SEGA is exploring ways in which they can release a remaster of the original Shenmue and Shenmue II in the future, but cites complications relating to licensing as a major hurdle in doing so. The question over whether such a thing could be a reality was posed to the developer in the most recent episode of SEGA Central and, while the studio says they “would love to” release both games tomorrow, actually doing as such isn’t so simple.
The question is addressed at around the 1:55 mark of the video, but you can see below to get the gist of the current situation.
Sadly it’s not as simple as porting the games to the current platforms as we will need to ensure that any HD remaster lived up to the quality of the original titles. And with games as immersive as Shenmue 1 and 2 there are further complications from licensed products that were included in the original games.
That said, we’d love to do it, and are currently investigating how to make it a reality.
Considering the hype surrounding the scheduled release of Shenmue III in 2017 (which broke all sorts of Kickstarter records), SEGA will undoubtedly want to capitalize on the excitement by bringing the original games to modern audiences, and we can only hope that they’re able to find a way through the licensing issues currently holding them back.
Series creator Yu Suzuki launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to get Shenmue III funded at last year’s E3, and has since released several updates on the state of the project, including screenshots and tech demos. It’s still early days yet, but from what we’ve seen, it’s certainly looking promising.