Shenmue 3 may sacrifice shiny graphics for the sake of story

4 min read


I loved Shenmue on SEGA’s ill-fated Dreamcast. The series was a forerunner of open world games like Yakuza and Grand Theft Auto, and introduced fresh new gameplay mechanics like Quick Time Events before they became overused and trite.

The series unfortunately ended before its story did – which is why so many gamers were taken aback, shocked and awed by the news that Shenmue 3 was being made, even if it is being partially crowdfunded.

And I should be excited. I really should. I’ve been waiting for closure on the story for nearly fifteen years. Yes PC gamers, even longer than you’ve been waiting for Half-Life 3. The game is finally coming, and I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s going to end up as a miserable pile of malformed, broken promises that could never live up to their hype.

It’s such a precarious position. Modernise it too much, and for old fans, it’ll no longer feel like Shenmue. Modernise it too little, and new players will think it’s a relic from the past.

Until recent games like Grand Theft Auto V and Star Citizen, Shenmue held the dubious record of being one of the most expensive games ever made. Including marketing, the first two games are frequently reported to have cost $70 million.

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It raised $6 million through crowdfunded, and has a little more external funding from Sony and other partners – but Shenmue creator and game director Yu Suzuki says he could do with a little more. Especially if Shenmue III is going to look good.

“I could do with a bit more money!” Suzuki told Eurogamer in an interview. “The game itself doesn’t have to be gorgeous visually – a lot of the money these days goes into the graphics. If we perhaps compromise on the graphics and put more into the story, we can make a good game. The most important thing, to me, is that the game’s interesting, and that it’s something people want to play.”

The quote’s being taken out of context and thrown all over the internet as a misleading catchy title, but that’s par for the course.

“Kickstarter’s not the only source of money,” says Suzuki. “There’s also funding from Sony and Shibuya Productions. Before we started Kickstarter, we had goals set around the budget – so if we only got $6 million, we’d create Shenmue 3 based upon what we could do with that $6 million. We’re still trying to gather funds. Obviously, the more money we have the more we can do. Even if we don’t get as much budget as the previous games, we’ll still make this game.”

I really do want Shenmue 3 to be good, and I’m ok with Suzuki skimping on graphics to give us a better game if that’s what happens.

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Last Updated: October 5, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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