The Phantom Teahouse Lady (+other guidebook oddities) – UPDATED 6/11/18 – She’s in the game after all!!

dontfeelsogood-teahouse
Has Thanos’s wrath reached the Shenmue universe as well…?

UPDATE 6/11/18 – She’s in the game after all!

Well now, don’t I feel a little silly after initially making this post…

So as it turns out, this character is in fact in the final version of Shenmue II after all – however you’d be forgiven for missing her as she only appears at one, very specific point in the game, where you aren’t supposed to be wasting time walking to her shop to talk to her.

But first; to recap – and the TL:DR version of the original post (but please do read the original post below as well – there are other interesting tidbits about the official strategy guides for SII)-

  • In both the Shenmue II Perfect Guidebook and the Shenmue II Complete Guide, there is a profile for a character named ‘Wen Hua Chun’, both books claiming she can be found at the Luck and Virtue Teahouse (in the Tea Break Bldg. in Kowloon)
  • However, if you go to this shop in any version of the game (that is, the JP Dreamcast version, the EU Dreamcast version, the US Xbox version, the EU Xbox version, as well as the recent re-released version for PS4, Xbox One and PC), she is simply not there – there is no shopkeeper to be found at the teahouse at all, in fact.
  • Therefore, this led me to determine her as an ‘unused character’, and I therefore did not include her while working on my ‘Shenmue II Character Database’ project. I also made the below post to talk about this, as well as other outdated/inaccurate information found in the guidebooks.

However – after my recent playthrough through the PS4 update/re-release, I discovered something strange while playing through the ‘Following Yuan’ scenario -(that is, when Ryo and Ren are following the flamboyant Yellow Head member home to rescue Zhu Yuan Da’s man that has been kidnapped)- Hua Chun was at the shop!!

Confused and slightly bewildered, I quickly captured video from the PS4 – and you can see the (admittedly quick and dirty) video below: (the preceding cutscene is to set context and show the exact point in the game where you can find her – you can skip to 1:13 to see Hua Chun)

She doesn’t have too much to say when you talk to her – she’s disappointed that Ryo isn’t stopping to eat, as apparently he would have been ‘the first customer for a while’ (but you can clearly see people sitting at the tables, so perhaps she’s becoming confused in her old age…). She also says it’s one of the oldest shops in the building – an interesting little tidbit.

hua-chun-ps4
Maybe you’d get more customers if you were at the shop more often, Hua Chun…

You can’t ask her any of the ‘Money’ related questions, as it is impossible to do so during the ‘Following Yuan’ scenario. However, as you’ll see from reading the original post below, one of the guidebooks claims she can direct you to the pawnshops in Kowloon – but obviously this is not possible here.

So while she technically is still in the game, it would appear to be an error/oversight that she only appears during this part of the game – you can not see her here before or after this point in the game.

So why is this the case? Is it an error in the game’s coding, or something that’s gone wrong with the way NPC’s are generated? I can’t claim to understand the technical side and inner workings of these games, but if anyone familiar with the game’s files etc was able to find a reason and possibly restore her in normal gameplay…

In any case, its an interesting find – something I stumbled upon nearly by accident, as I thought I’d just check the shop during that point in my playthrough as I’d never done so before – and there she was! Proving once again there are still new things to discover in these games, even after playing for the umpteenth time.

Also to clarify – I’ve only witnessed this on the remastered PS4 version so far – but I assume her appearing at this specific point occurs in the Dreamcast and Xbox versions as well (I also switched to English voices to check that she has a dubbed voice, and she does – suggesting she’d be there on the Xbox version too). When I get the chance I will confirm this for sure, unless someone else wants to beat me to it, of course 🙂

I’ve also updated the Shenmue II Character Database with her profile – the download link can be found within this post.

SEE BELOW FOR THE ORIGINAL POST – which also contains some interesting details about Baihu, the lost Tiger Gate Building and another character I initially thought was unused.

***

So today we will be looking into an unused/seemingly removed character from Shenmue II. This is a particularly strange case, as there doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason for the character’s removal, and her existence is only known due to her inclusion in Japanese guidebooks for the game…

Continue reading “The Phantom Teahouse Lady (+other guidebook oddities) – UPDATED 6/11/18 – She’s in the game after all!!”

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Men in Black Mix Up

mib-b and zhou yue
Left: Man in Black Suit B from Shenmue I, Right: Yue Zhou from Shenmue II. But are they the same person?

Apologies it being so long since the last post! Real life has gotten in the way as of late, but be assured there are many ideas for posts in the pipeline. Of course, since my last post, the announcement of Shenmue HD came, at long last – truly a cause for celebration. These are very good times for Shenmue fans, what with the imminent Shenmue IIIand, now, finally, the re-release of the first two games after fans pleading Sega for so long. The third game has now been delayed (again) to 2019, but this should certainly tide us over until then.

Anyway – this post concerns a somewhat confusing situation regarding a certain black-suited member of the Chi You Men. This post is my effort to try and make sense of it, and figure out if two seemingly-identical looking characters featuring in the first two games really are the same person or not…

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Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)

shenmue-tree

In Part 1, we discussed the meaning of the name, ‘Shenmue’, the various examples of the meaning being foreshadowed before it’s reveal, as well as how flowers are often used as a symbol within the series. In Part 2, we will be exploring the other trees besides the titular tree of the series, (as well as nature in general) and how they represent Ryo’s character development and growth across the two games.

NOTE: This post will contain plot SPOILERS for both games in the series, so it is highly recommended you only read if you have completed both games. It also assumes you have basic knowledge of the two games and the series in general.

So, trees in Shenmue then. Given what we have learned about the meaning behind the name of the series, it only makes sense there would be other trees besides the all-important titular one outside Shenhua’s house. And we see this almost immediately in the very opening moments of Shenmue I – I refer to of course, the cherry tree outside the Hazuki Dojo; where the Dragon Mirror is buried (before Lan Di takes it, of course).

iwao-and-ryo-cherrytree

Now, I’m not sure if there is meant to be any deeper meaning to the Dragon Mirror being hidden under a tree, and the Phoenix Mirror being hidden behind a far more labyrinthine series of secret doors and passageways that lead to the Hazuki Dojo’s basement – but the tree’s narrative importance itself cannot be denied. If the player focuses on the tree the first time they approach the Dojo when first gaining control of Ryo, it triggers a flashback of him as a young boy being trained by his father – at a time the cherry blossoms have bloomed and are falling serenely to the ground. Iwao tells him to ‘find his centre of balance’ – an early indicator of something that becomes a recurring theme throughout the series – Ryo being encouraged to concentrate first instead of acting rashly or wasting his energy. While something merely hinted at here in the first game, this theme becomes far more prevalent in the second game, which we will come to…

Continue reading “Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)”

Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)

shenmue tree

NOTE: This post will contain plot SPOILERS for both games in the series, so it is highly recommended you only read if you have completed both games. It also assumes you have basic knowledge of the two games and the series in general.

As all fans of the series will know, towards the end of Shenmue II’s Guilin scenario (Disc 4 of the Dreamcast version), there is a pretty significant plot reveal – namely, that ‘Shenmue’ is actually the tree outside Shenhua’s house in Bailu Village, and that she herself is named after the flower of the tree. I remember being surprised by this reveal on my first playthrough of the game – it works so well because I had never really thought to question what ‘Shenmue’ meant before that point, or even if it was relevant within the series’ own story and mythology. And obviously for any players who had been eagerly awaiting an explanation, I expect it would have been satisfying for them as well. The other really great and clever thing about it is that there are actually several hints and foreshadowing to this reveal before this point – some admittedly not within the main narrative, but they are there nonetheless – and there are many examples of trees and nature being used as symbolism before Ryo even sets foot in Guilin – which I will be exploring in this post.

Continue reading “Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)”

The Shenmue II Character Database

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More substantial content will be coming, I can assure you; but I just wanted to share on here a project I completed in 2012 (but had been working on since about 2003!) – the Shenmue II Character Database , which compiles profiles on every single character in Shenmue II – a lot of this information was previously only available in Japanese guidebooks, and it took a lot of effort and collaboration with others in the fan community to translate and put all of this information together. I hope you’ll agree the end result was worth it! I’ll likely be referring back to this database as I dig into the trivia and little known facts about Shenmue II’s characters in future posts on the blog 😉

You can download the database here (also includes scans from the Shenmue II Perfect Guidebook)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qkby011a3tkgg2/Shenmue%20II%20Character%20Database.rar

It is also available to view online, many thanks to Giorgio of the Shenmue Dojo for providing this:

https://sites.google.com/site/shenmuemods/shenmue-ii/character-database

Below you can read a little history and background on the project and how it came about (originally written in 2012 – before the shock announcement of Shenmue III). I’m sure you’ll agree it is a testament to just how dedicated and persistent this crazy ol’ fanbase is! Enjoy…

Continue reading “The Shenmue II Character Database”

Discovering Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)

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An older incarnation of the Shenmue Dojo site (thanks to teamyu.net for the pic)

(Read Part 1 here)

As I stated at the end of Part 1, Shenmue II felt like where the saga’s story was truly beginning, the hints that it was more than a simple revenge story becoming a lot more apparent. As Ren might say – things were ‘getting interesting’…

Continue reading “Discovering Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)”

Discovering Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)

Shenmue

So then, welcome to Shenmusings! This introductory post serves to give you an idea of what to expect from the blog, as well as a little about why I am so passionate about this series, and how I first discovered it and became part of the fandom and online community (surely there can’t be a more persistently hopeful fanbase than ours?). I honestly consider both Shenmue games to certainly be up there as among some of the best games of all time (and criminally overlooked and underappreciated), and as writing just happens to be another passion of mine, I thought it high time to express my love of these games, and offer a blog that explores thematic discussion of the story, little known facts and tidbits from both games, and also posts like this one, about my own personal history with the series.

Continue reading “Discovering Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)”