Trivia / Shenmue

  • Acclaimed Flop: Hugely popular and considered a masterpiece by several gaming outlets upon its release, but the sales were too weak to cover development costs (not entirely surprising as Shenmue was the most expensive game of all time at the time of its release, with a budget of $47 million, equivalent to $67 million in 2015).
  • Creator Killer: A mild example, as while he still worked for Sega, Yu Suzuki's career took a serious hit and he was unable to make another game as good as Shenmue and it's heavily implied he was Kicked Upstairs.
  • Development Hell: After failing to make its release on the Sega Saturn due to a really difficult development on the project, which itself was started in 1996, Shenmue saw the light of day through the Sega Dreamcast in December 1999. A new installment on the series that would move the story on has been in this "pending state" for more than 10 years...
  • Doing It for the Art: The first game is rumored to be one of the most expensive games ever produced (roughly $70,000,000 in 1999 currency, although that was later revealed to be an embellishment and the real budget was $47,000,000). But there's no way anyone could say it was wasted. Pushing the limits of the Dreamcast's technology to create unbelievable levels (at the time) of facial mapping and reactive AI that adhered to personal schedules for every NPC you see. Loads of tiny details like being able to open desk drawers each with their own unique texture maps and a very accurate (at the time) recreation of Yokosuka, Japan. They even went so far as to gather accurate weather pattern data for the region in the late-1986/early-1987 period over which the game takes place and integrate it (the game has its own weather pattern that it generates but upon beating the game once, you can use the period-accurate meteorological data for Yokosuka on a repeat playthrough).
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: In the original Japanese Dub, Ryo's dad is voiced none other than Segata Sanshiro himself.
    • Eric Kelso, probably best known to Sega fans as the voice of Jacky Bryant in the Virtua Fighter series, voices Guizhang Chen and Fuku-san in the English dub.
  • Killer App: Of the Sega Dreamcast. In fact it was the 4th best selling game in the white console, just after Sonic Adventure, SoulCalibur, and Crazy Taxi. Back in the day, playing Shenmue was one of the reasons alone to go and buy a Sega Dreamcast.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: This was slated to be Yu Suzuki's—and in general SEGA-AM2's—best, but unfortunately, it ended up being an Acclaimed Flop at best. This seems to be changing with the Shenmue III Kickstarter though, which met its goal in less than half a day.
  • Network to the Rescue: Sony is working as a partner with the developers to get the third game off the ground. Because of the series history though, they first started a Kickstarter campaign to determine fan interest in the project.
    • It has now been confirmed that SEGA has given Yu Suzuki the "Shenmue 3" license, and he cannot do an HD remaster of the original two because SEGA still owns the license to one and two. You can read it on his Kickstarter page for Shenmue 3.
  • Role Reprisal: Masaya Matsukaze returns as Ryo for the third installment. Corey Marshall, who voiced Ryo in the English dub, has also been confirmed to reprise his role for the third game.
  • Shout-Out: German punk band "Schrottgrenze" wrote the song "Nozomis Lieder" (from the lyrics it's clear Nozomi Harasaki is meant).
  • Vaporware: The MMORPG Shenmue Online that was hyped after the release of Shenmue II, where players would be allowed to join three clans, led by Shenhua, Ren and Xiuying. The game suffered from Development Hell as it switched developers over the years, and was never released. Yu Suzuki attempted to relaunch the series years later with the social RPG Shenmue City, announced in 2010 for cell phones and PCs, but only a cell phone version was released which was discontinued the following year.
  • What Could Have Been: Thankfully no longer the case with the existence of the third game, but many ideas for the series were scrapped.
    • The game was originally conceptualized as a Virtua Fighter RPG that would have starred the game's protagonist, Akira Yuki. However, it was later decided to go into a more original direction, although the influence is clearly evident. Based on images from the Shenmue III Kickstarter, an early script is shown titled "The Legend of Akira".
    • As noted on the main page, the game was originally planned to be released for the Sega Saturn, but its time in development caused the project to be shifted over to the Sega Dreamcast.
    • In the first game, it was planned for Ryo to gain access to a bicycle to navigate through the town streets more quickly. It didn't make the cut.
    • In early footage, Mark Kimberly was among the American sailors that would bully and harass Ryo, and would also be beaten like the others. His role was changed in the final game to be Ryo's friendly co-worker who was bullied by the Mad Angels, although this explains an official wallpaper where he appears among Ryo's American enemies.