Shenmue II

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Shenmue II
Shenmue II.jpg
Japanese Dreamcast cover art
Developer(s) Sega AM2
Publisher(s) Sega (DC)
Microsoft Game Studios (Xbox)
Director(s) Yu Suzuki
Shinichi Yoshino
Yoshihiro Okabayashi
Producer(s) Yu Suzuki
Artist(s) Takehiko Mikami
Writer(s) Yu Suzuki
Masahiro Yoshimoto
Composer(s) Takenobu Mitsuyoshi
Yuzo Koshiro
Ryuji Iuchi
Takeshi Yanagawa
Satoshi Miyashita
Koji Sakurai
Masataka Nitta
Shinji Otsuka
Fumio Ito
Megumi Takano
Osamu Murata
Shinichi Goto
Platform(s) Dreamcast, Xbox
Release date(s) Dreamcast
  • JP September 6, 2001
  • EU November 23, 2001
Xbox
  • NA October 28, 2002
  • EU March 21, 2003
Genre(s) FREE (Sandbox)
Action-adventure
Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player

Shenmue II (シェンムー II Shenmū Tsū?) is a 2001 action-adventure game for the Dreamcast and Xbox. It is the sequel to Shenmue, and was produced and directed by Yu Suzuki of Sega AM2. Shenmue II covers three chapters of the Shenmue saga. In June 2015, Yu Suzuki announced a sequel, Shenmue III.

Due to exclusivity rights obtained by Microsoft,[1] the North American Dreamcast version was cancelled. Because of this, no English dub was recorded for the Dreamcast version of Shenmue II. The European release instead featured the original Japanese audio with English, French and Spanish subtitles. However, the game was later re-released on the Xbox in Europe and North America, and an English dub — featuring most of the original English dub cast from Shenmue — was produced for this release.

Plot[edit]

Ryo Hazuki arrives in Hong Kong from Japan on the trail of his father's killer, Lan Di of the criminal Chi You Men organization. He is searching for Master Tao Lishao, the only link to the whereabouts of Zhu Yuanda, a martial arts expert who sent Ryo's father a letter warning him of Lan Di's arrival. Ryo tracks down Tao Lishao, whose real name is Hong Xiuying, but she refuses to help him, considering his quest for vengeance unwise. The two part ways, but Xiuying continues to monitor Ryo's progress.

Ryo meets Ren Wuying, the leader of a street gang named the Heavens, who tries to wile Ryo. Ren decides to help Ryo after discovering that there may be money to be made in Ryo's mysterious phoenix mirror; Lan Di took the second mirror, the dragon mirror, when he killed Ryo's father. Wong, a street boy who admires Ren, and a free-spirited motorcyclist, Joy, assist Ryo in his journey.

Ryo and Shenhua

Ren informs Ryo that Zhu is hiding from the Chi You Men in Kowloon Walled City. There, they locate Zhu, but are ambushed by the criminal Yellow Head organization, who kidnap Zhu. Ryo and his allies infiltrate the Yellow Head headquarters, but Wong and Joy are captured. Ryo rescues Joy by defeating a powerful martial artist named Baihu. On the roof, Ryo rescues Wong and Zhu from the Yellow Head leader, Dou Niu, as Lan Di escapes by helicopter.

At Ren's hideout, Zhu reveals that Lan Di killed Ryo's father because he believes Iwao killed his own father, and that the mirrors will lead to the resurrection of the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. Zhu advises Ryo to continue his search in Bailu in Guilin and that Lan Di is headed there as well. Ryo parts ways with Ren, Wong and Joy and leaves Hong Kong.

In the mountains of Guilin, Ryo meets a young woman named Ling Shenhua, whom Ryo previously saw in dreams. Shenhua's family is connected to the legacy of the dragon and phoenix mirrors, and she seems to have magical abilities. She leads Ryo to a stone quarry on the village outskirts to meet her father, but finds him missing. The pair discover a cryptic note and sword; Ryo combines the sword with the phoenix mirror, triggering a a device that reveals a large mural of the dragon and phoenix mirrors.

Development[edit]

Shenmue II was directed by Yu Suzuki, who had directed the original Shenmue and arcade games including Hang-On, Out Run and Virtua Fighter.[2] Some of Shenmue II was developed in tandem with the first Shenmue, which was most expensive video game ever developed at the time, reported to have cost Sega $70 million. In 2011, Suzuki said the figure was closer to $47 million including marketing;[3] Shenmue II was "completed for a much more reasonable sum".[4]

Shenmue II - Main Characters

Differences between the Xbox and Dreamcast versions[edit]

Shenmue II - Xbox cover

When the U.S. Xbox version was released in 2002, it brought some changes and enhancements to the original with it. The most significant difference is the inclusion of a full English dub, with Corey Marshall reprising his role as Ryo Hazuki (芭月 涼 Hazuki Ryō) from the first game. There are two new gameplay features – a Snapshot mode to take pictures of gameplay or cutscenes to store on the Xbox's hard disk and Filters to alter the color filters used on the entire screen. The graphics were improved by the Xbox's more advanced hardware (bloom lighting during the night hours, better looking water, among other features), the lengths of the load times were slightly reduced, Dolby Digital 5.1 support was added for the game's cutscenes, and the frame rate now ran at a much more consistent 30 frames per second with less loss in characters on-screen (the Dreamcast version used an aggressive character LOD that caused pedestrians to fade in and out of plain view in very crowded scenes). This was all done without many sacrifices to the original game design, with only one instance (the Worker's Pier,) of noticeable pedestrian reduction from the Dreamcast version. The Xbox version also used Quincunx Anti-Aliasing (like many Xbox games) and although the technique reduced "jaggies" associated with aliasing, fans are generally split down the middle as to whether this and the new nighttime bloom lighting effects hurt the image quality in the Xbox version of the game giving it a somewhat "blurry" or "washed out" look.

There are also many other graphical differences, mostly involving the signs on buildings, labels on jukeboxes, signs on gates, etc. having been changed or simplified from the Dreamcast version.[5]

Also added was a mode to view the player's snapshots and six side stories that could be unlocked by taking an in-game snapshot of certain characters. These side stories took the form of manga and four of them expand on areas of the story that the main game touches on, while the remaining two contain bonus art.

The original Dreamcast version came on four GD-ROMs, and Japanese version came packed with a Virtua Fighter 4 Passport which allowed gamers to connect to the Virtua Fighter.net as well as a Virtua Fighter 4 History Disc which contained a special interview with Yu Suzuki and an overview of the history of the Virtua Fighter series. This package was not included with the European version.[6] The Xbox version came on one DVD and came bundled with Shenmue: The Movie on a separate DVD for play on a standard DVD player. The film is composed entirely of scenes from the first game.

One feature the Xbox version lost was the ability to import a save file from a completed Shenmue game, allowing the player to bring items and money collected in the first game to the second. However, since the player could not import his or her inventory, the Xbox port started the player off with (nearly) every item obtainable in the first game, including a majority of the capsule toys and other collectibles, though the cassettes (amongst a select few other items that can be re-obtained in this installment) are mysteriously missing. This is identical to starting the Dreamcast version without a cleared Shenmue save file.

When the Xbox version reached Europe, Microsoft chose not to utilize Sega's European localization, choosing instead to do a straight conversion from the North American release. Because of this, the European Xbox release only supports English, whereas the EU Dreamcast release features support for multiple languages.

Gameplay[edit]

Shenmue II features gameplay similar to that of its predecessor, Shenmue; however, there are many additions and changes, and many fans consider it to be a completely different experience.

One marked difference in this installment of the game series is the abundance of action sequences, mostly relying heavily on the use of cinematic QTE events in lieu of free battles (whereas the first installment had a fair balance of the two). In Shenmue, there was often a certain character who Ryo had to talk to in order to advance the story line; in Shenmue II, often many characters will be able to help Ryo reach his destination, allowing the game to progress at a much quicker pace, and there's often only one solution, while in the first title there were several different paths Ryo could have gone down as far as his investigation was concerned. Despite Shenmue II's more linear nature, however, there are still moments of non-linear plot progression; for example, at several points Ryo must make a hidden sign at certain restaurants, and depending on which restaurant the player chooses, different events will occur. Occasionally a QTE will make use of this as well; in the first Shenmue, failure of a QTE meant the player would simply be allowed to retry it, whereas in Shenmue II, although rare occurrences, there are QTEs which result in a branching story path. Shenmue II also features a "question system" where the player can choose from a variety of different questions to ask non-playable-characters. Money plays a much bigger role in Shenmue II as well; unlike the first game, where Ryo was given money at the start of each day, Shenmue II requires the player to find a part time job or to gamble in order to earn cash. Shenmue II also boasts a bigger selection of playable retro arcade games than its predecessor. Hidden cutscenes, however, which took place when a player happened to be on a certain street at a certain time on the correct day, have largely been sacrificed from this sequel.

Whereas the first Shenmue consisted of a single world with an immense amount of detail (for example, the ability to open almost every drawer in Ryo's house and often pick up the contents inside), Shenmue II consists of several worlds with less intricate detailing, although much more to explore. Despite the tighter pacing and more eventful storyline, however, Shenmue II keeps the basic formula of its predecessor, which essentially involves the player wandering through a virtual world, talking to people and receiving clues that lead Ryo deeper into the mystery surrounding the murder of his father.

The Dreamcast version of Shenmue II has a data transfer feature in which players can import their game-save data from Shenmue, carrying over in-game money, collected items, and martial arts move sets.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (DC) 89.63%[7]
(XB) 82.26%[8]
Review scores
Publication Score
Famitsu 32 / 40[9]
G4 5/5 stars [10]
Game Informer 8 / 10 [11]
GamePro 4.5/5 stars [12]
GameSpot 8.7 / 10 [13]
GameSpy 9 / 10 [14]
IGN 8.3 / 10 (Xbox)[15]
PALGN 9 / 10 [16]
Cheat Code Central 5/5 stars [17]
Gaming Age A [18]
Gaming Target 9 / 10 [19]
Kikizo 9 / 10 [20]
Official Dreamcast Magazine 94%[21]
RPGamer 9 / 10 [22]
Xbox World 10 / 10 [23]
Thunderbolt 9 / 10 [24]

The Dreamcast version received positive reviews,[25] and was commended for improving on criticisms of the first game, such as pacing issues which were resolved with the time skip feature, as well as the faster pace of the plot and larger proportion of action sequences. The Xbox version, though still garnering solid marks,[26] received complaints from some critics about the English voice conversion and only minute visual upgrades.

In 2008, Shenmue II was voted as the tenth best game of all time in the IGN Readers' Choice "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll.[27]

On August 2014, Shenmue II is ranked #51 in Empire's 100 greatest video games of all time.[28]

Sequel[edit]

Main article: Shenmue III

Since the release of the second installment, Shenmue III has been announced for development and cancelled at least twice.

A Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III was announced during Sony's E3 2015 press conference on June 15, 2015, reaching its funding target of $2 million USD in under nine hours. The game is currently being developed for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4 using Unreal Engine 4, with Suzuki obtaining the rights for the game from Sega.[29][30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shenmue II". February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Creator Yu Suzuki shares the story of Shenmue's development". Polygon. Retrieved 2015-06-29. 
  3. ^ Diver, Mike. "Shenmue – discovering the Sega classic 14 years too late". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-30. 
  4. ^ Fahs, Travis (September 9, 2010). "IGN Presents the History of Dreamcast". IGN. Retrieved 2014-10-31. 
  5. ^ "Shenmue II Differences". Park.fateback.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  6. ^ Chojin. "Shenmue II (シェンムーII) ~ Dreamcastgaga". Dcgaga.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  7. ^ "Shenmue II for Dreamcast". GameRankings. 2001-09-06. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  8. ^ "Shenmue II for Xbox". GameRankings. 2001-09-06. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  9. ^ ドリームキャスト - シェンムーII. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.47. 30 June 2006.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Shenmue II". Game Informer: 111. January 2003. 
  12. ^ "Review: Shenmue II for Xbox on GamePro.com". Web.archive.org. 2002-11-21. Archived from the original on 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ [3][dead link]
  15. ^ "Shenmue II Review - IGN". Xbox.ign.com. 2002-10-29. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  16. ^ [4][dead link]
  17. ^ [5][dead link]
  18. ^ [6][dead link]
  19. ^ "Shenmue II Dreamcast Review @ Gaming Target". Gamingtarget.com. 2002-01-22. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  20. ^ "Video Games Daily | Xbox Review: Shenmue II". Games.kikizo.com. 2003-04-02. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  21. ^ "Out-of-Print Archive • Dreamcast reviews archive". Outofprintarchive.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  22. ^ "Shenmue 2 - Import Review". Rpgamer.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  23. ^ [7][dead link]
  24. ^ Ben Philpott (2008-08-23). "Shenmue II - Dreamcast review at Thunderbolt". Thunderboltgames.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  25. ^ "Search Reviews, Articles, People, Trailers and more at". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  26. ^ "Search Reviews, Articles, People, Trailers and more at". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  27. ^ "IGN Top 100 Games 2008 | 10 Shenmue II". Uk.top100.ign.com. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  28. ^ "51. Shenmue II - The 100 Greatest Video Games Of All Time - Empire Online". empireonline.com. 
  29. ^ "Yu Suzuki Kickstarting Shenmue III for PS4, PC - Gematsu". Gematsu. 
  30. ^ "Shenmue 3". Kickstarter. 

External links[edit]