In what has been a good few weeks for remasters and re-releases, it’s been announced that the original Shenmue along with its sequel is to be re-released together later this year. This makes loads of sense since the much anticipated, Kickstarter-driven Shenmue III is to finally see a release later in the year as well – and since the original was released in 1999 (and the sequel in 2001) it can be assumed that not everyone will be willing to shell out for the now pricey Dreamcast and Xbox originals for the experience.
Set in the 1980’s, the game follows the adventures of Ryo Hazuki as he hunts down the murderer of his father. Set in Japan (and later Hong Kong and China in Shenmue II) the real-time, open-world game is a mixing pot as far as gameplay goes. There are plenty of martial arts fight sequences (it was originally going to be a Virtua Fighter RPG, after all) but also introduced quick time events to a much-disgruntled crowd of gamers.
There is a lot of exploration and ‘social simulation’ included too – at one point you drive a forklift as part of a day job (short-lived as it was) and if you wished to relax after a hard day of moving boxes around, you could visit the arcade and play previous Yu Suzuki classic such as Hang On and Space Harrier. It’s little things like those that really allowed these games to shine.
Announced at the Sega FES event in Japan, the duo will be available in physical form on the PS4 and Xbox One while PC users will be able to download a Steam version. It should be stressed that Sega never uttered the term “HD” during the announcement, so hopefully that doesn’t disappoint you too much – however, Sega had this to say:
“This is the definitive version of these all-time classics and will be the best Shenmue experience to date. The re-release will stay true to the originals with modernised features including fully scalable screen resolution, choice of modern or classic control schemes, PC graphics options, an updated user interface and the option to enjoy either the original Japanese or English voiceovers.”
There are a few remarks there about screen resolutions and graphics, but you’d think if they were remastering the game in HD they would mention it. Regardless, updated control schemes sound excellent. Those forklift racers will be everything they should have been.
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Shenmue fever is rampant right now. What was once a cult classic adventure game from twenty years ago that had bad voice acting and no conclusion, is now again in the public spotlight and set to be introduced to a whole new generation of gamers. I guess I should finally get around to finishing Shenmue II…