The official logo of Shenmue
Microsoft Games Studios
December 29, 1999
|Latest release||Shenmue II
March 21, 2003
Shenmue is an interactive cinema open-world action-adventure video game series created, produced and directed by Yu Suzuki, and developed and published by Sega. Shenmue was listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive video game produced for its time, with a production budget of US$70 million, equivalent to $95 million in 2011[update] adjusting for inflation. It consists of 16 chapters and is currently unfinished.
The video-game is an epic adventure with movie-like cinematography and plot elements that include drama, mystery, romance, suspense and action. Shenmue offers a game-playing experience that includes elements of action, adventure, fighting and role-playing games. The story centers on an 18 year old man named Ryo Hazuki, whose father has been murdered by a mysterious man named Lan Di. Ryo embarks on a quest to avenge his father's death and unlock the mysteries of a legendary stone mirror.
The Shenmue franchise is considered to be one of several key Dreamcast properties that led to the system's success and popularity during its commercial peak. The series was a critical hit, earning an average review score of 92%. However, due to high production costs and disappointing sales, it was considered a financial failure. As a result, the production of the Shenmue series discontinued, leaving the story unfinished. Over the years, Shenmue and Shenmue II appeared on several "greatest video games of all time" lists in the gaming press.
The Shenmue series was made up originally of at least 16 chapters. However, during a Shenmue City press conference, Suzuki said that the Shenmue series will consist of 11 chapters. The first Shenmue (1999) was a Dreamcast-only game, it covered the first chapter, while Shenmue II (2001) was released for both Dreamcast and Xbox, contains four chapters of the series. However, chapters included in Shenmue II are chapters 3 to 5. Chapter 2 is in neither game and only existed as part of a manga spinoff titled "Shenmue: Side Story" (originally published in the Japanese publication, Dorimaga).
In 2003, Sega-AM2 announced that remaining chapters of the Shenmue series (6-16) would be included in Shenmue III. But, because of poor sales of Shenmue II (Shenmue II sold around 400,000 units, a weak number compared to one million units of the previous installment), Sega decided to stop the project.
On November 10, 2013, Complex.com ranked Shenmue as #1 on their list of "10 Sega Games Desperate for a Modern Reboot" 
In February 2014, there were reports that Sega of America lost the Shenmue trademark due to lack of use.
On March 19, 2014, Yu Suzuki held a Shenmue Postmortem at the Game Developers Conference 2014, with Suzuki discussing the development of Shenmue. Yu Suzuki revealed many detailed development stages that has led up to the creation of Shenmue. It was revealed that before Virtua Fighter RPG, Suzuki created a Sega Saturn prototype named 'The Old Man and The Peach Tree' that was set during 1950s China with the story following a man who wanted to find a martial artist named Master Ryu. 'The Old Man and The Peach Tree' would be the basic foundation for Shenmue.
In May 2014, the Shenmue trademark was renewed by SEGA.
Chapter 1: Yokosuka
This chapter was specifically included in the first Shenmue game that was released in 1999. The game takes place entirely in Yokosuka, Japan. It was covered in three GD-ROM discs for the Dreamcast. There are four main areas of Yokosuka in the video-game; Yamanose, Sakuragaoka, Dobuita and Amihama which is also called New Yokosuka Harbor.
Yamanose (Japanese: 山の瀬) is the smallest of Yokosuka's four areas. It is a traditional residential area located in-between the Hazuki Residence (to the East) and Sakuragaoka (to the West). Most people in Yamanose live a traditional life and work in simple occupations. One of the main places in the town is the Hazuki Residence. It is the home of the main protagonist in the game, As well as serving as the only save point in the game and the place to sleep at night. There is also a large garden and a Dojo (training place of the Japanese martial arts) in the residence. There is a small shrine located in the South West of the town, next to the Sakuragaoka exit, is home to an orphaned kitten being looked after by the local children.
Sakuragaoka (Japanese: 桜ヶ丘) is another residential area in Yokosuka, located between Yamanose and Dobuita. It is larger than Yamanose and has more activities to participate in. Mostly it is made up of residential housing. Many of the people who live in Sakuragaoka are young adults and live in a modern style life. There is also a small store and Park which you can practice your martial arts skills. Near the store is a payphone where a group of ladies often gather around to gossip and a small construction site can be seen. There is a pay phone in the center of the area, where there is a fork in the paths. There are three exits in this area; one to Yamanose to the North East, and two to Dobuita in the South West (leading to the South East of Dobuita) and the North West (leading to the North East of Dobuita).
Dobuita (Japanese: ドブ板) is a downtown-like area which contains a variety of services, such as shops, restaurants, nightclubs, an arcade, and a bus service that takes you to Amihama as well as small apartments. This area takes spend the majority of the game-play. There are two exits that both lead to Sakuragaoka - one in the South East (leading to the South West in Sakuragaoka) and the other in the North East (leading to the North West in Sakuragaoka). There is also a bus service that runs to the harbour, located on the main road in the far North East.
Chapter 2: Journey to Hong Kong
The second chapter occurs between Shenmue and Shenmue II during Ryo Hazuki's trip from Yokosuka to Hong Kong. Ryo saves a little girl named Xiaomei from Chai, one of the main villains from the first game, who infiltrated the ship Ryo was in. This event was referred to around the beginning of the second game during a dialogue between Ryo and Xiaomei's mother. This chapter is available as a comic book as an extra in the Xbox version of Shenmue II.
Chapter 3: Hong Kong
This chapter starts the second game in the series, Shenmue II which was released for the Dreamcast and Xbox. The game takes place in Hong Kong islands, Aberdeen & Wan Chai. It was covered in two GD-ROM discs for the Dreamcast. The chapter is located in a bustling harbor area, its like a sister area to Amihama in the first Shenmue. Aberdeen Harbour is where Ryo first arrives in Hong Kong. The areas Ryo can visit in Aberdeen are listed below.
- WORKER'S PIER: This is the first area to explore in the game. It's large area that connects onto the Fortune's Pier and Queen's Street and also it overlooks the sea. There are several places to arm wrestle here, as well as many of capsule toy machines vendors.
- FORTUNE'S PIER: Accessible from the Worker's Pier, Fortune's Pier is located right next to the Worker's Pier and is a small area of mostly warehouses, some are used for cargo while a few others have been transformed into gambling spots. In addition to the crate-carrying job, Fortune's Pier is also filled with gambling locales.
- QUEEN'S ST.: Queen's Street is a long road that connects the Worker's Pier, Aberdeen to Wan Chai via a bridge that crosses King's Road and leads onto the Green Market Quarter. The road seems to be made up of restaurants, amongst over things.
- BEVERLY HILLS WHARF: The Beverly Hills Wharf is a section of Aberdeen that leads onto the ocean, the area however is now used as a home turf for a notorious gang named the Heavens who take part in crimes around the area. The wharf is guarded by the gang and non-gang members have difficulty entering this area.
- GREEN MARKET QR: The Green Market Quarter is the first quarter in Wan Chai that Ryo reaches from the bridge over King's Road from Aberdeen. The area is mostly a variety of shops such as greengrocers, butchers, restaurants and even a Martial Arts School. This quarter has access to the Golden Quarter, South Carmain Quarter and the White Dynasty Quarter.
- GOLDEN QR: The Golden Quarter is a smaller quarter in Wan Chai with mostly expensive looking shops such as the several jewellers. A busy road runs down the middle of the quarter and there is also a shopping centre here. The quarter has access to Green Market Quarter, White Dynasty Quarter and Lucky Charm Quarter.
- SOUTH CARMAIN QR: The South Carmain Quarter is a somewhat run-down looking area in Wan Chai with several closed businesses and tired looking buildings. Very few businesses are still running in the area, and there is also an apartment building although its future seems uncertain. This quarter has exits leading to the Green Market Quarter, White Dynasty Quarter and the Wise Men's Quarter.
- LUCKY CHARM QR: The Lucky Charm Quarter is one of the busier quarters in Wan Chai and is filled with shops. For the most part there are electronic shops and tea houses, as well as tailors and barber shops on Three Blades Street. The quarter has access to the Golden Quarter, White Dynasty Quarter, Wise Men's Quarter and Scarlet Hills.
- WHITE DYNASTY QR: The White Dynasty Quarter is a smaller, somewhat run-down area with a lot of closed businesses in Wan Chai. Most of the space is taken up by stalls selling various goods, but there are only three businesses that actually own a premises.
- WISE MEN'S QR: A quaint part of town bordering almost every other quarter in Wan Chai, the Wise Men's Qr is packed to the gills with little shops. Excluding the myriad pawnshops, areas of interest include Wise Men's Kung Fu, Man Mo Bistro, and the entrance to the Scarlet Hills.
- SCARLET HILLS: This is the smallest area in the game, the Scarlet Hills consist of a fortune-telling shop, another small building, and Man Mo Temple. Despite its diminutive size, often Ryo's presence is required at the temple, so get used to the place.
Chapter 4: Kowloon
This chapter included in Shenmue II and takes place in Kowloon, an enclave of Hong Kong. It was covered in one GD-ROM disc for the Dreamcast. This chapter includes four main areas which are Dragon St, Thousand White Qr, Stand Qr and Dimsum Qr.
- DRAGON ST: Dragon Street is the first place Ryo comes to when he arrives in Kowloon. This is also the place where Ryo will rest at night, in Ren's hideout. There are several stalls selling various wares but the ones that matter to Ryo are the fortune tellers, located next to the machines stands and the various gambling spots which are near where Dragon Street meets Thousand White Quarter. Near the stairs which lead up to Thousand White Quarter is an old blind man playing the Chinese Violin.
- THOUSAND WHITE QR: Thousand White Qr provide several different street fighting venues and it also contains a host of important buildings. For instance, the Great View, Ghost Hall, and Thousand White Buildings.
- STAND QR: As the name implies, the Stand Qr is filled with stands and peddlers selling their merchandise. A few key street fighting locales are accessible from here, and other places of interest include the Moon Child and Black Heaven Buildings.
- DIMSUM QR: A smaller area than the previous two, the Dimsum Qr has a few tea shops/diners and some large buildings that you'll need to visit during the course of the game. Examples of those include the Three Birds Bldg and the Tea Break Bldg.
Chapter 5: Guilin
This Chapter is included in Shenmue II. It is considered to be the smallest chapter in the series. It takes place in a fictional village in Guilin, China. It is remote region unlike any other chapter seen in Shenmue I or II. It is located in the southern Guangxi Zhuang region of the People's Republic of China, near the Lijiang River. The area is made up mostly of forest and mountain regions with some small villages in between. In Guilin, Ryo hopes to find Bailu Village where his father has visited many years ago.
Langhuishan is the only area to explore in this chapter. It is a small village that Ryo first arrives at in Guilin. The village itself has a few small buildings and stalls selling various goods such as food and medicine, to souvenirs for travellers. The village resides near the Yingshuihe River which leads up to Bailu Village, Consisting entirely of dirt paths through forests and the countryside.
In 2004, Shenmue Online was announced. It was a side-story Massively multiplayer online role-playing game for the PC. As its name suggests, it was an online world of Shenmue. This game was set to be released only in China and Korea. Since 2006, news about Shenmue Online has slowly declined and reports of its cancellation have appeared on Destructoid and Wired News. Sega has yet to publicly confirm or deny the reports.
In 2010, a new entry in the Shenmue series was announced to be released for the PC and mobile phones in Japan. Much like Shenmue Online, Shenmue City is not a sequel, but rather a social games service for Yahoo! Mobage service. However, it was shutdown at the beginning of 2012 due to lack of interest.
In 2012, Insert Coin Clothing released hoodies based on Ryo Hazuki's jacket as well as T-shirts with the image of a tiger that appears on the back of Ryo's jacket. The hoodies and T-shirts are licensed by SEGA. The hoodies are currently sold out. However, the T-shirts are still available for purchase.
On December 25, 2012, First 4 Figures announced Ryo Hazuki as the first figure in their "Sega All Stars" line up. The figure comes in two editions: An exclusive edition with the Phoenix mirror as the base and the regular edition with a piece of street of Yokosuka as the base. The editions were available for pre-order on April 30, 2013. Within a week of its pre-order release, the exclusive edition quickly sold out. The figures were released in late 2013. The regular edition is still available for purchase.
In 2014, Japanese clothing store, Hardcore Chocolate, released a Shenmue T-shirt featuring Ryo Hazuki, Lan Di, Chai, and the little orphaned kitten from Shenmue.
On April 25, 2014, Insert Coin Clothing announced on their Facebook page that a new range with Sonic The Hedgehog and Shenmue is on the way which includes two 3/4 sleeve tees, an all-new dress and a jacket based on Ryo Hazuki's jacket. On September 1, 2014, The Ryo Hazuki jacket is available for pre-order.
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