When Microsoft made the announcement that they'd be adopting some kind of Early Access process for the Xbone, I joked that one of the other major publishers would use their conference to announce a Kickstarter. And so..
Last night, while I was catching up on sleep after a frantic weekend, Sony invited Shenmue director Yu Suzuki onstage to announce that
they would be funding and publishing Shenmue III on PS4 he would be Kickstarting the sequel and releasing it on PC and PS4. The campaign has already raised almost $1.8m of a $2m target.
It's not quite Half Life 3 but the final (?) installment of Shenmue is one of gaming's Holy Grails. The original games were a blend of mundane tasks, QTE fights and open world investigation, and the experimental design and enormous production values ensured they stood out from the crowd. And that crowd was made up of other Dreamcast titles - rarely have a console and a game seemed so suited to one another, for good and for ill.
I don't have any attachment to Shenmue, sentimental or otherwise, and it's likely that I played the original too late to appreciate its significance. There were parts I didn't enjoy, parts that I felt I'd seen better implementation of elsewhere, and parts that made me yawn.
I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, given how exciting this is for a lot of people, but I can't help providing a bit of cloud cover. The original game had a budget that reportedly crept over the $70m mark and while it's entirely probably that some elements of production are cheaper now, there are other parts that will be a great deal more expensive.
The minimum pledge for a digital copy on PC is $29, and there are a few tiers that come with physical gifts, including toy capsules, t-shirts, artbooks and the like. For $10,000 you can get the original jacket worn during press events 14 years ago. Sure. Either that or dinner in Japan with Yu Suzuki and other top-tier backers.
What you can't get is any kind of remastered PC release of Shenmue I & II, which is a shame. If the campaign reaches $2.5m a stretch goal for Shenmue I & II cinema shorts does unlock, so you can watch the previous games while you prepare to traipse through the new one.