I am aware my blog may be seem to be all about Shenmue at the moment, however, I don’t get too much time to game, or to write, so until I have platinum’d both rereleased games, that’s all you’re getting… Anyways… Enough apologising. You’re here to read some thoughts.
Having confessed my undying love for Shenmue (the first game) over and over again since 1999, it pains me to say I have never actually finished the sequel. It’s original release on Dreamcast was too late in the day (I had moved on to another platform by 2001) and since purchasing a ‘retro’ copy of the DC release, I have never had the time to commit to it after the first hour or so. However, these PS4 rereleases have given me the perfect opportunity to do so – and aim for a shiny platinum at the same time.
Ryo’s journey starts almost instantly after the first finishes, as the ferry from Japan to Hong Kong docks up. From the off, the game feels different. I feel completely lost – which I suppose is exactly as SEGA had planned. There are tonnes of people wandering about, more than were ever on-screen before and I have no idea where I’m heading. After the general comfort of living in Dobuita, I am not sure I like it. Then like a baptism of fire, I’m introduced to the locals, some want money, some want me to sleep in a shed, multiple strangers want an arm-wrestle and one red-haired motor-biking chic in a bikini top almost kills me… It almost feels too much. It also doesn’t help that the controls all of a sudden change either… Thanks SEGA XOXO…
Then, to top it all off my backpack gets stolen. Yeah thanks, what an awful place…
But. Yesterday Ryo & I departed Hong Kong to continue our hunt for revenge in the walled city Kowloon. Looking back, and after the initial overwhelming disappointment of Shenmue II’s first setting, I think I can safely say it is indeed a truly worthy successor thus far. Hong Kong turned out to be just as full of charm, character and secrets as the first game. Time spent lugging books, carrying crates with man-mountain Delin, or trudging the long streets of the bustling city meant I grew to love it. I would advise anyone visiting for the first time to buy maps (they really help), learn where the best gambling spots are ($500 a time thanks) and to enjoy your time taking in the sights of this huge place, don’t forget the arcade! It is a true step up and a joy to explore.
I did miss the personal touch from the first game, where I felt like I knew many of the locals and where to find them when I needed their help, but here, I really felt like a tourist. Luckily there were friends to be made. The aforementioned biker-girl Joy (I’m still not sold she’s 100% ‘good’), 4 martial arts masters who helped me find my Wude and their master, Tao, who is part Chun-Li part Kasumi and has the longest legs in the East. I am sure Ryo has a thing for her, he always does as she asks, for a change. And Ren, a nasty-come-nice gang leader who ends up being my best hope of finding Lan Di.
There are a few things I really miss though. I miss the little bit of guitar music as day turns to dusk (that always makes my spine shiver). I miss seeing Nozomi at the flower shop every day (I don’t think Ryo does). I miss Tom’s reggae music and I miss the fact that now I have experienced this place, I can never have a first time again… On to Kowloon!