What is it? The follow-up to one of the biggest cliffhangers in all of gaming, Shenmue 3 exists as the next chapter in a series that never got to see its epic story play out in full. Thanks to the series' status as a major flop, a sequel was always considered the pipe-iest of dream. But here we are.
Why should I care? Shenmue's mastermind Yu Suzuki is one of gaming's godfathers, with creations like Virtua Fighter, After Burner, and Space Harrier under his belt—if anything, it's nice to see him back where he belongs. And it seems more than likely that Shenmue 3 will end up being a much better game than the last two, which placed too much of a focus on the Y2K-era novelty of performing mundane acts in a virtual world. But since that's one of the series' charms, you can probably expect to care for a virtual critter and rifle through various drawers when Shenmue 3 hits in 2017.
How could it go wrong? Well, the harsh truth is that Shenmue might have went away for a reason. Yu Suzuki meant well, of course, but the original games existed as self-indulgent pet projects that sunk too many resources into frivolous elements and too little into important ones—like an English dub that doesn't sound like it came from a '60s Gamera movie. Suzuki doesn't quite wield the power he did in his Sega days, but Shenmue has always been for a certain demographic, and that doesn't seem likely to change.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
What is it? From Symphony of the Night onwards, developer Koji Igarashi was responsible for the Castlevania games that added exploration and RPG elements to the series' traditional platforming and 2D combat. 2008's Order of Ecclesia would be the last game to bear his distinctive touch—until he left Konami and Kickstarted a spiritual successor earlier this year.
Why should I care? Igarashi's various Castlevanias have been nothing short of intensely playable—even if they're all very similar games. In the time since he last touched this series, plenty of indies have risen to fill the gap, but with Bloodstained, the master is returning to further perfect his craft. After spending the final years of his Konami tenure toiling away in their Mobile Mines, Igarashi is undoubtedly ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work on a game whose style he's intensely familiar with. Regardless of how Bloodstained turns out, it's always refreshing to see a creative talent see a groundswell of support from fans after being devalued by a former employer.
How could it go wrong? Well, there's always the chance that a new Castlevania-style game no longer holds the same appeal Igarashi's nearly annual releases once did—everyone seems to be crafting their own Metroidvania these days. But, to be honest, out of all the upcoming projects within this article, Bloodstained seems like the one most likely to succeed. Sure, some of the fan-pandering stuff in the Kickstarter might be a little cringeworthy, but pandering is kind of the point of Kickstarter, isn't it?
Red Ash: The Indelible Legend
What is it? The Mega Man Legends sorta-trilogy gained a respectable cult following in the United States with its charming setting and interesting take on Legend of Zelda-style mechanics. But we've been without a new game in the series since 2000's The Misadventures of Tron Bonne; a true sequel, planned for the 3DS, was quietly smothered in its sleep during the summer of 2011. Red Ash exists as former Capcom developer Keiji Inafune's attempt to channel Legends' PlayStation-era magic into a proper spiritual successor.
Why should I care? Well, if you haven't played it, the Legends series was largely ahead of its time in many respects—and it's aged pretty well to boot. And since Mega Man got such a raw deal around the time of Keiji Inafune's departure from Capcom, seeing a sequel to Legends—however tangentially related—would provide some important closure for wounded fans across the world. And hey, since Inafune is already making his version of a 2D Mega Man game with Mighty No. 9, he might was well take the next logical step.
How could it go wrong? Well, the dual Kickstarters for Red Ash (one for an animated short) didn't inspire much confidence, and, in general, the campaign wasn't handled very well. Plus, plenty of supporters grew angry after it was revealed that Red Ash would receive full funding by the Chinese company Fuse, regardless of any crowdfunding efforts. These issues, combined with Mighty No. 9's numerous delays have diminished the appeal of Keiji Inafune in the eyes of fans who want to see him get back to doing what he does best.