Image: Sega

Yu Suzuki is a certified video gaming legend. During his time at Sega, he oversaw the production of some of the most important games of the '80s, '90s and 2000s – including the likes of Out Run, Space Harrier, After Burner, Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter and Shenmue.

In more recent years, Suzuki has parted company with Sega but has continued to work on the Shenmue series, as well as Air Twister, a spiritual successor to Space Harrier.

Speaking in an interview with IGN, Suzuki was asked about Shenmue, a franchise which started life on the Dreamcast, and if he'd given any thought to a Yakuza 0-style release which could propel the series towards greater commercial success.

Released in 2015, Yakuza 0 served as a prequel to the first game in the franchise and is credited with turning then decade-old brand into a global hit. It was followed by Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the first game, which was originally released back in 2005 on the PS2.

Suzuki replied:

Yes, I have. I cannot go into detail at this point, but it is something I have been thinking about. I think recreating the streets of Dobuita with modern visuals on a new engine alone would make it worth doing. It also connects to the topic of not simply expanding in size. Making an even more detailed Dobuita than the original Shenmue is an interesting idea, especially if it’s not a remake but a prequel with a new story.

The famous game designer also added that he wants to work on Shenmue 4, but is keen to make it as accessible as possible for those who have never played a game in the series before:

I want Shenmue 4 to be enjoyable for newcomers. To make that possible, the most important thing is to make it enjoyable without knowing previous events in the story. I don’t think that a new player wants to know 100% of the story. 20 or 30% could be enough. In Shenmue 3, we implemented a digest movie that teaches the player the main events of the previous games, but for Shenmue 4 I want to integrate that part into the main game. It would be great if the player could naturally learn about previous events just by playing the game. For example, rather than watching a separate movie, having playable flashbacks could be a way to do it.

Shenmue 3 launched in 2019 and was developed using money raised from crowdfunding. The first two entries in the franchise were developed when Suzuki was still with Sega, and launched first on the Dreamcast before coming to other systems.