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Showing posts with label Shenmue 3. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shenmue 3. Show all posts

Shenmusings of Ryobots, Niaowu, and Shenmue III's Uncertain Legacy

Ryo Hazuki is an android, right? I’ve suspected it for a while but after finishing Shenmue III recently, I'm going all in on the Ryobot theory. It explains too much not to be canon.

Ryo has always been a bizarrely stilted and stoic character, of course. That much isn’t news. Yet after accompanying him for every waking minute across three games – games which depict the painstaking minutiae of everything from longshore crate logistics to the mid-‘80s weather record of the Kanagawa Prefecture – Ryo still has not pooped.

In fairness, few protagonists in fiction are forthcoming about their physiological functions. But, unlike Ryo, they at least behave in ways that can be reasonably interpreted as human-like. Meanwhile, Ryo acts less like a person and more like an emotionally unavailable animatronic, programmed in the languages of kung fu and non sequiturs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to knock him. The technology behind Ryobot was very impressive for 1987.

Oh, and did I mention the shared consciousness between Ryo and his friend, Shenhua? She is also an android, probably, in addition to being the unwitting mascot of a junk food brand for some reason.

OK. The point of this write up is not to espouse the incontrovertible theory that Ryo is a semi-sentient robot, even if it is also that. Back when it came out in November 2019, I had put about a dozen or so hours into Shenmue III before dropping off of it. After leaving him in stasis at Hotel Niaowu for a full calendar year, I recently (and finally!) caught up on Ryo’s journey to date. I also realized we hadn’t yet discussed the game in-depth on the Junkyard since its release. With all that, I’m really here to work out my thoughts on Shenmue III in hopes of making some sense of its place in the series’ legacy. But first let’s take a step back, and into the shoes it hoped to fill…

As for many fans, the first two Shenmue games were formative for my interest in gaming. For a medium where kinetic action and instant gratification shaped the bedrock of most gaming experiences, it was oddly refreshing – if jarring – to play something with such love for mundanity and contempt for players’ impatience. Ironically, it was my own impatience that led me to buy the Japanese version of the original Shenmue, several months before its western release. I couldn't say why; I didn't even speak Japanese. Hell, I was barely pulling a passing grade in English class.

Yet, even then, my 14-year-old mind was blown by Shenmue’s unabashed indulgence in the ordinary. I was taken aback by its audacity to let me knock on neighbors’ doors, chug orange Fanta*, and stalk an entire community of busy folks for no other reason than because I could. When the events of Shenmue II set Ryo loose to explore Hong Kong, seeing it all scale to a bustling, urban setting was revelatory all on its own. Shenmue I and II’s detailed and lively locales immersed me in their astonishing sense of place and community. They felt like genuinely bustling locations that could believably exist without me. They also challenged any assumptions that video games always had to be, well, game-like. Through its novel approach to worldbuilding and interactivity, Shenmue invited me to inhabit its worlds – not only as a player – but as a resident and visitor.



* Vending machines in the Japanese version of Shenmue were stocked with licensed Coca-Cola products rather than our beloved “Jet Cola” and “Frunda” off-brands (also, was Bell Wood a person, or...?)

Yu Suzuki and AM2’s magnum opuses offered a remarkably ambitious and unorthodox vision for what video games could be and how players could engage with their spaces. In bankrolling their vision, Sega rebuked all conventional wisdom that big budget games ought to be marketable and fiscally viable. Shenmue I and II were neither – or at least not either enough – and Sega paid a steep price. Beyond failing to recoup its massive development and marketing costs; beyond its eventual retreat from the hardware market; Sega presented a perennial Exhibit A for the downsides of risks to an increasingly risk-adverse games industry.

After that, it seemed unfathomable that we would ever return to Shenmue’s amazingly ambitious, immersive, and bustling world. Nearly two decades later, we still haven’t.

Shenmue III PC Pre-Orders Will Open On 15th December

It's barely Dreamcast-related, but I spotted this while perusing some 'proper' gaming sites - namely Videogamer and Gamatsu: pre-orders for the PC version of Shenmue III will open on 15th December...which is two days away at the time of writing. We've been closely following the Shenmue III development journey, and take great delight in reporting anything and everything we can on the game's development. Yu Suzuki has a different filling on his sandwiches today? We're there. Somebody gets coffee granules in the sugar pot at Ys Net HQ? On it. Someone tramples mud in through the main entrance and doesn't even attempt to clean it up? We got this. Mainly by stealing content from other sites...but hey - at least we admit it when we do. Here's some other stuff some bloke said about some game or something (also copy and pasted from Gamatsu):

Development is entering the final stage headed towards full-scale production. Early in the new year, I think we’ll be able to show you things such as new videos.

We will continue progressing with development so that our backers and those who experience the world of Shenmue for the first time can do so with pleasure.

Also, at noon on December 15, we will start pre-order sales for the PC version of Shenmue III, which received a lot of requests.

Those interested in Shenmue III, please check the official website.
-Yu Suzuki

So yeah. Keep an eye on the Shenmue III official website. And don't get coffee in Yu Suzuki's sugar or there'll be trouble, right? Good.

Shenmue III 'Slacker Backer' Opens

As you're (probably) no doubt aware, Shenmue III became the most successful Kickstarter project in the history of the site when it launched a few months ago. Yu Suzuki's third instalment of the much-loved series received over $6m from almost 70,000 backers, but many have questioned if this is enough to fund such an ambitious plan to bring closure to Ryo Hazuki's quest to lay the smackdown on that bastard Lan Di. Regardless, Ys Net have re-opened the Kickstarter with the oddly titled 'Slacker Backer' funding period that will last for three months up until the end of December 2015. As stated in the update on the Shenmue III Kickstarter page, this will allow for extra funding to go towards stretch goals and the like:

The Slacker Backer period will continue through December 31st. While the full game will be completed as promised with the use of the funding collected on Kickstarter, any additional funding collected here will go towards reaching the Stretch Goals to make the game even bigger and deeper.The three month window was set to allow a long enough time to for everyone who wants to support Shenmue III to do so, but short enough to keep the release date on track.
 - Shenmue III Kickstarter
If you were late to the party and want to get in on the Shenmue III action, head over there now and have a look at the various stretch goals and ways to donate. Lan Di is due one hell of an ass kicking and together we can all help Ryo deliver the final boot to his smug face.

DreamPod Episode 14 With Adam Koralik & Corey Marshall


iTunes
Stitcher
Buzzsprout
UK Podcast Directory

Be sure to check out Adam's YouTube channel and website, and keep up to speed with the latest Shenmue 3 developments. You can also check out the Yu Suzuki interview mentioned by clicking here. Finally, if you like what you hear please consider giving us an iTunes review. Thanks!

Pictures Speak A Thousand Words

Yes, we've already posted this on Facebook and Twitter but it seems a shame not to post it here too. Created with VMU tool, some people have misconstrued this to mean that we think the recently-announced Shenmue 3 should come to Dreamcast. Not so - what this means is that if the Dreamcast had been the success it so rightly deserved to be, Yu Suzuki would probably have finished the Shenmue trilogy on the Dreamcast as originally intended. Feel free to share, re-blog, whatever. It's a great image, even if we say so ourselves.

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Announced At E3 2015

In light of the last two posts here, we realise we're running the risk of this place becoming The Shenmue Junkyard...but news of this magnitude cannot be ignored. After years - 14 years in fact - the third and final chapter of Ryo Hazuki's quest to find (and possibly kick the face and ass of) Lan Di is finally going to become a reality. It seems all the years of 'save Shenmue' tweets and speculation have actually paid off as Yu Suzuki took to Sony's E3 2015 conference to reveal a Shenmue 3 Kickstarter project with a goal of £2 million. At the time of writing, Kickstarter has been experiencing issues due to the number of people trying to access the Shenmue 3 page, so we're pretty confident the project will reach it's target in a matter of hours let alone days.
Still scanning for sailors.
As with all Kickstarter projects, there are several different levels of pledge, ranging from $5 all the way up to $10,000 - one of which will furnish the backer with the genuine Ryo Hazuki leather jacket worn during the original Dreamcast press campaign, while the other will offer the backer the opportunity to have a private dinner with the development team. Both of these top tier pledges have already been snapped up, however.

The video featured on the Kickstarter page is clearly a work in progress and features a slightly re-designed Ryo, but his nonchalant voice acting remains intact as does the familiar musical score, so it'll be interesting to see how faithful to the previous games the final product turns out when it hits in late 2017.

Hopefully, Suzuki will limit (or completely leave out) the tedious crap from Shenmue 2 (like moving boxes around a warehouse for minimum wage) and deliver a fitting finale for the series. Also, we'd just like to confirm that the Junkyard has backed the project, so if it doesn't reach it's target, don't blame us (it will).
We know.
Want to be a part of the history of Shenmue? Check out the Kickstarter here.

Update: Shenmue 3 has been successfully funded.