Shenmue III came out today.

Say it again, with me:


Did you ever think that phrase would actually come out of your piehole?

It was 18 years ago, in 2001, when Shenmue II came out in Japan and Europe, ended on a cliffhanger, didn’t come out on Dreamcast in the US, and ended up on Xbox where it didn’t make the kind of impact that Microsoft was banking on.

Then Shenmue disappeared. Hopes waned, and the very idea of Shenmue III became a pipe dream at best; at worst, a joke.

Well, we all know how this story ends by now, because here we are, with Shenmue III being an actual, real thing that exists and we can play. And now that it’s here, the painful longing that fans endured for almost two decades will start to fade into a memory.

Look! It’s Shenmue III! On a store shelf! For sale! For real!

Waiting a long time for games is nothing new. Something like Death Stranding is highly anticipated for a few years, gets a release date, and just comes out. But we kept getting hints and teasers about it that whole time. And sadly, there are also plenty of games that are announced, begin development, and cancelled. Such is the way of video game production.

Far fewer are the games that are announced, or even just planned, then forgotten about or even outright cancelled, only to eventually struggle out of the depths of development hell and punch through the surface like a phoenix, finally screaming onto store shelves and into our consoles.

Okay, that may have been a bit hyperbolic. But seriously, think of the games we honestly thought we’d never get…that we eventually got. We gamers are good at waiting, and I must say, sometimes it pays off. Of course, there’s always the question of whether or not the game we finally get was worth the wait. Often it is. Sometimes…not so much.

Also, it’s worth noting that the games on this list are all sequels or follow-ups to existing games. The most fanatical fans are simultaneously patient and tenacious when it comes to waiting — and fighting — for their favorite series to continue.


Metroid Prime/Fusion

Release of previous game: 1994
Development began: 2000 (Prime), ?? (assumed 2000-2001) (Fusion)
Announced: 2000 (Prime), 2001 (Fusion)
Released: 2002

Total wait: 8 years
Worth it? YES

Ah, this sure takes me back to my old Metroid Database days, thinking about how excruciating the wait for a new Metroid game seemed. However, the 8 years we waited for Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion to arrive is actually the shortest time period on this list. Besides, it was 7 years between Other M and Samus Returns, and that didn’t seem all that long, did it? After fits and starts trying to make Metroid work in a first-person format, Nintendo and Retro eventually figured it out. And for those of us who were skeptical about it, they threw in a traditional 2D sidescrolling Metroid release on the same day! Luckily, both Prime and Fusion turned out great and helped revitalize the Metroid franchise.


The Last Guardian

Release of previous game: 2005
Development began: 2007
Announced: 2009
Released: 2016

Total wait: 11 years
Worth it? YES

For fans of Team Ico’s work, the nature of the follow-up to Shadow of the Colossus was a hot topic for speculation. Originally announced in 2009 for the PlayStation 3, The Last Guardian went through well-publicized development issues and delays, actually apparently disappearing for an extended stretch, before shifting to the next console generation and finally arriving on PS4 in December of 2016. Although some reviews were mixed, personally, as a fan of both Ico and Shadow, I thought Last Guardian was beautiful and a worthy follow-up, sort of combining elements of the first two games to bring the loose “trilogy” to a logical culmination.


Duke Nukem Forever

Release of previous game: 1996
Development began: 1997
Announced: 1997
Released: 2011

Total wait: 14 years
Worth it? NO

Now I’m not a Duke Nukem fan, but awareness of DNF’s tumultuous development cycle and constant delays was impossible to avoid throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Unfortunately, all accounts reported that the final product, which eventually saw the light of day in 2011, was a hot mess that was not at all worth the wait.


Kingdom Hearts III

Release of previous game: 2005
Development began: 2005
Announced: 2013
Released: 2019

Total wait: 14 years
Worth it? YES

Kingdom Hearts is a series I enjoy, but was never terribly hardcore about. But I do recall the teaser trailer for KH3 being shown roughly forever ago, and occasionally hearing news about its delay as it, like Last Guardian, shifted generations from PS3 to PS4. Tetsuya Nomura went on record saying that due to the development of Final Fantasy XV, it was just not possible to focus on KH3 for some time. Even so, work on KH3 seemed to progress slowly. Granted, there were other KH series releases and remakes since 2005, but the third chapter didn’t actually make it to store shelves until just this year. My son is a big KH fan, and has played them all, but he’s now away at college with his Switch and not home with the PS4, so he hasn’t yet found out if part 3 was worth the wait. From what I can surmise from online reviews, however, it’s a hit, becoming the fastest-selling installment of the series with over 5 million copies sold.


Shenmue III

Release of previous game: 2001
Development began: 2015
Announced: 2015
Released: 2019

Total wait: 18 years
Worth it? YES

And here we are. After an 18-year gap, Shenmue III appears to hold the record for the longest wait fans have endured for a video game sequel. Even though most of us gave up on ever seeing this game, it was good to know that creator Yu Suzuki never did, and that’s what makes its release today even sweeter. Early reports that the game lives up to fans’ expectations certainly don’t hurt, either.

If you’re a fan, and you’re playing Shenmue III today, please enjoy it, and take a moment to revel in how magical it is that it’s really here. But if my Twitter feed is any indication, I don’t really have to tell you that.