Guinness World Records recently caught up with renowned Japanese videogame designer, producer and director Yu Suzuki (b.1958) to talk to him about his critically acclaimed “Shenmue” series (Ys Net) and present him with certificates for its impressive crowdfunding record titles.
Announced as a Kickstarter campaign on 15 June 2015, Shenmue 3 – the long-awaited third instalment of the cult open-world RPGs – smashed the record for Fastest $1million pledged for a crowdfunded videogame in just 1 hour 44 minutes, surpassing the previous time of 5 hours 55 minutes set by Yooka-Laylee.
Following the surprise announcement during the Sony press conference at E3 2015, the game's initial target of $2 million was exceeded in just 8 hours 43 minutes.
Suzuki, a legendary name within the games industry having been responsible for classic Sega arcade games such as Space Harrier and Out Run, told us: “Everything that happened was beyond my expectation … I was touched by the fact that there were so many fans waiting for the release of Shenmue 3.”.
The game also secured a record for the Most money pledged for a Kickstarter videogame, raising $6,333,296 (£4,066,048) on Kickstarter and beating the previous total of $5,545,991 (£3,560,589) which was set by Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
Asked his opinion on why interest and anticipation in the Shenmue series has endured among the gaming community, Suzuki said: “The game has universal themes like family, love and romance … that is why people can empathise.”
The first Shenmue was released exclusively for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 and set a new benchmark in open-world, multi-genre gameplay.
This revenge epic in the tradition of Chinese cinema sees players take control of Ryo Hazuki, a troubled 18-year-old keen to avenge the mysterious death of his father.
Shenmue II was released in 2001 for the Dreamcast, and later the Xbox.
However, Shenmue 3 has faced continual development problems and was reportedly cancelled multiple times.
But now, 15 years on, Shenmue 3 is being produced for PS4 and PC - and is set to be released in December 2017 with an even "larger scale of open world", according to its creator.
Suzuki described the current development as a “heavy responsibility … because this game is now supported literally by fans.”
“I don’t like to be beaten by others”, he explained, “It is better for me to find an original way and an individual creation [because this] draws more attention ... I love challenging creation”