Shenmue III –Yu better raise your game Suzuki, Or Risk Nailing The Series In Its Coffin once and for all.

Let me start off by saying, this piece is as much about my passion and desire to see the Shenmue brand achieve mainstream success. Frankly, the one annoyance I have is this myth that Shenmue failed and was not a success in terms of raw sales numbers. Sure it didn’t shift many consoles, that can’t be denied, but it did well amongst the userbase it had available to it at the time. The Dreamcast shifted roughly 10million units, Shenmue sold around 1.5million copies. If a game was to brought by 15% of the current PS4 userbase, then that would amount to 10.4million units sold, and people would be saying what an overwhelming success it has been. Yet because Sega pumped so much money into it, the internet has a divided opinion on it. Shenmue smashed Kickstarter records and has, in my opinion, the most loyal and devoted cult community I’ve seen amongst the gaming industry and nothing can ever take that away from us. I strongly believe had it not been for the online presence, and community campaigns its maintained over the years, Shenmue may never have resurfaced in the gaming world again. Constantly it’s been amongst the most requested titles year after year. For that, I thank all of those who contributed to this, you all rock.

*Rant over*

I’ve followed and loved Ryo’s journey from Yokosuka across to Hong Kong avidly (and also rather frustratingly) patiently waited for Shenmue III for as long as any other fan has, I fell in love with Shenmue way back in 2000 when by complete chance my uncle had no use for the game. He actually hated Shenmue, *eeek*, and gave up on it within 30minutes of turning it on. Being only 11 years young at the time I gave it a go, and loved it, feeling a sense of sorrow and intrigue for Ryo, almost immediately I was griped and just sucked into this colossal, majestic and cultural defining world of Yokosuka, where you could see fortune tellers, play pool and darts, gamble, interact with NPC’s, buy capsules, work on lucky hit stands, and so much more. To this very day I haven’t looked back, everything about the world in Shenmue just blew my mind. It was like one huge open world playground, and boy was it fun. It had a certain mystic about it, that is pretty hard to describe, but it’s one of the few games that I felt somewhat influenced by when playing it. (I discovered a new found bond of forklift racing, and a devoted love for girls called Nozomi!)

*Therefore, my uncle’s a gaming genius, because of him I found Shenmue! Thank you, Uncle Mark!*

It’s been a long, brain nerving, and even devastating experience for us gamers craving more of the inspiring, immersive, and captivating world that is Shenmue III. Year after year of torment from the media and trolls amongst the community. Hopes built up, dreams thought to be on the verge of realisation, turning into nightmares. (Even now when we have our beloved third entry on the way, the media love to keep kicking us down).

Shenmue 3 was announced with much fanfare during Sony’s E3 2015 press conference. Its Kickstarter campaign hit the required $2m target in hours and eventually ended with more than $6m acquired. With a target of December 2017 in mind, this was delayed a while back until late 2018. I think any fan who knows the creative effort’s put into the game will understand that 2 and a half years development time would not be enough for the game to fully realise it’s potential and maintain a high level of integrity.

So I welcomed the news of a delay, after all, what’s another 12months to wait? When us Hazuki fanboys have already waited for 16years by this point.

I’d much rather have a polished, true and authentic Shenmue experience, then a watered down, lame attempt that would have needed much more time in production just to meet a release window. Surely many others feel the same right?

Since the 2015 Kickstarter success, backers have had updates by Yu Suzuki and the development team. With behind the scenes footage of production and little teasers here and there. Nothing really eye-opening, however.

This is where it now begins to concern me, nearly 3 years into development and we’ve had no gameplay reveals, some stiff looking animations and expressions, thrown in by some beautiful looking environments.

Perhaps Sony has an exclusive gameplay reveal lined up for E3, they have the exclusivity rights, and surely it would be beneficial to the brand to have that massive publicity and hype that E3 would bring it.

Perhaps they don’t and Yu  is playing it cute.

However, If Suzuki and co, think another MAGIC MONACO 2018 offering will be enough to satisfy the fan’s thirst for footage of the game, they are very wrong on this. For the first time, I noticed a sense of real disappointment. People were very excited about the MAGIC conference and were borderline angry with the 4 screenshots officially released.

I fear the game could be in danger of Interest waning. As fustrations build, and casuals don’t like the little snippets of Shenmue III we receive.

It’s a big year in the gaming world, RD 2, Kingdom Hearts III, Spiderman, The Last Of Us II, the annual COD, FIFA titles, and other exciting titles coming our way. The PR team really need to step up with something good at E3, own that stage, and watch the spike in interest go off the charts. Show us this fantastic footage of Ryo in the world of Guilin, interacting with fellow NPC’s, a free-flowing combat system, and a beautiful environment waiting to be explored, show us those little moments that make Shenmue a special game that has a special place in our hearts.

We need the Shenmue I & II HD remasters, and we need a much improved showcasing of our cherished paradise. Casuals just won’t buy into the Shenmue world otherwise.

I have faith in you Yu, I know you’ll deliver a Shenmue game rich in Nostalgia, and true to form, but others may be starting to question this…