Shenmue II (US) V0.991 (Sep 14, 2001 prototype): from its cancellation to its discovery

Contrary to popular belief, Shenmue 2 has not been canceled in the United States  because of the Xbox version, Microsoft did not "buy" its exclusivity on American soil.  Sega of America  had simply felt that it was too late to take him out on this territory.

Lucky for us, Sega Europe took the risk of releasing it. We were on the verge of suffering the same fate as the  Americans. Without this SOE decision, Shenmue 2 would have remained confined to Japan and would never have been able to have a variation on  Classic Xbox.

Microsoft  was actually interested in the game because the localization work was already done and therefore there was only one port of the canceled US DC version to do!

Be careful, the sources differ on the subject.

My tribute to Shenmue on video (trailer)

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The license, a question of revenge

Born from the prolific imagination of the very eminent Yu Suzuki , Shenmue has  marked the spirits by its incredible beauty, its realism and its bewitching atmosphere. Shenmue is not an ordinary game but a real life experience in its own right. One can only applaud such a technical and artistic achievement, a monument of the Dreamcast, a major title in the history of video games.

It was in 1994 that Yu Suzuki and his team decided to design an RPG in the world of Virtua Fighter , Sega's flagship fighting game. The hero was to be called  Akira , and the game, then baptized  Virtua Fighter RPG , was planned on  Saturn

In 1998, the project finally got the word out again. We learn that it is no longer an RPG  Virtua Fighter and that it took the name of " Project Berkley ". A few months after this meager information,  Sega announces that it was only a code name and that the project is large. Baptized  Shenmue , it is now scheduled for the  Dreamcast .

The game is based on the FREE system  for Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment, "hobby for fully reactive eyes". The player will be able to watch everything, see everything and practically do everything. It incorporated a QTE system, the Quick Time Event, of manipulations which are displayed on the screen and which must be carried out as quickly as possible. Mini-games will be present such as Space Harrier or Hang On , which will be possible to test in  an arcade for a handful of yen. The Magic Weather (management by algorithms of the flow of time, weather and seasons) will generate the weather forecast at random. The development team relied on real weather data to simulate it. the climate of Yokusaka , where the adventure began in 1986.

In the early 2000s, the Shenmue franchise  was the most expensive in the gaming industry. Astronomical figures then reported a budget of $ 50 million. Unheard of for the time. As Frédérick Raynal ( Agartha's dad) told me,  they nicknamed it " Shame Mue " internally, because of its indecent development cost. He will be dethroned 10 years later by a certain ...  Grand Theft Auto 4 .

Unreleased Dreamcast Shenmue 2 us version beta.jpg

Asset Shenmue 2 early alpha

Shenmue 2 early alpha

Asset Shenmue 2 early alpha

early Alpha Shenmue 2 prototype

Asset Shenmue 2 early alpha

Shenmue 2 Dreamcast early alpha

Live the life of Ryo Hazuki and stop playing Shenmue!

Shenmue Limited Dreamcast Airbrush

Shenmue is much more than a game. It is a step in the history of video games, which has succeeded in making its players dream by offering them a whole new experience. To understand the interest of such a title, it is good to go back to the genesis of the making of Shenmue .

Yu Suzuki had reached the limits of the Saturn (using the audio processor as an additional computer in addition). Sonic Fighter , Virtua Fighter 3 and Shenmue had to prove Sega's superiority over the competition (and this without the RAM expansion); these major titles - yet finished - will not be released on the soon to be defunct machine.  Whatever:  Virtua Fighter 3 and Shenmue will survive on Dreamcast .

Shenmue 2 had to really demonstrate the capabilities of the Dreamcast . This is why this sequel constantly offers larger environments and better controlled loadings, as well as an even richer gaming experience than the first. But what is often overlooked is that Shenmue 2  has above all made it possible to improve the Katana devs-kits, due to its programming accuracy, which has  ultimately benefited from the titles of third-party developers.

Recent discovery of a Dreamcast limited AM2

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Facing Shenmue 2 , when it was released, I remember a Metal Gear Solid 2 on Playstation 2 . Yu Suzuki's game did not have to be ashamed of the comparison. The Dreamcast, however already in peril, has never lost its luster. However, did the title exploit all the power of the Dreamcast?  ? It's hard to answer knowing that neither the modem nor the advertised Zip drive has been used.

Let's focus on what made the difference for these Shenmue . Certainly Shenmue  is beautiful - really beautiful - but it is not limited to that. It revolutionizes the gameplay with its " QTE ". Some would say that “ Dragon's Lair ” was a precursor - and rightly so - but we are far from the finesse used in Shenmue , which is still a benchmark today. I dare not speak of the open world, grandiose, which will impose a new vision of the game, despite here again pioneering projects like " Black Ice the White Noise " by Atari on Jaguar CD , which has remained in the Alpha version. Here too, the richness of the two titles is not comparable. It will be necessary to wait for GTA 3 to find this freedom in a very different register.

And precisely, it is the register of Shenmue that makes the difference ... This title is a cinematographic work, succeeding in the synthesis between precomputed renderings and real-time 3D, between adventure game, RPG, FMV and fighting game for the gameplay, all in an open world with unprecedented game possibilities: eating, sleeping, collecting, betting, feeding a cat, playing in an arcade machine. And this world is full of memorable NPCs, each with their own unique lives. For the first time, the player was immersed in a universe that seemed parallel to ours.

Yet it will disappoint and still has many detractors today. Far from excessive action, Shenmue is a romantic series (moralizing which seeks to take the player in a perspective of emancipation through the adventure of a personified hero). We are therefore far from a game of consumption. The slow pace, the repetitiveness is only a translation of the stages of life through failures and learning, to achieve its own fulfillment. In this, Shenmue is indeed a cinematographic work inspired by Japanese cinema (for its slow pace) and Asian culture in its contemplation and its vision of the long term (yet very present in the West also for those who love history).

If all the AAA games are technically and visually inspired by Shenmue , the title of Sega is still this opposite in its educational approach where the player is not a brain time available but simply a person in search of his own success through fiction.

The story of Shenmue 2:

We had left Ryo Hazuki when he had just left Yokosuka in Japan and was embarking for China , still in search of his father's assassin, the dreaded Lan-Di .

Shenmue 2 US Dreamcast prototype.jpg

Ryo arrives  in Hong Kong , the spirit full of vengeance, with a few dollars and the famous mirror of the Phoenix in pocket. His path will be strewn with pitfalls, obstacles and battles. He will meet some characters who will later become his friends and  will lend him a hand. Among them Ren , the leader of a gang of thugs (the Heavens ), who will be above all a formidable adversary. Let us also present the superb Xui Ying Hong , master of Kung-Fu, whose beauty is matched only by strength. And finally, let's celebrate the return of the mysterious Shenhua Rei , who appeared in the introduction to Shenmue and in Ryo's dreams. This young girl whose fate seems directly linked to that of our hero is a character of the utmost importance. It will finally be possible to meet her and learn - a little - more about her.

Dreamcast Unreleased prototype of Shenmue 2 Shenhua.jpg

The scenario will take you through China and appreciate magnificent scenery thanks to a sumptuous graphic realization. You will have the opportunity to admire different districts of Hong Kong , sometimes gloomy, infamous, others more touristy, high-tech or popular. Next is Kowlon , a much more traditional city where street fights are an attraction like any other. Also in Kowlon , you will experience one of the most intense moments of the game with the endless rise floor by floor of an abandoned tower  serving as a hideout for the worst kind of mafia. Fight and stress galore!

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The adventure will end far from the cities, in Guilin and its splendid green settings, in the company of the nonetheless magnificent Shenhua Rei ... You will learn a lot about the history of the characters in this episode, especially about the reasons obscures that prompted Lan-Di to assassinate Iwao Hazuki , Ryo's father, or the power of the mysterious mirrors of the Phoenix and the Dragon, which are at the heart of all these events.

Ryo will gradually acquire wisdom and strength in contact with different masters, all in a very traditional Zen atmosphere. The philosophy of martial arts is also omnipresent.

The story summary was taken from the Gamekult article

First analysis:

By performing a content analysis of the prototype, the build was created on September 21, 2001 at 11:29:25. Based on the last modification of the files with the GD-ROM Explorer tool, the date is September 14, 2001 at 11:08:44. This American version of Shenmue 2 would be between the Japanese release of the title, September 6, 2001, and the European release of November 23, 2001.

This prototype has two Debug Menus. If at first glance, these seem basic, we realize that they allow a lot of things in the game. It is however complicated to understand them, to use them.

Video Debugs Menus

The prototype has no label, we could confuse it with a blank GD-R, there will be no photo of it.

We  will note that Shenmue 2 Us creates US save files compatible only with this version. 


  • The translation from Japanese to English is not finished: lines of dialogue are still in the language of the land of the rising sun.

  • The words used to select the action to be taken (choice) are approximate as for the arm wrestling with "DO - DO" and the gatchas below in photos.

  • The font used for the notebook was used only for the American localization.

  • Most of the data present is almost identical to the retail versions of the game, there are a few textures that look different etc, but this is certainly due to the transition from DC to  the Xbox.

Gatcha (choice problem)

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Unfinished translation

Shenmue 2 Us Dreamcast prototype, unfinished translation

Shahua as in Japanese

Shenhua Shenmue 2 Dreamcast Us version, translation problem.jpg

The Debug Menu 2

To open this hidden menu, it  must start a new game or load the current game. By plugging a controller into port D of the console, pressing START on controller 4, various options will appear. It will then be possible to navigate in this debug menu with this controller. The triggers will allow you to change the main option, the other buttons to activate, to modify certain values. It can also be activated during the Shenhua presentation scene.


[TIME]: increases / decreases the time by one or two minutes. The scrolling of time and hours can be stopped.

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[SAVE]: allows you to save at any time.

[STEP]: the progression of the story of Shenmue 2 (detailed explanation below).

[FLAG]: activate or deactivate internal flags, mainly for things related to history, etc. (detailed explanations below)

[MONEY]: increases / decreases the money Ryo has. The limit is set at 999,999 HK dollars.

[SYSTEM METRICS]: watch  various useful information for developers.

STEP option:

This option corresponds to Ryo's progress in Shenmue 2 . It can be increased up to 300.0000. Each important and obligatory scene for the advancement of the story of the game has a code corresponding to a number of STEP. If the STEP number does not correspond to anything, it will be reset to 0 the next time the game is loaded, by changing the zone for example. By choosing the correct STEP number in the place and in the zone provided for this purpose,  the scene will be triggered.

With this tool, Ren and Shenhua appear as NPC. Ren appears around 37.0000, he will follow Ryo , which corresponds to the rise of the 17 floors of the building on disk 3. He will disappear around 48.0000. Shenhua will appear around 70.0000. The poor thing, she's bugged!

For Joy , I did not find the precise combination for her to accompany Iwao Hazuki's son  stake.

It would be possible to  list all the STEP of the 4 GD-ROMs. The work would be long and tedious. I invite you to send me privately a screenshot of the scene with its corresponding number and its explanation to locate it in order to update this section. I will give you some examples of STEP with the equivalent in game:

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Warning ! FLAGs can falsify STEP numbers. If you are going for a real game, avoid using them.

Disc 1:

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The STEP number for the start of the adventure in Hong Kong is 0.0000. By using it, it will be possible to travel the whole city without interruption with scenes. Be careful, by choosing numbers provided for disc 2 for scenes taking place in this GD-ROM, the game crashes with loading errors and may at times lead the player to a blue background. For example, try to go in front of the entrance to Beverly Hill, make the guard appear by increasing the values of the STEP, he should appear between 10.1400 and 12.1400, then talk to him. Similar crashes occur in the Blue Sky building with the dart player offering him a game (he appears between 9.0000 and 12.0000) and in Mao Temple while seeking to go to the Lishao Tao scenes on disc 2.

STEP 1.0000: The descent of the boat.

STEP 2.0000: Wong steals Ryo's bag

STEP 3.0100: Joy on a motorbike asking Ryo if he has a room to sleep at night.

STEP 4.0300: Room 205, Yan Tin apartment

STEP 5.0400: Search for Master Tao by bribing an NPC by giving him 100 HK dollars (room 205).

STEP 5.0400: First visit to the Man Mao temple.

STEP 6.0000: Entrance to the Man Mao temple.

STEP 6.0200: First visit to the Guang Martial Arts School.

STEP 6.0300: The barber, asking him for the name of another martial art master, the number changes to 6.0400.

STEP 6.0800: After the Bloom tailor.

STEP 6.0900: After talking with the woman at the Yan Tin apartment.

STEP 6.1000:  Man Mao Temple, cleaning the temple.

It is possible to finish disc 1 in 5 minutes. Once the scenes have been viewed, they cannot be triggered again.

Joy Shenmue 2 Dreamcast.jpg
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Yan Tin Appartments Shenmue 2 Dreamcast beta.jpg

Disc 2:

Unreleased Shenmue 2 Us Hong Kong.jpg

The STEP of this GD-Rom are very poorly documented. I haven't played it completely. I count on you to update this part.

The STEP number at the end of the first disc and the start of the second is 7.0000.

I'll admit that I found the end STEP number by luck. The goal was to go quickly to the last disc. You can finish this part of the adventure in 5 minutes.

STEP 10.0100: Joy on a motorbike joking with Ryo about the Grand Hotel.

STEP 11.8100: Entering Beverly Hill Wharf, Ryo wakes up in Wong's boat. He has to say goodbye to Hong Kong and go to Kowloon.

Disc 3:

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The STEP number at the end of the second disc and the start of the third is 12.0000.

We can cheat and reach the passage of the climb of 17 floors quickly. Once you arrive in the basement of the Thousand White Building, you have crossed the door of the Yellow bulding, you will have to  play the game normally, at least after the QTEs and the Free Battles of the guards on the first floors.

In the sewers, to open the door, you have to climb the STEP until you can open it, around 98.2300 approximately. We can  go up to the 12th floor (QTE balances on a board) without being worried. From this floor, you will have to play Shenmue 2 normally.

STEP 34.0000: Ryo looks for places of Street Combats (deduction by asking passers-by).

STEP 35.0000: Ryo Hazuki inquires about the 3 warriors (deduction by asking passers-by).

STEP 35.3100: Small stage just in front of the entrance to the Thousand White Bulding presenting the building.

STEP 39.0000: Ren pushes Ryo with his foot then fights a guard (3rd floor Yellow Head Bldg.).

STEP 41.0000: 8th floor of the Yellow Head Building, Ren and Ryo must turn around and find another passage.

STEP 43.0000: QTY (balance) on the board.

STEP 45.0000: QTE (balance) on the board while being chased.

STEP 46.0000: After the QTE to escape the woman with the chainsaw.

STEP 48.0000: Ryo must find keys in a room before time runs out.

STEP 49.0000: Ryo exits the elevator and discovers the arena of Baihu.

STEP 51.0000: After fighting Dou Niu.

Unreleased Shenmue 2 Us version Dreamcast Yelloy head bulding.jpg
Shenmue 2 cancelled Us version Dreamcast Ryo and Ren Yellow Bldg..jpg
Unreleased Shenmue 2 Us Dreamcast Ryo Hazuki.jpg

Disc 4:

Shenmue 2 Dreamcast Us version Shenhua.jpg

The STEP number of the end of the third disc and the start of the fourth is 70.0000. By increasing the STEP when we are with Shenhua , we stop following her.

Unlike other GD-ROMS, Disk 4 cannot be explored freely. The zones are interspersed with scenes. Some locations are only intended for a cutscene and not to be played there. By increasing the STEP, we create  a bug when the game should load a scene. It is impossible to cheat like other discs in order to finish the game faster.

STEP 71.0000: The storm is coming, the river is in flood. Ryo saves Shenhua and the goat.

STEP 71.0300: Night is coming, QTE running in the forest, followed by the pond scene.

STEP 73.0000: Ryo has to collect firewood while sleeping in the cave with Shenhua.

STEP 73.0300: Ryo comes out of the cave and looks at the waterfall, he is training (meditation).

STEP 73.0400: Continuation of the previous meditation scene.

STEP 73.0500: Shenhua sings while sitting on the branch of a tree.

STEP 74.0000: The sun rises, they wake up and leave to reach the village of Shenhua.

STEP 74.0100: Scene of the sign with the path to choose.

STEP 74.0300: Shenhua and Ryo arrive at the edge of a river, they must cross it (QTE).

STEP 74.0500: They must cross a new river (QTE).

STEP 74.0600: After Ryo and Shenhua observed statues  at the edge of the footpath.

STEP 75.0000: After the flower scene, Shenhua asks Ryo if he wants to go see a path with flowers on the edge.

STEP 75.0200: After seeing the spider tree.

STEP 75.0400: After the teenager collects flowers for her father.

STEP 75.0600: Arrived at the stone bridges, Ryo must keep his balance (QTE).

STEP 75.0700: After having crossed the stone bridges without having fallen, new scene of the signs.

STEP 75.0800: After the scene where our 2 companions observe statues in the shape of a dog (lions of Fo).

STEP 75.1000: After the scene where Shenhua seems lost, she asks Ryo to choose a direction.

STEP 76.0000: Just before arriving at Shenhua's house.

STEP 77.0000: Presentation of the house of Shenhua and the tree in front, childhood memories of the teenager.

STEP 78.0100: Shenhua arrives at her house with a meal for her father.

STEP 79.0000: Ryo must follow Shenhua. She is going to bring the meal to her father.

STEP 82.0000: Arrival at Stone Pit (Ryo and Shenhua in the cave with torches).

STEP 83.0000: We visit the cave, the teenager's father has disappeared.

STEP 84.0000: Behind the door in the cave, Shenhua finds a letter from his father. They discover a sword.

STEP 85.0000: Before and while Ryo puts the sword in the plinth.

STEP 86.0000: Before and after the scene of the 2 giant mirrors, it's the end!

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