Shenmue III
Shenmue III Could End Up Being Far Too Reliant on the Series' Past Glories
Written Monday, June 24, 2019 By Jason Fanelli

After 18 years since the last game’s release -- and four years since this new adventure was officially announced -- Shenmue III is finally coming. The story of Ryo Hazuki previously ended on a cliffhanger, and fans have been chomping at the bit to find out what lies ahead for their forklift driving karate hero. We had a chance to get some hands-on time with the game at E3 2019, and unfortunately Shenmue III feels less like a modern sequel than it does a time capsule to the SEGA Dreamcast era.

The 15-minute demo opened with Ryo speaking with Shenhua in a scene similar to the very first trailer for the game back in 2015. After a brief conversation we take control of Ryo and have free reign to explore the tiny rural village he finds himself in. I can speak to the locals, participate in some mini-games like Lucky Hit from Shenmue II or practicing martial arts at the dojo,

Eventually I can trigger a fight scene that serves as the 'end' of the demo. That sounds like a lot, but in what is supposed to be a sprawling open world game like it’s predecessors, this demo is barely an appetiser.

The first thing that sticks out immediately is the movement, which retains the slow and plodding pace of the previous games. We can make Ryo run by holding a button, but that takes away from his stamina meter in the lower corner so we can only use it sparingly. While this certainly fits into the world of Shenmue, and Shenmue fit into the climate of video games in the early 2000s, we’re not sure 2019 will be as kind to this approach.

As for the interactions between Ryo and the village folk - or should we say lack thereof - Ryo’s mouth barely moves in conversation, his eyes locking into place and barely blinking. His body doesn’t move, standing perfectly still and rigid as he speaks. If we didn’t know going in this was the Shenmue III demo, we’d wonder if someone was playing a trick on us and actually put one of the Shenmue remasters in front of us instead.

Worse still is the English voice acting, which makes us hope for some sort of Japanese subtitled voice option when the game launches. Each line sounds like it was recorded in isolation, the voice beats sounding unnatural and wooden. The written dialogue doesn’t help matters either; when Ryo approaches the area with the mini-games, a man sitting at a table says the following: “Want to play some games? You’ll need tokens. You need tokens to play the games.” Then when we approach him and press Talk, he says “Get tokens here, you need them to play.” We’re not entirely sure, but we think we need tokens to play the mini-games.

That’s not to say the demo is all bad, as there are two redeeming qualities that bring the rough presentation up a notch. First are the mini-games themselves, the aforementioned Lucky Hit and the training exercises being prime examples that retain the old-school feel in a good way. The Horse Stance challenge, where we must keep Ryo balanced in his stance and level with a green line on-screen, is a neat little event. Practicing combos gives us time with the fighting system, which is still old-fashioned fun. There’s clearly fun to be had here, we just had to eke it out.

Speaking of that fighting system, the finale of the demo lets us try that old battle system out again in a real bout. This was the best part of the demo, as getting back into that trademark brawling system felt like getting back onto a bicycle. It didn’t take long to get right back into the swing of things, and before long we were taking it to Ryo’s adversary...not that he noticed.

We’re not sure if our foe was adjusted for the demo or not, but this guy proved super tough. We were pulling off combos and knocking him down, but his life bar barely moved throughout the fight. Meanwhile, two or three combos from him and we were down for the count. We could attempt to fight him again, as many times as we wanted before the 15-minute demo ended, but each time he repelled our attack without much effort. Eventually time ran out, the 'thank you for playing' screen appeared, and our hands-on time was done.

As the demo wrapped up, we felt an equal sense of excitement and worry for Shenmue III. On the one hand it’s more of that unique Shenmue experience, to the point where it feels like a time capsule of sorts, which is what we’ve wanted all this time. The worry comes from the same place though; it’s more Shenmue, a game from 2001 coming to a new era in video games. Will it hold up? Will the recent delay fix some of these problems? We’re not sure, but for this long-anticipated game’s sake we certainly hope so.

Shenmue III will launch on 19th November 2019 for PlayStation 4 and PC.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 30
Comment #1 by Mr cooooriiith
Monday, June 24, 2019 @ 11:09:54 PM
Having only played the first two for the first time when the remasters came out, I welcome all these negatives! Part of the charm was that it felt like watching an old, dubbed, kung fu movie.

If it was super polished with tight voice acting and motion capture it wouldn't be the same and as a result would be under closer comparison with moddrn games. I say make it as close to the originals as possible but with prettier graphics and i'll be very happy!

Forum Posts: 92
Comment #2 by Shigurui
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 @ 06:29:32 AM
^ This guy gets it. As someone who played these games when they launched on the Dreamcast I want this game to feel like it was made back then. The janky movement and terrible voicing are part and parcel of Shenmue. The closer this is to the original games the better.

Forum Posts: 348
Comment #3 by DaveEyeCandy
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 @ 02:43:57 PM
Totally undertsand where 1 & 2 comments are coming from. Its like when the 'B' movie fans have their own ideals for what they enjoy.

But I probably agree with the article. Loved the first Shen game but the re-release was lazy as f**k for me and I'm confident in that for this generation of gaming, Shen 3 is already out date with the majority.

Forum Posts: 196
Comment #4 by Spraragen88
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 @ 05:56:31 PM
Yes. I WANT this to feel as if it was a direct sequel to the franchise. We don't want modern mechanics and gameplay. This should feel like a remaster of a Dreamcast game, not a totally new direction for the series.

Forum Posts: 67
Comment #5 by OMGmyFACE
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 @ 08:15:45 PM
I get that a lot of this is going to seem lame to most people but that's what Shenmue 1 and 2 are like to most people as well. It's really one of those love it or hate it franchises because of how slow and weird it feels to play and if this is more like the first two than something more "modern," I'm super excited. The last thing this series needed after it was revived was to be like any other series.

Forum Posts: 64
Comment #6 by SolidusRaccoon
Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 11:59:03 PM
Shenmue III should feel like it came right after II. The horrid VA is part of the games charm.

Forum Posts: 49
Comment #7 by Bentleyma
Wednesday, July 03, 2019 @ 08:17:38 PM
If anything seeing how close Shenmue III is to the first two games has made me want it more.

You need to register before being able to post comments.


Game Info
Ys Net
Deep Silver


US November 19, 2019
Europe November 19, 2019
Japan November 19, 2019

Players: 1
Online Players : 0
ESRB: Teen
You need to log in or register to use MyTrophies.
Related News




You need to log in or register to rate games.

User Score is based on 5 user ratings.