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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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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  • BillyHoWCR

    I enjoyed Shenmue 1 but Shenmue 2 was lacking in my eyes. So I am seeing less likely chance of Shenmue 3 being able to live up to the original.

    I would like to see digitally remastered versions of 1 and 2 before they bring out 3 though. Give me the same thing they did for Halo. An option to play with original graphics or digitally updated graphics.

    • PachterStation

      A HD remake of both games would be cool, but I can’t see it pulling in gamers for Shenmue 3. SEGA have brought back quite a few of their franchises over the years, but most have fallen short.

  • PachterStation

    Shenmue flopped, but SEGA gave it another go with Shenmue 2. Shenmue skipped the Dreamcast in the US, until it was released on the Xbox. Not sure about sales, but I’m guessing it flopped. Shenmue and Yakuza are similar games, so surely SEGA could’ve released Shenmue 3 on the PS2 which dominated other consoles at the time. Can’t say I rate any of the Yakuza games. Somehow, I don’t think there’s enough interest around the world for Shenmue 3.

    • BillyHoWCR

      I played Shemue 2 on my US Dreamcast and I also own it for Xbox original (and can play it on my 360).

      And it was far from a flop. As for an interest around the world? Sony recently did a survey to see what old titles need to be relooked at for a possible re-release and Shenmue was i believe in the top 5? (can’t seem to locate the survey right at this moment)

      • Howard Katz

        I played the PAL version of Shenmue 2 on a region free Treamcast and it was as good or better than Shenmue 1.

        Yup I said TREAMCAST not with a D 😉

      • PachterStation

        Both Shenmue games ended up being a sales flop for SEGA. That’s the only reason why Shenmue 2 skipped the US. SEGA had its chance with the PS2 when it was in its prime. A console hitting around 155 million sales, somehow, I don’t think Shenmue 3 would’ve been a hit. A lot of games are due a sequel, but most would just be a sales flop.

  • Shenume4theWIN

    Lol of all the deluded fanboys on the internet, Shenume fanboys have the very rosiest of tinted glasses when it comes to this franchise. I recall a freind playing the first and second games on his console years ago and recently I looked up a few playthrough videos on youtube.

    I mean…seriously…?

    The graphics, voice acting and most of all, gameplay mechanics…absolute garbage. Maybe great fun in it’s day, but it feels as old as time itself. Just absolutely AWFUL.

    As a vague comparison, the Yakuza series is 1000 times the game, Shenume was. People should be pestering SEGA to localise Yakuza 5 for the west. Not a Shenmue HD re-release.

    Obviously Shenume 3 will be update for the modern consoles. Still doesn’t hide the fact that the originals are 2 of the most overrated games of all time.

    Not opinion. Fact. Looked it up on the internet.

    • BillyHoWCR

      Not fact. though I am a fan of Shenmue i understand that it is a different game then what is currently available in todays gaming market. but that doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable experience.

      You can’t simply watch a video and deam a game worthy or not by watching someone else play it.

      I have played the Yakuza games and Shenmue, and Shenmue has a much more enjoyable story experience in my eyes. And the fighting in it is also much more enjoyable then that of Yakuza series.

      You can’t call a game over rated if you haven’t played it yet. And you rate it on the experience you had when it came out. Though in my eyes Shemue 1 still has good play as an RPG today as yesterday.

  • Howard Katz

    I think it would be nice to have the game sold as a trilogy ; Shenmue 1,2,3.