Virtua Fighter RPG: Akira's Quest (lost early Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast builds of "Shenmue" action-adventure game; 1996-1998)
The title card of footage of Virtua Fighter RPG: "Akira's Story" that played after beating Shenmue II.
Virtua Fighter RPG: "Akira's Quest" (AKA Virtua AD AKA Virtua Fighter RPG AKA Akira's Quest) was a role-playing video game made for the Sega Saturn under the project name, Project Guppy. The game was slated for an April 1999 release in Japan. During development, the game got ported to the Dreamcast, and this version of the game ended up being retooled into the now famous game, Shenmue.
After being done working on a prototype that featured a full conversation system, facial expressions, collisions, clipping, and 3D graphics, it was decided to use it to be a full roleplaying game that used the same engine that Virtua Fighter used as well as the same motions that were used in-game. This was done so that AM2, the development studio that was working on the title, could use characters from the Virtua Fighter series such as Akira, Lau, and Pai. The plot would be split into 11 chapters, with each chapter taking place in a major area in China, such as Hong Kong, and would be 45 hours long. The story would go like this:
Akira would witness his father's death and face other setbacks. He would then go to China to meet with martial artists so that he can learn about kenpō. After his training, Akira faces off against Randi, presumably the person who killed his father. After it was set and done, he would set off on another journey, along with a new friend.
Today, allegedly, there have been a total of 12 copies of the game that were produced for the Sega Saturn that are in the hands of AM2 representatives and Japanese collectors. The only footage of this version is a cutscene in Shenmue II, after beating the game.
In 1997, the game was completely redone for the Dreamcast to make it nicer. The game has also been used as a basis for creating tech demos to show off to developers. These demos include a young Shun walking around an environment and Tower of Babel, later shown on Shenmue II. Only one out of two of these tech demos has been found.
However, on December 1st, 1998, the game then became Shenmue (or Shien Mu before the rename) to make the game appeal to more than just Virtua Fighter fans. All names related to Virtua Fighter were removed and it became the game we know today. However, on the game's release, there was a model discovered called "AKI" found in the game's code that closely resembles Akira from Virtua Fighter.