2020 Vision: How to Stop Lan Di and Save Shenmue
He shall appear from a far Eastern land across the sea, a young man who has yet to know his potential. This potential is a power that could either destroy him or realize his will. His courage shall determine his fate, the path he must traverse fraught with adversity, I await whilst praying. For this destiny predetermined since ancient times, a pitch black night unfolds with the Morning Star as its only Light.
And thus the saga begins…
Ladies and Gentlemen… Shenmuenistas… TeamYu wants You.
Every month, on the 3rd of the month, there is a phenomenon which takes place called the #SaveShenmue Thunderclap.
Shenmue activist Adam Koralik explains this as follows: “On the 3rd of the month, every month, we in the Shenmue community like to participate in the Thunderclap.”
It works like this. Go to TeamYu.net/SaveShenmue and allow it to link up with your personal Twitter account. Then, on the 3rd of the month (for Shenmue 3… get it?), your Twitter account automatically sends out the same tweet to a series of important players in the videogame industry. The idea of the Thunderclap is that this same tweet will be sent to all these people at the exact same time—making it impossible to ignore.
The point is, very basically, that with enough public interest and continued hype, it will eventually be impossible for these companies and game creators to deny. In a sense, it will become “financially irresponsible.”
Shenmue came out in 1999. Shenmue 2 followed in 2001. And ever since then, fans of the series have been waiting, and hoping, for more.
The desire for Shenmue 3 is legendary. At this point, it’s something of a joke within the industry and gaming communities at large. Everyone knows that people want Shenmue 3, that’s no secret. But the question that underlies its postponed or cancelled production boils down to whether it is financially viable.
Shenmue and Shenmue 2 were massive productions which, adjusted for inflation, would have cost around $98 million dollars.
While this number is common for movies, it is a staggering number for a videogame budget. Indeed, some games do maintain budgets that size, games like Shenmue are unlikely to carry that sort of budget over its cost and into some kind of reasonable profit.
Before the #SaveShenmue Thunderclap began, the movement was centered around giving Yu Suzuki, the game’s creator, the license. Although he has expressed interest in finishing the series, he has also stated the problems in creating a game of this nature in today’s market. You can register with the active Shenmue community at the Facebook group “Shenmue 500k“.
Recently, Sega lost its trademark for Shenmue simply for not using it. Does this mean that they have no interest in making a game, or registering their product, or anything else? Not necessarily. All it means is they haven’t used it.
But there is some glimmer of hope related to Shenmue. Ryo Hazuki, the protagonist of the story, appeared in Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed. They also allow for various merchandise products, like T-shirts and other things like this, to be made and sold. So, incidentally, Shenmue still exists. It just isn’t on track for its third installment.
Also recently, there was a strange, perhaps coincidental teasing of “Ryo H.” (amongst the Twerk Team) in this Sony advertisement. It has led people to speculate that perhaps Shenmue 3 may come to the PlayStation 4.
While this does not seem like a guarantee of any kind, it’s an interesting phenomenon and would indeed make a reasonable platform for the third game. Adam Koralik says that even if you aren’t a Sony gamer, the Shenmue franchise does make the most sense for the PlayStation 4 as opposed to the other two major console brands.
Phil Spencer, an employee of Microsoft and their Xbox brand, has made it clear they have “no interest in Shenmue.” This is not surprising given their user base, but it is disheartening because it seemed Shenmuenistas always had a bit of hope that someday Microsoft might want to continue the series, as it was the Xbox that brought Shenmue 2 to America in 2002.
So what would it mean if it came to the PlayStation 4 and why does that seem to be the most reasonable choice? Well, it’s hard to say for certain, but given the success of the console and its cross-cultural user base, it seems like it would do quite well. If it was not to be a big-budget multiplatform game, the PlayStation seems to be the only brand that could actually carry it to success.
Gamers do not support third party titles on the Wii U, and Nintendo seems to barely support it with first party titles, so that is out. Microsoft doesn’t want it. But Sony… there might be something there. For more information, check out Koralik’s theory as to why this makes the most sense. I think he might be on to something.
Beyond the problems related to business, this is something else we have to get passionate about. Simply put, we have to prove beyond any doubt that we want Shenmue 3.
If we don’t prove it, there is really no way it will ever happen.
Historically, almost every major change has been coupled with a corresponding social movement or dynamic event. We didn’t end slavery on a federal level without Abolitionists. We didn’t create the United Nations without World War II. We didn’t sign Civil Rights into law without the Freedom Movement. And we won’t have Shenmue 3 without your support.
I don’t mean to compare the seriousness of those issues with the ultimately trivial creation of a videogame, but what I am trying to say is that it takes people on the ground, in a swell, demanding certain things for them to become a reality. For quite some time now, the #SaveShenmue campaign has been that groundswell related to Shenmue 3.
TeamYu wants You.
If you understand how important it is that Shenmue 3 gets made, you’ll want to pitch in your support.
Sega is never going to make another Shenmue on their own. What they need is a little push in order to make it come true.
Shenmue is an special game for a lot of reasons and is loved by hardcore communities in a very real, tangible way. When it came out for the Sega Dreamcast, it was met with insanely positive reviews (barring the obvious exception with GameSpot’s infamous 6.8); it was considered not only innovative, but revolutionary.
What is now a staple of the industry, the quick-time event (QTE), was pioneered, and in a major way perfected, by this series. Combined with a strong narrative and compelling open-world gameplay, Shenmue was a classic the very day it released.
Back in November, when Koralik made the case that Shenmue 3 makes the most sense on the PS4, he also called us to a broader unity. Whether it comes to the PS4 or PS3, or some other modern day console, isn’t ultimately his point—it is that the Shenmue community needs to come together and figure out a strategy as to how we can actually get this game made.
It is not useful to fight over what system is better or worse, but rather what system is most practical and therefore most logical and viable as to actually getting Shenmue 3 in production.
I’m not here to tell you which system I think is smartest—although I think he makes a great case for the PS4. I’m here to remind you we have to do something important:
Lan Di must be stopped and we will #SaveShenmue.
At all costs, this is the goal.
If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, you can watch the Shenmue movie here and watch a cutscene collection of Shenmue 2 here. Yes, Shenmue is a Japanese game which has been ported to American consoles, dubbed with English voice actors, and sometimes appears cheesy. But you need to understand that in its time, it was a mystical quest which took place in one of the most realistic gaming worlds yet crafted at the time.
Early on in the game, you find yourself running up to your household to find a man named Lan Di has attacked your father and is looking for a certain mirror he believes your father possesses. By threatening you, Ryo, Lan Di ends up getting the mirror from your father. Then, he kills him.
But before your father dies, he tells you there is something very important in life: You have to maintain friendships and care for those people who are related to you in life and in love.
Later in the game, there is a flashback. Hazuki-sensei tells young Ryo again of the importance of friendship. He says:
Iwao Hazuki: That boy you fought with—What is he to you?
Young Ryo: A friend from school.
Iwao Hazuki: And what is a friend?
Young Ryo: Well…a friend is…a friend.
Iwao Hazuki: That’s right. Just as a parent is a parent, a friend is nothing other than a friend. But listen, Ryo. Parents often die before their children.
Young Ryo: Oh…
Iwao Hazuki: That’s the law of nature. Friends will be there for you even after parents die. So treasure your friends. And friends you can trust are true friends indeed. Understood?
Ryo remembers the words of his father as he tries to solve the mystery and track down Lan Di. A friend is just a friend, just as a parent is just a parent. So you must treasure your friends—and friends you can trust are true friends, indeed.
We really need to take seriously the importance of friendship and community in our quest to hunt down and stop Lan Di once and for all.
Thus, if we really want to #SaveShenmue, we need to take our community of friendship seriously. We need to work together and actually position what would be viable, commercial, and successful. We need to, like stated previously, make them understand that it is “financially irresponsible” to ignore the requests of Shenmuenistas any longer.
We need to convince developers that making Yakuza 8 (or whatever) is less viable than creating Shenmue 3. We need them to understand that we really, truly want it.
My pitch is this. Over the next few years we need to gain steam around this process. The Thunderclap is indeed getting noticed and its fire is rising. What if, by 2020, we could stop Lan Di once and for all? What if we could #SaveShenmue? What if Ryo Hazuki could avenge his father’s death and solve the mystery?
2020 seems far away, but we’ve been waiting thirteen years already. I don’t want to wait till 2020, but I think if we set this as a final date—aiming for something between now and then—we could realistically make it happen. We need to work hard and actively prove to these companies the reality of our friendship and community.
We need to prove we are trustworthy friends of the Shenmue franchise. We need them to believe that if they take the gamble of a massive production, giving Yu Suzuki the license for Shenmue and right to make the game, we will buy it. For sure. This cannot be understated.
So, let’s make this happen. “Ryo… it is up to you to discover your own path. And follow it through.” Forward together, not one step back!
Today is the day the Thunderclap takes place in March. It’s also the day in history Texas broke away from Mexico, initiating the Republic of Texas. So let’s give them a yell fit for a Rebel Texan, and make sure they never forget that we still have questions and want answers.
“I’m not here for a haircut, I’m here to ask about Chinese people.”
Have you seen a black car? Where can I find some sailors? Do you know anyone who can read Chinese? …for the last time, where is the mirror!!?
Lan Di must be stopped. And we will #SaveShenmue.
Hopefully, in time… the saga continues…