On Yer Bike

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

Ryo Hazuki doesn’t have time to race against Sonic the Hedgehog and AiAi the blooming Monkey. Sure, fans are elated that the protagonist of the incredible Shenmue adventures is finally returning to the limelight and seeking fame and fortune in the upcoming Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, but I’ve got news for you – he’s far too busy.

He’s supposed to be getting revenge for the death of his father, remember? On the day that the snow turned to rain (that narrows it down a bit), when a man in a black car came into Ryo’s house, pulled off a rad special move, yelled FATALITY and killed Ryo’s dad? There was something about a mirror and maybe the swallowing of the earth by a giant floating dragon. His dad definitely kicked the bucket though.

So what’s he doing on a flipping motorbike, racing against anthropomorphic hedgehogs and giant egg men? He vowed to exact revenge on Lan Di in a carefully planned but poorly budgeted 16 chapter story, so shouldn’t he be filling notebooks with ambiguous notes, speaking in a monotone voice and asking for the locations of sailors? Shouldn’t he be practicing martial arts in a children’s playground, catching leaves with his fingers and carrying books for hours on end?

Shenmue II

Sure, you could argue that Ryo wastes his fair share of time over the course of Shenmue I and II, but I’ll have you know that nothing was in vain. Racing forklift trucks, collecting small toys from Gashapon machines (and then trading them to pawn shops) and manning lucky hit stalls were valuable sources of income. Buying food at Tomato convenience stores and taking five minutes to drink a can of soda gave vital energy for fighting Lan Di’s goons. Playing old SEGA arcade machines honed his reflexes for those critical quick time events, arm wrestling improved his strength for combat and petting a cat every morning? Well, that’s because cats are totally cute.

He’s had enough time off as it is! It’s been eight years since he was in a [spoiler!] with [spoiler!] and pulled that floating [spoiler!] from the rock. He’s finally decided to get up off his backside to pursue Lan Di, exact his vengeance and pet about 15 more cats, and his first port of call is a racing game? He’s got work to do!

Sure, Shenmue may have been an integral cog in the downfall of the Dreamcast and SEGA’s console development in general, and sure it may have been the second most expensive game ever made (thanks Grand Theft Auto IV!) and sure Yu Suzuki may now be headlining SEGA’s R&D studio AM Plus, but I’ll still hold out hope for Shenmue III. Because I’m insane and delusional… but I’m a fan, and that’s what we do: we hold out hope, beyond all rationality.







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