Shenmue creator steps down at Sega

Yu Suzuki, designer behind OutRun, Virtua Fighter, and more, has vacated position of R&D creative officer; will stay with company in diminished capacity.

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By 2003, Sega designer Yu Suzuki had already left a mark on the gaming industry worthy of induction into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. Best known as the creator of the Virtua Fighter and Shenmue series, Suzuki was until that point a prodigiously successful developer, responsible for many of Sega's biggest franchises.

Virtua Fighter was among Suzuki's biggest successes.

Since the time of that AIAS honor, the designer has been out of the industry limelight, most recently appearing to promote Shenmue Online, the now-shelved massively multiplayer online role-playing game counterpart to his series of adventure games. So low was his profile that last year, Sega of America CEO Simon Jeffrey mistakenly told Gamasutra that Suzuki was no longer an employee of Sega at all.

Suzuki's retreat from the gaming world is apparently continuing, given that this week Sega parent company Sega Sammy announced that the designer has stepped down--the publisher used the word "retired"--from his position as a R&D creative officer with the company. However, he isn't departing Sega entirely.

A Sega of America representative confirmed for GameSpot that Suzuki will stay on with the publisher in a diminished capacity, continuing on as manager of the R&D department for Sega's AM Plus division. To date, AM Plus has released a pair of Japanese arcade games, the touch-screen fighter Psy Phi and the character-driven racer Sega Race TV.

Ferrari F355 was an eye-catching--but unforgiving--arcade driving game.

The early part of Suzuki's career was marked by a succession of arcade classics including Space Harrier, Afterburner, and OutRun. However, the developer grew more experimental in later years, devoting time to projects such as the Ferrari F355 Challenge arcade game. The monstrous machine was eye-catching, with three screens to provide players with better peripheral vision, but its laser-like focus on simulating driving a single model of car in painstaking detail limited its mass appeal.

Then there was the wildly ambitious Shenmue series. Although it attracted a hardcore fan base, the first two Shenmue installments were not commercially successful, and a planned third game in the series never materialized. Although it has been more than six years since the North American release of Shenmue II, rumors of a new third game in the series pop up from time to time.

For more on the creator's work, check out GameSpot's 2002 video review of Shenmue II for the Xbox:

Discussion

243 comments
tnarockshard
tnarockshard

SHENMUE 3 AND SONIC ADVENTURE 3 PLEASE SEGA YOU ALREADY RUNNING OUT OF SOURCE MATERIAL PLEASE SEGA!!!!!!

Tainted_Chi
Tainted_Chi

I heard Shenmue 3 was already done, sitting on a shelf somwhere just waiting to be coded for any system. No one gave the go ahead and its still there... I can't recall where i read it but was one night when getting pee'd off with waiting for some concrete news i spent a long time on google and stumbled across an interview with Suzuki-San, mentioning that fact. Like you all I love Shenmue... If this is true theres hope for the future.

Dan21278
Dan21278

For the love of god SHENMUE 3

Young_Charter
Young_Charter

(By the way I had few difficulties typing this on my PS3 but as I re read it there is few errors..I am sorry to those who read this and trip over errors ^_^ )

Young_Charter
Young_Charter

It wasn't slow and boring.. It was a beautiful Fighting Simulated RPG that was great but wasn't reaching the right crowd that it was suppose to. It reached out but declined to the crowd that were a majority of button mashers or Fighting gamers (which was one of the crowds it was suppose to also reach kind of but it was reached in the wrong way making them expect differently) but they never fully explained that it was basically an Action RPG and it was for a crowd for those who love a unique story with details in the 1980's Japan/China. Now lets say a company made a turn based RPG game but promoted it in a wrong way for a Grand Theft Auto crowd... Of course the gamers would kick the game in its back and send it back and give it a bad name. All Shenmue needed was a better Promotion, Marketing, and commercial for it and a interview with Yu Suzuki so he can get that real crowd 's attention and the wrong crowd to keep quiet and move on (like how the developers of Heavy Rain exactly did). I am a Shenmue fan and I will be one of those fans waiting for it to come back to life even if they first brought the 1st and 2nd version on PSN (remade controls) and 360 especially with Sonic & Sega racing all stars having Ryo Hazuki (main character of Shenmue) on there. I can talk about this game for hours but point simple if SEGA wants success they need better Promotion and to platform this title on both PS3 & Xbox 360 (I think there shouldn't be an exclusively to 1 system If they want money that gotta go all out to get the right crowd ) I still think its a shame they are not going to finish what they started and fight to the finish. Its like going to war and just because your enemy won the battle you throw up the white flag instead of trying harder to win. I understand they had spent a lot of money and made risk that was damaging them and afraid to retry with this expensive gen but that doesn't break fans hearts not making it because of unfortunately their problems when they could attract more fans than ever. (mind you they were going to almost break North American Yakuza fans hearts by not bringing YK3 and leaving it only for Japan..SEGA why do you do this???) In the long run, SEGA needs to step their man game up and finish what they started.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

Shenmue was an incredibly boring and slow game, and not at all fun. Fans need to let it die.

ExHaseo
ExHaseo

12 pages of people saying they want Shenmue 3. And that's only on one website, for one article about the maker, not even the game itself. Yet Sega still refuses to make it. Seriously, Sega needs to, everyone knows it will sell. Not to mention it's just wrong to leave out an ending.

Odnomiar
Odnomiar

I still remember the first time i played Shenmue, a highly influential title. I honestly beleive, if there was no shenmue, there'd be no fable. It deserves an ending. One day, we will have the answers to that, rather mystifying, conclusion.

melo_211
melo_211

As naive as it sounds....one day....one day...Shenmue 3.......one day...

SteelTiger360
SteelTiger360

I hope the Shenmue series doesn't stay shelved or discontinued there's a lot of potential left in the story plus the MMO was a pretty good idea and a step up from that godawful matrix one (you know the one I'm talking about) . Though he did do some pretty promising work so its about time he did step down, with all the sad faces around here I wonder how Nintendo fans would react if Miyamoto ever retired.

Sanada_Sasarai
Sanada_Sasarai

well cya later Shenmue 3....:'( @damaster101 yes it is, im about to finish it again.... NOOOOO i will crush you lan di one day!!!!

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

garey017. Shenmue will never be brought by another publisher. SEGA isn't going to waste time selling it to another company that doesn't know what they're doing. Suzuki has stated that he hopes that there will be a finale of the Saga. But since he's retiring, someone else will have to produce the game for him. Also in more info about RingEdge and RingWide I've found, SEGA has said that they plan on offering the NEW arcade hardware to other 3rd party publishers much like Naomi which of course became Dreamcast. Which now fuels more fire on SEGA returning to the console market. Interesting enough the RingEdge and RingWide can actaully lower production and development costs on software. http://www.andriasang.com/e/articles/2009/02/20/sega_unveils_ring_arcade_boards

Slagar
Slagar

It's really unfortunate the path Sega has gone down for many years now. It's still hard to accept the Sega of old is gone and never coming back. Take care Suzuki-san! Your work was truly inspirational, and has created fond memories for many people out there. To me, Shenmue was a dream fully realised, and it's a shame it will never see the completion it deserves.

valcrist09
valcrist09

Shenmue 1 was amazing for its time.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i'd love to see a franchise like shenmue reiterated in modern technology with decent voicework, the story is so compelling.

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Nooooo!!! I have such unresolved Lan Di issues - one day he'll pay!!! Very sad day for Sega, but then at least he's still there, even if in a diminished capacity. One day Shenmue will return..... I hope

landisan
landisan

I have been a huge Shenmue fan since it's release, and I am saddened today for yet another poor turn of events has occured to hinder my chances at getting revenge on Lan Di.

Swampthing
Swampthing

There's got to be more to the story. I'm getting an odd feeling that Suzuki was forced out.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

that's pretty sad when the Sega Pr guy didn't even know he still worked for the company. He seems to only be a figurehead at the company now, much like Miyamoto at Nintendo.

garey017
garey017

Lindbergh, I respectfully disagree. It's clear that Sega isn't going to do anything else with Shenmue. So if another publisher offered them $$$ for the rights to make Shenmue III, I don't think there's any way they'd turn it down. They'd really be losing nothing, and making $$.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

garey017. Shenmue will never be brought by another publisher. SEGA isn't going to waste time selling it to another company that doesn't know what they're doing. Suzuki has stated that hee hopes that there will be a finale of the Saga. But since he's retiring, someone else will have to produce the game for him. Also in more info about RingEdge and RingWide I've found, SEGA has said that they plan on offering the NEW arcade hardware to other 3rd party publishers much like Naomi which of course became Dreamcast. Which now fuels more fire on SEGA returning to the console market. Interesting enough the RingEdge and RingWide can actaully lower production and development costs on software. http://www.andriasang.com/e/articles/2009/02/20/sega_unveils_ring_arcade_boards/

melo_211
melo_211

I will forever wait for Shenmue 3...the series is my favourite of all time... @damaster101 - Yes dude! It is! I was so happy when I found out it was, I bought it right away!

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

I loved Shenmue, and the sequel was pretty good, but the original was outstanding!

Timoteus_X
Timoteus_X

:( Is all I can say on the matter.

damaster101
damaster101

Man this means no shenmue 3 then right?Shenmue 2 was easily in my top 3 games for the original xbox but nevertheless thank you Suzuki for creating such a masterpiece. While i'm posting is shenmue 2 backwards compatible on xbox 360 because i might even go out my way to buy it.

garey017
garey017

Shenmue fans: The nail in Shenmue III's coffin has been nailed for a long time now, this news isn't that devastating. Suzuki himself has been stringing us all along, saying "maybe someday", "it's possible", when he knew it would never happen. Suzuki is all abou the $$$. Maybe someday another developer will buy the rights from him and make Shenmue III. I guarantee that's what he's waiting for.

ConkerAndBerri2
ConkerAndBerri2

look. "However, he isn't departing Sega entirely." What could that mean?

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

So is there going to be anymore Virtua Fighter?

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

jtthegame316 don't blame the PS2 for the downfall the the DC. 1. The could've ported the game to Ps2 intsead of just the XBox. Stupid move 2. DC's games were the easiest to pirate. People prabobly pirated a lot of copies of Shenmue. couple of typical SEGA moves ruined the series, not fanboys

SimulationStim
SimulationStim

This spells doom for any chance at Shenmue 3. That sucks. Why do game companies insist on keep the good games down.

Jacky_Bryant
Jacky_Bryant

He deserves better than how Sega has treated him. I hope he continues to work on games.

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

ah well buy Yakuza 1&2 for the Ps2. Storyline just as deep. Still would have liked to try shenmue

juraii
juraii

I WANT SHENMUE BACK!

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

It won't be long till we see him and his games back on the market...

BloodMist
BloodMist

God dammit...i miss the days when Sega made good games.This just puts another nail in the coffin for me.

insanitycheck3
insanitycheck3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

gameweasl
gameweasl

This sucks, we deserve to know the future of Shenmue... What really happened, Yu claims money and if thats the case this really sucks. It will never be finished...

Lazay727
Lazay727

im thinkin bout playin shenmue right now in memory of his work.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

sad. what a loss. hope he finds a new home and starts turning out the hits again.

RHayabusa
RHayabusa

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Jonas_81
Jonas_81

It won't mean the end of any games. Yu Suzuki hasn't worked on Virtua Fighter since the first version of Virtua Fighter 4. Fact is, he hasn't really worked on any game that has actually been released (Psy-Phi was actually never released in arcades) for many, many years.

Hellisunreal
Hellisunreal

This sucks! this may mean the end of the Virtua fighter & series of games made under his vision!!!:(

nicedude82
nicedude82

this is really sad news...even me being a casual game follower knew he was....if he is leaving on his own, i respect his decision. But if he was pushed away into a dark corner office, then I am afraid, Sega can't stop chopping their own limbs.

Spider-Jim
Spider-Jim

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, SHENMUUUUUUE THREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! This is horrible news!!!

GameBeaten
GameBeaten

I really wish the Shenmue series would finish. I also need to find Shenmue II on Xbox.

Dark_sageX
Dark_sageX

Will this be the end of Sonic the hedgehog?