Review: Shenmue 1 & 2: How not to handle a Re-release (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Robfozz, posted Aug 30, 2018, last updated Sep 3, 2018
This is less of a review of the games itself and more of an exposure to a slimey side of this whole rerelease.
Aug 30, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): August 21, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): August 21, 2018
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: d3t ltd.
  • Genres: Adventure, RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
To start, I have already reviewed both Shenmue and Shenmue 2 individually on this site. These are my all time favorite games and naturally I left them glowing reviews. I'm going to get this out of the way now, this review will not be positive. There will be severe criticism of Sega, an investigation of what went wrong, and even direct call-outs of the Shenmue community as they're also involved with how this game was released and its future on the market. Lets begin.
Robfozz
Shenmue 1 & 2 is a mess. Basically this is a rerelease of the original 2 games from the Dreamcast onto modern platforms. Sega is quick to correct anyone who calls this "Shenmue HD" or "Shenmue Remastered" and for good reason, these are hardly either.

Improvements they made:
HD rendering so the game technically is in HD. Wide-screen but with a caveat, it only works during gameplay ONLY, so cutscenes are all small and in their original aspect ratios.
They attempted a bloom lighting effect but completely failed, its either way too overdone or it makes things too dark. Thankfully it can be turned off

And thats it, thats all they did to modernize it. No redrawn textures, no fullscreen cutscenes, they didn't go back and replace the audio with the original uncompressed recordings, nothing. They claimed they created a modern control scheme but all they did was map the original d-pad controls to the analog stick, they didn't change how Ryo walks or add analog movement just a lazy remap.

So they did the bare minimum and you know what, that might've been ok. The real problem with this is how absolutely ravaged this version is with bugs and glitches. You cannot play this game beyond the initial cutscene without experiencing something wrong. Whether its a cutscene breaking and showing you a still image, music playing incorrectly, missing sound effects, QTEs not prompting or reading correctly, events not triggering entirely, minigames not working, invisible toy capsules, shadows glitching, pretty much anything can go wrong and for seemingly no reason. None of these problems are caused by player action, they just happen whenever they want with the roll of a dice.

Its hard to believe the game was released in this state, you dont even have to be a veteran to know something's not right. I refuse to believe they even play tested it because all of this noticable within minutes. This is not only insulting to the fans(or at least it should be, we will get into that later) but its damaging to all the new players who have given this game a chance because all the hype from the community.
And there's a lot of new fans because this collection has sold scarily well. It was topping charts for months off pre-orders alone and now its completely sold out across a variety of retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. So in a strange turn of events, this collection has hurt the credibility of Shenmue by actually being successful.

"Surely a patch is on the way" I hear you say. Aside from the damage already being done, I wouldn't rely on it. This is where we get into a bit of drama. Prior to the games release, a couple of copies found their way out about a week early and those who had them decided to stream the games. We still really had minimal information about the collection at that point so most of us fans tuned into the streams to get a sneak peek of the game in action. Everyones excitement turned to dread as we saw all the bugs I stated earlier happen before our eyes.

For some background information, a YouTuber by the name of Adam Koralik had been giving us information about the game through videos on his channel, partnered with Sega. I don't know why Sega picked this guy to be the spokesperson for this rerelease, his videos are low quality and aside from name dropping the games a few times hes not really a big player in the community. Aside from that, the only other thing you need to know is that Shenmue Dojo is pretty much the Shenmue website. Got it? Good.

So the game gets in the wild early, people are streaming it and the Shenmue Dojo staff FREAKS out. I mean go absolutely ape shit. Anyone who made a thread trying to discuss the game based off the stream: Banned for "spoiling" the game. Yes thats right, banned for spoilers of a nearly 20 year old game that the website is dedicated to and normally discusses freely without the worry of spoiling eachother. Ridiculous. To make matters even more comedic, some mods had some choice words for these innocent people. To quote one of the admins when he saw screenshots of the game from the stream "Absolutely vile and disgusting. I got it early, so lets stream it for some likes and ruin it for others. I swear, my blood is boiling right now." I had to take a second to breathe because I was laughing so hard at this reaction.

As if to lose even more credibility, the staff ganged up on one of these people streaming the game and harassed the poor guy through the chat and mass reported him, causing his stream to be taken down. Now this seems more "vile and disgusting" to me than someone innocently playing the game.

After this whole stream fiasco, people took to the forums and Twitter to express their concern for the quality of the game since we had just seen numerous bugs. The staff at Shenmue dojo said that since the game wasn't offically out, this wasn't a proper indicator of the games quality. Normally, I would agree but since release was only 4 or so days away and there had already been a 1.0.1 patch for the people who got it early, this seemed like it would be what we get the following Tuesday.

Adam Koralik addresses these early streams and starts telling everyone on Twitter that a day 1 patch will arrive Monday, the day before release. The Dojo staff start ringing this bell bell too, a day 1 patch will fix everything. There was a lot of doubt. d3t ltd. does not have a good track record, besides being a tiny literally who studio, they also did the recent Genesis Collection for PS4 and Xbox One that still has problems to this day and hasn't been fixed. And thats just a simple Genesis emulator.

So the days come and go and, surprise, no Day 1 patch. Adam takes to Twitter again. "I've played with the next patch. At this point it's more about Steam/Sony/MS approving it. That should have happened by this point but...bureaucracy." So apparently its just the certification. Sure, ok Adam! A few days later, still no patch by the way, Sega publicly asks for us to submit bugs to them. Well wait why would they ask this if they already have a patch and its just waiting for certification? Wouldn't they want us to wait for that to come out first since logically they would have fixed some of the big ones at the very least? Odd. After some collection of info, a few more days later a PC patch comes out. Through a Steam beta you have to opt into. It fixes a couple things but not really enough, which is why its in beta I guess. Anyway, so if it took an extra week to get this beta patch, what patch did Adam supposedly have before the game was even out? What happened to that Day 1 patch? Logically, it probably didn't exist.

Its now been 2 weeks since release, no patches, and everyone knows its a broken piece of crap. Me and a few others realize this and go to Shenmue Dojo to point out these lies and the damage control and a few people, including me were banned from the site. Wow.

This is how games become discredited. This is how reputations are ruined. Shenmue fans killed Shenmue themselves. This is probably the end of the road for trying to get new fans into the series. Maybe I'm just doing more damage by pointing this out but this shouldn't be swept under the rug either.

To fans of these games I have this to say: We worked for this for years. We campaigned and made our voices loud enough to be heard. And this is what we got, a disaster of a rerelease. Are you genuinely satisfied with this? Is this what you want the uninformed masses to experience? You shouldn't be and if you are, you're not a real fan. We deserved better.

To any of the "big players" if any of you somehow find this: You should be ashamed. You shilled out for and defended Sega to the point of lying and for what? You have nothing to gain from this, except for Adam whos gotten a couple free vacations out of it. You've completely discredited the franchise, your long-standing website and you as people not only in my eyes but I know to other people as well.

Well, thats everything I have to say on the matter. I know this isn't a typical review but I just had to write about this. To all the real fans, I wish this all went better for us. I hope the game eventually gets fixed but in its current state Id rather it didn't even exist. Let this also be a message to other fansites in similar situations in the future, please dont become this.

I run a Shenmue discord if anyone that isn't insane or a pathological liar wants to join!
discord.me/shemmue

Thanks for reading this massive wall of text, please leave what you think about this whole thing below.

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Verdict
Pros
+ Low price for 2 of gamings most influential titles conveniently available on a single, modern platform
+ Save transfer finally available to US players
Cons
- Shenmue 1 is borderline ruined by a laundry list of bugs
- The few improvements made to the games were half-assed
- Sega, Adam Koralik and the Shenmue community's shady behavior
5 Presentation
For the time and several years after these games were originally released these were the best looking games around. In my opinion they still look great. However, I think the decision to not redraw any of the textures, leave cutscenes 4:3 and other choices are not acceptable for a remaster in 2018. As well as the numerous glitches I just don't think this was done well at all presentation wise.
7 Gameplay
The gameplay is unchanged from the originals and I think it would be wrong for me to score it lower than before because the rest of the collection sucks. However, there are bugs that hinder the gameplay as well, QTEs not working properly, broken minigames, events triggering incorrectly.
5 Lasting Appeal
I can easily see players who have no prior knowledge of the series picking this up, seeing all these issues and thinking the game is shit because of it. As fans we know these weren't issues in the original but newcomers wouldn't know any better.
6.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
I know this wasn't your typical review. Some things I wrote about have nothing to do with the game itself. But its all there for you to see. And the actual collection does have all these problems.


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