Shenmue 1 and 2 brawl their way to PC

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In a move that feels long overdue, Shenmue and its sequel Shenmue 2 are getting their first official releases on PC. The action-adventure game series from Yu Suzuki was supposed to launch a franchise in 1999 and 2001, respectively, and has amassed a cult following in the intervening decades. The third game in the series took to Kickstarter in 2015 and became the one of the fastest fundings in crowdfunding history. This new repackaging of the first two games lays the groundwork for folks to get excited about the (hopefully) incoming new chapter. Either way, this marks the first opportunity for PC owners to finally enter Suzuki’s clockwork world of forklifts and crime.

If you’ve never played the Shenmue games, it’s a two decade long production tale involving four planned games in a sprawling revenge story. The main character is out to avenge his father’s murder, which involves graduating from a life of unskilled menial labor into a world of hard and fast martial arts. The first game in the series was the most expensive game of all time upon release, and featured an open real-time world with day/night cycles, weather, and a population of NPC that all have their own lives and schedules. It was one of the first games to deliver a big, constantly functioning, living world. I didn’t love the titles first time around, but I feel like coming back to Shenmue now, I would have a real appreciation for how everything works behind the scenes. Not that you need to be any kind of games scholar to enjoy using jujitsu on criminals. That’s always timely.

This video breaks down the game’s history and technology better than I ever could:

Sega has announced: “The re-release will stay true to the originals with modernized 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 voice-overs.”

No additional details have been given on what the PC remasters(?) will look like, and with the state of recent PC ports (like Chrono Trigger) it feels like an important time to let people know whether they’re getting a high resolution experience or just a PC experience.

Check out the trailer here:

Shenmue 1 and 2 will be available for preorder soon on Steam; physical editions are coming as well, but are planned only for consoles. Details are available at the official site. News on Shenmue 3 will be available when… uh… look, just cross your fingers and assume that Deep Silver is gonna pull this off.

If you’re in for a real blast from the past, I feel like everyone who owned a Dreamcast saw this trailer, and it may be the first longform game trailer I can remember? Anyway, imagine watching this and getting just embarrassingly hyped. That’s me. That’s who I was. Tag yourself: I’m Dreamcastboy.

33 Comments

  1. Kolbex says:

    How about a game of Lucky Hit?

  2. ResonanceCascade says:

    Shenmue is the worst great game of all time. It’s a meandering stroll through town broken up by the occasional terrible QuickTime event, the plot barely moves along by the end, and the climax is tediously moving things around with a forklift.

    Boy do I love it though.

    • joer says:

      lol could you please explain the good part? I was excited about this game’s release back in the day and then totally lost track of it.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        It’s a unique slice-of-life take on video games, full of little details and a realistic (for the time) open-world community to explore. You live Ryo’s life like he would while you’re unraveling the mystery, so you’re also dealing with normal responsibilities, like getting a job (and doing that job) and getting home on time.

  3. JiminyJickers says:

    Oh hell yeah! That is great news, I can’t wait.

  4. Kefren says:

    I completed Shenmue on my Xbox. It was often frustratingly slow and boring. Yet it also included the bits that kept me going. After the extensive city bit I thought the game would end, but it just moved to a new plot area. I remember enjoying a finale in a tower block (or maybe the game went on after that?) and have vague memories of learning how to do judo throws and trying to specialise in those. Fond memories overall.

  5. Stromko says:

    I hope Sega’s testing the waters with this and will be satisfied enough to consider bringing the Yakuza series over. For my tastes I feel like they carried on from the concept of what Shenmue set out to do and refined it much farther along.

    The Yakuza series isn’t the same as a spiritual successor to Shenmue, but they do involve living the life of particular people in a particular setting, specifically set close to modern day. They’re not simulations to the same degree, Yakuza games don’t simulate time so that you have plenty of it to explore all the side activities and minigames inbetween story sections, but the moment to moment activity seems very similar.

    I do have an ulterior motive. I played Shenmue and Shenmue 2 back in the day on Dreamcast and X-Box respectively, but haven’t perceived a compelling reason to own a console lately, so despite watching enough Yakuza games to get a sense of what they’re about I haven’t played them and probably never will unless they get ported to PC.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Brock, there’s no testing the waters about it; the Shenmue 3 kickstarter is explicitly for PC as a platform (and Sega isn’t involved as a publisher). During the KS, people kept asking about remakes of Shenmue 1/2 and all they could say was “ask Sega, we’d love that but we don’t have the rights.” So I think it’s just them finally cashing in (WHICH IS GREAT), though I can only imagine a modern audience is going to leave a lot of bad Steam reviews; what makes Shenmue brilliant is its particular flow of time and ahearance to realistic schedules/need to work a job, which means that it’s frequently boring *on purpose*. Definitely not eveyone’s cup of tea.

    (But this does mean that we should be able to import our toy collection from Shenmue 1 to 2…and maybe to 3? In the USA you couldn’t because of the Dreamcast to Xbox platform switch).

  7. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Also, the Shenmue chapter of my book is one of the few I still feel proud of. Don’t wanna dump links on RPS but if anyone wants a free PDF/EPUB copy, email me at aerothorn@gmail.com.

  8. kud13 says:

    Cool, this is anothr one of those “iconic console franchises” I kept hearing about, but never played due to never owning a console.

    Now, all we need is for the ever-so-greedy Konami to port the remastered Metal Gear games on PC….

  9. Don Reba says:

    ♥♥♥
    Two of my favourite games of all time.

  10. DanMan says:

    I still haven’t played through the 2nd one. If it’s cheap enough, I might buy it. But I still have a working DC, so I don’t exactly have to. Not to mention emulation.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Shenmue 2 is so expensive on Dreamcast that it’s actually probably cheaper to buy both an Xbox and the Xbox version of it.

      In a world where these ports didn’t make all that redundant.

      • DanMan says:

        Nono, I meant I have it for DC, but I haven’t finished it. But I could just use an emulator, too, instead of buying it for PC.

    • pentraksil says:

      Some reports are saying it will be a 30 dollar bundle.

  11. Thulsa Hex says:

    I’ve never been around a Dreamcast, so I missed out on this back in the day. I did play the first game about a year ago (through emulation), though, and really loved it. I felt transported to the setting, despite its age, and genuinely enjoyed the slow pace. I’m a sucker for games that have schedules that run on a persistent clock (see Deadly Premonition).

    I was thinking about starting Shenmue II the other day, but I’ll probably just wait for this now. A PC release is very encouraging and I’ll definitely be buying it either way.

  12. Doug Exeter says:

    I remember getting a chance to play it a few years after release and was completely baffled by the game and the hype it received. I literally had no clue what was going on after the intro.

    I didn’t see prices posted but I’d be happy to drop 20ish dollars or so to give it another try. Usually games like this that I bounce off of I end up enjoying a few years down the line.

  13. mmandthetat says:

    Dreamcast games provoke more intense nostalgia for me than any other era. I’ll just never forget how futuristic it all felt at the time. Of course, it turned out to be more promise than anything, but its unfulfilled potential holds a more special place in my soul than the entire extensive catalogs of most other consoles.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gabriele Svelto says:

      I still remember when I watched the intro of the first game with a few college buddies. It blew our socks off, at the time it was amazing. The game was so-so though it all felt so weird and technically advanced that we still had a great time with it.

  14. SaintAn says:

    Awesome, I never played it. I hope it has aged well.

  15. welverin says:

    “Sega has announced: “The re-release will stay true to the originals with modernized 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 voice-overs.””

    O.k. everyone, do yourselves a favor and do not select the English voice-overs, there is some truly awful voice acting.

  16. Zealuu says:

    It’s been a while since I played these, and watching the trailer made me think that especially the English voice acting must all feel pretty cringy by now – then I also recalled always playing with japanese VO and English subs, so maybe that was always the case …

    The second game gives you a looser day-to-day schedule as you leave your hometown behind, but there’s still that peculiar element of having to do menial labour to make money. In a video game. Was it Mafia 2 where someone gave you a job stacking crates and you were literally not allowed to finish even half a day’s work before your “destined for greater things” protagonist left in a huff to shoot 20 people and steal some cars?

    If you’ve ever strayed across Sega’s other great modern series, Yakuza, I feel like there’s a pretty clear lineage from Shenmue to Yakuza. The environmental and chronological trappings (well, barring Yakuza 0 which is also set in the 80s) and moral sensibilities of the protagonist(s) are rather different but they both like letting you wander around in fairly limited, but extremely dense environments as you unravel the plot at your own pace, constantly at risk of being sidetracked by an endless number of distractions, punctuated by bouts of combat with numerous weaker foes or individual, much more powerful ones.

    Shenmue borrows its combat system more or less wholesale from older Virtua Fighter titles (also developed by Sega AM2), and some action sequences feature enough QTEs to make David Cage blush. On the whole, I worry it’s going to be one of those “you had to be there” things, and suspect you’d perhaps be better off playing Yakuza 0, Kiwami and Song of Life, all on PS4.

  17. Morinaka says:

    Even if it’s a half arsed port i’ll be happy. I remember playing this on the Dreamcast and the constant loading screens with the Dreamcast’s churning disc seeking sounds, between every relatively small area made wandering around a chore. Getting this on even an HDD will mean quiet and smooth transitions making it a more enjoyable game.

  18. simontifik says:

    I played through most of Shenmue 2 on Xbox. I spent a lot of time gambling on the dice game to earn money for capsule toys. Much like today’s loot boxes, Shenmue was sure ahead of its time.

    “Roll it on top!”

  19. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    I don’t see the point, Forklift Simulator has been out for multiple years now.

  20. whereorangesgrow says:

    So glad to see the option to play with the Japanese voices. I tried this game before emulated and I just couldn’t get into that horrible dub.

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