General Impressions

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Just finished Shenmue III some hours ago. Was extremely satisfied. Thought it a perfect continuation of the old games.

This poison for me, too. Give me more of the same, I'd gladly drink it again and again indefinitely. The plots in these games were never all that much. It was mcguffins and banal cliches. It was always the atmosphere that made the games special.

I wish they'd make many more Shenmues with no intention of ever bringing the saga to an end!

I think you are kind of right to say that..to some degree...let me elaborate.

The interesting thing about Shenmue to me has always been the lore it's building. The plot itself hasn't really divulged much of anything concrete over three games, we have tidbits and we have a lot of hearsay and conjuncture and we have some facts but we're still waiting for real answers to a lot of questions. But the lore and world building is the thing that is most intriguing about these games.

I know people love to praise Shenmue II as being the peak of the series, but when it comes to core main plot, even that game really doesn't give you much of anything in its one pivotal scene with Zhu. In fact, I would argue that one scene with Zhu is actually foreshadowed in the original game. There's that one conversation with the antique shop owner about the mirror where the game gives you a vital clue by showing you the stars...which Zhu goes on to confirm in SII.

I tend to think it's not so much the plot of these games that got people, I think it's the lore and world building that got people. The constant search for knowledge is what drives us. I think people tend to confuse the two. To me, the strength of this series has always been the lore it's building and the many questions waiting to be answered about said lore.

And I think that's where my minor disappointment with SIII lies -- that it ultimately gave me more questions than answers -- mind you, I actually enjoyed Shenmue III but that was my disappointment with it. Because I kind of expected SIII to be the turning point from questions to solid answers and SIII didn't really deliver that on that. It just gave us more questions than answers. It was still just more hearsay and conjecture as opposed to solid concrete answers.

I liked Shenmue III for what it was though. Once my initial disappointment was removed, I saw the game for what it was. It gave me another chance to play in that world and gave me more questions to linger on. I still think it gave about as much story as the first two games did. The problem for some (and me to some degree) is that it ultimately didn't give us what we wanted, more solid answers. Instead we kind of just got more of the same hearsay and conjecture...but then I think to myself that's Shenmue. Maybe that's what Shenmue actually is with its main detective game. Maybe it really is all about the chase for answers.

I'm still hoping IV will go on to reveal more answers. That's my hope.

I think the disappointment for some of us here is that the solid answers still remain undiscovered. But overall, I really liked Shenmue III and felt it gave me more of what I loved about Shenmue even if I have my own disappointments with it.

BTW, welcome to the forum.
 
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I'm still hoping IV will go on to reveal more answers. That's my hope.
Good post. But I must remind you to be careful what you wish for. Asking questions is the real fun, it's very satisfying. Mysteries are infinite fun to ponder upon. When have you ever gotten a satisfying answer to anything in any fiction? More often than not, any answers are jarring slaps in the face! At best, they are some mediocre hurr-durr, I daresay. Answers kill the mystery and are almost never the catharsis people really hope for. Stick with the mystery and you'll be much happier.

And thanks for the welcome.
 

The Hero Spot

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Story is definitely an important factor in Shenmue. Yu Suzuki planned for it to be one big epic storyline spanning multiple games, It works in tandem with the world building and exploration. Is the dialogue well written? Maybe not, but the plot itself is there. the mystery and lore arent separate from the story but rather play a part in it. The story elements introduced in Shenmue 2’s cliffhanger was what made the wait for a potential Shenmue 3 so much more painful. I’d rather Shenmue get a satisfying conclusion that ties all of its plot threads eventually instead of the series going on with no foreseeable end or answers to burning questions in sight.
 
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And I think that's where my minor disappointment with SIII lies -- that it ultimately gave me more questions than answers --
I agree that pure story is not the main point of Shenmue, and I agree that Shenmue III didn't answer most questions from the previous games.

But, I disagree that it gave us many significant new questions. Which were them? The way I see it, Shenmue III felt kind of hollow. And my main problem with that is because that happened in Bailu: the place that was teased as the center of the core mysteries since the Shenmue I intro. The hometown of the co-protagonist of the game, and the place with the thing the series gets its name from.

I would have a much lighter feeling of disappointed if that hollowness happened in Niaowu and, say, a hypothetical Suzhou chapter. But having Bailu past us and knowing so little more about everything is kind of crushing.
 
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And my main problem with that is because that happened in Bailu: the place that was teased as the center of the core mysteries since the Shenmue I intro.
All of this. Was Bailu always planned as a place you just stop by and don't learn anything? That was incredibly confusing to me after thinking Bailu was going to be the origins of everything. The epicenter of the story.
 

xatruio

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What's Shenmue
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All of this. Was Bailu always planned as a place you just stop by and don't learn anything? That was incredibly confusing to me after thinking Bailu was going to be the origins of everything. The epicenter of the story.

Iwao's training tree
Verdant bridge/imperial envoy link to stonemasons from Shenhua's ancestors
map scroll/bell tower
Iwao's ema
Shenhua's nightly conversation and optional dialogue at the fire has many gems
Sun/Feng/Yeh recognizing the Hazuki name and recalling Iwao's past

Quick off top of mind there's plenty but very subtle ala Yokosuka, much the slower pace and smaller scale in general similar to ch1. Personally, I loved all the little details you had to pay close attention toward. High reward for taking time and digging into the game.

Mengcun probably going to be epicenter being where whatever went down with Yuanda, Sunming and Iwao; Guilin was where Iwao and Sunming began training and mastering together; highly important but not epicenter to story.
 
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I’d rather Shenmue get a satisfying conclusion that ties all of its plot threads eventually instead of the series going on with no foreseeable end or answers to burning questions in sight.
What is a satisfying conclusion?

I really think this thirst for answers is misguided. A shallow plot, such as Shenmue's, can be excellent when it's kept intentionally obscure, but shine too much light on it and it'll be revealed as ugly.

An ending which ties all ends into a neat package would be terrible. Most likely it would just make you rip your old Dreamcast in half and go: "Rah-rah. I wasted decades of my life for this!? I wants muh munnah back," and make you write monthly death threats to Mr. Suzuki for ruining your life.

Even in the best case scenario, that the revelation wouldn't be absolutely garish, the story of Shenmue would be dead and you'd never sacrifice another thought to it beyond: "Gee-golly, it sure looked neat when Lan Di performed the Omega Fist Bump of Five Different Deaths and brought the last Star Chamber tumbling down on himself."

Do you loathe having to ponder upon the 'burning questions' of Shenmue's story? Trying to fit all the puzzle pieces in your mind gives you the most painful cluster headache known to man? Do you feel like you are trapped in a Shenmue tree shaped planar prison by the evil Mr. Suzuki, and you can't wait for the end of the series to set you free?

It would be so much "fun," you say, that there would be no chance for another Shenmue game ever again. Are you sure you are a fan of the games?

A more open end can be actually satisfying, even though it will still kill the chance of us getting to play anymore of these excellent games. Leave a bunch of mind tickling mysteries lingering in the wake of the final melodramatic events. Make us look at each other slack-jawed and go: "What the hell just went down? What on earth is Shenhua?" and it can be beautiful and leave a lasting impression. This way Shenmue would stay with us to our graves.

And, oh god, the nightmares. The nightmares we'd have of Shenhua would never end! Gaaahhh!

But you would miss that if you're dead set to rather just see the OFBOFDD which answers all your burning questions and banishes the damned thing. At least you'd be freed from your prison, right?
 

The Hero Spot

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Shenmue II
Currently playing
The Last of Us Part II
What is a satisfying conclusion?

I really think this thirst for answers is misguided. A shallow plot, such as Shenmue's, can be excellent when it's kept intentionally obscure, but shine too much light on it and it'll be revealed as ugly.

An ending which ties all ends into a neat package would be terrible. Most likely it would just make you rip your old Dreamcast in half and go: "Rah-rah. I wasted decades of my life for this!? I wants muh munnah back," and make you write monthly death threats to Mr. Suzuki for ruining your life.

Even in the best case scenario, that the revelation wouldn't be absolutely garish, the story of Shenmue would be dead and you'd never sacrifice another thought to it beyond: "Gee-golly, it sure looked neat when Lan Di performed the Omega Fist Bump of Five Different Deaths and brought the last Star Chamber tumbling down on himself."

Do you loathe having to ponder upon the 'burning questions' of Shenmue's story? Trying to fit all the puzzle pieces in your mind gives you the most painful cluster headache known to man? Do you feel like you are trapped in a Shenmue tree shaped planar prison by the evil Mr. Suzuki, and you can't wait for the end of the series to set you free?

It would be so much "fun," you say, that there would be no chance for another Shenmue game ever again. Are you sure you are a fan of the games?

A more open end can be actually satisfying, even though it will still kill the chance of us getting to play anymore of these excellent games. Leave a bunch of mind tickling mysteries lingering in the wake of the final melodramatic events. Make us look at each other slack-jawed and go: "What the hell just went down? What on earth is Shenhua?" and it can be beautiful and leave a lasting impression. This way Shenmue would stay with us to our graves.

And, oh god, the nightmares. The nightmares we'd have of Shenhua would never end! Gaaahhh!

But you would miss that if you're dead set to rather just see the OFBOFDD which answers all your burning questions and banishes the damned thing. At least you'd be freed from your prison, right?
I have so much I want to say on this but I’ll just say I respectfully disagree and some of the stuff here isn’t what I was saying or implying at all.

I do agree though that open ended endings can work and be both satisfying as well as carry fan discussions for many years after the series is over, but I think it does come down to which mysteries were talking about in particular. For example, if the series ended with Ryo never discovering what happened to Zhao Sunming, I and many others would probably be very disappointed because of how much build up there’s been for the past 3 games.
 
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Nov 23, 2019
What is a satisfying conclusion?
Good question. This is something that Suzuki and the writers of Shenmue have burdened themselves with by opting to write a mystery story where the plot takes center stage above character development. Many, many properties have fallen victim to the trap of setting up mysteries without conclusions under the guise of being "planned out" (Lost and Game of Thrones spring immediately to mind) but at least those can fall back on the excuse that their stories were all about the characters. Not so for Shenmue, by design.

I really think this thirst for answers is misguided. A shallow plot, such as Shenmue's, can be excellent when it's kept intentionally obscure, but shine too much light on it and it'll be revealed as ugly.
I didn't think that Shenmue had a shallow plot until S3 (and even after that, it can still go either way imo, obviously I'm hoping it's not shallow). What could possibly have led you to think that it's shallow? It does nothing but pile on plot point after plot point to emphasize that this is anything but a standard revenge story.

An ending which ties all ends into a neat package would be terrible.
The opposite is often true as well. Depends on how it's done.

Even in the best case scenario, that the revelation wouldn't be absolutely garish, the story of Shenmue would be dead and you'd never sacrifice another thought to it beyond: "Gee-golly, it sure looked neat when Lan Di performed the Omega Fist Bump of Five Different Deaths and brought the last Star Chamber tumbling down on himself."
Ask how many Game of Thrones fans are interested in future installments to the series after that ending.

Do you loathe having to ponder upon the 'burning questions' of Shenmue's story? Trying to fit all the puzzle pieces in your mind gives you the most painful cluster headache known to man? Do you feel like you are trapped in a Shenmue tree shaped planar prison by the evil Mr. Suzuki, and you can't wait for the end of the series to set you free?
This is true. It's often impossible to predict where a properly told mystery is going because we don't have all the information, but that doesn't mean the people telling the story don't/shouldn't. Particularly when they've been carting around 16 chapter manuscripts for 20+ years. I've often said that the Star Wars prequels were doomed simply based on the information we're given in the original trilogy; sometimes the beats needed to make a story work don't themselves all work together. At the same time, a well told story can still be captivating and full of tension even if you know exactly what's going to happen.

A more open end can be actually satisfying, even though it will still kill the chance of us getting to play anymore of these excellent games. Leave a bunch of mind tickling mysteries lingering in the wake of the final melodramatic events. Make us look at each other slack-jawed and go: "What the hell just went down? What on earth is Shenhua?" and it can be beautiful and leave a lasting impression. This way Shenmue would stay with us to our graves.
I don't think it has to be either-or. Surely you don't think that we know everything there is to know about Shenhua: who are her real parents? What is the extent of her "powers"? Who were the couple in the flashback to her name? What's so special about the Shenmue tree that she and the games are named after it? Why do the people of Bailu Village recite a poem about her ancient destiny, down to knowing that someone holding the Phoenix Mirror would appear days before it happened? At least some of those questions deserve answers, no?

And, oh god, the nightmares. The nightmares we'd have of Shenhua would never end! Gaaahhh!

But you would miss that if you're dead set to rather just see the OFBOFDD which answers all your burning questions and banishes the damned thing. At least you'd be freed from your prison, right?
First of all, wanting to see the end of a story is not unreasonable, particularly one as steeped in mystery as Shenmue, indeed it's one of the driving forces. Second of all, the "prison" was built by and for Suzuki and co. when they planted all the seeds to their mystery story. They are not suddenly absolved of providing a proper conclusion just because that means no more Shenmue games. Third of all, it's not like we're swimming in Shenmue games as it is, and it may in fact have been the lack of story development in S3 that prevents us from seeing more.
 
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Good question. This is something that Suzuki and the writers of Shenmue have burdened themselves with by opting to write a mystery story where the plot takes center stage above character development. Many, many properties have fallen victim to the trap of setting up mysteries without conclusions under the guise of being "planned out" (Lost and Game of Thrones spring immediately to mind) but at least those can fall back on the excuse that their stories were all about the characters. Not so for Shenmue, by design.
I think Shenmue can fall back on exactly that excuse. More on that after the next beat.

I didn't think that Shenmue had a shallow plot until S3
I didn't see SIII as anymore shallow than the previous games.

(and even after that, it can still go either way imo, obviously I'm hoping it's not shallow). What could possibly have led you to think that it's shallow? It does nothing but pile on plot point after plot point to emphasize that this is anything but a standard revenge story.
It looks just a macguffin-fluffin' to me, and I don't think the emphasis even lies there. It's just the backdrop of Ryo's journey of becoming; his metamorphosis from a small time Yokosuka boy into something greater. I very much agree with you that it's probably not the revenger he is actually being set to become.

What's so special about the Shenmue tree that she and the games are named after it?
"Ryo, what locations around town do you like?"
"Actually, I really like this one. Lately I've felt a lot like coming home when I come back to you here."
Paraphrasing my ass off from memory here, but you get the point.

At least some of those questions deserve answers, no?
I'm certain a whole bunch will eventually be answered. Would be okay if none were.

it's not like we're swimming in Shenmue games as it is
Regardless, I really enjoy the possibility of there being more, much more than I enjoy closing the book for good.

Ask how many Game of Thrones fans are interested in future installments to the series after that ending.
This sounds like a sarcastic question, but it presupposes familiarity with the subject which I do not possess. I have no idea, so... how many?


The opposite is often true as well. Depends on how it's done.
If this is often true, and the table is swaying under the weight of all the good neat-bow-tie-package endings, then please do regale me with examples.
 
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I think Shenmue can fall back on exactly that excuse. More on that after the next beat.
It looks just a macguffin-fluffin' to me, and I don't think the emphasis even lies there. It's just the backdrop of Ryo's journey of becoming; his metamorphosis from a small time Yokosuka boy into something greater. I very much agree with you that it's probably not the revenger he is actually being set to become.
As of 3 installments I don't see Ryo as having the kind of personality or development to qualify as a character oriented story, much less all the other characters. It's far more in line with the archetypal hero's journey. Ryo even ends S3 repeating what has been his sole motivation for 3 games now. Compared to something like Lost or GoT that has massive casts of characters, each with their own unique POV and backstory, Shenmue is very shallow in that department.

I don't see how you can be following the story and think that the macguffin isn't where the emphasis lies. Iwao's sacrifice, what happened to Sunming Zhao, and Lan Di's entire motivation rest on what it is the mirrors do (or what they think they do) to say nothing of the poem about an ancient destiny that opens each game...

"Ryo, what locations around town do you like?"
"Actually, I really like this one. Lately I've felt a lot like coming home when I come back to you here."
Paraphrasing my ass off from memory here, but you get the point.
When was this said and in what context?

Regardless, I really enjoy the possibility of there being more, much more than I enjoy closing the book for good.
If that were an actual possibility I could certainly understand the impulse.

This sounds like a sarcastic question, but it presupposes familiarity with the subject which I do not possess. I have no idea, so... how many?
Game of Thrones ended in a way where it was open enough for them to continue (many of the main characters survived), but the threat that had been building for the entire series and much of the lore kind of turned out to be nothing really important, which sapped a lot of interest in the series, particularly since they've decided to focus on prequels. Most fans have lost interest in even re-watching the good seasons because all of that build up is essentially for nothing.

If this is often true, and the table is swaying under the weight of all the good neat-bow-tie-package endings, then please do regale me with examples.
I think we have a fundamental disagreement on what Shenmue is. Shenmue is a pre-planned story with a set amount of chapters; it's not just a premise that can be extended indefinitely. It's one big story spread over multiple installments. Stories like that that have satisfying endings are things like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings imo.
 

Peter

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I'm replaying 3 again and enjoying it.
I still haven't played it since i finished my original run back in 2019. I guess I am afraid of it, and I don't know if I will replay it anytime soon. As much as love working on Shenmue stuff and the site, I hazard a guess before I even want to play a Shenmue game again.
 

Sergeynest

Keep your Mind as clear as a Polished Mirror.
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I'm replaying 3 again and enjoying it.
I'm also currently replaying Shenmue 3 but with the classic camera mod and no stamina drain when walking and running and I must say I'm enjoying Shenmue 3 much more with these mods, I don't have to be constantly worrying about working to get money or to buy food every now and then. I feel like this way the game feels more well rounded and I can have much more time to appreciate everything it has to offer. It gives me more freedom to engage in any activity when I want to.
The only thing that I think this mod is missing is Balancing the Economy System, specially by lowering the prices of all the clothing.
It ends up feeling boring to grind so much to buy them, specially if you want to collect everything.
If that were to be added to the mod it would make the game even more enjoyable allround.
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
I'm also currently replaying Shenmue 3 but with the classic camera mod and no stamina drain when walking and running and I must say I'm enjoying Shenmue 3 much more with these mods, I don't have to be constantly worrying about working to get money or to buy food every now and then. I feel like this way the game feels more well rounded and I can have much more time to appreciate everything it has to offer. It gives me more freedom to engage in any activity when I want to.
The only thing that I think this mod is missing is Balancing the Economy System, specially by lowering the prices of all the clothing.
It ends up feeling boring to grind so much to buy them, specially if you want to collect everything.
If that were to be added to the mod it would make the game even more enjoyable allround.
I totally forgot to try the classic camera mod when I replayed it around the Steam release. I'm gonna have to give that a shot on my next replay.
 
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I still haven't played it since i finished my original run back in 2019. I guess I am afraid of it, and I don't know if I will replay it anytime soon. As much as love working on Shenmue stuff and the site, I hazard a guess before I even want to play a Shenmue game again.
I guess you are referring to the existing Shenmue games. Not to an eventual new installment.

I personally have only played Shenmue III once, too. I think I will play it again whenever IV is close to release :-D. Just as I did with I&II (that I hadn't replayed since 2002).

In the meantime, though, I'm burning the OSTs, and enjoying the community very much.
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
I'm replaying 3 again and enjoying it.
Yeah I found my second full replay really enjoyable. Admittedly this was on PS5 so I finally got to experience the game in 60FPS which really helped playability. I think untethered to years of expectations and knowing what we got, helped me appreciate the end product despite it’s shortcomings.

I still haven't played it since i finished my original run back in 2019. I guess I am afraid of it, and I don't know if I will replay it anytime soon. As much as love working on Shenmue stuff and the site, I hazard a guess before I even want to play a Shenmue game again.
I’m curious Peter, what are you afraid of? You afraid you won’t enjoy a potential return to Shenmue 3?
 
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