Shenmue 3 won’t be the conclusion of Ryo’s story, but it’s too early to talk about Shenmue 4

Speaking during an interview with Eurogamer, former SEGA developer and all-around video game legend, Yu Suzuki, has stressed that the upcoming Shenmue 3 will not be the concluding chapter in protagonist Ryo Hazuki’s epic tale of revenge. 

While the story of the cult franchise, which began life of the Dreamcast more than 15 years ago, has become far bigger than initially planned, Suzuki-san is fully focused right now on getting Shenmue 3 out the door for its planned December 2017 launch window. However, the Hang-On creator seems intent on giving fans the conclusion they have so long desired providing things go well for the upcoming third instalment in the action-RPG series.

"Originally, as you know, there was going to be 11 chapters. It was only ever going to be two games. When we began development, the volume of the story was too big for one game. When we decided it was going to be two games, most of the story was already complete. To fit all of the rest of the 11 chapters into Shenmue 3, it could help the story progress, but it’d lose it’s playability. Shenmue’s a game, not a novel – if it loses its playability, it loses its purpose, so it’s not the final part."

He added: "One of the biggest differences between now and at Sega is I had my own development department with a team I’d worked with before. Now, I have to put together my own team – that’s been one of the biggest differences. Once I knew the Kickstarter campaign was going ahead, I got in touch with people I used to work with at Sega, and asked if they wanted to do it or not. That’s basically how I got the team together! Of course, research is important as well – not just the people, but the technology we have now."

Given that Shenmue 3 is a Kickstarter-funded project, Suzuki-san is mindful of using the funds wisely. As such, his philosophy when it comes to graphics vs gameplay is made very clear: a game does not have to be the best-looking title on the market to ensure people want to play it. 

"I could do with a bit more money! The game itself doesn’t have to be gorgeous visually – a lot of the money these days goes into the graphics. If we perhaps compromise on the graphics and put more into the story, we can make a good game. The most important thing, to me, is that the game’s interesting, and that it’s something people want to play."

Shenmue 3 was formally announced after years of rumors at E3 2015 during Sony’s press conference. The game went on to become the fastest video game on Kickstarter to reach one million, and went on to raise two million in less than 24 hours. The project would ultimately raise more than $6.3 million via crowdfunding, with funds still being donated using the recently launched Slacker Backer campaign. Interestingly, the game’s announcement in June sent sales of pre-owned Dreamcast consoles through the roof

Shenmue was released on the Dreamcast in Japan in 1999, and was translated for a western release the following year. The sequel was launched in 2001 in Japan and Europe for SEGA’s ill-fated console, although in the U.S. Shenmue 2 was only available on the Xbox, albeit fully translated into English voice acting.