Following an initial report (via Eurogamer), Sega has confirmed they were actually exploring a full high-definition remake for both Shenmue and Shenmue II.
The leaked assets, including the above video, showed off big rendering improvements, high-resolution textures, proper shadow maps, more complex foliage, ambient occlusion, better NPC interaction, 3D rendered objects where flat 2D textures used to be, and more.
Due to budget limitations and development delays, full remakes for both games were quietly halted, and the decision to simply re-release the original games in HD form was made.
Here’s the statement from Sega confirming the remakes were being worked on prior to getting shelved:
“Sega and D3T indeed had started exploring the feasibility of a full HD remaster for Shenmue I & II. That being said, we soon realized that this was a project with its own set of challenges. Working with original animations and characters but meshing them with enhanced HD visuals gave us a game that we felt would not meet the standards that Shenmue fans expect and deserve. Rather than going ahead with a release that may disappoint fans, we chose to focus on bringing the classic game to PC and modern consoles, so that new players could experience Shenmue‘s original charm.”
Shenmue I & II are now available for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The latest game in the franchise, Shenmue III, is launching for Windows PC and PlayStation 4 on August 27th of next year.