Video Game / Shenmue II

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The story goes on...

The 2001 sequel to Shenmue, produced and directed by Yu Suzuki and developed by Sega-AM2.

Released on the Sega Dreamcast toward the ends of its life and then ported to the Microsoft XBox the following year, the game follows Ryo Hazuki as he arrives in Hong Kong to find Lan Di and avenge his father's death. But first, he must seek out Lishao Tao, the martial arts master who can help him discover the whereabouts of Yuanda Zhu, the man who sent Ryo's father the letter warning him that Lan Di was coming for him. However, Ryo quickly discovers the dangers that lie within Hong Kong, and not everyone is willing to give him the answers he seeks. Will he find Lan Di and avenge his father's death, or will his desire for vengeance lead him down a dark path that will ultimately destroy him?

While the general gameplay was mostly similar to its predecessor, the sequel tried to be far more action-oriented than the slightly plodding original. In addition to the plot's pacing, the sequel also has much more combat, with fights being more common (both story-related and optional). As Ryo has no place to call home in the unfamiliar city of Hong Kong, he must find ways to make money in order to survive on the streets. Aside from a part-time job, Ryo can also engage in several Betting Minigames, engage in arm wrestling and participate in underground street fighting to earn money.

Developed in conjunction with the first game, as the developers were perhaps clear in the knowledge they wouldn't release as many games as planned, the second game attempted to cram much more of the story in. Shenmue II covers numerous chapters that take Ryo throughout Hong Kong, including Aberdeen, Wan Chai, and the dangerous walled city of Kowloon, followed by the beautiful mountain forests of Guilin. On Ryo's search he meets Joy, a rebellious biker who helps him survive on the streets, beautiful martial arts expert Xiuying, who tries to dissuade him from pursing his quest for revenge, and the charismatic gang leader Ren, all leading up to the destined encounter with the mysterious girl that appears in his dreams.

In Hong Kong, Ryo learns that Yuanda Zhu has gone missing, and that the Chiyoumen have hired the crime organization known as the Yellow Heads to seek out and capture him. Making several friends and enemies along the way, Ryo discovers that Zhu is hiding in Kowloon and must get to him before the Yellow Heads do. After a climatic battle against the gang, his quest takes him to the forests of Guilin, where he meets Shenhua Ling, who leads him to the place where the jade for the mirrors was mined. The second game left us with many unanswered questions and a cliffhanger, one that would be unresolved for several years.

The game had a troubled release, with the Dreamcast's NA version cancelled barely more than a month before the scheduled release date due to the console being discontinued. As a result, even national chains such as GameStop carried imported PAL versions of the game. It was eventually released for the original Xbox in 2002 with an English dub. Due to development costs and disappointing sales, Sega expressed no plans in producing any further games in the series, and as years passed by with no sign of a third entry going forward, many fans lost hope that a sequel would ever come into fruition. However, at E3 2015, 14 years after Shenmue II's original release, a Kickstarter was announced to fund Shenmue III, which reached its goal of $2 million in nine hours and broke the record for the fastest project to break one million dollars in fundingnote , as well as becoming the highest funded video game on the site at the time.


Shenmue II contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actionized Sequel: While the mechanics haven't changed, the game throws more action at the players.
  • Adventure Game: With a vastly larger world to explore than the previous game.
  • Anachronism Stew: Like the original, there are other references to franchises that didn't exist yet in 1986, such as Sonic the Hedgehog or even Virtual-ON.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Looking for a place and don't know where it's at? Ask around and you'll find some people who will guide you there, and you'll begin to follow them. You can also cancel out of it if you like.
    • Can't figure out how to perform a new move and don't have a Dreamcast VMU? Eventually you'll get a Command QTE prompt showing you the proper input.
    • Not good at QTEs and having a hard time catching Wong? You can hunt him down and have a do-over, but fail enough times and he'll eventually stop running and cooperate.
    • Although you can still save the game wherever you're spending the night, you can now save wherever you want, whenever you want (provided you're in free mode).
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign / Bilingual Bonus: In both dubs, when Joy picks up Ryo after his first night at the Come Over Guest House, she asks him something in Chinese which he doesn't understand. The subtitles for this phrase are also in Chinese, leaving many players just as confused. While the subtitles translate roughly as "Have a good dream?", those who know the language claim the phrase being spoken isn't Chinese but likely gibberish.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Ryo and Ren eventually reach this point as they fight their way through Hong Kong.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Even more than in the original.
  • Big Bad: Dou Niu is the biggest threat who tries to kill Ryo several times, he's the leader of the gang known as the Yellow Heads that bully the residents of Hong Kong and the one who is housing Lan Di. He serves as the final boss.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: In Hong Kong, you'll likely to run into Barry Jones, a Jamaican with a hilariously poor understanding of Japanese people, speaks in Gratuitous English in the original dub, and has funny mannerisms reminiscent of Tom from the first game. He may seem like a joke even when you challenge him at darts, but as pointed out below, he's by far the most difficult darts opponent in the game.
  • Blood Sport: In one of the many dilapidated buildings in Kowloon, Ryo witnesses a vicious street fighting ring where losers are thrown from the ring and fall several stories to their deaths, with spectators cheering on the brutality from a distance. Ryo is clearly disgusted by what he sees.
  • Bonus Boss: A sidequest in Wan Chai allows Ryo to participate in a fighting contest where he can challenge fellow martial artist Eileen Edelweiss, and defeating her allows a special match against a surprise opponent. These girls are not to be underestimated.
  • Callback: Being the second part of an ongoing story, many events and characters from the first chapter can be brought up. This is most apparent when Ryo travels with Shenhua and can bring up Nozomi, the forklift job, and more. And poor Fangmei, each time Ryo sees her he can't help but wonder how the little kitten at the shrine is doing.
  • Camera Screw:
    • In Beverly Hills Wharf, the fights suddenly take place in first person perspective. Some of the street fights in Kowloon are also in first person.
    • Some of the QTE sequences in the XBox version are accompanied with a shaky camera, along with Motion Blur.
  • Cash Gate: Introduces quite a few. One character early on wants money before telling Ryo where Lishao Tao is located, but can be tricked into giving the information without paying. Later on, Ryo will need $500 to meet Ren, and will need more in Kowloon to face each of the three street fighters needed to gain entry into the Yellow Head Building.
  • Chained Heat: Ren and Ryo play this trope to the letter when they first hit Kowloon, Toilet Humor included.
  • Chase Scene: Plenty, and usually in the form of QTE sequences. A non-QTE variant in Aberdeen happens without warning, requiring the player to chase down one member of the Heavens on foot. The ones in Kowloon switch it up, which has Ryo and Ren running away from the Yellow Heads.
  • Cliffhanger: The game ends with one, which went unresolved for over 15 years.
  • Climax Boss: Dou Niu serves as the Final Boss, though there's another disc of denouement.
  • Contemptible Cover: The cover art for the XBox version, which seemingly tried to capture the look of an old movie poster. It was changed from an earlier version which received a lot of backlash when it was first revealed.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Apparently there are two mirrors, the Dragon mirror and the Phoenix mirror, which, when together, grant their holder unbelievable power. Some of their power is finally seen in the cliffhanger ending.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Xiuying, whose skills may be on par with Lan Di's, is pretty much this trope personified. Any encounter against Dou Niu will be also this against the player until the Final Battle.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Apparent in Kowloon where most of the floors in each building look similar to each other, as well as Guilin.
  • Dénouement: The entire final disc is a combination denouement and Sequel Hook, with Ryo and Shenhua finally meeting.
  • Developers' Foresight: Players are given the option not to pay for each night spent at the Come Over Guest House, though the snaky landlord will always get on them for it. Since this doesn't prevent Ryo from continuing his quest, many players completed the game boasting that they never paid for a single night without consequence. What they didn't realize was that once the three street fighters in Kowloon are defeated, which earns Ryo a ton of money, some of it will be missing the next day. If players open their notebook, an entry reveals that Ryo gave Joy whatever money he owed to pay off the bill.
  • Door Judo: Ren hilariously does this to himself due to his impatience with an elevator, and ends up falling inside and hurting himself.
  • Dub Name Change: For Cool Z, who was named "Cool J" in the original game. It was likely changed to avoid any potential legal issues with LL Cool J.
  • Easter Egg:
    • When Ryo listens to cassette tapes to learn of Zhu's whereabouts, he can uncover a secret recorded conversation between Joy and Guizhang.
    • Also in Kowloon, Ryo is often woken up by other characters, such as Joy and Cool Z. Before he goes to the Yellow Head building, a random cutscene can be triggered in which Ren is woken up by Ryo instead.
  • Flashback: Unlike the previous game, where flashbacks were seen only through Ryo's eyes, flashbacks from other characters are also shown. Xiuying's shows her past with her brother, and Shenhua's reveal her connection to the Shenmue tree.
    • However, Shenhua's first flashback reveals one unusual detail: it takes place in an entirely different time period, compared to her second flashback as a child which is clearly more recent.
  • Game Within a Game: Most mini-games from the previous game return, including Space Harrier and Hang-On, and OutRun and After Burner II are introduced.
  • Guide Dang It!: Players will definitely need one if they want to see all of the game's bonus scenes and events, and can easily miss Fangmei's Birthday, the Duck Race sidequests, and the sole location of the Hang-On arcade machine note .
  • Halfway Plot Switch: This considers that the game contains Chapter 3, 4 and 5 of the series. (The plot switches again in Guilin but only the epilogue)
    • The first half, is based mostly in Wan Chai and Aberdeen and resolves around Ryo's training with Master Tao Lishao.
    • The second half, mostly on the largest Disc 3, focuses on his hunt for Yuanda Zhu in the seedier Kowloon and the war between the Yellow Heads and the Heavens, here the deuteragonist switches from Xuying to Ren.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Unlike the first game's subversion, the sequel plays it straight when Ryo takes on the entire Heavens gang alone and in the first fight against Dou Niu, where the screen begins to fade after a certain amount of time. Xiuying takes this trope to new levels.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: In Aberdeen and Wan Chai, you can play darts against a Jamaican guy for money. He throws with his left hand first and is pretty easy to beat. If you win twice in a row you can play for high amounts of money and then he will get serious. His theme music changes, he starts throwing the darts with his right hand and will ultimately become an incredibly tough, almost unbeatable opponent.
  • Left Hanging: Shenmue II ended with a cliffhanger that hadn't been addressed in well over ten years, but several fans never gave up hope. Come 2015 with the announcement of Shenmue III, this is no longer the case.
  • Motion Blur: Used extensively in the XBox version during fights and some QTE sequences.
  • Moveset Clone: The street fighters Rod Stunt, Greg More, Chunyan Xu and Master Baihu share the same moveset of Virtua Fighter characters Jeffry, Wolf, Sarah and Lau respectively. A Bonus Boss also shares Sarah's moveset.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In the beginning of the game, Ryo meets up with a woman named Jiangyu and her daughter Xiaomei, who thank him for when the girl was scared on the boat to Hong Kong. An unlockable comic in the Xbox version, released a year later, would reveal that Chai (the Final Boss of the previous game) had snuck onto the boat and took Xiaomei hostage to lure Ryo out to fight him once more, only to be knocked into the water again. This scenario is the second chapter in the series, and was originally intended to be playable before getting axed on the cutting room floor.
    • When Ryo is taken under Xiuying's wing, players can bring up certain subjects when talking with Fangmei, such as how dinner had tasted the previous night or the serious look she has when she cooks. In the game itself, we never see Fangmei cook and there's no option for Ryo to spend his nights eating dinner with her and Xiuying.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In Kowloon, Ryo is challenged to fight a man in a dark room. His opponent turns out to be the same blind elderly man he met earlier, who reveals he's not even blind at all, but pretended to be in order to hone his remaining senses in his martial arts training.
  • Old Save Bonus: Shenmue II lets you import data from Shenmue and continue the game with the money, stats, and collectibles that you earned on the first game (although Ryo is robbed at the start of Shenmue II, meaning that unless you spend it all on figurines beforehand, the money you earned in the original Shenmue is moot). Unfortunately this only works for versions from the same region note . And since Americans never got the Dreamcast version of II and you obviously can't port your Chapter I save to your Xbox, this feature was basically missing for North American gamers.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Certain cutscenes and side events, some of which earn you photos, items or notebook entries, can only be triggered during specific time frames in Ryo's quest, and can't be accessed past certain points in the story. Naturally, events taking place in Aberdeen and Wan Chai are lost once Ryo's gone to Kowloon, and likewise with Guilin.
  • Press X to Not Die: Much like the previous game, except QTE events will now utilize the X and Y buttons as well. The game also introduces the Command QTE, which shows a sequence of buttons that must be pressed in the right order in a short time. It will also pop up if the player cannot figure out the command when being taught a move. However, the game also sneaks in a subversion: When learning the Wude principle of Dan, DO NOT press A.
  • Product Placement: Sapporo beer signs show up in Hong Kong, and Zippo-brand cigarette lighters appear as collectibles for you to buy. The latter has an in-game advantage: authentic Zippos can be sold back for more money compared to knockoffs, so buying up plenty of them is a good way to keep a lot of your cash near the start of the game, when Ryo's pack is stolen.
  • Real Place Background: Man Mo Temple, although its location in the game deviates from Real Life, the inside of the building is quite a faithful representation. Kowloon is also clearly based on the former walled city.
  • The Reveal: Yuanda Zhu reveals that Lan Di killed Iwao because he killed his father Sunming Zhao, revealing that Ryo could become trapped in a Vicious Cycle if he succeeds. He also reveals that both Dragon and Phoenix mirrors serve as a map to a great treasure, but only together.
  • Ring Out: Many of the game's numerous street fights can be won or lost this way. In one particular case, it's fatal.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The Final Battle of the game happens here.
  • Scenery Porn: One of the most detailed and best looking games on the Dreamcast. Aberdeen and Wan Chai, in both the civilized and broken down areas, are filled with gorgeous color at night. The dilapidated walled city of Kowloon is a marvel to behold even with the state its in, and Guilin forest couldn't be more gorgeous and magical than what Yu Suzuki's team achieved after their trip to China.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Infamously, Dou Niu's Dragon, Yuan. The Dreamcast PAL release, which retained the Japanese dub, even replaced Yuan's original actor with an actress and removed all male references. The changes carried onto the Xbox version's English dub.
  • Ship Tease: Quite a bit of it. The game features a much larger female cast, and almost all the women Ryo encounters show attraction to him on some level.
  • Stalking Mission: One section has Ryo and Ren follow Yuan throughout Kowloon to discover where Zhu's associate is being held, and must maintain their distance.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: One section in the Yellow Head building involves running through a path of flickering lights to avoid being seen by enemies. Being caught under a lit light will prompt a free battle, which can otherwise be avoided if Ryo gets through undetected.
  • Step into the Blinding Fight: In Kowloon, Ryo is mysteriously invited to a dark room to fight an opponent he can't see. He's challenged to fight them without relying on sight. Subverted in the gameplay, where the opponent can slightly be seen but only within close range.
  • There Is Only One Bed: When Xiuying takes Ryo under her wing, she offers her apartment as a place for him to stay (even though Joy already set him up at the Come Over Guest House). A single-room apartment, the first thing he notices is that there's only one bed and nervously points it out. She tells him he'll be sleeping on the couch instead, to his relief.
  • Tightrope Walking: Usually in the form of long wooden planks in high areas. Some instances require Ryo to get on these to get from one point to another without losing his balance and falling, usually in the form of a QTE sequence. One instance in Guilin has Ryo walk on a very narrow rock formation, and it's up to the player to move as straight as they possibly can.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Like the first game, the player is given a set amount of time to beat the game before Lan Di's trail goes cold, which comes at the very end of June (a new game starts at the end of February).
    • Most of the street fighting matches are timed, but the rules differ between succeeding before time runs out or surviving until the timer hits zero.
    • One particular instance in the Yellow Head Building has Ryo trying to hunt down the floor's elevator key before the guards go their rounds on him.
    • Another exists in Guilin where Ryo has to find the path out of the forest before sundown occurs.
    • When Ryo's looking for firewood with Shenhua, he's given a limited time to do so. She'll help out if you take too long.
  • Title Drop: When Ryo reaches Shenhua's house, she finally reveals what "Shenmue" actually is. It's the name of the large tree that sits outside her house. Not only is Shenhua named after the flower that grows on it, it's implied that the tree possesses powerful spiritual energy that has protected her all her life.
  • Wild Magic: Towards the end of the game, magic forces begin to engage into the history, which hints the series was going to do a turn for the supernatural.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The game introduces Free Battle female combatants partaking in fighting competitions and street fighting. Outside Japan story-wise, Yuan is hit with this hard, though not undeserving of it.
  • Wretched Hive: Subverted with Kowloon. Several characters warn Ryo how dangerous it is before he goes there. When he does, several buildings are shown to be falling apart, fighting contests and gambling are rampant, and the whole place is run by the Yellow Head gang. In spite of that, the city is shown to be filled with several hardworking people trying to get by and make a living, which sounds remarkably similar to its Real Life description on this very site.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/ShenmueII