Digital | ON: GAMES

Releases to keep the fans happy

by Brian Ashcraft

Third time’s the charm for Shenmue

The wait is over. In 2001, Sega released the open-world adventure Shenmue II for the Dreamcast. It was the sequel to what was then the most expensive game developed of all time, and at release it was well received by critics and fans. Yet, somehow, Shenmue II didn’t become a smash hit, leaving a third entry in the series languishing in development. Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki finally left Sega in 2011. It seemed like Shenmue III would never happen.

Then, in 2015, there was a surprise announcement at the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles. Yu Suzuki was ready to make another Shenmue, and it was to be crowdfunded on Kickstarter. In only one hour and 44 minutes, he raised $1 million. Suzuki went on to raise $6.3 million on Kickstarter, the most ever raised on the platform for a video game project. That’s a lot for video-game crowdfunding, but up to now, not a lot for a Shenmue game. So Sony and the game’s publisher Deep Silver pitched in to offer their support while Suzuki and his team finished the project.

There have been delays and it has taken four years, but Shenmue III has finally been released for PS4 and PC, priced at ¥7,678. It picks up where the previous game left off and once again follows the teenage hero Ryo Hazuki. Set in China, Ryo has traveled from Japan to hunt down his father’s killer. As in the previous games, players explore and interact with locals when not battling baddies.

This isn’t the final entry in the Shenmue saga, as Suzuki has said he wants to make more games. Hopefully the next ones won’t take as long.

bit.ly/shenmue3jp (Japanese), bit.ly/shenmue3en (English)

Getting the sword and shield out

There is no denying it — Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are among the biggest games of 2019. Pokemon Sword came in at first place on the Japanese sales charts, with Shield following closely behind in second. Together, they sold a staggering 1.36 million copies within three days of release in Japan, making it the most successful Switch games launch in Japanese history. This is GameFreak’s first mainline Pokemon entry on the Nintendo Switch. Since the console can be played on televisions as well as handhelds, these are also the first home-console main-entry Pokemon games to date.

Pokemon Sword and Shield are set in the Galar region, which is based on the U.K. and includes Pokefied versions of landmarks such as London’s Houses of Parliament. Since the release of Pokemon X and Y, it has been possible for players to customize the features of their trainer characters, including skin tone and eye color. In Sword and Shield, however, there are more options than ever — seemingly endless hairstyles and outfits to choose from. There is also a job mechanic, putting players to work in-game, doing tasks like farm labor or cooking to earn experience points or other items in the process.

Sword and Shield are both priced at ¥6,578 and each have exclusive Pokemon, different legendary Pokemon and, for the first time, exclusive Gym Leaders. In both games, there are Dynamax and Gigantamax abilities, which make Pokemon look bigger, or gives them new forms, while getting players more health points for a limited period during battle. Though the game has 81 new Pokemon as well as regional forms of existing ones, some fans were upset that they don’t include all previous Pokemon, commenting that in Sword and Shield won’t let them “catch ’em all.” The new streamlined gameplay and general Pokemon charm, however, should please everyone else.

bit.ly/swordshieldjp (Japanese), bit.ly/swordshielden (English)

What’s in store for Capcom?

The new Parco shopping complex in Shibuya is filled with cool stores. For video game fans, though, the sixth floor is where you want to go. Not only is there Japan’s first Nintendo store, but there’s also Capcom Store Tokyo, which is packed full of Capcom goodies.

Greeting shoppers at the entryway is a life-sized statue of Ryu from Street Fighter (a perfect photo op), while inside there is a wealth of interesting merchandising. Capcom has always done a good job of releasing covetable merch, and Capcom Store Tokyo doesn’t hold back on stock. It’s more than just plush toys — among many items, you’ll find limited-edition T-shirts and tote bags, store-exclusive character-themed chopticks, even perfume. Ever wondered what it would be like to smell like Dante from Devil May Cry? Or perhaps the whiff of monsters from Monster Hunter? Now you can find out.

bit.ly/capcomstorejp (Japanese only)