Strategy Guide - Guide for What's Shen Mue

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                      What's ƒVƒFƒ“ƒ€[ FAQ
                      [What's Shen Mue FAQ]
                         by J.T.Kauffman

note: this document contains Japanese characters and is best viewed in 
NJStar 4.0+ (download at or IE4+ with the Japanese language 
pack, although it is also perfectly readable in any normal word 
processor/browser, as all of the Japanese . Viewing the Japanese is just a 
small bonus...

0. Table of Contents

0. Table of Contents
1. Intro
2. Story
3. Controls
4. Walkthrough
5. Systems
 - Items
 - Time
 - Weather
 - Games
 - Vending Machines
 - Options menu
6. Face Demos
7. Misc.
 - History of Shen Mue
 - Release Info
 - FAQs
8. Outro
 - Revision history
 - Legal
 - Contact

1. Intro

What's Shen Mue is an interactive demo for the game (series) Shen Mue for 
the Sega Dreamcast. Developed by Yu Suzuki, one of the masterminds behind 
Sega's Arcade devision, and developer of games like Space Harrier, OutRun, 
and Virtual Fighter, Shen Mue is arguably the most realistic title ever 
created. Time, weather, interaction with practically everything, all-
speech: this game has it all in terms of realism. One of the largest titles 
ever produced, the first chapter of the game will be released in Japan in 
Spring of 2000, and will span 3 GD-ROMs (which is over 3 gigabytes of data, 
or about twice the size of Final Fantasy VII). Of course, this is only the 
first chapter - although only 2 chapters have been formally announced, 
Suzuki-san has said that the story could take up to 16 or more. 

What's Shen Mue was released on 5 Aug 1999 in Japan as a free giveaway for 
people who bought a Sega Dreamcast system (as well as possibly software). 
As for obtaining the demo in the U.S., I really have no suggestions other 
than going to Japan and buying a system - even large  importers like NCS 
( have had trouble obtaining the disc. [No, I will not buy you 
a system, and no, I will not sell my copy.]

Warning: This FAQ is fairly incomplete as far as story goes - my Japanese 
level is fairly low, and most of the dialogue went over my head.

2. Story

The story of Shen Mue itself has been kept under wraps. The story of What's 
Shen Mue centers around the main character trying to find the president of 
Sega within seven hours of the demo's start. Why? I don't know - as I've 
said my Japanese is very poor. If anyone can help me, it would be 
appreciated (with the story, not learning Japanese... I'm working on the 
latter). That said, let's go on with the FAQ.

3. Controls

d-pad up:     moves the character forward
d-pad left:   turns the character 90degrees to the left
d-pad right:  turns the character 90degrees to the right
d-pad down:   180degree turn
d-pad up+right: move forward and slightly to the right
d-pad up+left:move forward and slightly to the left
analog stick: character looks in the direction you're pressing
A button:     main action button: press to talk to someone,etc.; accept
B button:     180degree turn; cancel; view subtitles (while speaking)
X button:     character kneels
Y button:     brings up player menu; accept
L button:     run forward
R button:     switch to first-person view: can only look around
start button: pause; brings up control screen

A note on talking to someone: if you're talking to someone and they stop 
talking and the 'A' button icon appears next to your watch but the camera 
doesn't move back, they have more to say - just press the 'A' button again 
(unless you don't want to talk any more).

4. Walkthrough

(note: here is the key for the QTE event lists: L=d-pad left, R=d-pad 
right, A=A button, B=B button)

This demo is actually quite easy: your first objective is really to gather 
information and find out where the president of Sega is. However, there are 
many steps that you can skip. Here's the quick rundown on how to beat the 

 - Go to the game center "Game You" (turn around 180degrees from where you 
start and walk for a bit - you'll see a sign on the right saying "GAME" in 
English in rather large letters with "You" underneath). Go inside Game You. 
 - Talk to the manager (the person behind the counter). Recieve the meishi 
(business card) from him.
 - Wait until 4:00pm.
 - Go to the "Ajia" [ƒAƒWƒA] building (written in katakana) - from Game You, 
turn around and go back the way that you came. Pass the hot-dog stand that 
you started by: continue straight. Keep going straight - don't turn off 
onto any of the side streets. Eventually you'll come to a point where there 
is a 90degree turn in the main road. There should be a hamburger stand 
called "Funky Bear Burger" in front of you. Turn onto the side street to 
your right (facing the burger stand). Immediately turn right again (if you 
go straight again you'll reach one of the demo's boundaries) and walk in 
the door that should be in front of you (the door for the "Ajia" store. If 
it is before 4:00pm, you can't go inside b/c the store isn't open yet. 
After 4:00pm, you'll bump into the president of Sega as you walk in (he's 
walking out). You'll enter a QTE.
 - The QTE (quick timer event) for the president of Sega is as follows: L, 
R, L, R, L, R, A, L, L, R, L, R, A   
 - Enjoy the ending!

And now for a more in-depth walkthrough: 

At the title screen, press start when it says to. Then, at the selection 
screen, choose the second option, which has the president of Sega's face 
next to it (an actual photograph, not rendered graphics). When you first 
get into the demo, you'll see a screen with some Japanese on it as well as 
some of the buttons. If this is the first time that you've played since you 
put the disc in and powered up the DC, you'll be at the memo book. To get 
right into the game from there, press 'Start' again, and then exit using 
'B'. The 'A' button icon should be at the bottom of the screen. Press 'A' 
to start the demo.  If this isn't the first time that you've played this 
session, the demo will start automatically after a while.

After talking to a drealocked Japanese guy dancing to the music, you'll 
need to collect information on the whereabouts of the president of Sega. 
You walk around and talk to people - most don't know anything, and a few 
will actually say that they don't have time to talk. The person that 
actually directs you to the game shop is the woman at the flower shop. To 
get to the flower shop, go straight from where you start until you see the 
Funky Bear Burger (written in English) stand in front of you (there is a 
90degree turn in the road here as well). If you turn around at the burger 
stand, the Aida [ƒAƒCƒ_] (written in katakana) flower shop will be the 
second store on your right. There is a red sign with green type hanging out 
from the store. Talk to the person working, the woman with the white 
sweater and red skirt. She will direct you to the game center (you'll hear 
the Japanese version of the English word 'game' in the conversation). Turn 
around and go back the way you came, heading back towards the hot dog stand 
where you started.

You'll find the game center 'Game You' fairly easily - it has a large 
yellow sign saying "GAME" in large English letters, with the word "you" 
underneath. Just go straight from the flower shop, and don't turn off onto 
any side roads. The sign on the building itself will say Game You, with 
game center [ƒK[ƒ€ƒZƒ“ƒ^[] written in katakana underneath. It's pretty 
hard to miss. Go inside (it will always be open in the demo, so don't 
worry), play the slots or the dart game if you want (each is 100 yen). 
After you've played to your hearts content (and no, in the demo none of the 
arcade games work - I've tried...), talk to the manager. After you talk to 
him a while, he'll give you the president of Sega's meishi, or business 
card. After you're done talking, press 'Y', select the meishi [–¼Žh] (it's 
the last one on the right, and mainly white). Examine it, and flip it over 
by holding up or down - you'll find some writing on the back, including the 
number 4 (referring to the hour) and the katakana for "Ajia" [ƒAƒWƒA]. Thus, 
be at the Ajia store, which happens to be a travel company, at 4pm, or 
16:00 on the 24-hour clock.

Your next objective is to find the "Ajia" Travel Company. Many of the 
people working at the stores along the street will point you in the right 
direction - basically, you walk back the way you came. The person that 
shows you where the store is the best is the woman at the flower shop. Go 
back and talk to her, and she'll point out the store that you want. 

If you leave the store and head straight for the flower shop, there's a 
chance that you'll hit your first QTE (quick timer event). The best way to 
get it is to leave the game center at about 2:35 and just go straight there 
- if you're too early or too late you'll miss the QTE (although I've also 
gotten it around 3.15 pm, as well as 4pm or so).  You literally bump into 
two 'Russian sailor' looking guys (although one is definately Asian, they 
just remind me of Russian sailors that you'd see in movies) and they pick a 
fight.  Here are the commands for this short QTE: L, A, B. If you miss one 
of the commands, the next command may be different (what's above is for a 
totally sucessful QTE) - and be careful: if you miss two of them, you'll 
have to start over (and it the entire time the clock is running, so watch 

After finding the building, and possibly fighting the sailors, you have to 
wait until after 4pm to continue. If it's not yet 4pm, you can always pass 
the time by getting a soda from a Coca-Cola vending machine - there are 
many scattered throughout the demo, but the closest one is diagonally right 
from the flower shop (with your back to the flower shop). It's 100 yen per 
can (actually a pretty good price by today's standards) and you can choose 
from Coca-Cola, Sprite, Orange Fanta, and Grape Fanta (and note that 
although the game takes place in the 80's, the cans are all 90's 
versions... hmmm... marketing, perhaps? And speaking of which, where are 
the Pepsi machines?). If you still need to kill more time, explore a bit, 
and talk to people - even if you can't understand what they're saying, it's 
still impressive. There's even a park that you can visit. The game does 
have it's boundaries, though - if you hit one of them (they're while lines 
going across the street with a person posted next to them), the person 
standing there will tell you that you can't go any further, since it's a 

Once 4pm hits, head towards the "Ajia" [ƒAƒWƒA] Travel Company. If you 
haven't found it yet, here are directions from where you start, at the hot-
dog stand: Go straight from the stand - don't turn off onto any of the side 
streets. Eventually you'll come to a point where there is a 90degree turn 
in the main road. There should be a hamburger stand called "Funky Bear 
Burger" in front of you. Turn onto the side street to your right (facing 
the burger stand). Immediately turn right again (if you go straight again 
you'll reach one of the demo's boundaries) and walk in the door that should 
be in front of you (it will say "Ajia" in katakana on the left-hand door, 
with the numbers 16:00 - 21:00 underneath some kanji. Press 'A' to go 
inside. You'll pass the president of Sega, as he's walking out. You'll 
enter a QTE with him. To pass this QTE, input the following commands when 
propted: L, R, L, R, L, R, A, L, L, R, L, R, A  (I think that all of this 
is correct - I have yet to actually do it all correctly in one try...). You 
have quite a bit of lee-way, though - you can miss about 5 or 6 times 
before you have to start over. After the last 'A', the president of Sega 
will run into run into the game center. You'll follow, and be treated to 
the ending.

For those of you that don't have the demo, here's the ending (spoiler, 
obviously): Once you walk into the game center, the president will be 
accosted by some big bully... You'll throw him out, and talk to the 
president. I think you're basically asking what Shen Mue is. After a bit of 
talking, the president wakes up - he's at his desk (Asian Dreamcast boxes 
are piled behind him, oddly enough). He's been dreaming about Shen Mue the 
entire time. He looks at the poster on the wall (the one of the main female 
character in the flames) and says "Shen Mue." After that, you get a 'thanks 
for playing' screen. The end.

5. Systems

 - Items

There are only a five items that you can possess in the demo, and you start 
with four of them. Here's a list:

Memo Book [ƒƒ‚’ ] - I don't believe that you can enter info in this, but 
there's already a few pages written. Probably just that - reminders of 
things to do and whatnot...

Wrist Watch [˜rŽžŒv] - Obviously lets you know what time it is. Although 
it's always in the bottom corner of the screen, you can look at it on your 
wrist by selecting it in the item menu. It's a Timex Indiglo, by the way. 
You can even light it up if you're looking at it by pressing 'A'.

Photograph [ŽÊ^] - A photograph of your friends and family, perhaps? Not 
used in the demo, as far as I know.

Money [‰~] - Obviously, what you need to purchase things. Not needed to 
complete the demo, but there are things in the demo that require money. You 
start the demo with 2000 yen (2000?)

Business Card (Meishi) [–¼Žh] - Recieved from the game center clerk. Says 
Yukawa (Yoshikazu, Eiichi, or Hidekazu - I don't know which reading it 
is...) [“’ì‰pˆê], which is the president's name, on the front, along with 
the Sega logo, the ShenMue homepage (, and some 
other info in Kanji. On the back there is the Dreamcast logo along with 
some writing: "4Žž‚·‚¬ƒAƒWƒA—·sŽÐ", which tells you that at 4pm he will be at 
the Ajia Travel Company.

 - Time

Time is very important in this game, as you only have seven hours of game 
time to find the president. In the world of Shen Mue, one hour is exactly 3 
minutes of real time. Thus, you have 21 minutes to complete the demo. Once 
time starts to pass, it will get dark. In the demo, it turns to dusk (the 
sky turns orange) at 4:30pm (16:30 on the 24 hour clock), and it gets dark, 
complete with stars, at 6:00pm (18:00). Businesses open and close at set 
hours, usually posted. For example, the Ajia shop opens at 16:00 (4:00pm) 
and closes at 21:00 (9:00pm, or after the demo has ended). The Game You 
game center stays open for the duration of the demo, opening at 10:00 (am) 
and closing at 24:00 (midnight). 

 - Weather

Shen Mue being a reality based game, expect some snow or rain occasionally. 
Most of the time it is sunny in the demo, but I have gotten rain twice in 
my ten or so times having it run through (sometimes just letting it sit 
there for the entire 21 minutes to see what would happen), and I remember 
getting rain once, but this might be me remembering a different game... In 
the demo, the weather does not effect you at all.

 - Games

In the game center you can play two of the games - the darts machine, and 
the slot machine. Each costs 100 yen per play. On the darts machine you get 
5 darts for 100 yen, and the slots you get 20 credits. I'm not going to go 
into detail on these right now... the darts are pretty easy to understand, 
and I haven't quite figured out what to do with the credits that I've won 
in the slots (which is quite easy to do if you play all five ways that you 
can)... Maybe in a later revision, if there is one... As for non-playable 
games in the arcade, you'll find a few Yu Suzuki (Shen Mue's director) 
classics: Hang-On is to your left as you walk in, and AfterBurner and Space 
Harrier are in front of you along the back wall. You'll also find a few 
'non-real' titles next to the Space Harrier: QTETitle and Excite QTE 2. As 
far as I can tell, if they were actually playable, these five machines 
would be 100 yen per play as well (it's clearly readable on the Excite QTE 
2 if you crouch). Look for them to be playable in the final version. As a 
side note, all three of the Yu Suzuki machines are in replicas of their 
original arcade cabinets. There are also three generic table arcade games 
in the center as well, but these are definately just decoration. On the 
walls, you can find posters for Hang-On, Space Harrier, Flicky, Water 
Match, and Future Spy (although I've never heard of the last two) and a few 
that are too small to read.

 - Vending Machines

There are a few Coca-Cola vending machines scattered throughout the city in 
usual Japanese style... Unfortunately, there is only soda in them, but 
fortunately for the main character, he happens to like soda. Each can is 
100 yen, and you can choose from Coca-Cola, Orange Fanta, Grape Fanta, and 
Sprite. As a side note, all of the cans are the current 1999 style, whereas 
the game takes place in the 80s. Also, you can't take the soda with you - 
you have to drink it right by the machine. Of course, the main character is 
also environmentally conscious - he throws the can away properly when he's 

 - Options menu

Here's a quick run-down on what's what in the options menu, before you 
start the game (the final option):

Sound [ƒ\ƒEƒ“ƒh]: Monaural [ƒ‚ƒiƒEƒ‰ƒ‹] or Stereo [ƒXƒeƒŠƒI]

Subtitles: Player Choose or Always On (I think, roughly... these second and 
third options are pretty rough estimates... I've been working on this FAQ 
for a couple of hours straight and don't feel like figuring this stuff 
out... you'll get kana later as well, possibly...)

Subtitles: I haven't quite sat down with this yet, but I think that it's 
different variations of voice on/off or subtitles on/off. Default is voice 
on, subtitles off. Of course, all of the subtitles are in Japanese...

6. Face Demos

Also included on the What's Shen Mue disk are some of the famous 'Face 
Demos' that have been shown at the Tokyo Game Show and the E3. There are 
four demos to choose from, each telling you a bit about the game. The one 
that non-Japanese should be most intested in is Mike, the one on the left - 
his speech is all in English. There is also a very long one with Ryou, the 
game's main character. More on this section (maybe) later.

7. Misc.

 - History of Shen Mue

A quick run-down of the history of Shen Mue: The game was first known as 
Virtua Fighter RPG, and was shrouded in secrecy. Later, it was announced 
that it was code-named Project Berkley, although it was still very much 
under wraps. When the Dreamcast came out in Japan, Virtua Fighter 3tb was 
the biggest of the launch titles, and also a Yu Suzuki game, and with it 
came the Project Berkley disc. Containing only a viewable movie, the disc 
was mainly interview with the makers of Berkley (I'm not sure who all is on 
it, but Yu Suzuki is almost a definite), with a bit of concept art. I don't 
believe that any in-game play was shown. Later on, Sega held a press 
conference announcing that Project Berkley's name was Shen Mue (although 
many variations on the spelling, including Shien Mu and Shen Muu were seen, 
Shen Mue is what is currently used, and I'm assuming that it is the 
official Romanized (English) title - also note that 'Shenmue' is probably 
the official spelling, but this document was written with 'Shen Mue' being 
used). Very slowly, info and shots were released to the public, although 
much about the game is still shrouded in secrecy. Although the game was 
originally supposed to be a single release, and was to be released on in 
late July or early August 1999 (my memory is failing me at the moment...), 
it was later split into at least two releases, and pushed back to October 
28, 1999 (Chapter 1), and January 2000 (Chapter 2), with the possibilities 
of more chapters at a later date. After heavy promotion around Japan during 
the month of September, 1999 and a no-show (playable, that is), although 
still heavily publicised, at the Tokyo Game Show Autumn '99, Sega announced 
on Oct. 1 that the game would not meet it's previous Oct.28, 1999 release 
date. The game, in fact, would not ship until Spring of 2000 due to 
problems with the Internet compatibility and NPC personalities (or 
lackthereof). Currently the game is on track for a Spring 2000 release in 
Japan on 3 GD-ROMs in a special collectors package for the first 150,000 
copies. A US/Canada release is pencilled in for Christmas 2000, with the 
translated and modified demo not hitting the US/Canada until Spring 2000.

A few side notes: 
 -Shen Mue employs the largest creative team ever for a video game.
 -Shen Mue is the most expensive video game title ever created, with 
current cost rumoured to be about $60 million US.
 -Shen Mue is the first direct to home title that Yu Suzuki has ever done.
 -Shen Mue is the most important release for the Dreamcast to date - after 
all, it has $60 million riding on it's back... 
 -Shen Mue currently has been postponed approx. one year from it's initial 
release date.

- Release Info

Title:      What's ƒVƒFƒ“ƒ€ [Shen Mue] ~“’ì(Œ³)ê–±‚ð‚³‚ª‚¹~
Release:    August 5, 1999 (Japan), Spring 2000 (tent., US/Canada)
Format:     1 GD-ROM
Cat.#:      610-7179
Company:    Sega Enterprises
Players:    1
Supports:   VGA Box
Instr.Bk.:  8 pages, full color
Inserts:    3 single page inserts: 1 game ad, 1 Shen Mue Orchestra Version 
            (music CD) ad, 1 Kuming 'You're My Only...' (music CD) ad.
Spine Card: No
Jewel Case: Traditional w/clear tray
Format:     NTSC/J
Other:      Marked 'Not For Sale', 'No Resale'
Copyright:  1999 Sega Enterprises, Ltd.

- FAQs

[note: since the release of the FAQ, I have recieved many emails regarding 
not gameplay questions, but about the nature of the disc and where I got 
it, etc. I apologise for the nature of some of these questions, but I feel 
that it is necessary so spell out things a bit more clearly]

Q: How did you get the disk?
A: I recieved the disk when I purchased my Dreamcast system here in Japan 
(it was purchased at Laox in Sendai City).

Q: How can I get the disk?
A: Simply put, you can't. The disc was out of stock mere weeks after 
release, and is no longer in production. Due to it's limited nature, the 
chances of finding it for sale on the web are slim. Your best bet is eBay 
(, although again, don't get your hopes up.

Q: Will you sell me your copy? 
A: No. Period. Don't ask. I bought my Dreamcast solely to get this disk, 
and I am not parting ways with it. Case closed.

Q: Please? Please sell it to me?
A: NO. I have recieved this question too many times. I have already turned 
down offers of US$200. If you seriously want to purchase the disc from me, 
I will consider starting to think about it at US$1000, and wouldn't 
definately sell it unless you offered upwards of US$10,000 or more (ie., 
I'm very serious about not wanting to sell it). [Please note that this is 
not the true value of the disk, but my own value that I put on it.]

Q: Will you lend/rent it to me?
A: No. Again, I value this disc quite a bit, and do not wish to part with 
it, albeit temporarily, to someone that I do not know over the web. I 
rarely lend games out to my friends, let alone total strangers that have 
emailed me out of the blue.

Q: Is it a full game?
A: No. It's a short, 21 minute max., demo. There is only one major area in 
the game, and parts of that area are blocked off. When you add in the Face 
Demos, you can complete the disk in approx. 1/2 hour.

Q: Are there going to be more demos released?
A: Yes. There is one more demo (separate from this one) that has been 
confirmed by online retailer NCS (who is no longer taking orders for the 
item). Its release has been postponed due to the delay of the game. 
Regarding more of this demo, I currently do not know of any plans for 
another print run, but as the full game's release draws near, the 
possibility of a re-print increases.

Q: What about the VMU face downloads that I've heard about?
A: From what I understand, these are going to be part of the Shen Mue 
Passport disc. Obtainable at the two 1999 Tokyo Game Shows, these VMU 
downloads feature 24 different characters (8 of which can be on your VMU at 
one time), and are nothing more than the characters dancing around and 
assuming different poses on the VMU screen. There is no real game involved. 

Q: What's the Shen Mue Passport?
A: A variation of the DreamPassport web-browsing software that will ship 
with the full game. Much more background info has been added to this disc, 
and you are able to access the Shen Mue homepage for hints regarding your 
exact location in the game.

Q: Where can I see screenshots/movies of the disc?
A: Currently, I do not know. However, once I procure the funds to do so, I 
am planning on purchasing a video capture device. Upon that purchase, I 
will update the FAQ with more information.

8. Outro

 - Revision history

ver.0.88, 01nov99:
Minor updates throughout, including an update on the status of the full 
game. Renamed 5. Misc. to 5. Systems. Also a section 7. Misc., and moved 
the -History of Shen Mue sub-section to it... also added two more sections 
to Misc: FAQs and Release Info.

ver.0.87, 24sept99: First release. 
Written in one sitting. Almost all of the storyline and dialogue is missing 
due to my lack of knowledge about the Japanese language. Some of the option 
screen has yet to be translated, and things like character names and some 
facts about the history of Shen Mue are missing. These might be added at a 
later date, but on the other hand, this is a demo that not many English 
speaking people own, so this might be the only release. 

 - Legal

This document is copyright J.T.Kauffman 1999 and cannot be reproduced for 
profit in any form. It can be freely distributed over the internet as long 
as it is unaltered and is only distributed on free (i.e. non-subscription) 
sites. If you do choose to post this document on your site, please email me 
to let me know.

Dreamcast, Shen Mue and What's Shen Mue are copyright Sega 1999. Coca-Cola, 
Fanta, and Sprite are copyright Coca-Cola Co. 1999. All other copyrighted 
materials are property of their current owners.

 - Contact
[email protected]

from 27aug99
Shibata, Miyagi, Japan.

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