Sega has officially announced re-releases of Shenmue I & II will be making their way to PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2018, with pre-orders beginning soon. The long awaited Shenmue III is also due for release later this year. Rumours of remakes of the original games have been floating around for years. This is huge news for fans of the series and also gamers that missed the chance to play them. While there is no word on graphical enhancements at this point in time, Sega have said that these will be the definitive versions of these games.
The original Shenmue was released all the way back in 1999 and at the time was the most expensive console game ever made with some estimates claiming a cost of $70 million USD for production and marketing. Given their release on a console that did not have a large installed base (Sega Dreamcast), it made it virtually impossible for the series to turn a profit, especially seeing as the Dreamcast was discontinued shortly after and Shenmue III was cancelled as a result.
Unfortunate commercial fortune aside, Shenmue was a game that is loved by some loathed by others and has a strong hardcore following. In many ways a pioneer, there are many aspects of the game that flowed through to future Sega titles such as the Yakuza series. It was originally designed to be Virtua Fighter RPG with the main character Ryo Hazuki using many moves that belonged to Akira. The open world narrative of Shenmue featuring many side distractions and Easter Eggs such as arcades have become commonplace now in other titles.
Shenmue follows the story of Ryo Hazuki and is set in Yokosuka, Japan in 1986. Returning home Ryo witnesses his father’s murder at the hands of a mysterious man named Lan Di. Swearing revenge, Ryo investigates the murder by interviewing locals and trying to find a lead on Lan Di. The journey will take Ryo all over the port town of Yokosuka and then overseas. Unfortunately given the demise of the Dreamcast and the huge commercial loss on the project, fans were robbed of a resolution to the story. With Shenmue III about to see the light of day, these releases are both long anticipated and a great opportunity to get back up to date with the story.
There is currently no release date except sometime during 2018, however I doubt we will need to wait long for more details. It is unknown whether the games will see physical release or just online download. A huge collectors edition would go down a treat. Perhaps box it with Shenmue III so we can finally play the trilogy we were all promised more than a decade ago.