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Which version of Shenmue II do you think is the best version to play?

Which is the definitive way to play Shenmue II

  • Total voters
In terms of golden mean, I'd say the Xbox version has the best balance:
a. Vs. Dreamcast, it offers more save spaces and the photography gimmick.
b. Vs. remasters, it (like DC) avoids the more glaring glitches.

That said, DC and the remasters alike have both file transfer and more options for languages.

I'll also add that, as a North American, it was such a treat to buy a cheap EU copy of S2 for DC (thankfully playable via Gameshark): given that, I have added personal nostalgia. Maybe that factor of most of the world being able to play S2 on DC without issue is more or less of a blinder.
With mods that fix the audio problems, I think the answer is definitely the remasters but even without my answer remains the same. Updated UI, improved load times, choice of language, audio balancing options, and the amount of graphics options to choose from all help to make it the best experience in my opinion. This being stated I have actually never played the Xbox version. So while that one could be the best, from everything I’ve seen it just seems to be the modern port with less options and a blur effect in combat with I wasn’t very fond of.
For me, it's Remastered at the top, then Xbox, then Dreamcast. A fully updated and modded Remaster is easily the "best" experience (at least until we get Dragon and Phoenix Editions of Shenmue II!). The Xbox version does have some curious changes, but overall, the better load times, Shenmue the Movie pack-in, arguably superior moment-to-moment graphics, and the snapshot mode (and the corresponding manga unlockables) made it my go-to until the Remaster. I do prefer the English voice acting as well, but I know the original Japanese is considered superior.
I prefer the Dreamcast Version. It is my version to go for my anual playthrough of the Shenmue 1 and 2. With VGA these old games still look stunning.

I voted for the remastered version though. It is the better version in 2021 to play fo the average player. it is running on the current gen systems without any issues and you do not need extra equiment like the VGA box fo the DC to get the most out of the Dreamcast version.

The save everywhere function in S1 on the modern systems is also a nice feature the orginal version lacks.

I personally do not mind the original save system where you can just really save at the end of the day and the qick save feature can only be used once.

But I would see I am a rather hardcore Shenmue Fan. It is good that the game is more accessible for the normal players.
The Xbox version is my go-to still, even with the screen slightly stretched and upscaled on an Xbox 30 it still looks great.
I still don't forgive d3t for the little attention given to the aspect ratio in cutscenes. Of course, if you have the PC version and by-pass this with mods then I 100% back that, but the experience on PS4 is tainted for me.

Found an old photo of Shen 2 on my Xbox 360 on a 1080P HDTV when stretched into 16:9:
While it doesn't fill the width 100% it's no way near as intrusive as shown above. The image also looks pretty crisp.
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Shenmue I&II is easily the best, at least on PC with some mods to bring some new in and old back.

Regarding the originals I definately prefer the Dreamcast version. While the Xbox version does have some legitimate upgrades over that the overly filtered blurry image and the crazy trailing effects during fights just don't give the same picture quality. It also has too many questionable changes in the textures and especially the music.

Not to step on Vivi-gamers toes but playing on the 360 is a really bad way to experience Shenmue II. While it does remove the issues of the OG Xbox's image output, it also removes all the shadows and bloom. NPCs can randomy lose their heads or jump around like crazy with the dummy motion and the instruments of the music keep cutting out all the time.

To be fair it isn't unplayable or anything and a totally unpatched PS4 version of I&II is debatebly even worse, but I still just wouldn't recommend the 360 when everything else is just a better option. At least until the day when the console patching dies.
For me, it would have to be the remastered version till the Dragon and Phoenix collection is released primarily because of technical reasons. The Dreamcast version I did not like having to go out of my way to attain the PAL version and a boot disc just to play it. On top of that, I did not like the frame rate issues.

The Xbox version I disliked because of the blur fest in combat sequences even though it fixed some of the technical issues of the Dreamcast version. The remaster fixed the issues from the prior releases. Now, some might point out the bugs and glitches in the remaster, but that is negligible when you can patch the title which you could not do in prior versions. And that was due to SEGA of Europe rushing D3T while not giving them any resources to help them.

This Digital Foundry video pretty much matches my opinion.

Personally for me, the original Japanese Dreamcast version is the best. This is due to it being fully uncensored and unaltered. It's the way Yu intended the game to be, and due to it being on a older console, mods can be used like for infinite money, certain items that are rare or can't be in your inventory without modding, etc.

Competitive gaming nowadays has really ruined a lot of gaming experiences for me due to you having less freedom on your console just because they want to make sure you don't cheat online. I wouldn't cheat online anyway, but I prefer modded consoles for complete freedom on your console, but nowadays they're making sure people can't do that. I would still buy the games to support the developers, but I like modding and cheating offline for fun.

The Japanese Dreamcast version isn't "perfect" but it's the best version out there for me due to it being fully uncensored and untouched. And Shenmue I has the Coke machines which is really cool.

The main issues I have with the original Japanese version is that there's no English subtitles or text. Luckily I've played the games so many times that I don't need to read the subtitles. I remember everything they're saying. The Japanese voices are the best too and the definitive dub. The voice actors actually tried on their performances and the voice track is fully uncensored so Yuan has a male voice, which is the main reason why I can't stand the PAL version even though it has Japanese voices and English subtitles. Yuan is censored to have a female voice in the PAL version, and the actress didn't even try on her performance and put no emotion or character into her voice! It's like they got some random Japanese woman from the street and said "Hey we want you to re-dub this character can you do it? It doesn't matter if you know how to act!" LOL. Yuan's original voice actor Takahiro Sakurai did a phenomenal job on his performance and gave him so much character and it fits so much better with the other voices that have good voice acting. The female voice seems so out of place and doesn't fit well with the other voices due to her poor performance. It seems the voice director for the Japanese version took getting the voices for the game more seriously than Sega of America. I even heard the people of Sega of America were just fooling around with getting the English voices and allowed such ridiculous sounding voices just because it was funny and didn't take it seriously at all!

And the snapshot feature in the Xbox version and the re-release is a really fun extra feature that's not in the original. The definitive "perfect" version of the games don't exist yet unfortunately. The definitive version for me would be for it to be fully uncensored of course, have the snapshot feature, allow more saves like the Xbox version and re-release, and have accurate translations for the English subtitles for the Japanese voices. They used the subtitles from the dub when selecting Japanese voices in the re-release which clearly are wrong and not what they're actually saying. Like one example, after Ryo wins the QTE fight with the drunken sailor, in Engrish he's clearly saying "Shit!", but the English subs say "Damn!".

If I were to recommend someone to the games that never played them and don't understand Japanese, I'd recommend the re-release with Japanese voices and English subs so the voice acting is good and Yuan's uncensored. If they understand Japanese then I'd recommend the original Japanese Dreamcast version. Or if they played the games before and are really familiar with it then I'd recommend the original Japanese Dreamcast version too.
In current time remastered Xbox One by far. For those who prefer the DC and original Xbox versions in the current time I'm curious what the preference is? The graphics were worse, the consoles were noisy, you have to play with a wired controller...is it just nostalgia? A preference to the feel of the OG Xbox or DC controller?

As much as I hate the PS4 and PS5 controllers from a comfort standpoint even in comparison to 20+ year old DC/OG Xbox controllers but I'd still play this on PS5/4 if I didnt have an XBX/XB1 over the original versions simply due to graphics and framerate issues.
Pick what you think is the best version of Shenmue II.
Original Dreamcast version on a Dreamcast (in Japanese).
In current time remastered Xbox One by far. For those who prefer the DC and original Xbox versions in the current time I'm curious what the preference is? The graphics were worse, the consoles were noisy, you have to play with a wired controller...is it just nostalgia? A preference to the feel of the OG Xbox or DC controller?
Who says Dreamcasts can't have quiet fans (plus ODEs), output 1080p and use bluetooth controllers? ;)

See your point though. Meh... it's a Sega game and I love my Dreamcast (it just feels right). Also, the game hasn't been modified in any way. You're getting the original experience... one that can be enhanced using modern day mods, of course.
It's very hard to argue against the re-release, especially on PC with mods.

Even on console, the load times alone will save hours of your life. Doesn't matter what you're running your DC or Xbox through, it's never going to look as clean as the re-release.
It's very hard to argue against the re-release, especially on PC with mods.

Even on console, the load times alone will save hours of your life. Doesn't matter what you're running your DC or Xbox through, it's never going to look as clean as the re-release.

...Unless you're psychotic who uses a high end DVI upscaler and fine tuned TV special settings.

...you're still totally right though.. it is same as going from analog to digital video back in the mid to late 2000s. Simply don't get the quality for the same affordability or ease. Love me some YPbPr 720p/1080i but getting them to legitimately rival HDMI or DVI consistently requires specific, expensive cable quality and preferrably only 6 ft length

Love me some Dreamcast Shenmue even with upscaler and MODE... but popping on PS4 (esp with SSD) just so much easier and cheaper and quick.
Yeah, agreed. It's not just the resolution, either, it's the anti-aliasing and texture filtering. S2 looks super clean on DC via VGA, but the image quality is hampered by lots of texture banding and jagged edges. On Xbox it's the opposite, as the game looks a bit too soft, with some questionable effects.

I can see why someone would want to go back and play S2 on DC if they're into original hardware, playing on a CRT, etc. I might even do that one day. Xbox though...I think my copy will remain closed forever at this point.
It's very hard to argue against the re-release, especially on PC with mods.
Oh no, what have I started? Hahaha Sorry if people thought I was trying to fight them about whether the PS4 port's better than the original (and it sounds like some PC modders might have also made an unofficial mod with high quality textures. Cool). That's not my point though... I'm simply stating my preference (as a retro gamer who has a goto retro rig rather than a PS4) and clearing up a few somewhat gratuitous misconceptions about what can be achieved on a DC in 2021.

As a general response to some of the above comments...

- Firstly thanks. I appreciate that the PS4 version has upscaled the graphics that apply some great filters. Agreed. You won't get the raw CPU grunt on retro hardware, and the PS4's upscaling is likely the better of the two (I'll take your word for it - not contesting which setup upscales 480p better). If you own a PS4 and just wanna play Shenmue then I agree. Download the PS4 port and enjoy it!

- That said, I think you're overselling the graphical differences. Pretty sure the PS4 version basically upscales 480p to 1080p and then applies some smoothing (different technique but very similar idea to what I'm doing). Source: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2018-shenmue-hd-remasters-tech-analysis

- Fully appreciate that my preference is that of a retro gamer with a dedicated rig and it's a niche preference. None the less, it's a valid preference that I hope you can appreciate in its fullness (i.e. I have a DC in my living room that I use regularly [no PS4 or Windows PC], my games load off an SSD without noise and I'm playing in 1080p with smoothing...etc). Since pictures speak louder than words... here are some VERY low quality (wobbly, off-angle, cropped, mobile phone) photos of Shenmue at 1080p with basic smoothing being applied, coming straight out of a Sega Dreamcast. As you can (hopefully) see... the edges are smooth and there's no noise/jailbars.

Again... not trying to say 'you are wrong, my solution is better!!' (I really don't wanna have that discussion and I think it's counterproductive as we're all just wanting to enjoy an awesome game). However, there's more than one way to play Shenmue in HD with smoothing. I'm not trying to make some obtuse argument that the loading noise of the GD-ROM & squinting at a 13" CRT with noise from cheapo cables makes me sleep at night. More, modern DC mods make the experience quite smooth/pleasant (IMO comparable to the upscaled port, but with the original game's code/logic, controller, VMU, feel...etc).
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I definitely wasn't trying to imply there's a right or wrong way to play. I can only talk to my own preferences. As I said...

I can see why someone would want to go back and play S2 on DC if they're into original hardware
...I think it's awesome you can play DC nowadays without discs, upscaled to 1080p etc. It can look really good. Maybe not as crisp and clean as the PS4 version from a purely technical standpoint, but I get image quality isn't the only deciding factor. For some people the imperfections unique to old hardware is part of the experience.

Even though I'd just play the PS4 version now, every now and again I like to play DC via S-Video on my flatscreen CRT. Not the best image quality available, but looks good in its own way.
Love S-video!! Yet another thing I wish was as popular in the states as in Japan. They adopted much moreso over there iirc.

In fact, if 480i signal, i prefer s-video to component. Component somehow looks worse at 480i to my eyes--only really good for progressive/1080i