Shenmue is coming back. You may have already known this because Shenmue 3 was announced during the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Actually it was announced that a Kickstarter was launched in order to raise money for the newest entry in the series. That game was supposed to come out during the second half of 2018. I do not believe that Shenmue 3 will release this year. However, we will get some entry in the series.
Sega recently announced that Shenmue 1 & 2 were being remastered for release later this year! I have never played Shenmue and if you currently look for a copy of the Dreamcast original online you can expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars. I do own the sequel for the original Xbox, but the team at Microsoft has not made it backwards compatible with Xbox One yet.
Most people seem to think that the Yakuza series is the spiritual successor to Shenmue. Both games have an Asian setting, Yakuza is set in Japan, while Shenmue takes place in China. Both games features an urban sandbox with lots of side quests and very well designed convenience stores. One day I am going to go to Japan and I am going to take a picture of a convenience store, because they are represented in so many different games! Just think about all the Poke Marts in the Pokemon Series!
The difference between Shenmue and Yakuza lie within the tone of the two games. Yakuza is akin to a serial anima or soap opera, with many revolving characters and plot lines. Overall the game has a very lighthearted tone when dealing with some rather serious issues. Shenmue on the other hand focuses on the one main character named Shenmue and his quest for revenge for his father’s killer. The game still has a seemingly light hearted tone with some of the sillier side quests, but deals with the main plot in a much more serious sense.
The other differences revolve around the world. Yakuza is all about brawling in the streets and places a heavy emphasis on combat. You navigate the world of Yakuza through violence and beating up countless thugs, villains, and other main characters. Shenmue slows the action down in order to focus on exploration. The game likes to take it’s time when moving on to the next task, and you are often expected to wait for a specific time of day in order to progress the story. Shenmue’s focus on exploration and interacting with the many different areas of the world make the game feel sluggish by today’s standards.
Both game series have a cult following, but have yet to make it to the mainstream. I recently purchased Yakuza 0 for the PS4, and I plan on getting the remastered Shenmue games when they release later this year. I really enjoy a well designed sandbox with lots of side quests. I have not spent a great deal of time with either series so I am looking forward to Yakuza 0 and the recently released Yakuza 6. I have played Shenmue 2 on the original Xbox, but I could not get deeply invested in the game. A remaster is just the thing to make me jump back in.
Have you played either game series, and are you looking forward to future releases?
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks