Let Sleeping Shenmue’s Lie
The greatest love story ever conceived wasn’t penned by Shakespeare, immortalized on film by James Cameron nor reincarnated every time a Haagen Daaz shop opens. Nope, it was born from the millions of distraught gamers the world over waiting for their plastered hero to come waltzing through their door after an agonizing 12-year wait. Like the wives of soldiers, constantly casting their eyes at the eastern sun, hoping that the shimmering silhouette walking towards them is more than the fleeting shadow of the most beloved, non-anthropomorphic character to ever grace a Sega tin. They hope in vain that it’s their tragic adventurer, returning from their decade long call of duty in the scenic, mountainous Guilin, China.
But hang on a second, hasn’t this happened before? Muscle bound, cigar chompin’ champion of misogyny Duke Nukem‘s return to the spotlight after a hefty hiatus was scarred and booted to the hall of shame when he graced our screen with tired clichés and relics of a time long gone sexism. In other mediums what about every Stallone movie this side of Rocky V? Despite what our coke-bottled nostalgia glasses will have us believe, this sorta thing just doesn’t work and we know this, otherwise, why do we groan whenever Hollywood grabs a hold of our nostalgia by the cojones?
In an ever advancing world where any technology the wrong side of a 2nd gen iPad is considered old, why do we still get giddy at the mere whisper of a 12-year-old franchise returning to our screens? it’s a no brainer to explain possible reasons why a publisher would get behind a re-release. Not only are they quicker and cheaper to build, the only thing that sells more than sex is going to be nostalgia. But why should we still care? Shenmue is one of the few franchises that not only has been laid to rest but has constantly been dug up, revived and then double tapped in the back of the head with a 12 gauge (usually by Mr.Suzuki himself) only for the process to happen 4 months later when the office cleaner next picks up a discarded, tissue containing mucus shaped vaguely in the form of a phoenix mirror.
Even with an event labelled as the “Post-Mortem” of Shenmue, The landscapes of Yokosuka shifted at the thunderous tapping of western keyboards as ‘Save Shenmue’ campaigns and general twittersphere activities were re-animated like a low-level Final Fantasy character. Surely it is time to just walk away, let go, burn the GD-Roms, brown leather jackets and anything else to remind us of our fantastic journeys in Japan and Wanchai. SEGA clearly has, unless this turns out to be the biggest comeback to rival the glamorous night Michael Jordan hit the boards once again.
But naturally belief is like a weed, stamp it out and more will sprout. Sometimes it’ll turn into a beautiful daffodil (Ala Toy Story 3) or it’ll just turn into an embarrassing mess (The Expendables 2) so for me to actively sit here and say “stop believing” is futile. but I’ll say it anyway. STOP BELIEVING! He isn’t going to emerge from the caves this Easter like some biblical messiah (Ok, that link was creepily close), just stop pressing the flashing QTE of faith and accept the facts that there isn’t going to be a Shenmue 3. I am so certain of this undisputed fact that should I be proven wrong, I will eat my hat , preferably with BBQ sauce but I shan’t be fussy.
I’m not necessarily a cold-blooded gaming heretic, I connected with my fictional friends up and down the Asian piers of Aberdeen and beyond like you wouldn’t believe so trust me when I say this: I would pay top dollar for some studio to wise up and see the potential this game has locked away. But until we get substantial, hard evidence that someone, ANYONE, is considering to bring our man into the next generation, then consider this post truly the swan song of my hopes. And dear mature gamers , I urge you to do the same. Now if you’ll excuse me , I’m off to find a milk chocolate hat, you know… just in case.