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GDC 2011: Shenmue Town Likely Getting Smartphone Port, Says Suzuki

Yu Suzuki has told Gamasutra he's looking at a smartphone version of Shenmue Town, hinting at iOS and Android as potential landing spots. The game has also heralded Suzuki's return to coding games himself.
During an interview at the Game Developers Conference, famed game creator Yu Suzuki revealed to Gamasutra that his newest entry into the Shenmue series, Shenmue Town (known as Shenmue Gai in Japan), will very likely receive a smartphone port, including iOS a potential landing spot. Suzuki, who is receiving a Pioneer Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards on Wednesday, has a well-storied past with Sega with games such as Out Run, Virtua Fighter, and Shenmue under his belt. He now runs his own company, YS Net, which is hard at work on a variety of new ideas. Shenmue Town was originally developed for Yahoo’s mobile applications, and the DeNa Mobage-Town portal in Japan, because it commands the largest marketshare there. But Suzuki says smartphones are the next step. “From the start, I’ve been thinking of this as a multiplatform game,” he said. “So I’m thinking about smartphone strategies right now,” he said, hinting that he’s looking at both iOS and Android. Suzuki said that the platforms should be fine for a port, but that “the experience definitely needs to be customized for the smartphone.” In terms of the future of games and smartphones above and beyond Shenmue Town, Suzuki sees further convergence. “I’m imagining,” he added, “since Apple just announced their AirPlay initiative that allows you to play music and send a single out from your phone to multiple devices, that in the future you’ll be able to beam games out of your phone to play on widescreen TVs in massively multiplayer environments. You could play against other people with your iPhone as your controller.” As a long-time programmer, Suzuki has delved back into the nitty gritty of development with Shenmue Town, and in fact showed us extensive lines of code he had personally implemented. Though he’s known best as an Assembly programmer, he has a fondness for Basic, and used Visual Basic for much of the game’s code. Loading up his iPhone, he showed that an example screen had already been created, though it was just a prototype image. The mobile title has previously been translated by the press as Shenmue City, but Suzuki told us the word “city” is “too large” for the game he’s created. To him, the environment feels much more like a town. To that end, via this interview, which will appear in full in these pages at a later date, he has put the name Shemue Town into semi-official rotation.

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