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Shenmue is a video game series known for its open world and detailed art and storyline. Directed by Yu Suzuki, the series is 16 chapters long, but only chapters 1-5 have been produced so far. The game is played from the viewpoint of the character Ryo Hazuki as he searches for his father's killer, a mysterious man named Lan Di, and attempts to unlock other mysteries of the game.
Shenmue was first conceptualized by Yu Suzuki in 1993 after a visit to China. The story went through several different prototypes and early versions, including a Sega Saturn prototype called "The Old Man and the Peach Tree" and then as a development version called "Project Berkeley." While development was initially for the Sega Saturn, during production Sega began development on the new Dreamcast console, and Shenmue became one of the initially popular games released on the new system.
Development of the game was slow-going and expensive – so expensive, in fact, that the game held the Guiness World Record for most expensive video game, costing about US$70 million to produce according to Suzuki in one interview.
The game was notable for its use of cinematographic camera techniques into the game and also for its nonlinear gameplay. Shenmue Chapter 1 was originally released in Japan on December 29, 1999, followed by North America and the European Union the following winter.
Shenmue II was released in 2001, and was similarly expensive to produce, and follows Ryo through chapters 3-5 of the story of Shenmue. In 2001, Sega announced that they would no longer be producing the Dreamcast, and instead begin producing games for other consoles and the PC. As a followup, Shenmue Online was launched in 2004, as a MMORPG; however, interest waned and Shenmue Online was shut down in 2006.
On June 15th, 2015, during the annual E3 games conference, Yu Suzuki announced a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter. In just 9 hours, the Kickstarter campaign reached its $2 million dollar goal, setting a new Kickstarter record. In two days, the Kickstarter had more than 38,000 contributors.
On August 21st, 2018, Shenmue I and Shenmue II were released on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. While critics took the opportunity to say the game was great, many were disappointed by the "bare-mininum" remastering work. The rerelease also led to the game's legacy being reevaluated by critics. Forbes called the game "the best bad game of all time." PC Gamer released a piece discussing the game's NPCs.
Both Shenmue and Shenmue II are some of the most praised games of all time. Shenmue received a score of 9.7(Amazing) on November 7th, 2000 from game review site IGN – their one criticism was that the game was too perfect, making any small software bugs seem jarring. Some critics also said that gameplay was too realistic, making the game slow and action infrequent. But for the most part, the game was lauded by critics. On GameRankings.com, Shenmue has a score of 89.34% and Shenmue II has a score of 89.63%.
Shenmue sold reasonably well, but due to its high cost and the relatively low amount of people who owned a Dreamcast console, the game was never profitable. However, the game's legacy persists – many critics say that it was the first game to use the open-world concept upon which popular games like Grand Theft Auto are built.
Despite the game's age, online communities discussing Shenmue have existed since the early 2000s. The main Shenmue online community, shenmuejono.net, was created in July 2003, and has over 600,000 posts as of June 2015, with a steady visitation of about 1000 users. There are several Reddit communities where the game is dicussed, including /r/shenmue,
In the original Shenmue, Ryo races other characters on a forklift. These races are popular online, with many users filming their race. Ryo riding the forklift was also a character in Sega All-Stars Racing.
In addition, while noting that Yu Suzuki was at the E3 convention in 2015, many users took his tweet of a photo of a forklift as an indication that he was planning to announce the creation of Shenmue 3.
E3で見つけた。 pic.twitter.com/Ku5CH7v6kU— Yu Suzuki (@yu_suzuki_jp) June 14, 2015
h2. Search Interest
 1Up.com – Shenmue Online Officially Announced
 Kotaku – Shenmue 3 Just Hit $2 Million, Setting a New Kickstarter Record
 GameRankings.com – Shenmue
 GameRankins.com – Shenmue II
 Reddit – /r/shenmue
 Metacritic – Shenmue 1 and 2
 Forbes – The Best Bad Game Of All Time
 PC Gamer – The secret lives of Shenmue’s NPCs
Jun 16, 2015 at 06:28PM EDT
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