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A few years back, when Sega was in a position to throw some heavy money at experimental ventures, director Yu Suzuki (of the Virtua Fighter series) announced his plans to unfold the most massive, encompassing RPG (role-playing game) series consoles had ever seen. Set in Japan in the 80's, Shenmue would take players to Hong Kong, China, and everywhere in between, with a full 3-D world going on around them, and even do away with traditional RPG combat, leveling up, etc in the prcoess. Moreoever, like Panzer Dragoon Saga before it, Shenmue would accomplish all this with very little text: the entire game was voice-overs. What he created wsa the finest RPG series no one every played.


Ryo Suzuki returns home to his family dojo one day, to find a deadly, mysterious kung-fu master named Lan Di vicously fighting with his fater; Ryo attempts to intervene and is nearly killed. After telling his father it was "vengence for what happend in Hong Kong all those years ago", Lan Di kills Ryo's father with his bare hands, right in front of him, takes an object called "the dragon mirror", and leaves. Ryo vows to find out who this man is, why his father was killed, and of course, vengence.


For one, the game runs in seemingly real-time; you can walk around town and ask people for information, spar/train to improve your skills, and meet a series of people at seedy bars & such at certain times when theyre there to move the plot along. But the world in the game moves on without you: at 5 or 6 AM, people leave their homes, open markets, fish, etc, and days turn into months, and into seasons. You have a limited amount of time to investigage, before "missing the boat", but its pretty lengthy, leaving the game wide open for non-linear exploration.


The engines are interesting, too: going through towns can be third or first person, with amazing rendering done for the Dreamcast's capabilities (i found myself actually watching rain, snow etc at times). Some happenings, called "Quick Time Events", require quick reflexes, and are reminiscent of Dragon's Lair type controls: an arrow comes on, out of nowhere, tell you to push right and button A, and youve 3 seconds to respond...choices you make (or not) will affect your quest in a number of ways.


Combat, given the game's director, is that of a fighting game. You can work mroe jobs, to purchase more ancient scrolls & learn more moves, but its not gonna do you any good if you dont spar/train daily at whatever time or place you like, and get the buttons down. As opposed to experience points, Ryo gets better, faster & stronger at each move as you practice them over time, making the more complicated ones actually useful in fights. Personally, i loved this engine: even though the controls werent dead-on, it was such a break from monotonous, formulaic turn-based combat.


Reviews werent always stellar: people didnt know what to expect, and like other "Episdoe 1's", the entire game, vast though it seemed, was about 1 chapter of the story, and served only as a prequel. By the time you felt things were really going somehwere, it was over, and time to wait for the 2nd installment. Additionally, there were montonous tasks that needed to be done to move things along....you'd spend weeks loading cargo in the docks just to get info on Lan Di's ship passing.


Still, it was an amazing game, and highlights included barfights, Lan Di's henchmen, searching the dojo for the other half of the mirror - the Phoenix, and of course, the 100-man Yakuza fight towrads the end. As if that wasnt enough, the game came with a "passport" disc to play online - compete with others in the 100-man timed fight, check the in-game weather forecast for the next day, or even trade the various Sega trinkets you could buy from vending machines, with other players.






Years later, part 2 would finally debut, and it was crazy: encompassing 3 or 4 entire chapters of the series, the game boasted towns bigger than part 1. The only problem? The Dreamcast was on its way out the door, and Sega USA wasnt going to shell out for voice dubbing.

Fortuntately, fans would have 2 options: eventually, the game would come to X-box (and do poorly, despite an ad campaign....after all, who's buying chapter 2 of an obscure RPG they never heard of, or played part 1...?) or - as i did- simply import the European version a few years earlier. The DC didnt even need to be hacked to play imports, and better yet, it meant the game was in japanese, with subtitles, which added a lot more feeling to the characters.


It spanned 4 discs, and found Ryo far from home in Hong Kong. Without allies (or the native tongue, when talking to some villiagers), Ryo again found himself working odd jobs to work his way around, until getting invovled with more undgerground figures. Carrying only the Phoenix mirror, Ryo would find himself in everything from caged matches to being in personal prisons of dangerous drug overlords, the most memorable of which had your new, closest ally handcuffed to you as you try to escape the complex, with real-time gaurds gunnign behind, as well as the massive overlord himself....


The plot was great in this one. Ryo has to seek out the only name he could find in his father's dojo, and is taken aback when the katrate master he meets is not only a beautiful woman (who has lost family to Lan Di's clan as well), but after destryong him in a fight, makes the revleation that, even if Ryo had found Di, he simply wouldve died too. Ryo steps his game up a bit from here, and by the game's end, is taking down right-hand men to Di (setting up a great staredown with Di's only appearance, in the end of disc 3), and closing out in some far eastern land, with Ryo assembling a family sword in hopes of completing his quest.


The original japanese voice acting is superior, and the soundtrack is both haunting and amazingly fitting for many of the scenes. Though again the supporting cast isnt fleshed out as much as it perhaps could've been, should you actually make it throughh this massive intsallment, it feels as though youve gone through so much with Ryo, youre eager to see how close you are to Di at every turn.


Again, despite a limited ad campaign, sales were dismal: only the hardcore imported it for a dead system, and X-box players simply didnt give it a go. The problem was that with one of the largest video game production budgets behind it, and 2 games that didnt break anywhere near mainstream, Final Fantasy sales, the series looked doomed, despite the reviewers who did get their hands on it singing its praise.






Therefore, the fate of Shenmue III - the game's final chapters - is still officially unkonwn. Sites like Shenmue Dojo talk about an online-only version of the game in the works, hoping to get public interest and therefore funding back into part III, but it's still hard to say at this point. 2 left on the worst cliffhanger, really built itself beyond what normal RPG's can do - and again, i found it more envoloping and interesting than a majority of other series, including Final Fantasy - but Suzuki has gone back & forth on its statues, being cancelled or not, as Sega's been trying to rebuild itself via its arcade and third-party games. The last news I found ot it was at RPGamer:


Shenmue III Confirmed, For Real This Time



This game was supposedly confirmed, then it was in uncertain status, now it is back on track. It was just a little over a month ago that Yu Suzuki himself spoke of his uncertainty as to whether or not a third Shenmue game would be produced. The series' creator said that the story was mostly finished, but no official plans existed to make the game. More recently, news confirming the game's impending production has come forward.


Developer Sega-AM2 has announced that it will be the company responsible for the development of Shenmue III, and also noted that the planning process is not quite 100% complete. Details regarding a targeted release date and the console on which the game will appear were not discussed.


Sega-AM2 did not specify how much or how little the decision was assisted by the number of letters the company received on the matter. More details are said to be coming in September.


Only details since then have been the online game, so we'll have to see. Meantime, I know there's a few RPG fans here, and I was hoping to bring some excellent sereis like Suikoden, Lunar, Xenosaga etc to light in the future through threads like this....I started with Shenmue becuase, put simply, its the greatest unkown series I've every played.



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  • 8 months later...

Shenmue 3 Article


I'll put this here, long story short looks like we may be getting a Shenmue 3!


For years, fans of one of Sega's most celebrated series, Shenmue, have waited and prayed for news of a sequel - a third instalment that would supposedly conclude the epic story, avenging the death of Ryo's father with the demise of arch villain Lan Di. Today, Kikizo has good news for them - Shenmue 3 DOES exist, and IS planned for release.



Under conditions of strict anonymity, sources close to the development of Shenmue 3 revealed to Kikizo that the project has essentially been close to finished and 'ready' for some time - but in hibernation, pending a deal for the entire series on at least one next-gen console. Kikizo's source is authentic and reliable.


And it may come as a surprise that Yu Suzuki, father of Shenmue and perhaps Sega's most famed game creator, has had very little involvement with the project, bar the original story, which remains in tact. Those are the facts - now let's take a look at everything in more detail.


Most devoted followers of the Shenmue series will remember that the first Shenmue, released on Sega's Dreamcast console in Japan at the turn of the millennium, contained the first "chapter" of Yu Suzuki's opus, while sequel Shenmue 2, first released on Dreamcast and later ported to Xbox, contained chapters 3-6. The second chapter supposedly consisted of Ryo's boat journey to Hong Kong, and was unceremoniously skipped.


AM2 had previously gone on record in 2003 to say that the remaining chapters 7-16 chapters would be included in a current-generation Shenmue 3 - but we can reveal that last year, that ceased to be the plan. Our source confirmed that there was very nearly an announcement for an Xbox Shenmue 3 at last year's E3 show in May - which makes sense considering AM2's Shin Ishikawa (who was in charge of Xbox Shenmue 2) had promised at the start of 2003 more Shenmue for Xbox, back when it seemed the system's popularity could still come back in Japan. But, because of poor sales of Xbox Shenmue 2, the deal behind that announcement with Microsoft fell through, and for a while, Shenmue 3 was indefinitely shelved.


Since then, the new plan for Shenmue has been to include the whole series - chapters 1-16 - on at least one next-generation console, although whether or not that would be in one standalone game is not yet clear, and therefore neither is the title "Shenmue 3", ultimately. However, what is certain is that the game, or games, are theoretically complete and ready to be ported to Xbox 360, PS3 or Revolution, depending on a deal with one of the hardware manufacturers - although it could just as easily end up as a multiformat next-gen release. Our source explained, "it will depend on a hardware manufacturer deal - if they get a profitable deal it will be exclusive to one format, but, if it makes more sense, it might be worthwhile [to release] on multi platform. The options are still open."



The latest twist in the Shenmue tale at SOJ


But why "all chapters"? Why go over what we already know from Shenmue 1 and 2? Says the source, "it is considered that many players will not have played the first two games, so this would be a complete product." We'll admit to being a little confused about how that's going to work. But nonetheless, that appears to be the current plan.


Yu Suzuki has very little involvement in the Shenmue 3 project, and that's something that may come as a surprise to many Sega followers. What we learned in relation to Suzuki-san is pretty interesting, but all that could be confirmed was that, "since Suzuki left AM2, he is off the core Shenmue series, which remained at AM2" - and despite the fact that Shenmue.com is still linked from the website of Suzuki's would-be Sega studio, Digital Rex, it seems all that is now irrelevant and, presumably, simply out of date. Our source clarified, "the series is under the AM2 portfolio. Shenmue remains at AM2 while [suzuki] pursues other things."



Yu Suzuki - "pursuing other things"


Interestingly, more insight into the "Suzuki era" of the Shenmue series became apparent in a Kikizo interview conducted with Yuzo Koshiro last week. Yuzo Koshiro is a god-like videogame music producer, with as much respect for his work at Sega as any other development executive at the company, having worked on the legendary beats in titles such as the Streets of Rage series, Revenge of Shinobi and of course, Shenmue. In the exclusive interview to be published very soon, Koshiro-san told us, "we had a meeting once a week, just about the music, and [suzuki] said, 'this scene needs this kind of music and that scene needs that kind of music' - it was difficult; he was very strict, he judged everything and ruled on everything." We should point out that Koshiro-san is most certainly not the source of the rest of this report however!


So who exactly is working on Shenmue 3? Frustratingly, we have learned answers in that regard, but can't name names. We know that Hiroshi Kataoka, the highly respected development talent and president of AM2 since Suzuki-san left, is not involved in any hands-on way with Shenmue 3, and is currently concentrating on the arcade side of output on titles like Virtua Fighter 5. There are however some key, familiar AM2 faces looking after Shenmue 3, including some relatively new talent from within the studio - but unfortunately we can't be more specific, to protect the sources of this report. Knowing a bit about the backgrounds of some of the key staff however, we'll say we're both relieved and, well, intrigued. Meanwhile, a final producer has yet to be internally named, but AM2 Development Director Makoto Osaki seems a likely candidate...


"Likely candidate" for producer? Didn't we already say that Shenmue 3 is near-complete? What precisely is the status of development completion? First our source confirms what most fans already knew, "the story is entirely done", (we're pretty sure the story had been finished since before the release of Shenmue 2) before elaborating, "the texture and modelling work is ready, they know what their characters look like and there's hundreds of gigabytes of [uncompressed] textures. Game designs are done. There is no more research to be done. It's a matter of 'porting' to whatever [console]."


As we touched on earlier, a final platform, or platforms, for Shenmue 3 are yet to be finalised. Indeed, we weren't able to clarify whether the exclusivity discussions with the firstparties have actually started yet. But from a purely speculative point of view, it seems most likely to us that Xbox 360 will be the initial host for the future of Shenmue; Microsoft has been absolutely determined to sign up exclusive Japanese-developed content for its new console, yet Sega signings are largely conspicuous by absence.


Page 3


If Microsoft recognises and accepts that an all-new, sequel-based Shenmue consisting of original content could, quite inevitably, perform better than a rehashed Shenmue 2, then combined with the imminency of the platform, and the global appeal of the franchise (as opposed to certain other Japanese signings which focus on the local market), it's surely a question of when, not if, Shenmue 3 turns up exclusively on Xbox 360. Of course, console exclusivity these days can mean for a period as brief as six months, so when PS3 is released next year maybe it will also see its share of Shenmue; it certainly makes sense for the title to reach as broad an audience as possible.


But we're getting ahead of ourselves. All that has yet to be determined. But what is "extremely unlikely", according to the source, is that the project could surface on current-gen consoles: "it would be too much work", cites the source. Interestingly, the source explained that it is cheaper to finalise production for next-gen machines than for current-gen, because of the nature of development work that is already complete. "It would be a struggle to get everything in [on current-gen]." It seems to make sense. Our source offered, "360 looks most likely, but we shall see what the future brings."



It's probably worth re-clarifying that Shenmue 3 has nothing to do with Ryu ga Goto Ku, announced earlier today by much-loved Sega development guru Toshihiro Nagoshi. The game looks and feels similar to Shenmue in many respects, and looks absolutely incredible for a PS2 title (for the record, you can learn loads more about it in our upcoming first-hand impressions). And just to be sure, it should also be made clear that the Shenmue 3 project is, and always has been, absolutely separate from the recently canned PC project, Shenmue Online.


While the bloated, initial costs of Shenmue were offset by former Sega President Isao Okawa and parent company CSK, the project now seems to exist as a more manageable, practical and affordable entity, for which most of the background work has always been complete since the original games. And while the future of many previously unprofitable Sega franchises remains uncertain, Shenmue - the title most frequently associated with big Sega losses - is getting another chance.


Unfortunately, we can't elaborate on the sources of this information, to protect certain people close to the project. And let's face it, if their jobs were risked, we could end up back at square one in the seemingly endless drama that is Shenmue 3. Nobody can say for sure that Shenmue 3 will 100% definitely see the light of day, but Kikizo can guarantee the integrity of the source; this is the current status of Shenmue 3, plain and simple. Which means it's likely you'll be seeing off Lan Di once and for all sometime soon. Now, we just have to hope it doesn't turn out to be disappointing. After all, the rest of the RPG genre has done quite a lot of innovating in the last five years.


Of course, the official Sega line on Shenmue 3 is "no comment". But when this story is dissected all over the web and quite possibly ruled "bogus" from certain quarters, all that means is that the official Sega line is "no comment". If you push Sega a little harder, it will possibly even make official noises about how it all seems "unlikely" - but nonetheless, this is factual information.


With titles like Virtua Fighter 5, Afterburner III and now Shenmue 3 to look forward to, it seems difficult to remember why we were all so worried after last year's Sammy takeover. And from what we hear, there's more to look forward to just on the horizon.


Adam Doree

Editorial Director, Kikizo.com



Looking pretty damn cool, I hope this all works out becasue that was a series we deserved a conclusion to.

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:muggin::humping::yup::shady::humping: :humping:


you, sir, have posted something that only we might give two tugs of a dead dog's cock about, but has made my day.


Now, if i only i could get it signed to PS3 or the Revolution....oh, and an import with subs again, cause that was an awesome experience. I take it from this amazing article that they intend to realase a set/trilogy? Man, ill definitley replay part 2, but i cant see them update the graphics too much, the series is huge....


Also, i didnt know your boy did the music for this, Streets of Rage, and Shinobi - i gotta find some of his OST's.

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Me too. Did II ever get an OST? I coudlnt find it...and Shenhua's Song in Guilin was fucking moving. "Memories of Distant Days" off part 1 has a similar affect on me.



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  • 2 weeks later...

The 2nd one's amazing, man. I imported the Euro version (never came to the US for dreamcast), was the best decision cause it was subtitled, which was way better, and you dont even need an adapter to play it.


A friend has it, but when i get it back, lemme know if you wanna borrow it or something....the game was a masterpierce, more people need to play it.

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Yeah the dubs pretty much blew, but the Xbox version wasn't too bad either, less loading some cool filters and no disc swapping for the win, or tie I guess.


Still the Euro version did rock my socks, that scene with Shenhua, damn friggen awesome. Still Cowboy, I could've sworn we needed an adapter to play that game when you lent it a while back. Meh, whatever.


Also you guys may want to check this out:


Funny shenmue movie

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Still Cowboy, I could've sworn we needed an adapter to play that game when you lent it a while back. Meh, whatever.Funny shenmue movie


i too thought this, and had a swap-out disc just in case, but as i recall, it loaded straight-out..remember, Sega didnt take as many measures to block imports on the DC, fortunately.


gonna watch that movie when im off work.

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  • 2 years later...

meanest thing last week: guys over at NeoGAF had scans of the upcoming issue of Edge magazine.


last page - previewing the issue to follow - ended with this image:




...which, to those of us desperate enough to shenmue III hopes where we should see, you know, every manual of old-school games, or uh, Hotel Dusk, looked like this:




worse yet, some dick marked the image so when it was inverted, you'd see:




...look closely. so mean.


ps for the road.



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