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[Spoilers+Rant] 25 detailed reasons why I don't agree with players & critics about Shenmue III being "faithful" to the previous games.
INTRODUCTION:Shenmue III is almost two months old now. I really liked Shenmue I and II, but in discussions I try to be as objective as possible with the strengths and faults of the gameplay. With Shenmue III it's a shame how things are turning out with fan reception and sales. Me personally, I'm not too hung up on the game doing poorly in most player & critic reviews and it not selling well. The first two games had the same problems. I also have no problem with the game being $59.99 when it should be more like $30. I have only some problems with the game being far from a "quality product" despite raising $7.17million with additional funding & support by Sony, Shibuya, Deep Silver, Epic, and reportedly Sega.
But what I REALLY have a problem with are "fans" and "game critics" defending this game's shortcomings by repeatedly saying things like this: "Shenmue III is the flawed but faithful Shenmue game that the fans have wanted for 18 years."
Absolute bullshit on it being "faithful". There's no way in hell THIS was the game that the fans wanted even if they say it was. Now if all the fans wanted was a game with the words "Shenmue III" printed across the box then I guess they got what they asked for, but this horseshit like "Shenmue 3 is faithful to its Dreamcast roots in both its gameplay and mechanics"...are they nuts? We can't be playing the same games. It's either the Shenmue fanbase has gone batshit or it's some new epidemic of fandom denial. This gets under my skin because Shenmue III is a game that I think needs an honest quality check (especially from the players) if Shenmue IV has ANY chance of being a better game (assuming it will even exist after this).
Shenmue historically isn't very popular, has not sold well, is the butt of many (bad) jokes, and it is embraced by a niche, dedicated, driven community. This matches Shenmue III's current position, but my argument is that even a "traditional" Shenmue game doesn't play half as poorly as Shenmue III did, have as many technical quirks, or offers so little in combat, story, memorable events or characters.
QUOTES FROM "GAME CRITICS" BEGGING FOR CLICKS:
- "A faithful sequel. Fans will enjoy."
- "Shenmue III is as faithful a sequel as could be made."
- "A faithful follow-up to an all-time classic; it feels as if this was made soon after Shenmue 2's release back in 2001 then placed in a vault."
- "They wanted to continue Ryo’s story and experience it in a way that was faithful to the original games. From that standpoint, they got exactly what they paid for. Shenmue III is as faithful a sequel as could be made."
- "Faithful to a fault, Shenmue 3 feels like a time capsule of a game, flooding me with nostalgia while also reminding me just how far games have come since the original two Shenmue games"
- "in staying so faithful to that once groundbreaking formula, it principally serves as a reminder of just how far games have come since [then]."
- "Exactly what I expected it to be, based on the original two games in the series."
- "Shenmue III Is a Pure Throwback, for Better or Worse."
QUOTES FROM SUSPECT "FANS":
- "Shenmue 3 is brilliant at being Shenmue."
- "the game was fun, and it played looked and felt like a Shenmue game."
- "I did enjoy it in the sense that it was more of what ive wanted for 18 freaking years"
- "Sure it is rough graphically and clunky in parts but it plays just like a shenmue game."
- "Not sure how you could enjoy the first two and not this one considering they all share the same general design."
- "I'm a backer, and personally speaking, it's pretty much what I expected it to be"
- "Shenmue III is exactly what it was meant to be. People who complain that it doesn't innovate didn't follow the kickstarter and didn't read the interviews, it was Suzuki's promise at that time to keep Shenmue as it was, and that the theme of the game was going to be nostalgia (in this case, for Shenmue itself)."
- "The game wasn't made for you."
- "If anything, the only thing that has ruined the romantic memory is your own expectations."
- "This is about completing a personal vision and frankly, f\** all the idiot millennials who don't get it. This is not for you.* You don't get it and you never will."
THE 25 REASONS WHY SHENMUE III WAS NOT "FAITHFUL".....Well, here we go. I'll try to list these in the order they occur while playing the game.
UNFAITHFULNESS #1: Shenhua's new banana outfit.Right off the bat the devs say "Let's change the outfit Shenhua has worn since the Shenmue 1 opening movie. We won't even have her transition to it, just have her magically have it on while still in the cave". I shouldn't have to say too much about it because everyone seemed to be on the same page about this. It was a stupid move and a stupid look. Her dumb yellow hat and genie pants make her look the china doll of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Shenmue III couldn't even be "faithful" enough to maintain the image we've had of Shenhua for two decades.
UNFAITHFULNESS #2: The Stone Pit (a.k.a. "The Cave Scene"), the retcon "we always wanted" according to these fans.Oh boy, stop me if you've heard this one already. Here are some quick visuals of the original and the Shenmue III version. For 18 years we mulled over that goddamn flying sword, Shenhua's abilities and the red light. Shenmue III "pays off" by just omitting the involvement of the Sword of Seven Stars entirely (since the device that Ryo inserts the Phoenix Mirror into is ALREADY raised when they arrive at the pit) and the red light is now a regular-ass light. So how faithful is this so far? It's gotta make you wonder if they'll ever acknowledge this scene too because we sure as hell didn't hear much about it in Shenmue III. Also if you watch this scene in the Shenmue III digest video they cut from it RIGHT BEFORE the seven lights appear in the smoke. It's all pretty damn criminal. And to top it all off: Later on we even discover that Shenhua's sword now looks like The Shiv of Seven Stars since it's been reduced to looking like a celestial butter knife.
More stupid quotes from the people telling you how "faithful" the game was:
- "I'm glad they toned down the magic. Shenmue 1 and 2 was a hard-hitting emotional action drama. To change the tone like that at the end of 2 was weird."
- "To be honest, that is one thing I am totally fine with them retconning if that is the case, Shenmue isn’t Dragonball or Street Fighter"
- "I was a bit annoyed at the magic from the end of shenmue 2. The whole game felt like a real world till the end of Shenmue 2. I wouldn't mind people believing in magic, like old chinese myth, but i don't like that there is actual magic in game"
- "Tbh I don't think the story in Shenmue was ever that good. I'm not sure why people pretend it had any real story. Yes I love the grand scale of the adventure and the different locations are cool, the presentation is what's great, not the story and its inconsistencies."
"We had two ultra realistic slice of life games, it was time for the story to start going somewhere. It was revealed very smartly at the end of Shenmue 2, and I never thought that Shenhua would start casting spells or anything in Shenmue 3. Just the ki and "power from everything" Shenhua referenced by being so in tune with the earth was a really great theme they introduced and made me really want to find out what happened next. Well we didn't find out shit."
^Couldn't have put it better myself. I can understand if players had a major concern that the magical elements could hijack the entire setting if they ever became amped up to Shenmue Online levels of magic use. But this was just a first step, and for the writer of the story to take that step back sucked all of the air out of the room when we had so much time to dwell on it. You'd think people would have a bit more leeway with the mysticism in Shenmue since the VERY FIRST SCENE of Shenmue I is the opening movie of Shenhua speaking of a prophecy which gets repeated several times throughout the series. Who plays a game with a prophetic premise and doesn't expect to eventually see some wild stuff?
"Faithful" my ass.
UNFAITHFULNESS #3: Walking & Talking with Shenhua, The Rise of the Blackouts.Yikes, did THIS make the game look goofy (*sound warning*). Hey "fans", remember the delightful and endearing pace of the Guilin portion in Shenmue II and how much we liked walking & talking with Shenhua in what felt like a smooth, seamless flow of conversations strung together with simple button presses? In Shenmue III we now get: auto-talk, blackout, auto-talk, blackout.
Why does the screen keep blacking out? Either this game was coded by morons or I'm suffering a neurological condition after playing this game for only 3 minutes. It blacks out like three times in that first scene. Hell, we don't even get a button-prompt to continue talking with Shenhua, it's just fully automated. So after that video Ryo & Shenhua go to the bridge, meet the first unimportant NPC in the game (Johnny Yong "Yes, I Still Do Voiceovers For Dirt Cheap" Bosch) and right after that is more walking & talking with THREE MORE blackouts! Jesus, when it was over I thought I needed to check myself for syncope. There are more weird blackout occurrences throughout the game but the ones with Shenhua painfully stand out early on.
The point is: this game wasn't even "faithful" enough to properly capture one of the most enjoyable things in Shenmue II. So I gotta call out the fans chanting "This is the Shenmue we wanted" on this one. Side rant: it was also really stupid that they didn't cinematically show Ryo walking out of that goddamn cave and out into the beautiful sunlight alongside some movie-like opening credits, which is what the fans REALLY wanted to see and cheer for after 18 long years. Damn shame.
UNFAITHFULNESS #4: No compass on Ryo's watch display in the corner of the screen.REVISED SHENMUE III KICKSTARTER GOALS:
- $2.50million for Shenmue 1 & 2 cinema shorts.
- $2.90million for subtitles in various languages that will probably mistranslate an important plot point about a scroll or something.
- $3.20million for a "Rapport System" you'll never see.
- $3.50million for a "Skill Tree System" you thought you were getting.
- $4.00million for a mini game where you toss a fuckin' rock into a bucket to win pineapples.
- $5.00million for a revolutionary food system where Ryo runs too much and then complains about eating.
- $6.00million for rendering Niao Sun's new hair bleaching, new wardrobe, and her third boob job.
- $7.00million for rendering five out-of-place dweebs, whom were dumb enough to donate the most kickstarter money, in kung fu uniforms near the climax of the game (very appropriate for my Shenmue experience, btw).
- $7.20million for the letter "N" to be displayed on Ryo's watch that he's had in the game since 1999.
UNFAITHFULNESS #5: No navigation marks for the map display.Although it was only in Shenmue II the navigation marks were a GREAT feature, good lord. How the hell could they leave this out in Shenmue III??? Markers made a lot of the monotonous things a bit easier to deal with when you could mark precisely where things are.
How much did you guys love using markers on your first Shenmue II playthrough? I used BLUE markers for all gambling & activities, YELLOW for all purchase locations like shops & capsule toy machines, and RED (or GREEN in the HD version) for the important NPCs, any stray animals possibly up for adoption, and single moms. Having said all that: I find the lack of faithfulness throughout Shenmue III pretty damn disturbing and I can't be the only one who thinks this way.
UNFAITHFULNESS #6: No controller options for Ryo's Movement or Look/Run.Every version of Shenmue I or II (Dreamcast, Xbox, HD versions) has allowed you to #1.) Move Ryo with the D-Pad, and #2.) Swap the Look & Run buttons. The D-Pad issue I got over, but not letting us swap Look/Run is a pure screwup because EVERY game until III gave us that option. Shenmue I's Dreamcast default setup was L-Trigger to run and R-Trigger to look, so that setup always felt the most comfortable to me. With that setup you could pretty much run & move Ryo just by using your left hand while you freely used your right hand to do taxes and make stupid GameFAQs posts about sailor jokes. It was perfect! In Shenmue II for Dreamcast and in I & II ports onward the new default became L-Trigger to look and R-Trigger to run, but in those games you still had the OPTION to swap the functions.
Shenmue III wasn't even "faithful" enough to give us the controller options to move, look, and run like we did in previous games. Pretty ironic that this game gets praised for not being "modernized" but I can't think of anything more modern than an adventure game where you try to move with the D-Pad but the game is like "SORRY, Analog Stick only! Our game is meant for conventional GTA and Call of Duty-playing drones that have delicate lady fingers."
UNFAITHFULNESS #7: The food "mechanic"; who in the hell asked for this?"This is a game for Shenmue fans, it's what we asked for and we got it." Geez, really? You asked for a Shenmue game where instead of being able to freely run for exploring, activities, and objectives...you asked for a game where Ryo starves and whines? Jesus, running is also slower. In the classics Ryo would charge forward like a bat outta hell the moment your finger graced the trigger, but in Shenmue III he's gotta get his fatass to do a light jog before he gets anywhere near the full-on "adventuring protagonist sprint" he's known for. This food mechanic didn't feel immersive, innovative, and it was FAR from creative. It was just a pain, and it often made me say "Screw going into that giant grass field to pick flowers out of the ground; I got only one banana left."
It doesn't seem too "faithful" to implement a mechanic that makes Ryo's basic running function feel like a chore to maintain when it was never like that in previous games. Of course dealing with it gets easier as you get loaded with money but it shouldn't have been an issue to begin with. Furthermore, linking your food to your Free Battle health was a stupid call as well. What I DO think was a clever idea was to have it affect your training in a positive way. Eating food to speed up practice & sparring progression is a decent idea, hell we could've used that feature to speed-up training in Shenmue I & II. But food negatively affecting Ryo's traditional movement and his health? Dumb as hell; what'll they make up next? A sneaker mechanic where after walking & running with Ryo's shoes over a certain amount of time (or getting them wet/damaged from rain) he has to buy new ones or else he winces around town?
UNFAITHFULNESS #8: Missing Key Items from previous games.Key Items that were taken from us:
- Fangmei's Amulet (do they know what we went through to get this damn thing???)
- Letter to Father (this contained the last true translation of the "Father's Heaven" password which is now forever lost and explains why everyone is saying the wrong shit these days)
- Photo of Wong and Photo of Rod Stunt (never forget your friends)
- Hang-On and Space Harrier for Sega Saturn (would've sold these in Bailu Village for an easy $10,000)
- Racer Duck (YOU MOTHERFUCKERS)
- The Demon's Triangle move scroll (what the hell were they thinking? Ryo JUST got this!)
UNFAITHFULNESS #9: The conversation system and how it's the worst in the series.The screwups here are un-fuckin'-acceptable. Of all the basic functions that this game could botch.
TL;DR WARNING!!!!! Strap yourselves in; I'm gonna go into detail because I'm pretty pissed over it.
- PART 1, INABILITY TO SKIP INITIAL CONVERSATIONS.
So upon interacting with someone like Lei it's important to note that you cannot skip through the first conversation with an NPC. So if you find out within 1/3 of a conversation that the person you're speaking with is a waste of time, well...too bad, you have to sit through the remaining 2/3. You definitely feel the pain of this whenever you ACCIDENTALLY speak to an NPC because you're forced to sit through the whole convo (more on how that happens later). In Shenmue I & II you could, at any time while having a typical conversation/inquiry with an NPC, just mash the cancel-button to either skip through or (if prompted) stop the conversation completely. In Shenmue III you only get prompts to continue conversations, NEVER any prompts to CANCEL them, which is dumb as hell and sometimes I feel like I'm being held hostage by a moron NPC who won't stop talking.
Not being able to skip the first interaction also applies to when you're doing any activity that causes Ryo to speak to himself, like interacting with capsule toy machines, training equipment, or even knocking on the door of a house. If it's your first time doing the interaction then odds are you CANNOT skip through it. For example: You knock on a door, Ryo says: "Is anyone there? ... I guess nobody's home." You then go to another door, knock, and you get another unskippable "Is anyone there? ... I guess nobody's home." How dumb is that? Each door is a "new" unskippable interaction despite it leading to the same result.
Furthermore, there are often times where when an NPC suddenly changes their "NPC routine" (ex. they go from walking around to sitting down, training to walking around, or simply standing around somewhere else) and this can result in more unskippable dialogue. If you're lucky the new dialogue will be a brief interaction like "Oh, it's you again" but sometimes it's NOT brief. Lei himself has like three or four unskippable "I have nothing to say to a stranger" moments depending on what NPC activity he's transitioning into, like when he sits down to yank it. I hate this guy.
And it gets better: at nighttime an NPC may have a new unskippable conversation. And by "new" I mean they say the EXACT SAME SHIT that they say during the daytime...but they may have one more line that causes the entire conversation to become unskippable. For example: Lei gives you the usual dickhead routine of "What do you want? I have nothing to say to a stranger"...and then at the very end he adds on "I've got to eat first." THAT is why you can't skip the convo; are they for real with this shit?
And just when you thought the mess was over: some NPCs have two unskippable conversations back-to-back. Mo Guangming, the drunk old guy with stupid gray hair, possesses this special torture. His first unskippable convo is the "You talkin' to me? Wanna have a drink? I'm drunk, blah blah blah" and then if you immediately speak to him again, my god...it's the convo where he grossly hiccups for what feels like 10 seconds, followed by two more lines of drunk rambling, then talking slowly about playing Flower Bird Wind & Moon, and then he nearly cries at the end about how much of a goddamn bum he is. He just doesn't shut the hell up, and he's not the only NPC who'll do this to you.
And now, for the BEST PART in this whole ordeal: Anytime Ryo gets a significant clue or when his line of questioning changes...EVERY townsperson, shopkeeper, lucky hit stand, capsule toy machine, or any activity that you previously interacted with...is now once again UNSKIPPABLE, even if the NPC says the exact same thing that they said before Ryo got a new lead. Combine this fact with the issues above and it is all PURE DREAD that wastes several in-game minutes of your day, especially whenever you have to do another round of talking to NPCs for information. You speak to someone thinking they'll say something new, but instead they spew their usual garbage dialogue, and unfortunately you gotta sit through it all again because it has once again become unskippable.
To conclude Part 1: Gameplay issues like this make you barely want to talk to anyone in a game where talking to NPCs is supposed to be as painless as possible and may even positively contribute to your unique Shenmue experience as you learn more about townsfolk. In Shenmue I, after any major or minor event, I used to always take the time to interact with the less important NPCs in Dobuita just to see if anyone said something different, and doing that fleshed out a lot of characters like Kurita & Yuriko (their relationship with eacother), Miki, Saijo, Yohei Kondo, Minako, Yamagishi, Tamura...the list goes on and on. There's only a little bit of that deep NPC interaction in Shenmue II, but in that game I'd still take the time to interact with NPCs even when I didn't think they had much to say because it was all SKIPPABLE. However, in Shenmue III, because I gotta sit through these same time-consuming conversations over and over, I mostly just wanted to ignore the little people of Guilin and stick to only talking with main characters or quest-related NPCs. That's terrible for a Shenmue game.
- PART 2, UNINTENTIONALLY INTERACTING WITH NPCs.
In the following video I try to talk to Lei more than once, but when he finishes speaking the first time I pressed the "X" button too soon before his "NPC cooldown" finished, so this causes me to unintentionally interact with the nearby fat pieca crap sitting beside him...another NPC whom I think is also voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. So look at how it plays out. (*sound warning*)
In that vid, because I pressed "X" too soon trying to re-interact with Skinny Yuri Lowenthal, I instead get sucked into a convo with Fat Yuri Lowenthal, which puts in me in an UNSKIPPABLE CONVERSATION THAT GETS NOWHERE. This, happens, SO many damn times during Shenmue III, especially in Niaowu where the streets gets crowded with walking NPCs and vendors constantly moving in and out of your range without you realizing it. There are many times when I was quickly pressing the Square button to skip through an NPCs second convo...but I pressed Square one too many times which caused me to interact with a nearby vendor. "Why hello there! Want to buy some of my shit? It's the best shit in Niaowu!" I immediately select CANCEL..."What's wrong? You don't like my shit? My shit comes directly from finest shits in Shitsburg!" For FUCK'S SAKE, stop talking!
This right here was the absolute worst (*sound warning*) because it was my first time seeing Shenhua walking around Niaowu and I wanted to hear what she had to say. So I interact with her once, I quickly press "X" again to continue our convo, but because of the "NPC cooldown" that I mentioned earlier I instead get caught in a convo with this OFF-SCREEN drag queen. In the video if you look in the background during the convo you can see Shenhua walk away, so not only was I stuck in a convo that I DID NOT WANT but I was gonna have to catch-up with Shenhua afterwards. So the fat bitch finally stops talking, I run to catch up with Shenhua...but before I reached her I triggered the scene with the skinny Red Snake guy harassing store vendors. So I never even got to fully talk with Shenhua because of this stupid, unskippable, wide-range, NPC-cooldown convo design. This game sucks.
After everything above, if you're still telling people "Shenmue 3 is faithful to its Dreamcast roots in both its gameplay and mechanics"...then man, eat shit and die. Shenmue III somehow managed to take Shenmue I & II's most BASIC function that could be the difference between an "okay" Shenmue experience and a "deep" Shenmue experience...and instead it created the first "bad" experience of the series that discourages you from wanting to interact with numerous NPCs at different times like in the old games. The issues I described here range from being time-consuming inconveniences to feeling more like a stress test from God.
UNFAITHFULNESS #10: The load times, before and after you load your game file.Dear lord, I hate the Unreal Engine. I'll explain: nearly every time UE gets used outside of a typical shooting game that any moron can play like Gears of Duty: Black Ghost Vegas Warfighter or whatever, there's ALWAYS a glaring issue. The models may look like trash, the load times are PS1-era awful, or BOTH. Street Fighter V, Aliens Colonial Marines, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, I Am Alive, DmC, Fable The Journey. Even Soul Calibur VI and Tekken 7 have you install like 50GB of hard drive space just so the games can have dogshit loading times that rival the PS1 port of Street Fighter Alpha 1. But Unreal Engine is ESPECIALLY crappy whenever it gets used for a retro sequel or revival. Mighty No. 9, Flashback, Karateka, Rush'n Attack Ex-Patriot, TMNT, Tony Hawk HD, Ninja Gaiden Z, Bloodstained, Fighting EX Layer. It's always amateur-hour with this damn engine but scrubby devs love it because it's easy to use. Well, now you can add Shenmue III to the list.
- Time it takes to load a Shenmue 1 game file (Dreamcast, USA) = around 16secs; tested on Disc 1 and on Disc 3.
- Time it takes to load a Shenmue 2 game file (Dreamcast, PAL) = around 16secs when I loaded a save with Ryo in a populated section in Wise Men's Qr., and around 22secs when I loaded a file with Ryo in a populated section in Kowloon.
- Time it takes to load a Shenmue 3 game file (PS4, USA) = around 42secs when I loaded a save in Bailu, and around 1minute and 12secs when I loaded a save in Niaowu.
The loading issues, both major and minor, are just hard to ignore sometimes. Like even when getting capsule toys or Ren's eyebrows, the poor bastard. Oh but hey, the water all throughout the game looks nice and it is ALWAYS there properly loaded and waiting for me before I arrive. That's a positive!
So before taking shots at Shenmue III's loading, I made sure to play Shenmue II again on the Dreamcast and run around crowded sections of Wise Men's Qr. and Kowloon, and man...was it rough to revisit this after getting addicted to the smoothness of the PS4 HD port. BUT, at least on Dreamcast when I ran downtown to a store the NPC was ALWAYS there in time for me to interact with them. It actually impressed me with the Dreamcast version a bit more despite the slowdown as you run around crowded streets. Shenmue I on Dreamcast definitely had moments where NPCs would "materialize" as you ran through the city but I NEVER had an issue where I stood at the exact same spot as where an NPC was supposed to be and I wasn't able to interact with them. They were ALWAYS available unlike the situation in Shenmue III.
Shenmue III, powered by the Unmotivated Engine 4, is busting my balls so hard that I don't think the game is "faithful" enough to even have shopkeeper NPCs show up to their jobs on time.
UNFAITHFULNESS #11: The reduced amount of time you get to enjoy the "nightlife".Here's a breakdown of how long you get to explore during the night in ALL Shenmue games (feel free to check my info & math here):
- Shenmue I = 1 in-game hour is 4 real-life minutes. Nighttime is 7pm to 11:30pm, and then Ryo is forced to bed. That's 18 total real-life minutes of nightlife that you get to explore.
- Shenmue II = 1 in-game hour is 6 real-life minutes. Nighttime is 7pm to 11pm, and then Ryo is forced to bed. That's 24 total real-life minutes of nightlife that you get to explore.
- Shenmue III = 1 in-game hour is 4 real-life minutes. Nighttime is 7pm to 9pm, then you're forced home. That's ONLY 8 total real-life minutes of nightlife that you get to explore, a BIG reduction.
But in all seriousness, the whole "house arrest at 9pm" thing REALLY screws with trying to get things done in your quest. Nightfall at 7pm used to be "Wow, how nice. I guess I'll do a few more story-related things" but in Shenmue III it becomes "HURRY UP AND FINISH YOUR SHIT FOR THE DAY!". This reduction in nighttime combined with the unskippable NPC interaction issues AND the loading issues of the Unreliable Engine 4 are all a shitstorm of issues that hurt the game. One bad NPC interaction can fee like a waste of precious seconds as nighttime exploration is quickly coming to an end.
What kind of Shenmue game isn't even "faithful" enough to let us stay out after 9pm? Not even Ine-san had us on a leash this tight.
UNFAITHFULNESS #12: Shopping, a tale of modernization.I'm going to be REAL thorough about this, so...TL;DR WARNING!!! I'll start with more bonehead quotes:
- "Diverting from the original game to make it more modern would have taken away from the unique experience that is Shenmue."
- "This game’s lack of concern for modernization is unique to it, and that’s what people find most interesting."
- "Shenmue III Forgoes Modern Game Design and Is Better Because of It"
Shenmue II didn't get enough credit for slightly "speeding up" what was unique & interactive about Shenmue I because admittedly in the first game things took up TOO much time for the sake of being real-worldly (purchasing items, interacting with doors and capsule machines). Shenmue III just didn't give a crap about "improving" any of that. The devs didn't have the balls to match nor improve the iconic Shenmue shopping process where you can physically SEE the item that you want to buy on a shelf, lock-on to it, press the X button to make Ryo awkwardly pick it up with the tip of his fingers like he thinks he's holding a used condom, have us firmly CONFIRM the purchase of said item, then witnessing Ryo appear at the clerk's counter to smack the item down and declare "THIS!" to complete that sweet golden purchase. This was such a life-like slice of a flourishing economy, one that everyone in real life should be a part of, and it should always be a part of Shenmue. But nope, not in Shenmue III.
So despite Shenmue III's "modern" approach to purchases, let's take some time to examine what gameplay experience the game tries to offer with its VAST amount of store items.
I'm a bit of a completionist (yeah I know that's an oxymoron, shut up) and that's my own fault. I like to purchase 2 of every item I come across as long as I can afford it. So let's look at a few of Shenmue III's items. I come across a lady selling jewelry like "Pearl Ring", so I'll buy 2 of each and be done with it. Later on in the game, when I've forgotten all about whichever jewels I purchased, I'll come across ANOTHER lady selling jewelry including "Pearl Ring" as well as a few other jewels that I'm pretty sure I haven't bought yet. Unfortunately, since a lot of these item thumbnail images lack detail and Ryo's item management is so friggin' disorganized I'm having trouble eyeballing which jewels I may have already bought from the previous jewel lady...so I keep having to hop back & forth between Ryo's inventory and the store items. Gee, I sure wish this game would "modernize" itself enough to add a goddamn "# Owned" display so that I can immediately tell which items I already bought.
What happens next is REALLY dumb. It turns out that the "Pearl Ring" in this second jewely store is NOT the same Pearl Ring that I purchased back at the first store...this one is actually "Ring (Pearl)". So yeah, that means there are two DIFFERENT items in the game called "Pearl Ring" and "Ring (Pearl)".....alright, game. Whatever you say. On top of that, if you view Ryo's inventory the two Pearl Rings are on different pages and they look EXACTLY the same, so it makes it slightly harder to "item check" things visually. Brilliant work, dev team...ya dipshits.
Jewelry isn't the only set of items that make you second-guess if you're buying duplicates when visiting multiple stores. The statues are visually ridiculous too. Copper Bodhisattva Standing? Brass Bodhisattva Standing? Gold Bodhisattva Standing or Sitting? Wooden Bodhisattva Slumping? Wooden Saint Statue Standing Sitting? Wooden Sage Statue Sitting Taking a Dump Standing? And the liqueur items...5-Year-Old Lao Jiu? 10-Year-Old Lao Jiu? 10-Year-Old Plum Liqueur? 20-Year-Old Liq Jiu? And urns! Blue & White Ceramic Urn? Blue & White Ceramic Gourd? Blue & White Ceramic Wide? This is OBNOXIOUS. And look here, a whole bunch of blue books being sold by some kid who can't afford chapstick. Or how about anytime you came across a white shirt and weren't sure which ones you already bought?
I don't really have a good snarky "faithful" comment to conclude this section with, so I'll just say: none of this stuff ever happened in Shenmue I or II. Screw you, game.
[***to be continued later in comments***]