Friday, July 17, 2015

Shenmue 3 Breaking Kickstarter Record

Is anyone really surprised that Shenmue 3 is now the most funded game in Kickstarter history? Probably not. After the Sony E3 conference this year, where they announced a Shenmue 3 in the works and it would only continue with the help of gamers, fans flooded the site and were able to raise $1 million within the first day. Since then, the game's backing has steadily climbed and is well over $5 million. With 11 hours to go in the campaign, as of this posting, will it surpass $6 mil?

Needless to say, the developers are probably incredibly surprised that people still love Shenmue.

Originally released on the Sega Dreamcast, Shenmue was one of the first open-world, 3 dimensional action adventure titles we had seen in video games. It interspersed quick time events with dialogue, combat, role-playing, and a day and night system. This was 1999/2000 kids. Completely revolutionary for it's time. What attracted people to the title was the depth of the plot. Players maintained, and obviously retained, deep connections to the characters. You play as Ryo Hazuki, a teenage martial artist, who returns home to his family's dojo. He witnesses a confrontation between his father and another man. After his father dies, Ryo swears to bring justice and revenge, as it is the martial arts way. But as you progress through the story, you see Ryo's pain as he copes with his father's unexpected death. You can feel his anguish, and emulate sympathy through the NPC's. It was really compelling at the time.

Part of the reason the game series did not continue is that the developers deemed it an expensive failure. Only a million copies sold on a $70 million budget. Ouch.

But it's been a fan favorite for nearly 2 decades, and it was enough to prompt a response. Creator Yu Suzuki has wanted to continue the story for this long, but no one would back him with the resources. Sony has, but only if the fans would support it.

I know a number of people complained about a major gaming company essentially "begging" for money to build this game. But I'd like to point out to the last budget and low sales. That's why people were not willing to pony up the funds. They'll do it if the fans want it. So, Kickstarter it is.

The game is projected to release in Q4 2017. If you're interested in supporting, $29 will get you a digital copy of the game at release. Not a bad deal. Good luck to you Suzuki-san. We'll be waiting patiently for your masterpiece to be complete.

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