Round Table: What we want to see in Shenmue HD

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What better way to close up Shenmue Week than having a Round Table about what we want in Shenmue HD. We have touched on what we wanted before on The Weekly Five, but I think its time for all of us to write about what we want in a Shenmue HD remaster, if there ever was one.

Like always, if you guys want to tell us what you would want, you can via the comments.

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“… HD Shenmue could make it possible to access the Passport at any point while playing.”

While Shenmue on the Dreamcast was an incredible game, the move to HD – something that has long been rumored to be in the works at SEGA – could make the game even better. For starters, I’d hope a remastered Shenmue would include both Japanese and English language options. While I have a nostalgic fondness for the English voice acting in the original game, when I ended up importing the European version of Shenmue II I realized just how much better the game is with the original Japanese actors. For one thing, much of the cheese factor is gone. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand Japanese, so any bad acting would go over my head, but I think the main reason is because I’m reading the dialogue.

RoundTableShenmue2I’d also like to see the Shenmue Passport integrated somehow, particularly Shenmue World. This hub of useful and useless information was a blast back in the day. Area maps were incredibly helpful, network rankings for the various mini-games gave even more incentive to waste time in the game, and Everyone’s Space was a great way to delve deeper into the game’s world with weather forecasts and stats on Megumi’s cat. One of the coolest features was the online trading feature which featured unique collectables of animals found in the game. While Shenmue Passport was on its own disc, an HD Shenmue could make it possible to access the Passport at any point while playing. This would truly make the experience of playing the game even better. Imagine playing the QTE arcade game, then being able to check rankings on the fly, and then check to see if it will be raining tomorrow, and then jump right back into the game.

Another enhancement that many would appreciate is the ability to carry over your Shenmue save file over into Shenmue II. While this was a feature on the Dreamcast, US fans were left out on carrying their save over unless they were savvy enough to hack the US save file. (Blue Swirl features an instructional for those with the free VMU Tool application).

Shenmue is a game that deserves more attention, and an HD remastering for modern consoles is a must on SEGA’s part.

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The Shenmue series is one dying for the remaster treatment, though there’s a checklist of things that I feel should be added into the mix, aside from the updated visuals of course.

“Reducing the load times would be nice, and doing something about that weird Stealth mission on Disc 2 would also greatly help the game.”

I think, first of all, that the two games should be combined into one release. Many remasters of older games these days typically combine the sequel, if there is one, as doing this not only greatly increases the value of the product, but in Shenmue‘s case, it would eliminate the fear that the first one wouldn’t sell well enough to get the second one remastered. It would also allow SEGA to accompany the digital release with a retail disc; even if it’s just a fancy “Collector’s Edition,” as these have proven in the past to be quite profitable.

I’ll focus on the first game, though, as that’s the subject of this Round Table. While I wouldn’t expect them to completely re-vamp Shenmue, I would say that improving the conversation options to more resemble the ones in Shenmue II would be a necessary change, at least at some points in the game. How much of this is actually possible without them having to go back in and re-record the dialogue (which they wouldn’t do) is the question, but it’s an aspect of the original Shenmue that would likely frustrate gamers today.

Incorporating Shenmue II‘s “wait” feature to skip ahead time probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Though I’ve always felt that the feature takes away a bit of the immersion factor, it was a feature that proved necessary back then and of course, one that would therefore be even more necessary today.

RoundTableShenmue4The option for Japanese audio would be nice as well, and though the acting in the Japanese version wasn’t exactly Shakespeare either, I think people should have the choice to play it with Japanese or English audio. Reducing the load times would be nice, and doing something about that weird Stealth mission on Disc 2 would also greatly help the game.

That’s probably all that I’d really expect/hope for. Shenmue’s a game that deserves to be played by as many people as possible. I’m sure there are plenty of gamers out there who have heard of the series since its “conclusion” who have been curious about trying it but who haven’t owned the hardware needed to play it, and a remaster would be a great way to get them playing.

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Honestly, if money were no object, Shenmue HD would completely remake the first two games from the ground up with modern game play and production value sensibilities in mind. Given how unlikely it is becoming that we’ll even get basic HD re-releases, I’ll reign in my vision to something somewhat more practical.

An HD release of Shenmue needs to contain both Shenmue and Shenmue 2. These games were always meant to be interconnected, so it would be nice if we could just play through the whole thing as one great, big adventure. Having content from Shemue Passport and the “What’s Shenmue” demo disc would act as nice bonus content. Finally, an HD Shenmue re-release should contain the long lost middle chapter from Shenmue 2’s opening boat segment.

RoundTableShenmue7In terms of game play, I must admit that I find Shenmue to be kind of outdated these days. The controls in the original are especially clunky. I’ll never for the life of me fathom why AM2 decided to relegate control in an advanced 3D game to Dreamcast’s mediocre d-pad, but one big change they need to make in Shenmue HD is the addition of analog control to the first chapter. At the very least, they need to give Shenmue 1 Shenmue 2’s control scheme.

I’ll admit that even my toned down wish list is ambitious, but given that there’s always the risk of SEGA getting cold feet between Shenmue and Shenmue 2, I’d much prefer they just give us both games at once. Not to mention that given Shenmue hasn’t aged particularly well, it would be best for SEGA to give the HD re-release as much content as possible.

RoundTableShigsShenmueHDRoundTableShenmue6I believe Shenmue 1 and 2 are products of their time and don’t hold up as good either in gameplay or graphics. Unless it got a complete, graphical overhall, it would be hard pressed to attract a new fan following. I mean, who wants to move around pallets or wait for people to play Lucky Strike?

RoundTableShenmue9A directors cut could do wonders. Plus, they could include both 1 and 2 in one game that way. Push the best elements while hiding the worst aspects. Hopefully an HD remake would get rid of graphical glitches like people or buildings that simply pop-up out of nowhere. Also, I’d add more arcade games to the mix to get people exploring more. Hang-On and Space Harrier are great, but how about Zaxxon and Congo Bongo?

Finally, a behind the scenes interview with Yu Suzuki and what he had planned for the series and what it’s finale would have been. Also, give us a look into the Saturn version and how far they got with it.

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“Let’s start off with the expected: widescreen, high definition graphics, remastered cutscenes, dual language support , and Shenmue Passport online support.”

I have to highly disagree with Nuckles87 and Shigs when they say that Shenmue doesn’t hold up in terms of gameplay. The graphics? I think they are a mixed bag, but that is something you expect from a game that is on a 15 year old console. But I still think Shenmue featured some of the best player models in any game on Dreamcast or even any other console in that generation. Sadly the backgrounds like buildings, trees and other objects where really bad at times and if there is ever a Shenmue HD, they will need to have a better consistency of textures.

I think Shenmue‘s gameplay definitely holds up, outside of a few hiccups like the Dreamcast not having dual-anlogue on the controller or some of the fork driving physics, it felt great. The game used Virtua Fighter 3‘s fighting engine and it still holds up well when playing, the walking around is a bit stiff but all that comes with games from this era and are still issue in game’s today.  Personally I think there are flaws in the game’s graphics and gameplay that they can touch up for a re-release. But let’s talk about what I actually want in the remastered version.

Let’s start off with the expected: widescreen, high definition graphics, remastered cutscenes, dual language support , and Shenmue Passport online support. I think everyone that reads this will nod their head and say that this would be enough for them to throw their money at SEGA. But I think Shenmue HD has been so long in coming, that I would have to expect a little more. Let’s see…

sjNQLOne of the things mentioned before was the cut content that ties Shenmue I to Shenmue II, the boat ride.  The second chapter of the game was suppose to be titled ‘The Boat’. According to Yu Suzuki they finished the design of the boat and even had some spectacular fighting scenes planned. They even said they had the motion capture for most of the scenes, but had to be cut due to limited disc space on the Dreamcast’s GD-Rom. I want this in the Shenmue HD release, since I heard about the cut content, I have always wanted to play it. If SEGA doesn’t restore it for the re-release, it will be on the cutting room floor forever.

Outside of this, all I want is the cut content from the Japanese release. I know it sounds silly but I want Shenmue’s friend smoking in the alternative unlockable cutscene and I want the name brand Coca-Cola sodas to be brought. Outside of this I would love Yu Suzuki to do a series of documentary videos on how their remastering the new game. When I think of Shenmue, I think of Yu Suzuki, it was his baby and I would love to see him return to the project.

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7 responses to “Round Table: What we want to see in Shenmue HD

  1. Fernandeath says:

    Maybe it’s better to leave this game without an HD remake..

  2. cube_b3 says:

    I have no idea where you read Shenmue Chapter 2 was completed. I in fact read an interview conducted by Adam Doree (Sega Web) that stated that Chapter 2 was never intended to be in a game.

  3. Nuckles87 says:

    http://www.shenmuedojo.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12943

    Translation of a Yu Suzuki interview from 2001. Had to be cut due to space. And no one said anything about the boat segment being completed. Chances are this part of the game would need to be rebuilt from scratch. But still…I want it.

  4. I noticed someone said the game has not aged well and the graphics and the controls would only be criticized by today’s modern gamer’s.

    Pretty much says it all that some your writers do not have share the passion and the art that is Shenmue…

    what this article doesn’t mention which I have documented is that Shenmue has won gaming polls in 2013/2014 and featured in many gaming magazine because of this a game that is 15 years old which has generated massive fan base which fans are the most dedicated… which is absent in the article, do not get me wrong I enjoyed the read and it said some valid things I would like to see in Shenmue HD Port such as missing chapter 2.

    The controls are not much of an issue being honest having tested the Shenmue on NullDC with a 360 controller the Dreamcast control scheme seems fine.

    Plus being a hard-core and veteran fan of Shenmue I would probably not settle for just Shenmue HD. I want go for glory and see the series rapped up in 3rd game or have Yu Suzuki fully in-visioned Shenmue Saga as he saw it in his scope.

    Over all awesome article really enjoyed the read which has caused small debate on Shenmue500K.

  5. James Reiner says:

    I like the article!
    However I do have a bit of constructive criticism for you.
    Lucky “Hit” not Lucky Strike. Lucky Strike is a brand of cigarettes lol.
    I do also see some contextual errors.

    But besides all of that, this article is fantastic!

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to give Shenmue some glory!

    /james

    • james ballantyne says:

      To be honest we are all lucky to even get Shenmue 1 and 2 on the next gen consoles never mind a wish list. How about both of these amazing games just a little bit freshened up that will do me big time this reply is to everyone in sorry I picked your comment James. Thank you

  6. Pete J says:

    Oculus Rift (or other 1st person VR support) with the ability to move your head around to fully take in all the beautiful scenery and objects. I played Shenmue back in 2001 on my dreamcast and fell in love with it. The modeling was so good at the time I feel like some games don’t even model things as good now. The thing that stuck out so much at the time for me and allot of people was just the exploration of looking around and seeing all these cute little objects and products and posters. I feel like what they are going to do with VR is just cram pre-existing shooters onto it and call it a day… but what VR really NEEDS is games where you just look around and take in the amazing visuals of the world you are in (like how amazing Myst felt before we got spoiled by real 3d). Shenmue would be an absolutely perfect candidate for a virtual experience, it has such life to it even for it’s age. I truly believe that a VR shenmue would not only bring a bigger audience to the series but actually insure the proper future of VR and set an example of how an amazing VR experience should be.

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