A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue (2023) Movie Script

Before the Internet
I would get all of my game news
from Barnes and Noble's magazine rack.
I would go in there and I would look at
Game Pro and Nintendo Power
and PlayStation magazine
and Dreamcast magazine
and I can remember so vividly
sitting in a Barnes and Noble
looking at Shenmue before it was out
and I can remember
just saying this is this looks crazy
this looks like nothing I've ever seen
this came out of nowhere
like nothing like this
had ever really done this to this scale
the ability of Shenmue
and what it promised
was unlike anything
we've ever seen on our console
up to that date not even close
people were not ready for it.
Shenmue is about a protagonist
who comes back to his home to find that
his father is about to be murdered
he can't stop that
but then he has to basically
find the identity of the murderer
and pursue him
along the way you meet
all sorts of friends and
and you just talk to these people
and try to get a good sense of the culture
and you get really immersed
not only into the game but like
the lifestyle the game creates for you
they're presenting you with this world
and this story
and like there's the main story beats
but there's so much hidden
underneath the surface that
even to this day like I kid you know
I like I've played that game 20-30 times
I'm still finding little bits
of information or a little cutscenes
and a little secret things
that I just didn't find when I first
played the game back in the day
I was immediately drawn in the story
the characters
how everything was treated
how everything was treated with respect
the fact that you weren't
rushed into everything
when you look at message boards
when you talk to people in person
what they remember is that almost hypnotic
experience of interacting
with a place a very specific place
in a very specific time
for me it changed everything
it changed how I looked at games
and the potential
but when everything was tangible
like it wasn't Shenmue it was
probably the watershed
moment of videogames
not just Sega or Nintendo or Sony
but the industry as a whole
and how it's grown
and the amount of people it's inspired
the fact that they were able
to pull that off in like 1999
2000 that is wild it is insane
what do you think makes you so
different from other game developers
and do you feel you represent
a new kind of developer
he does not necessarily
think that of himself
as a new type of developer
he has actually met and spoke
with many game developers
but he has never met someone who
makes games the way he does
and he thinks that watching movies or
looking up at the sky or at the sunset
those kinds of stimulations
are very important
and I'd like to keep making games this way.
Yu Suzuki
as weird as it is I almost consider him
the Shigeru Miyamoto of Sega
this guy just had really great ideas
for games
and simple ideas but they were fun ideas.
Part of the magic of what Yu Suzuki
brings to to games
especially back in the arcade era
was the level of the melding of technology
and gameplay and visuals
that nobody was doing at the time
and so you knew that when you sat
down in the arcade
and you saw a new game from Sega
particularly that was
being directed by Yu-san
it was always pushing the limit
and he's a legend in the industry
especially when it comes
to his craftiness as an engineer.
Yu-san had created so many different ways
of tricking the hardware
and having a go way beyond
what it was actually capable of
when I was very young
the place that you would want to go
the place that you would have
the best games
was at an arcade because arcades
were these gigantic cabinets
and they were capable of things that you
could never accomplish on your eight bit
Nintendo Entertainment System
or your Atari or your ColecoVision
or your Magnavox Odyssey
if you really wanted you know the major
league talent you'd go to the arcade
and that's even where you know
some of the more popular games from
that era were first available
when I was a kid
going to the arcades and playing hang on
and my dad put me on this
like really big motorcycle,
and he would actually ship me back
and forth
because I was too small
to actually shift it with my own weight
and that to me is what Sega was all about,
having those kind of experiences
in the arcade where everyone else was
still kind of using joysticks and buttons.
Yu Suzuki kind of takes it one step further
he was like, okay well
if I am going to be in a car driving
like sure I have a steering wheel
I have a clutch whatever
but I want to be in a car
and I want to feel it move
motion was a big thing
that he kind of introduced into the scene
that's what made him famous
for the sage of titles
he shied away from doing console gaming
for the longest time
because you just couldn't
have something that matched the
performance then the powers of the arcade
cabinets gave him
I don't think that he really approached
games as toys
he approached them
as as experiences as opposed to
how many points can I score
and how gamey and silly
can I make this?
He was always approaching
from a real realism perspective
and then really just kind of fulfilling
the fantasy of what it's like
at some point in the late eighties
and the nineties you have this crossover
between arcades and home entertainment
or home consoles
8 bit console called the master system
that was it was modestly successful
it actually did pretty well in Europe
but in the United States in Japan
it really flamed out pretty quickly.
Sega was not a household name
certainly not in my household
until the nineties with the
with the Sega Genesis
and then it became the biggest deal
in town
it became a part of our identity
it became a part
of the cultural zeitgeist
it became the shorthand
for the next generation of gaming
this new product this new console
the Sega Genesis was really the hail
Mary pass for the company
was a new generation of technology
and it could really bring
the arcade experience
home in a way that had never been possible
I would honestly believe
that Sega was really kind
of pushing it more than anyone else
with their home based consoles
they're really giving the best graphics
that would look very similar
to what you would get in an arcade
the roots of Sega where most of these
games would be imported from the arcade
and Sega was really quickly
burning through all of its arcade hits
and once those arcade hits
were ported to Sega Genesis
then where would we go next?
After the success of the Genesis Sega
needed to come up with another console
to take things to another level and
they ended up releasing the Sega Saturn.
What was happening for Sega?
Sega had created a bunch of peripherals
that had not done so well in the us
they created the Sega CD
the 32X the Sega Saturn
which was really really expensive
and so people were losing faith
in the entire Sega brand
and Sega knew they had to do something
big drastic and intense.
Sega back in the day
had a level of integrity
that was almost unparalleled
so having people like Yu Suzuki
he was already experimenting
with a 3D polygon technology
and it got everybody excited
about a more realistic fighting game
the Virtua Fighter
was this massive franchise for Sega
it was one of the few things
that anybody bought a Sega Saturn for
especially in Japan
and so Sega said
we need more virtua fighter games
Yu Suzuki you made that franchise
we want something else
from you
what do you want to do?
And that's
where he got interested in the RPG idea.
And he's like
alright I'll take virtua fighter
my most popular thing and with Sega's
blessing and I'll make an RPG
and I remember hearing about
and reading about that Yu Suzuki was moving
away from arcades and was going to make
his first consumer focused console game
and it was a Virtua Fighter
RPG or Project Berkley
which he was calling at the time
he was supposed to tell the story of Akira
one of the main characters of that game.
The video of Shenmue on the Saturn
is amazing for the Saturn
they got far enough along in development
where the Saturn was no longer relevant
so they're like we're not going to release
this giant blockbuster game
when all that's being left out
there is sports titles
the Saturn at the time
they had released it early before
anybody knew it was actually coming out
so its initial sales are really low
and then when Sony basically announced
a much cheaper console
it just kind of destroyed them
so Sony really took the market
and just destroyed it and Nintendo
was still relying on cartridges which was
a lot more expensive to produce for
so Sony was just reeling it in
so they're like, we'll just stop
we'll start all over again
and we'll put it out on our upcoming
console the Sega Dreamcast
and we'll use it as this big flagship
title to boost that console
all the mistakes they did
in the past with the Sega CD the 32X
and just making all these variations
of add-ons for the consoles
the Dreamcast really was trying to be
the thing that fixed all that.
In the fairytale version of the story
you'd like to think that
if the Genesis was the western console
that worked and the Saturn was the eastern
console that worked they'd finally
figured out oh we can get east and west
and come with this wonderful thing
called the Dreamcast
and from the commercials
and also from my own
firsthand playing of the Dreamcast
it felt like it was that magical thing
it felt kind of weird and foreign
as an American but it also felt amazing
you know the drink has had a tremendous
tremendous slate at launch
trek style hydro thunder
a little later Jet Set Radio Future
I mean you think of these great games
but Shenmue was a
tentpole in a different way.
Video games
is always like a big part of growing up
it was like the one escape that I had
you know being kind of like
the the quiet shy kid
played video games
since I was like five years old
and then 2000, 2001
that's the year I discovered Shenmue
and that's when like you know
the obsession started.
I really liked anime
growing up like loved anime loved Japan
the idea of it it was
it was very foreign to me
but there was some something about it
that not just me but a ton of other people
that just found Japan very interesting
and I think it was because of the media
that we were consuming right
like Dragon Ball Z Pokmon
that sort of stuff
oh this is great anime's awesome
it comes from Japan
I want to learn more about Japan
this is pre Google Maps pre anything
I think you have to open the encyclopedia
go to Japan like
oh look cherry blossoms
it's cool here's a neat picture
or you can play Shenmue and like
dive right into the game.
You know you have really two elements
happening in Shenmue at the same time
you have this revenge story
that's kind of classical Japanese
a little bit of wuxia Chinese mythology
stuff going on which is fairly typical
I mean you think back to the NES days
one of the earliest NES games
kung fu is pretty much that
but then you have this other thing
you have this other thing
where you get to interact in a living
breathing world
in a place and time
that is so incredibly specific.
You're literally like a
an 18 year old high school guy in Japan
walking around experiencing things
and you're like this is different
this appeals to my interest
I want to play this Mark
because I feel like
this is the closest thing that me
a 13 year old is going to get
who is stuck in Newmarket Ontario
this is the closest to Japan I'm ever
going to get at this point in my life.
So Peter and I landed in Tokyo
we got here on what
like seven days ago?
Monday so five days ago yeah
and already we've done like
so much yeah
and you live here yeah I already
live here yeah
but I've never been to Dobuita
five or so years I've lived in Japan
and the one thing we all have in
common is like we're hardcore fans
yeah hardcore hardest of cores
the hardest of cores
would be in the top tier
the top tier of Shenmue fans
the most passionate I'd say
when I was 24 or 25 I made the decision
like hey I have disposable
income and I have a network of friends
that I've met online
that are huge fans of this game
that want to go to Japan
and want to go to Dobuita
in Yokosuka, where Shenmue is set
it was something
that Shenmue fans had done
for a very long time I don't know who the
first one
to do it was but you start
when you spend enough time on the forum
you hear stories of people do that
and you see pictures that
people start posting like
hey I went to the place where Shenmue was
based off of and here are my photos
and here was my experience and as a fan
you read that and you're like
oh man I have to do that
like that's like if I don't do that
I'm going to
I'm going to really really regret it
so yeah I met some people
I got on a plane I went to Japan
and I was like okay let's let's do it
let's go on the Shenmue pilgrimage
so we're in Yokosuka now walking around
already kind of get
that like vibe a little bit
you can kind of tell
I got too much
yeah well
that's why I haven't really spoken
much since I get off the train
and yeah it's this is like
kind of taking it all in arrival
in Japan feeling x10
because this is where it's
this is where it's all like
yeah this is why we're
even just seeing like a
lot of like American sailors
walking around
yeah it's already kind of settling in
it's cool so we're
heading over to Dobuita Street now.
You talk to the people who were involved
in the first Shenmue game
and hearing their stories
about working with Yu-san
it's you can almost sense the frustration
in their voice just thinking back
to those days where they're having
to design things that didn't exist
so they could put in this game
and at the time they might not even have
realized like why am I doing
like why are we doing this?
Why are we spending so much time
and energy on this?
Like designing five different doors
or designing a night and day system
or designing real life elements
like like a capsule toy or something
like why are things like this in the game?
They showed that to the
other game developers
and the people who are working under them
they would play Shenmue
but then they would get
kind of almost obsessed with the capsule
toys and want to find different ones
and keep playing and keep playing it
so they can collect the other ones
and there's almost that aha moment
this is what Yu-san means
like this is what he wanted
and this is what he was able to envision
the whole time.
Well, the great thing
Shenmue is that it was
based on real locations
in Japan in 1986
and the beauty of it is that we can come
and visit this great country
but as me fans
we can find these locations
and whatever relevant plans
to actually go visit them
so it's not entirely
based on the exact layout of the game,
but a few of the places are scattered
together mainly in Yokosuka
and as you get closer
and closer to the Dobuita
you start to see little bits and
pieces of it that you're like okay I see
and then once you get to like the street
and there's that one intersection
you see that and then it sets triggering
like all these moments of nostalgia
in your head
so of course
you had the tobacco shop over there
you have to pay phones Ryo could
walk over here technically
there would be a bus stop right over here
you come through
the arcade would be right here
and then Dobuita Street would be right here
you will run through there
and then there's the hamburger shop
just down there actually
so yeah
so it makes it makes perfect sense
it's not exactly one to one but
you know
you can see where Yu Suzuki's head was at
especially back
in the in the nineties when he came
in he came through here to
location scouting so
of course the main attraction of Shenmue
one was the main street
which is Dobuita Street
and not too far from that is the harbor
so that's the main two settings
of the first game yeah
and the great thing is that
it's conveniently located between the two
that finds this place that is also can go
visit them
his team would go and research
what was the actual
weather of the day that the game is set in
in this part of the country?
What was the sound?
What was the sound
that the telephones made at that time
when you would call domestically
within Japan or when you would call
international to Canada?
And what was the ringtone in Canada
when you would call how does the wire on
the telephone call in a way that was like
it was representative of 1980s Japan.
One day you might be walking down the road
and I know ladies outside of our house
and then the next day she's not
she will have her own routine day by day
that will change in what she does
and that goes for every single character
you never know
what will happen in the world
it's almost unexpected day by day.
Only way that you could ever find out
that information
is if you pick up the phone
and call that person multiple times.
I probably played through that game
seven or eight times before
I even realized that like
I could call my friends multiple times
and like learn more about them
that was one of the craziest things
about that game
and just the whole process
that went into making it.
So and we are now on route to
Dobuita Street we're just 10 minutes away
when I got there in real life and
I was walking around and kind of seeing it
and it was just taking me back to
when I was that kid
who discovered Shenmue
for the first time
I think that was the magic right there
I didn't even think
that I would ever find myself in Japan
but like now I'm here and this is
something that I really want to do
yeah just I don't
I feel like I have to it's like well
it's a Shenmue fan I have to I'm obligated
what's the one thing you want to do today?
Oh ok this day
is not going to be complete
until I drop in 130 vending machine
chug a coke at the exact same
I'm going to mentally
time it so I have you know the drink drink.
It was a cool feeling and I don't know
how to describe that feeling
to people from other fan communities
because it's such like a thing
specific to Shenmue right like
going half way across
the world to this place
that was in a video game
I don't think I've ever seen
anybody do that
I don't know what it was
that made us want to do it but it's like
okay, if there's a payphone,
let's get a photo of us
like talking on the phone or let's buy
a capsule toy from the vending machine
when you do that people
probably think you're so weird
and so strange but I don't know it
felt like something that I needed to do
like I don't know
this looks like the spot where Ryo would
get on the bus to go to the harbor
and I remember there was a payphone there
and my first time playing that game
I thought that that was the only payphone
you could use in the game
I thought that was the only place
to make a call
because when I was talking to people
they kept leasing me there
I had no idea I could use one
that has a key residence or anywhere else
so every day
when I was looking for message chen
I wanted to get up right
out of Hazuki residence
all the way down here
just to make that one phone call
and despite all that
despite all that,
I still thought it was the best game ever
even though I thought it was just
making me run the circus
yeah that's my story
and look at that
looks the same
looks just like it
it's kind of like that
aha moment you know
we're storyline
kind of played an integral role
but where Shenmue did it even better
is that not only was this incredible
storyline going on but it was doing it
in such an interactive way
that no other other game before
it had really accomplished
as much as Shenmue did
most RPGs of that era
that ultimately came out in the late
nineties where essentially turn based
where you have a group of characters
together who would have to stop
and they'd have fight something
and you know you use hit points etc
they're all very very much the same thing
where you hide your stats your attributes
you would walk around
there would be random encounters
you would fight monsters
with the people in your party
you there would be magic
there would be consumables
the formula was there and it was working
but how do you step in and change that?
Right how do you shake things up?
We have you know Ryo Hazuki
his father is murdered by people
that have come in from another country
it's like so all of a sudden
his world goes from this tiny
little Hamlet to a international story
but then on the player side it's
this amazing story
about the sudden realization
that video games don't have to be arcade
video games don't have to be this kind of
I have to beat the game
video games suddenly became this
incredible all procedural thing
it became an experience
it was really different at the time
because it was a sandbox game
the fact that you could go anywhere
you could walk into somebody's house
pick up a piece of fruit
and just look at it
and a stupid as that sounds
this is a really big deal
when it first came out
a lot of people
find that to be really boring and tedious
and I want to say I do too
but I get it
like I understand why they did it
because it makes you feel like
this is a real thing
there's a level of respect
towards the player that I think
that that insinuates
that we really appreciate as gamers
it's like they reward my curiosity
for opening up this closet
that I find a plus 24 sword
probably not
but I saw what kind of clothes
Fuku-san likes
I saw what video games he was into
and that made me understand him
as a player
a little bit more than the game
holding my hand
telling me he's a Sega fan.
Whenever you advance a story you know
that that happens because
a cut scene triggers in the game
and then it cuts and starts
and then you start learning more
about what you're supposed to do
and whenever that happened
I had like this pavlovian response to the
like I would just be craving that
you know fade to black
and then the cut scene because I'm like
oh yeah I know I'm doing something
I don't know if it was like
the detective aspect
or just like the fact that I was learning
more about the story
and what was going on but that was like
what made me want to keep playing.
For the for the vision that
Yu Suzuki had for Shenmue
the technology in game engines
didn't exist
and that's why he had to build this stuff
that's why it became so expensive
no one was making an engine that was
capable of doing what Shenmue did
they had to make all these textures
make all these assets
design everything from scratch
remember by the time
this game was ready to go tomorrow
there were 300 people
working on this game
this was not an inexpensive game
and the theory was at that time
that it was the most expensive
video game ever made.
It would on the fly as the doors opening
have to like render a whole room
and delete the rest of the environment
and without having the
the individual notice
that he was coming up with all sorts
of programming tricks and tactics
that are now much more heavily used.
What game engine was
offering a such a complex weather system
that two different people
could be playing at two different seasons
one could be in winter
and one could be in summer
and you would never cross over from one
or the other
there's really very few games that offer
that kind of stuff
the way that the weather system worked
by itself is really crazy
and I really don't think
an engine of any sort
that existed at the time was capable
of reproducing those kind of assets.
It seems kind of weird like that
people would fly
halfway across the world to come to Japan
to go on this pilgrimage to just like
a small little town to the small little
town to see like a street
and like hill
yeah, maybe some vending machines
but I don't know what do you guys
what do you guys think
we're going to get out of this today?
I've lived in an area previously
that's a lot like yokosuka and Dobuita
that's in southern Japan
but it's just not the same
no matter how much of Japan you've seen
I think that what was in the game
we'll be able to see the remnants of that
it's what I would say there's a just
for us fans a magical feeling of
just even standing there
and being there on that street
where you can kind of live
vicariously through Ryo Hazuki
how he would have walked down that street
even though it's not really a video game
but we can actually do that for real
this would have been the road
that Ryo takes on the motorcycle
to get to the expressway
which would go to the harbor
now in the grand scheme of things
what does this all mean?
What is the significance?
I think for me it's for me personally
because I've lived in Japan
for a number of years
and part of the reason I came to Japan
initially in the first place
is because of Shenmue so this is
kind of like a like a full 360 moment
so this location is going to have like
some kind of physical effect on me
some sentimental value
yeah it's sentimental
I sunk so many hours into this game
just walking around
and talking to people and exploring
and listening to music
and there was even one moment
where I kind of just like you know
popped in my headphones was playing
the Shenmue sound soundtracks of the game
and I was just like walking around
and kind of like taking it all in.
When you play a video game
you become that character and the music
becomes the soundtrack of your life
that becomes your music
it's not Indiana Jones it's music it's
not another character's music
it's part of
your adventure and your life.
Shenmue is different
you know when I first started doing games
I only done about two or three games
before Shenmue
and it was a lot of you know combat
fighting and exertion sounds
I think one of the big ones
I did was Tekken Three I was Paul Phoenix
but it's a lot of just like you know
come on
kind of thing
then when I got the script for Shenmue
it was just
it was basically we were making
a very long interact live movie
I would walk into the studio
they literally gave me a script
sometimes like that almost every day
I want to say
maybe like a month and a half
I was going back and forth
back and forth to Sega studios
it was definitely a big scale project
that was involved
when you get to the studio
those show you a couple of
pictures, drawings, or in this case,
video which was really nice
and the
script and you have a little meeting
with the director and they give you
a background on the character
you know they say okay this guy's a really nice
guy but he kind of grew up in a broken family
and then let us kind of play with it
and said okay we want you to go
a little bit lighter a little bit softer
a little more aggressive kind of thing
and when we focused in on that one sound
that one kind of character
then he said okay let's let's roll
and I remember reading the lines
and kind of getting the character
and my brain and kind of thinking
you know he's like a very
you know he was a very martial arts
discipline background
he's very stoic
they had me read some of the opening scene
they had me read some of the interactions
with some of the other people
and yeah
just they and I think they just liked
for some reason
they just like the sound of my voice
and they thought that that fit Hazuki.
Then honestly like if you ask people
who are marketing that game
I don't think they could have told you
what it was
there's no elevator pitch for what
Shenmue is it's an RPG but like it's
it's a it's an open world and like you
fight people but like you don't level up
but you also have to like I don't play
arcade games from time to time
and it's it's
there's just so much going on
that you can't in a few sentences
do it justice
this is what I want out of a video game
and like most
people want something totally different
they want to shoot
they want to fight
I want to like kind of live
someone else's life
a lot of people found it boring
that you just walked to a store
and bought items and walked home that day
they didn't see that you were living
a real true life in Japan in 1986
asking questions
with Ryo trying to find out what happened
with his father you know you know
with that car on that fateful day
but I see how some people would be
frustrated right?
Because you're not constantly doing stuff
if you're going to compare someone
with Grand Theft Auto Grand Theft Auto
you're just causing mayhem
there's always something
to keep you entertained
generally long stretches of time
you're just you're walking
and you're exploring and you're talking
to people in your opening drawers
and looking through phone books and stuff
all these mundane things
were amazing because for the first time
you could do it in a virtual environment
so yeah it was cool going to the store
it was cool playing pool
or driving around in a forklift
it didn't matter
what it was is because it was all insular
it was you would believe
that you were in that world
we look at that now and think oh well
that's just something that you do in games.
Shenmue really was the first one
to do that in that kind of prospect
of that that puts you in that kind of
you know first
or really third person action
adventure type of game
people often like call it
a virtual Japan tourism game
right now you can be a tourist in Japan
I don't think that's the correct way
to call Shenmue because you're
not a tourist
you're a guy from there
you have a home you have family
well actually not anymore
but you still have like people
that are really close to you
my first encounter with Shenmue
was similar to what you're in Hong Kong
and it's like I had friends from Hong Kong
and you know we have a large
Chinese and Hong
Kong population in London
so I knew lots of people from there
but I'd never been there
and I didn't sort of couldn't directly
imagine that
and to be sort of immersed in
that environment
was just really exciting and unusual
in the first game
Ryo is in his hometown so it feels cozy
it feels warm
he has his family and friends
all the little shop owners they know him
so there's a warmth to it
and then Shenmue two
you go to mainland China
and it doesn't feel so good
it feels cold
they steal your backpack right away
and that translates to a player
you are a fish out of water
you're trying to navigate the streets
I remember always just getting lost
never knowing where I was going
not trusting anyone
so it's not a tourist simulator
it's a living simulator
you're a Japanese boy
that lives in Japan and has friends
that should be going to school
things like that
when characters are introduced
in the first game like Tom
who goes to America
and the Nozomi who goes to Canada.
I can remember
there's a scene in Shenmue two
when you have the chance
to tell Shenhua about your friends
and just that small
moments of telling her about your friends
I'm getting chills right now
thinking about it
because they feel like real people
so I think after playing through Shenmue
one and two I had the feeling that in myself
there was a new identity
of being a Japanese
something that no movie
would be able to do because I was standing
in the shoes of Ryo having to go to China
having to go
to Hong Kong and that was such
a mysterious feeling of me
being a Japanese wandering
through Hong Kong
almost like I was having this weird dream or
like seeing one of my older lives you know
if we're talking pure escapism
like yes I think that's why so many
fans of North America and Europe
were playing this game
it's because it's like oh this is a world
that I've always wanted to go see
but now I get to see it through this
virtual lens
you know the games that were
being released here in
Japan by Japanese companies
more often than not
had limited appeal in the west and they were
really struggling to sell games overseas
and so that kind of was a point
where it was like
for a studio here it was like
do we make our game for
Japan or do we make it for the west?
And there was a choice
between one of the other
what we were fighting against
them was the fact that the world was
globalizing world was becoming smaller
the Internet was gathering steam
exchange of information people
having a voice understanding
different cultures faster than ever
the Japanese video game industry
was still mired in the same types of games
that were heroic
games that were fantasy
games that were not really reflective
of real western life
and a big part of the conflict
between Sega of America and Sega of Japan
that did lead to much more difficult times
for them going on
was the fact that the Sega of America
was so successful in the United States
during the Genesis era and the 16 bit
console was not very successful in Japan
and Japan is where the parent company was,
the United States was a subsidiary
they were you know
the child of this parent company
the Japanese studios were built
almost like oligarchs
I mean just the
the development heads were gods
you'd walk down the street
with Yu Suzuki or Yuji Naka
or Nagoshi-San
and you'd be mobbed in Akihabara
these guys are gods
this was a fascinating moment
in time in our industry
where western developers
started to have the upper hand
and I spent a lot of time going back in
to Tokyo trying to explain to
to my bosses in Haneda
that we need to change
the the big thing
that was going on with Sega Japan is
they were betting everything
on the Dreamcast financially
so I think they put like $47 million
into the development of Shenmue
and it wasn't going to be one game
I believe it was going to
be multiple games I think up to 12 parts
if I remember correctly
we're going to build this
foundation this platform this structure
and then we're going to have this game
stretch into one two three and beyond
and then you can amortize the cost
a well-financed company a
well capitalized company can amortize
the upfront cost
and say five years from now
this thing is going to be a money
machine for us
that was the plan with Shenmue
the narrative
you know
we're going to continue the style of China
in a particular era was going to continue
but it was tied to the platform
and it's the platform
wasn't going to be successful then
there was nowhere for it to go
it was well-received at the time
it's still really fun to play games
on the Dreamcast now
and then you get into sort of the
the difficult but understandable
reality of the gaming industry is that
it is a business and there are business
decisions that are made
and sometimes bad business decisions
that are made that impact
you know the outcome of the company
that aren't based on
whether the game is good
or whether the hardware is good
because I would say that
the games were very good for the Dreamcast
and the hardware is very good
but they price it in a way
that they were losing too much money
with each console sale and they weren't
able to extend their reach and had issues
with the distribution of it
and they ended up pulling the plug
on January 31st
it was determined
while we had a press conference call
at which we announced
I had to announce the
that Sega was getting out
of the hardware business
that the hail Mary that was North America
whilst we had done very well
wasn't good enough
and the hardware business
is built on volume
and getting an install base
and getting an attach rate of software
to that installed base
because in most instances
you're losing money on the hardware.
I think that was certainly the case
with the Dreamcast
the Dreamcast failing
you know it's
it's a depressing thought
it still depresses me.
Everybody was excited that the next
Shenmue game was coming on the Dreamcast
but unfortunately at the last second
they canceled it.
Microsoft came in and said hey we have
this brand new machine called the Xbox
we need a Japanese game
we'll give you a ton of money for Shenmue
bring it on to our system
so they canceled the Dreamcast version
brought onto the Xbox
they were giving it a second chance
to maybe meet a bigger audience.
two ends on this like massive cliffhanger
that all Shenmue fans know right
you get to the end of that game
it sets up this big moment
huge cliffhanger and then it just ends
with the story goes on
going in that cave
and seeing magic
there are flashes of magical light
there's two giant engravings
of the mirrors you've been looking for
and a nice magical sword
again as a kid it was just what
Shenmue just disappeared
for like 14 years
and there's been so many sites
talking about it that it's coming back
and everybody's like
this E3 it's coming back
and I heard a rumor that the Tokyo game
show it's coming back and it never did
if there had never been a schedule or two
I don't think there would have been
the kind of fan outrage as there was
Shenmue two came out in 2001
so I think from 2001
to like 2006 or 2007
until probably when I
graduated high school in 07
that stretch of time I was on the Internet
like literally every single day
like going to IGN Gamespot
trying to find like rumors or news about
when Shenmue Three going to come out when
is Shenmue Three going to come out
Yu Suzuki is incredibly
talented developer,
been through
some tough times over the years
because he can't shake Shenmue.
It's a myth it's a it's an odyssey
that is not yet completed
it is something that is at times I think
probably a milestone in around his neck
it's a passion piece
that he has to fulfill
there were people in these fan communities
who were doing like online
gaming activism,
I don't know what you would call it
but they were raising awareness for Shenmue
they were announcing to the world like
hey guys we're still here
we as a community are still here
and we will not stop until Yu Suzuki makes
Shenmue Three because we know
that he wanted to make that game.
Like a like a lot of fans
it really nagged at me
I would think about it all the time
like I wonder what this guy
that I've never met is going through
as somebody who was set up to create this
story is only be able
to tell the first two chapters of it
and is there any way I can help him?
So just out of the blue I emailed Yu Suzuki
one day in 2013 and I said...
I know how to help you make Shenmue Three
and he wrote back in as many words
he basically said,
who the hell are you?
In 2013 he had mentioned that he
was going to be a gdc, giving a talk
and when I be in San Francisco
and I said yes we should meet
and so we spent a whole day at his hotel
and I walked him through this whole idea
of what this thing called Kickstarter is.
Yu-san called me one day
and then he's asking me to come over
to his office and then you know
he told me about
idea of the Shenmue Three
and then he told me about that
he's going to
incorporate it with Kickstarter
with your fan base with your pedigree
with the desire from everybody
to have this sequel made
Shenmue Three I think there's a real world
where you can break
records having the biggest
crowdfunding game of all time
and sure enough that's what happened
I told him
Yu-san listen Yu-san
this is it this is the point of no return
once you made a decision you should be
you have you will have a responsibility
and obligation to complete the game.
E3 is like Christmas for gamers
it is when all of the news and
all of the entire industry gets together
to announce what is next to showcase
what they've been working on for years
and it's just it's
a celebration of the industry
and people's hard works
so I remember sitting there watching
Sony's press conference
and the first thing they did they had
I think it was Adam Boyes came out and he
said this is a game that a lot of people
been looking forward to
and I was like oh shit its
awesome oh my gosh Shenmue
and then it was the last guardian
and I was like you
and so we kept watching aloing of the show
and then they was like oh here's another
big fan requested project
and final fantasy seven remake comes in
everybody's like losing their shit
and then like
I remember watching some of those
livestreams you being like how can they
top this? How can they top this?
And then they started
talking about Kickstarter,
I said oh it's going to be it's
going to be bloodstained
because it just had a hugely successful
my lungs tightened I couldn't breathe
because I understood
what I was about to see
and it goes back
and that leaf drops
in right when it drops
the second I see it I know
I know that this is the moment.
There were there was a flood of emotions
it was is this real?
Am I dreaming?
I can't even believe this
is happening right now
you know the screaming and shouting
it was really a very different type
of noise.
Literally that like mind blowing like
holy fucking shit
like the moment I've been waiting for
this whole time is finally happening
like Shenmue Three is going to be real
for me I said goodbye
to Shenmue a long time
it's a video game
screw it
it didn't work out
it was not a financial success
money drives
the industry get good with it
so to see something like that is like
seeing an old friend that you thought
was dead he said,
I will release the story
of what happens next
when there is no hope
when this game can never be made
I will tell you the story
and I will release it in some capacity
so you can have closure
and that moment never came
so I kept hope alive
and so at the moment
I was really sure because you know,
Kickstarter project will be successful
one person can only do so much right?
But the one you exponentially
grow that right
if you have 100,000 people
who think the exact same way
and they're like yeah let's let's raise
hell let's take to Twitter
let's make our voices
heard let's get this game made
and when Shenmue Three took Kickstarter like,
it literally broke the website in 24 hours.
To have this announcement happen
what was going to blow up
there's just no way it couldn't have
because everyone
everyone was just so excited to have it
I think that if a publisher
would have done Shenmue Three
it would have been a failure
I think no one could have made it work
but with Kickstarter
we're the publisher so
all of us together made this game happen
I think this game could not have happened
any other way.
This could for me possibly
the closing of I wouldn't say chapter
that's too small
but one book of a volume
that's probably you could say
this has been such a long journey
for the past 15, 16 years now
and from that point until this
my life has just been completely Shenmue
orientated on a daily basis
so the fact that it's culminated
from especially last year in Shenmue Three
finally being announced
and in a short space of time
we're now sitting here in Japan
and about to visit the real life
it's a dream
come true absolute dream come true
it's been a long day
but its been possibly
one of the best days of my life
this is it's
been an insane experience being shown
all these locations by Yu Suzuki
which inspired him to make Shenmue
so and it's not over yet
so hopefully
we have a couple more hours with Suzuki-san
and it will complete
what will be the best day of my life
what's special about the fans of Shenmue
and why that series
has stuck with people for so long
and has created such a passionate fan base
is because I think that their memories
are very much
stuck inside the game because the game is
so multi-textured it's so multi-layered
it broadens your perspective
and I think as humans
we are drawn to stuff like that
we love that kind of stuff
that's what we're wired to like
it makes us better as people
there's a lot of influence off of a game
like Shenmue and a lot of games are built
off of the pillar that
that Shenmue provided
it really is kind of like
just a wonderful piece of art
you know I mean
that people need to go
and see an experience
like any medium of art games
don't exist in a vacuum
there's a lot of things that you know
the components to the experience
beyond that there is the fandom
you know it's not just the experience
of playing the game actively
but also thinking about the game
wanting to get better at the game
wanting to make friendships
and if it also leads to people
feeling inspired or
having human experiences
that they wouldn't have otherwise had
by making friends or writing fan fiction
or cosplay or whatever it is to help
somebody feel more immersed
in that world and more
you know less alone in our world
through this fictional thing
that didn't exist
until someone thought of it
and made it happen
you know that's a beautiful thing.
What's up everybody!
Barnett A.K.A.
Bruce Wayne 911.
Hey, man, I can't believe it, man.
Our dream came true, man.
We get Shenmue III
and on top of that,
we get in a Shenmue documentary.
I want to give a special
thanks and a special
shout out to shenmuedojo dot com A.K.A.
dot net for covering all things
Shenmue for so long.
I want to give another special thanks
and a special shout out to Adam Corley,
happy console gamer
for always covering any Shenmue
news on their channels,
and I just want to thank
the Shenmue community as a whole.
Man never gave up.
We stuck in their Shenmue
Three is finally coming.
Man along with the Shenmue
documentary man.
Hey everybody.
Enjoy, man I'm out my name is Albert
Imitation Evil
Shenmue was one of those games
I consider to be revolutionary.
Back in its day
its first game,
I was told it incorporated elements
from different genres,
such as RPG,
action, adventure and funny games,
all to create an epic
synergetic experience.
Now, quite frankly,
if it wasn't for Shenmue,
I think my passion for videogames
would have died a long time ago.
So I personally think he uses Yu Suzuki
and the team who developed Shenmue
for rekindling my passion in video games.
To me, Shenmue is more than a game.
It was
it was an experience.
It was
a big part of my life
for a very long time
I remember the day it came out.
I remember the day I first played it
and I was completely immersed in it.
And I remember finishing the game
and I just wanted the second one
and couldn't wait for the second one.
And when that came out a year later,
the same experience continued.
It's just absolutely amazing.
I want to thank
Yu Suzuki, for actually helping
bring this a reality to all the fans.
And I also want to
thank all my fellow fans
because the fact
that we were so passionate
and the fact that we continue to ask and
create campaigns and make our voice heard
is what's made Shenmue III a reality
come every
day without neglect to keep training.
G judge yourself without conceit
and do not show moves thoughtlessly
Be brave
and stay calm to make the right decision.
Ye to act without hesitation.
To do what is right to forward us.
Thank you for teaching these lessons.
You know,
ever since they announced Shenmue Three,
we've been getting messages
from our fans asking
if the gang is going to get back together
to make another movie.
I know, and that's a tough one.
I mean, we were in high school
when we made those
and now we've got jobs, families.
I don't even know if I have time
to play Shenmue Three,
let alone make another movie.
That's right.
But we're excited to announce
right here on this documentary,
the launch of game
entertainment's Kickstarter
for Shenmue Three, the gang edition II
to help us reach our humble
goal of $7 million.
I just might put the jacket on.
When I was at my Sony conference
in the early 2000s,
they were going around the room
asking what everybody's
favorite game was.
And I said, Shenmue
and I was booed for that.
And the reason I was booed was because
Microsoft Xbox
had the exclusive to Shenmue at the time
while I still stuck to my guns.
That Shenmue is my favorite game.
And as of this taping, Shenmue
Three is only going
to be on PlayStation and PC.
So I guess Karma still comes around.
It's Shenmue that
gave me my love of everything.
Japanese and eventually led to me.
Losing over a hundred k was in word
and then moving halfway around the world.
I never made it to Japan,
but I ended up moving to Thailand
where I'm
now a teacher
teaching English as a foreign language.
And if it wasn't for Shenmue,
that never would have happened.
So I will be eternally grateful
to Yu Suzuki and the team. Hi.
My name is Wil Martin
and as well as being a sound designer
for video games
for years,
I'm the world's biggest Shenmue fan.
Even going back to five years ago,
I was interviewed by EuroGamer
and I even mentioned
that it would have been my dream job
to work on Shenmue Three
and now we're so close
to having Yu Suzuki release
Shenmue Three
I can't wait.
Good luck to you
and everybody else has worked on it.
I can't wait to play it
and keep me in mind
for working on the next one. Cheers.
Hello everyone.
I've been playing Shenmue
since it came out in 1999,
and I have to say,
my most memorable moment ever
was when I beat the game
for the first time.
That is the first Shenmue.
When I beat the first time,
I remember sitting there
watching the entire credits
and reflecting on everything
I just experienced.
And that game was so good
that I immediately started
a new save right there in the spot.
Hi, guys.
Just wanted to say a big, big, big
thank you to the Shenmue community.
Without you all, we wouldn't have got
where we are now.
This is where it all started for me.
It was an absolute life changer
and a big thank you to Yu Suzuki,
for creating this masterpiece
and let's hope
we can get Shenmue 4
hashtag let's get Shenmue 4