Shenmue II is the sequel to the acclaimed Shenmue. It took the main character, Ryo Hazuki, to China in order for him to continue his quest to avenge his father's death. The game was released on Dreamcast in Japan and Europe on September 6th, 2001 and November 23rd, 2001 respectively. The North American Dreamcast version was cancelled but later released on the Xbox a year later on October 28th. The Xbox port was released in Europe as well on March 23rd, 2003. Despite clear hanging threads, Shenmue 3 was never released and the story never concluded.
Shenmue II, continues the adventure of Ryo Hazuki as he tries to find Lan Di, the man who murdered his father. The game begins as Ryo arrives in Hong Kong and begins his task given to him at the end of the first game - to find Master Lishao Tao - who might be able to point Ryo in the right direction.
Shenmue II tells three chapters of the 16-chapter Shenmue story and continues to portray Ryo's journey from adolescence into adulthood. The entire first game is considered chapter one and chapter two is an untold story of the ship ride from Japan to Hong Kong. Chapter three takes place in Hong Kong whilst chapter four concerns Ryo's stay in Kowloon and chapter five is the story of Ryo in Guilin at the end of the game.
As opposed to the first Shenmue, the sequel finds Ryo meeting many new people while scarcely mentioning his friends in Yokosuka. Among these characters is Wuying Ren, the leader of a gang named The Heavens. He is one of many that form a relationship with Ryo as the game progresses. Ren agrees to join the quest when he finds out the financial gain he could make from finding the Phoenix Mirror. Wong, a boy and friend of Ren, together with a woman named Joy also join Ryo in his search for Lan Di.
The gameplay stays largely the same as the first game with several new additions, consisting mostly of free roam with free battles and QTEs spread throughout. The latest additions include gambling, arm wrestling, new arcade games, and street fighting.
Throughout China are gambling booths which gamers can identify by finding a "G" on the door. If one has money, Ryo can participate in gambing in games such as Big or Small or Pachicko.
Early in the game, Ryo is given a choice to arm wrestle a man in exchange for information. This later becomes something the gamer can do on the side and involves tapping a single button rapidly. The tougher the opponent, the faster the gamer must hit.
There are many street fighters in Shenmue II, a bulk of them in Kowloon. Ryo can choose to bet money and fight the street fighter to double what he gave. Each street fighter in the game has a specific skillset that they use and typically have a certain weakness to accompany it. It's up to the gamer to figure those out and fight them appropriately and win. After each win, the player can go back and try betting more money on the fight and subsequently have the fighter become more difficult.
A CQTE is a modified version of a QTE. During a CQTE, the controller will appear on-screen and flash a combination that the player must match, as opposed to a single button in a normal QTE.
The Xbox version of Shenmue II includes a number of additional features. A snapshot mode allows you to take a photo at any time; taking snapshots of certain characters of relevance to the story unlocks manga comics and bonus art (one of these comics details the second chapter of the Shenmue story - Ryu's boat ride from Japan to Hong Kong including another confrontation with Chai; Shenmue II actually begins on chapter three). These photos - and the entire game during exploration, combat, and cut-scenes - can be viewed through different colour filters (regular, black & white, sepia, etc). A DVD called "Shenmue - The Movie" is included with the game; contrary to the name, it is an extended refresher on the events of the first game. In terms of performance, the Xbox version offers a slight improvement in terms of visuals.
The main attraction of the original Dreamcast version (which was only released in Japan and Europe) is the ability to transfer your Shenmue game file. This allows you to carry over many things from the original game including fighting techniques, yen (which is converted to Hong Kong dollars), and capsule toys. To compensate, Xbox players start with some moves that were optional in the first game and rare capsule toys.
Shenmue III has been announced at least twice and subsequently cancelled due to one reason or another.
Fans worldwide have been petitioning for a sequel as the Shenmue story, while actually finished and written has never been put into production.
Yu Suzuki has insisted that the story will be finished through games, however it still looks bleak and unlikely to happen.
In January 2010, an interview conducted by Famitsu with Sega occured, the possibility of Shenmue III was discussed and some new information regarding the possibility of the game being released came about. Sega stated that sales were a big factor but they'd "love to do it if the opportunity presented itself" this had led to speculation that Sega are hoping that Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo would possibly help fund the development.
Shenmue fans remain hopeful that the saga will have the conclusion it deserves, Sega have a habit of reviving old franchises so this is still entirely possible, perhaps when they take a break from Yakuza we will see something in the pipeline regarding Shenmue III.