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In a peculiar yet hugely exciting move, Yu Suzuki, creator of the critically acclaimed, yet tragically unfinished, open-world action-adventure game Shenmue has appeared at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles to announce that the final chapter of the story is to see the light of day. But it will be funded by its fans rather than its parent company.

Update: The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter campaign has already received a whopping US$2,295,121 in pledges, far exceeding its initial goal set just a few hours ago today. Way to make it happen, guys and girls.

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Original story follows:

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Taking to the stage during the PlayStation press conference a couple of hours ago, the man behind such Sega classics as Space Harrier and Out Run announced that the third and final part of his much-loved martial arts saga, which began all the way back in 1999 on Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast console, was now in the hands of the fans and would be heading to PlayStation 4 and PC once its initial goal of US$2 million was met.

“It’s not a spin-off–but the sequel to one and two,” said Mr Suzuki standing before a giant screen playing clips from the previous games. “Shenmue 3 will be the story you have [waited] for. But this Kickstarter will be a real success. When you choose to make it, the full-on experience you have dreamed of. The fate of Shenmue is in your hands now.”

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Suzuki then led a countdown to the launch of the campaign to fund the game, the digits which appeared on the screen behind him bursting into showers of petals in true Shenmue style.

▼ Some in the audience simply couldn’t quite believe Shenmue 3 was happening after all these years.

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Over at its Kickstarter page, meanwhile, things got crazy right off the bat, with the crowdfunding site’s servers struggling to cope with the pressure of hundreds of thousands of visitors all trying to access the same page at once.

And people weren’t just logging on to gawk, either. At the time of writing, the project has already received $1.3 million of its $2 million goal from more than 15,000 backers.

But why ask gamers to fund a game that millions have been clamouring for for so long? The game’s creator explains:

“Since the release of Shenmue 2, now 14 years ago, I have been greeted by the passionate outpouring of dedicated fans and Shenmue community members wherever I go. They all want to know one thing: ‘When will Shenmue 3 be coming out?’ With the advent of games using Kickstarter during these past few years, the new and now frequent demand from the fans has been, ‘Do a Kickstarter for Shenmue 3!’ 

If Shenmue 3 was going to get made, I wanted to make it with the fans. Through Kickstarter, I knew that could happen. Together, with Shenmue fans everywhere, I knew we could build the game that the series deserves.”

Sceptics would argue that this is simply a cheaper way for the company to make the game a reality, especially given that the first two titles were some of the most expensive in Sega’s development history. But fans of the series – and they exist in their droves – will no doubt be thrilled about the news, regardless of who is funding the project.

With Shenmue 3 looking to reach its goal before the day is out, the future it looking bright for the game that many believed would never see the light of day. The only question that remains now, and that I’m sure we’ll have the answer to soon, is: will there be sailors?

Will you be backing Shenmue 3? Was Yu Suzuki right to turn to crowd funding? Let us know what you think about this unusual move in the comments section below.

Images via Sony’s livedfeed