Sega re-released Shenmue I & II HD back in August, but according to a new video published by Digital Foundry, it seems that there were initial plans to fully remaster both games. The idea was scrapped in late 2017, at which point developer d3t pushed forward working on the release that fans of the original franchise have now.
When Sega brought d3t on to bring the original Shenmue games to modern machines, the plan at first was to give the games more modern graphics. Improved lighting, complex texture geometry, better shadow maps, and even ambient occlusion were all on the table. The footage, which you can see below, is a step up from the release version. The foliage, in particular, is a marked improvement.
While the official reason for the change in plans was unclear at first, Sega provided a statement to Eurogamer.
We soon realized that this was a project with its own set of challenges. Working with original animations and characters but meshing them with enhanced HD visuals gave us a game that we felt would not meet the standards that Shenmue fans expect and deserve. Rather than going ahead with a release that may disappoint fans, we chose to focus on bringing the classic game to PC and modern consoles, so that new players could experience Shenmue’s original charm.
According to Eurogamer, the footage gathered by Digital Foundry is a fraction of what’s been made behind closed doors. However, it seems it was in Sega’s best interest to put out a product more faithful to the original games.
Would you have rather played Shenmue with these high-fidelity graphics? Or do you think Sega made the right move? How do you think these exercises in building a high-definition version of Yokosuka might affect Shenmue III? Shout out in the comments below!