In this cheat sheet:
- When is Shenmue III projected to come out?
- What systems will it be released on?
- What is Sony's involvement in the project?
- What is Sega's involvement in the project?
- Will there finally be HD remakes of Shenmue 1 and 2?
- What is my money going towards? What exactly?
- Will the game feature QTEs / forklifts / arcades / Lucky Hit / capsule toys?
- Will it be dubbed in English / Japanese? Will the player be able to choose?
- Will Corey Marshall return to voice the English version of Ryo?
- When will the story take place?
- How representative of the final product is the trailer?
- Will any features reappear from the first game? Will any not?
- Can I somehow donate after the Kickstarter through PayPal?
- Will Shenmue III by Ryo's finale or just his next chapter?
When is Shenmue III projected to come out?
According to the Kickstarter, the tentative delivery date is late 2017.
What systems will it be released on?
As of now, it is only being produced for PC (Windows) and for the PS4. Physical copies will be produced for the PC version but not the PS4 one (digital download only). Suzuki stated during a livestream on Twitch that he may make a physical copy of the PS4 version as a stretch goal. Although nothing is official yet, the game is unlikely to make an appearance on either the WiiU or the Xbox ONE.
What is Sony's involvement in the project?
Their involvement is likely minimal—their only interest being in making sure the game will be both compatible and marketable for the Playstation 4—but their confusing and odd behavior near the beginning of the campaign roused suspicion among some.
At first, the company acted as if they were merely Yu Suzuki's good buddies who were just glad to see their friend finally living his dream. Sony's Vice President Adam Boyes introduced Shenmue III during Sony's E3 press conference, humbly saying: "Recently, a developer told us that they were bringing back a fan favorite to Kickstarter... Now this is very much their project, but we wanted to celebrate their announcement on our stage." A very generous gesture, one that implied no direct involvement.
But once Shenmue III surpassed its goal of $2-million in just nine hours, Sony's Gio Corsi stated that, “Sony and PlayStation are definitely a partner in this game...it's going to be run through third party production and we're going to help YS Net get the game done...we are going to be partners the whole way, and we're really excited to see this come out in a couple of years.”
This news immediately raised eyebrows (and tempers) of the fans who had already donated money to what they believed was a small developer in need of grassroots support. When fans expressed their concerns that the small, struggling developer Ys Net was just Sony in disguise—using Kickstarter as a tool for free publicity—Yu Suzuki reassured his fans that he and his company were 100% in control of the project. Although, in an interview with Polygon, he did confirm that he is relying on the help from other resources than Kickstarter. "I can't get into specifics," he told them, "but for right now I just want to keep the comment that: yes, I have funding sources outside Kickstarter that I collected through my company YS Net, and that will combine with the Kickstarter for this project." But when asked if Sony was one of those resources, he stated that no other questions would be answered on that subject.
Which was the cryptic response that both Suzuki and Sony gave every time that question was asked. On the Kickstarter's FAQ page, the official statement was: "We are very sorry, but due to contractual obligations, details of outside investments will not be disclosed." These ambiguous responses only added to the fans's suspicion. (The Shenmue III Kickstarter has since changed and elaborated its official response.)
But in Suzuki's live chat on Twitch, he said, right off the bat, "Sony is providing us comprehensive support in marketing, promotion, and funding. They are one of the most important partners of this project. But as we said before in our statement ... they are not receiving one cent from the Kickstarter... the funds collected in the KIckstarter project will be all used for development except for the fees used for the Kickstarter and for providing the Kickstarter rewards. Not a single cent will go to Sony from the Kickstarter funds."
Lately, he has been doing damage control about the lack of clarity at the beginning of the campaign, and it really is likely that Sony's only interest in the game is fine-tuning the final product so that it can be easily ported onto the PS4. But still, the entire ordeal has started some interesting debates about the involvement of big corporations in Kickstarter campaigns. You can read a thorough analysis of this topic in the article: Kickstarting Trouble.
What is Sega's involvement in the project?
The proud, encouraging, lifelong ally to Shenmue that Sony paints itself as, Sega actually is. Really, Sega's current relationship with Shenmue is like that of a friendly ex-spouse—amicable, cooperative, and supportive of Shenmue's future while no longer being a part of it. There's still love, in a sense, but there's no more romance.
Sega has given Yu Suzuki the license to Shenmue III, but that is all (other than some old files left behind in the closet). They still have custody of Shenmue I and II, but Suzuki is allowed to visit on the weekends.
Will there finally be HD remakes of the original games?
This is probably the most-asked question about Shenmue III, and yet it has nothing to do with Shenmue III. Here is the official response from Ys Net on the Kickstarter homepage: "The property rights for Shenmue 1 and Shenmue 2 belong to SEGA, so we are not in a position to comment on that."
Nor are they in a position to do anything about it.
Sega is aware of the desire for HD remakes. Speaking with GameReactor at GDC in 2012, Sega's Associate Brand Manager Ben Harborne said that Shenmue is their most requested game to remake. "I can't say 'yes' or 'no'," he said, "but we may be working on them." That was the last (and only) hint that the remakes may happen. Why hasn't Sega made a move to do so yet? Well...why hasn't Sega done a lot of things? Maybe the success of this Kickstarter will finally get some rusty gears turning over at Sega HQ.
What's my money going towards? What exactly?
Well, the Kickstarter page plainly states what features your donations are funding, and Suzuki will point you to the pie chart shown in the promotional video for the project. The more pressing question is, what's everyone else's money going towards? All the undisclosed amounts from ambiguous resources? How much should the fans contribute if the game is being funded from elsewhere?
Yu Suzuki says—over and over again—that almost all of the game's funding is coming from the Kickstarter, and that all external funding is only being used for promotional purposes. That implies if the project hits its maximum donation limit of $5-million, the total budget for the game will be less than $8-million. Compare this to the $47-million that the first two games cost and it becomes clear that Shenmue III won't be the epic experience that its predecessor's were.
In a recent interview by Famitsu magazine, Mr. Suzuki has stated as much. “Everyone must be thinking that we’ll expand the open world more, but I’ve been deeply questioning whether or not to do that,” said Suzuki. “If we were to have 100 characters and split the budget among them, we’d be limited in terms of what we could do with each one; however, if we were to split that budget among just 10 characters, we could do a lot more with them.”
While you may be fantasizing about a hyper-realistic, Japanese, offline World of Warcraft, you would be wise to curb your expectations or else risk fifteen-years worth of disappointment come 2017. This is not reason to be concerned, though. Shenmue III doesn't have to be the expansive, revolutionary miracle that 1 and 2 were to provide the satisfying, emotional closure that you actually need. You need to ask yourself: what's more important to you as a fan? Having a milder, Hong-Kong based Grand Theft Auto? Or getting Ryo out of that cave?
Will the game feature QTEs/forklifts/arcades/Lucky Hit/Capsule Toys?
In the Famitsu article, Sazuki stated that he is redesigning the QTE system. The fast cinematic fights will be less reflexes and more critical thinking and decision making. Also in that interview: "I am trying to figure out how to include a forklift minigame." Then later on Reddit he hinted that the inclusion of a forklift would probably be a stretch goal.
No word on Lucky Hit (or sailors) though. But as far as the arcade, Mr. Sazuki had this to say on the subject: "I plan on making plans." Inspiring promises like this are the reason his Kickstarter campaign broke so many records.
As far as capsule toys, the closest thing to a definite YES is Suzuki's answer to a redditor's question about implementing specific titles for capsule toys: "I have not decided [on specific] capsule toys, so please keep your ideas coming."
When asked about toys by GameInformer, he said that the only issue with capsule toys is that he would need to re-acquire the rights to Sega's IPs. But doesn't Shenmue itself have enough characters to not have to dip into Sega's reserves? Man, who wouldn't kill for a miniature figurine of Goro or Tom's Hot Dog Truck to proudly display on their virtual dresser?
Will it be dubbed in English/Japanese? Will the player be able to choose?
On Reddit, Suzuki confirmed a Japanese dub (unsurprisingly) but did not quite confirm an English one. He did say he would consider having an option to switch between the two voice casts in-game if they do end up recording in more than one language.
Also, according to the Kickstarter page, the game will be translated into Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch subtitles.
Will Corey Marshall return to voice the English version of Ryo?
Corey Marshall himself has stated that no one has yet to contact him about the role, but he is more than willing to contribute. He said he didn't even know about Shenmue III until his Facebook page blew up on the day of the announcement.
UPDATE: On Friday, 6/27, Suzuki stated: "So, I think that the original voice actors will be the best match for Ryo's voice. So I want them to come back as his real voice in shenmue 3 as well. I'm now in negotiation with them."
When will the story take place?
How representative of the final product is the trailer?
Just say it: the trailer looks like shit. There are Shenmue mods for the Sims 2 that are more impressive than that trailer. Ryo looks like a wax figure of Denis Leary on a hot day. It sounded like they asked the drive-thru attendant at Rally's to do the voice-overs.
Fear not; your opinion has an influential ally. In his interview on Reddit, Yu Suzuki himself stated, "I am not happy with Ryo's face [in the trailer]. It will be the face I have in my mind in the end."
If that doesn't comfort you, you can try and find solace in the stock response: THIS IS JUST A TRAILER FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES AND IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FINAL PRODUCT. This may be one of those rare times where we hope that to warning to be true.
Will any features reappear from the first games? Will any not?
Until the KickStarter concludes, anything is just as likely or unlikely as anything else. But Suzuki was pretty vocal on Reddit about what features he definitely wants to rollover from 1 & 2:
- A day/night system
- Practicing moves to increase skill
- Ryo's journal
- Part-time jobs
- Duck racing
As far as what is not coming back, Suzuki has only said that he will be replace the interface with something more minimalistic.
Can I donate after the Kickstarter campaign through Paypal?
According Suzuki's Q&A on Reddit, he is "thinking about it."
Will Shenmue III be Ryo's finale or just his next chapter?
In his Twitch livestream, Suzuki stated: "The initial storyline contained 11 chapters. With 1 & 2 it advanced to only a little bit of the 11 chapters. I considered doing the final game to include all the remaining chapters, but in the final consideration it would be skipping all the big arcs, and the completeness of the game would be less enjoyable. So this Shenmue 3 will have more storylines, but this structure will not finish the storyline with Shenmue 3."
Before you get too excited, he reminded, "If the fans are not happy with 3 there will not be a 4. So I please hope we can together make this game the best it can be." Fair enough, but Suzuki himself should be reminded that the fans were more than happy with 1 and 2, and still 3 only saw the light of day thanks to millions of dollars worth of miracles. While a Shenmue 4 and beyond would be nice, I doubt the fanbase has what it takes to endure another fifteen years of hopeless uncertainty. It might be time to put this old dog out of its misery. [nb]