Shenmue 3 is more Shenmue.
October 4, 2019 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Shenmue 3's Demo Is 1999 In A Bottle [Kotaku] “Whether it’s talking to a shopkeeper or chopping wood to earn a little extra money, Shenmue 3 has a unique simplicity. Maybe you wander and play a quick game of Lucky Hit, a simple but addictive game where you drop a ball down a pachinko-esque peg board. Maybe you spend too much money buying capsule toys from gacha machines outside the local shop. These are familiar activities, longtime staples of the series, and like everything else they retain a deliberate pace. In 2019, that can feel strange, but it does evoke the feeling of the earlier games. Shenmue 3 could have easily felt overproduced or too modern. For good or ill, things don’t seem much different than they were 20 years ago. [...] Players looking for a slower pace and old-school sensibilities will be pleased. Newer players eager to see what the big deal is could walk away disappointed that the series isn’t quite in step with modern design. Like the original games before it, I get the sense Shenmue 3 will be a love-it-or-hate-it affair.” [2015 E3 Announcement] [2019 E3 Demo Trailer] [Gamescom Trailer]

• Shenmue 3 Would Be Great If It Released 15 Years Ago [Screenrant]
“Shenmue III is a perfect continuation of Shenmue II - in terms of story, gameplay, and franchise pillars - but it also doesn't belong in 2019. Screen Rant had the opportunity to go hands-on with Shenmue III at E3 2019, and the demo took place relatively close to the start of the game. In true Shenmue fashion, Ryo was tasked with finding a man with a scar on his face in order to uncover new information on his task. And in order to do that, players have to speak to people in the surrounding area. [...] With its limited budget, Shenmue III tries hard to retain what made the original games great and provide a worthy story for longtime fans, but on the flip side, there's very little room for innovation or standardization; beyond receiving technical upgrades, Shenmue III suffers from wonky gameplay, which includes awkward dialog, poor character animations, and strenuous movements. In 2019, a game that requires players to stick to a pre-determined path in order to move between two objects isn't going to go over well with the general public.”
• Shenmue III Preview: Nearly Two Decades later, Still a One-Of-a-Kind Experience [IGN]
“ With the third installment coming 18 years after the last iteration, Shenmue still isn’t for everyone. But for the fans, it indeed looks to be “a dream come true”. In the years since Shenmue II’s 2001 release, video games have evolved, especially in the open-world genre that Shenmue helped conceive. Yet few other games allow the player to do something as detailed as pull a random comb out of a drawer. And Ryo Hazuki, Shenmue’s protagonist, often even has something to say about these minor objects he investigates, in voiced dialogue too. Modern adventure games like Heavy Rain and Life is Strange or walking simulators such as Gone Home have achieved similar depth in their exploration, but Shenmue does it within a full-fledged open-world environment. Most gamers might prefer to web-swing through a bustling city or shoot wave after wave of soldiers, but if opening a fridge or investigating a tangerine while going after a mysterious man who killed your father sounds more appealing to you, Shenmue III should definitely be on your radar.”
• Shenmue 3 feels like a game from 20 years ago, and I mean that in a good way [PC Gamer]
“The E3 hands-on demo for Shenmue 3 is timed to 15 minutes with a countdown at the top of the screen, and I'm sat playing with creator Yu Suzuki, which feels like a big deal. Ryo Hazuki, the returning protagonist, is going around a village asking people the same thing again and again: have you seen a bookie with a scar on his face? Every time he asks this and with the countdown in mind, I want to skip the dialogue, but it somehow seems rude to do that in front of the developer, so I don't. And so, Ryo asks NPCs the same ridiculous thing over and over again: have you seen a bookie with a scar on his face? Most of the answers are wasting my time, and the English voice-acting that delivers them is odd in a way I can't quite put my finger on. This is definitely a Shenmue game. Shenmue 3 feels like a Dreamcast game, only released 20 years later, which I think you can get a sense of from its E3 trailer.”
• Some Shenmue III Kickstarter backers want refunds because it’s an Epic Games Store exclusive [The Verge]
“Some backers of action game Shenmue III’s multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign are upset that it will launch exclusively on Epic’s Games Store, scuttling plans for a launch on Steam. Developer Ys Net revealed Epic’s exclusivity during E3’s PC Gaming Show today. Almost immediately, backers who had specifically requested a Steam key flooded Ys Net’s Kickstarter announcement, with some requesting refunds. Shenmue III will launch November 19th on PlayStation 4 and PC. As SavyGamer founder Lewie Procter noted on Twitter, Ys Net previously listed Steam as a requirement for playing the game on PC. Later, however, the studio and its publisher Deep Silver decided that “the Epic Games Store would be the best distribution platform option.” Backers can get a digital or physical copy of the game, but, either way, they’ll need to activate it through Epic. That’s put Shenmue III in the crosshairs of Steam fans who oppose Epic’s recent push for exclusive games.”
• Shenmue 3 Dev Details PC Rollout, And It's Messy [Gamespot]
“"In response to backers who have requested Steam keys for their rewards, we discussed offering the keys on the day of release," Ys Net said. "However, coordination with the sales policies of the involved companies was untenable, and as a result, we are not able to make a day one distribution option for Steam keys available. "That we are not able to offer Steam keys for Kickstarter rewards at the time of the game's release is a great [disappointment] and inconvenience for those backers who were expecting to receive them. We deeply apologize for the unrest caused by the announcement." At launch, the available options for Kickstarter backers include a PC physical package, a digital key, a PS4 disc, or a PSN voucher code. However, the disk in the PC physical version of the game does not contain the game data and instead just includes the Epic Games Store installer. If you previously selected PC as the preferred platform, you have the option to switch to PS4--or vice verse if you so choose. Those that opt for the PC versions have "an option to also receive a Steam key one year later," though you'll need to manually select this option in the survey.”
posted by Fizz (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not super impressed with their Epic Game Store exclusivity bullshit. That being said, looking at the character design from 2015 to 2019 (if you compare those two trailers), it's pretty impressive. I'm not certain this game has ever been for me, but I enjoy how excited the fanbase is for this game.
posted by Fizz at 4:05 PM on October 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

This game is going to be an interesting test of the limits of nostalgia.

I'm certain this game has never been for me. I find Shenmue to be a fascinating, sorta-sad-sorta-hilarious cultural artifact, as my playthrough of Shenmue 2 was not long and mostly incomplete because I did not enjoy it. Even at the time that Shenmue 2 was released I feel like "idiosyncratic" was the absolute kindest way you could describe its play control, and if the design has not improved significantly than trying to pick this up will be only slightly more enjoyable than if they released a new Silent Hill game that still used the same boat controls as the early Silent Hills and Resident Evils, like the Resident Evil 2 reboot definitely did not keep.
posted by Caduceus at 4:59 PM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I bought a Dreamcast with money from my first paycheck of my first job; Shenmue was one of my favorites, along with Omikron The Nomad Soul. I didn't even realize you could already get Shenmue I and II on the PS4; there goes my free time this month.
posted by jenjenc at 5:01 PM on October 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Shenmue was not a good game the year it came out. The ideas were fascinating, the emphasis on world detail was unique, but essentially every facet of its execution was either sub par or just too ambitious for the day's technology.

If you want to play the modern games that are really fun and actually evolved from Shenmue, Yakuza is standing right here.
posted by selfnoise at 5:24 PM on October 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you want to play the modern games that are really fun and actually evolved from Shenmue, Yakuza is standing right here.

Throw in Sleeping Dogs. In another timeline we'd have 4 more GTA-esque sequels to this wonderful game. It still holds up by the way.
posted by Fizz at 6:04 PM on October 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm not super impressed with their Epic Game Store exclusivity bullshit.

I imagine contractual prohibitions probably bar publishers & developers from public specific discussion of how much Fortnite money that exclusivity is worth, but capital will find a way, and soon enough we'll see Kickstarters where a $X goal gets the game released, and $X+$Y gets the game released on Steam.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:15 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm never going to have time to play Shenmue but I'm strangely glad it exists; it sounds like someone had a particular idiosyncratic vision for what they wanted to make, and despite the pressures of the market, they got to make it.
posted by Jpfed at 7:21 PM on October 4, 2019

I'm never going to have time to play Shenmue but I'm strangely glad it exists; it sounds like someone had a particular idiosyncratic vision for what they wanted to make, and despite the pressures of the market, they got to make it.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm super glad Shenmue exists. I just wish they'd made it better. It's something that I would have enjoyed a lot if the play control hadn't been such a drag.
posted by Caduceus at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2019

Describe Shenmue to me and I'd tell you that is not something I'd be interested in. Yet I found them strangely addicting and I played those games more than any other.

People are acting like Shenmue wasn't weird and retro feeling 20 years ago.
posted by bongo_x at 12:03 AM on October 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I loved the first Shenmue and still find myself thinking about it sometimes--the weird immersivity, the fact that I spent literally weeks of in-game time trying to catch a falling pen as the seasons folded in on themselves and the story, still, somehow did not march on.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:14 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think the difference between then and now is that then, nothing was really doing anything close to what Shenmue was doing. It was sort of an RPG, but it was grounded. You were playing an ordinary person, who lived in something analogous to the real world, rendered in impressive detail. It was the game that introduced QTEs to provide some level of systematisation over its plot. It was a big-ass adventure game in a lot of ways.

Now, there are a lot of games that achieve what Shenmue aspired to. There's still not a lot of adventure games, but designers have gotten so much better at telling stories, at giving players consistent and meaningful ways to interact with the world, at finding ways to make game worlds that can be personable, that Shenmue feels like a dead-end.
posted by Merus at 7:13 AM on October 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm a kickstarter backer, so I'll be getting a PS4 copy next month even if it turns out to be lame. I took for granted that there'd be serious tech improvements just from Moore's law, or its video game equivalent. I mean, they could have just made it a massive Skyrim mod and it would probably look and control better than what they seem to have chosen to do.

Back in the Dreamcast days I loved Shenmue. You got a fully playable copy of arcade Space Harrier as a background detail! I wonder if there's any similar IP that they're throwing in to this one.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:29 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The first link links to an Engadget article from June. Shouldn’t it be to this Kotaku article from September?
posted by azarbayejani at 8:22 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do you know any shops where sailors might go?
posted by dismas at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Shouldn’t it be to this Kotaku article from September?

You're right. Apologies. Got all my articles mixed up. I'm pinging a mod.
posted by Fizz at 1:39 PM on October 5, 2019

posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:43 PM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Will there be...forklift driving?
posted by hydropsyche at 4:43 PM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm hoping there's more options for buying sweet polyester embroidered jackets.
posted by bongo_x at 9:28 PM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

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