Just a few days after the release of Shenmue III’s latest trailer, the Japanese release for the PS4 remaster to Yakuza 5 (or Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan) was also announced. Though the PS4 remasters to the third and fourth Yakuza games have already been released in Japan, an international release has yet to be announced and for Judgement, Yakuza’s spin-off, it has faced a complication due to the arrest of one of the character’s voice actors. But what we know for certain is that Shenmue III presently has a solidified release date of August 27, 2019, and we would like to share why Yakuza fans should be excited for the upcoming Shenmue III.
It is Yakuza’s Spiritual Predecessor
If there is one thing we can (probably) largely agree on, if there is one reason why Yakuza fans should play Shenmue III, it is because the Yakuza franchise has been labeled something as a Shenmue spiritual successor since they are both products of Sega that allow you to explore real locations in the Far East in an open world setting. As you play Shenmue, you get an idea as to where Yakuza’s foundation originated from. Though Yakuza largely takes place in Japan, the upcoming Shenmue III continues Ryo’s journey into China, so through Shenmue III, you don’t get to explore just a new part of Japan (as it has been the staple of Yakuza), but a new part of Asia.
Eating Local Food
What Yakuza does better than the first two Shenmue games is that it allows you to enjoy local Japanese food in order to maintain your health (and visit actual Japanese restaurants like Matsuya and Ikinari Steak), which didn’t exist in Shenmue (though you could purchase drinks out of a vending machine as a novelty, and it did not affect Ryo’s health whatsoever). With the recent Magic Monaco event, Yu Suzuki, the game’s creator, announced he is introducing such a feature for Shenmue III. Not only is it borrowing this respective element from Yakuza, it adds something different such as maintaining Ryo’s stamina. As featured in some installments to Yakuza, if you run long enough, you’ll get tired and have to stop to catch a breath. As to how Shenmue applies this element, you can also eat at local restaurants in order to maintain Ryo’s stamina not just for running, but for fighting as well.
The Combat System
Like any other traditional RPG (which Shenmue was conceived as for Virtua Fighter), gaining experience plays a key factor into leveling up your characters by grinding. With Yakuza, the more experience points you earn, you can use them to unlock more moves. In some instances, you can find a homeless trainer to help you learn other moves for the combat system such as how to properly use a sword instead of swinging it like an idiot. The upcoming Shenmue III is going to allow you to learn all kinds of moves (thought it is returning from the original games), but applies it in a more organic way. As opposed to being a brutal brawler like Kiryu, Ryo is a refined black belt in Japanese martial arts, so the combat is going to be more oriented towards that quality in addition to how he gains new moves. Just like in the first two games, Ryo will encounter other martial artists and they will teach him a move instead of just unlocking it through experience points.
Suzuki also shared in recent interviews that martial arts moves can be improved by training on a Wing Chun dummy, which is what a real life martial artists does. Once Ryo trains a move enough times, he can master it for better efficiency during combat. And just like how Yakuza has the underground combat arena, Shenmue 3 is reported to use something similar where you can participate in street fights for money, and participate in dojo challenge matches to improve Ryo as a martial artist. Through Shenmue’s combat system, players can get more of an authentic martial arts experience as opposed to the hardcore wrestling spectacle of Yakuza for something distinct.
Showcasing an Actual World
If there is one thing that both Sega franchise’s do best it’s that they give you an actual portrayal of the world that it presents. With Yakuza, every time you’re in Kamurocho, you feel like you’re in the real life Kabukicho, Tokyo’s entertainment district in Shinjuku Ward. With the original Shenmue predecessors, you truly feel like you’re in Yokosuka and Hong Kong, and it has inspired its fans to visit the actual locations. As for the upcoming Shenmue 3, it’s portraying more of China’s Guilin region’s more populated areas, and based on the videos and pictures, many Shenmue fans who are familiar with those regions have shared that the game so far has been an accurate depiction of them. So, if you’re looking for a digital trip to a different country other than Japan, maybe Shenmue 3 can offer something fresh other than the red light districts of most of Japan’s big cities. Plus, you get to experience new food, souvenirs, and a new culture as a whole, which is the intention of Yu Suzuki.
In the end, if you enjoy Asian cinema or exploring what the actual East is like, then Shenmue III is for you. If you enjoy classic martial arts movies, then Shenmue III is exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you backed the Kickstarter or not, as of present, some regions of Amazon are now taking pre-orders! While we’re presently not sure of Yakuza’s PS4 remakes to the third, fourth, and fifth games are getting international releases, we are sure that Shenmue III, with its confirmed international release date of August 27, 2019, can fill that void for you Yakuza fans that can give you something both similar and different.