Could Shenmue 3 Actually Live Up To Fan Expectation?
December 3rd is worldwide #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense day on Twitter. Heaps of fans are forming an online flash mob over the popular social network to stir movement from longtime Shenmue license holder, SEGA. This all started when Sony‘s Adam Boyes mentioned the title as a front-runner in the eyes of the third-party production team.
The consistent outcry from then on has been something to behold. The Dreamcast is likely seeing more second-hand sales in the past few weeks than its experience in years. Pawn shops and Craigslist rejoice! The pressure is on like never before to bolster some kind of movement with the IP.
But if our wish were to be granted; is there any way a third game could live up to the lofty expectations of the passionate and vocal fan base? I, for one would need to hear the phrase “Have you seen any sailors?” no less than ten times in order to be satiated. It’s a known fact that the brain has a built-in defense mechanism that effectively glorifies distant memories. I’m not necessarily talking about nostalgia, but that’s a large factor here as well. What I’m talking about is closer to repression. When most people look back at Super Mario Bros. they don’t immediately turn to the anger and frustration they inevitably faced when attempting to conquer the retro darling. That fact makes successfully bringing back the IP all the more difficult.
When it comes to Shenmue 2 (one of my favorite games) it’s hard to remember anything negative about it; and that’s troubling. Having difficulty recollecting even one undesirable function, mission, or game mechanic means my own brain has indoctrinated my memory of the game. The only thing I remotely remember as a detraction was some of the timing issues in the quick time event sequences. If you truly search your thoughts, you may find you feel the same. I don’t currently own a Dreamcast or a copy of Shenmue 2, so I’ll have to rely on my faulty memories for now.
The next hurdle comes by way of finding a studio capable of retaining the X factor Shenmue fans have been holding onto all of these years. At the same time they’ll need to heavily update the experience to contend with today’s gaming standards. One dev immediately comes to mind that may have the ability to helm Shenmue’s return. Especially if the final resting place of the IP ends up being Sony.
Quantic Dream has a knack for creating narrative driven games. And I’ve always felt that Shenmue was equal parts story and gameplay driven. The Heavy Rain developer is also well-versed in quick time event combat, which is something that Shenmue heavily embraces. David Cage has the ability to direct actors like few others in the industry, and Quantic Dream’s mocap technology is some of the best the world has to offer. Depending on the direction of the sequel, Quantic Dream may be able to knock Shenmue’s return out of the park.
Whenever and wherever Shenmue re-emerges, the publisher and developer have an uphill battle in front of them. As soon as the excitement of the announcement wears thin, the inevitable period of fear mongering is scheduled to roll in. As fans we have a right to demand a true Shenmue experience; but there’s no possible way to satisfy us all. Especially when some of us fondly remember the experience without recalling all the details.
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