Move over Duke Nukem Forever. After 21 years of development hell, multiple failed projects and a massive Kickstarter, Shenmue III will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on Tuesday, November 19. A launch trailer, released this week, shows the game in action. Believe it or not, the storied franchise whose origins came from a Virtua Fighter RPG on the Sega Saturn is officially back.
The original Shenmue games, released on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 and 2001 respectively, are martial arts RPGs that follows Ryo Hazuki and his quest for vengeance as he pursues the nefarious Lan Di after the murder of his father. Ryo finds himself at odds with the Chi You Men, a criminal organization with ties to Lan Di, and his quest takes a turn for the supernatural at the conclusion of Shenmue II. Since then, fans have been left in suspense as to what direction the story would take next.
While both games were considered revolutionary and well received by critics, particularly the first game, both games were financial disasters for Sega. Shenmue was one of the most expensive games ever made when adjusted for inflation, and the failure of the game played a large part as to why it took so long for the franchise to get another chapter. Series creator Yu Suzuki, also the father of Virtua Fighter, left Sega in 2010 though always hoped he could finish his epic story.
At first glance, Shenmue III looks to have the feel and presentation of the original games and picks up directly from the conclusion of Shenmue II. Fans of the first two will also be pleased to hear Ryo’s original voice actor, Corey Marshall, has reprised his role two decades later. While the trailer is story-based, we get glimpses of the combat and NPC interactions as well as a teased confrontation between Ryo and Lan Di at the trailer’s climax.
Fans of the original games should feel right at home with how this ends up turning out, but it is yet to be seen if Shenmue III can feel fresh while hitting all the notes with its intended audience. For now, another white whale of gaming has been slayed thanks to fan support and the developer’s stubborn desire to continue the story. Here’s to hoping Mega Man Legends gets the overdue sequel treatment next time out.