Random Shenmue Thoughts

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Aug 22, 2018
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Japan
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Shenmue II
While many of us probably were oblivious to the gate keeping around tattoo parlour/finding Charlie, 22 years after its initial release you can at least understand how those that didn’t engage in all the games minutia can highlight the games pacing issues. That’s why I appreciated his emphasis when evaluating any type of media you have to look at it as a product of its time to provide proper context.
This is an excellent point and something that I noticed myself when replaying the game in later life.

Due to how revolutionary Shenmue was at the time, it was easy to fill any periods where Ryo needed to wait with exploration. Whether wandering around the streets of Yokosuka looking for secret interactions or blowing Ryo’s allowance in the arcade or on Sonic figures, I could easily kill time in Shenmue back in my younger days.

These days, however, I feel like I’ve seen all there is to see and so generally just want to get on with the story. I can definitely see how somebody new to the game might not be too interested in Shenmue’s distractions on a first playthrough, though, as although they may not have done those things in Shenmue before, they have likely done them in countless other games.
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
These days, however, I feel like I’ve seen all there is to see and so generally just want to get on with the story. I can definitely see how somebody new to the game might not be too interested in Shenmue’s distractions on a first playthrough, though, as although they may not have done those things in Shenmue before, they have likely done them in countless other games.
I actually find in my replays I deliberately try and take the most obtuse path to the next objective or speak to residents that you wouldn’t traditionally converse with which results in hearing some pretty obscure dialgoue.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Favourite title
Shenmue
Currently playing
Strider (2014)
Honestly, the pacing of the first Shenmue never bothered me. What is ironic is that titles such as Spiritfarer, Journey, and Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding are being praised for their slow pacing. Yet, Shenmue is being heavily criticized for placing such emphasis on realism?

I can not speak for anyone else, but I thought the slow pacing was masterfully done. Not only did it give the player time to explore the vast world, but the incremental moments made the major events more meaningful because of your investment in this world. Your ability to shape Ryo Hazuki as the man you want him to be.

While the first game does have a linear narrative framework, every player's experience as Ryo is different. For example, I had Ryo spend the majority of his time mastering his martial arts techniques. Because I view Ryo as a stoic warrior much like his father.

In all honesty, even if no one else does, Yu Suzuki has my respect for creating a masterpiece that does not get the Justice it deserves.
 
Joined
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Honestly, the pacing of the first Shenmue never bothered me. What is ironic is that titles such as Spiritfarer, Journey, and Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding are being praised for their slow pacing. Yet, Shenmue is being heavily criticized for placing such emphasis on realism?

I can not speak for anyone else, but I thought the slow pacing was masterfully done. Not only did it give the player time to explore the vast world, but the incremental moments made the major events more meaningful because of your investment in this world. Your ability to shape Ryo Hazuki as the man you want him to be.

While the first game does have a linear narrative framework, every player's experience as Ryo is different. For example, I had Ryo spend the majority of his time mastering his martial arts techniques. Because I view Ryo as a stoic warrior much like his father.

In all honesty, even if no one else does, Yu Suzuki has my respect for creating a masterpiece that does not get the Justice it deserves.
The video creator suggests that people play the game for this exact reason; that nobody else makes games with pacing quite like Shenmue and, as a result, the games are incredibly singular. He happens to see the pacing as a bad thing, but something that should be experienced nonetheless.

As I said, the pacing really didn’t bother me the first time around because of how invested I was in the game’s world and how much fun I had exploring it. Unfortunately, however, in this day and age, I can see why people might not be so invested in the game’s world due to Shenmue’s side activities no longer being unique; and it’s this that really makes the pacing an issue.

The video creator did an excellent job of framing his critique around the era in which the game was made, but I do think he dropped the ball a little in this regard. At the time, being able to go to an arcade or randomly stumble upon a secret cutscene or conversation were more or less unheard of. Thanks to Yakuza et al, that’s no longer the case, but I’m not sure he fully appreciates that Shenmue was largely responsible for these things becoming staples in open world games, nor how having these things at the time completely masked the slow pacing.

As I write this, I’m realizing that this contributed quite a lot towards my mixed feelings towards the third game. Things that blew me away in the first two games now feel normal, which in turn transferred a lot of the heavy lifting over to the narrative. Unfortunately, for me, at least, the narrative was nowhere near strong enough to carry an entire game.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Favourite title
Shenmue
Currently playing
Strider (2014)
The video creator suggests that people play the game for this exact reason; that nobody else makes games with pacing quite like Shenmue and, as a result, the games are incredibly singular. He happens to see the pacing as a bad thing, but something that should be experienced nonetheless.

As I said, the pacing didn’t bother me the first time around because of how invested I was in the game’s world and how much fun I had exploring it. Unfortunately, however, in this day and age, I can see why people might not be so invested in the game’s world due to Shenmue’s side activities no longer being unique; and it’s this that makes the pacing an issue.

The video creator did an excellent job of framing his critique around the era in which the game was made, but I do think he dropped the ball a little in this regard. At the time, being able to go to an arcade or randomly stumble upon a secret cutscene or conversation was more or less unheard of. Thanks to Yakuza et al, that’s no longer the case, but I’m not sure he fully appreciates that Shenmue was largely responsible for these things becoming staples in open-world games, nor how having these things at the time completely masked the slow pacing.

As I write this, I’m realizing that this contributed quite a lot to my mixed feelings towards the third game. Things that blew me away in the first two games now feel normal, which in turn transferred a lot of the heavy lifting over to the narrative. Unfortunately, for me, at least, the narrative was nowhere near strong enough to carry an entire game.
Fair enough critique as I suppose that Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka is a product of its time. That rings doubly true when you consider that future games in the series added the time skip feature. And while I think Virtua Bros did an admirable job of distinguishing Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka from other open-world titles and its spiritual successor Ryu Ga Gotoku, I think the first title is only going to be truly appreciated by those who played the game in 1999.

For me, the slow pacing was not my issue with Shenmue III. The difference between the first and third titles was due to the rushed pacing of the narrative. The first game had meaningful events sprinkled throughout the story while the third game had everything crammed into the end. Where I felt like I was making progress in the first title, I felt I was meandering in the third one. And then everything, in the end, is blasted right in front of me without build-up.

For example, the time investigating the Mad Angels gang at the Yokosuka harbor had plenty of build-up leading to a climactic finale. Imagine going from Lan-Di killing your father to encountering Terry, would that not come across as jarring to you? I am probably being hyperbolic but that is how I felt.

In some regards, I believe that Deep Silver had some corporate meddling with Shenmue III's development. We had an entire village cut, we had the entire seige minigame cut, we did not learn the meaning of the prophecy, along with the rushed pacing. After the masterful narrative in Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka and Shenmue II, I refuse to accept that Suzuki would drop the ball so hard in the third title considering the entire story has been fully planned out already.

This is not even going into the combat system, but that's a different issue. However, I still have unwavering faith that Suzuki can steer the ship with the fourth title if he is given what he needs. And finally, I would like to apologize to the fans of Shenmue III, I hope my post does not come across as antagonistic. If you enjoyed the title, then I am sincerely happy for you and do not harbor any ill will towards you. My opinion is meaningless in comparison to your enjoyment of the title as I also have many titles I like (Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 for example) that people legitimately dislike. It is all a matter of opinion.
 
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Fair enough critique as I suppose that Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka is a product of its time. That rings doubly true when you consider that future games in the series added the time skip feature. And while I think Virtua Bros did an admirable job of distinguishing Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka from other open-world titles and its spiritual successor Ryu Ga Gotoku, I think the first title is only going to be truly appreciated by those who played the game in 1999.

For me, the slow pacing was not my issue with Shenmue III. The difference between the first and third titles was due to the rushed pacing of the narrative. The first game had meaningful events sprinkled throughout the story while the third game had everything crammed into the end. Where I felt like I was making progress in the first title, I felt I was meandering in the third one. And then everything, in the end, is blasted right in front of me without build-up.

For example, the time investigating the Mad Angels gang at the Yokosuka harbor had plenty of build-up leading to a climactic finale. Imagine going from Lan-Di killing your father to encountering Terry, would that not come across as jarring to you? I am probably being hyperbolic but that is how I felt.

In some regards, I believe that Deep Silver had some corporate meddling with Shenmue III's development. We had an entire village cut, we had the entire seige minigame cut, we did not learn the meaning of the prophecy, along with the rushed pacing. After the masterful narrative in Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka and Shenmue II, I refuse to accept that Suzuki would drop the ball so hard in the third title considering the entire story has been fully planned out already.

This is not even going into the combat system, but that's a different issue. However, I still have unwavering faith that Suzuki can steer the ship with the fourth title if he is given what he needs. And finally, I would like to apologize to the fans of Shenmue III, I hope my post does not come across as antagonistic. If you enjoyed the title, then I am sincerely happy for you and do not harbor any ill will towards you. My opinion is meaningless in comparison to your enjoyment of the title as I also have many titles I like (Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 for example) that people legitimately dislike. It is all a matter of opinion.
I agree with your assessment of S3 for the most part, but would argue that the filler content between key points was weak, rather than absent. In Suzuki’s defense, I don’t think that looking for information about the Verdant Bridge or trying to track down the Red Snakes was any weaker than trying to gather information about The Mad Angels or looking for sailors, but the lack of a wait function and the novelty of all of the distractions in the first game forced players to take their time in a believable and organic way.

By contrast, the two paywalls in three felt far more forced and involved activities that were nowhere near as engaging due to them having been done to death in video games over the past two decades. Rather than encouraging me to explore, the paywalls just pissed me off and, by the second, I found myself in a position where I’d much rather find a way to break the in game economy than actually interact with what I found to be an incredibly tedious system (gambling) any more.

Again, to Suzuki’s credit, some of my favorite activities in S3 were the new additions like One Inch Punch, Wood Chopping, Herb Collecting, Fishing, Whack-A-Mole and that goofy driving game (I forget the name). Despite enjoying them though, they just weren’t enough for me to spend too much time away from the main story interacting with them which pulled the game’s narrative frailties right into focus. I guess that’s on me rather than the game, but I did find myself relating to the video creator’s comments about how the side activities in S1 weren’t enough to fill the void left between story beats, only regarding S3. As such, I can only assume that were I to play S1 for the first time today, I’d probably feel the same way about it too.

I really don’t know how reflective my opinion of S3 is of the general consensus (a lot of people dislike the game for a lot of different reasons), but as well as going hard on the main narrative in the next game, I’d really like to see Suzuki put more time into crafting meaningful side quests and random encounters. Knowing that exploration would likely yield new encounters in the first two games really incentivized me to explore and go out of my way to interact with different NPCs at different times. At no point in three did doing so ever really lead to any interesting results though, which kind of forced me into ploughing ahead with the story while making me think that further exploration was a waste of my time.
 

Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
Joined
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At the end of the day is all about opinions and tastes people have. Some people think Shenmue is a boring and bad game but some people think that Shenmue is a masterpiece.

Some people don’t like the slow place and think that the slow pace especially in Shenmue I and III is a flaw, something bad but i think it is one of the beautiful and unique things in the Shenmue games, i love that Shenmue is a slow pace story.

Some people think that the voice acting in the games are bad but i think that the voice acting the way it was made is one of the reasons why the games are so charming and unique for me, i prefer to play Shenmue games in japanese and i think the voice acting in japanese is okay, but both versions are charming for me about the voice acting.

Some people think that Shenmue III ignored 18 years of evolution in games and don’t like the game, but some people like the game, i like the game, i love the unique gameplay style that Shenmue games have. Shenmue III to me is a peaceful game where one of the focuses is Ryo getting to know Shenhua more, talking to her, living with her, training little by little with Master Sun and more and Ryo having the beautiful experience of living a peaceful and quiet life in Guilin Bailu Village, like a second home to him.

Some people think that having to wait in the first game is a flaw but i think is beautiful, i really feel like i’m there in that world living the life of Ryo Hazuki, when i play the first game is like i’m there in Yokosuka, is a unique feeling for me, but in the second game and third game is a nice addition that the players can choose if they want to wait or not, i’m just saying that having to wait in the first game didn’t bother me at all in all my playtroughs.

Some people think that games have a expiration date and can age really poorly but i think that games are art and that they don’t have a expiration date.

Some people prefer retro games than PS5/XBOX Series X games, i have a friend that prefer 2D games than 3D games.

I played the first game from beggining to the end for the first time in 2015/2016 and i love the game so much, i know i will always love this game, time will not change this for me because as i said it is art to me. One of my friends played the first game this year from beggining to the end for the first time, my friend said it was a beautiful experience and now my friend is a Shenmue fan.

I could go on and on but i think i made my point here, my point is that we all have different opinions about the games and that’s okay.
 
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Honestly I don’t know much about his channel but after his inflammatory tweet prior to the release of this video I didn’t have much hope.

Despite calling the game the worst, if you can make it through his meandering opening he actually gives the game a fairly fair shake for a detractor and actually ends up praising a lot of elements of the game.
Isn't this the same dude pissing on it?

 

Sergeynest

Keep your Mind as clear as a Polished Mirror.
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Hey thanks for your kind words man. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm whipping up a Shenmue 2 video at the moment - might take me a little while though.
Great to hear that.
Just take your time making it, there is no need to rush it.
Looking forward to see it.
 
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Shenmue 1 was the first time that I was ever truly floored by videogame music. I had music that I enjoyed a ton back in the day in terms of films and games (Super Mario World, Sonic series, Donkey Kong Country series, Batman 1989 film, TMNT 1990 movie & many others that are escaping me right now)

The music in the franchise is phenomenal and it kicks off with the first game's classic soundtrack. I'll never forget walking out of the Hazuki residence for the first time and hearing FREE 1 and just being awestruck by it. it's so simple but yet so effective and it just builds from there. The soundtrack has these bombastic grand epics and then somber soft reflectional pieces. The music and just the game in general is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
 
Joined
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I really don’t know how reflective my opinion of S3 is of the general consensus (a lot of people dislike the game for a lot of different reasons), but as well as going hard on the main narrative in the next game, I’d really like to see Suzuki put more time into crafting meaningful side quests and random encounters. Knowing that exploration would likely yield new encounters in the first two games really incentivized me to explore and go out of my way to interact with different NPCs at different times. At no point in three did doing so ever really lead to any interesting results though, which kind of forced me into ploughing ahead with the story while making me think that further exploration was a waste of my time.
It may be too much to ask but I think beefing up the investigative loop would really benefit Shenmue 4. Even if that isn’t entirely possible allowing you to tackle certain tasks in a non linear fashion like was discussed or have conversation/objective options could give the investigative portions some flair and variety.

Isn't this the same dude pissing on it?


Yeah it is. Like I said I am not familiar with his channel but it’s clearly designed for younger audience and hyperbolic reactions. Still after his rambling opening I still think he gave the first game a pretty fair and surprisingly positive review encouraging his viewers to experience Shenmue despite not liking it as a game but more as an experience.
 
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It may be too much to ask but I think beefing up the investigative loop would really benefit Shenmue 4. Even if that isn’t entirely possible allowing you to tackle certain tasks in a non linear fashion [like was discussed or have conversation/objective options could give the investigative portions some flair and variety.
I feel like they wanted to do this in Shenmue 3, but, for whatever reason, couldn’t make it work. I can only really think of two instances that made it into the game (calling the shopkeeper “Granny” or “Gorgeous” and overseeing the interaction between Delin’s brother and the hotel owner) and neither had any real bearing on the experience.

I get that there were issues with budget, but it seems to me that these could have easily been given meaning. Maybe Ryo sees Delin’s brother show the hotel owner his move and then asks about it later to learn it rather than it just been freely offered up and maybe the expensive wine is actually in the old lady’s store rather than the Tao Store and flattering her leads to a slightly lower asking price? I dunno.

For me, at least, little touches like this would have infinitely improved the overall Shenmue 3 experience and probably wouldn’t have led to too much extra work for the devs, if any. A branching quest line is probably asking a little too much, but one with little detours here and there shouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility.
 
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Yeah it is. Like I said I am not familiar with his channel but it’s clearly designed for younger audience and hyperbolic reactions. Still after his rambling opening I still think he gave the first game a pretty fair and surprisingly positive review encouraging his viewers to experience Shenmue despite not liking it as a game but more as an experience.

I don't know. I didn't watch the other one. I saw this one recommended to me on my Youtube front page and clicked it out of curiosity. Its pretty much what I expected. Some dude I've never heard of ranting about how crap and boring Shenmue is for "entertainment."

That's why I found it odd when I came here and there is another video of him giving what seems to be a fair critique?

I know it's stupid but that shit bugs me....it's like bi-polar content creation. One moment fair and evenhanded, the next screeching for clicks. Make up your mind which persona you want to be. I get it, it's "entertainment" and designed for the younger cynical crowd who loves to shit on everything...but doesn't mean I have to like it :D
 
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That's new to me, although I'm not really on the lookout or anything. I & II were published by SEGA and III was Deep Silver, right? I guess some kind of deal was reached between them. Interesting.
 

bcdcdude

Dude with tweed :)
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Thanks for the heads up re: the Youtube video. I despise clickbait articles, but if what you all say is true, I have to wonder if it's some kind of trolling genius; get the negative Nancy's in, turn the video around and make it positive and come away with hopefully more people enjoying the game.

Of course, it also has the effect of people like us ignoring it...I got burned with SEPW, but will give this one a go. I've never heard of the channel, but the number of subscribers and the views suggest this could be a good thing.
 

bcdcdude

Dude with tweed :)
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OK, so I watched the SomeOrdinaryGamers video and you know what? I actually enjoyed it. For all his complaints, I think deep down he enjoyed the game. What was most pleasing was he understood the *essence* of Shenmue; you can tell he definitely played it and he understood the game, so that was nice. I think he'll appreciate Shenmue II a lot more. I'd be very interested to watch that video when the time comes.
 
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