Classics 'Shenmue' and 'Shenmue II' set for 2018 remaster (VIDEO)

‘Shenmue I and II’ is bringing a classic adventure out of the past. ― AFP pic
‘Shenmue I and II’ is bringing a classic adventure out of the past. ― AFP pic

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17 ― With Shenmue III resurrecting a fabled franchise and expected towards the end of the year, original publisher Sega is bringing back its two iconic prequels for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

After 19 years, iconic adventure game Shenmue will be made available on a console other than the original Sega Dreamcast.First released in 1999, Shenmue featured teenager Ryo Hazuki on a journey to find the person that killed his father, a quest that took him through Japan and then, in 2001's Shenmue II, through Hong Kong and into mainland China.

The titles helped introduce a new template for action-adventure games that offered unusually comprehensive levels of interaction and immersion ― one that its designer, Yu Suzuki, dubbed “Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment,” and is today better associated with the sprawling open world genre.

Therefore, in order to aid Ryo on his detective mission, players could find themselves trying to earn money by working at the docks, gambling, or even by winning forklift truck races; they could play arcade video games (Shenmue takes place in the 1980s) or visit fortune tellers on the way to Hong Kong and then southern China.

Now, just as Suzuki is working to deliver Shenmue III, crowdfunded to the tune of US$6 million in 2015, Sega is releasing updated versions of Shenmue and Shenmue II for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Revisions to the game's retrospectively blocky graphics appear to have been minimal, with Sega calling the retail and digital twofer a re-release that will “stay true to the originals,” while promising “fully scalable screen resolution, choice of modern or classic control schemes, PC graphics options, an updated user interface and the option to enjoy either the original Japanese or English voiceovers.”

Pre-orders are to start “soon” ahead of a console and computer release sometime in 2018.

Yet when the Shenmue remasters and their long-awaited threequel arrive, they'll be dealing not only with the challenge of living up to nostalgic memories, but of finding space in a genre that has made considerable strides in their absence.

Sega's own “Yakuza” franchise is in many ways the de facto heir to Shenmue sensibilities ― though without its classically noble hero or optimistic outlook ― while the Grand Theft Auto series has been a defining factor in open world genre once it embraced 3D in 2001; wild west adventure Red Dead Redemption 2, from the “GTA” studio network is, like Shenmue III, expected towards the end of the year. ― AFP-Relaxnews