It was only as recent as last week that Sega announced the re-releases of Shenmue 1 and Shenmue 2 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. One would think that these re-releases were only planned after the official announcement of Shenmue 3 back in 2015. According to Sega Europe’s executive vice president of publishing John Clark, that’s not true.
Speaking to IGN at the Sega Fes event in Japan recently, Clark revealed that the game has been in the works at Sega for a while before Shenmue 3 was even officially announced at E3 2015. However, the hype surrounding Shenmue 3 has definitely helped in making the studio realize that there’s demand in the market for the original Shenmue games.
Clark said: “We saw the talk surrounding the announcement of Shenmue III, and we saw the demand for that game. (Ports of) Shenmue I & II had been a discussion pre-Shenmue III, but I think that it all helped raise the awareness internally and externally.”
He added that the Shenmue 1 and 2 re-releases were “inevitable” even if Shenmue 3 never became a reality. Other games published by Sega, including Bayonetta and Vanquish, have mostly received successful re-releases on the PC and other platforms. Clark also mentions Valkyria Chronicles as one of the games belongs in that category of Japanese games being popular in the West.
Clark explained: “That triggered renewed interest in the West for [Sega’s] Japanese titles, and they started to go to a bigger audience in the West than they had, say, 10 years or 15 years ago. It was encouraging for us and for Sega in Japan to see that. I think that influenced and gave us leverage on the kind of titles we could bring out, titles like Shenmue.”
Interestingly, there’s a possibility of other Sega games coming back as remasters or re-releases in the future. Clark said: “There are more games on the list, there are more announcements to be made, and we’re just happy that we can bring out Shenmue I & II now.”
In other related news, Sega revealed during the initial announcement for Shenmue 1 and 2 that the games will feature both Japanese and English voiceovers, as well as more details which you can check out here. We also did a feature on what Shenmue‘s simpler open-world can teach modern games.