The Shenmue Essence

Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
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Brazil
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Shenmue
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Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC)
Hey everyone, it's been a while that i wanted to make this thread, a thread to talk about the essence of Shenmue, sometimes on the internet i see people talking that Shenmue is archaic, outdated, that aged poorly, that Shenmue is stopped in time and many other things, maybe i have a unpopular opinion.

I disagree a lot with this and i don't use this words to talk about arts. I don't use this words to talk about music, movies, animes, games and much more. For me games are art, they are not archaic, outdated, they don't age poorly and they are not stopped in time.

Imagine if today i decide to play the original FFVII, then later i decide to play the remake, i will think that the original is outdated and aged poorly? no. Of course that many things have envolved in the gaming world, now is possible to create games with more realistic graphics and things like that, but that doesn't mean games are outdated and age poorly.

Imagine if i decide to make a RPG in the old school style, with graphics and gameplay of the SNES era, i will release the game and the game will be already outdated? this things in the gaming industry don't make sense to me.

I feel sad because maybe there is no place for creativity and originality anymore. Some people criticized Shenmue III saying that it is archaic and outdated, that Shenmue stopped in time, some people say that Shenmue should be like Yakuza, that should be like every other modern game, and i really disagree when people say that because Shenmue have it's own essence, Yu Suzuki have it's own style of doing games, and what made me love Shenmue so much was this essence that only Shenmue have, Shenmue games are so unique, i never played anything like Shenmue.

Shenmue III have the Shenmue essence but have new things too, things like the Food system, we can change Ryo's clothes, we can have phone calls in a easy way, we can collect herbs, we can fight in Dojos to level up kung fu and many others things, this things was really nice, only the food system that need some adjustments because it runs out so fast, this is my only complain about the food system, i thought it is a great addition, it have so many different foods, what i am saying is Shenmue didn't stopped in time, Shenmue III continues to have the Shenmue essence and brought new things for the franchise.
 
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OP
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Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
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Shenmue
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Now i will write what is the Shenmue essence for me, maybe is different for other people.

THE SHENMUE ESSENCE
- Talking with NPCs to find more clues about the story, about the characters and what to do next, and Shenmue do this in a unique way, is part of the charm of the games.

- The notebook where Ryo writes about the clues and what he thinks he have to do next, sometimes he even writes about what he is feeling at the moment, this two things is a big part of the Shenmue essence for me

-Another part of the Shenmue essence is the way we can explore the world, we can open a lot of things, we can grab items to see more closer, some items we can buy and consume them, and Shenmue does this things in a unique way. We have the casette tapes in the first Shenmue, we have the foods, capsule toys and many other things, and the way the inventory is on the games is really nice, we can collect a lot of things, i enjoy this.

-The pacing of the story. Some people say that one of the bad things about the first Shenmue is the slow pace, some people even think that Shenmue is a boring game, i really disagree about this, this is one of the good things about the game for me, in the first game we can really feel Yokosuka and the characters.

When i play Shenmue i always feel i'm really there in that world, it is something so unique, and when Ryo is leaving Yokosuka it is so emotional because we got the chance to interact a lot with the characters, we got the chance to really feel the city so the ending is really emotional. In Shenmue II a lot of times the pacing is more fast and with action, i like that too but i understand when a location have a slow pace, Yokosuka and Bailu Village have slow pace and i love it, i know is not for everybody but for me it is a part of the Shenmue essence. I plan one day to make a thread to talk only about the pace of the games.

-The weather system is so unique in my opinion, specially in the first game.
-The details in the game. Everytime i play Shenmue games i see new things, new scenes, new conversations, it is awesome.
-The mini games.
-Training and the fights

I really can't imagine Shenmue IV and V without a lot of this things. Some of this things a more important than others but they are all part of the Shenmue essence for me. All i know is that Shenmue doesn't have to be like Yakuza, doesn't have to be like GTA, doesn't have to be like all the other modern games, Shenmue have to be like Shenmue. Yu Suzuki knows more than me what is the essence of Shenmue, i'm sure he knows what he will never allow in a Shenmue game, for example Ryo with guns.

I wrote a lot of things so maybe i will add other things later. What is the Shenmue essence for you? what things should have in all Shenmue games? what things do you want in Shenmue IV? share your thoughts if you want but do this with respect, thank you. 😊
 
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blixt

Banned
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
I basically feel the same way you described.

Games these days are not made with a certain passion in mind. Most creators these days are doing it for the money. In the older days of gaming I personally believe there was much more room for passion to be part of the creative process. These days it's just like copy--paste ideas. Look at the open world games. Sure they can be fun and I enjoyed some of them. But they're all almost exactly the same in their lay out / structure. The only game I know that was different as a open world game was Shadow of The Colossus. The Shenmue series on the other hand is a completely different species of its own. It's like the only type of open world game rich in detail / content rather than size. A zoomed in open world.

Older games defenetly have a style of their own. A unique art form. Pixel-art is an example. I wish the DC-Shenmue graphics lived on as an art form but I know younger people wouldn't see the charm. It wouldn't $ell.

I think smaller indie developers more often are driven with passion than the bigger ones. They don't have the budget but they have the passion and the result is quite often very original and charming.

I belive (especially some) games are art. Video games is more than ´games´. It's where all the art-forms are combined in one. Text-reading, Voices, Music, Film sequences, and on top of that you ´control´ the character and you make your own choises.
Games that are more than just entertainment (like Shenmue IMO) should have a name of it's own. I appriciate ´games´ that can not only inspire you but actually ´teach´ you something. - That is powerful.

Often times, less is more. In Shenmue that's the case with its concentrated atmosphere that's enriched by a high level of content that made it come to ´life´. The original two games were made with pure passion. They went all-in on those games.
If the passion wasn't there (with Yu of course) the project would have died, I think. Sh I & II is proof of what can happen when developers give it all. From a financial point of view the project was way too risky and did cost way too much money.
But they did it anyway, and it IMO became the most original, authentic, piece of passion ever created.

I'm not completely happy with the result of Sh III but I was always aware of the lacking budget. I still play III thou and I love the fact that it has lots of wonderful improvements. For example the ability to change Ryo's clothes. And the clothes look very good. They put a lot of time and effort in those details that is often overlooked. If you play Sh III and seek the details. That's what makes the game awesome. I recently just walked around in Bailu and watched the environment. It's like a therapy session. No, it's better. It's a beautiful gem of a game. I love the bridge deck next to the village, close to the house Ryo was investigating. Just imagine how beautiful Sh IV could be? Holy crap..

Yu said ~´I think there is a lot that can be found within imperfection ~ that charm to it´. (not quoted literally but close enough)
I know exactly what he's talking about. It's that charm for example in Shemue 1. The funny voice acting that made the game better, not worse IMO. (I want to point out that the voice acting wasn't always bad - but at the same time I'm not English/American.)

The real test comes with Sh IV but they really need to preserve that essence of Shenmue so that its not lost just because they want to please spoiled teenagers with short attenionspans. I would say, keep it 65% pure Shenmue (for the fans) and the other 35% of the game adapted to new players. That's an over silmplified explanation, but you get what I mean. Deep inside I want it 100% Shenmue and I could even accept Dreamcast graphics rather than "modern" graphics.

Yu Suzuki will find it challangeing to translate that charm and feel to the modern gaming world.
The only logical way to do that is to keep everything that was and is Shenmue and add modern (improved) animations and modern game functions modern gamers crave / expect. The best of both worlds.

If they take away what is Shenmue there won't be any Shenmue left.

Thankfully we have this forum and I do think that Yu and his ´team´ are reading the forum to get an insight of our wiev points.

" I feel sad because maybe there is no place for creativity and originality anymore "
Well, I can only agree on that one!

I was disappointed that they had vending machines in Sh III but there was no ´drinking cut scene´. Such a small thing that would please a fan..

I want that drinking scene back! I want the casette tapes, I want to pick stuff up with Ryo's hands, put them on the desk and buy them that way. And of course draw a ticket. For me that is one of the most important elements of Shenmue! :cry:
Without those things, or even less. The Shenmue essence is gone. For me at least.
 

Sergeynest

Keep your Mind as clear as a Polished Mirror.
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Location
Portugal
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Shenmue II
Currently playing
GUJIAN 3
First of all let me just say that this is a great idea for a thread; so thank you for that.

For me the essence of Shenmue is what I usually seek in a video game; and that is in making me believe that i'm actually there when I play it; that i'm a part of that world even if it is a virtual one.
My favourite games of all times are the ones that made me feel this way when I played them from start to finish.
But Shenmue does this in a very special and awkward way.
Shenmue is also a game that for me appeared at the right moment in my life and that is also one of the reasons I love it so much.
Shenmue appeared in my life sometime after two of the most important people in my life had died; my Grandmother that died from old age and my mother that died not long after from a cancer.
That was devastating for me back then and although i had the support of my family and friends back then; there was always a moment that only Shenmue could fill and that was when I was by myself playing the game. It had somewhat of a therapeutic effect on me because it managed to transport me there and for that moment I was Ryo trying to get revenge from the "Cancer" that was Lan Di.
This is one of the big reasons why I have a bond with the Shenmue series specially with the first game.
But the reason why I feel it had this kind of impact in my life was because of the way the game was made.
The attention to detail in almost every thing; the npc's feel like like real people living there lives; the weather; the world itself feels alive.
Another reason why I love Shenmue so much is because i'm also very passionate about Asian culture specially japanese and chinese.
I love the history/mythology; the architecture; the natural beauty of the land etc...
I also fell in love with the characters both good and bad and the story of the game itself.
The music is also one of the most important aspects of why I love the series so much; its so important in fact that I believe if it didn't exist the way it does that I wouldnt love the series the way I do.
It also indroduced me to my favourite musical instrument; the chinese fidle or erhu.
I love the Shenmue music so much that there is almost not a single day that goes by that I do not listen to it; in fact im listening to it as I am writting this post and I also listen to it almost every night before going to sleep; it as become a part of my daily life.
Oh well i believe i could go on and on writting down why i love the Shenmue series so much that i would eventually fall asleep.
So I'm going to finish by saying that for me the essence of Shenmue is the way it makes me feel when I play it; it is the way it takes me to that place, to its world and makes me believe for that moment that i am actually there while I play; a strange world that at the same time feels so familiar that I can call it home.
 
OP
OP
Hiki

Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
Joined
Oct 27, 2019
Location
Brazil
Favourite title
Shenmue
Currently playing
Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC)
I basically feel the same way you described.

Games these days are not made with a certain passion in mind. Most creators these days are doing it for the money. In the older days of gaming I personally believe there was much more room for passion to be part of the creative process. These days it's just like copy--paste ideas. Look at the open world games. Sure they can be fun and I enjoyed some of them. But they're all almost exactly the same in their lay out / structure. The only game I know that was different as a open world game was Shadow of The Colossus. The Shenmue series on the other hand is a completely different species of its own. It's like the only type of open world game rich in detail / content rather than size. A zoomed in open world.

Older games defenetly have a style of their own. A unique art form. Pixel-art is an example. I wish the DC-Shenmue graphics lived on as an art form but I know younger people wouldn't see the charm. It wouldn't $ell.

I think smaller indie developers more often are driven with passion than the bigger ones. They don't have the budget but they have the passion and the result is quite often very original and charming.

I belive (especially some) games are art. Video games is more than ´games´. It's where all the art-forms are combined in one. Text-reading, Voices, Music, Film sequences, and on top of that you ´control´ the character and you make your own choises.
Games that are more than just entertainment (like Shenmue IMO) should have a name of it's own. I appriciate ´games´ that can not only inspire you but actually ´teach´ you something. - That is powerful.

Often times, less is more. In Shenmue that's the case with its concentrated atmosphere that's enriched by a high level of content that made it come to ´life´. The original two games were made with pure passion. They went all-in on those games.
If the passion wasn't there (with Yu of course) the project would have died, I think. Sh I & II is proof of what can happen when developers give it all. From a financial point of view the project was way too risky and did cost way too much money.
But they did it anyway, and it IMO became the most original, authentic, piece of passion ever created.

I'm not completely happy with the result of Sh III but I was always aware of the lacking budget. I still play III thou and I love the fact that it has lots of wonderful improvements. For example the ability to change Ryo's clothes. And the clothes look very good. They put a lot of time and effort in those details that is often overlooked. If you play Sh III and seek the details. That's what makes the game awesome. I recently just walked around in Bailu and watched the environment. It's like a therapy session. No, it's better. It's a beautiful gem of a game. I love the bridge deck next to the village, close to the house Ryo was investigating. Just imagine how beautiful Sh IV could be? Holy crap..

Yu said ~´I think there is a lot that can be found within imperfection ~ that charm to it´. (not quoted literally but close enough)
I know exactly what he's talking about. It's that charm for example in Shemue 1. The funny voice acting that made the game better, not worse IMO. (I want to point out that the voice acting wasn't always bad - but at the same time I'm not English/American.)

The real test comes with Sh IV but they really need to preserve that essence of Shenmue so that its not lost just because they want to please spoiled teenagers with short attenionspans. I would say, keep it 65% pure Shenmue (for the fans) and the other 35% of the game adapted to new players. That's an over silmplified explanation, but you get what I mean. Deep inside I want it 100% Shenmue and I could even accept Dreamcast graphics rather than "modern" graphics.

Yu Suzuki will find it challangeing to translate that charm and feel to the modern gaming world.
The only logical way to do that is to keep everything that was and is Shenmue and add modern (improved) animations and modern game functions modern gamers crave / expect. The best of both worlds.

If they take away what is Shenmue there won't be any Shenmue left.

Thankfully we have this forum and I do think that Yu and his ´team´ are reading the forum to get an insight of our wiev points.

" I feel sad because maybe there is no place for creativity and originality anymore "
Well, I can only agree on that one!

I was disappointed that they had vending machines in Sh III but there was no ´drinking cut scene´. Such a small thing that would please a fan..

I want that drinking scene back! I want the casette tapes, I want to pick stuff up with Ryo's hands, put them on the desk and buy them that way. And of course draw a ticket. For me that is one of the most important elements of Shenmue! :cry:
Without those things, or even less. The Shenmue essence is gone. For me at least.
I agree with a lot of things you wrote. Can you imagine a Shenmue game without the notebook? i really can't imagine that, is this things that makes the essence of Shenmue. Can you imagine a Shenmue game without being able to open things and grab items to see more closer? i really can't imagine that, if the game is a spin-off or fan game i can accept other styles, but for the main games i just can't imagine Shenmue in other ways.

I miss the drinking scene too. To pick stuff up with Ryo's hands and thinks like that is a big part of the Shenmue essence for me, i love this so much, it is so unique.

I agree with you about indie games, i played indie games and i felt the passion and creativity in the games, it is wonderful.

I feel the same way about Shenmue III. I'm not completely happy with the result but in my opinion it is a good game, i think Yu-san and his team will make more improvements in Shenmue IV, and i like the new things in Shenmue III, i just think that some things needs ajustments like the food system. In my opinion Yu-san knows exactly what he will never allow in a Shenmue game, he will never transform Shenmue into GTA for example, when I think that way I feel more relaxed.

I don't hate GTA, i don't hate Yakuza, i just think that Shenmue have to be like Shenmue. Yu-san have hard decisions to make for Shenmue IV but as i said before, Yu-san knows better than me what is the Shenmue essence, even if he decides to change some things, in my opinion he won't transform Shenmue into others games, i think Shenmue IV and V if happen will be a unique experience too, i really want to think this way.😊
 
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Hiki

その者、東の遠つ国より 海を渡りて現れり
Joined
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Location
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Favourite title
Shenmue
Currently playing
Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC)
First of all let me just say that this is a great idea for a thread; so thank you for that.

For me the essence of Shenmue is what I usually seek in a video game; and that is in making me believe that i'm actually there when I play it; that i'm a part of that world even if it is a virtual one.
My favourite games of all times are the ones that made me feel this way when I played them from start to finish.
But Shenmue does this in a very special and awkward way.
Shenmue is also a game that for me appeared at the right moment in my life and that is also one of the reasons I love it so much.
Shenmue appeared in my life sometime after two of the most important people in my life had died; my Grandmother that died from old age and my mother that died not long after from a cancer.
That was devastating for me back then and although i had the support of my family and friends back then; there was always a moment that only Shenmue could fill and that was when I was by myself playing the game. It had somewhat of a therapeutic effect on me because it managed to transport me there and for that moment I was Ryo trying to get revenge from the "Cancer" that was Lan Di.
This is one of the big reasons why I have a bond with the Shenmue series specially with the first game.
But the reason why I feel it had this kind of impact in my life was because of the way the game was made.
The attention to detail in almost every thing; the npc's feel like like real people living there lives; the weather; the world itself feels alive.
Another reason why I love Shenmue so much is because i'm also very passionate about Asian culture specially japanese and chinese.
I love the history/mythology; the architecture; the natural beauty of the land etc...
I also fell in love with the characters both good and bad and the story of the game itself.
The music is also one of the most important aspects of why I love the series so much; its so important in fact that I believe if it didn't exist the way it does that I wouldnt love the series the way I do.
It also indroduced me to my favourite musical instrument; the chinese fidle or erhu.
I love the Shenmue music so much that there is almost not a single day that goes by that I do not listen to it; in fact im listening to it as I am writting this post and I also listen to it almost every night before going to sleep; it as become a part of my daily life.
Oh well i believe i could go on and on writting down why i love the Shenmue series so much that i would eventually fall asleep.
So I'm going to finish by saying that for me the essence of Shenmue is the way it makes me feel when I play it; it is the way it takes me to that place, to its world and makes me believe for that moment that i am actually there while I play; a strange world that at the same time feels so familiar that I can call it home.
I think this topic is a interesting topic, you're welcome. This is really rough, sorry to hear about you loss, i lost my mother and grandfather, i really can understand this,

I feel the same when i play Shenmue, i feel that i'm there in that world, it is so special for me, i love everything about Shenmue, and my Shenmue dream is to one day go to Yokosuka Japan, Shenmue means a lot to me, i am very passionate about asian culture too.

Playing Shenmue is like therapy for me, when I play Shenmue I feel calmer, it helps me deal with my mother's death

I feel the same way about Shenmue music, i love the soundtracks of the games so much, for me it is a masterpiece.

"for me the essence of Shenmue is the way it makes me feel when I play it; it is the way it takes me to that place, to its world and makes me believe for that moment that i am actually there while I play; a strange world that at the same time feels so familiar that I can call it home."
I feel the same way about this, this is a important part of the Shenmue essence for me.

Sorry for the double post, i was really eager to answer you.
 
Joined
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Location
Japan
Favourite title
Shenmue II
Im not really a fan of this idea that all modern AAA games are just passionless cash-grabs, nor do I really see Dreamcast graphics as an art-style.

Whilst it’s true that a lot of modern AAA games are designed with their players in mind (and that a consequence of this is that many of them end up conforming with modern trends when it comes to certain design choices), I think it’s a little unfair to suggest that there’s no passion involved when making them. We might not see the kind of risks that Yu took with S1 and S2 being taken very often these days, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of the people working on these games really care about how they turn out and you can see this in the little touches found in the final product more often than not.

As for Dreamcast graphics being a retro style akin to pixel art, I think the art style in the original Shenmue games was simply a product of the Dreamcast’s limitations rather than a conscious choice to make the games look as they did. They were aiming to mimic reality and what we got was the Dreamcast being pushed to its absolute limit. Had they been first developed on a more powerful modern console, they would have likely looked completely different

As for the essence of Shenmue, for me it all comes down to the world-building and the sense of agency that the games give to the player.

This is something that’s made up of a plethora of smaller elements; from the detailed backstories given to almost every character in the game to the weather system that’s based on real life historical weather data. When all these things come together, they create a living, breathing world that is an absolute joy to explore and take in.

That said, as revolutionary as the original games were, I think that a lot of games have far surpassed Shenmue in pretty much every area (graphics, storytelling, dialogue, player input, side quests, side activities, etc) that made the games special when they first released. There just aren’t many games that have managed to pull it all together as well as Yu and his team did back in the 90’s.
 

blixt

Banned
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Im not really a fan of this idea that all modern AAA games are just passionless cash-grabs, nor do I really see Dreamcast graphics as an art-style.

Whilst it’s true that a lot of modern AAA games are designed with their players in mind (and that a consequence of this is that many of them end up conforming with modern trends when it comes to certain design choices), I think it’s a little unfair to suggest that there’s no passion involved when making them. We might not see the kind of risks that Yu took with S1 and S2 being taken very often these days, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of the people working on these games really care about how they turn out and you can see this in the little touches found in the final product more often than not.

As for Dreamcast graphics being a retro style akin to pixel art, I think the art style in the original Shenmue games was simply a product of the Dreamcast’s limitations rather than a conscious choice to make the games look as they did. They were aiming to mimic reality and what we got was the Dreamcast being pushed to its absolute limit. Had they been first developed on a more powerful modern console, they would have likely looked completely different

As for the essence of Shenmue, for me it all comes down to the world-building and the sense of agency that the games give to the player.

This is something that’s made up of a plethora of smaller elements; from the detailed backstories given to almost every character in the game to the weather system that’s based on real life historical weather data. When all these things come together, they create a living, breathing world that is an absolute joy to explore and take in.

That said, as revolutionary as the original games were, I think that a lot of games have far surpassed Shenmue in pretty much every area (graphics, storytelling, dialogue, player input, side quests, side activities, etc) that made the games special when they first released. There just aren’t many games that have managed to pull it all together as well as Yu and his team did back in the 90’s.
I think it's the way I expressed it in English that made it sound like that? I mean of course modern ´AAA´ games are made with lots of passion. When I said "a certain passion in mind" I did not say ´no´ passion.

"a lot of modern AAA games are designed with their players in mind (and that a consequence of this is that many of them end up conforming with modern trends when it comes to certain design choices)"
That's what I mean. And yeah, that's understandable. I just personally would like them to be more different from each other.

"That said, as revolutionary as the original games were, I think that a lot of games have far surpassed Shenmue in pretty much every area (graphics, storytelling, dialogue, player input, side quests, side activities, etc) that made the games special when they first released. There just aren’t many games that have managed to pull it all together as well as Yu and his team did back in the 90’s."

On many areas, yes. But what made Shenmue special to me is still nowhere to be found in any game except in Shenmue.
Picking stuff from shelves to buy them, opening the drawers and so on is just a tiny examples of what I love about Shenmue and how they did that is very unique. I wish for more of that in Shenmue IV. But I understand that many fans have very different views, I mean some people only care about the fighting system and the martial arts theme and not much for the story or anything else.
Some people just don't give a crap about drawers .:ROFLMAO:

The Dreamcast graphics part; Yeah the graphic turned out the way it did, but I really liked it. They pushed the DC to the limits. I remember the sounds the Dreamcast made when playing these games. They pushed the PS2 in a similar way (graphically) to make Metal Gear Solid 3 for PS2. I still think that game looks awesome.
Haha, it's maybe just me but I like that old graphic. I even like the Saturn version of Shenmue I and II. PS1 games can even have their charm I think. But that's just the percetion that differs between people. Some like it and some don't

If there will be a fourth game.. ( It leans more towards that it will happen but I think it will take a much longer time than I hoped ) I think Yu will be able to make the fans happy. Most of us. And still please new gamers. We'll see.

I mean there's still more to Shenmue than drawers.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
I disagree a lot with this and i don't use this words to talk about arts. I don't use this words to talk about music, movies, animes, games and much more. For me games are art, they are not archaic, outdated, they don't age poorly and they are not stopped in time.

Imagine if today i decide to play the original FFVII, then later i decide to play the remake, i will think that the original is outdated and aged poorly
Yes, games can be archaic and aged poorly (and so do films the 70s blockbuster Godzillas, Star wars, etc... Did not age well either) .

Most of the early 3d era (psx) is "bearly" playable for people used to current standards:
  • 3d control without the dual anal stick is painful
  • random encounters of the jrpgs of that era are criminal and that is why the pc FF7 port have options to tweak it
  • the dub/translation, at least, in Pain was also bad
  • UI: a lot of them had super intrusive UI that while "cool" take a hell lot of the screen space and any game nowadays.
They can be enjoyed but games can get outdated.


some people say that Shenmue should be like Yakuza, that should be like every other modern game
They say that because they are people that do not have intention to play Shenmue and do not know they are different genres. Yakuza gameplay loop is 100% JRPG and Shenmue was not.


Talking with NPCs to find more clues about the story, about the characters and what to do next, and Shenmue do this in a unique way, is part of the charm of the games.
Agreed, part of Shenmue gameplay loop is pure point and click adventure game like the Sierra classics while having the Town simulation aspect on it. Which is a niche genre.


The notebook where Ryo writes about the clues and what he thinks he have to do next, sometimes he even writes about what he is feeling at the moment, this two things is a big part of the Shenmue essence for me
That was one of its big unrecognized achievements of Shenmue it had the "quest progress" written in a way that is immersive and not just as a checklist without context as it explains in a lot of times why its doing so. Its part of delivering good story accessibility on games that a lot of games do not do well since people play in burst and when they retake the game they forget why they were doing X task.


The pacing of the story. Some people say that one of the bad things about the first Shenmue is the slow pace, some people even think that Shenmue is a boring game, i really disagree about this, this is one of the good things about the game for me, in the first game we can really feel Yokosuka and the characters.
The pacing is slow there is no denying it, as discussed its gameplay loop is more a point and click game which are "detective" like games and those are slow. It is not suited for most players, if we follow Bartle classification it would probably be apt for the explorer archetype and probably a subset of those. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_taxonomy_of_player_types

These days it's just like copy--paste ideas
Always been a copy paste of ideas, SNES era most people copied Sonic/Mario with different mascotlike character and different gimmick, psx era was the JRPG era and a lot of FF clones, then we had the Halo/Call of duty clones, etc. And now is harder than ever to innovate because we explored a hell lot of gameplay types and is harder to fins anything new.

Some people just don't give a crap about drawers .
I am one of those! :D While a novelty at its time, if they follow the Shenmue 3 route that nothing you could open had anything interesting then do not bother with it.


And now that I replied to the main points I wanted let's go with my vision of the essence of Shenmue. To me it has to have a detective like gameplay where you need to explore a living town, (simulating NPC schedules, NPC with names and personalities, weather affecting such schedules, seasonal holiday events like the Christmas in Shenmue1, etc.. ) learn more about its inhabitants while pursuing an epic martial arts revenge history.

So my hope for Shenmue4 is to return to scheduled NPC, have them more personality and react to Ryo in a more detailed way depending on relation levels (the affinity system that Shenmue3was supposedto have) while expanding the main history/plot.
 
Joined
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As a child I spent 6 months living in Hong Kong and additional 2 years in China (Suzhou and Wuxi) in early 90’s. While there’s many elements that make up Shenmue’s essence, it’s ability especially at time of release to immerse the player with amazing and careful consideration to detail. In addition establish a specific time and place to the setting always struck me as one of strongest traits of the series.
 
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I think the very essence of Shenmue is that going from an A point to a B Point is a game-in-the-game as itself. Which is also the essence of globetrotting.

In other words, you have to figure out what the current B point is, which is generally not seen as a "point" for the player, but a logical way to solve his current problem. The "open world" state is the direct consequence of this concept.

In main of the other games, the A to B point is either straightforward or rather a very challenging parkour implying a lot of skills or some thinking to go through.

Then you have the simulated real time, the variation of gameplay rules for the quests, the relaxing tone and the high frequency of cutscenes to put our decisions forward.
 

blixt

Banned
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
First of all let me just say that this is a great idea for a thread; so thank you for that.

For me the essence of Shenmue is what I usually seek in a video game; and that is in making me believe that i'm actually there when I play it; that i'm a part of that world even if it is a virtual one.
My favourite games of all times are the ones that made me feel this way when I played them from start to finish.
But Shenmue does this in a very special and awkward way.
Shenmue is also a game that for me appeared at the right moment in my life and that is also one of the reasons I love it so much.
Shenmue appeared in my life sometime after two of the most important people in my life had died; my Grandmother that died from old age and my mother that died not long after from a cancer.
That was devastating for me back then and although i had the support of my family and friends back then; there was always a moment that only Shenmue could fill and that was when I was by myself playing the game. It had somewhat of a therapeutic effect on me because it managed to transport me there and for that moment I was Ryo trying to get revenge from the "Cancer" that was Lan Di.
This is one of the big reasons why I have a bond with the Shenmue series specially with the first game.
But the reason why I feel it had this kind of impact in my life was because of the way the game was made.
The attention to detail in almost every thing; the npc's feel like like real people living there lives; the weather; the world itself feels alive.
Another reason why I love Shenmue so much is because i'm also very passionate about Asian culture specially japanese and chinese.
I love the history/mythology; the architecture; the natural beauty of the land etc...
I also fell in love with the characters both good and bad and the story of the game itself.
The music is also one of the most important aspects of why I love the series so much; its so important in fact that I believe if it didn't exist the way it does that I wouldnt love the series the way I do.
It also indroduced me to my favourite musical instrument; the chinese fidle or erhu.
I love the Shenmue music so much that there is almost not a single day that goes by that I do not listen to it; in fact im listening to it as I am writting this post and I also listen to it almost every night before going to sleep; it as become a part of my daily life.
Oh well i believe i could go on and on writting down why i love the Shenmue series so much that i would eventually fall asleep.
So I'm going to finish by saying that for me the essence of Shenmue is the way it makes me feel when I play it; it is the way it takes me to that place, to its world and makes me believe for that moment that i am actually there while I play; a strange world that at the same time feels so familiar that I can call it home.
Well said. And Sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like a very rough time for you back then.
It's interesting how these games tend to have a very personal connection with the people on this forum. Me myself also have a ´deeper´ connection to Shenmue. Just like you described I'm was also very interested in asian / japanese culture and that's what made me study japanese on my own because there wasn't any japanese courses here at that time. I was way ahead of that manga / anime / japanese trend that came later on.

There was a time around when Shenmue II came out where my life was a mess. Like completely.

But playing these games is like having a secret little world that you can escape to in order to heal. A world that never changes and it never gets boring. It's like a second home. Shenmue is like a game where you don't even have to do anything special other than just being in that ´zone´.

I also trained a japanese martial art at that time and I was really in to it. The game fuelled my interest for martial arts even more. I used to watch everything Samurai or Kung Fu related, and so on. Oh, and of course I was obsessed with Bruce Lee and learned a lot of techniques from DvD's that no one else taught me. Those were the days.

When you mention the music I can only agree. The music in Shenmue is fantastic and what I miss and hope to see in IV is the more ambient, or, ´atmospheric´ background music of Shenmue 1.
I can't pick a favorite of Shenmue 1 and 2, or even 3. Because they're so different from each other in many ways. But I especially love the first game with the japanese architecture and the overall ´atmosphere´ that I was talking about.
Not only the music but also the colors (the muted colors), the textures that had personality to them, that ´smell´ to it, and as you mentioned the weather system. Especially for the first game. The NPC's that had heir own schedule was, and still is, one of the best thing Shenmue does that no modern game do. They even had personal profiles for the characters on the passport disc, with height, weight and back stories I think. - All these parts of Shemmue (and more that I didn't mention) is what make the series so deep. The more you explore the more ´real´ and believable the world becomes.

For me, the fact that it's played out in the 80's is both very unique and rare to find in other games. It's like travelling back in time in a way and I personally love the 80's theme and hope Yu will give IV a little bit more of an ´80's touch´ to it.
But its more pronounced in Shenmue 1, than in 2 or 3. I think it's because the 80's in Japan was very different from the 80's in China. And Yu is more familiar with the feel and ´atmosphere´ of the 80's in Japan.
(That's partly why I would love an Official, well made, sophisticated prequel called Shenmue 0. Because I can only expand that 80's feeling with a prequel I think.)

Another thing I appriciate about Shenmue is that it's not over-the-top violent in any way. There is not much, if any, blood etc.
The more violent games can ruin the beautiful and the more ´emotional´ parts of a game because it gets clouded by the gore and violence. I think Shenmue does this well by keeping it on a very balanced level.

By the way, thanks Hiki for creating this thread. I was thinking about doing it myself. I want to ´crack the code´ of what makes Shenmue so special.
 

blixt

Banned
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
I think the very essence of Shenmue is that going from an A point to a B Point is a game-in-the-game as itself. Which is also the essence of globetrotting.

In other words, you have to figure out what the current B point is, which is generally not seen as a "point" for the player, but a logical way to solve his current problem. The "open world" state is the direct consequence of this concept.

In main of the other games, the A to B point is either straightforward or rather a very challenging parkour implying a lot of skills or some thinking to go through.

Then you have the simulated real time, the variation of gameplay rules for the quests, the relaxing tone and the high frequency of cutscenes to put our decisions forward.
Good points!

I can add that I loved the feeling of ´mystery´ in Shenmue. And a sense of excitement of what's coming next. The fact that you were going to travel was very exciting for me in my experience from the first game to the second.
To Hong Kong, Kowloon and Guilin and so on. Actually I thought it was awesome going by buss to the harbour for the first time.
Because one spend so much time on a smaller, very detailed area, then leaves for another place the impression gets stronger.
Going from Japan to Hong Kong was a huge contrast. And what an amazing game Shenmue II was as a whole.

I would love if the skipped Train Chapter was re-written and adapted as a smaller chapter in IV. I just like trains and that way of travelling. I love the sounds older trains make. Trains is also have very small / confined areas which suits the Shenmue world and style perfectly
Yu wanted to make a game more playable and better experienced in a confined area. This could be one good idea.

Who knows, maybe Shenhua, Ryo and Ren are going to travel by train to get to their destination. Or are they going to walk all the length of the chinese wall?

I love the sense of going somewhere, to have a destination but being uncertain where to go.
And I'm talking about Shemmue, not in real life. 😙
 
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Hiki

Hiki

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Well said. And Sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like a very rough time for you back then.
It's interesting how these games tend to have a very personal connection with the people on this forum. Me myself also have a ´deeper´ connection to Shenmue. Just like you described I'm was also very interested in asian / japanese culture and that's what made me study japanese on my own because there wasn't any japanese courses here at that time. I was way ahead of that manga / anime / japanese trend that came later on.

There was a time around when Shenmue II came out where my life was a mess. Like completely.

But playing these games is like having a secret little world that you can escape to in order to heal. A world that never changes and it never gets boring. It's like a second home. Shenmue is like a game where you don't even have to do anything special other than just being in that ´zone´.

I also trained a japanese martial art at that time and I was really in to it. The game fuelled my interest for martial arts even more. I used to watch everything Samurai or Kung Fu related, and so on. Oh, and of course I was obsessed with Bruce Lee and learned a lot of techniques from DvD's that no one else taught me. Those were the days.

When you mention the music I can only agree. The music in Shenmue is fantastic and what I miss and hope to see in IV is the more ambient, or, ´atmospheric´ background music of Shenmue 1.
I can't pick a favorite of Shenmue 1 and 2, or even 3. Because they're so different from each other in many ways. But I especially love the first game with the japanese architecture and the overall ´atmosphere´ that I was talking about.
Not only the music but also the colors (the muted colors), the textures that had personality to them, that ´smell´ to it, and as you mentioned the weather system. Especially for the first game. The NPC's that had heir own schedule was, and still is, one of the best thing Shenmue does that no modern game do. They even had personal profiles for the characters on the passport disc, with height, weight and back stories I think. - All these parts of Shemmue (and more that I didn't mention) is what make the series so deep. The more you explore the more ´real´ and believable the world becomes.

For me, the fact that it's played out in the 80's is both very unique and rare to find in other games. It's like travelling back in time in a way and I personally love the 80's theme and hope Yu will give IV a little bit more of an ´80's touch´ to it.
But its more pronounced in Shenmue 1, than in 2 or 3. I think it's because the 80's in Japan was very different from the 80's in China. And Yu is more familiar with the feel and ´atmosphere´ of the 80's in Japan.
(That's partly why I would love an Official, well made, sophisticated prequel called Shenmue 0. Because I can only expand that 80's feeling with a prequel I think.)

Another thing I appriciate about Shenmue is that it's not over-the-top violent in any way. There is not much, if any, blood etc.
The more violent games can ruin the beautiful and the more ´emotional´ parts of a game because it gets clouded by the gore and violence. I think Shenmue does this well by keeping it on a very balanced level.

By the way, thanks Hiki for creating this thread. I was thinking about doing it myself. I want to ´crack the code´ of what makes Shenmue so special.


I agree with everything you wrote. You're welcome blixt.😊 I created this thread because for me the Shenmue essence is so unique, some people criticized Shenmue III saying it is archaic and outdated and i don't agree with this, i really don't agree to talk about arts like this, and i know i have a unpopular opinion.

Games are art, games have no expiration date and they can have different styles, even old games like games of the NES era i find beauty in them, it is so unfair to say that a game age poorly and is outdated just because now we have modern games.

If i play now the original FF VII i will still think it is a well made game, time will not change that, i know that now we have realistic graphics and thinks like that, but i can find beauty in the old things, and i don't think old games are outdated and age poorly, arts don't have expiration date for me.

Shenmue doesn't need to be like Yakuza, doesn't need to be like GTA and other modern games, i don't hate this games i just think that Shenmue have to be like Shenmue. So i asked myself what is the essence of Shenmue? and about this essence what should have in Shenmue IV and V? so i decide to create this thread. About the essence of Shenmue what do you think it should have in Shenmue IV and V? what do you think?

Ryo can't jump on the games, this is outdated? no, this is just Yu Suzuki style of doing Shenmue, i know Shenmue games are not for everybody but he is not wrong in doing games in his style, is not outdated, it is just Yu Suzuki style.

Yu Suzuki knows what is the essence of Shenmue more than me, i'm sure he knows what he will never allow in a Shenmue game, for example Ryo with guns and killing everyone.
 
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