Have you noticed that Sega has been releasing a lot of HD ports on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network recently? They released Crazy Taxi, Daytona, and we’ve got Jet Set Radio coming up soon too. The game everyone keeps asking about is Shenmue. Will we ever see an HD port of that wonderful Dreamcast gem?
For those uninitiated, Shenmue was the most expensive videogame ever created back when it was originally released in 2000 (in North America). At the time the budget ballooned to an estimated $70 million dollars! Over the years there has been some debate over whether or not this figure was over embellished, but regardless, it was an extremely expensive game to make. It had a lengthy development cycle dating all the way back to the early Saturn days (1995).
Part of the problem with Shenmue was like a lot of classic Sega games and hardware; it was years ahead of its time. Today a game like Shenmue would likely fair much better than it did back in 2000. While the official worldwide sales were never confirmed, we do know that the original game sold over a million units worldwide. As for its sequel, nothing is known of the global sales. The Dreamcast version of Shenmue II was never released in North America so fans had to wait for the original Xbox version in order to continue the story, or import the European version. Regardless of the sales, Shenmue is considered the pioneer of open-world style gameplay, made famous by Grand Theft Auto III only a year later in 2001.
So now rumors are starting to mount, largely thanks to Sega itself, that the next big Dreamcast game that will receive the HD facelift and be released on both Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network will in fact be Shenmue. Sources claim the remaster was completed over a year ago, but that the publisher is unsure whether or not it wants to devote resources to Shenmue III. Apparently Shenmue II is also ready for release, and the idea is that if the company were to release both original parts of the series, they would be obligated to finish the rest of the story with a new entry.
Only time will tell what truth there is to this story, but as a fan of the original game I’d love to see the story finally concluded.