What Is Shenmue?
Shenmue is a name that has made a most unexpected comeback in recent times. In short, Shenmue was an action-adventure game that was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, which was followed up by Shenmue II in 2001. There was a effort to create a spin-off called Shenmue Online that went nowhere as well as an effort to launch another spin-off called Shenmue City that shut down within a very short period of time.
As a result, it came as something of a surprise when the series creator Suzuki Yu managed to crowd-fund a Shenmue III in 2015, which was followed up by the announcement that both Shenmue and Shenmue II would be ported over to Windows, the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One. Now, Shenmue III is expected to be released in 2019, while its predecessors will be making their return in August of 2018. Something that should come as welcome news to those who remember the series with nothing but fondness.
As for those who are unfamiliar with the Shenmue series, well, suffice to say that it started out as the story of a Japanese martial artist named Ryo Hazuki seeking revenge for the killing of his father. As a result, the Shenmue series was rather interesting in that it featured brawler battles in open world environments, which bore a strong resemblance to the Virtua Fighter series.
Something that was perhaps unsurprising considering that the first game started out as a RPG in the Virtua Fighter setting. Regardless, the combination of said mechanics with elements of both RPGs and social simulation games enabled the Shenmue series to make a stand-out impression, which explains a fair amount about why it has managed to remain strong in the minds of its fan base in spite of the fact that it was a commercial disaster.
Should You Play The Original Shenmue On The Dreamcast?
With that said, some people might be wondering whether they should be playing Shenmue and Shenmue II on the Sega Dreamcast before Shenmue III is released. After all, it has been a long, long time since Shenmue and Shenmue II came out, meaning that a refresher could put people in the proper mind-set to get the most out of their follow-up. Moreover, the Shenmue series is one of those series that has somehow managed to become a semi-important part of their gaming experience for a lot of video game players out there, meaning that playing the first two installments can help interested individuals get a better idea of what their fellow enthusiasts are talking about.
However, considering that Shenmue and Shenmue II are set to be ported over to Windows, the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One, it is difficult to make the argument that people should choose the originals rather than waiting a little while longer for the ports to come out.
Primarily, this is because the Sega Dreamcast is old, so much so that there aren’t a lot of people out there with a functional example that has been set up and is ready to go. As a result, people who want to play the original Shenmue and Shenmue II are going to have to go through a fair amount of hassle to get a hold of a functional Sega Dreamcast, hook it up to their TV of choice, and then get a hold of copies of those two games.
This is without considering the fact that the current market for the Sega Dreamcast is rather unstable, meaning that interested individuals can’t predict their costs with perfect certainty. If they are lucky, they will be able to get a Sega Dreamcast for less than a hundred dollars. If they are not, well, suffice to say that the prices can go higher than that, particularly if they are reluctant to make purchases off of the Internet.
Compare this with waiting for the ports of Shenmue and Shenmue II. Over on Steam, the price is $26.99 USD at the moment, though the price is expected to go up a bit once the special promotional price for the preorder period comes to a close. This isn’t the price for either Shenmue or Shenmue II, but rather Shenmue and Shenmue II. As a result, combined with the fact that there is no need to buy a whole console for the experience, it is clear that waiting for the ports of Shenmue and Shenmue II is both the cheaper and more convenient option.
On top of that, it should be mentioned that the ports of Shenmue and Shenmue II are intended to be HD ports as well. As a result, while interested individuals shouldn’t expect them to incorporate a lot of new things, they can expect them to look better than the originals, which should come as welcome news to those who are accustomed to HD graphics. Something that can be rather important for some people out there.
Summed up, people who like either RPGs or brawlers should give Shenmue and Shenmue II a chance, particularly if they have been eyeing the upcoming Shenmue III. However, unless they have a functional Sega Dreamcast sitting at home, they shouldn’t go with the originals of those two games because of the sheer hassle that would be involved in the processed. Instead, they should wait for the HD ports of Shenmue and Shenmue II to come out, which promise to be not just better-looking but also cheaper as well. Moreover, since a lot of people who play video games will already have either a PlayStation 4, a Xbox One, or a Windows PC capable of running something from the late 1990s and early 2000s, that eliminates a huge source of potential inconvenience.
With that said, it will be interesting to see whether the ports of Shenmue and Shenmue II will prove successful. In particular, it will be interesting to see what conclusions one can draw about Shenmue III based on the sales of its predecessors. So far, the Shenmue series has been a commercial failure, but its revival via crowdfunding suggests that said situation has the potential to change.