Shenmue III won’t be perfect, and that’s okay.
Ys Net recently unveiled the first proper trailer for the highly anticipated Shenmue III. While the trailer’s sweeping environmental shots and use of the series’ iconic opening theme no doubt conjured up major waves of nostalgia for longtime fans, its stiff character animations and the hilarious fact that protagonist Ryo Hazuki’s face never once changed throughout its entirety left many of those same fans worrying about what the final game would look like. I, however, feel that the trailer held more promise than potential worry, mainly because I accept that the final game likely won’t be perfect.
Rose Tinted Glasses
I can certainly understand the worry that fans are feeling since the trailer was supposed to be indicative of how Shenmue III will look on modern gaming platforms (the game is set to be released on both PC and PlayStation 4), but it’s also important to take a breath and remember that Ys Net likely didn’t intend for the trailer to be taken as what the final game will look like.
Yu Suzuki himself even explained in a recent interview that much of the trailer was created using temporary and/or unfinished assets, which means it’s much more likely that the trailer was thrown together so that Ys Net would have something to show at Gamescom (like many others, I wish Ys Net had been a bit clearer in that regard, but whatever).
It’s also important to remember that there’s still plenty of time left before Shenmue III arrives (its current tentative release window is late 2018), so assuming that the Gamescom trailer is indicative of how the game will look a year from now is a bit silly.
Again, I do wish Ys Net was a bit clearer about what state of the game the trailer represented, but I also appreciate that the studio was willing to show the progress it has made towards bringing Shenmue III to life, warts and all. Plus, as I mentioned before, any longtime Shenmue fan should know by now that Shenmue III likely won’t be perfect, and that’s totally ok.
How Far We’ve Come
I recently replayed both the original Shenmue and Shenmue II, and boy was there a lot of stuff I didn’t notice back when I played them as a young kid. The first two Shenmue titles are often lauded (deservingly so) as games that pushed the boundaries of what games as a whole are capable of, creating immersive worlds full of compelling characters who had their own schedules, their own goals, and their own desires.
Both games were also not without their flaws. The voice acting and dialogue could often be cringe-inducing, the character animations were often stiff and awkward (sound familiar?), and neither game did a very good job of adequately guiding the player along to their next goal.
Despite the above flaws, both of the first two Shenmue games are still remembered fondly, and one could argue that those same flaws are part of their charm. I’m not saying that Ys Net should purposefully try to make Shenmue III into a flawed experience, but it’s the imperfect nature of the whole that made the first two game so beloved, and I think Shenmue III’s first trailer, intentionally or not, managed to recapture a bit of that flawed magic.
Uneven voice acting, stiff animations, and characters with unchanging facial expressions may not be the hallmarks of a “modern” game, but if a Shenmue fan is expecting Ys Net to preserve the spirit of the original games while also appealing to modern sensibilities, I’d recommend they go back and play the first two games again.