Shenmue: The Most Epic Unfinished Tale Ever

by Justin Moriarty

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Disclaimer: Before reading this article, I strongly encourage you to go on youtube or any other video hosting site and look up “Project Berkley.” It will give you a better understanding of the beginning of this article.

Project Berkley

When the Dreamcast launched in Japan in November 1998, one of the launch games was “Virtua Fighter 3TB“ and it included a GD-Rom video disc, “Project Berkley.” It was the more formal introduction of “Shenmue” as well as a contemplation of Yu Suzuki’s previous works up to 1995 with the arcade release of “Viruta Fighter 3.” Up until that point, there were talks of a “Virtua Fighter RPG,” or “Akira’s Quest” according to Suzuki in an old interview with the former Dreamcast magazine. In the late 1990s, Japanese style RPGs were progressively becoming more mainstream world wide thanks to “Final Fantasy VII.” Even though SEGA had the “Phantasy Star” series, they also needed something new. I did not have the chance to formally purchase an import Dreamcast until the following May 1999, but when I first went to my local import store to check out the console after its Japanese launch, the clerk put in the disc to show it to me saying it was a must-see regardless of Japanese comprehension ability.

The opening hook to this disc had me captivated and it felt cinematic although I had not formally seen any footage as of yet. Next, the disc says it has been 3 years since “Virtua Fighter 3” and then it says this game is not an RPG, but “FREE,” meaning “Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment.” Then it progresses to these old pre-rendered scenes of the dragon and phoenix mirrors, Xiuying practicing her Kung Fu forms, and all these action scenes that looked like an intense Hong Kong action flick. All this had my attention since I have always been a fan of those kinds of movies as well as fighting games, naturally including the “Virtua Fighter” series. Then approaching the end of this opening CG video, we see Shenhua using chi powers, Iwao stating his last words of keeping your friends and loved ones close to you, and Ryo crying for his father. Then the opening CG ends by revealing the official title, “Shenmue.” Even though it was a CGI scene in the same vein that put “Final Fantasy VII” on the map and showed no gameplay footage, I was still curious to see what this was all about.

Then the disc transitions to an interview with Yu Suzuki with a contemplation of his work. He talks about how he likes to make his games by taking the latest technology and mixing it with realistic senses. He gives interesting details about the influences behind the games and what he wanted to achieve. He said with “Outrun,” he was influenced by the movie “Cannonball Run” and his intention was not to make a mere racing game, but an authentic driving simulation. Of course you can clearly hear that with “After Burner,” he was influenced by “Top Gun” and he wanted to bring modern day fighter jets to the intensity of World War II combat conditions.

He explains he has wanted to make a game along the likes of “Shenmue” ever since he was a student, but was waiting for the right opportunity to do so. As his ideas developed, he knew what he was making was becoming more progressively distinct to the point it deserved its own label hence the idea of FREE, and it had freedom that you couldn’t do in other games. He explains what each initial means in Japanese, but he also talks about how eyes refers to emotions as well as being part of the experience.

After he explains the concept of FREE, he elaborates about the themes of family, love and friendship and knows that no matter where you are from, these values are held by everyone of all backgrounds, and just about anyone could play this game and relate to it. And he says that Iwao’s last words of keeping friends those you love close to you is one of the main themes of the game.

Another goal of Suzuki was the environmental and musical romanticism on how he wanted to use all of that to stimulate the imagination. Then the images of clouds show up and talks about how the story will unfold that a young man driven by rage and sadness will head to a western country for vengeance in a battle that means life and death, meets a mysterious girl and that his journey will have a profound impact on him and all that epic defining moments where he becomes a man.

After that, we are treated with character designs of Shenhua along with an orchestrated version to her theme song that captures various expressions and emotions. You get an idea that she is important but in what way is still a mystery and you really do want to find out. Then it goes back to Suzuki saying he felt he couldn’t retire until he made this game so it meant a lot to him. Then we are shown more character designs, especially those that have not been featured in the games, but a lot of these designs are true representatives of martial arts genre archetypes. Then the final message says this is the game for the children of the 21st century and announces a press conference in Yokohama on December 20, 1998 and once again ends with the words if keeping your friends and loved ones close to you.

What’s Shenmue

Disclaimer: Like “Project Berkley,” the whole footage of the “What’s Shenmue” demo disc is also on youtube and/or any other video hosting website for you to check out.

Then in June of 1999, a mini-demo simply called “What’s Shenmue” came out. The story revolves around Ryo having to meet Hidekazu Yukawa, the president of Sega. This demo is limited to just the Dobuita district of Yokosuka and when trying to go somewhere else, a character will stand at that exit like an usher telling you that this is how far the demo disc goes which is pretty interesting. Even so, you still have opportunities to interact with other main characters like Tom and Nozomi. Tom helps you in the search for Yukawa.

You have until 4:30 to meet him and in between that time, you have chances to check out all the places such as the You Arcade and the Tomato Mart. But along the way, Ryo has some minor obstacles, specifically two hooligans in gakurans, Enoki and Nagashima. It’s a basic QTE and this scene is also re-included in the actual game as well.  Then eventually comes the time you meet Yukawa. Yukawa freaks out and mistakes you for somebody else which starts the chase QTE scene. It is exciting but yet funny trying to chase an old man throughout the market place and trying to convince him you are on his side.

Then he gets to the arcade and is found by one of the mad angels and Ryo makes quick work of him. Ryo then clears the earlier misunderstanding and Yukawa then says they can finally sell Shenmue and Yukawa wakes up in an office full of Dreamcasts showing it was just a dream……hence the name….dreamcast, or so I think. Or so it thinks. After all, the American tag line for it was “It’s Thinking,” wasn’t it?

But this short game play demo was not the only thing included. The explanation videos done by Ryo, Mark, Xiuying, Nozomi, and Chai are also respectively included as they were in the actual game so that was quite a treat for a preview.

shenmue the most epic unfinished tale ever ryo and nozomi

Shenmue Chapter 1

Then finally on December 29, 1999, the moment of truth hit Japan and on December 31, 1999, I got my copy as well. Throughout 1999, this was the game I was eagerly waiting for. My expectations were over 9000 and I was dying to play. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I knew it had to be excellent. I read all the articles in magazines and the internet and the expectations of the game clearly spoke to me. I loved “Virtua Fighter” and my only familiarity with RPGs up to this point were “Final Fantasy 6, 7, and 8”, “Chrono Trigger,” “Breath of Fire,” and a few others that were mostly for the Super Nintendo. Usually RPGs dealt with the realms of fantasy with some sci-fi every now and then while “Shenmue” deals with the real world. I liked that distinction and it appealed to me that Japan and China would be the settings due to my personal, academic, and today even professional interests in relation to it.

The game just gets right to the point. It pretty much tells you the setting that it is November of 1986 in Yokosuka, Japan and it is a snowy day. Ryo is rushing home and finds the dojo sign destroyed. He sees that his housekeeper, Ine-san is injured and warns him that his father is in danger. He slowly approaches the dojo and his housemate, Fuku-san was thrown threw the doors like a rag doll. Finally we see his father, and Ryo is restrained by two men in black. The main villain, a Chinese man in green, known as Lan Di is demanding a mirror and Ryo’s father, voiced by Fujioka Hiroshi, the man who played Segata Sanshiro and the original Kamen Rider, says in his distinct dark voice, “I will never tell you.”

They then do some kung fu fighting and despite Iwao’s black belt skills, they are nothing to the younger and superior style of Lan Di’s mysterious and swift style of martial arts. And any fan of “Virtua Fighter” can recognize right away that a lot of moves in the game and fighting styles is implemented in this fight. Iwao along with Ryo, fights like Akira Yuuki, while Lan Di is based on Lau Chan. He makes quick work of Iwao and Ryo tries his hand and is also defeated like he was a white belt. Using Ryo as a bargain, he forces Iwao to get the mirror and Iwao gives into his demands. As his men are retrieving the mirror, Lan Di asks Iwao if he remembers Zhao Sunming. He reminds him that it was the name of a man that Iwao killed in a village. After receiving the dragon mirror, Lan Di delivers the final blow which is also a move that Lau Chan uses in “Virtua Fighter.” Ryo then climbs to his father’s defeated and broken body, and Iwao tells him to keep those he cherishes close to him. Without trying to understand, Ryo screams his father’s name as the snow turns to rain.

I must say that this opening really blew me away. Granted the scenario is very typical of the martial arts genre in cinema, its something that can be told over and over and under different conditions, and “Shenmue” offers that to me in a personal sense. This opening scene offers something very culturally educational and you see what a Japanese garden looks like along with a typical Japanese dojo.

The game resumes a few days after the incident and Ryo is set on getting his revenge. This truly concerns Ine-san and Fuku-san. Fuku-san tries to warn Ryo that he has no chance since they beat his father. Despite knowing that, he knows that he must fight. Thus begins his journey from the home of the Hazuki family which includes the inside of his house, the outside in his garden, and the dojo where you can focus at just about anything that could trigger a memory of his father or give clues. Once that is done, you are free to go to the next step and that is the residential area of Sakuragaoka. Here you mostly encounter the neighborhood children such as Megumi, who needs help taking care of a lost kitten and you also get to meet some of Ryo’s friends.

Sakuragaoka represents a lot of Japanese residential neighborhoods with the construction, how there is little space in between, how there are name plates on the houses, little tiny shops owned by an old person, a small park, and shrines and temples. If you ever live in Japan, I am pretty sure your neighborhood has a shrine or a small candy shop owned by an old couple. Heck,there are even vending machines you can purchase soft drinks. In the Japanese version, you could get all the Coca Cola corporation products while in the English version, it was changed to Jet Cola.

Then it goes to the market district of Dobuita where all the people hang out. On the outskirts are the apartments and little by little, you see the businesses and restaurants and all the people. Some people are willing to help you, some are hesitant to talk to you, and some tell you to buzz off. Here you will also learn more about Ryo such as who he is friendly with in the community.

Ryo starts from asking the Chinese community if they got any info, and then the Chinese advises him to find sailors, and the sailors tell him to find Charlie and then eventually it leads him to a new part of Yokosuka, the harbor itself, to find the Mad Angels who may know where Lan Di is. At the Harbor, Ryo makes more enemies out of the Mad Angels, but gains allies with Mark, an American fork lift operator who he works with, and Goro, a fellow teenager who is trying to reform his ways after getting his ass kicked by Ryo, and the most important of all, Gui Zhang, Ryo’s equal in the marital arts despite being almost twice his age.

But in between all of this, Ryo gains more possible leads in relation to his father’s death such as a letter written by his father himself before he died, and a letter of warning from a Chinese man named Zhu Yuan Da. Also, underneath the dojo, Ryo finally finds the Phoenix Mirror. Along with this, another rival of Ryo appears and that is the crazy praying mantis fighter named Chai who is based on Lion from “Virtua Fighter.”

Not only that, the more Ryo’s journey progresses, the more obstacles he faces, and the more people he endangers such as the children, Mark, Gui Zhang, and Nozomi. Even though his actions are resulting in such consequences, he still must have his revenge and go to Hong Kong. As the game approaches its ending, Ryo’s friends will also leave Japan. Tom is going back to America and Nozomi is going to back to Canada. So other than Ine-san, Fuku-san and a few other friends, Ryo does not have much to lose anymore by leaving. After one last battle with Chai, chapter 1 ends with Ryo’s journey to Hong Kong and we are treated to a relatively long ending credit scene. At the time, I believe “Shenmue” achieved one of the longest ending credit scenes ever.

Playing the game to this point, despite everything that we all go through, you feel it is only the beginning. You are really starting to go to where all the answers are and you want to know those answers now. You know that you will meet Shenhua but you want to meet her now. Why is she in Ryo’s dreams? What will happen when Ryo hits Hong Kong? All those answers will come in September of 2001 in “Shenmue 2.”

shenmue the most epic unfinished tale ever shenmue 2

Shenmue 2

The cool thing is that you can use your save copy of “Shenmue 1” as a continuation into “Shenmue 2,” and will resume 2 weeks after where you finish “Shenmue 1” and you will have all your toys, money (now converted to Hong Kong dollars) and your skill set. I thought that was a really great feature and truly respected that it was one continuous story.

The opening music is just incredible and approaching the harbor is quite a feat. Compared to Japan, getting off Hong Kong, you do feel a bit more insecure. Yeah, you got all these martial arts skills, but you don’t know anybody. Along with that, you do feel also amazed since the digital Hong Kong feels bigger than the digital Yokosuka. The moment you get off the boat, people are trying to scam you left and right and this guy wants money just because he took your picture without asking. Instances like that doesn’t really happen in Japan and that behavior is strongly discouraged and it is heavily enforced. In Hong Kong, everybody’s persistent for you to go along with them but yet, they are obviously fishy. I do not know how it is in real life Hong Kong, but with Japan, despite some trouble Ryo gets into, it is one of the safest countries in the world and he was leaving that security of his country by going into the unknown. Maybe I watch too many Hong Kong flicks, but it does seem crazy with all the kung fu robbers.

But as Ryo progresses around the harbor, he meets Joy, Wong, and the rest of the Heavens and will eventually meet Ren, their leader. Ryo is immediately in trouble with local gangs and is already getting into fights, so he now has a lot on his plate and still has to find that person that Master Chen wants him to meet in order to find Zhu Yuanda.

As Ryo tackles his problems at once, he finally meets Tou Lishou, who is revealed to be Xiuying who happens to be a very beautiful woman and yet a deadly master of martial arts whose skill level could be around Lan Di’s considering in the two occasions you fight her, you can never land any strike on her in the same way Iwao couldn’t land anything on Lan Di. She tries to discourage Ryo from his quest for revenge because he was just like her brother who sought the Chiyoumen for revenge and he never came home. In the end, she does what she can to help Ryo in his journey and to teach him to live a peaceful life. While in the service of her temple, Ryo finds a book of martial arts and finds Zhu Yuanda’s name as well as Chao Sunming, the name of the man that Lan Di accuses Iwao of killing, listed to be a master of koen ken, or tiger style. He realizes there is a connection.

Under strange and uncontrollable circumstances, Ryo will become allies with Ren despite a very rocky relationship in which Ren will always take advantage of him at the worst times. There he encounters Dou Niu and his gang who actually do have connections to Lan Di and his organization.

Ryo eventually finds his father’s old friend, but is kidnapped by Dou Niu to be taken to Lan Di. After many struggles and some martial arts ass kicking. Ryo reaches the roof top of the yellow head building and finds Lan Di hanging from the rope ladder of a helicopter. Ryo emerges victorious but Lan Di flees and frustrates Ryo even more. Later, Zhu Yuanda shows what the mirrors can do and reveals the location of a treasure from the Ming Dynasty. Zhu Yuanda also reveals the Zhao Sunming was the name of Lan Di’s father and that Lan Di’s real name is Cho Souryuu or Zhao Longsun. There you also learn the truth about the mirrors and a bit of their origin and that they are from a small village in Guilin and that Lan Di will go there as well. Ryo naturally heads there and there we finally meet Shenhua but under circumstances I could never expect.

It’s a major storm and the river is running wild. There is a deer that needs to be saved and across the river is a girl running and its Shenhua. Without hesitation, she jumps in and Ryo jumps in as well to help. Despite that nasty storm, they both survive and Shenhua actually happens to be a native of the village Ryo is intending to go. Along the way, they get to know each other and you learn how much of an innocent girl Shenhua is because she was raised  out in the woods. She seems to have some knowledge of the outside world such as cars and what not but she spent her whole life in nature to the point that she is one with it by understanding the weather and the animals.

Eventually you reach her home and learn the meaning of the title, Shenmue and that it was named after the tree in front of her home and she was named after the flower which blooms from the tree. The next day, Shenhua and Ryo go off to the mines to find her father and to see if he can answer any questions about the Phoenix mirror. Unfortunately, he is not there but leaves a letter saying everything will be all right and then after some Indiana Jones stuff, it is revealed that there are bigger versions of the mirrors and Ryo and Shenhua gaze into each other and it ends with “The Story Goes O”n and we are treated to the ending credits.

Once again, we have an ending that suggests that this is only the beginning. The way it ends that inconclusively desperately makes you want to know what happens next. And then all these unfortunate things happens such as “Shenmue 2” in the US for the Dreamcast is canceled shortly before its release and is ported to the XBox and all that. Even though I had the Japanese version already, I was still willing to support it. I thought about getting an XBox but it was senior year of high school and I had to get that together and I sort of forgot about it. My brother bought an XBox in 2004 and got “Shenmue 2” but could never bring myself to play it. I guess it was because of that continuation of using my last save played a part of it and I liked playing in Japanese more. The XBox release took awhile to come out and during that time, people lost interest. At the time, maybe the fan base did not accommodate the user base for the console. I am pretty sure fans were betrayed by the move but I am aware that many people imported the European copy since it had English subtitles. I can see in the long run that this move did not work out. I think if they did release it on Dreamcast in America, it would have helped a lot. I think Shenmue 1 sold over a million world wide and “Shenmue 2” only sold shortly less than half. I think keeping it on Dreamcast in the US would have saved the franchise to some extent. For all we know, we could have been done with “Shenmue” already.  But I am only speaking in what ifs and all we can do now is to hope. But time to move on to my thoughts on the game play mechanics starting with the fighting system.

shenmue the most epic unfinished tale ever ryo fighting stance

Fighting System

The fighting system from what I read in the articles prior to the release of “Shenmue” was what also intrigued me. Reading that it was going to be based on “Virtua Fighter” since it initially intended as an RPG of the franchise, I played a lot of “Virtua Fighter 3TB” to get me ready. I mostly played as Akira but I was open to playing every character possible. Some of the button combinations in relation to the moves are the exact same in “Virtua Fighter” itself. Such as forward forward punch does the elbow attack in the same vein of Akira Yuuki and doing the move that Gui Zhang teaches by pressing back and kick at the same time will do the crescent kick in homage to Jackie Bryant. And in Shenmue 2, the counter elbow strike even as an offensive move is the same as Akira’s from “Virtua Fighter.” As I stated earlier, Lan Di was based on Lau Chan and Chai was based on Lion. Then in Shenmue 2, we get more characters based on “Virtua Fighter” characters. Like the 3 street fighters. Rod is based on Jeffery, Greg is based on Jeffery, and Shunyan is based on Sarah. And before saving Joy, Ryo must defeat Baihu, who is also on Lau. Then when you get the bonus fights like Izumi, she i also based on Sarah. But it is also cool, that the game also implements countless move sets and other styles that were never featured in “Virtua Fighter” as well which makes this game distinct beyond its initial phase.

But it also took some distinct liberties. In Shenmue you could run and you could attacks with it by kicking, diving, and charging. It really helps to have it when you are fighting multiple enemies at once as well as fighting taller people. The system felt more loose but was tightened up a bit in the second game.

In the first game, I enjoyed the opportunity of practicing your moves in the dojo, the park, and parking lots. You could develop your moves. But unfortunately, this was taken out of “Shenmue 2” so I was really upset about that feature. In the first game, it was a good way to kill time, but in “Shenmue 2,” you could make time go faster in certain moments. Also, I enjoyed when doing free style practice, you could discover new moves, which made it really fun. It helps you get used to the timing and rhythm, the movements, and everything.

But other cool features were finding and purchasing technique scrolls and other characters teaching you techniques. I really love this feature because it goes into legitimate detail on the movements and how to balance yourself. I think every “Shenmue” fan needs to admit that they even found themselves practicing these techniques based on these instructions. Hell, sometimes I love to practice the elbow and the tornado kick. But I am happy that this feature was still included in “Shenmue 2.”

Then there is of course the great 70 man free battle. That really defined the action for me along with the fight with Gui Zhang. And of course there is the fight with Chai in the arcade. He is hard and the cramped conditions make it hard for me and thankfully you can recover your health but the arcades cramped conditions don’t allow that so you really have to be on the offensive, but it takes a hell of a time to beat him. I have only beaten him a handful of times in the arcade but most of the time I get my ass kicked.

In the second game, they gave the opponents life bars as well so now you can keep track of how you are doing. This would have been tremendously helpful in at least the first fight with Chai. But depending on how will you develop your techniques, you will either struggle, or defeat your enemies in one swift. Like when I got the elbow attack fully developed, I could take out school bullies and other scrubs in one strike. And in the move list, you can have a default set move. For example, you set it to the elbow attack and every time you push the r trigger, you automatically do that move. I thought it was cool and useful, especially for some of the more complicated techniques. But in the street fights in “Shenmue 2,” there are special conditions such as ring outs which doesn’t matter to your life bar at times. I liked how these features paid homage to “Virtua Fighter” as well which also uses ring outs. So in this respect, it lives up to the original intention of being a “Virtua Fighter RPG.”

Next are the QTEs. Not many games prior to this really did this except for “Dragon’s Lair” or “Space Ace” but that was more based on luck. But with “Shenmue,” it is kept into a certain rhythm and flow, it really worked and naturally made it interactive. You could be immersed in this fight that you could only see in movies at this point, but you had more direct control of the outcome with a push of a button that must match what is corresponding on the screen.

Then in “Shenmue 2“ came the event QTEs which accommodates the rhythm of some other scenarios and action sequences more appropriately. I will admit the first time I had no idea what I saw but it brought a fresh and exciting feel to it. I will admit I had a hard time with them, but eventually I saw their value and now come naturally to me.

Free fighting can be fun, but it can be stiff and it is hard to defend from what is behind you at times. QTEs kind of offered that but in a fun way that reflects the intensity.

Also, another fun feature are the arcade games. You can play all the classics like “After Burner, Out Run, and Space Harrier.” How is that not cool? But of course you need money, and you can work at a harbor. The fact that you have to get a job to get money as opposed to beating opponents and getting money for winning was also really fun and brought realism. I liked operating the fork lift and liked getting paid for it. It really made me feel I could do it in real life. But the jobs in “Shenmue 2” such as lifting the boxes to a command did not bring that excitement, but hey, as you know, you need the money. But of course you could do the gambling games and gamble and street fight for money. But man, was there much to do in this game like there is in life, especially in Japan or Asia in general. It brings you into that world and culture. For non-Asian living people, this game is that experience which I know makes a huge fraction of the appeal.

Other big features were naturally the exploration and the weather features. In the first game, you had the option of having the weather like the actual weather of Yokosuka during the time period. You could have rain, snow, or clear weather. Sadly, this was not as open or as diverse going into the second game. I am not sure how weather patterns work in Southern China so maybe things are just that way for all I know. With the exploration, you can observe and study virtually every object. The food, a scroll, a plan, a vase, and even the altar for Iwao are all features that bring that realism into the game. If any game has achieved something along the likes of this, please let me know.

As for culture, Suzuki made the game take place in Yokosuka in the 1980s because it represented a change in Japanese youth culture. Yokosuka has an American presence with the Navy base and Suzuki wanted to implement that and it was a significant influence in that time period. You will always see Iwao, who is more representing of traditional Japanese culture and values, while Ryo wears western clothes and is very individualistic and expressively emotional, which are traits that are not really emphasized in Japanese culture and looked down upon.

As for the future of “Shenmue,” “Shenmue 3” has been in limbo for over 10 years now and SEGA has said they have no plans but do acknowledge that the fans do demand it. Suzuki says he wants to do it, but he says that budget and licensing are the current issues. Hell, if I won that half billion dollar lottery before the 2012/2013 holiday season, I would have given it to Suzuki to finish “Shenmue.” But the fact that Suzuki acknowledges it shows there is some hope. But apparently, SEGA care more about lousy “Sonic” games than a quality “Shenmue” one. But in recent interviews the only details he would give on the next installment in context to story is that Ryo would have let go of his revenge, and that the man next to Iwao in the picture you find in the basement would have played a major role in “Shenmue 3,” and that most of the dialog would revolve around Ryo and Shenhua. But I heard when you converse, there would be these choices you make and that it would affect the outcome of the game. He talks about how Shenhua would offer either tea or coffee and choosing one over the other would affect the outcome. This was already hinted in “Shenmue 2” in some instances. For example, Shenhua asks Ryo who Nozomi is and the choices are a childhood friend, the flower shop girl, or that she is a girl, and when she asks if Ryo has any brothers or sisters and he has the choice of saying Fukuhara or that he has none. So I would like to know if “Shenmue 3” did continue on lets say the Dreamcast and you carried those choices onto your save into the next game, would that have any effect as well. At this point we can never know. But I do hope for the day I can finish the story. As insane as this sounds, I feel my life is not complete without this game.

There are also the rumors of Sega having HD copies ready for XBox live and or the PSN network but we don’t know. If they do have it, then release them already!!! I am ready to purchase and give my support. Why not support SEGAs true fans instead of the Sonic fan boys who blame the change in voice actors for the quality of their franchise?

But for now, the only thing I can do is tweet every month on the third to #SaveShenmue. Granted it has a lot of support but can’t be certain we will get it. Or we can petition to the US government or the Japanese parliament to give Yu a bail out to make “Shenmue.” But yeah, if you got a twitter account, feel free to give your thoughts every month on the third to show you want more “Shenmue.”

In the mean time, the closest we get is “Ryu Ga Gotoku,” which is called “Yakuza” in the US. It is a good game with its own distinctions but does not live up to “Shenmue” nor does it embody the vision of the genre Suzuki created called FREE and no other game that has adopted open world features has achieved that. Only “Shenmue” can do that. And I know I put a lot of time into this so thanks for reading if you read this to the end.

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Author: Justin Moriarty

Justin is a long time anime/manga, tokusatsu, and video gaming fan who currently resides in Japan. He hopes that someday that Shenmue will be finished. To show your support, every month on the 3rd, please tweet #SaveShenmue

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