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Shenmue III is the long-awaited third entry of the Shenmue series, developed by YSNet and published by Deep Silver. After 18 long years, the game was released on November, 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and PC through the Epic Games Store, with a Steam release expected in the future. Series creator Yu Suzuki returns as the game's director, and many other key figures who worked on the previous two games also return.

At the end of Shenmue II, our hero Ryo Hazuki arrives in Guilin, China, in his relentless pursuit of the man who murdered his father, Lan Di of the Chiyoumen. Shortly afterward, he rescues a young girl named Shenhua Ling, a mysterious girl he had previously seen in his dreams, and she repays him by accompanying him to Bailu Village where she also happens to live. When he joins her on an errand, they discover that their encounter is part of a prophecy predetermined since ancient times, and together, they decide to uncover the mystery of the Dragon and Phoenix mirrors, the connection their fathers had to them, and why Lan Di is in pursuit of them.

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Along with Bailu Village, Ryo's journey will also take him to Niaowu in Baisha. What mysteries and dangers await Ryo in Guilin? Will the mysteries of the mirrors and his father's past be revealed? Will Ryo finally come face to face with Lan Di and avenge his father's death, or will he lose himself or his life in a showdown against the man that killed him?

After the release of Shenmue II in 2001, the future of the series was left in limbo as Sega made no announcements regarding the continuation of the martial arts saga, following weak sales along with being the most expensive game ever created at the time of its release. Attempts to revive the series with online and mobile spinoffs proved to be unsuccessful, and Yu Suzuki found his position within Sega being greatly diminished as a result, leaving fans to fear that the story of an epic saga would be Left Hanging.

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As years passed and fans pleaded for a way to bring the series back, Yu Suzuki shocked the world at E3 2015 with the announcement of a crowdfunding campaign for Shenmue III through Kickstarter. Its initial goal of $2 million was reached within nine hours, broke the record for the fastest project to surpass one million, and currently holds the record for the highest funded video game at $6,333,295. Following the campaign, it later surpassed over $7 million in extra funds.


Shenmue III contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acrofatic: Su Zixiong, a martial artist that Ryo befriends in Bailu Village, has a large gut that would make Dou Niu blush, but he's quite the martial artist who's much faster than he looks. Qiu Hsu in Niaowu bears a similar appearance, and to highlight the similarity, Ryo can purchase a phone card with both of them on it.
  • Air Guitar: Zou Leyong, who runs the Beats of Rage music store in Niaowu, can frequently be seen doing this.
  • Always Over the Shoulder: The default view takes place closely to Ryo's side, although there are times where he'll be at the center of the screen. Combat takes this further as Ryo fights at an angle, and far enough that his entire body always stays in view.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Ryo can move Sega Astro City arcade cabinets as part of the forklift job. The game notes that the actual machines debuted in 1993.
    • Ryo can stumble upon a hidden Sega Saturn console in Bailu Village. He can also find a capsule toy of it in Niaowu.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing some of the requests will net you a new shirt or jacket to wear as a reward, or items you can exchange for said clothes.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Wei Zhen stands out among everyone else in Bailu Village with her bright and colorful clothes. Ma Yueming in Niaowu also has this kind of design.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Jump feature, similar to the second game's Wait feature, allows the player to instantly go to certain locations at certain times instead of making the player wait all day for the next event to occur.
    • Although the "Help" ability has always been present, its presence is more prominent this time, hopefully leading to less confusion over the game's mechanics, mini-games and objectives.
    • Although QTE sequences have much stricter timing and one miss is all it takes to fail it this time around, longer sequences are broken down into smaller sections, so you'll likely pick up close to where you left off instead of doing the entire thing all over again. The final QTE sequence is a huge exception, however.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Ryo's fight against Lan Di eventually turns into this, and is forced to escape with Ren as the Old Castle begins to fall apart.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The game features many more of them, and some old favorites like Lucky Hit and Roll It On Top return. Like the first game, Ryo only earns tokens instead of actual money, but this time, he can use them to purchase prizes which can be sold for money.
  • Callback: Although certain events from the previous games are brought up throughout the story, Shenhua can recall the conversation she had with Ryo in the cave regarding his friends and tease him about Nozomi. Ryo can also call his friends when he arrives in Niaowu, who bring up events that happened during his time in Japan and Hong Kong and the impact it left on them.
  • Cap: Ryo's Attack and Endurance levels max out at Level 21 each, and his Kung Fu maxes out at Level 43. Maxing his Endurance Levels will put him at 2,000 HP.
  • Cash Gate: In Bailu Village, in order to learn a move from an old master to defeat a strong opponent, Ryo needs to purchase an item that costs a hefty 2,000¥. A similar situation occurs in Niaowu, except the item in question costs 5,000¥.
  • The Cavalry: Just as Ryo leaves for the Old Castle, Ren recruits Hsu and and Shiling to come along and help them. Grandmaster Bei also joins the fight as they storm through the Old Castle together.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Happens during certain phone calls whenever Ryo brings up his father or Lan Di.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Ryo now has the ability to change his clothes on the fly, allowing the player to customize his jacket (or remove it), shirt, pants and shoes. More clothes can be unlocked by completing certain objectives throughout the game or by purchasing them.
  • Collection Sidequest: As before, Ryo can collect herbs, various items and toys and sell them individually or in sets. This time, although he can still sell them for money, he can also exchange them for move scrolls. In Niaowu, figures of the mascot "Chobu-chan" are scattered throughout town, and finding them awards Ryo with shop cards.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During one conversation with Lei, he'll ask Ryo where he's staying and freaks out when Ryo tells him he's sleeping at Shenhua's house, thinking there's something else going on between them. He freaks out again when Ryo tells him that she cooks for him. Naturally, Ryo is as dense as ever and has no idea why he's making such a big deal out of it.
  • Cosplay Café: Mell's Café in Niaowu is a Maid Café.
  • Creator Cameo: A certain building in Niaowu has a large statue of "Yu-Chan", which is Yu Suzuki in the style of the Super-Deformed toys. He also appears in various pictures with some of the backers as his regular self.
  • Cute Bruiser: Wei Zhen is a martial artist in Bailu Village who Ryo can fight and spar against, and one of the requests involves a guy asking Ryo to hook him up with her. Naturally, she thinks Ryo's the one asking her out and all of her martial arts composure goes straight out the window. At Muren Café in Niaowu, Ryo can ask to spar with the owner, but it's the girl next to him, Ma Yueming, who trains with Ryo instead. She also fights as a combatant in the Rose Garden and is an audience favorite because she's cute and a legit fighter.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Opening doors is done with Cross-X/A instead of Square/X.
    • The combat system has been overhauled completely, and all of Ryo's moves are now performed by quick face button combinations, which will take some getting used to if you're used to the previous game's Virtua Fighter engine controls.
    • When driving the forklift, the buttons changing the view and lifting/lowering the lift have been swapped.
  • Distressed Dude: The entire game is spent searching for Shenhua's father, Yuan, and his fellow stonemason Xu, who have been captured by Ryo's enemies.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • Some extra content was made free for backers, while other content was made free for those pre-ordering the game. Most of these include extra clothes, moves, additional toys or food, unique phone cards and capsule tickets.
    • Post-launch DLC is planned down the line and is part of the game's Season Pass, which is set to include additional combat and casino content, as well as a bonus scenario involving a familiar face.
  • Experience Points: In the previous games, Ryo's moves would become stronger by practicing them or by using them in combat. The leveling system has been given a complete overhaul in this game, allowing players to see exactly how many hit points he has, which will increase by leveling up his Kung Fu, which itself is split between Attack and Endurance levels. Your Attack Levels will rise by sparring against opponents and practicing moves that haven't been mastered. If you master all of your available moves, your experience won't raise unless you buy new scrolls and learn new ones to master. Raising Ryo's Endurance Levels will require him to practice more mundane things against wooden dummies like Horse Stance, One-Inch Punch and Rooster Walk, but greatly improve his defense and allows him to withstand more blows. However, you won't get much experience either way if you train while your health is low.
  • Face of a Thug: Datong Liu and Shiren Wang, the two locals who guard the Verdant Bridge near Bailu Village, both have a fierce and untrustworthy look to them, but they're well-meaning guys who want to protect the village and become friendly with Ryo after Shenhua introduces him to them. They also help them out later on.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: Ren discovers a cheap replica of the Phoenix Mirror that he plans to trick the Red Snakes with in order to save Shenhua. Ryo refuses to use it knowing that it'll only put her life in even greater risk. But in a desperate moment, Ren uses it to save his.
  • Fishing Minigame: A new addition to the series, Ryo can rent a fishing rod and go fishing in certain locations, and can sell whatever fish he catches for money. By completing certain requests, Ryo is given access to new fishing locations that he cannot fish at otherwise.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: A particular opponent in the endgame does this, although he's more bark than bite. Ren puts an end to his nonsense by giving him a good kick to the face.
  • Game Within a Game: The arcades contain a wide variety of new mini-games and some old ones return. Although none of the Sega arcade games return, among the new games is "ChobuChan Fighter" which is an Affectionate Parody of Virtua Fighter 2.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Ryo does this when he finally confronts... guess who?
    Ryo: Lan Di... Fight me! I will avenge my father!
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Chi You Men as a whole now appear to be this. Aside from Niao Sun starting an Enemy Civil War with Lan Di, it's revealed that they had originally set their sights on the mirrors, causing Zhao Suming, Lan Di's father, to retrieve them so they wouldn't fall into their hands. After his mysterious death, the Chi You Men raised Lan Di themselves, resulting in the events of the series. Though the details on what exactly they did during this period of time currently remains unknown.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Mingyang Lei is a young martial artist who clearly has a thing for Shenhua, quickly becomes jealous of her new foreign friend, and isn't very friendly towards Ryo at all. You can take your frustrations out on him later as a sparring opponent, but he has a long way to go before he can catch up to Ryo.
    • If Ryo calls Nozomi when he arrives in Niaowu, she will become jealous if Ryo brings up Shenhua or if he tells her that someone also gave him an amulet, and is clearly uncomfortable with the idea of other girls catching Ryo's attention since she still has feelings for him.
    • If Ryo asks Shiling where he earn money to get a very expensive item, she freaks out and stutters over the idea of him buying an expensive gift for his girlfriend. When Ryo denies this, she's clearly relieved that he's not taken.
    • Ryo can encounter a couple of punks in Niaowu who pick a fight with him because they think he's flaunting his cute girlfriend around, despite him insisting that's not what she is.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Even if you manage to win the earlier fights against Yanlang, the same cutscene plays where he beats Ryo to a pulp. Same goes for Ge Longqi.
  • History Repeats:
    • In the last game, Ryo stumbled upon a man in Hong Kong who looked exactly like Guang ji Wang from Ajiichi in Yokosuka, but it turned out to be his twin brother, Guangyan. In Niaowu, he meets a man who he mistakes as Delin Hong, who he helped lift crates with in Aberdeen, but it's actually his older brother, Dejing. If you work a part time job for him, he'll teach you the Brawling Uppercut 2, and the scene plays out almost exactly like it did the last time, from the opening shot right down to him falling into the water.
    • Ryo's fight with Lan Di ends in the same outcome as it did the first time, and is only spared because Ren offers him what looks like the Phoenix Mirror.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin:
    • Shenhua is kidnapped towards the end of the game by the Red Snakes, and the one who kidnapped her demands that Ryo hand over the Phoenix Mirror in exchange for her life.
    • During the final battle, Ren decides to give Lan Di the fake Phoenix Mirror on the condition of sparing and releasing Ryo. Lan Di does so, and ever the dishonest type, Ren chucks it straight out the window before escaping with Ryo.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Brand new to this game is a mechanic that requires Ryo to eat food regularly, as his HP depletes over time and doesn't recover after battles. If his health is low, he won't be able to run and the last thing you want is to enter a fight on an empty stomach.
  • Immediate Sequel: The game picks up right where the last one ended, beginning with the infamous Cliffhanger ending from Shenmue II.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Aside from the many side activities Ryo can partake in, the game now features "Requests" in which a character may need a favor from Ryo. These may range from finding or winning a particular toy or item, or hunting down someone and winning in a fight against them, and Ryo will usually be rewarded with clothes, rare items, or access to a new fishing location. These requests have limited availability and once they're gone, they're gone.
  • Miko: Lin Shiling is the shrine maiden at the Liu Jiao Shrine in Niaowu. After mistaking Ryo for a punk, she tries to make amends for it and tries to help him out however she can. As long as he doesn't do things like gamble, anyway. And she's quite something when she's armed with a broom.
  • New Game+: Upon beating the game, you'll be allowed to start over either in Bailu Village or Niaowu with your kung fu levels and non-story related items intact.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Shenhua is disappointed to learn that the Rose Garden in Niaowu isn't a rose garden at all, but a fighting arena where people gamble. She and Ryo wonder why it's even called that.
  • No-Sell: Hilariously done with Hsu in the climax, who's not affected by the mooks attacking him thanks to his large gut.
  • Nouveau Riche: A nickname that Ryo gives to two married snobs who are staying at the same hotel in Niaowu. They are constantly complaining and think lowly of him, until karma comes for one of them.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • As with the previous games, you cannot return to Bailu Village once you leave. Any herbs you missed or any unfinished requests are gone. However, the game warns you when this occurs and gives you the chance to proceed with the story or turn back. Similarly, you cannot return to Niaowu after you depart for the Old Castle.
    • Requests have a limited time window, and once that's expired for that specific character, you cannot initiate it.
    • If Ryo completes a request and is given the choice between a new fishing location or an item, if he chooses the item, he won't be given the choice to fish at the secret location, even if the player knows exactly where it is.
  • Point of No Return: Before reaching the final destination in the Bailu Village chapter, you'll be asked whether to proceed with the story or go back and finish up any unfinished business you might have left. If you've played the previous games, you'll know it means it's about time to pack your things. This also happens right before you depart for the game's final location in Niaowu.
  • Press X to Not Die: Everyone's favorite mechanic, the ever beloved QTEs return! Seriously, it's Shenmue, the Trope Codifier. What did you expect? Hope your reflexes are in check because the timing is much stricter this time around.
  • Previously On…: The game includes a brief digest video that tells the events of the previous two games.
  • Reality Ensues: The game begins nearly four months after Ryo has begun his quest for revenge. But despite all of his training, that's not enough to put his skills on par with Lan Di, and the fight ends with the same outcome that it did before.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Much of the game's soundtrack is comprised of many of the songs heard in the previous games, particularly Shenmue II, but are the original arrangements as opposed to the ones heard on the Dreamcast. Many unused songs including those found on the first game's soundtrack album also finally make their way into the series.
  • Ring Out: One of the conditions for winning a match in the Rose Garden is to knock an enemy out of the ring, which can be done by landing a powerful blow against them when their back is against the wall.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: "Face Off" is a mini-game that Ryo can play against Shenhua when he's staying at her house or at a certain place in Niaowu. Instead of using their hands, the game emphasizes on making goofy facial expressions. Shenhua really gets into it while Ryo comes off as The Comically Serious.
  • Save Scumming: Similarly to the last game, you can save whenever you want with some exceptions, allowing you to take advantage of things like gambling, toy collecting, or winning fights.
  • Scenery Porn: The game's environments are filled to the brim with small details, but it's the lighting at night really brings them to life in a way that the series hasn't done before. The game certainly takes advantage of the Unreal engine.
  • Sequel Hook: The story has yet to reach its conclusion. Ryo loses the Phoenix Mirror to Niao Sun in exchange for Shenhua's life, he loses against Lan Di and is forced to escape from the burning building, and learns that Lan Di is going to the place where Zhao Sunming originally found the scroll that he and Shenhua discovered in the Bell Tower. Ryo continues to pursue him deeper into China with both Shenhua and Ren at his side, stopping at nothing to avenge his father's death.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Ryo has to tell nearly everyone around him in both cities that he and Shenhua aren't a couple. It gets to the point where Ren really gets in on it and Shenhua glares at him, prompting him to back off.
  • Skewed Priorities: The Muren Café in Niaowu is a place where people can practice martial arts and enjoy coffee. Unfortunately, most people come just to practice martial arts, and the owner is completely obsessed with decorating the place with wooden dummies, completely neglecting the "café" aspect of the business, to the frustration of the poor girls working there.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Happens late in the Bailu Village chapter when Yanlang is captured and refuses to talk, and Shenhua has everyone in the room leave so she can have a moment with him. He submits to her every whim afterwards.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • There's quite a few people in Bailu Village who ship Ryo and Shenhua together, only to be told by our hero that they've got the wrong idea.
    • Mixed with Tom. He still believes that Nozomi is Ryo's one true girl, and if Ryo tells him about the people who helped him in Hong Kong, Tom points out that they're all women, congratulates Ryo for being so popular with the ladies, and promises not to tell Nozomi. On the other hand, depending on how Ryo describes Shenhua to him, he thinks that she might be the girl of his dreams (and she is, just perhaps not figuratively).
  • Shout-Out: Although Ryo isn't able to play some classic Sega arcade games or collect Sega-related capsule toys like he did in the previous games, the game hasn't forgotten its roots.
    • Posters of Space Harrier, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 3 appear throughout the game. The render of Pai from the latter game, the same poster seen in Fuku-san's room, also appears in the arcade at Bailu Village.
    • The capsule toy of Joy has her riding a Hang-On arcade machine. A separate Hang On toy can be collected in Niaowu.
    • One of the workers at the port in Niaowu is named "Riff Tamblyn", which sounds remarkably similar to Biff Tannen. He can also be fought as one of the opponents in the Rose Garden.
    • One of the items Ryo can purchase is a manga version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
  • Super-Deformed: The capsule toys of the Shenmue characters depict them in this style.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: When cutting wood, the music will change if Ryo gets a Very Good rank, and into another song if he gets an Excellent rank and doesn't mess up. Depending on who he's cutting wood for, "Red Out" and "Maximum Power" from After Burner II will play respectively, and even Joy's theme for another.
  • Three-Point Landing: A possible outcome during the first QTE chase scene in Niaowu. Fail to catch the little girl falling off the ladder and she'll land safely on the ground this way, then suddenly go into Kung Fu mode. Looks like she knows martial arts, too!
  • Timed Mission:
    • When a bunch of kids invite Ryo to play hide and seek, he's only given a few hours to find each of them.
    • You have until the end of July 31st to beat the game, otherwise Lan Di finds Ryo and kills him after taking the Phoenix Mirror.
  • Trash the Set: Niao Sun orders her men to light the Old Castle on fire during Ryo's battle with Lan Di, and is completely engulfed in flames in the ending.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In Bailu Village, Ryo can listen to the stories of Wenxu Su, who claims that he killed a hundred men all by himself, built all the houses and temples in Bailu Village, and once owned all of the land. He realizes Ryo doesn't believe any of it, but rewards him if he takes the time to listen to it.
  • The War Sequence: After rescuing Shenhua and her father at the Old Castle, Ryo and his allies battle their way past the Red Snakes and the Chi You Men as our hero makes his way towards Lan Di.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men: One of the requests involves a man who wants to ask Wei Zhen out, but is too afraid to talk to her. Thinking that Ryo is the one asking her out, she refuses to go out with anyone who's not stronger than her, and she packs quite a punch. It doesn't work out anyway, since she's not interested in a man who can't ask her out himself and has to have someone else do it for him.
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