Shenmue III: How to make a lot of money fast

As we noted in our recent review, Shenmue III somehow manages to recreate the same odd mixture of stilted adventuring and revenge-based martial arts fighting that defined its two predecessors nearly 20 years ago, for good and ill. Going by this tried and true (at least in developer Ys Net’s mind) formula, Shenmue III protagonist Ryo Hazuki spends a good portion of his non-revenge seeking downtime earning money by performing side jobs.

In Shenmue III, bringing in a steady flow of cash is important not only for players who want to build up a respectable capsule toy collection, but also those who want to advance the game’s story. There are two separate points in the game where Ryo can’t continue his quest for revenge until he builds up a large sum of Yuan (Shenmue III’s currency) and uses it to purchase a specific key item.

Aside from these story-mandated cash humps, amassing a healthy stockpile of Yuan is also handy if you’re the sort of player who likes purchasing optional items like capsule toys, skill books for new martial arts moves, phone cards so Ryo can call his friends in Japan, or even new clothing options for him to wear like jackets and shoes. No matter your reasons for wanting to do so, this guide will show you the best and most efficient strategies for making lots of Yuan in both the Bailu and Niaowu regions.

Tried, True, and Inefficient

The first side job Shenmue III players unlock is a simple mini-game wherein Ryo chops firewood in exchange for a small wage (usually 60-70 Yuan per chopping session depending on how many logs the player manages to cut within the time limit). There are multiple spots in both Bailu and Niaowu where players can chop wood, but they all have the same pay rates and they all involve the person who hired Ryo creepily cheering him on in the background as he goes about chopping.

Unfortunately, while wood chopping is a consistent (if tedious) way for Ryo to make a bit of cash in the short term, it’s also terribly inefficient when compared to the various other methods players can employ. 60-70 Yuan per sessions also isn’t a whole lot when you consider most of Shenmue III’s more prized shop items (skill books, clothing, etc.) often cost hundreds or even thousands of Yuan apiece. 

In short, chopping wood is handy when you need a quick burst of cash to purchase some food or (if you’re in Niaowu) pay for your hotel room, but when it comes time to start saving up some serious funds, you’ll want to look for alternative money-making methods with better payouts.

Man of the Sea

A far more relaxing (and noticeably more lucrative) way of making Yuan is by taking up the time-honored pursuit of angling. Whether they’re in Bailu or Niaowu, players can rent a fishing rod, hit up one of several different designated fishing spots, and catch various fish which they can then sell for a tidy profit.

The only downside to fishing in Shenmue III is that, for some weird reason, it’s only available during the morning hours. Fishing shops will only let players rent a rod before noon in-game time, and the player is forced to stop fishing once the in-game clock reaches 12:30 PM. This means the best strategy for fishing is to head straight to the fishing shop as soon as Ryo wakes up in the morning and then beeline to whichever fishing spot you prefer.

Despite these odd restrictions, fishing is still noticeably more lucrative than chopping wood for the time spent. A full day of fishing (i.e. from when Ryo wakes up in the morning to 12:30 PM in-game time) can yield roughly 500-700 Yuan on average, which means players looking to maximize their money gains should trade in their wood-chopping axe for a sturdy fishing rod as soon as possible and never look back. 

Green Thumb

Players wondering how to make an honest in-game living beyond the 12:30 cutoff for fishing will find the answer to their dilemma right at their feet. Herbs that a player finds and picks from the ground can be sold to merchants for a pretty penny, especially if the player manages to find the right herbs to complete a valuable set.

Herb-picking functions as a sort of middle ground between wood chopping and fishing in terms of reliability and profit. Maps showing the locations where herbs can be found are free to obtain outside of shops (if you played Shenmue II, herb map stands look similar to the stands from which Shenmue II players could purchase local area maps). However, the exact herb a player finds in each designated spot is random, and once an herb is picked a player has to wait several days before another herb grows back in its place.

The time between “herb respawns” and the fact that herb sets can also be traded in at pawn shops for new skill books both mean that picking herbs isn’t a super-reliable way to make money over the long term, though it can provide significantly larger short-term gains than chopping wood if the player can complete a few of the more lucrative herb sets. 

Roll the Dice

There’s a reason why many of Shenmue III’s NPC’s (especially those in the Niaowu region) will constantly steer Ryo towards fortune tellers and gambling pursuits like Lucky Hit. Gambling is by far the best way to make large sums of money in a short amount of time…assuming, of course, that luck is on your side.

As in real life, there’s no way to ensure a win when partaking in Shenmue III’s various gambling pursuits, but there are ways to hedge the odds in your favor. By visiting a fortune teller, you can pay 10 Yuan to receive either a lucky number or a lucky color. The game doesn’t explicitly say as much, but that lucky number or color grants a sort of passive buff which lasts for two in-game hours and increases the player’s odds of winning big when they bet on that number or color.

The fact that Shenmue III players can save and/or load their game at any time also means they can participate in the time-honored tradition of “save scumming,” which in this case means saving right before laying down a big bet and just reloading if they lose. Thanks to save scumming, the easiest and most straightforward way to make money through gambling is to purchase a hefty amount of gambling tokens (100 tokens costs 10 Yuan), find out Ryo’s lucky color, and then bet as much as you can on that color in either the Turtle Race or Flower, Bird, Wind, and Moon gambling games (the only two games that involve colors).

If you win, you can just save and repeat the process (assuming the two in-game hours aren’t up), and if you lose you can just reload and try again. It may not be the most honorable way to build up your fortune, but the gambling/save scumming method allows you to amass thousands of Yuan in no time flat, and it sure beats chopping wood for hours on end.

Once you’ve built up a respectable cache of gambling tokens, you can trade them in at a Prize Exchange (located at the Panda Market in Bailu or in the New Paradise district in Niaowu) for prizes which can then be sold to a pawn shop. In general, it’s usually best to trade your tokens in for valuable gemstones (Emeralds, Rubies, Smoky Crystals, etc.) since they have the highest cash value at pawn shops, but prizes like the Teapot, Iron Kettle, and Peal Earrings can fetch a decent price as well.   

Bailu

To wrap up the Bailu region, you’re only required to amass a minimum of 2,000 Yuan so you can purchase some expensive wine for a local martial arts master. Of course, if you also want to purchase all of the region’s local skill books, clothing items, or other miscellaneous trinkets, you’ll need a fair bit more than that.

Start with the default wood chopping and herb-picking options, but as soon as you’re able you should take up fishing and make that your go-to default during each new morning. You’ll also reach a point in the story where you have to bet on the Flower, Bird, Wind, and Moon game in Bailu’s Joy Park, but for some weird reason the game is only available during evening hours. Once you have access to both the fortune teller and the Flower, Bird, Wind, and Moon game, you can initiate the save scumming strategy to build up your personal fortune.

As we mentioned above, the lucky color tactic also applies to the Turtle Racing gambling game, but Turtle Racing also requires that the player participate in some intense QTE-based button mashing. Much like the arm wrestling mini-games from Shenmue II, this button mashing can take a serious toll on your hand and wrist muscles, so it’s usually not worth doing more than one or two turtle races at a time.  

Niaowu

Towards the end of the Niaowu region, you’ll need to purchase a special Bajiquan Aracana book for a whopping 5,000 Yuan. Thankfully, in addition to the usual wood chopping, fishing, herb-picking, and gambling/save scumming strategies, Niaowu provides players with two additional ways of making money: driving a forklift and participating in a fighting arena.

Driving a forklift in Shenmue III is a more straightforward process than it was in the original Shenmue since there are only two different locations you ferry crates and other cargo between. Shenmue III’s forklift job is also pretty lucrative since on an average run you can usually deliver around 7-8 pieces of cargo, exceeding the minimum quota of five and earning yourself a nice bonus as a result. We’re not sure how the final wage is calculated, but on average you’ll earn around 280-320 Yuan for each forklift shift you work.

Similar to the Flower, Bird, Wind, and Moon/Turtle Race gambling pursuits, participating in Niaowu’s ‘Rose Garden’ fighting arena (located via a side entrance on the main Promenade just past the dockside area where the Hotel Niaowu resides) is a high risk/high reward prospect. You have to bet a certain amount of gambling tokens to participate in each fight, and if you win you get double your bet back. More difficult fights have a higher token entry fee, and if you beat all of the other challengers in single combat you’ll earn an exclusive skill book for your troubles and unlock the ability to participate in multi-opponent fights with even higher token wagers.

Again, the Rose Garden fights should be approached with save scumming in mind. Stock up on food, save before you begin, and work through as many progressive fights as you can until you feel you won’t be able to win the next one with your current health amount (the game only lets you refill your health between fights if it’s below 50 percent). Back out, save your game, top off your health, and then keep going. If you want, you can “reset” the sequence of fighters you’re facing if the current challengers become too hard. This allows you to face the easier (but less lucrative) starting fighters again.

If you go the gambling/Rose Garden route, amassing about 45,000-50,000 tokens should be enough to purchase enough prizes needed to pawn for 5,000 Yuan. Again, when you visit the Prize Exchange, go for precious gemstones like Corundum, Sapphires, and Emeralds. They cost the most tokens, but they also sell for the most when you pawn them. Between your gambling/Rose Garden pursuits and your time forklifting cargo, you should have 5,000 Yuan (and maybe even a little extra) in no time.