsu. Here's what he said along with what we know about the game so far.
- For development, Suzuki has turned to the company neilo as the main developer. Takeshi Hirai of neilo was the chief programmer for the original Shenmue.
- Asked by Weekly Famitsu why he didn't consider partnering with a Western developer, Suzuki noted, "There was that option, yes. But the biggest characteristic of Shenmue is culture." Suzuki has been vocal of his intent to preserve the cultural aspects of the game.
- For the development of Shenmue III, Suzuki is gathering other key members of the development team for the original game.
- Suzuki is currently looking at the Unreal Engine 4 for Shenmue III. "I've been looking at a several different engines over the past three years for Shenmue III, and Unreal Engine 4's colours fit the colour of the world I envision for Shenmue." Suzuki remarked.
- While Shenmue II offered a bigger map compared to the original Shenmue, Suzuki has said that for Shenmue III he is looking to make a smaller, more detailed world. "Ever since [Shenmue II] I always had decided that 'for the next game, I'm going to go much deeper.'" Suzuki said. Suzuki has said that he is looking to focus on giving the characters far more depth in how they act as they inhabit the world of Shenmue III and how they react to the player's decisions.
- The story of Shenmue III will start directly after the end of Shenmue II where *spoilers!* Ryo Hazuki met Ling Shenhua and went to her home *end spoilers!* Suzuki has confirmed that several familiar characters will be returning in the game. Fortunately, for those who have never played the previous games, the Kickstarter stretch goal of 2.5 million — cinema shorts for Shenmue and Shenmue II — has been reached.
- While the game's release date is still not set in stone, Suzuki is hoping to have the game available by the end of 2017.
- As the game is a direct sequel in the series, it is not a spin-off, side story, remake, or reboot.
- The initial asking goal was for two million dollars. It hit that goal in less than 24 hours, making it the fastest Kickstarter project to hit both a million and two million dollars.
- Sega, which published the previous Shenmue games kindly handed the rights for a sequel over to series creator Yu Suzuki without any sort of fuss. Nice of you, Sega.
- Sony has a hand in the project, probably shouldering what will the bulk of developments costs.
While much of it may be formed in Suzuki's head, Shenmue III is still very much in the drawing board phase. While the partnership with Sony and the massive support from fans will probably keep the game from being a Kickstarter horror story, it still has an uphill battle to climb from here.
Even so, after 14 years, it's nice to see what was once a dream slowly becoming a reality.
Shenmue III will hopefully be released in 2017 for the PC and PlayStation platform.