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We Want: Shenmue for iPad

SEGA's epic 1999 adventure game by legendary producer Yu Suzuki is consistently voted as one of the greatest video games of all time. A hugely ambitious project, one that eventually cost SEGA a staggering $47 million to develop and market, Shenmue was a cinematic sandbox adventure game for the Dreamcast console that never really managed the mainstream success that it deserved.

Those that spent countless hours helping Ryo find those responsible for the murder of his father will know that few games offered an experience as rich as Shenmue. Shenmue was more than simply a sequence of quests and conversations, it was a simulation.

Only a handful of games since Shenmue have offered such a detailed urban sandbox experience. What other game has offered the chance to take a day job as a forklift truck driver whilst learning complex martial arts moves from a burger van man during lunch brake? Back in 1999 Shenmue was an altogether different experience from the norm, it had poise and grace, it evoked excitement and thoughtful contemplation.

Untold story

Sadly, as the story of the Dreamcast began to fade, so did the story of Ryo. Shenmue 2 was the only sequel, one which didn't even get close to telling the entire story.

Since Shenmue 2 there has been a GCI movie DVD release, orchestral concerts of the original soundtrack and reports of sequels, but all we really want is more Shenmue on a decent and upcoming hardware platform before the story is forgotten forever.

Shenmue for iPad

There are good reasons why Shemue would find a perfect home on the iPad.

1) The iPad shares much of its graphics hardware design with the Dreamcast. PowerVR the chip design division behind the graphics technology of the Dreamcast is the very same division responsible for the staggeringly good 3D performance of the iPad 2.

2) Shenmue and its sequel were designed to be played in chapters, translating nicely to Apple's 'in app' purchasing mechanism.

3) One of Shenmue's central gameplay concepts was QTE (Quick Time Event). While this was a little clumsy using the Dreamcast controller, it would be a natural fit for the iPad's multi-touch display.

4) Though most played Shenmue for Dreamcast on a standard CRT Television, Shenmue was optimised for a VGA, 1024 x 768, 4:3 aspect ratio display, that's astonishingly close to the iPad's display.

A story worth finishing

Most of the hard work has already been done. All the assets, both visual and audible, were completed way back in 1999. Potentially, bringing Shenmue to the iPad should not be that difficult, and with the correct pricing and a good push of publicity, money could be made and gamers pleased.

More importantly, a successful Shenmue launch on the iPad might just convince SEGA that the entire Shenmue story is worth finishing.

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Reader Comments (4)

Wow, I've never thought of that, but it would really be cool!

Back when Dreamcast came out I was always dreaming of getting one, but here in Russia we had difficult times, so the dream didn't come true. Tried the emulator a couple of years ago, but my computer was too slow. If Sega ported Shenmue to iPad, that'd be like the best thing after GarageBand. :D

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpinta_vodki

I'm not a big gamer, but always had a soft spot for Shenmue and Shenmue II, classic games!!- Come to mention it, a sequel, or even a port to the iPad would be incredible, Super monkey ball, for example GC -> dreamcast fared well.

Very interesting regarding PowerVR architecture, and QTE. these are 2 things that i definately wouldn't have thought of, but specifically make targeting an iPad launch a hell of a lot more feasible

I hope Sega is giving this some thought already

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarkus

Sega really dropped the ball with the iPhone and iPad regarding the PowerVR graphics. Out of every single developer that has released a game on the app store, none had the same level of expertise as Sega with the GPU. Due most likely to poor management, Sega's only released 1 Dreamcast title on iOS so far (Chu Chu Rocket), with the vast majority of their games being emulations (not even ports) of Genesis games. The catalogue of excellent games they could fairly easily port is staggering: House of the Dead 2, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5, Sega Rally, Sega GT, Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter, Sonic Adventure, Jet Grind Radio, Samba Di Amigo, Phantasy Star Online etc. Many would be amazing on the iPhone and iPad!

As regards to Shenmue and its sequel, I highly doubt Sega would bring them to the iPad or iPhone. Maybe we''l get the Shenmue World mobile game that was recently released on Japanese phones.

You right that the QTEs could be far better (and several games on the app store use gestures for this style of gameplay). However the general fighting mechanics (particularly the combo system) wouldn't be so good with virtual controls.

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternizy

Thanks for taking the time to respond. It's good to know that there is still a lot of love for Shenmue (and SEGA) out there.

Nizy: I agree, SEGA could have made a killing from iOS games. Perhaps they have been waiting for the iPad hardware to equal or easily surpass that of the original Dreamcast hardware before delving into that rich back catalog of Dreamcast hits.

March 25, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

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