Interview with Yu Suzuki, Producer of the “Shenmue” Series

Interview with Yu Suzuki, Producer of the “Shenmue” Series


**3 Starts from the Search in Bailu Village. About Ren’s Appearance...**

TOM: Another fun aspect of Shenmue are the minigames included. In the past, you completely imported Hang-On and Space Harrier, is there something you are considering for 3?

S: I think most players would like to have 20 minigames rather than just 10, but that depends on the budget. I think we will try to adopt as many from the previous Shenmue games as possible. However, licence issues might arise in some cases, so at this point, I can’t give an answer as to whether we will be able to use my old titles. I’m considering reintroducing New Year’s gifts, pachinko, capsule toys, and some other treats, though. Even among those, the most well-liked is forklifting. As for games like darts, the story in this part doesn’t seem to have the room for it.

Niao Sun, one of the four leaders and a master of the Praying Mantis style. She is expected to make an appearance in Shenmue 3. ©SEGA

TOM: I see. By the way, does Shenmue 3 start in Bailu village?

S: That’s right, 3 starts from Bailu village. Since Shenhua’s house was at the outskirts of Bailu village, 2 ended without entering the village.

**TOM:** The previous part ended in a cave, right?

S: Which is exactly why 3 will start from searching Bailu village. Oops, I said it (laughs). I’m planning a story that starts at the search in Bailu then continues in Choubu.

TOM: And where does Ren come into the picture?

S: I’m sorry, that’s a secret (laughs). Ren will appear at just the right time.

Ren, a character from Shenmue 2. In 3, what kinds of tricks will he have up his sleeve? ©SEGA

Suzuki’s Challenger Spirit Manifests Itself in Three New Systems

TOM: Let’s talk about the graphics for a little. What kind of things do you have in mind this time? There is talk about creating graphics with humidity and smells in mind.

S: Since it’s a Shenmue game, atmosphere is vital. Whatever we do, the basic parts and the colors and hues are very important. To give you an example with cameras, you could make sharp pictures with a Leica in monochrome, while Contax cameras were good with colors and had high color saturation. I think such factors are important.

TOM: Cameras can be different depending on the maker.

S: Exactly. In terms of paintings, it’s like the difference between an aquarel and an oil painting, that kind of nuance. In that aspect, I thought Unreal Engine 4 could produce colors that suit Shenmue, so I decided to adopt it.

TOM: Colors that suit Shenmue?

S: If you ask whether Unreal Engine 4 is known for graphics that can make you feel humidity, that’s not the case at all. Nevertheless, its basic color usage matches that of Shenmue. About the point of creating an experience similar to being able to feel smells or humidity, we’ll work that out in the future. That’s not something you can express automatically. Even the demo we showed during E3 hasn’t yet reached the point of expressing Shenmue. This is our job from hereon.

Original game ©SEGA ©Ys Net

*Shenmue*’s unique world will be thoroughly constructed with a new game engine. Original game ©SEGA ©Ys Net

TOM: It seems genuine production is from hereon. As staff members from 14 years before are rallying one after another, which resources do you especially put effort into?

S: Although there are many areas to compete in, such as illustrations, music, and so on, since I’m originally a programmer, I feel strong about competing with the program when making a game. I have no intention whatsoever of making Shenmue 3 from only components that I have past achievements in. There is no meaning to it unless you take up the challenge to create a good program. Which is why I create new mechanisms and have my estimations of what results they will bring and what would make them interesting; I want to make them through experimentation.

TOM: First, a new challenge in programming.

S: In that sense, I’d be happy if I could gather optimistic programmers who want to face this challenge. There are a number of conditions, however. I want not only those who are experienced in the usage of Unreal Engine 4, but also people who have experience processing difficult physics calculations… Having too extravagant of expectations will narrow the options, though. (laughs)

Next page: Yu Suzuki doesn’t play games? And how does he feel about the creators of post-*Shenmue* open world games?

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