To many modern gamers, when the name Shenmue was uttered at Sony's E3 conference this year, their reaction was one of surprise. Not that they knew what Shenmue was, they were more dumbfounded by the ecstatic response from the crowd. What is this phenomenon that is Shenmue and why has this proposed sequel set a record on Kickstarter with almost $4,000,000 in secured funds?
At the time of writing this article, Shenmue 3 has currently raised $3,785,339 with a further 16 days to go. It's original goal was $2,000,000, which was met almost instantly. However, the Kickstarter campaign has included various additions to the game that could be made if the campaign reaches a grand total of $11,000,000.
It's unlikely that this goal will be met but it's been quite a phenomenon to see the dedication of fans to supporting the mere idea of Shenmue 3. There are a lot of problems with the Kickstarter side of things, but what is it that has made this name so popular?
Why is the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Campaign So Exciting?
In order to answer this question, all we can really do is take a look at the original two games. The original Shenmue game cost a ridiculous amount of money. SEGA pumped an enormous $47,000,000 into its production, making it the most expensive video game ever developed at the time. I suppose Shenmue can be considered responsible for the collapse of the SEGA empire.
"Shenmue’s ambition totally outshone its host platform’s ability to support it. Put simply, the Dreamcast didn’t sell ... Shenmue sold respectably but not spectacularly... but every DC owner would have had to have bought it twice in order for Sega to turn a profit. So ironically it probably did as much to kill the Dreamcast as it did to cement its reputation." - Gamesradar
Though it may have essentially broken the company that made it, SEGA still went on to make Shenmue 2. Both games were extremely well received as they introduced a great deal of groundbreaking ideas for the video game industry. But Shenmue 2 was released in 2001 - there have been 14 years of innovation following its release. What are players so excited about then?
Shenmue blended numerous video game formats. We had an open world with loads of NPCs to chat with. It was a seriously good beat em up/fighting game when the plot required it and it mastered the use of QTEs (something which the industry has grown to hate). Having a game mix all of these formats would be great whenever Shenmue 3 gets a release date, but other titles have done it better since. The real reason this franchise received so much money before development even began is its plot.
Are You Excited for the Release Date of Shenmue 3?
The story of Ryo and his adventure to uncover the identity of his father's murderer is actually really compelling. I'd never played Shenmue before up until two weeks ago when - and this really happened - when one of my co-workers brought in a DreamCast along with Shenmue for me to come up to speed. It was beautiful and the game is still a wonder. Apart from its woeful English dubbing of course. I recommend if you want to watch a movie of Shenmue's plot you view the one below which is Japanese - it's a thousand times better!
After finishing Shenmue, I can't wait to see what happens in Shenmue 2. And I suppose fans have been suspended in this state of longing for 14 years - far longer than those who've suffered over the lack of Half-Life 3. Shenmue 3 will hopefully be everything that fans are dreaming it will be on its release date. But what makes Shenmue so exciting for you? Let us know in the comments!