Requiem for a Dreamcast
Although I was silly enough to buy an imported Dreamcast five months before the system came out in the US, it was just a few months later that a friend introduced me to Everquest, which rapidly consumed all of my spare time for the next several years.
So, I kind of missed most of the system in its prime. Not that it HAD much prime, mind you, as the poor thing was practically dead before it launched, at least in the US. It held on for a little longer in Japan, ending its days as a platform for bullet-hell shooters and visual novels.
Anyway, the death of the Dreamcast happened to coincide with Gamestop going through a bit of an experimental phase, which explains why a video game store in Oregon had a copy of the PAL release of Shenmue II on the shelf in 2002. If I recall correctly, I bought it and a copy of Pocket Fighter, and I can’t swear that I ever played much Pocket Fighter. (I’d mistaken it for Puzzle Fighter, which I defend as the sort of mistake that anyone could make.)
Anyway. So, I owned this thing but I was deep in the throes of MMO addiction so it never got played. After a while, through sheer osmosis, I picked up that it had a horrible cliffhangery ending, which really just put me off playing it even more. I did eventually (in 2007) play the first Shenmue, at least.
Then came E3 2015, where the Sony conference was basically just men in suits promising everyone ponies. OK, so we didn’t get a Starcraft: Ghost announcement – I have to have SOMETHING to hold out hope for – but they DID tell us that Shenmue III was totally going to be a thing that we could play someday, if we all wished super hard and gave them lots of Kickstarter money.
I did not immediately start the second entry in the series, because I am well aware that these things take time. As an example, I deliberately held off playing Half Life 2: Episode 2 for three years after its release, because I figured that it would take them a while to finish up that series and I didn’t want to wait too long between episodes.
Y’all can just stop laughing now.
Anyway, long story short, finally finished Shenmue II and can confirm that it has an absolutely infuriating cliffhanger ending – literally, white words on a black screen promising “The Story Goes On…” and then credits. So, yeah. That was not a good way to end a game.
It do wonder how the heck they’re going to pull off a third game, because it was full of the sort of gaming design quirks that characterize that era and I don’t know if they’ll be able to make modern gamers accept them or if they’ll throw them away, go modern, and risk alienating what few die-hard fans are left.
Very few recent games have you walking very slowly down a mountain path for a half hour, then executing QTEs to cross a stream, then go back to walking, is all I’m saying. I guess I’ll see when it comes out. 🙂
As a side note, I have a post from back in September of 2009, on the occasion of the US Dreamcast’s 10th anniversary, where I pointed out that I had six Dreamcast games still in my backlog of the time and that I would make an effort to play all six of them by the system’s 11th anniversary.
…Of those six games, four of them wound up being retired without ever being played for more than a couple of hours, but at least I played two of them to completion. That’s not bad for uh… well, it’s not a bad batting average, anyway. Now the poor dear can finally get unhooked and go into storage against the day when I get all nostalgic for the boot-up scream of battery-less VMUs again.