don't click here

(Re)discovering Shenmue

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Feb 5, 2023.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Splitting off from the other topic because this could get chunky.

    https://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?posts/1033578/
    https://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?posts/1033584/
    etc.

    Tackling Shenmue-related things, because I'm in the mood. Troubled games are the most interesting, and given Shenmue isn't technically finished, I think it's fair to say this game is/was quite troubled.

    Incredibly basic timeline:
    - 1996: Virtua Fighter 3 is released
    - 1996 but maybe slightly before then: Yu Suzuki starts making an RPG (supposedly inspired by his trip to China in 1994, but I can't tell if the trip was Virtua Fighter or Shenmue related (or a plain old holiday))
    - 1998: "Virtua Fighter RPG" turns up in the shedules
    - October 1998: "Project Berkley" is announced at Sega New Challenge Conference II with an incredibly brief teaser
    - November 1998, Virtua Fighter 3tb ships with a special Project Berkley preview disc, which reveals the game as "Shenmue"
    - stuff and delays
    - December 1999: Shenmue I releases
    - September 2001: Shenmue II releases
    - money and politics
    - 2019: Shenmue III releases


    Shenmue was meant to be one, singular experience on the Dreamcast, originally penciled in for March/April 1999. It spectacularly missed that deadline and became a multi-game epic, but yet still somehow lessened in scope from the original plans. It's wacky.


    [​IMG]
    Top tip: if you ever see (Dreamcast) Shenmue written in kanji (莎木), it's "pre-split" material, i.e. when Shenmue was one game rather than 34809328.

    You're in Japan, it's 1998 and you want to learn about Shenmue. The very first bit of information you were likely to see is the Project Berkley disc included with Virtua Fighter 3tb:

    The brief pre-rendered trailers are interesting, since these would all be re-made in real-time, but most of the disc involves Yu Suzuki talking in broad strokes about what his RPG will be. And some concept art. The clay busts in the background were made to help the 3D modellers. But this has been on the internet for years and isn't as interesting as it should be.

    At the end, there's a date for what would be the real revealing event for the game: the Shenmue Seisaku Happyoukai (シェンムー 制作発表会) on 20th December, 1998. You know, back when video game companies rented entire theaters to promote their game. Or six theaters in Sega's case, over the course of a month.


    We don't have the full presentation, but we do have highlights, curtosy of one of the Dreamcast Express discs. The main highlights include the (patented: JP, US) "Magic Weather" system (I don't think the final game ever gets that snowy?), and various things happening in Hong Kong and/or China.

    [​IMG]
    You got a lot of free merchandise for showing up. The booklet's quite interesting. Too bad you'd have to wait nearly three years to experience most of it.

    Because this is actually a preview of Shenmue II, before it was called Shenmue II. The entire first chapter (aka the first game) takes place in Japan, but that wasn't the case in 1998. My favourite is the focus on Shenhua - she gets her own CD, they sing her song, she's all over the flyers, but barely appears in the first Shenmue. I'm not sure she's even name dropped in the main game - you have to look in the manual or Shenmue Passport to find out who she is. The Constable Zuvio of Shenmue I. Nearly.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    After Shenmue was unveiled... eight times, its next appearance was at Tokyo Game Show '99 Spring. At this point in history TGS was running twice a year, and while Shenmue showed up at both of them in 1999, the Autumn build is a lot less interesting. This when the game was split into two, with the first part pushed back from its ambitious Spring 1999 release date to August 1999.

    Amusingly the best footage online is from "Game Station", a gaming magazine from... Hong Kong! You couldn't make it up:

    (16:00)

    As said in the other topic, there were three gameplay modes on offer:

    - "Free battle" (aka the 70 man battle from the final game, but with the timer counting down rather than up)
    - Tom teaching the Tornado Kick move
    - "Free quest & QTE", which was either the chase after being scammed by the travel agency in Shenmue I, or a bit from Shenmue II. There were clips from both games with tons of differences.

    The busts were on display because if you've made them, you might as well show them off. There was also apparently some VMU save data thing going on which I can't find many details about. Also all the Dreamcast-branded bags had Shenhua's face on it (did I mention she's barely in Shenmue I).

    Again, the general consensus was mixed. If you could even get to a kiosk, you were presented with pretty graphics masking relatively simplistic gameplay, and there were still a lot of unanswered questions. I don't think anything from the initial reveal was shown in these demos - I get the feeling they were obliged to put something together to justify the delay, but it was perhaps too early in development to convey Yu Suzuki's vision.


    One point of note: while I'm not sure how much I trust the translations, the claim seems to be that there were four "main" characters in Shenmue at this point. Ryo, Shenhua, Wuying Ren and... Iwao Hazuki (as in, Ryo's father - the one that (spoilers) dies in the first act and kicks off the events of the game). I'm not sure if this meant they planned for four playable characters, but there is a suggestion that the Yokosuka chapter was meant to take place 30 years earlier as a flashback - would you get to play as Ryo's dad at that point?
     
  3. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Shenmue's long development helps us date things.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Two promotional VHS cassettes exist: Dreamcast Dai Nyuu Video: Miryoku Mansai Video Catalogue '99 Haru and Dreamcast Nyuumon Video. The pages are probably named incorrectly. There may even be two versions of the second video - it's a bit of a mystery.

    (13:41. Voiceover warning)
    (they both have the same Shenmue preview)

    We're not totally sure where these cassettes came from, but they're from the same period - Spring 1999. The second one has been uploaded to YouTube with a 1998 date, but we know this is wrong because... they're advertising Shenmue chapter 1, and using footage from Yokosuka, which again, didn't publicly become a thing until the Spring TGS in March 1999. We also know they pre-date August 1999, because Shenmue hasn't been delayed (again) yet.

    So sometime between 1999-03-19 and 1999-08-05. Probably more like April or May 1999 - other games would give better clues.

    Again there's a bunch of differences, but there are clearly maps of the harbour and Doubita, real-time cutscenes and enough "stuff" to advertise the first game for a minute or so, which might not have been the case earlier in the year.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  4. NiktheGreek

    NiktheGreek

    Grumpy old bastard Oldbie
    1,437
    101
    43
    Writing for the best video game magazine in the world
    Toshihiro Nagoshi's account of the project from Edge issue 323 seems to support this idea:

    The final build date of the game was 22 November 1999, so if Nagoshi's timeline is accurate, he'd have joined the project around April and had a handle on what was going on by May. Based on that version of events, the project would have been in a state of total disarray around the time of TGS in March.
     
  5. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,377
    466
    63
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Technically there's a cassette tape with her theme ("SHA HUA", the Chinese reading of her name... it should also be "Shamue" rather than Shenmue but I guess we're using Japanese) but you could argue that only names the song and not her.
     
  6. Ch1pper

    Ch1pper

    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    849
    107
    43
    Life.
    Looking as far back as the Saturn footage, there's also a lot of scenes (mostly?) from Shenmue II.

    It's mostly story cutscenes; very little gameplay besides walking down a road/hallway once or twice (which looks like a literal tech demo).

    Actually, one thing that I've never been clear on: has Suzuki (or anyone) ever said if there were difficulties with Shenmue actually performing/running on the Saturn? Like, was the move to Dreamcast strictly for the inevitable replacement of the Saturn, or were there any Saturn-specific technical hurdles that we know contributed to it too?
     
  7. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    If you were really into Shenmue prototypes, there is no better source than What's Shenmue (VHS).



    (I posted it before because it's very TGS-like but there's all sorts of weirdness, like Ryo riding a push-bike and having to chase Terry around).

    It is a complete mystery where this cassette came from and why it exists... or at least it was yesterday when I originally planned to post about it. For some reason the internet wayback machine skips over Sega's website over the second half of 1999, and it's tricky to find out what was going on. Turns out its release was covered up by bigger news.

    TGS Spring 99 pushed Shenmue's release date back to the 5th August, but it wasn't looking likely that the game would meet that date, so it got pushed back again until the 28th October. Sega announced this on 1st June 1999 at Sega New Challenge Conference '99, the same day it announced a Dreamcast price drop to ¥19,900 (to take effect on the 24th), and a load of other things.

    Apparently the first 100,000 Dreamcast console or game customers after the price drop would receive this VHS. I'm struggling to find good references, but it seems legit. How old the footage is is a different story - there were a couple of events between TGS and June I haven't looked into yet, so it could be from one of those builds.


    Picking apart the footage for differences could be entertaining, but I'll leave the details to someone else. Except maybe one - the You Arcade. Not just because this build has slot machines and an unknown cabinet in the place of QTE Title (Tranquilizer Gun??), but because it has After Burner, a 1987 arcade game... in 1986. And I don't know about you, but this totally breaks the immersion and ruins the game's credibility - time travel in Yokosuka? What next, Virtua Fighter toy capsules?

    It's also an upright cabinet, whereas Shenmue II uses the sit-down version. Is it playable? Given they fake the Space Harrier footage, maybe not, but it would be nice if we could check...


    [​IMG]
    Enter the other What's Shenmue: What's Shenmue: Yukawa (Moto) Senmu o Sagase. Because a Shenmue game did release on 5th August, just not a complete one. This is a playable demo Sega put out to appease the masses, where the objective is to find the late Hidekazu Yukawa:



    The internet lapped this up years ago - you get to wander around a bit of Doubita searching for Yukawa. Once you find him, there's a QTE segment, stuff happens, game ends. Less known is that the disc also contains some of the talking heads that would appear in Shenmue Passport. The full list of differences is again, immense - you've got characters from Shenmue II blocking some of the exits, and of course loads of objects would later be moved around, including the After Burner cabinet.

    [​IMG]
    It's not playable (and neither is Space Harrier), and while it looks like it has texture issues, it doesn't - the cabinet actually lights up like that:

    [​IMG]
    Not as extreme as in What's Shenmue but it's not a mistake!


    Also while I'm not totally sure, I think this might be one of the first showings of Nozomi. Nozomi's a strange character, in that she transitioned from "literally nothing" to "so important she needs her face on a disc". Shenhua was the key female character and/or love interest for Ryo the vast majority of development, but then Nozomi turns up instead, and not even Ryo seems to care that much that she exists. She becomes a short-lived plot device, then they fly her off to Canada... and you never see her again. Okay.
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • List
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Fun fact: the Shenmue website documented its history... until July 1999:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20000612225717/http://www.shenmue.com:80/history/index.html


    And some bits of this history have been elaborated on quite well by the internet. "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland", a Shenmue-related event that occurred at the beginning of May 1999, has been dissected:

    https://www.phantomriverstone.com/2020/07/exploring-shenmue-forest-at-network.html

    Whether the build on display was exactly the same as TGS remains to be seen, but it seems awfully similar.


    There's also a "Network Jungle III", which was a television show which was all about Shenmue's development:



    I'd forgotten this existed - it's the one where Yu Suzuki's smoking a cigarette in almost every shot. Stub it out, kids.


    Obviously all of this needs to be absorbed in full into Sega Retro, but it's a lot to unpack. But hey, here's a post to get you started.
     
  9. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOAT


    10:56

    Shenmue went to E3 1999, which is fun, because there doesn't seem to have been any intention to release a US version that year. A different QTE sequence, darts (why would you want to showcase this - it's a bit naff in Shenmue) and the Shenmue Passport character heads. It's also subtitled in English, which is interesting - it suggests Western versions were always planned, even if it took nearly a full year for the translation to hit store shelves. There was also a lot of footage, again being a mix of Shenmue I and II, the Shenmue II bits looking especially rough.

    Unlike the Japanese events at this time, Shenmue was "there" but not a focus... mostly because the Dreamcast had yet to launch in the States, and Sonic Adventure was something you'd actually be able to buy in the next six months.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  10. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    There was a vague feeling when I joined SWS2B all those years sago, that, yes, we have one "Sonic 2 beta", but there could be hundreds of betas out there - we'll never get them all!

    In reality, while there would have been countless "internal" builds of the game, the number of builds intended to be seen by the public is much smaller. Case in point: we probably have them all now. We may have all the Sonic CD ones too - mockups aside, you'll struggle to find screenshots that don't line up with one of the dumped prototypes, so the focus is now on ancillary items, be it concept art or design documents or asset disks or whatever. We've got our hands on internal builds of games before, but it's a rare thing - the prototypes you're most likely to find are those which are taken to trade events, or passed onto the press for (p)review.

    Due to the length of development (and the fact it was split into two games), there's probably a dozen Shenmue "trade" prototypes out there. How many events were there?

    - Shenmue Seisaku Happyoukai (maybe; December 1998)
    - TGS 99 Spring (March 1999)
    - A showing at Shinjuku Joypolis (March/April)
    - Network Jungle II: Digitaliland (May)
    - E3 1999 (May)
    - Sega New Challenge Conference '99 (maybe; June)
    - TGS 99 Autumn (September)
    - probably something else
    - Localisation prototype/demo/whatever at E3 2000

    Plenty of opportunities to play Shenmue, though obviously the closer you get to release, the less interesting the prototype will be. If you look hard enough, you'll find both photographic and video evidence of the "hands on" events like TGS and E3 (which I've posted). It's not hard - the Japanese mags had multi-page features on Shenmue every month for a year or more.

    The TGS 99 Spring build probably bears the most fruit.
    https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:DCM_JP_19990326_1999-11.pdf&page=34

    I was misled by this at first, because in addition to the actual demo bits of Shenmue which I've posted about already, there's a simulation of Network Jungle II: Digitaliland, an event that hadn't occurred yet. You literally went to one event (TGS) to make Ryo walk around another (Digitaliland), which is completely bizarre.

    [​IMG]

    I assumed, like normal people, that the virtual Digitaliland would be at... Digitaliland. But no, it was at TGS. Because of course it was.

    It doesn't look as if you could do anything, but I guess it's the novelty value of simulating reality within a video game. Assuming it's on the same disc as the "free battle" (70 man fight, in the day) and the not-well-polished QTE segments, it's probably the earliest you're going to get to a version of Shenmue that is both playable, and perhaps not fully separated from Shenmue II.

    The other thing about Digitaliland is that some of the artwork on display involved characters pushed back to Shenmue III. It's worth stressing that Sega weren't openly talking about a third entry at this point in time (the expectation was that the "mainland China" segment covered everything), so you might find a build of Shenmue with Shenmue III assets in it.

    [​IMG]
    The most (in)famous example is Niao Sun, one of the first characters to be announced, but was never seen on the Dreamcast. You could buy Niao Sun merchandise as early as 1998 - it's her face on the Shenmue Orchestra Version CD (which shipped in April 1999, months before the first game - another oddity there).
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Poland to the rescue:


    (51:21)

    Shenmue at TGS 1999 Spring, curtosy of Neo Plus, where the same video was shown as on those VHS cassettes distributed later.

    Looks like some of the publications were misleading. There's a "free battle" demo (70 man battle), a "QTE battle" (hit the dudes in the wearhouse), a part where you learn the Tornado Kick from Tom (which might be the same demo?), and a timed "free quest & QTE" section in Doubita where you have to hunt for Terry (then chase him). And there appears to be nine kiosks, not five.

    [​IMG]
    https://archive.org/details/TokioGameShow1999ReportaNeoPlus720p30fpsH264192kbitAAC

    and more

    (0:37)
    I don't think the demos have proper title screens.

    [​IMG]


    There's less footage out there for the Autumn Tokyo Game Show (which Shenmue also appeared at), so I can't even say if the game was playable. Although I imagine it was - they brought a real forklift to the booth (and a motorbike). They had a trio dressed up as Ryo, Shenhua and Nozomi, and the lad playing Ryo looks completely disinterested, just like the game!
     
  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Sometimes there are things you can't prepare for.

    [​IMG]

    Such as "Metron no Stamp Rally '99: Shenmue no Tabi" (メトロンのスタンプラリー'99 シェンムーの旅). Visit stops on the Tokyo Metro (before it was called the Tokyo Metro) and get your Shenmue book stamped. Also learn about the game before everyone else*.

    Shenmue has had a long affinity with train stations. Before we'd even seen the game, promotional posters were going up in November 1998:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20000613053148/http://www.shenmue.com/history/poster.html#shenfa

    (what a marketing campaign: "here's some characters for a game we haven't announced. p.s. one of them won't be seen for another 20 years")


    *I'm sure the same details are in the Japanese mags, but there are a few key gameplay elements that never made it into the first game, despite being planned. The optional part-time jobs and gambling weren't introduced until Shenmue II, and I keep reading the idea that Ryo was meant to buy food to survive. It's hard to know if there's any traces of that concept left in the final game - unlike most products of the era, Shenmue models things for no reason, so being able to walk into restaurants and raid the kitchen cupboards without eating anything might have always been part of the grand plan.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  13. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,377
    466
    63
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Ah yes, this is the demo where Mark appears as one of the Mad Angels instead of your friendly neighbourhood forklift operator. There's some more footage of it on the Passport disc, seems it was a fairly late change.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Ooh I didn't notice that - the character seems to have been replaced in the E3 1999 build. Guess if you're going to model a big talking head of the guy, people might notice Ryo knocking him over.
     
  15. Titan

    Titan

    Member
    174
    15
    18
    UK
    Just wanted to chime in here, as a diehard Shenmue fan - this is some great research and wonderful to see an effort to bring the series history together!
    I'm known as Miles Prower on the Shenmue Dojo forums (since 2002!) and Discord - I also have a blog called Shenmusings, which aims to bring light to more obscure knowledge/trivia about the series (I also reviewed all 13 episodes of the anime)
    https://shenmusings.wordpress.com/

    Also these are two of the more insane projects I've dedicated time to over the years:
    https://shenmusings.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/the-shenmue-ii-character-database/
    https://shenmusings.wordpress.com/2021/08/08/shenmue-iii-character-database-release-and-making-of/

    You may also find this of interest - last year a prototype of Shenmue II was discovered and released - seemingly the build of the game showcased at Game Jam in 2001 - and I have created a page which aims to document all of the differences/oddities found in that prototype - no small undertaking considering the size of the game, and I still have some more in-depth articles to come!
    https://shenmue2gamejam.wordpress.com/
     
  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    I'm still doing my homework on Shenmue II, but that prototype revealed a hole in our coverage:

    [​IMG]
    GameJam in Zepp Tokyo

    https://web.archive.org/web/20010604010243/http://www.sega.co.jp/dreamcast/gamejam/
    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:DCM_JP_20010427.pdf&page=8

    "we've got a prototype from GameJam"
    "what's a GameJam?"


    It's looking like there was some politics going on with the Tokyo Game Show. Until 2002, it was running bi-annually, with a spring event in March/April, and an autumn event in September/October. 2001 was the last year to have a spring TGS... and Sega snubbed it* in favour of their own show, an event called "GameJam" that took place in Zepp Tokyo, a now-defunct concert hall.

    Because even though Sega had killed the Dreamcast at this point, they still put on a big budget event for it (think Nintendo's SpaceWorlds, but for Sega... and there was only one of them(?)). And hey, fair play - a sizable number of games were featured:
    [​IMG]
    Also some non-Dreamcast games in this event dedicated to Dreamcast games. Like ChuChu Rocket on the Game Boy Advance. Righto.

    [​IMG]
    Shenmue II was one of the headline acts, as was Sonic Adventure 2 and the reveal(?) of Sakura Taisen 3. Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2, Candy Stripe and Gundam Battle Online also spent some time on stage, and various things were playable over the course of two days.

    What's curious is that Shenmue II wasn't playable. There were videos, Yu Suzuki was there to talk about it, but you couldn't play it. I don't know if there was a real-time demonstration - if there wasn't, that prototype might not have actually appeared at GameJam, but built in advance just to make some pretty videos. If it's not hiding its debug features, that's a pretty good indication it wasn't running in a kiosk.

    (I'm not sure how you'd even make a demo of Shenmue II that didn't look and play exactly like Shenmue I. Some of more memorable QTE segments had been shown off two years prior - do you want to draw attention to the delays and cuts?)


    So how come we haven't had a page on GameJam until now? Well I'd guess that for the Western world, it wasn't much of a story. Not only was the Dreamcast on its last legs, most of the big reveals weren't set to be released overseas (both Shenmue II and Sonic Adventure 2 were known about by this point). But hey, doesn't matter - we've got it now.




    *Okay technically not true:
    [​IMG]
    This was when Sega officially got into bed with Xbox with an 11 game deal. So it's going to look awkward if you set up a booth plugging your own console next door.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    For completion's sake:



    The Shenmue Seisaku Happyoukai presentation in full(?). It's unlikely to be 100% accurate - the footage is from a mixture of sources which may not all be the same build, and there's some horrible machine learning frame generation nonsense in there, but it gives you an idea of what was shown in 1998.

    Yes Yu Suzuki did fail at his own QTE sequence.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  18. Titan

    Titan

    Member
    174
    15
    18
    UK
    Just wanted to clarify/elaborate on a few bits...

    It was primarily for Virtua Fighter 2 research, but it seems it later inspired Virtua Fighter RPG, which of course became Shenmue (this is the first article of an 8 part series)
    https://www.phantomriverstone.com/2018/08/new-series-yu-suzukis-research.html
    https://www.phantomriverstone.com/search/label/China Research Trip 1994?&max-results=5

    I'm going to be bit nitpicky here - the group Mark is seen with in that footage are the sailors who continually harass Ryo, who are not actually members of the Mad Angels (though they do seem to have connections with them). The sailors are not listed in the 'Mad Angels' category in the full character profiles found in the Prima/Versus strategy guide books, instead they are found in the 'Non-Working Characters in Dobuita' section (and indeed, What's Shenmue and footage from other prototypes suggests they were originally NPC's wandering around Dobuita, not just seen in cutscenes/battles like the final release)

    What's interesting is that Mark's role change seemed to have occurred so late that he is still seen with the sailors in this piece of artwork for Shenmue I - that bizarrely is later seen hanging on the wall of Ryo's Niaowu hotel room in Shenmue III (this artwork doesn't include Tony or Smith though, who are probably the most notorious for hassling Ryo)
    [​IMG]
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  19. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    8,831
    2,675
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Are there any Shenmue II leftovers in Shenmue I?... well yeah, probably tons, but for the most part, the game is self-contained. The game doesn't tell you to go to places you can't, and it doesn't describe characters you won't meet in the manual (except one) - it's a fairly clean cut-off... except for the Passport disc.


    [​IMG]
    The talking heads again.

    [​IMG]
    First up, Shenhua. Shenhua's here because she's key to the overall story, but.. she's not key to this story. Also I think you can get through most of the game without seeing her at all. By my count, Shenhua appears four times in the first game:

    First, she's in the introduction sequence standing on the edge of a cliff, except this plays out after the title screen, so even though this sequence was in all the marketing, it's easily missed in-game. You have to be rebellious, not pressing the start button even though the game tells you to.

    Second, she's on that cassette case as mentioned above, again easily missed by new players who might not think to look at Ryo's desk and pick things up. She's also in a different outfit - she was meant to change her clothes quite a bit (see: marketing) but this doesn't seem to have gone anywhere? It's definitely not a feature of Shenmue I!

    Third, she appears in Ryo's dreams. Problem is, she's not in them straight away, and I think you can get through the game before she starts turning up.

    And finally she shows up in the ending doing her best Porky Pig impression. That sighting is unavoidable, but at that point, the game is done so it hardly matters.


    Although to be fair you never see "Shenhua" in the English version at all. It is always "Sha Hua", something changed by Shenmue II. The character obviously isn't a complete unknown, since she's on the box and in the manual (and again, all over the advertising), but she's been demoted to a similar role to the Pink Panther - a "mascot" character that appears in the opening and closing animations, but doesn't actually appear in the films.

    [​IMG]
    Second oddity, Mark, and not just for his perfectly symmetrical face.

    Mark is useful because he always speaks in English in the passport discs, and the Japanese and Western scripts are slightly different. Mark talks about money - if you want a part time job, talk to him.

    Except... you don't talk to Mark, you talk to his boss, and it's not part-time, it's full time. The Western script removes one of the "part time"s, and I guess you could argue Ryo's meant to be in school, so can't be a full-time employee, but in Shenmue I... he is. You get a 9-5 job moving crates at the harbour, though arguably it's even more than full-time since you work on weekends and holidays. It's not optional and eventually you're formerly fired.

    Shenmue II's jobs are all part-time (which is good because they're horrible), and you can sign up by talking to employees rather than just employers. Early reporting of the game suggests this was always a planned mechanic (along with gambling), but they were likely forced to U-turn once deciding to set the first game in Japan. Money isn't an issue in Shenmue I anyway - you're given some just for waking up.

    [​IMG]
    Third, Oishi, or the antiques owner that you talk to... once?

    I think AM2 were just impressed with this character model - there's no reason for him to be here, and anyone could have talked about the "Magic Weather" system (does he even leave his shop to see the weather?). This model was shown off a lot, perhaps to have you believe that even the most minor of characters were getting the star treatment.

    [​IMG]
    And finally the weirdest addition, Xiuying, or "Xiu Ying"

    Xiuying doesn't appear at all in Shenmue I, and I think her English voice actress was replaced by Shenmue II. She plays a fairly big role in the second game, but... this isn't the second game. I vaguely remember wondering who this person was back when the game was fresh - it's fun when unanswered questions are left in video games, but it makes you wonder if they had bigger plans for character (Xiuying is the first person you see on the Project Berkley disc, so maybe?). She's not even name-dropped in Shenmue I - just her alias, Lishao Tao.

    (I don't know if you can go back further and associate these people with Virtua Fighter characters - Ryo is Akira, was Xiuying meant to be Pai? Seems a bit of a stretch.)


    [​IMG]
    Going back to What's Shenmue, there are only four heads on offer, and Xiuying is one of them. Maybe that suggests they modelled her early on? Probably not because the Chai head was seen in early demos? Who knows.
     
  20. Titan

    Titan

    Member
    174
    15
    18
    UK
    Indeed - it was Amanda Satchell who voiced her on S1's Passport Disc - who apparently is only known for that and playing Jennifer Love Hewitt on Celebrity Deathmatch!
    In Shenmue II she is voiced by Lisle Wilkerson - who also voices Joy and Yuan in the same game (Yuan is a whole other story in themselves voice and gender-wise across different versions...) Lisle has also voiced Sarah Bryant since VF4, and Nina, Christie and Zafina in Tekken.

    Shenhua's voice actor also changed between S1 and S2 - in S1 she was voiced by Debora Rabbai, before being replaced by Akasha Scholen in S2 (who also voiced Wong in the same game). Her English voice actor changed yet again for Shenmue III, where she's voiced by Brianna Knickerbocker. This is a little more excusable given the 18 year gap between S2 and S3, I suppose.

    Your observation about how Mark talks about part-time jobs is interesting - I've long had a suspicion that the forklift job was only added after it was decided to split S1 and S2 into two games, but I guess it's also possible it was originally an optional job like the ones in S2, before then being made mandatory and part of the story following the split (there's lots of other examples of padding in S1 that I'm convinced were only added following the split and the expansion of the Yokosuka chapter, i.e. the faffing about looking for Charlie etc. because Ine-san is deliberately withholding the letter sent to Iwao from you - was she originally going to give it to you straight away? Anyway, I won't ramble any more about that...)