Shenmue I & II HD remasters: Beginner tips and strategies

As noted in our recent review, the newly launched Shenmue I & II HD collection likely won’t be for everybody, even in its remastered state. Both of the included games expect the player to figure out a series of somewhat unwieldy gameplay systems without a whole lot of hand-holding, and that can make it tough for newer players to feel like they’re making any noticeable progress.

If you’re struggling to wrap your head around the remastered Shenmue games, this guide should help you get your bearings and, hopefully, conquer some of the tougher challenges each game throws at you.

Just a quick note, for the reader’s benefit I’ll be referring to the first game as Shenmue I even though it’s technically just called Shenmue. Also, there is very mild spoiler territory below so consider yourself warned if you’re trying to approach each game with fresh eyes.

Shenmue I

Finding the hidden move scrolls in the Hazuki residence

When you first take control of Ryo Hazuki after Shenmue I’s opening cutscene, you may be tempted to rush off in pursuit of revenge, but there’s actually a lot to discover for players who take the time to thoroughly explore the Hazuki residence. By acclimating yourself to the “zoom-and-search” mechanics in which you zoom in on objects like drawers and cabinets to open them, you can find all manner of obtainable items such as cassette tapes, matchboxes, a box of candles, and more.

However, there are two items in the Hazuki residence which you definitely won’t want to miss out on: a pair of move scrolls that, when read, unlock two additional combat moves for Ryo to utilize. When you exit Ryo’s bedroom, turn to the right, head to the end of the hall, and enter the room on your left. This is Fuku-San’s room, and on his desk you’ll find a scroll for the ‘Shadow Reaper’ kick technique.

Now, if you go to the opposite end of the residence, past the kitchen, you’ll find a pair of rooms to your left, a living room with an altar and Iwao Hazuki’s bedroom. There’s a back hallway connecting those two rooms, and in that hallway there’s a closed linens basket. Zoom in on the basket to have Ryo remove its lid and you’ll find a scroll for the ‘Twin Hand Blades’ punch technique.

Winning the MJQ Jazz Bar pool game

When it comes time for Ryo to find some sailors (let the memes commence), one of the places he’ll be told to look is the MJQ Jazz Bar. Entering the MJQ will prompt a mini-game of sorts in which Ryo is challenged by a local pool player to sink a bank shot in one attempt in exchange for information on where sailors might congregate.

Even if you know the basics of pool, figuring out the right angle for the shot can be tough, but there’s actually a pretty simple trick for guaranteeing you’ll sink it every time. When you’re lining up the shot, head into the first-person viewpoint and then tap right on your controller’s D-pad 17 times. Doing so will give you the angle you need to make the shot. You can also follow the above YouTube tutorial if you want to have a visual reference for your attempt.

Getting rich from Forklift driving

Towards the end of the game, Ryo will get himself a job moving crates at the harbor with a forklift. This job plays out over the next several days, and along with earning Ryo a little extra money it is also meant to trigger a series of story sequences involving the Mad Angels gang. However, if you want to use the forklift job as a way to consistently pad Ryo’s bank account, there is a way to do so.

On the second standard day of work (not counting the day on which you initially get the job and go through the training segment), you’ll be tasked with delivering crates from the front of warehouse 18 to warehouse 3. There are actually two passageways which lead to warehouse 3, and the story cinematic which normally occurs on this day only triggers if you take the passageway that’s closest to the Alpha Trading Office. By taking the other passageway, you can skip the cinematic and essentially keep repeating this same workday, getting paid each time (this map) shows the exact route to take if you want to skip the cinematic).

While this trick is ultimately somewhat time-consuming, it’s handy if you want to amass a lot of Yen, which can in turn help if you want to go on a capsule toy spending spree or you want to try and master a particular You Arcade game.   

Defeating Chai

The skinhead antagonist Chai who starts menacing Ryo shortly after his meeting with Master Chen may seem like a bit of a buffoon at first, but when you face him in open combat at the You Arcade you’ll quickly learn that his combat skills are no joke. Chai can be a tough skill gate to overcome since, up until the point when you face him, you’ve really only been fighting glass-jawed sailors and high school punks.

Defeating Chai at the arcade is technically not a requirement to advance the story, but it is possible, and at the very least it can put a nice feather in your cap. First off, try not to be too aggressive as Chai is very good at punishing your combo attempts with hard-hitting counterattacks. Instead, wait for Chai to attempt a strike, evade it, and then quickly respond with a counter of your own.

Chai is better at dodging/blocking certain moves thanks to his crouching stance, but he’s particularly vulnerable to the Trample Kick, Hold Against Leg, Katana Mist Slash, and, if you have acquired their respective move scrolls, the Crawl Cyclone and Mud Spider (both scrolls can be bought at Bunkado Antiques). You can occasionally land a power move like an Elbow Assault or Twin Hand Waves, but if your move doesn’t connect you’ll also be slightly more open to a counter from Chai. Just be patient, don’t panic if Chai lands a couple of lucky hits on you, and you should ultimately triumph.    

Shenmue II

Regaining lost funds

There’s a point early on in Shenmue II’s narrative where you’ll lose all the money you had when you disembarked from the boat, but there’s a little trick you can use to regain some of the funds you lost. Shortly after your initial arrival in Aberdeen Harbor, you’ll reach an open courtyard area with street vendors and other shops. You may notice that some of the street vendors are selling items that Ryo can buy such as stylized flip lighters and boxes of capsule toys.

What you’ll want to do is spend as much money as you can on these lighters and capsule toy boxes, just exhaust the inventories of as many vendors as you can. What you’re essentially doing is trading out one type of currency (which you’ll inevitably lose) for another since you can later trade in those lighters and capsule toys for cash at the various pawn shops that are spread throughout the Hong Kong region. Once you’ve lost your money, head to a pawn shop and you’ll be able to at least partially restore the funds you would have lost anyways.

Just make sure you check with a few different pawn shops before offloading your inventory since different shops offer different prices for individual items and capsule toy sets.   

Building up your money reserves

At certain points in the game, you’ll be tasked with bypassing “money gates” in which an NPC requires that you pay them a certain amount of cash to progress the story. The first such gate is when you have to meet the leader of the Heavens gang in Aberdeen.

By this point, you’ll have access to the crate-moving side job, and if you visit Wong he’ll hook you up with a gig working as a Lucky Hit street vendor. However, neither of those above methods is terribly efficient when it comes to bringing in cash.

If you want to quickly build up your cash reserves in Shenmue II, one of the best strategies involves a bit of a risk/reward tradeoff. First, go ahead and do a crate-moving session with your buddy Delin, but make sure you do it *after* you’ve reached the point of the story where Ryo is trying to meet the leader of the Heavens. Once the session is finished, a cinematic will trigger in which Delin teaches Ryo a new combat move: the ridiculously powerful Brawling Uppercut.

Once you have learned the Brawling Uppercut, head into the Heavens’ dockside headquarters and find the street-fighting contest where you have to knock the opponent out in five hits or less. As with all of Shenmue II’s street-fighting mini-games, this one has an escalating difficulty level that makes the opponent harder to knock out, but also ups the amount of money you earn with each successful attempt. The Brawling Uppercut should allow you to clear even the highest-difficulty version of the fight, letting you efficiently build up the funds you need. 

Unlocking the hidden Golden Qtr Easter Egg fights and duck race

This is perhaps one of the most unusual secrets in Shenmue II, not only because of what it ultimately unlocks but also because of the highly specific steps you must follow to unlock it. When you’ve reached the point of the story where Ryo is staying at Xiuying’s apartment, head back over to the Aberdeen marketplace with all the shops and street vendors.

If you go down to the large fountain courtyard (Pigeon Park), you’ll spot a young woman in a distinct outfit practicing Tai Chi. Upon speaking to this woman, Ryo will learn that her name is Eileen, and later on he’ll learn she’s also friends with Fangmei.

After speaking with Eileen, head over to the Tomato Convenience Store in the Golden Quarter and speak with the cashier there, another young woman named Izumi. Once you’ve spoken with both Eileen and Izumi, head over to the Come Over Guest House (the apartment you stayed at during the beginning of the game).

When you exit the Come Over Guest House, turn to the right and proceed down the alley until you reach a man stacking boxes. Nearby, you’ll spot a doorway that was previously blocked (it should be open if you spoke to both Eileen and Izumi), and heading through the doorway will lead to a hidden courtyard with several tables.

There will be a few items on the tables you can grab, including a large bronze medal. With the bronze medal in your inventory, you’ll be able to proceed up to the third floor of the Pine Arcade in the Golden Quarter where a mysterious man in a white suite will ask you if you want to “participate.” Say yes, pay the small entrance fee, and you’ll find yourself in a free battle fight with Eileen. If you win, you’ll earn a silver medal, and if you go back up to the third floor after besting Eileen, you’ll be able to try your hand at a second battle sequence where you’ll fight none other than Izumi.

Izumi may seem all bubbly and sweet, but she will thrash you if you underestimate her. At certain points during the fight, she’ll also trigger two separate command QTE’s, and failing either of them will cause her to pretty much one-hit KO Ryo. If you emerge victorious against Izumi, she’ll invite you to visit her at the Tomato Convenience Store, and if you take her up on her offer, she’ll bring you to a hidden duck race event in which you can bet on various ducks to win.

To participate in the duck race, you’ll need your own duck. Once you’ve unlocked the leaf-snatching mini-game at Man Mo Temple, start it up and try to catch multiple leaves in a single snatch three separate times. You’ll know you’ve done it when you hear a telltale duck quack and see a white duck feather falling alongside the standard red leaves. Snatch the duck feather and you’ll get your very own duck which you can enter into the race. If you manage to win the duck race, you’ll get a gold medal for your efforts.