Yes, his name is Ryo, but he isn’t dancing on the sand. As the first game opens, instead he’s after his father’s murderer – Lan Di – and needs to discover his connection with the “Three Blades” in Shenmue.
The trick to finding out what to do next and where to go comes about from asking people questions several times in order to get all the information out of them. For those not used to a game like this, if you speak to someone who has nothing to do with the plot, they’ll blank you. Go somewhere similar and you’ll usually be denied access. In fact, I was knocking on a lot of doors, and almost everyone seems to be out.
Although there’s a lot of walking around, and the relatively new inclusion of Quick-Time Events (QTEs) where you have to quickly press a button in order to succeed – such as when chasing after the scrote who stole your bag in the sequel, it’s clever how the game has a ton of people walking around independently, and this was one of the first ‘open world’ games to do that. Whatever your thoughts on that, it’s amusing that I never thought I’d have to spend time chatting to sailors in gay bars round Japan’s answer to Manchester’s Canal Street!
About those QTEs, they work brilliantly here, but were a complete joke in The Bourne Conspiracy on Xbox 360.
I didn’t get into it originally as much as I should’ve done when it came out, but tastes change, and it’s more my thing, now. So, it’s a bit like the film, The Piano, which I really didn’t get back in the day, but now I’m older, I can appreciate it a lot more. 😀
Shenmue II allows you to carry over the saved game you created from the first outing, and early on, you come across some angry guys who say they’re from Aberdeen. Hmm… an angry Scot? Who knew?!
As you’ll see from the gameplay footage in that one, I keep asking people for directions, it seems, as I wanted to talk to everyone, but when they’re all within spitting distance of each other, you can see Ryo ended up asking everyone the way to King’s Road. Note how Ryo almost never says thanks to anyone!
There’s the ability to take photos are you walk around (and view them in the game’s menu, latey), play arcade games, as well as the street game of chance, Lucky Hit, and take part in street fights or arm-wrestling contests, which I lost quite easily.
The cut-scenes – and there’s a lot of them to work through – are peppered throughout the experience, while the remastered gameplay is available in both 4:3 and 16:9. I went with the latter.
The graphics are sharp and colourful, but it must be noted that they do look exactly what you expect if you took the Dreamcast originals and reworked them for 1080p with 16:9 widescreen visuals for more of the picture outside of the original 4:3 ratio. Hence, as you’ll see from the gaming footage, don’t expect Ryo et al to look wildly different from how they did before, and the same goes for the locations. It does take you back a bit when I came across a yellow car early on, and it was oh so boxy! 🙂
I’ve not put them side-by-side with footage of the Dreamcast version when it’s been shown upscaled on Youtube with unofficial methods, but from recent memory when watching those, it doesn’t look a whole heap different, but as I’ve alighted, the graphics have NOT been redrawn, and let’s face it, if they had, people would be complaining.
For the cut-scenes, the first game has them in their original 4:3, while the sequel does have them a lot of them in 16:9 where applicable, but as the game was in 4:3 at the time, the cut-scenes were letterboxed. On a 16:9 TV, as they’re letterboxed within the 4:3 ratio, they’re effectively windowboxed. A shame they didn’t zoom them or remaster them for full 1080p.
When it comes to the sound, this is mostly a dialogue piece as you go about chatting to people, and while I could complain that Ryo doesn’t have much variety when he knocks on a door and declares that someone is out, I can keep re-using the word original, but that’s from where Sega are taking their cue. These games did come out in 2000 and 2001, after all.
Audio language is in both English and Japanese. I know the die-hard fans would go for Japanese with English subtitles – the same way I prefer films in the Japanese language – but for gaming, and to make things easier, I went with English.
To that end – remember when sequels actually followed one year on? Shenmue III was taking a good while to come out anyway after being fully-funded on after its creator, Yu Suzuki, launched it as a Kickstarter at E3 2015.
It took less than eight hours to make its $2m target, and by the time the Kickstarter finished, it had raised $6,333,295. It’s reportedly been delayed while this remaster was put together and released, the game is now due out some time in 2019 (at the earliest, I would expect one year from now, so it’s on the way to Xmas 2019), even though the estimated delivery date was December 2017. Then again, you put money into a Kickstarter knowing it’s not going to come out on time.
I haven’t put money down on Shenmue III, but I am currently waiting on a ZX Spectrum Next. However, note that with Kickstarter, you do have to have a proof of concept in order to go ahead, unlike Indiegogo where the Atari VCS is due out on the 12th of Never, 4532 A.D… but I digress.
When it comes to the controls, they do take some getting used to. On the PS4, the left joystick allows you to move, while the right one is to look around. You can run by holding R2, but he doesn’t half pelt it down the road and it means you’re frequently slamming into walls, especially when you try and turn around.
While we await the third installment, can we have a ton more Sega Dreamcast games remastered, please?
Shenmue II: 7.5/10
Check out more videogame footage on the DVDfeverGames Youtube Channel!
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sega AM2 and Ys Net
- Players: single player
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.