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Monday, 20 January 2014

THE YEAR OF SHENMUE - 2014


Rumour has it Yu Suzuki wants to make Shenmue 3 and that he's already finished the story, but apparently SEGA aren't willing to take the risk! It's looking increasingly like SEGA has pulled the rug from underneath both him and the fans. When you have a massive software company, like SEGA, shying away from such a project, and leaving fans in the balance, is confirmation that we're living in strange times. But for some unknown reason, our bond with SEGA appears to have strengthened. 

For whatever reason, the HD age hasn't tempted SEGA to re-release many of their flagship games onto next generation systems. In fact, HD to SEGA has been the equivalent of what the ice age was to the dinosaurs. There's been the occasional effort, like Daytona and AfterBurner, but classics, the likes of Shenmue and Sega Rally, remain on the Sega software scrap heap. Very sad, as even the most unimaginative Sega fans could daydream for hours about a remastered Shenmue, and how awesome it would look. Shenmue 3 could incorporate DLC, 3D, trophies, and an arcade sporting Scud Race, Outrun 2, Daytona or Sega Rally.

It's hard to believe it, but SEGA is back to their best, almost. They definitely appear to be getting stronger as a company despite not having any revenue from a Sega games console, and for the last decade, without the weight of a failing console to hold them back, they've been shifting more games than rival Sony. SEGA are without doubt a sleeping giant. Their rich portfolio, including their huge back catalogue of games, make for an interesting past. HD, or updated re-releases of some of their most popular classics, would see them become king!

In 2009 devoted Shenmue fans united through MySpace, with a mass protest to convince SEGA to resurrect the franchise. Unfortunately, as with all subsequent requests, it fell on deaf ears. It seems too much water has gone under the bridge. Shenmue was a fantastic game that was sold to a small, yet loyal, audience, who, regardless of the fact that they have been continuously stuffed by SEGA, are still in need of closure. If SEGA were to take the risk, and embark on such a task, in the interest of capturing a fresh new audience, and drawing in current gamers, many of whom were born after the Dreamcast was released, the whole series would more than likely require a reboot. I'm not suggesting they reinvent the wheel, but the games designers could take advantage of technology that was not even available back then like ZBrush and create new and more detailed faces to replace old ones, and the extra power and processing speeds of modern consoles could easily support new high-resolution 300 dpi texture maps to replace the original lower quality ones. Revamps of this natures would immediately transport the game into 2014. It would not be cheap to do, but a fraction of the cost of creating an entirely new game, and leave the door open for a third instalment, all of which would surely make Sega millions in the long run.

SEGA needs to face its fears and get hands on with the biggest game ever! It's one of a few privileged video games that can lay claim to legendary status! Shenmue revolutionised a genre, so surely the chance for SEGA to re-release the series is a no brainer? Our experience of the first two games will stay with us forever. Time to man up - while there are still people like Yu Suzuki around and willing.

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