The Dreamcast is not dead. At
least, its not completely dead. It is dying. Still, Sega plans some 30 new titles
for the system this year, including their 2K2 sports lineup, Alien Front Online, Bomberman
Online, Crazy Taxi 2, Floigan Brothers, Ooga Booga, a Phantasy Star upgrade, and a lot
more. One of the most exciting titles due out in this final push for the Dreamcast is
Shenmue II, due this fall. Shenmue II is the compressed conclusion to the series, which
was supposed to run six episodes. It is much larger than Shenmue, and features some
enhancements that should quell the criticism associated with the first game.
second and final installment sees Ryo searching throughout China for Lan Di, the murderer
of his father. In his search he visits Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Guilin, and the worlds are
even more detailed than before. Youll explore mountain terrain, Hong Kong
backalleys, and Taoist temples in your journeys, and interact with a whole new cast of
characters. You can interact with almost every facet of the scenery.
new navigation system has been implemented, which will allow you to track your travels and
better determine your current location in the sprawling environments. In addition to the
map feature, the weather and time technologies have been improved, allowing for more
dynamic 3D skies and changing terrain and vegetation. In addition, there is now an Action
Key, which allows you to ask questions that better impact the interaction with other game
characters. Shenmue II works to make it more efficient to progress through the game.
the gameplay enhancements, Shenmue II should be more appealing to gamers who thought the
first installment progressed too slowly. However, the expanded worlds and interactivity
should maintain the freeplay environment that was so enjoyed by fans of Shenmue. I for one
am very sad to see the series finish prematurely, although Yu Suzuki, creator of the
groundbreaking series, reiterated that this Shenmue II is over four times bigger than the
first title and will not leave gamers feeling ripped off. I have faith in Suzuki-san, but
I also hold out a little hope that Shenmue, or a similar title developed in the same vein,
will make its way to other next-gen systems where the threads of innovative gameplay and
design that have begun in this series can play themselves out to maturity.