The story of Shenmue is a long and troubled one. Having premiered in 1999 for the SEGA Dreamcast (after long production on the Saturn), it was noted as the most expensive video game produced at the time. Critically, the game was a massive success, but commercially not so. When SEGA exited the hardware field, they moved production of Shenmue II to the Xbox, bundling it with a CG movie that explained the events of the predecessor. With 11 more chapters of the unfolding legend to be told (with the first told in the first title, the second in a graphic novel, and three more included in the sequel game). 2004 brought announcement of Shenmue Online, which never made it to release. Finally, in 2010, Shenmue World was released, a mobile phone/social game akin to Mafia Wars.
At the end of the year, Ysnet had announced that they’ve shuttered the title. The Sunsoft-developed title was exclusive to Japanese phones, and while a Yahoo Mobage iteration was planned, it never was released. While the fans of this franchise are fervent for more of the story to be told, this continues to lessen the chance. Still, SEGA seems to support the series at times, given Ryo Hazuki’s inclusion in Sonic and SEGA’s All-Star Racing.
As of 2012, Yu Suzuki’s dream project continues to be on the backburner. Are you anxiously awaiting the return, or do you just assume that we’ll only get the occasional reference?