Upon its release, Shenmue was the most expensive video game ever made. Not surprisingly, Sega expected big success from Yu Suzuki’s pet project. The modern-day martial arts epic was a critical hit, but the Dreamcast was struggling in the worldwide market. A cult following and strong-enough sales allowed for a sequel to be produced, yet the Dreamcast didn’t last that long (Shenmue II eventually come out in the North American market for the original Xbox, Japan and Europe received a Dreamcast version).
Over a decade since inception and years of Shenmue Online rumors/delays/details, Shenmue has finally hit the Internet, in a legal sense. Shenmue City, produced and directed by Yu Suzuki, went live in Japan on Yahoo’s mobile gaming platform a few days ago. As you may expect from the platform of choice, Shenmue City is nothing like its predecessors. Set in the same world, actually during chapter one of Shenmue, the game sounds like numerous free-to-play browser games. Gameplay details lead me to believe it’s along the lines of a martial arts Shakes + Fidget with extra social aspects.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m talking about a game that (probably) none of us will ever play. It’s simple really; Yu Suzuki said that the future of the franchise rests upon Shenmue City’s critical and commercial success. That means our ability to continue Ryo Hazuki’s revenge tale ultimately depends on notoriously fickle mobile gamers.