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YMMV / Shenmue

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  • Awesome Music: Now with its own page.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Ryu's infamous sailor line. He's following a lead, but since Ryu doesn't explain himself and just asks where sailors hang out it sounds like he's looking for a hookup.
    • "Let's get sweaty," which Ryo sometimes says before he trains.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Related to much of what is written below in Base-Breaking Character, many theories have been made over the years to explain Ryo's behavior, including secretly or unknowingly being in the closet, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, and serious social anxiety.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Our protagonist Ryo himself. He's well-liked by a good portion of the fandom because he's a skilled martial artist who hasn't let anything stop him in his quest to avenge his father's death and isn't above partaking in fun activities, but a good portion of players think there's something deeply wrong with him being so consumed by his quest that he turns down or fails to recognize the affections of beautiful women who pretty much throw themselves at him. While likely a case of Values Dissonance, it doesn't help that the reason why Ryo's not eager to be romantically involved with women isn't touched upon in the games themselves and only mentioned in guides, and he comes off as more dense than reserved. And if that reason still comes off a bit shallow, some people just think he's a cold, antisocial Jerkass. And then there's the whole "Sailors" thing, but fans can only get limited mileage out of the Ho Yay too, considering Ryo spends about 1/3 of the sequel in the company of a shirtless, pretty boy gang leader (even handcuffed to him for a stretch), but he's annoyed and exasperated by it the entire time.
  • Broken Base:
    • The English voice acting has Shenmue fans all over the place. Some find that it takes away from the experience and would prefer the original Japanese version with subs (the HD release would finally grant that wish), some find the first game's to be tolerable while the second game to be horrendous, and some find the English voice acting in both games to be part of the series' charm. It says quite a bit that during the Shenmue III Kickstarter, some fans demanded the game should have no English dub whatsoever, while there was so much demand for Corey Marshall to reprise his role as Ryo that he was sought out and brought on to return for the third installmentnote . There's still an effort to get some of the other English actors with lead roles on board as wellnote .
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    • The Console Wars are still alive and well in the minds of many Shenmue gamers. Some prefer the games to be played on the system it was designed for, the Sega Dreamcast, even leading to some contempt for the series appearing on the XBox and PS4note , while others are glad to play them regardless of what console it's on. Many fans on the Shenmue III Kickstarter have even asked for a Dreamcast version of the game with the same engine as the previous two games, although Suzuki says this is not happening.
    • The 2018 Compilation Re-release. After fans campaigned for years for Sega to re-release the game for modern consoles, they're either happy that Sega listened and can now relive the series without having to pull out their Dreamcasts, or upset that they released an imperfect port of two groundbreaking titles that needed more development time.
  • The Chris Carter Effect:
    • Potential fans may have been turned off when hearing the first Shenmue game consisted of the first of what was expected to be SIXTEEN chapters. It turned out that Suzuki didn't intend to do sixteen separate games; Shenmue II covers Chapter 3 through 5 (Hong Kong, Kowloon and Guilin, the chapters in the series divided based on location), and Chapter 2 (the boat ride) didn't make the cut (but was shown entirely off-screen instead). And it's possible that Yu Suzuki tried to hide the fact the game was running on very unrealistic expectations and he possibly said that just for saving face.
    • Even Shenmue III falls victim to this with the announcement that the story would not see its conclusion in the long awaited sequel, with some fans expressing a fourth or even a fifth entry would be too much.
  • Creator Worship: For Yu Suzuki, the creator of the series who was already seen as the innovative pioneer behind several of Sega's biggest arcade hits. Many fans even urged him to consider buying the Shenmue franchise from Sega before the kickstarter for the third game was announced.
  • Cult Classic: Even to this day there is a large community engaging in requests like asking for the 3rd sequel of the series, asking for the closure of the story arc, asking for the transfer of the series license from Sega to Yu Suzuki, and asking to put Ryo Hazuki back as a playable character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed like in the predecessor.
    • As of June 2015, their wish has been granted. Yu Suzuki's Shenmue III Kickstarter met its $2,000,000 goal in less than a day, and broke the record for becoming the highest-funded video game on the site.
  • Drinking Game: Take a shot every time Ryo says "I see"... On second thought, don't; you're too assured to get alcohol poisoning if you do.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With the Yakuza series, which shares many gameplay elements and was much more successful for Sega, especially in Japan, which is upsetting for those who believe Shenmue deserved it more. The two are often compared to each other, leading to arguments on which series is better. Of course, there are fans who love both series and appreciate them for different reasons.
    • With Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Koji Igarashi's Castlevania Spiritual Successor, which broke the record for the highest funded game on Kickstarter. In the closing hours of the Shenmue III campaign when the game was nearing $5 million, many fans made it clear they were going after the record set by Bloodstained. When they succeeded, several fans and critics expressed bitterness and some have even gone out of their way to undermine Shenmue's success altogether. Having said that, there's many of those from both fandoms who wonder why this is even the case since we have two fantastic games to look forward to, both of which were successfully funded, broke records, and are at the helm of two highly respected game developers.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Although the game was a mild success in Japan, a significant portion of the Shenmue fanbase hails from Europe and North America, and credit the series for exposing them to Japanese and Chinese cultures in depth, bringing them to life in a way no other game at the time had. Considering the sequel's setting in China and the level of attention that went into its portrayal, the series also has fans in China.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the first game, Tom, the vendor at the hot dog stand, with his appearance, name, voice, and mannerisms, is very similar to Tommy Wiseau.
  • Hype Backlash: While hailed as a masterpiece that pushed the gaming medium, Shenmue was also highly criticized by many who didn't expect the most expensive game of its time to be a slower paced reality simulator that encouraged players to take their time and explore its virtual world while having several restrictions placed on them (which wasn't helped when Grand Theft Auto III was released soon afterward and changed the perception of the Wide Open Sandbox genre). There's even a small portion of gamers who blame the game's commercial failure for Sega's departure from the console market, and felt the company would be better off today had Shenmue not been released.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Ryo. More so in the second game thanks to the introduction of a much larger female cast, many fans have set him up with almost all of them. While some claim Nozomi is Ryo's true girl, some would prefer him to be paired with the hot and feisty Joy, think that Izumi is a better match for him, or that Shenhua really is the girl of his dreams. Some also see Fangmei as too cute to refuse, and even think he and Xiuying would make a great couple. Naturally, there are those who would pair Ryo with Guizhang or Ren. On the more comical side, some have partnered him with his forklift, sailors, and even Lan Di and the great Chai.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Sailors. So much that it became an Ascended Meme in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (Mission 22, a timed gate mission as Ryo in the Super Monkey Ball Treetops track, outright tells you that you'll find no sailors, but rather lots of monkeys.note )
    • Ryo's iconic forklift. Speaking of All-Stars Racing, some Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans were reminded of Fugitive Alien when Ryo was announced and saw him trying to kill people with a forkliftnote .
    • "Anata no KONBENI TOMATO MA-TO!" (literally, "Your convenient Tomato Mart"). This often mondegreened line is what the singers are actually saying in the song that plays whenever you visit the Tomato Convenience Store.
    • "This is so sad. Alexa, play Ryo's Notebook." note .
  • Moe: Nozomi, so much. Her soft, delicate nature, as well as being kind, caring, supportive and considerate bring out a lot of players' protective instincts, to the point where so many of them have turned on Ryo for not picking up on her feelings or returning them. Unfortunately, Ryo ends up choosing his quest for revenge on Lan Di over Nozomi when many fans would do the exact opposite.
  • Narm Charm: The dubbing. Oh my God. One famous example is the hilarious delivery of "FATHER!" in the first game's beginning. And there's something lovable about Tom and Goro.
  • Older Than They Think: Aside from Shenmue popularizing Quick Time Events, which dates all the way back to Dragon's Lair as indicated on the main page, the game is also often credited for being the first console RPG game to have NPCs that are all fully voiced, when many games prior relied on dialogue through text boxes. Sega had actually achieved this before on the Saturn with Panzer Dragoon Saga.
  • Polished Port: While not perfect, the 2018 Compilation Re-release implements the save system that was introduced in the sequel, adjusts the controls so that both analog sticks can be used to move and look around, and the information screen has been completely overhauled so you can look at all of the items, toys and moves you've unlocked, and in the case of the latter two, the ones you haven't. Both the Japanese and English dubs are available, and along with the various graphical settings, these can be switched on the fly without having to quit the game. And for the first time for American audiences, you can use your save for the first game to use in the second.
  • Porting Disaster: On the other hand, the HD port was released with numerous bugs, glitches, graphical and sound issues. Sega and d3t claimed this was due to a short development frame for three different platforms and that the game's original source code was unavailable to use. They encouraged fans to send feedback and report any bugs they find, and have since updated the game with numerous patches that have alleviated many (but not all) of these issues.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The Quick Time Events. Shenmue adopted the feature with the intent of allowing players to engage in cinematic action scenes with simple inputs, but the mechanic was widely detested at the time of the game's release and hasn't been embraced since. As the Trope Codifier, many of those critical of the same mechanic appearing in several other titles since then often blame Shenmue for popularizing the concept. Shenmue II only took the concept further with the addition of the X and Y buttons and the Command QTE, which required an entire input sequence in a short period of time, which the game seems to love tacking onto the end of long and difficult fight sequences (like the final boss).
    • The forklift races at the start of each workday are unnecessarily difficult to win, take a long time to complete, and any attempt to take a shortcut guarantees you fifth place. Even for players who do enjoy them, you have to finish the race once in each position to get the full collection of prizes.
    • Although it's not without its fans, driving the forklift as a part time job. While the intent was likely to add to the realism to make you feel like you really were in another person's reality, it was also seen as a repetitive drag by those who just wanted to continue on with the story. Having very little free time to do anything with the money you earn from the job doesn't help matters much, either.
  • Shallow Parody: Compare the number of smartass jokes "about that day" and "looking for sailors," to the percentage of the game that revolves around either of those things.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Perhaps the single greatest example in modern gaming. On release, Shenmue was nothing more than utterly groundbreaking, being one of the greatest looking and most detailed games ever made. Just about everything it does as a major selling point has, unfortunately, been done better by someone else- the groundbreaking graphical quality and motion capture elements that gave the game an incredible look are now the norm in video games, while the open world elements and social interactions with different characters are now to be expected in open world games. In addition, Shenmue has a number of crucial flaws that other open world games have solved. A lack of a minimap or any kind of objective markers makes exploration a chore, and the stilted voice acting and deathly slow pacing have been sidelined by more modern games. The result is that despite it being praised as one of the best games ever made, it's hard to replay the original and understand why, unless you realize that it invented an entire genre of video games. Shenmue II has actually held up much better than the original, mostly due to the numerous refinements it makes in it's gameplay causing it to play much closer to modern day standards for games.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: "I am Ryo Hazuki. I will avenge my father's death... Right after I play with this kitten! And drink this soda! And play with these toys!"
  • Signature Scene:
    • The first game's introduction scene is considered one of the most memorable in gaming history, serving as a demonstration for many things. First, the graphics were considered incredibly cutting-edge for their time and demonstrated what the Dreamcast was capable of, showcasing details such as individual fingers, moving eyes and motion capture. Second, the orchestral score and choreography gave the scene a unique cinematic feel, something that had yet to be common in gaming. Not only did this provide an insight of Suzuki's vision of a martial arts epic, but it also created an incredible Establishing Character Moment of the game's cold and mysterious villain, Lan Di, and this scene has cemented him as one of the most powerful and feared villains in gaming.
    • The scene where Ryo visits Naoyuki and asks for his motorcycle is fondly remembered as a heartwarming moment, as Naoyuki doesn't question the situation and doesn't hesitate to lend his old friend his bike. It helps that the scene shows a less stoic side of Ryo, the song that plays accompanies the scene well, and builds the hype as Ryo races to the harbor on a motorcycle to rescue Nozomi and kick some of the Mad Angel's ass.
    • Especially for those who ship Ryo and Nozomi, the scene where they ride back to Dobuita on Naoyuki's motorcycle together after Ryo rescues her from the Mad Angels. The song "Wish..." plays, which perfectly describes Nozomi's love for Ryo, but knowing his quest has consumed him.
    • The epic 70-man battle in the first game's climax is also still fondly remembered to this day. With Gui Zhang on your side, every single Mad Angel is going down!
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: Most of Act 1 revolves around hunting for information on the man who killed Ryo's father, with a few brief fights and QTEs interspersed to keep things interesting (some of which you have to look for). The action increases a bit in Act 2, but the final act where Ryo gets a job has at least one good brawl per workday, culminating in two final days filled with asskicking before Ryo sets sail for Hong Kong.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The English dub. Fans of Metal Wolf Chaos or Baten Kaitos will recognize it as pooling from the same small set of native English speaking VAs in Japan.
  • That One Boss:
    • Pedro Warren, The Brute of the Mad Angels and the final enemy in the first game's 70-man fight. Fighting him one-on-one is bad enough, and worse when he's fighting alongside other gang members in the beginning, which can easily overwhelm you. His appearance also makes Gui Zhang suddenly disappear from the fight, and if you lose, you have to do the whole thing all over again.
    • There's also Chai at the arcade. If you're good at dodging and parrying, he's not impossible, but he will cut you down pretty quick if your only strategy is Attack! Attack! Attack!, and fighting him in the relatively small room can be really frustrating because he spams that hard-to-dodge double jump kick like crazy. Mitigated by the fact that he's supposed to be a Hopeless Boss Fight; while you can beat him, the game expects you'll lose and continues on normally when you do.
  • That One Level: The sneaking section in the harbor where Ryo has to locate Old Warehouse #8 without alerting the guards. Thankfully, should the player repeatedly fail this section, the homeless man will provide them with a layout of the area along with the guards' patrol routes. But for those unaccustomed to stealth-based gameplay, along with the fact that Ryo carries a flashlight he can inadvertently shine on the guards, some considered this the most difficult section of the game.
  • True Art: The first Shenmue won the Excellence Prize for Interactive Art at the 2000 Japan Media Arts Festival. Very few people know this, so not many people realize how important this game is. To put it on perspective, that same year Vagabond won the prize for the best manga in that festival!


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