Development

Yu Suzuki stated he strongly wanted the first two games to be remastered to let Shenmue newcomers play the original two games and be prepared for Shenmue III. It would also preserve the Shenmue series and make it more accessible.

In 2016, a SEGA spokesman said they are currently investigating how to make it a reality, but the issue is primarily with the licensing in the original games.

Later, in September 2016, Sega Europe registered two domains “shenmuehd.com” and “shenmueremastered.com”. It is unknown if these were done because an official project is underway, or simply to take these domain names in advance in case it was.

In 2018, Yu Suzuki Tweeted that there will be many more surprises for fans. When asked about an HD dualogy, he later said, “It’s something I can not talk about for the moment.”

On April 13, 2018 Sega announced a 2018 release date for Shenmue I & II. 

Prior to the monthly tweetathon, SEGA Europe teased that the July 3rd tweetathon would be a special one. On July 3rd, they announced that the game would be released August 21st 2018, as well as released new screenshots, launch trailer and shared new information.  

Features

  • Full 1080p 16×9 Resolution
  • Modern and classic controls
  • Modern HD User interface
  • English and Japanese voice
  • English, Japanese, German, French, Chinese and Korean subtitles
  • Saves can be carried over from Shenmue to Shenmue II on all platforms
  • Save anywhere in both games
  • Achievements

Developer d3t stated through the FAQ section of the games website that the Shenmue II port would be based off the Xbox version of the game, the reason for this was for simplicity of porting it over, as well as the added features of the snapshot system, filters and texture mip-maps for improved anti-aliasing, which are features not available in the Dreamcast version. 

For both games, they also stated that they would have new post processing effects and all arcade games will be playable.

d3t also clarified some questions, mainly that gameplay would be in 16:9, and cut scenes would be in the original 4:3 letterbox format. Modern controls will allow players to control Ryo through the analogue stick instead of the D-pad. The game will also be in fixed 30-frames per seconds, the reason for this was stated that the game code, scripts and animations had been hard coded to do so in the original game engine, and changing this would be to difficult. 

On July 3, 2018, SEGA released a new trailer for Shenmue I & II, including a release date of August 21, 2018.

A month later, on August 3, SEGA announced that the collection would be released in Japan on November 22. A special, Japan-exclusive limited edition for the game was also announced, including the game and a 2-disc soundtrack.

Cancelled remake

After the HD collection was released, it was revealed that the game almost received a complete remake. However, it was mysteriously cancelled, likely due to budget constraints or concerns with changes to its assets.

Reception

In the review by Digital Foundry, the remaster is said to be a basic and competent port, having fixed some of the issues of the originals. Although some of the fanbase is split on which version of the two Shenmue games are definitive, there are many who consider Shenmue I & II definitive, feeling that the pros outweigh the cons, and the easy accessibility to both games is worth it.

Despite this, it was also noted that while the port is competent, it is not perfect, due to the technical limitations. For example, the 30 FPS cap could not be removed because it was tied to the game engine. Apart from the UI, the textures remain the same, not all cutscenes are in widescreen, characters still pop-in around town, and the voice quality is low, possibly because original voice recordings are lost or were too difficult to program in. The sky in the first game still moves fast when the camera is turned and is made more noticeable due to the widescreen. Some audio quality is also worse, although there is a fan working to restore it.

Upon release, it was discovered that there were plenty of glitches and technical issues, such as cutscene errors, audio glitches, etc, causing fans to compile a list of glitches. The game received a day one patch to fix issues, and had a few more patches rolled out to fix issues, although the game’s launch on console was criticised because the console patches took longer. It is generally regarded that the PC version is generally regarded as the most stable while the PS4 version is the most unstable, with the Xbox One version being somewhere in between. It is also recommended to make multiple save files in case of some rare corruption.

PC modders found a way to keep widescreen during all cutscenes.

Sources:
Shenmue I & II Steam page
Shenmue Wikia: Shenmue I & II

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Music

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