General Impressions

Peter

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Jul 14, 2018
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’m curious Peter, what are you afraid of? You afraid you won’t enjoy a potential return to Shenmue 3?
More or less, but that seems to be the way it's going to be forever for me personally, due to what happened in my life during it's release. They will always be married together, and every time I see it or play it, it will always be the case of, "oh yea, remember that time". It's just an unfortunate thing.
 
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Need to start my third playthrough eventually, but my spare time is really limited these days and I have so many untouched games to work through. It's always at the back of my mind though, and what I learned from my second playthrough is that the bright spots of the game shine more when the weight of all that expectation is removed.

Shenmue I chillout vibes + Shenmue II quality of life improvements is a solid combo for a game you can just unwind in for a bit. I'd still recommend some mods like classic camera + no stamina drain and anything that rebalances the money grind roadblocks if you want to complete the game end-to-end, but sometimes it's nice just to start it up and put in a shift on the forklift, chop some wood, or race some turtles.

I hazard a guess before I even want to play a Shenmue game again.
To be fair, if there's anybody who has played enough Shenmue for several lifetimes...
 

Peter

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Jul 14, 2018
Need to start my third playthrough eventually, but my spare time is really limited these days and I have so many untouched games to work through. It's always at the back of my mind though, and what I learned from my second playthrough is that the bright spots of the game shine more when the weight of all that expectation is removed.

Shenmue I chillout vibes + Shenmue II quality of life improvements is a solid combo for a game you can just unwind in for a bit. I'd still recommend some mods like classic camera + no stamina drain and anything that rebalances the money grind roadblocks if you want to complete the game end-to-end, but sometimes it's nice just to start it up and put in a shift on the forklift, chop some wood, or race some turtles.


To be fair, if there's anybody who has played enough Shenmue for several lifetimes...
Haahaahaaa yes, well Shenmue 3 will always be marred by real life experiences at the time. But the original 2 are simply because I have played them back, to back, to back, for years, that I think I have PTSD now.
 

Tentei

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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 think you should. I understand why not though. Mind-expanding on that so I make sure I understand and not assuming?
 

Peter

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I think you should. I understand why not though. Mind-expanding on that so I make sure I understand and not assuming?
Sure thing. I mean I have been part of the Dojo since 2004, and when I say part of, I mean everyday. Talking about Shenmue. Working on Shenmue related projects. I waited for all that time, and worked as hard as I could after Shenmue 3 was announced at E3 2015. I took over this site, overseen its rebuilding from the ground up, and pushed through to promote the release of both the re-releases and Shenmue 3. A week before finally getting my hands on the game I'd waited and worked for, for almost 20 years, my mother had a brain haemorrhage and a stroke. She spent 8 weeks in intensive care, and despite pulling through, she will never be the same. We still have to care for her, and no matter how much I love Shenmue, the thought of Shenmue 3 will always make me think of that time. It will never be able to not be the case. It's just the way it is unfortunately.
 
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I've been going back to SIII recently...the general vibe and feeling is what still gets me the most about it. I still just enjoy living in this world. It has that quality that no other open world game has ever given me. I just enjoy the simple act of existing in this world and doing mindless random things killing time for no real reason.
 
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I've been going back to SIII recently...the general vibe and feeling is what still gets me the most about it. I still just enjoy living in this world. It has that quality that no other open world game has ever given me. I just enjoy the simple act of existing in this world and doing mindless random things killing time for no real reason.
I finished my fourth playthrough about an hour ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot of the same issues from my first playthrough still bugged me, but I found that I enjoyed Niaowu a lot more this time around - probably more than Bailu. Don’t get me wrong, in terms of design Bailu is the better location hands down (particularly with how Niaowu locks off certain routes until the very end of the game) and it also has the edge when it comes to narrative. When it comes to the manner in which the story is actually told though, Niaowu felt a lot more polished.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I noticed that the boat that Ryo et al take after the old castle has a ring toss mini game on the deck and am now wondering whether it was playable at some point. Probably not, but it’s strange that they took the time to model something that is on screen for less than a second and really doesn’t need to be there.
 
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You know what? I think people are way too harsh on the fighting in this game...I was playing on Nightmare just now on Stream fighting the first set of thugs and was genuinely pretty surprised. The fundamentals of a fighting game are still there. You can whiff punish in this game. You can interrupt certain moves depending on the wind up with a (10 frame?) simple jab. There is actual frame data there. If you're paying attention you can see their weight shift to one or the other side and side step to the right side and open them up.

It's really not half bad all things given once you get your head fully wrapped around its idiosyncracties (such as its button timing).

The only thing missing from it is real counters and throws, but otherwise, it has the fundamentals of a fighting game. I remember when reviews came out that people complained it was button mashy...I don't get that at all! Especially when you play on nightmare. You really have to pay attention and counter attack (as best you can counter at least given there are no real counter throws) in the best way possible. You almost have to play footsies with them on Nightmare to open them up.

It has its issues...most notably the choice of inputs and the fact that it feels more like dial a combo as opposed to doing the move with each button press. Also multi man combat can be a pain on Nightmare...but playing it on Nightmare, it really kind of clicked that the fundamentals of a 3D fighting game are still very much in there and it's not half bad...it just feels like a first draft that could be so much better with revision.

I don't know...I'm trying to seriously learn Tekken lately in terms of movement and opening people up and maybe it's just me, but I noticed tonight it's not anywhere near as button mashy as people made it out to be...especially not on Nightmare where you really have to pay attention and look for ways to open them up.
 
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I've said it a ton, but I think the fighting seems "bad" because of the rather lifeless animations and collision detection. The fundamentals are totally adequate. They missed the boat on making the fighting feel good.
 
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I've said it a ton, but I think the fighting seems "bad" because of the rather lifeless animations and collision detection. The fundamentals are totally adequate. They missed the boat on making the fighting feel good.

Animations are pretty stiff throughout the whole game though...I'll never argue that. I think when the fighting lands it's not half bad though. It's nowhere as bad as I think some people make it out to be. There are other moments where it looks bad...but then again, I think most of the animations in the game are pretty stiff in general. It's always been an issue I've had with it. Stiff animations.

Landing some of the bigger kicks is satisfying to watch them crumble...other animations less so. I feel like when the animations land some of them aren't half bad and others just look weak and lack weight. Animation wise it's nowhere near Shenmue 1 or 2 in that regard...for sure.
 
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I will admit that I may have been too harsh towards the combat system of Shenmue III. However, when the first two games set an extremely high bar, I expected Shenmue III to either match or exceed it. Also, I hold Yu Suzuki to a very high standard since he is one of the forefathers of in-depth combat systems.

You can not convince me that a combat system that is missing thirty-three percent of its moveset, a lack of proper parry or evasion options, a dial-a-combo set, and an inferior Counter Elbow Assault to be a good system. I will give Suzuki credit for allowing me to toggle between enemies and that you can map up to five moves to the trigger button. However, these could have been implemented with the older system as well.

When you base your combat on (in my opinion), the best combat system in gaming Virtua Fighter, anything less is going to feel like a disappointment. So I maintain that while Shenmue III's combat is not as bad as critics make it out to be, it is a downgrade in my eyes.
 
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Pertinent quote from Yu Suzuki:
"I hear people saying that the movements of the characters look a bit stiff," Suzuki acknowledges. "Of course, I'm aware of what's required for them to look completely natural - with a proper studio set-up, and going through all the steps involved like the other development companies. But if we were to have done that for Shenmue III, I knew we would only have been able to include about a tenth of all the motions I felt were needed. So it came down to a decision to accept 80% rather than going for 100%, in order to achieve this magnitude of difference".

Almost all of the motion capture was carried out at YS Net, says Suzuki, as out-sourcing this would have severely limited the amount of motions that could have been realized.
Not to nag on the same old points either of course, but we know Shenmue III also didn't have the staff to form a team dedicated to the combat like the originals - who were starting from a pretty solid base in Virtua Fighter.

It is what it is.
 
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A pertinent quote from Yu Suzuki:

Not to nag on the same old points either of course, but we know Shenmue III also didn't have the staff to form a team dedicated to the combat like the originals - who were starting from a pretty solid base in Virtua Fighter.

It is what it is.
I am aware that Shenmue is more than just combat and that Suzuki had to divide his resources elsewhere such as story, characters, environments, mini-games, etc (though I would contend that story is not something you need money for especially one that has already been pre-planned, and that the mini-games redundancy could have been minimalized). However, when small independent Chinese game developers can create combat systems on par with Devil May Cry and Ninja Garden, (Lost Soul Aside which ironically was funded by Sony after the Internet was impressed with the original trailer and Black Myth Wu Kong) then why should I excuse the forefather of Virtua Fighter?

"It is what it is" does not change my opinion of the system. Like I said before, I do not think the system is awful, however, I still find it to be inferior to the original titles.
 
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I am aware that Shenmue is more than just combat and that Suzuki had to divide his resources elsewhere such as story, characters, environments, mini-games, etc (though I would contend that story is not something you need money for especially one that has already been pre-planned, and that the mini-games redundancy could have been minimalized).
Producing story in games is expensive...dialogue, voice work, cutscenes, etc. Also we know Yu's planning docs for III (and the entire Shenmue saga) are not comprehensive. They're outlines more than anything.

Also that Chinese studio's action game...I wouldn't say that's comparable at all to a Shenmue game.
 
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Producing stories in games is expensive...dialogue, voice work, cutscenes, etc. Also, we know Yu's planning docs for III (and the entire Shenmue saga) are not comprehensive. They're outlines more than anything.

Also that Chinese studio's action game...I wouldn't say that's comparable at all to a Shenmue game.
When I was referring to the story, I was referring to the writing of the said story or its blueprint. Anyone can write a story these days and post it online (whether or not it makes it into a game is a different matter). When it comes to recording the dialogue, I call that dubbing.

The point of my examples is not that the combat is similar. It is to highlight that a smaller studio with fewer resources than Yu Suzuki can produce something outstanding. So why did Yu Suzuki not go out and hire developers like Yang Bing? If he can do it for Nicon Kid, why not one for the battle system?
 
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spud1897

spud1897

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When I was referring to the story, I was referring to the writing of the said story or its blueprint. Anyone can write a story these days and post it online (whether or not it makes it into a game is a different matter). When it comes to recording the dialogue, I call that dubbing.

The point of my examples is not that the combat is similar. It is to highlight that a smaller studio with fewer resources than Yu Suzuki can produce something outstanding. So why did Yu Suzuki not go out and hire developers like Yang Bing? If he can do it for Nicon Kid, why not one for the battle system?
Was that option even avaliable? For the most part I think it was probably over ambition that led to the combat not being quite finished if you see where I'm coming from.

But I also take the point that using the VF engine from the original was a high bar indeed and one I'm not sure could be cleared
 
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Was that option even avaliable? For the most part I think it was probably over ambition that led to the combat not being quite finished if you see where I'm coming from.
I think people also need to remember that combat only makes up a small part of the game. The team had 101 other things to work on during development and finding the right balance was likely very challenging given the budget.

Personally, I had very few issues with the combat. It could certainly have been better, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some people make out. That said, combat is only a small part of what makes Shenmue so special to me, so I can perhaps see why those who loved the first two games purely for the combat may be a little disappointed.
 
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However, when small independent Chinese game developers can create combat systems on par with Devil May Cry and Ninja Garden, (Lost Soul Aside which ironically was funded by Sony after the Internet was impressed with the original trailer and Black Myth Wu Kong) then why should I excuse the forefather of Virtua Fighter?
These are action combat games, ergo a significant portion of development resources went on the combat as the central premise. Shenmue had many other plates to spin to be even a relatively complete experience.

Black Myth Wu Kong developer Game Science are looking to *increase* their existing staff by 19 after their vertical slice (and that's what it is, it may look polished but the release is pencilled in for 2023 and may slip, which indicates that's basically all they had) went viral.

Lost Soul Aside has 20 people working on it, but it's also been almost four years (i.e, the entire duration of Shenmue III's development) since it was picked up by Sony. Not since development started, *since it was picked up*, and it's unlikely to release this year either.

For context, planners and programmers (broadly responsible for implementing game design) on Shenmue III amounted to barely 25 people overall - including freelance contractors at Historia Inc. That's for *everything* we got. In the original Shenmue, 12 people are credited as being specifically assigned to the combat, working over however many years.

It's fine to have an opinion, and especially when we know YsNet themselves thought they didn't get the combat where they wanted it (one of the Dojo interviews with Ryan Payton), but I think a bump of reality is needed once in a while when the circular talking points start up, and the counterfactuals about other devs in different situations are introduced. Just as a reminder.

At least they've got a place to start from next time, which is more than could be said when Shenmue III began development. If we're lucky they'll have a better environment for mo-cap, better *tech* for mo-cap, and enough development staff to silo off a team specifically dedicated to combat scenarios. About a dozen people working on it for a few years could make something pretty great.
 
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