Now that the dust has settled sufficiently since E3 2015, the developers working on recently-kickstarted Shenmue 3 have released another video that’s technically a trailer, but functions more as a teaser. Titled Lake of the Lantern Bugs, the video was published today on the game’s YouTube channel: Shenmue 3 Official.
Despite the absence of context for what’s seen in the trailer and relatively poor production value, the video has already gained plenty of attention. That’s just par for the course, though, for any of the news surrounding the game. Since the announcement at Sony’s E3 conference, the hype train has been chugging along at full speed. The franchise has been one of the most suggested “properties in need of a reboot” for over a decade.
For readers unfamiliar with the franchise, Shenmue and Shenmue 2 were produced and directed by Yu Suzuki of Japan with the help of one of Sega’s development studios and released for Sega’s Dreamcast console. At the time, the console was performing below average on the market and Sega took a gamble on Suzuki and Shenmue in hopes the game would sell more consoles. The Dreamcast was wrought with other problems that caused it to eventually fail, but that’s another story entirely. Suzuki originally wrote a story that was meant to take place over the span of four games and in December 1999 Shenmue released in Japan. It saw NA and EU released during the holiday season of the following year. Shenmue 2 was released for the Dreamcast in 2001 and re-released for the original Xbox in 2002.
In terms of scope and relative to games of its era, Shenmue was massive. It was one of the few games funded heavily enough to strive for a cinematic feel that the hardware of the time made very difficult to achieve. And by today’s standards, the game isn’t nearly as impressive. The games are all narrative-driven and follow a Japanese boy, Ryo Hazuki, during his travels to China in order to train under masters of martial arts and avenge his murdered father. Very few games of the time would touch so epic a story with a ten-foot pole. Please note that “epic” is an adjective referring to size and vastness, not a positive personal opinion.
Cancellation of the series didn’t happen until the release of the second game failed to yield any net profit for Sega, and it was discontinued for nearly fifteen years. Sony has teamed up with Suzuki, essentially only forking enough cash over to Suzuki to produce the trailer shown at E3, and promised to publish the game if the kickstarter works out. Regardless, Sony’s marketing team made the right choice because the Shenmue 3 kickstarter has been the only one in history popular enough to temporarily crash kickstarter’s website, and its two million dollar goal was met within the first twenty-four hours.
The game has no concrete release date, but is hoped to launch by December 2017. Fans will unfortunately have to wait it out another year and a half.