Remember how exciting Sony’s E3 2015 was? Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III blew the gaming industry’s hype-hat off with dangerous levels of nostalgia.
Two years later and neither game has a release date. But! Shenmue III has just received “The 1st Teaser” on the official Playstation channel.
First criticisms have been aimed at the facial tech, calling them stiff. The first two Shenmues were similarly plastic, with only moving mouths and swaying bodies. The faces were often grotesquely stretched.
For comparison, here’s video from the first game, released back in Dec, 1999.
Often, we mis-remember classic games as looking much better than they actually did. But in this case, I’d say the Dreamcast version holds up quite well.
At first glance, the new faces don’t seem to be much improved from the originals. The modern lighting and environments are obviously better, but also highlight the lackluster faces in an unflattering contrast. At least the original game’s faces fit right in with the blurrier graphics of the time.
Where does the game fit
The Shenmue III kickstarter was ridiculously successful, but also controversial when it was revealed Sony used it to measure interest before investing their own money. I bought in to receive a copy for just $30 USD, so we shouldn’t expect AAA production. But, I’ve seen $40 titles look much better in the past year or two. Granted, this is the first teaser with time left in production to make improvements.
Shenmue 1 and 2 were marketed on the strength of their tech. The impressive amount of NPCs, fully functioning world and adherence to time were big selling points in an era of gaming that still thought ultra-realism was cool.
Without bleeding-edge tech, Shenmue III loses a selling point that was so integral to its previous identity.
Personally, I played the game like a B-movie. I found the voice acting and translation bloody hilarious, especially considering how serious the story took itself. You’ve probably heard about the ‘sailors’ Ryo Suuki is so obsessed with, but that’s just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to goofy conversations. My personal favorite is how the stilted voices make Ryo appear so disinterested in his love interest, especially when she interrupts him talking to a cat.
From the passionate (to say the least) fan reaction to Shenmue III’s announcement, I assume the narrative hit home for many, and their interest is purely to see where the story concludes. Suzuki has had plenty of time to craft the perfect ending, so I hope it pleases most.
My original Kickstarter payment didn’t go through and I had to pledge again through YS net, but it’s been so long I have zero record of it and fear I might have to pay twice for those wonderful faces.