THE TOP STORY

Sega is re-re­leas­ing its cult mar­tial arts adventure SHEN­MUE on PC

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - Shen­mue

Shen­mue is com­ing to PC.

The first –a mar­tial arts re­venge story that was, at the time, the most ex­pen­sive videogame ever made – has only ever been playable on Dream­cast. It’s the rea­son I still have one un­der my TV, long after the con­sole’s demise. But soon you’ll be able to play it and its se­quel on PC, thanks to a long over­due re-re­lease by Sega.

The game tells the story of Ryo Hazuki, a teenager liv­ing in Ja­pan in the ’80s who swears re­venge on the man who killed his fa­ther. It’s part-fight­ing game, part-RPG, and set in a richly de­tailed world. It’s also a weird, idio­syn­cratic game, and has been di­vid­ing crit­ics since its re­lease in 1999. De­pend­ing on who you ask, it’s ei­ther a mas­ter­piece or a mess. I fall into the former camp.

Sega says the re-re­lease will “stay true to the orig­i­nals, but with mod­ernised fea­tures in­clud­ing a fully scal­able screen res­o­lu­tion, a choice of mod­ern or clas­sic con­trols, an up­dated in­ter­face, and the op­tion to en­joy ei­ther the orig­i­nal Ja­panese or English voiceovers”. The prom­ise of mod­ernised con­trols is par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing, as even the most fer­vent Shen­mue fan will ac­knowl­edge that it’s an ab­so­lute pig to han­dle.

This marks the first time western play­ers will be able to eas­ily ex­pe­ri­ence the orig­i­nal voiceover, and not the fa­mously robotic, stilted English voice act­ing. But, to be hon­est, the hi­lar­i­ously am­a­teur­ish act­ing has be­come a much-loved part of the se­ries’ pe­cu­liar charm.

De­pend­ing on who you ask, it’s ei­ther a mas­ter­piece or a mess

Elder Brother

The first game is set in the city of Yoko­suka, where Ryo searches for clues about the man who killed his fa­ther, and why he did it. It’s a won­der­fully at­mo­spheric set­ting, in­clud­ing a busy shop­ping district with an ar­cade full of clas­sic Sega games you can play, and a dock where Ryo gets a job as a fork­lift driver, which you ac­tu­ally have to do, ev­ery day.

The se­quel takes Ryo to Hong Kong, which has a very dif­fer­ent, busier feel to the sleepy, rain-soaked streets of Yoko­suka and ad­mit­tedly isn’t as good as the orig­i­nal. But it’s still great to have both games on PC, playable at res­o­lu­tions greater than the Dream­cast’s pal­try 720x480 pix­els. And judging by the screen­shots, the game has aged sur­pris­ingly well.

Shen­mue was a com­mer­cial fail­ure and strug­gled to make back its then-record-break­ing $50 mil­lion bud­get. But now the se­ries has an­other chance at glory on PC with this HD re­mas­ter, not to men­tion an in­de­pen­dent­ly­de­vel­oped third game, which will see cre­ator Yu Suzuki fi­nally adding to the saga that he started all those years ago. No date for the HD ver­sion has been set yet, but ex­pect it to be around the time Shen­mue III is re­leased at the end of this year.

Shen­mue is a sprawl­ing epic, orig­i­nally in­tended to span many se­quels.

ABOVE, TOP: There are a huge num­ber of mar­tial arts moves to learn, and you will need them.

ABOVE, BOT­TOM: Ryo is a sulky, re­venge-ob­sessed teen with a re­ally cool jacket.

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