Shenmue fans are reimagining I+II for PC with Unreal Engine 4
Enter the Dragon and Phoenix Collection
There some awesome news in 2021 for Shenmue fans; A group of fans have banded together to reimagine Shenmue I and II for PC with Unreal Engine 4.
Titled Shenmue: Dragon and Phoenix Collection, this project looks to bring the original two games into a modern day engine. All of the assets are directly pulled from the 2018 Shenmue I and II port. Here’s an excerpt from one of the lead modders in the project, LemonHaze:
Shenmue Dragon & Phoenix Collection is an engine replacement mod for the 2018 release of Shenmue I+II for PC that replaces the original engine with Unreal Engine 4, allowing for massive improvements across the board. This also modernizes the games, and brings their gameplay more in line with Shenmue III, while still maintaining the original look, feel, and core gameplay mechanics.
Assets such as models, textures, and animations are extracted from a legitimately owned copy of Shenmue I+II, and placed into Unreal Engine 4 at install time which allows us to avoid many of the pitfalls other attempts at remakes have fallen into. This also allows us to cut back on some areas of development, such as recreating various gameplay sequences, and focus instead on smoothing out rough edges in the original gameplay, adding new features, and making the world look absolutely stunning and feel more alive than ever before.
Thanks to Unreal Engine 4, the group was able to “modern rendering features such as PBR materials and real time raytracing to really bring out the best in the original models and textures.” With this technology, they were able to stitch the whole game world together into one map. The classic arcade games would be playable at the arcades, with the potential to include even more, thanks to emulation cores.
Shenmue: Dragon & Phoenix Collection gives players two different ways to play the game. Shenmue: Dragon Edition is “a true 1:1 port of both Shenmue I and II to Unreal Engine 4, or at least as close as we can make it, warts and all. For Dragon Edition, we plan to do very little in the way of new features, aside from small changes within reason, to preserve the original gameplay experience.“
As for Shenmue: Phoenix Edition, players can expect a full reimagining of the games with Unreal Engine 4.
…All the core assets and gameplay present in Dragon Edition will be present in Phoenix Edition, but with more emphasis on modernizing the game, and adding new features. These features can be something as fundamentally game altering as the stamina system from Shenmue III (although less intrusive, before we get shot for saying that), or as minor as new cassettes in the Tomato Store.
There is no solid release date at the moment. However, if you are willing to lend a hand, the team has a Shenmue Modding Discord you can join.
Take a look at the screenshots below! Keep in mind these are images of the Dragon Edition and not representative of the Phoenix Edition.