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Was Shenmue really so destined to fail?

SamSam Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Games and Technology
People seem to cite the game's boring-ness as the main reason for its ultimate failure. It was like a game about nothing, where the pacing didn't suit immediate gratification models typical of gameplay.

But lots of games have boring, menial sections in which nothing happens. There just wasn't an immediate element to the user in the context of the on screen task. There are way worse things to be doing than walking around 1980s Japan, like endlessly grinding against the same enemies in order to travel anywhere, or being stuck in a maze, or having to meticulously search B movie horror houses for puzzle keys at a snail's pace. But with Shenmue's daily life gameplay format, there was no continuous mood of fear, adventure, conflict. The fighting and action made up a pretty small proportion of the game.

I still think the game would've found an audience- it was at the very least a genuinely competent RPG with Virtua Fighter derived combat. The sequel addressed the action/pacing issues on its own terms (I don't think any game has ever had such an amazing epilogue or even tried to have one at all after so much action/climax)

I think Sega screwed up the marketing. For one thing it was hyped as the future of all gaming, light years away from what anyone had tried, yet there wasn't much of a sense for what kind of game it was. It was Shenmue, and was supposed to sell based on its assigned flagship blockbuster status while not being marketed to fans of fighters or RPG's. IIRC a lot of the talk around released focused on the arcades and being able to use soda machines. By refusing to use Japanese voices and English text in localized versions, they ensured that people who wanted to take the story seriously would have a hard time.

And they gambled everything on the Xbox port. It is a bad idea to market a sequel from a failed console with a small, scattered userbase on a new platform to a new userbase without releasing the original and giving the series a chance. It's even worse when you do it to a plot driven RPG. Shenmue fans couldn't be relied upon to buy it because they were an already limited demographic due to the Dreamcast situation and there was no way they were all going to migrate to the most expensive console so soon in its life cycle.

They tried the same "This is the dopest dope you'll ever smoke" line of marketing, and it got the game ignored when they had nothing specific to say about the game at a time where developers wouldn't shut the fuck up about their game design and graphics styles.

Maybe I'm just wishing for a pony here, but I think that if they released the original on XBLA and PSN it would be worthwhile. It probably wouldn't finance a sequel, but the game deserves some fucking exposure and recognition after 8 years. A little cleaning up and putting the original audio with subtitles (Such a version existed for Japanese Dreamcasts I believe) would do wonders.

Sam on
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    Brainiac 8Brainiac 8 Don't call me Shirley... Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    The biggest problem with the game was it was just ahead of its time....just like the Dreamcast was. :(

    I miss both.

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    SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    And the Dreamcast never red ringed!

    Fuck

    Sam on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    The problem with Shenmue is that when you really boil it down it was boring as shit.

    Fun the first time through because of the story, but after that? Ignored entirely and left on my shelf.

    It's a classic case of realism taking undneccesary precedence over gameplay.

    ben0207 on
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    WMain00WMain00 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I quite enjoyed. Thought it was quite good the first time.

    Then realisation dawned when i played it a second time rougly 6 months ago through emulation. The voice acting was TERRIBLE! It was so wooden and patronisingly slow.

    "Have you seen Sazuke today?"

    "NO...RIO...I, HAVE, NOT...MAYBE, YOU, SHOULD, TRY...THE...LIQUOR....STORE"

    "Hmmmm. Thanks"

    And that's what it was like THROUGHOUT the experience. The only one that at least tried to be normal was the Jamacain, and even he was shouting out the word slowly. NAW MAN I NO SEE HIM.

    So that was a bit of a wake up call.

    Animation was ok but very broken if you look at it nowadays. Movement seemed impaired. Attempting to perform fighting moves was difficult.

    Hell. Now that i think about it the only thing i liked about it when i played it again was the music...

    So..er..yeah, Shenmue failed. :(

    WMain00 on
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    Dr. Phibbs McAtheyDr. Phibbs McAthey Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    My dreamcast was originally bought just for Shenmue. I didn't know what it would be about, but I thought it was going to be the best thing EVER. It's still up there as far as my favorite games I've ever played go.
    Shenmue 2 didn't fare so well, but then, I played it on the oXbox. It just never clicked for me even though I tried so hard to make it.
    I'd love if they released them both on XBLA, just so I could reminisce and also see what I missed.

    Dr. Phibbs McAthey on
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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    Sam wrote: »
    And they gambled everything on the Xbox port. It is a bad idea to market a sequel from a failed console with a small, scattered userbase on a new platform to a new userbase without releasing the original and giving the series a chance. It's even worse when you do it to a plot driven RPG. Shenmue fans couldn't be relied upon to buy it because they were an already limited demographic due to the Dreamcast situation and there was no way they were all going to migrate to the most expensive console so soon in its life cycle.

    An Xbox port made perfect sense.

    The Xbox is pretty much as close to a Dreamcast 2 as we were ever going to get. It had a bunch of industry firsts, a strong emphasis on online play, and Peter Moore. Even the controller owed as much to the DC pad as it did the Sidewinder.

    Pretty much every major classic Sega IP except for Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally had a port or sequel released on the Xbox. Shenmue, Sonic the Hedgehog, Panzer Dragoon, Phantasy Star Online, Jet Set Radio, Outrun, Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, and Sega GT (plus whatever else I'm forgetting) all had ports or sequels.

    An XBLA release of the original seems daunting to me. More likely you'd just see the sequel released over the Xbox originals service, and Shenmue: The Movie (the DVD that shipped with Shenmue 2 that had all of the cutscenes from the first game edited together to form a cohesive movie) released alongside it as a downloadable movie.

    Einhander on
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    Brainiac 8Brainiac 8 Don't call me Shirley... Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I want a new Jet Grind Radio...only for the Wii, with remote/spray painting action. :(

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    apotheosapotheos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2008
    I don't think releasing the original Shenmue on Xbox would have improved the sales figures for the franchise.

    The simple fact is that the game is incredibly boring to most people. Rather than try to distract the player into menial, repetative tasks (like every successful game ever) Shenmue seemed to delight in the sequences. It was kind of zen, but also kind of "life is way too short for this, as aside from being obvious the game also doesn't really make me care about anyone in it so why would I bother?"

    My advice? Making the games not suck in the eyes of most gamers is pretty much the only solution.

    apotheos on


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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    I mean, a Shenmue game that pandered to the typical gamer would just be Tekken Force Mode with capsule toys.

    Einhander on
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    YathrinYathrin Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I'm seriously disappointed in you guys. No sailor jokes yet?

    I loved both and I'm still pissed I'll never see the series concluded. I think it was a mixture of being released on a dieing system then following up on a system that catered to the FPS crowd. The OXbox didn't really have a large audience that wanted RPG's, those people had PS2's.

    Yathrin on
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    NickTheNewbieNickTheNewbie Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Brainiac 8 wrote: »
    I want a new Jet Grind Radio...only for the Wii, with remote/spray painting action. :(

    I heard the name "jet set radio next" thrown around in some pre-tgs2007 rumors, but I think it was nothing more than a rumor. I really missed the complex, multistep sprays that were in jsr, but removed from jsrf.

    NickTheNewbie on
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    apotheosapotheos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2008
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.

    apotheos on


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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    apotheos wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.

    That's the whole problem with Shenmue. That stuff was fun, just not to enough people. If you made a game that didn't have that sort of experience, it wouldn't be Shenmue.

    I'm trying to find the photoshop thread we had here that had Shenmue changed to "Awkward Text Adventure". I think it's in the archives somewhere.

    Einhander on
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    SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG! Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I believe Majora's Mask did in some way apply the Shenmue formula of a "living breathing world" with the whole 3 days concept, you know how all NPCs did different things during those 72 hours and how each day was different.

    However the magic of going back in time and having a lot of things reset, and seeing how you could affect the whole world with a simple decision, was pretty epic. Doing an insanely difficult quest, having whoever asked you for it thank you immensely, and then going back in time and that person not knowing anything about what you did for them, and that they're miserable again.

    Maybe it has the same flaw as Shenmue, genius game mechanics, but too boring for the average gamer. Most people I know just played through Majora's mask and didn't really get into completing all the game, where you will see just how deep it was.

    Satsumomo on
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    fearsomepiratefearsomepirate I ate a pickle once. Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Yes, it was destined to fail. First, it cost way, way, way too much to make. It was never going to be profitable, and in the business world "losing money" is "failing." Even companies who try to define success differently than "making a profit" soon find their creditors think otherwise.

    Second, the game is really boring to most people. I put around 6 hours or so in the game and had accomplished nothing due to how long everything takes. Sorry, I'm not going to put in that much time without a reward. And it's like the game goes out of its way to make itself even more boring by being slow. Not only is controlling Ryo with the D-pad painful, but it takes an incredibly long time to look through the contents of a room, and the controls are awkward. The "reach and grab" animation not only looks silly, but it makes the game even more tedious and really highlights the boredom. How much money did they waste painstakingly modeling the interior of every closet and cupboard in the game?

    Something that bores most gamers is not going to be successful. To be successful, you have to make a game that enough gamers will want to play in order to make a profit. Shenmue didn't do that.

    fearsomepirate on
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    Mr BubblesMr Bubbles David Koresh Superstar Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I had to actually try to enjoy Shenmue and the sequel

    Thats probably a failing

    Mr Bubbles on
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    BroktuneBroktune Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I know it's the common joke with this game, but, I really became bored when I had to start looking for those sailors. I felt like a jerk asking every single person in the game if they have seen sailors and where they would hang out. I never got past that point. I look at Shenmue as one of those games that may have opened some doors for games that came after it.

    Broktune on
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    Windowlicker77Windowlicker77 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I agree with what most of you guys are saying. Long boring at parts etc.

    But when I opened up my Shenmue case for the first time a mythic noise came out. I reached in the smoking case and pulled from it a platinum disc I placed in my Dreamcast. When I fired it up it was like taking a trip to a small town in Japan myself. I know I'm in the minority here but waking around seeing what was going on in town was fun. Waiting for something to open got annoying but made me explore more. I played at the arcade, tried to win at the vending machines. Played darts by the docks (insert sailor joke here) and searched for Lan Di till I couldn't search anymore. I miss this game really I wish I hadn't sold my Dreamcast. I played 2 on the Xbox but it just didn't hold my attention the same. The finale was epic 100 guy fight and you couldn't screw up they would beat you down worse than a Nazi at a West Side Story party. :P Great memories I hope they release it on the arcade that would be a dream come true.

    Windowlicker77 on
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    ArtoriaArtoria Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I played the first two game and i found them to be very interesting. I enjoyed them both mostly for the story even if the game play could have used some tweaking.

    I think the thing that turned a lot of people off was doing the jobs to get money to advance the story/buy stuff. I'm sorry but moving boxes and asking people if they want to play a game of lucky hit can only stay fun for so long like maybe 2 times tops.

    I really hope Sega picks up and finishes the story. As of right now there is a write in campaign to Sega asking them to make part 3. http://www.seganerds.com/2008/11/04/shenmue-project-mass-mailing-sega/

    Artoria on
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    Windowlicker77Windowlicker77 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I think the thing that turned a lot of people off was doing the jobs to get money to advance the story/buy stuff. I'm sorry but moving boxes and asking people if they want to play a game of lucky hit can only stay fun for so long like maybe 2 times tops.

    Hahaha I remeber getting stuck by some glitch and I kept doing the boxes and nothing was getting triggered. I was like WTF man I've moved 3 whole warehouses when is something going to happen!!! Fuck you kid hurry up :P

    Windowlicker77 on
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    SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Einhander wrote: »
    apotheos wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.

    That's the whole problem with Shenmue. That stuff was fun, just not to enough people. If you made a game that didn't have that sort of experience, it wouldn't be Shenmue.

    I'm trying to find the photoshop thread we had here that had Shenmue changed to "Awkward Text Adventure". I think it's in the archives somewhere.

    What wasn't fun though? A lot of games emphasize exploration. The core gameplay is exploration, standard RPG talkquests, training and fighting. The fighting is competent next to most fighters of its time, better than any 3D beat em up. Some of the sub games are more fun than others (Motorcycle vs Forklift) but none of these drag on for a large proportion of the game.

    The second one did a lot to even the ratio of talkquest to fighting, and has a full fledged fighting subgame that you can access for most of the single game and as a seperate unlockable mode. I don't think there have really been street fighting RPG's like the second game was. The fighting was legitimately pretty great- not quite Virtua Fighter, because it had to be modified to work as a brawler against multiple opponents. I don't think there has been a better brawler in that regard;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YDLLyB4CE

    Sam on
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    OneWingedOtakuOneWingedOtaku Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Wow Shenmue was not boring to me at all, the games were bloody incredible! I think people just overlook things in favour of more "shiny" and "AAA" games, where often the best games of all are hidden amongst all this hype culture, and end up niche.

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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Einhander wrote: »
    apotheos wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.

    That's the whole problem with Shenmue. That stuff was fun, just not to enough people. If you made a game that didn't have that sort of experience, it wouldn't be Shenmue.

    I'm trying to find the photoshop thread we had here that had Shenmue changed to "Awkward Text Adventure". I think it's in the archives somewhere.
    The problem was that everything took too long. Collecting the capsule toys was sort of cool, but watching the agonising animations of Ryo slowly pressing the buttin then slowly getting the toy was painful.

    And the voice acting was shameful. Me and my brother still to this very day have jokes about it.

    ben0207 on
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    OneWingedOtakuOneWingedOtaku Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »

    And the voice acting was shameful. Me and my brother still to this very day have jokes about it.

    Would you care to try a game of Lucky hit?

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    SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Wow Shenmue was not boring to me at all, the games were bloody incredible! I think people just overlook things in favour of more "shiny" and "AAA" games, where often the best games of all are hidden amongst all this hype culture, and end up niche.

    Shenmue was overhyped, which is why there's a lot of backlash against it. It was like Sega's Halo in a way. And it didn't have amazing multiplayer :P

    The "FREE" concept is more of a philosophy underpinning game design, but does not make for a game by itself. The game is a fighter RPG with lots of bells and whistles, but the fact that it was hyped as gaming's next big leap when it's generally a bad idea to do that with an RPG caused people to focus on the more extraneous parts of the game and held these up against the promises of revolutionary gameplay.

    I don't think the game's concept is inherently unpopular- many of its aspects are implemented in a certain GOTY. The towns in Oblivion owe something to Shenmue- inhabitants with individual schedules, tasks, etc.
    Gambling minigames make random appearances everywhere.

    Sam on
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    SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    apotheos wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.

    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.

    That's the whole problem with Shenmue. That stuff was fun, just not to enough people. If you made a game that didn't have that sort of experience, it wouldn't be Shenmue.

    I'm trying to find the photoshop thread we had here that had Shenmue changed to "Awkward Text Adventure". I think it's in the archives somewhere.
    The problem was that everything took too long. Collecting the capsule toys was sort of cool, but watching the agonising animations of Ryo slowly pressing the buttin then slowly getting the toy was painful.

    And the voice acting was shameful. Me and my brother still to this very day have jokes about it.

    Yeah, Sega shot the game before it was standing with the voice acting, both the quality and their refusal to put out a subtitled version. I played the Dreamcast version of Shenmue II in Japanese and the VA isn't nearly as painful.
    It's hard to judge the story because we basically don't know most it since Sega was so intent upon creating anticipation for series installments through cliffhangers- it's almost as though the first game was entirely a stretched out exposition. The second game literally has exponentially more plot, and some measure of character development.
    In Japanese the story is more or less like an above average anime. The use of immersion and the videogame format made you care more than you would have.

    I think if the series was launched on a stable console and didn't have a fragmented release for the sequel, and didn't have the English voice acting, it would have been successful enough to sustain itself.

    Sam on
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    Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Games Dealer Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Couldnt we doom Shenmue without bringing gameplay into the equation at all?

    Ridiculously high dev costs on low marketshare console. Even in the best case scenario, marketing corrected, it still didnt have much of a chance.

    Dr Mario Kart on
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    Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Yathrin wrote: »
    I'm seriously disappointed in you guys. No sailor jokes yet?

    do you know of any places where sailor jokes hang out around here?

    Captain K on
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    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I thought the first Shenmue had a good dub.

    There's a reason I've never played the Xbox version of the sequel.

    The first is still my favorite because of the atmosphere. It feels more social. 2's populated by nothing but strangers. A third one would be awesome, but I won't hold my breath.

    I'd still like to think Sega aren't the type of company to let something like this go unfinished, but maybe all the Shenmue creativity is going into Yakuza instead, since that's actually successful.

    cj iwakura on
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    Shoegaze99Shoegaze99 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Shenmue and Shenmue 2 remain some of my favorite gaming experiences of all time, and I started gaming about 28 years ago. I loved the experience.

    Everytime Shenmue comes up, I get a little sad.

    Shoegaze99 on
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    Shoegaze99Shoegaze99 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    apotheos wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    Yeah, but then you kill the whole Zen feeling of exploring the world and buying sodas and naming kittens.
    Yes well if it isn't fun to do, don't put it in a game.
    I feel that way about grinding random encounters in JRPG's just so you can move on to the next story point.

    Someone likes that shit, though.
    Einhander wrote: »
    That stuff was fun, just not to enough people. If you made a game that didn't have that sort of experience, it wouldn't be Shenmue.
    I agree. Shenmue's experience was relatively unqiue. Sure, we can break down the game mechanics and equate 1 = A, 2 = B, and so on ... but it was the total package that made Shenmue stand out as something different.

    Alas, both too different and not interesting enough for mass appeal. But that's often the way with games that try and break the mold, no?

    Shoegaze99 on
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    mastriusmastrius Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I loved Shenmue D: It was too damn fun and I remember when I heard it was cancelled I had to have a man-cry alone in my room. I loved the whole running around simulating life, getting a job, earning the money AND SPENDING IT ALL ON CAPSULES RIGHT AFTER cause that was fun to me...i remember when I got the forklift job down to a fucking tee and was DESTROYING IT hardcore, maxing out the money I could get, it was INSANE and made me feel great, but NO those stupid FUCKS had to RUIN it for me by ATTACKING me all the damn time. I then got fired. FUCK YOU ASSHOLES. I remember always hoping to win the raffle on the radio thing and stuff, damn that was awesome....fuck I want Shenmue 1 again. I think my friend has 2....hmmm....

    mastrius on
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    Shoegaze99Shoegaze99 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    mastrius wrote: »
    fuck I want Shenmue 1 again. I think my friend has 2....hmmm....

    If you have not played 2, BORROW YOUR FRIEND'S. It is teh awesome.

    Shoegaze99 on
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    h8b1llg8tsh8b1llg8ts Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I have both US Shenmue's and have not gone as far as opening the boxes when I recieved them in the mail from EGay. And that was about 3 or 4 years ago. Which does remind me I need to get that bonus DVD that was not included in my "Complete" Shenmue 2 version. But for $2.xx, including shipping, I didn't argue at the time.

    I remember hearing about this game back in '01 and remember hearing so much about the game. But I know, going in, that I need to really dedicate about 2 full days to really enjoy this game. But between school, wife, and child I have not found that 2 days yet.

    h8b1llg8ts on
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    ArtoriaArtoria Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I will agree with many that 2 made a lot of good steps that 1 did not. While I might have bitched a little earlier I did like the game a lot and I like the story it was putting together. I do want to see the story concluded someday.

    Artoria on
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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    h8b1llg8ts wrote: »
    EGay

    Boy you sure are a clever and cool dude. You've taken the name "Ebay" and changed the B to a G so it says "EGay" so as to insinuate that Ebay is in fact gay.

    I wish there were more forumers who were as creative and quick-witted as you are

    Einhander on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Einhander wrote: »
    h8b1llg8ts wrote: »
    EGay

    Boy you sure are a clever and cool dude. You've taken the name "Ebay" and changed the B to a G so it says "EGay" so as to insinuate that Ebay is in fact gay.

    I wish there were more forumers who were as creative and quick-witted as you are

    Shut up, Whinehander.

    ben0207 on
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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »
    Einhander wrote: »
    h8b1llg8ts wrote: »
    EGay

    Boy you sure are a clever and cool dude. You've taken the name "Ebay" and changed the B to a G so it says "EGay" so as to insinuate that Ebay is in fact gay.

    I wish there were more forumers who were as creative and quick-witted as you are

    Shut up, Whinehander.

    Oh my! Yet another, dare I say, even cleverer response!

    Is it just me, or is G&T just filled with particularly witty posters this morning?

    Einhander on
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    EinhanderEinhander __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2008
    Just so we're clear: by "Witty" I mean "Retarded".

    Einhander on
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    APZonerunnerAPZonerunner Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Gui Zhang was such a badass. I want Shenmue 3 just to see a Ryu/Gui/Roy triple threat. :(

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