Shenmue 3 nabs series protagonist's original voice actor

The creative team behind the crowdfunded adventure game Shenmue 3 announced that the final product will feature voice acting from Corey Marshall, the actor who played series protagonist Ryo Hazuki in the North American and European versions of Shenmue and Shenmue II.

The project's latest update provides the first glimpse at Shenmue 3's voice cast, revealing that an English-language dub is in the works. Marshall contributed heavily to both Shenmue games, recording hundreds of lines of dialog featured throughout the narrative-driven series.

Boasting production and marketing costs upward of $70 million, 2000's Shenmue was the first episode in a planned 11-chapter saga spanning protagonist Ryo Hazuki's quest to avenge his father's murder. Shenmue packed its environments with rich detail, and gameplay featured a mixture of open-world adventuring and 3D fighting mechanics.

Shenmue and its sequel were standouts for Sega's short-lived Dreamcast console prior to its discontinuation in 2001. While the Dreamcast version of Shenmue 2 never surfaced in North America, a port for the original Xbox featuring English-language voice acting launched worldwide in 2002.

Despite its continued popularity and a dedicated fanbase, the Shenmue series never resurfaced in the years following the release of Shenmue 2. Sony ended years of speculation and fan petitioning last month when it announced Shenmue 3 during its presentation event at E3 2015.

After backers raised questions regarding how Shenmue 3's funding would be allocated, Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki clarified that Sony is "not seeing a cent" of the project's crowdsourced earnings. Shenmue 3 is in development for the PlayStation 4 and PC platforms, and surpassed its $2 million funding goal shortly after the launch of its Kickstarter project. Currently, Shenmue 3 has earned over $3.8 million in backer pledges, with 16 days left in the campaign.

Shenmue 3 backers who pledge $1,000 or more toward the project will receive a customizable voice message from Marshall as Ryo. The project's creators note that Marshall is open to the possibility of reprising classic lines from the Shenmue series, including the actor's many oddball tangents about sailors, forklifts, and Lucky Hit.