We Chat With Sega's Yu Suzuki
We talk with the legendary Sega producer about Shenmue, its sequel, and bad ports of PC games.
GameSpot News today sat down with legendary Sega game designer and producer Yu Suzuki to discuss the US localization of Shenmue. Of course, our conversation led to other topics, such as other games he is working on, his friends at Genki, a bad port of Virtua Cop 2, and more. Read through a transcript of our interview below.
GameSpot News: What was the reason to rerecord the voices for the US version of Shenmue? It seems like a big undertaking. We also heard that you are selecting the voice-actors yourself. What was the motivation behind that?
Suzuki: We heard stories that Americans don't watch movies unless there are voice-overs, and we figured the same would be for games. So we wanted to ensure that Shenmue would appeal to US gamers and still maintain a lot of its overall quality.
GSN: So what other changes are being made for the US version of the game?
Suzuki: We will be changing some of the signs and other Japanese text in the game - only where it is important to the game though. Other than the voices and some of the text, that's about it.
GSN: With Shenmue separated into many different chapters, do you envision the entire Shenmue saga being contained on the life cycle of the Dreamcast, or could it extend beyond that and onto other platforms?
Suzuki: To be honest, I haven't thought that far ahead.
GSN: When project Berkeley was first announced, a lot of people thought it was going to be a Virtua Fighter RPG. Obviously this is not the case, but do you think there is any credence to those rumors? Do you think any Virtua Fighter characters will appear down the road - or any other hints that prove continuity with the Shenmue universe?
Suzuki: Well, there are little elements such as the mini-Virtua Fighter characters like Akira that you can collect from the vending machines, but that is all.
GSN: The special items such as these Virtua Fighter or Sonic the Hedgehog figures that you can collect and save to your VMU - will you be able use these in the next installment of Shenmue? Will your game-save from Shenmue 1 affect things in part 2?
Suzuki: I am thinking about how to use those in Shenmue 2, but I haven't decided how we'll use them yet.
GSN: Now that you've completed the first Shenmue, what is something you feel you'd like to improve for the second game?
Suzuki: I'd like to focus on the controls - I'm going to make every part of controlling the characters better. Players have asked that we use the analog stick as the main control, and even if they hadn't asked for it, I would have changed it to that since I am not completely satisfied with Shenmue's control.
GSN: What other games are you working on? We know one of them is Virtua Fighter 4, but what about Virtua Cop 3?
Suzuki: Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to talk about either of those games right now (grins).
GSN: How about Ferrari: F355 Challenge?
Suzuki: Unfortunately, that's another one I'm not allowed to talk about yet. But that is not a "game." It is a real driving simulator.
GSN: Now that Virtua Cop 2 has been rereleased on the Dreamcast, would you like to see any of your other Saturn games remade for the Dreamcast?
Suzuki: Wait, Virtua Cop 2 is out now?
GSN: Yeah, it just came out - we were hoping for a little more, though, to be honest. It just looked like a port of the PC version, and it seemed to have special effects that weren't in the original. The programmers took some unnecessary liberties.
Suzuki: I didn't realize that it came out yet, as I never received the final version. Virtua Cop 2 is my game ... Sega is supposed to bring it to me for approval before it is released. I wouldn't let it out if it wasn't good.
GSN: Which team did the port of Virtua Cop 2?
Suzuki: I'm going to look into it.
GSN: One thing we're interested about is that there was never a port of Sonic the Fighters to the console market. AM2 did that one for the arcade market, right? Do you think it could ever make it onto the Dreamcast?
Suzuki: At the time we didn't have enough people to do a home port of the game. We usually have around five game titles in production at one time, and each one takes about a year to complete on average, so it's always a toss-up of which games we can do. Also, we tend to try to focus on working on new projects. If there is a lot of demand for a game like Sonic the Fighters, then we'll definitely look into doing it.
GSN: Why did you choose Genki to do Virtua Fighter 3?
Suzuki: Well, Genki is actually a bunch of my guys (smiles). A lot of people working there were on my teams around ten years ago, and I'm still really good friends with them. Sega told us that they wanted to have Virtua Fighter 3 for the Dreamcast as a launch title, but we were busy at the time, so I contacted my friends there. I knew they could do a good job with it.
GSN: OK, one last question: How about a new Space Harrier for the Dreamcast? Just imagine what would be possible with today's graphics.
Suzuki: I don't know. I'm always looking forward. Right now my mind is just filled with ideas for Shenmue 2 (smiles).
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