While most people are busy thinking about Spider-Man and a new Destiny 2 expansion this week, some of us are still hopelessly obsessed with Shenmue thanks to its recent remaster. If you're still thinking about tracking down sailors and playing games of Lucky Hit, then we have just the show for you.
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I remember my teens, my early twenties. I'm not talking about the febrile highs or the painful embarrassments - although I remember those too - but the sheer aimlessness, the great stretches of unoccupied time, the loafing. Waiting for the one daily bus into town from the Northamptonshire village where I grew up and killing time window-shopping until the one bus back; later, as a procrastinating student, ambling down Coney Street in York, pastry in hand, knowing my afternoon would end in me clocking the Super Mario 64 demo for the umpteenth time in GAME, as if I didn't have anything better to do. Maybe I didn't.
It may not be the full-on remaster/remake we might have hoped for, but Shenmue and its sequel are finally playable on modern hardware, courtesy of Sega and developer d3t. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC releases are available, each delivering a remarkably close conversion of the Dreamcast originals, with one or two interesting tweaks.
Let's begin with the first game. It should come as no surprise that Shenmue HD delivers a higher resolution experience. Across all Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Shenmue HD operates with a 1080p pixel-count - whether you're gaming on base or enhanced hardware. The good news is that image quality is terrific. Shenmue uses a form of anti-aliasing that manages to clean up edges to the point where it's nearly impossible to see individual pixel steps. It's an extremely effective solution and it holds up well even when scaled on a 4K TV.
More importantly, in comparison to Dreamcast, shimmering is kept to an absolute minimum with thin objects and fine details appearing temporally stable in the HD version. In its original format, Shenmue exhibits a lot of noticeable shimmering and aliasing - something atypical for the Dreamcast. That's because Shenmue is one of the few games on the system to completely eschew mip-maps - something it shares with AM2's arcade games. My guess is that AM2 felt that the side effects of utilising bilinear filtering in combination with mip-maps - which leads to blurred textures at oblique angles - took too great a toll on the perception of fine detail. Thankfully, the new HD version handles this much more effectively, enabling clean surfaces devoid of shimmering and artefacts.
It's the news many have been waiting for - Sega is releasing remasters of the first two Shenmue games, and they're coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC later this year.
The re-release of Shenmue 1 and 2 will be available together as a single package and will remain "true to the originals", according to Sega, while offering scalable screen resolutions and PC graphics options, modern or classic control schemes and an updated user interface.
You can also choose between English or Japanese voiceovers, for those who want the option.
Sega has said it is "looking into" remasters of the first two Shenmue games.
We've all seen the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter pitch, but meanwhile, here's what a diehard Shenmue fan's been cooking up:
Shenmue is one of my favourite game franchises of all time. Ryo Hazuki's journey to avenge his father's death first began back when I was just 11 years old, so it's no exaggeration to say I've been following his story for more than half my life.
UPDATE#2: Sony has clarified its role in Shenmue 3 in a recent official stream on the game, and revealed it's helping to bring Yu Suzuki's project to life.
Following its spectacular announcement at Sony's E3 conference, there were questions about what the company's involvement was, and why Shenmue 3 was going to Kickstarter at the same time as appearing on-stage. The $2 million amount announced as a goal on the Kickstarter - which was surpassed within 9 hours - doesn't appear to pertain to the game's entire budget, and instead has been used as proof of interest in the project before other investors dive in.
"Sony and PlayStation is definitely a partner in this game," Sony PlayStation's director of third party production and developer relations Gio Corsi. "It's going be run through third-party production. We're going to help YsNet get the game done. We're going to be partners on it the whole way."
Sega classics Shenmue and Streets of Rage will receive vinyl editions of their soundtracks via new London-based record label Data Discs.
E3 is just around the corner, which means it's obviously time for the rumour mill to creak into action and start guffing out hints that long awaited games are finally going to be confirmed. Today it's the turn of that old favourite, Shenmue 3, the MIA concluding chapter in Yu Suzuki's ambitious and expensive series of adventures about revenge, martial arts and driving forklift trucks.
A Shenmue superfan is recreating Yu Suzuki's 2000 Dreamcast adventure in HD for a modern audience.
At one point during the development of Dreamcast classic Shenmue its cats walked around on two legs, while some men strutted around like Marilyn Monroe.
A trademark application for the long-awaited Shenmue 3 is, unsurprisingly, a hoax.
The trademark listing popped up earlier this week and sparked a fresh wave of rumours that the series was getting a revival. Alas, this is not to be.
"Sega has confirmed that the recent application for the trademark of Shenmue 3 is a fake and is looking into the origins of this application," the publisher told Eurogamer.
Editor's note: Shenmue 3 is not only a thing after its reveal at last night's barnstorming Sony conference, it's already reached its Kickstarter goal. What better time, then, to go back to the original Shenmue in this retrospective piece, first published in 2012, about a day-trip to Yokosuka.
Tak Hirai, the main programmer of beloved Dreamcast games Shenmue and Space Channel 5, has announced a new PlayStation Vita rhythm game called Orgarhythm.
Sega is ready to release HD updates of cult Dreamcast classics Shenmue and Shenmue 2, according to a new report.
Shenmue HD and Shenmue 2 HD will be released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, Gamerzines claimed.
Indeed development of both titles has been finished for over a year, an anonymous source said. The hold up was due to Sega working out the future of the Shenmue franchise, apparently. "Namely, whether or not Shenmue 3 would ever see the light of day," said the report.
Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki has hinted that his YsNet studio might be able to obtain the rights to the adventure franchise from Sega.
Bad news for all those clinging to hope that Shenmue 3 might one day see a green light. A social mobile game spun off from the beloved Sega franchise Shenmue has shut up shop after only 12 months online.
Contrary to popular belief, Peter Moore wasn't solely responsible for calling time on Sega's fondly remembered final console, Dreamcast.
Legendary game developer Yu Suzuki has said SEGA will "probably" let him create Shenmue 3.
Former SEGA mastermind Yu Suzuki has tantalisingly teased that Shenmue 3 is much more than a fantasy - it exists.
Shenmue series creator Yu Suzuki wants to make Shenmue 3.
SEGA has announced plans to release a new instalment in the Shenmue series.
Leaked images that appear to be from Microsoft's PartnerNet developer service suggest that Shenmue II may be heading to Xbox Live Arcade.
SEGA has declined to comment on a report stating that the publisher hopes to release Shenmue 3 on a next generation games console.